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Early last autumn, completely by chance, two papers on the same theme were sent to me lkuittle more than a week apart, for possible publication in The Local Historian. They looked at cases of alleged witchcraft—one in the late seventeenth century in Somerset, the other in mid-Victorian Essex. Quite independently, the authors had taken a similar approach to their analysis, by exploring the local and family history of the supposed victims and the accused. They had used familiar sources, such as parish registers and census returns, newspapers and published accounts of the cases, to try to get behind the sensational ‘facts’ and to place the people involved in their social and cultural context.
Such an approach has been used before—for example, recent studies of the celebrated Pendle witches in Jacobean Lancashire have considered the strong religious dimension to the case, against a background of persistent recusancy in the county. They have also teased out intriguing connections between the victims and some of the magistrates and other members of the elite who were involved—not least their geographical proximity. But I was very pleased to see that in both of the papers published in this issue of The Local Historian the methodologies of local history and family history have been applied so effectively. This ‘deconstructing’ of a story works well: it exposes the realities and the social, kinship and cultural frameworks behind the sensationalised events, and it sheds light upon what Ian Beckwith, quoting Hobsbawm and Rudé, calls ‘the dark village’. In other words, the powerful yet undocumented parallel structures which lay—and doubtless still lie—behind the formal frameworks of every community.
The purpose is not the negative one of debunking a myth, though that might be an outcome of such research. Rather, it is to emphasise the complexities and nuances which are in such sharp contrast to the two-dimensional cardboard cut-out picture of these events. Andrew Pickering could not at this distance confirm or refute that Mary Hill really did vomit ‘more than Two Hundred Crooked Pins, besides several clusters of Crooked Pins ... Seven Pieces of Pewter, Four Pieces of Brass, being Handles of Spoons, Six Pieces of Lead, some whereof were Handles of Spoons, and some, the Lead of a Window, besides one Solid Piece of Lead, which weighed full two Ounces; Six long Pieces of Latten, with Wire belonging to them; Five Pieces of Iron, one whereof was round, but hollow, and very big; and Two and Twenty Nails, some whereof were Board-Nails, above three Inches and a Quarter long’. I have to confess that it seems unlikely that she did), but instead Andrew was able to demonstrate the complex intermeshing of kinship links and other ties within the village community.
It’s likely that every reader will know of local tales and stories which are constantly repeated in the derivative literature but which under scrutiny fall apart. Sometimes we do not know where and when they originated, at other times the source is clear and the culprit can be identified. Two examples of such generally-accepted but implausible tales in my own county, Lancashire, are that textile production began with the arrival of Flemish weavers in 1337—what local people wore before then is never stated—and that until the late eighteenth century there were almost no wheeled vehicles in the county and most goods, even those carried between Liverpool and Manchester, went by packhorse. Neither is remotely tenable, but both are still repeated in unreliable un-researched histories. We try to promote solidly-grounded and accurate local history, but sometimes it’s an uphill struggle!
As a subject of local historical study, inns, taverns, alehouses and pubs have a long history, dating back to Victorian work such as that of Dymond on the The Old Inns and Taverns of Exeter (1880). More generally the subject has also enjoyed a lengthy popularity, with books like Thomas Burke’s The English Inn of 1930 or A.E. Richardson’s The Old Inns of England (1934), which boasted a foreword by Sir Edwin Lutyens. Similar publications have continued to appear down to the present day. Although some work, like Dymond’s, was well researched and is still useful, much of it was of doubtful value: the ‘whole pile of “Ye Olde Inne” books … of little use for the understanding of the pub today or at any other time’, as it was caustically described in The Pub and the People, Mass Observation’s well-known study of the pub in Worktown (actually Bolton) in the late 1930s. More recently, however, the history of drink and drinking places has attracted the attention of a number of historians, from Brian Harrison’s great work on Drink and the Victorians of 1971 and Peter Clark’s pioneering study of The English Alehouse in 1983. This trend has continued and many aspects of the subject have now received, and continue to receive, scholarly attention.
