James Gardner’s Books

Signed copies of the following are available:

“Sweet Bells Jangled Out of Tune” (1999)

Price £17.95p including p&p

Illustrated Hardcover  - 321 pages – ISBN: 0953610101

In 1859 the first public asylum in Sussex opened amidst great publicity near Haywards Heath. For in mid-Victorian England, mental health reformers believed in something revolutionary: that a well-run progressive asylum could solve the increasing problem of ‘madness’ in society. The asylum’s first superintendent was Dr Charles Lockhard Robertson, a man of great strength and foresight in the treatment of the insane. His humane methods contrasted strongly with the appalling practices adopted in places such as Bethnal Green Asylum in London. This book looks at the wide range of treatments he employed, included Roman baths, pet therapy and ‘moral treatment’.  Although St Francis closed in 1995, its impressive main building still remains and stands as a powerful and lasting monument to the reforming zeal of Victorian Society and to the spirit of men such as Robertson.

“The Trail of the Serpent” (2004)

Price £6.99 +pp

Illustrated Paperback – 192 pages – ISBN: 0954258762

The Balcombe Tunnel murder in Sussex was the most sensational news item back in 1881 surpassing in newspaper coverage even the assassinations of the Russian Tsar and the American President. It was only the second murder to have been committed on an English train. On a sunny Monday afternoon in June, a retired businessman was brutally attacked in a first class carriage on the London to Brighton train and thrown into the tunnel. Eventually, a young twenty-one year old author and journalist, Percy Lefroy Mapleton, was convicted and hanged at Lewes prison. In the last ten days of his life he wrote a fascinating 19,000 word autobiography. Only discovered by the author over a hundred years later, it throws new light on a man and a crime that both shocked and fascinated Victorian society.


Price £19.95 including p and p.

Illustrated hardcover – 460 pages – ISBN: 978-0953610112

The spectre of the workhouse haunted the old, the sick, the unemployed, the young and the vulnerable. Its buildings were not symbols of civic pride to adorn urban centres, but were cheap, bleak, grimly austere and oppressive to the poor. They were usually on the edge of town, much like the last standing Brighton workhouse in Elm Grove, now Brighton General Hospital. It superseded the one at Church Hill, just north of St Nicholas’ church, from where in 1862 the pauper children were sent to Warren Farm Industrial Schools in Woodingdean – so isolated an area that contemporaries referred to it as “East America”. The book seeks to give a voice to those men, women and children who found themselves , not in the elegant seafront hotels of which Brighton has been so proud, but instead as inmates of its workhouses. This book is about their forgotten lives.

“The First British Railway Murder” (2013)

Price £7.95p including p&p.(Kindle £2.07)

Paperback – 162 pages – ISBN: 978-0953610129

The murder in 1864 shocked the whole nation.  On a busy London train on a humid summer’s evening, an elderly man, Thomas Briggs, was savagely attacked, thrown out the train and left dying by the railway tracks. A poor German tailor, Franz Muller, was eventually arrested, convicted and executed in front of a huge bloodthirsty crowd outside Newgate prison. At his trial his lawyer said that it was “a crime which demanded a victim”. Was Muller that victim?

“The Balcombe Tunnel Murder” (2013)

Kindle Book: £2.26p

This is a ducu-drama book adapted from The Trail of the Serpent. Essentially it tries to tell the same story in a different way with some additional information learnt since the publication of the latter in 2004. Some of the chapters are identical in both books.  


front cover of first British Railway Murder

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