Rare history book used as doorstop

Oxford Mail: Wallingford Museum curator Judy Dewey with the 1799 book Wallingford Museum curator Judy Dewey with the 1799 book

A RARE 213-year-old piece of Wallingford’s history has been recovered – after being used as a doorstop.

David Rayfield, of lettings agent Lesters, was doing a valuation at a house in Didcot when he spotted the 1799 volume propping a door open in a bedroom.

As the book, a volume detailing laws enacted by Parliament, was marked ‘Corporation of Wallingford’ he asked if he could hand it to the town’s museum in High Street.

Now curator Judy Dewey and volunteers are examining the tome to find out more about it.

Mr Rayfield said: “The lady had this big book as a doorstop for one of the bedrooms.

“She started telling me about it and as we are a well-known firm in Wallingford I asked her if I could take the book and try to find out more about it.

Mrs Dewey said: “Councils couldn’t consult the internet in those days so they all had books of statutes as reference books to show them all the laws that had been passed by Parliament.

“It’s fascinating because it provides such a detailed picture of 18th century life.

“This is the only book of statutes the museum has and it’s sparking ideas for a possible future exhibition on Wallingford in the 18th century.

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The book dates from a time when Britain was at war with post-revolution France, two years after the French King Louis XVI had been guillotined.

The first Act passed was giving Lord Nelson ‘a certain annuity… in consideration of his eminent service’, said Mrs Dewey.

He had already won the Battle of the Nile and was to go on to beat the French at Trafalgar six years later in 1805.

Other entries cover raising money to fight the French by imposing extra taxes, including income tax.

Mrs Dewey added: “We are always delighted when people bring us pieces of history they have found because it helps us to tell the story of the town.

“It’s lovely that this book has now come home.”

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