Peter Bradshaw

Sex Mad Soap Opera

Fire from Heaven: Life in an English Town in the Seventeenth Century

By David Underdown

HarperCollins 249pp £18 order from our bookshop

In 1663, the cleric Henry Glover preached a sermon of reconciliation to the traumatised people of Dorchester: the war that ‘begins in the pulpit’, Glover warned them, ‘must be ended in the field’. But Dorchester didn’t need to be told that. The turbulent half-century through which they had lived had begun with a terrifying fire which had destroyed most of the town, and ended with a Civil War, which, because of Dorchester’s Puritan sympathies with the Parliamentary faction, many feared had stamped them with the mark of treason.

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