Cover of Public Spirit: Dissent in Witham and Essex, 1500-1700

Reviews and comments

A detailed and fascinating account … the book is beautifully produced … a splendid addition to the books of Essex local history. Essex Archaeology and History

A superb publication – painstakingly researched, extremely readable and full of entertaining details. This is her fifth book about Witham’s past and they just get better and better. Braintree and Witham Times

Most of all I liked your style of writing. It is like Janet actually talking to me, and ordinary ignorant people like me. And explaining things in a straight-forward way. What an interesting town Witham was. Reader

This is a book which I found difficult to put down once I began to delve into it … It is packed with information, beautifully illustrated and so comprehensively indexed and references … I really enjoyed its clarity and readability. The Friend

‘While the drawings are indeed excellent the book is also a major piece of scholarship … This is a thoroughly sound study of religious life in an Essex town through the Reformation, the rise of Puritanism, and the turbulent days of the seventeenth century … Every claim is carefully documented … Along with similar local studies it helps to render some national assertions about the religous life of the period suspect … One gets to know a little about the Puritan Lady Barnardiston and especially the naughty Francis Wright, vicar for eighteen years despite a range of offences … The production of this book is as impeccable as the content.’ Journal of the United Reformed Church Historical Society

Well done, it’s a beautiful book … Fabulous book ! It’s a model for local historians … The pictures are splendid – they add a very special extra dimension. Readers

We must applaud Mrs Gyford’s skilful private publishing initiative which has given us three earlier studies of her home town and now ‘Public Spirit’. Few moderate sized, un-corporate towns can have histories searched out is such depth as Witham’s … For anyone who is about to attempt a study of a parish church or an early nonconformist ‘meeting’ her guidance will be invaluable. Essex Journal

The book has beautiful drawings of Witham, many of the church. It is written in an easily understandable style with maps and tables. A must for anyone interested in the history of Witham. In Touch (Witham Parish Magazine)

Behind the deceptively pastoral-looking cover lie tales of religious intolerance and witchcraft, crimes and punishment, set against a background of one of the most unsettling periods of English history … The text is accompanied by diagrams, graphs, maps and some excellent sketches by talented artist Ray Brown … For anyone who wants to study the history of Witham in detail, this book is a must. And for anyone interested in how national events affected local people, it is a valuable reference. Essex Countryside

Rioting townspeople, Puritan protests and an allegedly drunken and womanising vicar are all part of a fascinating recreation of Witham’s history by local historian, Janet Gyford … ‘Public Spirit’ is imaginatively illustrated by local artist, Ray Brown. Essex Chronicle

The volume reveals the very best of the amateur local history tradition. Social History Bulletin

This book is to be recommended as a model of its genre, making the history of religious affiliations in a particular Essex market town accessible to a broad readership. Recusant History