How Valley Gardens saved new British history book

The cover of Bloody British History: York.
The cover of Bloody British History: York.

By Graham Chalmers

A rip-roaring new history book packed with local references and bloody battles might not have been written without Harrogate’s calming influence, says its author.

Bloody British History: York by Christina Surdha features 29 true stories about the city’s gruesome past.

Although an engaging read packed with unknown stories about the region, the book is so full of battles, blood, death and disease that Christina, who lives near York, had nightmares whilst writing it and took day trips to Harrogate to escape.

She said: “I had to immerse myself in nothing but bloody events for a period of about six months while writing the book.

“I often needed to get out of York for a complete change of scenery.

“It made such a change to be able to walk around the Valley Gardens imagining genteel Victorians on holiday in this lovely spa town, rather than people being hacked to death in an around York!”

Published last month as part of a series by The History Press, this new book covers the Roman period right through to the 20th century and is put together in the style of a pulp magazine.

Stories include that of gunpowder plotter Guy Fawkes, who grew up near Knaresborough, and why Richard of York’s head ended up on a spike in Micklegate Bar.

Also included is the story of author Christina’s five times great-grandfather, George Goddard.

In 1850 George was locked up in York Castle Prison and sentenced to death for being gay.

His sentence was later reprieved but he was transported to Australia for life and not allowed to return to his hometown of Holmfirth.

The death of King Richard III is also featured, Richard III had much influence and support in the North of England and had several power bases in Yorkshire.

His death in 1485 ended the Wars of the Roses- a thirty year-long civil war between the rival royal houses of York and Lancaster

Christina will be speaking at Barley Hall in York on October 23, alongside author Pamela Hartshorne and will also be holding a book signing at Waterstone’s in York on November 9.

The book is available to buy from local book shops, including Waterstone’s in Harrogate.

It can also be downloaded for Kindle from Amazon.