THE MITFORD FAMILY: NEARLY A THOUSAND YEARS OF HISTORY, by Hugh Mitford Raymond. Published by Zymurgy Publishing ( £16.99. Hardback.

FROM family archives, the author – the great-great grandson, nephew and cousin to the last seven Mitford squires, has written the previously untold story of his family. There are links with the Northumberland village of that name, where a succession of lords and squires held Mitford Castle, Mitford Manor, Mitford Hall and surrounding farmlands from 1042 until the last squire died in 2002, bringing the 32-generation dynasty to an end.
The estate originally covered more than 50,000 acres including the land on which Newcastle Airport was built, but by 1993, after 23 years of disrepair and neglect with no resident landlord, the remaining 5,000-acre estate was sold with five houses and nine tenanted farms for £2.85 million.
Mitford church, which was built in 1135 by William Bertram, Baron of Mitford and totally rebuilt from Mitford family funds between1874 and 1877, remains a significant, historical landmark.
A less fortunate structure is the 12th century Mitford Castle. Dismantled during the reign of Edward III (all that survive today are parts of the north wall and the foundations of a pentagonal keep), its stones were used to build Mitford Manor house in 1637. This served as the family seat for almost 200 years until it was destroyed by fire in 1813. The family’s final home, the Georgian mansion of Mitford Hall, was completed in 1828, having been designed by Newcastle architect, John Dobson.
Apart from the infamous pro-Nazi Mitford sisters, Unity and Diana, the more illustrious family members featured in this history include their sister, Deborah, who became Duchess of Devonshire; Robert Mitford, who established the first hospital on the sub-continent of India; and the Rev John Mitford, who edited and published the works of Milton, Wordsworth, Byron and Gray.
Edward Ledwich Mitford, a British government official, was the first person to ride 7,000 miles on horseback through 16 countries from London to Ceylon, and also drew up a plan for the creation of Israel.