After our mother died I stayed in her house until the funeral. One of the tasks the family set me was to sort out the bookcase. I recognised the Lewis Carroll works I had known all my life, but next to them was a volume I had never seen before, its gold lettering on the tan spine: Sussex Smugglers - Chichester 1749 - Reprint.
It was the seventh edition of the three trials over 18 months and confessions of members of the savage Hawkhurst Gang. A letter inside showed it had been gifted to our grandfather, a long-time Editor of the Folkestone Hythe and District Herald, who had a lifelong interest in smuggling.
One line intrigued me. It read: "The Battle of Goudhurst was the beginning of the end of the Gang."
As a former news reporter, I know a good story when I see one ... but what was the Battle of Goudhurst?
Six years later - and a lot of internet, maps and book hunting - I've tried to pick my way through the many retellings of the tale, past the embellishments and inaccuracies and to give some sense of the human reasons for the confrontation.
The title is taken from the last line of The Smugglers Song by Rudyard Kipling. I hope you enjoy reading While the Gentlemen Go By as much as I've been absorbed with writing it.
It's a ripping yarn.
Today, April 21st, is the 275th anniversary of the Battle of Goudhurst and I'm officially launching my book, While the Gentlemen Go By, to mark the occasion.
Here's what the Kent Messenger had to say: https://www.kentonline.co.uk/weald/news/gunfire-in-the-streets-of-a-weald-village-275-years-ago-265875/
It's a ripping yarn. Hope you enjoy!
See all about it on YouTube https://youtu.be/VOTRhPnpzFk