The founder of Huntingdon’s Anglia Translations Ltd publishes first history book
The founder of Huntingdon translation agency Anglia Translations Ltd, has recently published his first non-fiction history epic on the historic Cambridgeshire village of Great Staughton.
“Great Staughton and Its People: How a Huntingdonshire Village made its mark on England's History” is written by Anthony Withers, who founded the business in the early 1990s.
Great Staughton and its People profiles the extraordinary history of a seemingly modest Huntingdonshire village which, over the past 2,000 years has played host to some remarkable characters and events of national prominence.
Oliver Cromwell, the famed politician and military leader, for instance, was born just ten miles down the road in Huntingdon; Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII, was also imprisoned in the castle in nearby Kimbolton.
The book offers incredibly detailed biographies of these historical figures and many more besides; setting their life and work into a wider context of English history from Roman times to the present day.
When asked why Anthony decided to turn his hand to writing a historical epic about the unexpected and fascinating characters from the village that he has called home for over 45 years, Anthony explains, “The first thing I noticed when I moved into the village 40 odd years ago was the sundial in the Highway, the main thoroughfare of the village.
It is inscribed: 1637: E.I.
Nobody knew what this meant, and even the County History couldn’t tell me. I found the answer thanks to the Huntingdon Records Office. E. I. turned out to be Edmund Ibbutt, an important landowner in the 1630s and 1640s.
That started me off on this historical quest.”
After some initial research, Anthony dug further still, and with the assistance of the Records Office, discovered an incredible range of people who had helped shape both local and national events over the past 2,000 years.
“I discovered so many stories during my research, such as the first documentary evidence for the village of an Anglo-Saxon will, dated 989, of a nobleman called Ælfhelm Polga.
“Also, the brother in law of Oliver Cromwell, Valentine Walton, was born in the village. His name may not be immediately familiar, but he was a respected politician and one of the figures that signed the death warrant of King Charles I in 1649.”
“Then there is one of my favourite characters: Fanny Duberly. This eminently respectable country lady decided to accompany her husband to the Crimea where she wrote a devastating journal describing the horrors of that campaign.
She even witnessed the Charge of the Light Brigade. Her Journal and the letters she wrote to the press make her one of the real heroines of the Crimea – up there with Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole, in my view.” Explains Anthony.
When asked how Anthony balanced both running a company and writing his book, he says, “Badly, to be frank. Research is also a full-time job. It’s not possible for ordinary mortals like me to combine extensive research with the day to day running of a busy company.
I wasn’t able to truly focus on my research and writing until after my retirement.
In fact, I note that Lord Jonathan Sumption has just completed, after forty years of work, the fifth and final volume of his History of the Hundred Years War whilst presiding over the Supreme Court. I’m afraid I don’t have his talent!”