Bourton-on-the-Hill resident Allen Firth has just published a new book with great local interest, set within a broader Regency context.

As well as tracing strong local Jane Austen links, and particularly her interest in the Dashwood Baronets with their hunting lodge at Bourton-on-the-Hill, it also encompasses wider contemporary aspects including the East India Company involvement of several high-profile characters and the Indian influences leading to the Cockerells’ early 19th century Mughal-style Sezincote House and gardens.

The themes in the new book pick up loose ends from The Book of Bourton-on-the-Hill, Batsford & Sezincote, Allen’s earlier local history publication, and develop these into an account of Regency connections linking Jane Austen and her Cotswold relatives with Warren Hastings, Humphry Repton, and Nelson among others. Austen’s fascination with the Dashwood Baronets is shown to provide inspiration for her choice of Dashwood as the central family name in her first published novel Sense and Sensibility, with Bourton-on-the-Hill and other local connections appearing to influence other names and allusions in her novel.

The Dashwoods’ notoriety emerging from their central role in the infamous 18th century Hell-Fire Club and the links between their main estate at West Wycombe Park and the Cotswolds, are reflected chronologically in the career of the topographical artist Thomas Daniell. His first significant commission was for the Dashwoods at West Wycombe [1781], with his ground-breaking artistic adventures in India [1786-1794] leading to key design involvement at Sezincote [c1803-1805]. Daniell’s final contribution is Sir Charles Cockerell’s commission around 1817 for paintings of the completed Sezincote House and estate, including images of its Wellington Pillar, commemorating the Duke of Wellington’s victories in India and in the Napoleonic Wars.

Allen has a keen interest in history, and especially architectural history, and has recently retired as a historic buildings Conservation Officer with Stratford-on-Avon District Council.

Copies of the book [382 pages, £12.99] can be obtained from the Borzoi Bookshop in Stow-on-the-Wold, through the websites of major distributors including Waterstones and Amazon, or requested through other local bookshops. Copies can also be obtained locally direct from the author [01386 700939,].