This is an unusual guidebook to The Isle of Thanet, written by By Chas. H. Ross, it comes from the Victorian satirical publishing house that produced Judy magazine. Judy was an offshoot, possibly a rival to the better-known Punch magazine that started in the 1840s.
As far as I can tell this book was first published in about 1880 its humorous approach equates to Gilbert and Sullivan and Diary of a Nobody. Judy started in 1867 and seems to have vanished in about 1900.
As a child I lived in a Victorian house, bound volumes of Punch lurked in the corners of bookcases both at home and in my friend’s houses. I read through them, as they were obviously supposed to be funny; you could tell from the pictures. I suppose as a child I assumed that humour was something that one learned, as the other things from the adult world. I don’t think it ever occurred to me then that as the volumes of Punch were mostly around 100 years old, they had ceased for the most part to be funny to anyone. We didn’t have any bound copies of Judy, I don’t think my Victorian ancestors many of whom were still alive at the time, would have approved of it.
Always for the local historian one of the greatest difficulties is extracting from histories and guidebooks what the place was really like at the time they were written. For the most part the books about The Isle of Thanet try to tell us about the past as it was perceived at the time of writing.
This book goes one step further, in that aspects of it are so quintessentially Victorian that one finds oneself starting to think somewhat like a Victorian.
I found during reading it that I was to some extent travelling in that foreign country which is called the past.
The original book was a piece of cheap, throw away, publishing. The pages were not very well printed, so I have done my best with it to make it all legible. Most of all though I have endeavoured to retain the atmosphere of the original in my reprint.
These ephemeral guidebooks are extremely scarce, they appear on the secondhand book market far less frequently than the more respected academic histories of Thanet.
The price of one of the original copies would be very hard to judge. I bought mine at auction and was pleasantly surprised to get it for just under £100 as neither you nor I will probably never find another copy so its price is unlikely to be of great import.
On the other hand the value of the book is not diminished in this modern reprint. The humour is there both intended and created by the passage of time, if one sort don’t make you laugh the other probably will, hopefully a little of both.
It is as well to remember that at this time both Ramsgate and Margate were two of the busiest resorts in the world. The Granville hotel in Ramsgate ranked among the top hotels in the world. The tower on the Granville hotel houses the tanks to supply pressure for the many types of bath available in its astonishing spa. Politicians, celebrities and even royalty wandered our streets mixing with the crowds down from the London season. Even special luxury trains ran from London.
Anyway so much for my rambling on click here for sample pages from the book and click here should you wish to buy it.