Bourne Archive: FNQ: Hereward Story            Latest edit 9 Aug 2009.   

Interactive version ©2007 R.J.PENHEY


The Bourne Archive


Fenland Notes and Queries. Edited by Rev. W.D. Sweeting, Rector of Maxey.

Part 30. July  1896.

This quarterly periodical took the form of a forum in which people sent in questions about the history, ecology and so on of the Fens and the region’s environs and others replied with some sort of answer. Some ‘answers’ seem to have been spontaneous, so qualifying as ‘notes’.

[The Camp of Refuge was the title given to the first popular, modern telling of the story of the Siege of Ely part of the ‘Hereward the Wake’ story.]


591 – The Camp of Refuge. – This story had been for a long time out of print and difficult to procure, until it was reprinted under the editorship of our correspondent Mr. S. M. Miller, who supplied several notes and a few maps. But in Mr. Miller’s edition I cannot find any reference to the author of the tale. I should be glad to know something about him. From a communication to Notes and Queries, 1875, by the late Rev. E. Bradley, I learn that the story was written by Mr. Charles Macfarlane ; and that it had been attributed to Harriet Martineau. Mr. Bradley gives the following short description of the original edition :-

The Camp of Refuge was published by Mr. Charles Knight, in two small volumes, in the year 1844, being the commencement of “a series of original novelets,” distinguished by the general title, “Old English Novelets ;” The introduction in which these words are used, is, presumably, written by Mr. Charles Knight. He discusses the meaning of the word “novel,” And gives his reasons for calling his new series of stories “Novelets – or little novels – as much to mark their unpretending character as the brevity of their narratives.”

I have a copy of the original edition, in its brick-coloured paper covers. Although the first two volumes of the series of Novelets, they formed Vols. xxii and xxiii of the set called “Knight’s Weekly Volumes.” They were published at one shilling each.

On the titles are small vignettes, one of William the Conqueror, from his great seal, and the other of the battle of Hastings, from the Bayeux tapestry.

Was the author a native of the Fenland? His descriptions of the various places seem to shew conclusively that he was very familiar with them. Perhaps Mr. Miller will be able to tell us something about him.


This thread continues with article 610.