Reduced to Ashes and Rubbage

Jessie Childs

  • Battle-Scarred: Mortality, Medical Care and Military Welfare in the British Civil Wars edited by David Appleby and Andrew Hopper
    Manchester, 247 pp, £80.00, July 2018, ISBN 978 1 5261 2480 7

In the Leeds branch of the West Yorkshire Archive Service, there is a long, narrow notebook with a vellum cover which shows signs of water damage and has peeled away at the top so that it’s possible to make out some of the words on the first page – ‘apricocks’, ‘plombes’ – and a date: 1633. This was the year a local gentleman, Sir John Reresby of Thrybergh Hall, began to note the contents of his garden. Every peach, pear and plum is catalogued, as are herbs, shrubs, bulbs – ‘Kentish Codlings’, ‘the Granado Gilliflower’, ‘Melincholly Munkes hoode’ – and attempts at grafting and inarching. According to his son, Reresby was ‘exactly curious in his garden and was one of the first that acquented that part of England (soe far north) with the exactness and nicety of thos things’. It is impossible not to feel a vicarious pride in his list of ‘my best Tulipas’. At the end of the decade Reresby turned his notebook upside down and began a different set of lists. One is headed ‘The Postures of the Musket’. The gardener learned new skills.

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