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New Book: 'The Buildings of Tudor and Stuart england', by Peter Brears

Peter Brears

Until the 1950s Wakefield was a city with many timber framed buildings, richly decorated with carvings. In the late 1950s/early 1960s almost all was swept away in redevelopment of the town centre. At the time a teenage Peter Brears was recording buildings as they were demolished and saving carvings and plaster mouldings for Wakefield’s City Museum. In his book Peter provides his own meticulously detailed drawings and paintings reconstructing Wakefield’s lost buildings. These are accompanied by a scholarly text discussing Wakefield’s architectural heritage, together with notes, appendix and index.

“The medieval woollen trade moved from old established towns like York, with their rules and regulations, to newer towns like Wakefield in the 16th century,” says author Peter Brears. “In the 16th century and early 17th century Wakefield became the regional centre of the woollen trade. As a result it developed half timber and stone inns, shops, houses and warehouses of the finest design and craftsmanship. I hope this book will give pleasure and knowledge, and persuade readers that the best of the past is superior in its human qualities than anything they put in its place.”

Peter, who is Wakefield born and bred, has had a long and varied career as archaeologist, historic building specialist and food historian. For over thirty years he has worked in English museums and great houses. He was curator of Shibden Hall and Clarke Hall before moving on to direct the Castle Museum, York and Leeds City Museum. He has specialised in the study of domestic life, and has done research, restoration and interpretation projects for many properties including Hampton Court Palace and Harewood House.

He has written many articles, catalogues and books on aspects of domestic and social life in the past. Those most relevant to readers of this new book, are The Gentlewoman’s Kitchen (1984), Traditional Food in Yorkshire (1987) and The Country House Kitchen (1996).

Peter Brears’ book costs £19.95 and you can buy the book through our Society:

It is also available through the Cathedral Shop, or Rickaro Books in Horbury


























Events at West Yorkshire Archives

A new exhibition, 'Treasures of the West Yorkshire Archive Service' at the West Yorkshire History centre on Kirkgate is now open.

Upcoming events are:
'Palaeography - Reading old Handwriting' on 30 March.
'Exploring the John Goodchild Collection' on 20 May - (two different talks)

Information about their events February to July:WY Archives events

Reading the Past
16th and 17th century handwriting guide

To help researchers the Borthwick Institute at the University of York have added a free downloadable guide to reading documents from the 16th and 17th centuries. It contains facsimilies, transcripts & reading notes

Handwriting guide

Premiere of 'Clara'
8 March 2020

Clara is a TV drama about a woman who lived in 1850s Wakefield. Clara Clarkson was a suffragist, an abolitionist and a lover and protector of women in the Merrie City.

Clara struggles to balance her relationship with companion Harriet and what is expected from her in Victorian society, dodging the charms of doting widower Henry and the vehement disapproval of her mother Sarah.

The premier will be screened on International Women’s Day, 8th March 2020 at the Mechanics’ Theatre in Wakefield.

More information: Clara

Talks and Exhibition at Leeds Central Library

11 March: Working-Class Leeds in the Early 20th Century
3-28 February: Exhibition: A Brief History of Radical News Printing in Leeds

More information: Leeds Central Library Events

South Leeds Archaeology

The 2020 programme of meetings at South Leeds Archaeology has been published. Of particular interest may be a talk on 26th February by Dave Russ: 'Lost' Industries of Wakefield.

South Leeds Archaeology Programme

Yorkshire in History Group
The group meet at St Swithun's Community Centre in Eastmoor, on Arncliffe Road, WF1 4RR.

4th March: Talk by Phil Judkins and Ken Rowley on local development of the railways and local accidents/safety on the railways.

Contact: Peter Phillips at or phone 07552 302319