Rushden historian to donate proceeds of limited edition book to charity

Eric Fowell
Eric Fowell

A Rushden historian will be donating the proceeds of a limited edition book to charity.

Last year a friend of local historian, Eric Fowell, bought some old books from his local market and found among them an old handwritten notebook, dating back to 1910, by Rushden personality Joseph Enos Smith who was organist at St Mary’s Church, Rushden, from 1875 to 1930.

The notes are a series of snippets taken from local newspapers and other sources which relate to Higham Ferrers from as early as 1065 to 1896.

The notes include reference to King John’s visits to Higham Ferrers from 1208 to 1212.

In 2003, Mr Fowell published another of Enos Smith’s notebooks and donated the proceeds of more than £700 to Higham Ferrers’ St Mary’s Church Spire Fund.

He has decided to repeat the exercise and publish this new ‘find’, with the help of Susan Waters who transcribed the handwriting and John Garley who proof-read the documents.

A limited edition of 100 copies of this booklet will be produced and Mr Fowell will donate the proceeds to each of the Friends of St Mary’s Churches of both Higham Ferrers and Rushden.

In addition to the Enos Smith documents, Mr Fowell has included lots of other material in the booklet including details of the 1904 fundraising bazaar for the Parish Rooms, which are now Higham Library, with adverts of the era for various Higham businesses.

The programme for this was given to Mr Fowell by Bruce Murdin, the late Gwen Murdin’s son, who found the papers in his mother’s effects and Mr Fowell wants this to be a tribute to Gwen’s work in the local community.

As well as the Enos Smith notes and various photographs and explanations of some past Rushden history, Brenda Lofthouse has been pleased to support Mr Fowell’s publication by working with him to include in the booklet her detailed research into the Higham Ferrers typhoid outbreak of 1871.

The fever happened reasonably frequently and it struck down the rich and the poor.

A government inspector came to Higham in 1871 and subsequently wrote a report about the living conditions in Higham at the time which he described as appalling.

A significant part of the problem was due to the lack of removal of sewage and general “nuisances”.

The booklet will be on sale shortly at the cost of £10 plus £2 if it needs posting out.

Advance orders can be placed by contacting Mr Fowell on 01933 353292 or by sending an email to John Garley at