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Unfortunately we are currently experiencing technical difficulties on our website and as such online orders can not be processed. If you wish to place an order please call 01206 256 002 and our customer service team will be happy to help. We are sorry for any inconvenience caused and are working to fix this issue as soon as possible.

Shire has a new look!

The Shire Library series has received a beautiful revamp from renowned heritage designer and author Peter Ashley. Look out for nearly 100 of the new covers appearing here and on spinners everywhere over the course of 2014, and for a limited time only you can buy 3 books for the price of 2 here on the website. Happy reading!

London Plaques App

Now available on iTunes! Let this authoritative app, produced in association with Aimer Media and Open Plaques, be your guide to London's rich heritage of historical figures from Samuel Johnson to Charles Dickens to Jimi Hendrix. Perfect for both iPhone & iPad & only £1.99!

Botanic Gardens

Across the world hundreds of botanic gardens combine scientific research, conservation and beauty with public access, with Kew Gardens alone attracting around one million visitors a year. For centuries they have variously focused on cultivating medicinal and exotic plants, introducing lucrative crops such as tea and rubber to new countries, preserving international plant collections, scientific classification and research – or have combined all these things. Sarah Rutherford here tells their story from the sixteenth century up to their long heyday in the last two hundred years. She explains the gardens’ design and architecture, the personalities and institutions associated with them, their important role in research and conservation, and their appeal to millions of visitors.

The Wartime Garden

‘This War is a Food War…’ In 1941 Lord Woolton, Minister for Food, was determined that the Garden Front would save England: ‘Dig for Victory’ was the slogan, digging for dinner the reality. With food imports dwindling the number of allotments grew, millions opted to ‘Spend an Hour with a Hoe’ instead of an hour in a queue, and the upper classes turned lawns, tennis courts and stately gardens over to agriculture. The national diet was transformed, with swedes grown in the place of oranges and hapless children sucking on carrot lollies; evacuees grew their own meals and bomb sites sprouted allotments. Vegetables ruled the airwaves with Mr Middleton’s ‘In Your Garden’ whilst Home Guard potatoes became the favourites of the Kitchen Front. This is a fully illustrated look at the time when gardening saved Britain

The Shakers

The Shakers sought to create a heaven on earth through a combination of worship and diligent work, and their handicrafts are among our greatest exemplars of form following function. Practical yet attractive, the furniture, textiles, tools and machinery of the Shakers are utterly distinctive and became famous the world over during the twentieth century, with certain Modernist architects and designers finding unexpected common ground with this decidedly non-Modernist sect. ‘Shaker Handicraft’ – the first Shaker exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1935 – was only the first of many major exhibits, and today the spirit of the Shakers – and the clean lines, solid construction and honest functionality of their crafts – make it one of the most popular and timeless design categories in the US and beyond.

Whisky

A dram of fine scotch can transport us to Scotland - Highlands or Lowlands, coast or island - from anywhere in the world. This fully illustrated book looks at the ingredients and processes, the distilleries, the famous whiskies, and the wealth of colourful tales that make scotch whisky what it is. Inside front: Scotch whisky: words redolent of Highland vistas and wind-blown coasts, carefully guarded family traditions and the living heritage of craft-based distilling. Yet despite these very specific associations it is also the world’s most popular spirit, with new devotees flocking constantly from across the globe. Scotch Whisky looks at the history of the industry and drink – from moonlighters and Excisemen through prohibition up to recent competition from trendier clear spirits – and at what makes each malt whisky so unique: the various distilleries, the raw materials, the distillation and maturation, the sometimes minute variations that can make tremendous differences in flavor and aroma. Looking as well at grain whisky and blends, it is the only guide you will need to scotch and the scotch industry, whether touring distilleries or relaxing at home with a dram.

The Tudor Reformation

The Reformation transformed England forever. From peasants in the lanes and fields to the court of Henry VIII, no life was left untouched as the Roman Catholic Church was replaced as the centre of the nation’s religious life. Emerging from a dense mesh of European ecclesiastical and political controversy and Tudor dynastic ambition, the English Reformation ended with the Pope supplanted as the head of the national church, the great monasteries – owners of much of the country’s land – disbanded and destroyed, the Latin Mass replaced by vernacular services and the colourful wall paintings of parish churches whitewashed. This is a fully illustrated introduction that looks at the main players – Thomas Cranmer, Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell and others – as well as the broad sweep of this era of bitter controversy, brutal persecution and seismic upheaval.