At the local level, the subject—but particularly that of inns, pubs and other drinking places—has also been thriving and the first three books under review here exemplify the kind of work which has been published, the first two taking approaches commonly adopted, the third one which is rather more rarely undertaken. Of the former, one method has been to present a collection of photographs with commentary and captions. This is the one taken by Paul Chrystal in his book on the pubs of Harrogate, which also takes in neighbouring towns and villages including Knaresborough and Boroughbridge, and looks at a total of forty establishments. Avowedly ‘accessible and friendly’, it provides some historical detail, both on the area covered and the selected pubs, although this is of questionable value, being largely anecdotal. This section of the introduction takes up almost a whole page (of just four) with lengthy quotations from Fiennes and Defoe and containing some obvious mistakes—for example, that the number of pubs was restricted by law in 1553. That was in fact a statute applying only to taverns, which specialised in the sale of wine. The book also displays a common anachronism, despite all the work on the subject now published, in that the term ‘public house’ did not come into use until the close of the seventeenth century and ‘pub’ not until the mid-nineteenth. The photographs themselves are a mixture of historical and contemporary colour, which are certainly nicely presented but the accompanying captions are also of variable quality, being sometimes rather perfunctory and again tending to the anecdotal, including the ghost story, that old favourite of books about inns and pubs. Therefore from the quality of its illustrations, the useful maps, the contemporary information and at least some of the historical information this is of some interest to local residents and visitors, it does not offer, and perhaps is not really intended to, a history of pubs in the area and is consequently of little use to historians of the subject.
Chrystal's book is published by Amberley, which together with the History Press and formerly Tempus, has produced a number of similar works on local inns and pubs. Others have been published by their authors or by local societies. Such is the case with the second book under consideration, by the Herne Hill and Dulwich Societies. This similarly offers a collection of historical and contemporary photographs, again nicely produced, of forty pubs in the districts concerned, listed alphabetically as a gazetteer, which is a format commonly used in local studies. The associated commentary and captions are clearly based on detailed work in primary sources and contain much of interest. Overall, they are based in a good understanding of the historical context of drink and drinking places. However I did feel, as someone with no previous knowledge of these places other than a memory of seeing television coverage of the destruction of pubs during the Brixton riots of 1981, that more detail on the history of the area would have been helpful. However, in the quality of the research and production, this is certainly of interest more widely than simply to local people. Sources are listed, although they are rather limited on the wider history of the pub, and a useful index is provided.
The third book, by Andrew Sargent on Deal, is an altogether more ambitious project and exemplifies a much rarer approach to the subject by offering as the author puts it a ‘”whole story” account of the consumption of beer and the development and functioning of public houses in a specific location’. In this he kindly acknowledges a debt to my own work on Bradford (see below); that of Rob Donovan on Norwich (published in Brewery History nos.130, 132, 134 and 137 in 2009 and 2010); and that of R.C. Riley and Philip Eley on Portsmouth (Public Houses and Beerhouses in Nineteenth Century Portsmouth, 1983). Accordingly, there are chapters on the brewing industry; the pubs themselves and those who ran them; the customers and the vital social role which pubs played in the life of the town; the regulation and policing of pubs; and the temperance movement and its effects, covering the years from the important Beer Act of 1830 down to the First World War. The particular history of this Kent coastal town is clearly and thoroughly detailed. Throughout, this local material is set in the wider historical context, for example in the clear but detailed analysis of the effects of various pieces of licensing legislation. There is a huge range of fascinating insights, such as that concerning the notoriously corrupt Deal by-election of 1880 which resulted in the town losing its independent parliamentary representation, or on the operation of the controversial Contagious Diseases Acts which sought to remove the problem of venereal diseases by targeting the women rather than the soldiers and sailors who provided their custom. These are just three examples of many where the local evidence presented contributes to our understanding of broader questions. Detailed references are provided, enabling other researchers to see the type and range of relevant primary sources available. There is a select bibliography, which includes key general works on the subject as well as local studies, and an excellent index. There are useful maps and over eighty illustrations, although in my paperback edition at least they do not always reproduce very clearly. Overall, this book fulfils its author’s aim admirably and the book should be regarded as an excellent study of drink and drinking places in a specific locality, and it is important and valuable to anyone interested either in its particular subject matter or more generally in the social history of the nineteenth century.
