Sidmouth GP launches Fortfield Terrace history

Fortfield Terrace history proved fascinating to research for Sidmouth GP

A RETIRED Sidmouth GP is launching himself into the world of publishing.

Fascinated by the history of his Sidmouth home at Fortfield Terrace, Dr Peter Fung has enjoyed carrying out research for his book – From Venus to Victoria – which he will launch outside his home at 8 Fortfield Terrace, on Saturday, March 3 between 11am and 1pm.

He said: “Many Sidmouth residents know that Grand Duchess Helena of Russia and Elizabeth Barrett Browning stayed at 8 Fortfield Terrace, but there is not very much detail generally known about these events.

“While I was reading through the legal documents relating to our flat, I became aware of the large amount of historical detail available, not just about our flat, but the whole terrace.”

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Peter immersed himself in copies of the local newspaper up until Queen Victoria’s reign, and spent hours at Devon Record Office and West Country Studies Library.

Peter’s book title alludes to the man who had the terrace built. Thomas Jenkins from Honiton, acquired a statue of Venus, now known as the Jenkins Venus, which was missing its head and limbs.

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He had it restored and sold it to a William Weddell of Newby Hall in 1765. It was sold for nearly �8 million in 2002.

Jenkins acquired the Manor of Sidmouth in 1787 and in 1790 commissioned Michael Novosielski to build Fortfield Terrace.

Peter has chosen to stop his book in 1901, during Queen Victoria’s reign, when all but two of the homes in the terrace were lodging houses.

It is likely Jane Austen’s unfinished novel Sanditon, refers to the terrace in a seaside town as being “a short row of smart looking houses called the Terrace”.

The terrace was still unfinished in 1864. Before that it had its first royal visitor, Princess Caroline, wife of George 1V.

Peter said: “I was struck by the wonderful resource we have in Sidmouth, in the form of our museum, and also the amazing amount of our historical heritage that is preserved in our libraries and record offices.”

*From Venus to Victoria, published by Fortfield Publishing will sell for �11.99 from Paragon Books.

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