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Home arrow Books arrow Creative non-fiction arrow Quinto: Lisbon to Abeford

Quinto: Lisbon to Abeford Print E-mail
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An imagined account of the events in Portugal and England from spring 1808 to 1810 and the involvement of Henry van Zeller, the son of a wine merchant from Oporto.

ImageAberford, says Wikipedia, is a large village on the eastern outskirts of the City of Leeds in West Yorkshire, England. It has a population of 1,180 according to the 2011 census, and has probably been about that size for several hundred years.
Aberford was considered to be the midway point between London and Edinburgh, being around 200 miles distant from each city and lying on the ancient Great North Road. When I moved there in 1953 I characterised it as being "about a mile and a half long and one house thick..." and thought that The Road was everything there was to the village, and whilst this is in some ways true, there is much more than that: the parish church, for example, is dedicated to St Ricarius - not St Richard as sometimes stated - the only one in the country with this ascription. It has a pub, The Arabian Horse, again with a unique name. The Road, as part of the Roman ridgeway leading to Calcaria (Tadcaster) and Eboracum (York) punches a hole through ancient Brigantine earthworks near the village green, and just to the south, neatly quartering the village, flows the Cock Beck which less than a mile downstream flowed with blood after the Battle of Towton.
In the churchyard, along with the monuments to the great and good of the village, there used to stand, near the porch, a headstone which read: "Henry Van Zeller, born at Oporto October 15 1787, died at Abberford January 31 1810, Aged 23 Years" If this attracted any attention at all, it used to be because of the spelling of the village name, an example of evolution at work, maybe. The stone was moved sometime in the 1970s or so when the churchyard was "tidied up" and now stands against the rear wall near the door to Church House and the old rock-cut sarcophagus.
For many years questions as to why a young Portuguese should die thousands of miles away from home rumbled away at the back of my mind - who was he? why, since he was presumably a Catholic, was he buried in the church yard? (there is a Roman catholic church in the village) what was the link to Porto? So in 2002 I decided at last to visit Porto and find out. This is the result.

This book (in English) is available direct from the publisher:

Extent: 426 pp
Format:Softback, A5, 150 x 210 x 24mm



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