The roadhouses which form the subject of the monograph which is the fourth book reviewed here were a transient phenomenon (chiefly of the inter-war years), few in number and confined largely to south-east England, but one which the authors invest with wider significance. As their name implies, roadhouses were rooted in the growth of motor car use after the First World War and the associated development of new arterial roads. Two phases in their story are identified. The first, from 1929 to 1933, saw their patronage by an ‘elite metropolitan group of highly mobile people’, epitomised by the sighting of the playboy Prince of Wales at the Ace of Spades roadhouse on the Great West Road. Patrons enjoyed fine dining, the American vogue for cocktails, dancing and a range of other activities, notably outdoor swimming (benefiting from unusually hot 1930s’ summers) but also polo, riding, tennis, squash, badminton, miniature golf and croquet, among others. Opportunities for sex were a further attraction, including those afforded by their car parks. In the second phase, from around 1934, the fashionable elite moved on, to be replaced by members of the growing number of middle- and lower middle-class suburbanites with well-paid jobs and cars. It is this departure of the fashionable crowd that the authors cite as a principal reason for the rapid demise of roadhouses. As they quote from Monica Ewer's 1935 novel Roadhouse, ‘A luxury business built on a craze never lasts’. In the end, big brewery companies, rather than the individual entrepreneurs who had typically established roadhouses, more successfully met the desires and aspirations of the leisured motorist with their so called ‘improved pubs’, emphasising greater comfort, the provision of meals and a more family-orientated ambience, superseding the old-style, male-dominated pub.
This necessarily brief summary inevitably does not do justice to the which is detail here assembled, at times indeed a little repetitively, and which is fully supported with notes, bibliography and a catalogue of the 78 roadhouses known to the authors. The wider significance of the phenomenon is drawn out, as roadhouses are linked to key trends of the inter-war years: the expansion of car ownership, suburbanisation, the growth of the middle and lower-middle classes, greater gender equality, the vogue for physical fitness and the outdoors and the influence of the United States on British culture. At times this can be rather ploddingly, even pretentiously, expressed as when, for example, we hear of ‘a conflation of the ideas of modernity and Americanization in inter-war cultural discourse’, which some may find off-putting. Overall, though, this is a book with much to offer those interested in the social and cultural history of these years, although this reviewer couldn’t warm much to the 'fatuous and trivial' fashionable life which it portrays. Its subject would seem, however, to offer limited scope for further detailed research for local historians with an interest in the period and in changing patterns of leisure, due to the limited number of roadhouses, their regional concentration and transient nature.
Although there have been anxieties in modern Britain over the effects of excessive alcohol consumption, as with so called binge-drinking, or its consequences for individual health, this pales beside the preoccupation of our Victorian and Edwardian forebears with the ‘Demon Drink’, as it was significantly capitalised. Not only was it the target of a massively supported temperance movement, but concern about drink and its social consequences also pervaded society. The fifth of these books reflects that importance in its focus on the key area of the regulation of drink and drinking places. That it does so as a study of one city, Liverpool, reflects two important points. The first is the enormous diversity of towns and cities, each one with its unique experience. Thus nineteenth-century Liverpool ‘enjoyed’ a reputation as a pre-eminently drunken city, a black spot on the Mersey, which its civic leaders consciously sought to overturn. Second is the importance of how the regulatory system established by parliament was implemented locally, emphasising the supreme importance of localism in nineteenth-century urban life.
The book’s detailed subject matter is the licensing system in Liverpool, overseen by local magistrates, and how ‘local diagnoses produced local solutions’, or the way in which a particular configuration of local circumstances produced the outcomes it did. In practical terms this was expressed in efforts, for example, to prevent prostitutes frequenting pubs (which in law they were entitled so to do for ‘reasonable refreshment’) and, more widely, women in general; to control the architectural and spatial arrangements of pubs in targeting snugs, where immoral actions might take place, or back doors into which women might sneak; as well as over the more fundamental question of the number of pubs. It covers in total ninety years from the passing of the Beer Act 1830, which saw 800 new beerhouses open in the city in just three weeks, through the city’s experiment with so-called ‘free licensing’, in which a licence was granted to any suitable applicant who applied; to the development by the century’s end of its new reputation as an example of what could be achieved by licensing; and finally to its experience of the restrictions of the First World War.
