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FOLLOWING previous books on early English silver, all published by the well-known antique silver firm, Bourdon-Smith, and starting in 1981 with London Silver Spoonmakers 1500-1697, Timothy Kent has now produced a new book charting the history of silver made in the county of Sussex, mainly at Lewes and Chichester, with the customary emphasis on 16th and 17th century spoons and church plate.

Much fascinating and important information is packed into its 48 pages, including biographical information, wills and inventories, along with 80 illustrations, mainly of objects and their marks. In setting the scene the author comments that Rye was a “hotbed of extreme puritanism” and Lewes was very much the same, with a large congregation at St Michael’s, under the Fifth Monarchist Walter Postlethwaite, who held the living from 1649 until the Restoration and who feared the Lord would abandon the English nation and “set up the government of Jesus Christ among the barbarous places”.

Very thorough and well written on the two main centres in Sussex, where working goldsmiths carried on their trade, with much information on the spoonmaking Dodsons of Lewes and the wider ranging ware, including tumbler cups and some church plate by Lewes’s Emery family.

In one of the appendices there is the inventory from the estate of Anthony Dodson (1723), which includes “Goods, Chattells, Credits”... “In the Shop, six and twenty oz: of old silver at 4s per oz: £5.4s” while the final entry simply reads: “Things unseen and forgotten, 2s.6d.”