Pickering historian and former teacher publishes stories of medieval toothless hero Albert Snodgrass his pupils loved

HIstorian and former teacher John Smith outside Pickering Castle which inspired his medieval storiesHIstorian and former teacher John Smith outside Pickering Castle which inspired his medieval stories
HIstorian and former teacher John Smith outside Pickering Castle which inspired his medieval stories
Author and former Pickering history teacher John Smith has published a set of 23 humorous stories about a medieval kingdom he first read to his pupils at school assemblies.

The Chronicles of Albert Snodgrass are stories of an ancient world.

"Many of these stories will be remembered by my former pupils, who heard them for the first time, and, indeed, the publication came about when a ex-pupil reminded me of them,” said Mr Smith.

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They were written over many years and were initially inspired by his many school visits to Pickering and Helmsley castles.

They have now been dug out of a sheaf of manuscripts at Mr Smith’s home and are gathered together for the first time in one volume.

The stories tell of an ancient castle, populated by a multitude of very old and quite small castle-dwellers.

There is a King Ethelbert, a Queen and a wise old advisor called Hedgebert, pronounced ‘Merlin’ for some reason.

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There is a white-haired, white-bearded, almost toothless hero. He is called Albert Snodgrass.

He is given many Quests by the King and invariable fails every one of them. He is ordered to visit a golden rainbow, a frozen rainbow, to plant an Oak Wood, and even to catch the spring.

He also has much more mundane tasks, such as cutting down a forest of thistles and finding a turquoise juniper tree.

He fails every task, but thanks to the ever-present gaze of the old magician, he does learn on the way.

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"Many of my former pupils have reminded me of them as they loved them so much, so I decided to publish them in a single volume,” he said.Mr Smith published Lady Lumley: Life and Legacy last year.

That book revealed a woman whose own troubled life did not hinder her in her love and care for those who shared her everyday life.

"What a life Lady Eliza Lumley had," said Dr Smith, who was a history teacher at Lady Lumley’s for 24 years before becoming senior lecturer in education at the University of Hull.

"All the stories that you have ever heard about Elizabethan England seem to apply to her."

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Thousands of pupils graduated from Lady Lumley’s School in Pickering and from her earlier schools in Sinnington and Thornton Dale.

Similarly, hundreds of people benefited from residence in her almshouses in Thornton Dale and London.

Eliza was born in London more than 400 years ago. She was the daughter of a rich nobleman, Sir William Cornwallis, and her mother was Lucie Latimer, who had been born and raised in Snape and Sinnington in North Yorkshire and inherited vast estates up here from her father.

It was not all dour in London at that time and the family house was in the theatre area allowing the young Eliza to meet famous actors including Ben Jonson.

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The Chronicles of Albert Snodgrass… Stories of an Ancient World is published by Blackthorn Press and is available at local bookshops, at Strawberry Fields in Sinnington and through Amazon.

It costs £6:99.

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