This is in many ways a highly technical subject. Licensing law was extremely complex and its administration equally so. Similarly, questions with which Beckingham engages, such as that of the tension between individual freedom on the one hand and the perceived need for restriction on the other, or of the response which civic authorities made to the problems thrown up by the growth of cities, are challenging ones. Nonetheless, they are subjects with which he deals in a readable way and a non-specialist reader is guided through developments clearly. One never loses sight of the essential humanity of the subject—the people with whom we are dealing—as exemplified by the splendid cover illustration of a slum child leaving a pub with a jug of beer (another cause for civic concern), watched by two bewhiskered constables.
For local historians, in particular, the book shows the importance of the national context, embodied in licensing legislation, but above all there is the message that localities do not merely serve as case studies of a national issue but that localism, of context and outcome, is central to understanding how society worked. One would therefore find different stories in, say, Bradford, Newcastle, Norwich or Portsmouth, to name just four cities which have received the attention of historians, and it is perhaps a pity that Beckingham did not engage explicitly with other experiences of the question. Despite the work that has been done, it is a subject which offers much scope for further local research and for this, as more generally for our understanding of the Victorian and Edwardian ‘Drink Question’ and the shaping of its great cities, Beckingham’s book is warmly recommended.
Books reviewed in this article
HARROGATE PUBS including Knaresborough by Paul Chrystal (Amberley 2016 95pp ISBN 978 1 4456 5318 1) £14.99
THE PUBS OF DULWICH AND HERNE HILL by John Brunton, Laurence Marsh, Ian McInnes and John Walters (Herne Hill Society in association with the Dulwich Society 2016 130pp ISBN 978 0 9540323 1 9) £9.50 available via www.hernehillsociety.org.uk;
DRINKING IN DEAL: Beer, pubs and temperance in an East Kent town 1830-1914 by Andrew Sargent (BooksEast 2016 288pp ISBN 978 1 908304 20 9) £20 pbk also in hbk
THE ROADHOUSE COMES TO BRITAIN: Drinking, driving and dancing, 1925-1955 by David W. Gutzke and Michael John Law (Bloomsbury 2017 viii+181pp ISBN 978 1 4742 9450 8) £65
THE LICENSED CITY: regulating drink in Liverpool, 1830-1920 by David Beckingham (Liverpool University Press 2017 xii+289pp ISBN 978 1 78138 343 8) £80
PAUL JENNINGS is a social historian who has specialised in the history of drink and drinking places in England. His chief publications are The Public House in Bradford, 1770-1970 (Keele University Press, 1995), The Local: a History of the English Pub (The History Press, 2007 and pbk 2011) and A History of Drink and the English, 1500-2000 (Routledge, 2016). He has now shifted his attentions and is researching a book on the working classes in Edwardian Harrogate.
(Berkshire Local History Association 2016 76pp ISBN 9780956634184) £5
Joan Dils is one of the last of a generation of gifted local historians who have—in Margaret Yates’s words—changed lives by introducing hundreds of enthusiasts to the disciplines we associate with local history. With the government-inspired destruction of adult education in the 1990s we are unlikely to see their ilk again. The loss of the classes they led, and perhaps particularly of the research groups which they fostered, has been a considerable blow for local history. Joan Dils will forever be associated with local history classes in Berkshire, and this book of essays arises from the AGM of the county’s local history association in 2015, when presentations were given on topics close to Joan’s heart. They are reproduced here as scholarly essays which I have no doubt she will fully appreciate.
The book begins with a brief overview by Margaret Yates of Joan’s life and work, emphasising her extraordinary energy—she was once teaching seven OUDCE classes a week! The first of the three main essays is by Gillian Clark who examines Berkshire’s connection with the Foundling Hospital from its opening in 1741. During the following 27 years the hospital sent more than 1200 babies to be wet-nursed in Berkshire by around 600 women. Clark has been working on this subject for some years and in this essay she has been able to piece together from the extensive and comprehensive records an account of how the system worked, including the enormously important cloth token system, designed to ensure that parents wishing to reclaim a child could be sure it was the one they had previously left with the hospital. The paper ends with a number of case studies linked to Berkshire cases, and overall it adds weight to the recent work of John Styles on textile tokens.
