Successful book launch for former Sidmouth GP

New book on Fortfield Terrace’s past proves popular purchase

MORE than 100 people attended the launch of a new book about Sidmouth’s Fortfield Terrace on Saturday.

Dr Peter Fung, a former town GP, lives at the terrace and, fascinated by its past, decided to research its history from when it was built to Victorian times.

For a couple of hours on Saturday morning, he sat in the sun outside his home, signing copies of From Venus to Victoria, published by Fortfield Publishing at �11.99 and on sale at Paragon Books, High Street, Sidmouth.

He said: “We did have a lovely party, the weather was great and the Terrace and Sidmouth looked beautiful.

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“We sold 65 books, met friends old and new, consumed quite a lot of bubbly stuff, wine and fruit punch, and generally had a good time.”

Peter’s prologue to the book explains a link with the past that also links to his research of Thomas Jenkins, who commissioned Michael Novosielski in 1790 to build Fortfield Terrace.

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In June 2004 an infrequent astronomical event, known as ‘the transit of Venus’, was observable in Sidmouth as the planet Venus passed between Earth and the sun.

While Peter was researching his book, he read in the Sidmouth Directory and General Advertiser of December 4, 1882: ‘On Weds next…at transit of Venus across the face of the sun, will be visible in Sidmouth if the clouds permit.

‘No living man has seen a transit of Venus in England, and no-one alive can ever see one again unless he lives to the year 2004.’

So Thomas Jenkins’ purchase of the statue of Venus in 1765, sold in London for nearly �8 million in 2002, is the perfect starting point for this fascinating book, which features its notable visitors, including Jane Austen, Princess Caroline of Brunswick, the Grand Duchess Helena of Russia; whose stay is marked by a pair of black eagles on the building, and the poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

No stone has been left unturned in Peter Fung’s research of the terrace and its occupants, who are listed from various census reports from 1851, to 1891.

*See more details from From Venus to Victoria in next week’s Nostalgia.

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