Fifteen years of research gives up some secrets, lots of Frome names and plenty of Frome history

  Posted: 11.10.21 at 13:45 by The Editor

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A new Frome history book has plenty of well-known family names, so many in fact that the author can almost guarantee you will recognise someone in it.

Frome Fables which is already available at the Hunting Raven Bookshop and the Frome Heritage Museum, is part history, part detective story and has a complex pattern involving families across the district.

Author Keith Browning said what began as a simple research project, just looking into his own family history, took on a life of its own and then took over 15 years of his life.

He told Nub News : " I knew little or nothing about my father's side of the family until 2005, believing they were Cockney Londoners from the East End. It was only the discovery on the new on-line census records that my great grandfather was born in Frome in 1830, that led me to this remarkable town. Following up this lead, by chance, I met with Michael McGarvie, the famous local historian, who has been my guide and mentor every since. "

Frome Fables is the story of four inter-connected families, one 'upstairs', (the Earls of Cork) and three from 'downstairs', simple clothworkers, carpenters, stonemasons and brickmakers. However, the book is much more, because it tells the story of the great social migration that took place from the fields to the factories from the beginning of the 1700s to the end of the19th century.

Keith explained : " Not just four families, but over forty names appear in the book, a sort of Somerset soup of DNA from North East of the county. This was a close knit community that tended to marry within itself, so anyone with roots in the Frome area today should see names familiar to them. The material is well researched and as true as can be, but I'm sure publishing the book will mean much new information will be revealed. "

The book has a 'underground' type map showing how Somerset people moved around

The book also works as a bit of detective fiction, with a number of mysteries to solve, although not all the clues uncovered during the fifteen years of research have solutions.

Keith who lives in Chichester added: " Frome is at the centre of the action, but the stories also follow the travellers on their journeys across the country, to South Wales, North of England and to London. Many headed abroad, to far flung places, as they sought to meet the challenges of Victorian industrialisation. Life was hard for everyone, rich and poor alike and the identity of the most successful characters might surprise the reader. "

Frome Fables is priced at £14.99 and is available from Hunting Raven books, the Somerset Coalfield Life Museum in Radstock and the Frome Heritage Museum.

A talk has been provisionally arranged in the Frome Library on 20th November

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