The second essay is by Kate Tiller, and is a study of the changing relationship between clergy and people in the Caversham area on the north bank of the River Thames near Reading between 1780 and 1920. Tiller begins with Carl Moritz’s visit to Nettlebed in 1782 and what it tells us about the church (both building and worship) at the time. She then moves on to examine the work of William Crabtree at Checkendon in the Oxfordshire Chilterns in the 1820s, and one of his curates Samuel Wilberforce. Her third example is Dorchester, and her final case is Dunsden with its links to the war poet Wilfred Owen. It is an interesting and highly readable account of how the Church of England developed through the long nineteenth century, using solid local examples.
The third essay is by Alan Crosby who looks at the south of the county, ‘occasionally straying over the boundary into Hampshire and Surrey’ remarks David Cliffe (as if the editor of The Local Historian needs a geography lesson)! Alan, despite his long exile in Lancashire is, of course, originally from ‘the new and chaotic town of Woking’ (p.63) in Surrey. In this essay he looks at the heathland areas 25 miles west of London but seemingly a world away from the metropolis. Today these have largely gone, although a few commons survive scattered through the area.
The essay looks at the process of disappearance beginning with Daniel Defoe and quoting later contemporaries. With very poor quality soil this was not an area for farmers, let alone farming innovation. Piecemeal enclosure from the waste occurred, and newly-arrived and ultra-fashionable garden plants were cultivated. Improved overland transport made the area more accessible to visitors, including coach services along the turnpike roads. City people could begin to envisage living in the area, and then came the railway which further encouraged heathland development, sitting alongside areas set aside for military exercises. Between 1851 and 1901 the population of Sandhurst increased from 815 to 2386 and that of Aldershot from 875 to 30,974. All the new towns had areas of terraced housing, gasworks and railway sidings, and substantial numbers of small villas and lower-middle class developments as well as superior residential areas characterised by large detached houses set in extensive landscaped grounds. Often the houses had a deliberately rustic appearance, and they tended to be in leafy lanes and wooded avenues. Today there is little left of the heathlands, largely as a result of urban development and the growth of secondary woodland. As ever with Alan Crosby’s work, this was a pleasure to read, thoughtful, and a splendid example of the local historian at work.
I feel sure that Joan Dils will have enjoyed these essays as much as I have—three excellent, scholarly pieces of work based on documentary research and demonstrating local history at its best. In 2008 BALH rightly and properly awarded Joan a Personal Achievement award for her contribution to local history. This book takes that recognition further and is, as Kate Tiller puts it, ‘our kind of history’.
JOHN BECKETT is professor of English regional history at the University of Nottingham and was between 2005 and 2010 director of the Victoria County History. His book Writing Local History was published by Manchester University Press in 2007.
(Cambridgeshire Record Society 2016 120pp, 16 sheets of reproduced 1658 map, CD with digital copies of maps of 1658, 1684 and 1706 ISBN 978-0-904323-25-2) £36non-members: members £21.50; BARNET ENCLOSURE AWARD Maps and schedule 1818 edited Susan Flood and Jane Walker (Hertfordshire Record Society 2016 two booklets of 10pp and 26pp, folder with 1818 map in 5 sheets IBSN 978-0956511157) £8.50 non-members (members £6); MAPPING SADDLEWORTH vol.2 Manuscript maps of the parish 1625-1822 edited Mike Buckley, David Harrison, Victor Khadem, Alan Petford and John Widdall (Saddleworth Historical Society 2010 233pp ISBN 0 904982 12 2) £19.95 [see also the review of a posthumous festschrift for Alan Petford, at the end of this section]
These three works, all of them remarkably low-priced, tackle in different ways the difficult problem of how to make available to a wider audience rare or unique historical maps, at their original size, but within the constraints of a book-type format significantly smaller than the originals that are being reproduced. At the same time they also address, again in different ways, the question as to how to study a map. David Woodward, the great historian of cartography, suggested that it made sense to follow a three-fold approach to the study of a map: ‘as artifact, image and vehicle’. In other words, not only describing it as an object, and how and why it came to be made; and not only describing what it shows; but also, perhaps most importantly, looking at the map as a ‘text’—a historical and social document throwing light on a lost world. The balance between these elements varies considerably in these three works. All three are the product of local societies, and are clearly aimed primarily at a local rather than wider market, through the Fens map in particular is important at a national level, and is of interest to anyone concerned either with the history of cartography, or of seventeenth-century ‘improvement’.
