Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Hotspur - Hidden

Amongst the barely considered literature of Britain is the parish magazine. These little periodicals, now perhaps largely superseded by online equivalents, typically gave the dates and times of church services, notices of forthcoming events such as fetes, homilies and other messages from the parson, appeals for funds, and other miscellaneous matter such as recipes, funny things overheard, and gardening tips, designed to season the publication with lighter reading.

As a (largely) amiable record of local news and interests they present a slice of social history that ought to be preserved at least in a representative form, and I wonder whether any diligent library has undertaken this task. Moreover, it is not at all impossible that amongst them there are some unnoticed minor delights, literary, antiquarian, topographical, botanical.

We know, for example, that Arthur Machen wrote the church guide for the Parish of Amersham, where he lived in semi-retirement: it is now a rare item in his bibliography. It is quite likely that other literary figures made similar contributions, signed or unsigned. By their ephemeral nature, few of these little publications will have survived, but those that do are certainly worth scrutiny.

A rather unusual contemporary example is the The Hotspur, which began modestly as the parish magazine for Healey, Northumberland, a remote settlement of slightly less than two hundred souls. It has since evolved into a periodical of art, history, myth, landscape and the arcane, edited with flair by Jamie Warde-Aldam. Each (un-numbered) issue is identified and infused by a theme.

In the latest, that theme is ‘Hidden’, inspired by a disused Cold War bunker in the vicinity. Contributors explore the history of Cold War installations, the legend of St Cuthbert's Mist, a Victorian stage magic illusion, the Tiepolo frescoes in the Villa Valmarana, and a journal of local living in rural Ireland. There is also an art plate, 'The Secret Underground Bunkers Do Exist' by Michael Mulvhill, and one of the finest errata slips ever, 'and'.

Enquiries to: thehotspur[at]googlemail[dot]com.
'Like distant cousins,there's a limited supply.'

Mark Valentine

1 comment:

  1. a most excellent and diverting piece and very worthy of adding to one's 'overlooked' collecting mania. It will make me think twice about ignoring such items when they manifest.

    Jean du Bois