Dr Eleanor Clarke stopped us in the street and asked’ What do you think of the book.”
“Amazing”, I replied without hesitation. There was no question of which book she was referring to because there is only one book that deserved to be called THE book this month.
The recently published Exploring Chorleywood, a Pictorial History, by Chorleywood U3A, has to be the most comprehensive illustrated book to date about our village. With over 300 photographs, maps and historical material running over 300 pages, it was a mission and a half for the five members of the local U3A History group who spent over eighteen months sifting through documents, records, letters and photographs to put together this fact-packed hardback. They loved every minute of their research. Not only were they able to clarify and expand on some stories but they unearthed a few surprises along the way.
“People tend to think of Chorleywood as a modern development.” says co-author David Hiddleston, “But there is so much history. We started off intending to put together a picture book but there was too much information to go in to captions –so we would add a bit more to the text and it just grew The more we investigated, the more we found out. We discovered that there must have been a cartel between the great and good of Chorleywood…wheeling and dealing, swapping land. And Darvells had their fingers in lots of pies!
The village developed in three stages… originally around the toll gate, next around the railway with Station Estate, then Chenies Estate in the 1930s. The railway was definitely the catalyst. Another fascinating thing is that the Station Hotel, or The Sportsman as we knew it, was built very quickly between February and October of the same year. We think it was located on that site because of the Station Estate covenant banning the sale of alcohol on the freehold of all properties so it ended up away from the Estate on the ‘wrong’ side of railway.”
When we went to press THE book was selling like hotcakes, with four hundred books sold and a second print run in progress.
“People are buying the books for their children who grew up in Chorleywood and for friends and family with a Chorleywood connection.”
“It’s a brilliant book” adds Sheryl Shurville of Chorleywood Bookshop, “It’s the must-buy Christmas present for anybody who lives or has lived in Chorleywood,
Exploring Chorleywood, a Pictorial History, Chorleywood U3A, £20 from Chorleywood Bookshop