This is also the most successful of the three works in reproducing the map (TNA MPC 1/88 1-16) in sixteen full-size, high-quality paper reproductions, and also on CD as a high-resolution digital version of the 1658 map and two later versions. Although the emphasis is perhaps primarily on the map as image, the accompanying book gives the context (by Frances Willmoth), and tells the story of how the largest area of lowland bog in England came to be drained and enclosed, and how the survey was made and printed as a wall-map some six feet wide by four feet high, of which a single copy survives. The heavy emphasis on heraldry around the map, with more than eighty arms being displayed, quite clearly shows that for the Company of Conservators of the Fens which commissioned it this was first and foremost a work of propaganda, intended for display and saying something about both the Company, and its investors, the main ‘consumers’ of the map. The accompanying biographical section, by Elizabeth Stazicker, rightly focuses on these men, giving brief, though detailed and well-researched, lives of each.
The owners, if not the commissioners, of this map were doubtless primarily interested in the overall impression that it gave, and its depiction of their individual holdings: but for us it shows the emergence in less than twenty years of a wholly new landscape of drains and straight lines. We tend to associate such a landscape with the period of parliamentary enclosure, with which the Barnet book is concerned. Some 5000 Acts concerned with enclosure were passed between the 1720s and 1900, covering perhaps one-fifth of the area of England. The commissioners who surveyed the unenclosed land and parcelled it out into new allotments brought about a dramatic remodelling of the landscape. It is worth remembering, though, that the maps which were generally produced to accompany their schedules depict, to an even greater extent than the Fens map, a landscape which did not actually exist at the moment when the maps were made, but which came into existence as a result of their work. Hence these maps are an essential starting point for anyone interested in the landscape or local history of a place, as they allow the reconstruction of that locality before and after its enclosure. While thousands of these manuscript maps survive in record offices, full size reproductions are relatively rare. The Hertfordshire Record Society is thus to be congratulated on publishing this reproduction, especially at a very modest price.
The work comprises a folder into which are slotted full-size paper copies of the five maps which accompanied the Barnet award, together with a brief introduction by Susan Flood and a summary of the schedule by Jane Walker, listing the names, acreages and tenure of some 938 parcels. The introduction briefly describes the background to the award, but it is to be regretted that this it is so brief. Enclosure maps are often huge, so why was this one divided by its maker into five separate maps? Such maps generally only show the land to be enclosed, but this one surveys in detail some 687 ‘old inclosures’, buildings, gardens and the like which were not part of the award. Indeed, three of the five maps show no enclosures at all. It almost certainly follows that these maps were not made solely for the purpose of the award, but were part of a manorial survey carried out in 1817, to which Susan Flood refers. Perhaps some discussion was needed concerning the ‘old’ landscape of irregular fields; the newer landscape of large fields around the common, allotted to the Barnet Poor Trustees which emerged from the earlier 1728 enclosures; and the newly designed 1818 landscape, which included some larger fields but also a large number of very small strips of half an acre or so, both around the common and, perhaps more intriguingly, running up either side of Wood Street, greatly narrowing what had been a wide, funnel-shaped road (possibly a market), in the process creating the extensive front gardens that can now be seen on Google Earth.
The third of these three works follows a more traditional book format, comprising a short introduction to each of seven manuscript maps dating from 1625 to 1822, accompanied by superb, high-quality paper images of the maps, divided into the appropriate number of extracts to fit the format of the book, though not, perhaps regrettably, reproduced at full size. The work follows a previous volume which dealt with the printed maps of the area: but this volume makes available a mixture of manuscript estate maps and enclosure maps with one vestry map, which are all by definition one-offs, and scattered in different archives, so not readily accessible for study. However, some of the dating is perhaps a little misleading, as the first map, dated 1625, is in fact a map made in 1755 which might or might not be based upon one or more maps which could have arisen from a suit in Chancery, leading to enclosure of this part of the moor in 1625. The reference on the scale to its having been made using ‘Lancashire Chains’ (seven yards rather than five and a half to the pole) is of particular interest, and strongly suggests an early date for the survey: but other items on the map, such as the Wharmton Pike suggest an eighteenth century date. Equally, the numerous little drawings of houses round the map may suggest the early date, but do they show the properties as they were in 1625, or in 1755, or are they wholly standardised or imaginary images?