The British Sailor of the First World War

In 1914 Great Britain’s navy was the largest and most powerful the world had ever seen – but what was the everyday experience of those who served in it? This fully illustrated book looks at the British sailor’s life during the First World War, from the Falkland Islands to the East African coast and the North Sea. Meals in the stokers’ mess and the admiral’s cabin; the claustrophobic terrors of the engine room or submarine; the long separations from loved ones that were the shared experience of all ranks; the perils faced by Royal Naval Air Service pilots – drawing on previously unpublished materials from the National Maritime Museum collections, this is an authoritative and vivid account of lives lived in quite extraordinary circumstances.

Aston Martin

Aston Martin is now a century old – and what a century it has been. Since its birth in London on the eve of the First World War, the company has experienced the highs of racing triumph – most famously in the 1959 Le Mans 24-hour race – and the lows of bankruptcy, yet throughout it all has been in the first rank of British marques. Published in association with the Aston Martin Heritage Trust and written by enthusiast Richard Loveys, Aston Martin is a fully illustrated history of the company that has created some of the the world’s best loved and most widely respected cars, including James Bond’s iconic DB5. It covers the cars themselves, the personalities and talents who have shaped Aston Martin, from owners to engineers, and the drivers who have shared with the company in racing glory, and the centenary celebrations of 2013.

A Century of Motoring

The lot of the motorist has changed greatly over the last hundred years. In the early twentieth century, only the most wealthy could afford a motor car and there were very few rules and regulations. Now most British people own a car and are protected by air bags and crumple zones, but also hemmed in by parking regulations, traffic jams and speed restrictions. In this richly illustrated history of the past hundred years of motoring, expert Jon Pressnell explores the main developments, such as the introduction and refinement of the driving test; the improvement of roads and the impact of the motorway; and how affordable cars such as the Mini have helped democratise driving. The evolution of the car itself is also explored, from the coachbuilt custom-made cars of the 1910s, through to the more attainable mass-produced models of the inter-war years, and finally to today’s complex and sometimes hybrid-powered vehicles.

What the RAF Airman Took to War

Between July and October 1940, in what became known as the Battle of Britain, a nation held its breath while the pilots of the Royal Air Force battled Hitler’s Luftwaffe in the skies above England. A huge number of airmen lost their lives in this hard-fought episode and in the four years of air campaigns that followed, and those who survived faced terrifying risks; as Prime Minister Winston Churchill put it, ‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few’. In this beautifully illustrated tribute to ‘The Few’, Bill Howard catalogues the objects which were essential to every wartime pilot, from the superstitious good-luck charm to the parachute on which his life might have depended and a wealth of other poignant items relating to his day-to-day existence during the air war against the Nazis.

The British Dentist

Though the prospect may fill us with dread, most of us need dental treatment at some stage – and the reality is that better care has never been available, as this fully illustrated book shows. Early dentistry was amateurish and limited to barber-surgeons, travelling tooth-pullers and blacksmiths, with patients often suffering as much from the cure as the malady; and even as things improved in the eighteenth century, fashionable dentures were still made from the teeth of dead soldiers or even of the poor. This authoritative introduction looks at this whole grisly history as well as at the increasing professionalism seen from the late nineteenth century onwards, which has led to very dramatic improvements in dental treatment, including modern dentures, amalgam fillings, anaesthetics and orthodontics, and to the current boom in cosmetic dentistry.

British Sheep Breeds

Sheep have been farmed in Britain for hundreds of years, and more than thirty million now inhabit these islands. The many breeds developed over this time have been carefully matched to their surroundings – from the hardy, seaweed-eating North Ronaldsay to the tough hill-dwelling Swaledale and the docile Dorset Down of the lowlands. Susannah Robin Parkin here explains the main differences between the various breeds and the qualities of their appearance, temperament, meat and wool, and also outlines the history of sheep farming and the way the industry works. Illustrated with beautiful colour photographs throughout, this is an essential introduction and guide to the main breeds and their classification into upland, hill and lowland varieties.

Shire Journal

New Year's Gifts Given to Queen Elizabeth I

Sarah Jane Downing

Anyone feeling disappointed with their presents this year may take comfort from knowing that Queen Elizabeth I was also the recipient of socks and hosiery, although, as during the 1560s well-fitting hosiery was amongst the most coveted of sartorial treasures she ...