Humphrey Phelps’ 1993 book A Forest Christmas is a fascinating, heart-warming compendium of reminiscence, poems, stories, fact, fiction and pictures reflecting Christmas in the Forest of Dean. The book features the memories of well-known local personalities such as Cinderford stalwart Elsie Olivey (co-founder of the Dean Heritage Museum); ex-newspaperman and then reverend to Ruardean Cliff Davies; and freeminer Eric Warren as well as many more. The work of local authors such as F. W. Harvey, Winifred Foley, Leonard Clark and Harry Beddington, Ralph Anstis and many others feature too. In this extract from the book Harry Beddington (in a poem that first appeared in his own book Forest Humour) fondly extolls the virtues of the Forest's brass and silver bands traditions at Christmas:
It’s allus bin the practice ‘ere
Amongst the photographs in the book several show seasonal snow-bound Forest scenes. Newspaper clippings date as far back as the nineteenth century. This one from the early twentieth century reminds us of a much loved Forest business.
If you're ever struggling to get into the Christmas spirit this is the book for you - within minutes of delving into its covers you'll be humming carols and glowing with festive cheer and good will to all! For anyone interested in the Forest, Humphrey Phelps is a great story teller, historian and researcher - for all seasons of the year.