The Uppermill estate map of 1766 is a typical, if undistinguished example of the genre, typical in showing only the parcels belonging to the estate, looking like isolated islands: and little more can be said of it apart from the interest of a specific reference to its surveyor, John Lees, as having made it using Gunter’s Chain. The next estate map (1770) is by the same surveyor, and shows broadly the same sort of things (though this time the scale is in ‘State Chains’). However, this is not John Lees’ original work, now lost, but a copy of 1825, possibly made for submission at the time of the parliamentary enclosure of the moor. It is not clear to what extent the map has been amended, although this is clearer on the accompanying survey book transcript. The next estate map (1779) takes the ‘island’ approach even further by showing thirteen small parcels separately on the pages of a small but finely produced presentation book. The areas of the parcels are given in Lancashire, Cheshire and Statute acres, showing how local ‘long measure’ continued to be a feature even at this late date
With the Denshaw enclosure maps of 1808-12 we have a most interesting and unusual sequence of maps showing not just the evolution of the local landscape, but also the methodology of the surveyors and the process of parliamentary enclosure. The first two maps represent the position before the enclosure, comprising both a rough copy just showing the extent of the land, and a more finished version, on which proposed allotments are marked. These two are followed not only by the official award map showing the new, planned, landscape, but also by two maps, one showing enclosed land to be auctioned to defray costs, and the other the new roads laid out by the Commissioners (one of which appears never to have been built).
The final, and most impressive, map was made for the vestry committee of the parish of Saddleworth to facilitate re-rating, between 1816 and 1822. The project had originally been expected to take just eighteen months, but dragged on over five years as first one and then another surveyor let them down. Once again, though, what is reproduced here is neither the original, which is in too decayed a state, nor an 1863 freehand copy (or rather reworking, as the later version is twice the scale of the original): but a newly drawn synthesis of the two, described as the ‘Reconstructed Version’, reoriented so that north is now at the top, and accompanied by a transcription of a 1920s copy of the now-lost 1822 fieldbook. Clearly, then, what we have here is no longer a contemporary document, as an editorial decision has been taken essentially to focus exclusively in the map as ‘vehicle’, and set aside the original aspects of the 1822 map as ‘artifact’ and ‘image’. The wisdom or otherwise of this decision can be debated.
BILL SHANNON is an independent researcher in history. Following retirement in October 2002, he graduated MA in local and regional history from Lancaster University in 2004, and PhD in July 2009, with a thesis on enclosure in the lowland wastes of early-modern north-west England. A special research interest is the cartographic history of England in the early-modern period.
(University of Hertfordshire Press 2017 192pp ISBN 978-1-909291-88-1) £18.99
This book, the result of a conference held at the Essex Record Office in 2014, was inspired, as the editors note, by Arms, armies and fortifications in the Hundred Years’ War by Anne Curry and Michael Hughes (Boydell, 1994), a volume which took a thematic approach that integrated ‘traditional’ military history—the narratives of campaigns, the actions of soldiers—with domestic matters, including the French raids on the south coast of England in the 1330s and 1340s. Christopher Thornton, drawing on his experience as editor of the Victoria County History of Essex, and Jennifer Ward provide an introductory overview of medieval Essex focusing on the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, illustrated with geographical vignettes of St Osyth, Barking, and Great Bardfield providing a foundation for the papers that follow.
Jennifer Ward approaches the conflict through an administrative study, examining the impact of taxation, justice and those in the county who administered them. For the general reader this provides a valuable starting point. David Simpkin draws out the role of the Essex gentry in the reigns of Edward I and Edward II, noting that the county, provides a microcosm of a more general trend examined by the author The English Aristocracy at War: From the Welsh Wars of Edward I to the Battle of Bannockburn (2008). The Essex gentry, under the influence of the Bohun earls of Hereford and Essex, formed an identifiable group at Bannockburn, and Gloria Harris demonstrates that this gentry-led recruitment continued into the reign of Edward III with a neat examination of the career in war and lawlessness of Hugh de Badewe, follower of William de Bohun, earl of Northampton who fought in France between 1338 and 1346. His short military career was followed by another in organised crime in his home county.
