Former deputy headteacher Wil Hulbert said he is relieved to have finally published a novel that was 43 years in the making.

The 61-year-old first came up with the idea for The Murder of Crows when he was 18 and was visiting the Yelde Hall in Chippenham as an A-level history student.

A mixture of historical fiction and science-fiction, his book is based on the idea of the fire of London being started deliberately by people from another world who had come down to earth to rid it of plague.

Mr Hulbert, who retired four years ago after 26 years at Monkton Park Primary School, said: “I started writing it 20 years ago but it was a bit saucy, so it would have been a bit embarrassing to put it out when I was still deputy head. So I waited. I’ve redrafted it so many times now, the time came I just had to say stop, just get it out there.”

On Monday he did a book signing of The Murder of Crows, said to be influenced by Richard Adams and J.R.R. Tolkien, in Magpie Music on Market Place.

This is the former location of the Lyon Inn pub, which is believed to be where townsman John Woodman plotted the fire of London in 1666. He is alleged to have told a fellow farmer that he was leaving the country, but beforehand he would see ‘London as sad a London as ever it was since the world began’.

Mr Hulbert, who lives on Dallas Road and is a director of Chippenham Town Football Club, said: “I wanted to write it to get Chippenham on the map.

“I remember at the age of 18 wondering how such inspiration could be the brainchild of simple 17th century country folk living in a small market town 100 miles away from London, and to what possible ends their plot could be.”

People will be able to follow the action in his story through the accompanying maps, which show many places and buildings which still exist today.

The Murder of Crows is available from Magpie Music priced at £12.99. For more info, see