Edge of England: Landfall in Lincolnshire
The untold story of a great county and its people, from prehistory to today
Published July 2022 (Hurst)
446 pages, 32 col. illustrations, map by Dan Bell
Lincolnshire is England’s second largest county – and one of the least well-known. Yet its understated chronicles, unfashionable towns and undervalued countryside conceal fascinating stories, and unique landscapes. Its Wolds are lonely and beautiful, its towns characterful, and its marshlands and dynamic coast metaphors of constant change. From plesiosaurs to Puritans, medieval ghosts to eighteenth-century explorers, poets to politicians, and Vikings to Brexit, this overlooked county is central to England’s identity.
Cnut, Henry IV, John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford lived in Lincolnshire. So did saints, world-famed churchmen, intellectuals and reformers – Saint Guthlac and Saint Hugh, Bishop Robert Grosseteste, John Wycliffe, John Cotton, John Foxe and John Wesley – as well as Isaac Newton, Joseph Banks, John Harrison and George Boole. Captain John Smith went to Jamestown, George Bass and Matthew Flinders to Australia, and John Franklin to bitter death in the Arctic. William Byrd, John Taverner, William Stukeley, George Stubbs, George Eliot and Alfred Tennyson – while Margaret Thatcher wrought neo-liberalism.
Extraordinary architecture testifies to centuries of both settlement and unrest, from Saxon towers to sky-piercing spires, and evocative ruined abbeys to the wonder of the Cathedral. And in between is the little-known land itself– an epitome of England, awaiting discovery.
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“Full of evocative, and often elegiac, descriptions of our landscape and our wildlife, and full too of fascinating reflections on the history and people of Lincolnshire, this book should be on the shelves of everyone who knows and loves our perhaps unfashionable but wonderful county” Lord Cormack of Enville
“A fascinating, insightful and wonderfully researched study of a much neglected county. It draws out the rich history and all that is distinctive about Lincolnshire. A must-read for all Yellowbellies and those not blessed with being born in the county” Professor Lord Norton of Louth
“This is a wonderful biography of Lincolnshire. Lincolnshire inhabitants will be entranced, not just by Derek Turner’s erudite attention to detail but by his infectious enthusiasm for what Henry VIII described as this ‘most brute and beastly shire’. This book is an eye-opening account of one man’s journey through space and time.” Robert Wyatt, musician
“By some marvellous alchemic mirror, Edge of England shows how one rather overlooked county impacted national history, and vice versa. If this were not enough, Turner must also be counted among the finest prose-smiths working the English language today” John Lewis-Stempel, author of Meadowland and Where Poppies Blow
“A mellifluous and rich account of Lincolnshire’s strange history, landscape and folklore” Edward Parnell, author of Ghostland
“…Not local history in the ordinary way; by a personal use of lucent, angled mirrors, [Turner] casts a great and revealing light on England and Englishness…a journey of surprise into the near present, as well as deep past…I wept in wonder at his research for this beguiling love letter to overlooked Lincolnshire” Country Life
“A wonderfully rich mix of nature writing, memoir, history and local lore” Guardian
“An engaging and comprehensive new book… Both his appreciation and criticism are grounded in a deep knowledge not only of the county’s social, political and natural history, but of literature too…an impressive compendium” Lincolnshire Life
“A remarkable new study of Lincolnshire. Its scope is striking, its ambition impressive, and its creation to be much welcomed…a county history the like of which few counties are blessed” Lincolnshire Past & Present
“A book which I have enjoyed more than any other I have read this year… I shall return to this book again and again” The House
“A love letter rather than a tract…painting in poetic and evocative words rather than in paint the beauties and blots of a county full of both. His portrait however gives food for thought about the topics concerning Britain today… ” The Jackdaw
“A hauntingly beautiful and honest lament to a rural existence threatened by encroaching modernity, materialism and standardisation as well as the accumulating effects of climate change” Central Bylines
“Turner delights the reader with captivating tales of eccentric characters, atmospheric places and intriguing events, his wide reading and breadth of knowledge apparent on every page” The Brazen Head
“A prose panegyric… Detail piles on detail in this rich and well-read book… Derek Turner should be given the freedom of the city of Lincoln, if there is such a thing” The Salisbury Review
“Lincolnshire’s voice is large and resonant in this beautifully-written work” Quarterly Review
“Edge of England is well worth reading. It is consistently well written, and the breadth of the project means that almost any reader will find things of interest” H-Net
“Beautifully written and absorbing” County News
“…full of fascinating passing anecdotage and does bring an idiosyncratic, overlooked area alive. You won’t easily persuade the tight-lipped locals to explain Lincolnshire to you: luckily, Turner can.” The International Times
“A hauntingly beautiful and evocative portrayal of England’s ‘forgotten county'” Heckington Living
Hello Mr Turner, I am enjoying your book immensely, especially the wonderful glossaries and wordsmithery, but mainly your shining a light on Lincolnshire! Definitely a book to be savoured. Best Wishes from an ex inhabitant and partner of a yellowbelly.
Extremely kind of you to say so, Catherine (if I may!), and thanks for taking the trouble to let me know. It is an expansive subject, easy to write about at length, sometime too much length. I wrote about a third more than I needed to; I shall try and use some of that material in some other way, maybe even – who knows? – a sequel. Thanks again; you’re very kind
Highly readable, encyclopaedic, marvellous, illuminating. Derek Turner portrays his County via dexterous excavations of its geography, geology, history and weather.
Thanks so much, Rosemarie!
Hi, I’ve read (and loved) this book having made a similar journey from London to Lincolnshire. I plan to buy some copies as presents and wondered whether it is possible to get hold of any signed copies. Many thanks, Nick
Thanks so much, Nick. I’m doing a signing at Spalding on the 12th October (evening) if that’s any good to you. Waterstones in Boston and Lincoln may still have some signed copies. Otherwise, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can work out a plan. Look forward to hearing from you. Thanks again
Lincolnshire seems a beautiful county,
Just read your article in unherd. I live in Theddlethorpe, and like many residents have grave concerns about the GDF.
If you would like any photographs of our beautiful village to front any current or future articles, please get in touch.
Thanks, Andrea. I shall!