Moving through the century, Sam Gibbs uses the 1381 poll tax returns and evidence from muster rolls to identify Essex archers in their home environment. Though expressed cautiously, his conclusion that archers were representative of the communities from which they came, rather than being concentrated within a particular level of society, has a more general importance. This point is drawn out by Herbert Eiden’s brief consideration of the Peasants’ Revolt in Essex in its military and local context. The most significant contribution, methodologically, is the substantial piece on Essex shipping by Craig Lambert and Andrew Ayton. This draws on Lambert’s ongoing exploration of England’s medieval maritime economy. It stresses the place of Essex as a maritime county and the disproportionate impact demands for military shipping had on the county’s many small, often riverine, ports.
Ayton’s work on the origins and service of the participants in England’s wars in the fourteenth century, from the publication of his first book, Knights and warhorses: military service and the English aristocracy under Edward III (1994), has defined much of the most important work on medieval military communities in recent years. His influence, as much as Anne Curry’s inspiration, is stamped firmly on this book; both Lambert and Simpkin completed their doctorates under Ayton’s supervision while Gibb’s work is firmly of the database-driven approach he has pioneered.
This volume provides a series of valuable insights into Essex in the fourteenth century, from the influence of war on the maritime economy and, by extension, on the most famous and significant series of events to affect the county in the period, the Peasants’ Revolt, a recurring theme. Wisely, the editors have balanced the research focusing on military matters and wider conflict with several excellent accounts providing local context. In so doing they have produced a fine local study which transcends the bounds of Essex. It should provide a model for similar studies elsewhere in England and Wales.
ADAM CHAPMAN is lecturer in British history and an editor for the Victoria County History based at the Institute of Historical Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London
(University of Hertfordshire Press, Explorations in Local and Regional History vol.8 2016 174pp ISBN 978 1 909291 56 0) £16.99
The series in which this book appears is dedicated to ‘New directions, new sources, innovative methodologies’, which could also summarise Joan Thirsk’s remarkable legacies to the study of rural history. The papers derive from a celebratory conference in 2014 and explore ways in which the implications and conclusions of her work have been expanded, modified or, in some cases, challenged. These offer useful ideas and information for the local historian interested in pursuing the issues raised in his or her own area.
After a brief biographical note by Christopher Dyer the book is divided into three sections. ‘Commons, pays and regions’ includes a brief but characteristically incisive paper by the late David Hey on the ways in which ‘country’ (essentially a cultural construct), ‘pays’ (a farming region) and ‘county’(a gentry term) have been and could be interpreted. John Broad gently challenges some aspects of Thirsk’s ‘very tentative’ definition of agricultural regions and suggests that computer mapping and GIS may facilitate an alternative approach. John Chartres focuses on regional and inter-regional trade and how developing transport systems undermined previous dependence on London or local markets. In ‘Farmers and fields’ Tom Williamson summaries the subsequent debates about the origins of common fields which Thirsk interpreted as developing in response to population growth in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. James Bowen makes use of his detailed research on Shropshire agriculture, pointing to the existence of ‘small sub-regions’ within Thirsk’s broader regions. Nicola White challenges the view that enclosure was essentially a modernising private process; much earlier enclosure was associated with customary practices and some even remained subject to common rights.
‘Innovators’ consists of just two contributions. Craig Muldrew challenges Thirsk’s reasoning for arguing that weaving was an adjunct to small-scale pastoral farming, positing the view that it developed earlier as a specialised industry within the countryside. Jon Stobart returns to themes he has explored in earlier articles, using inventories of retailers and craftsmen in Cheshire between circa 1660 and 1760 to conjure up an image of a vibrant service sector and village shops which was akin to ‘Aladdin’s caves’. The final section, ‘Consumers’ looks at further evidence for development of consumption outside London. Susan North utilises her expertise as curator of fashion at the V&A to explain the remarkable variety of stock held by mercers in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Mark Dawson focuses on the north Midlands and argues convincingly that oats were a major component of the diet. Finally Richard Hoyle dissects the diary of Peter Walkden, a minister and farmer (who also grew oats) of Chipping in Lancashire in the early eighteenth century to argue that much of the purchasing was actually undertaken by his wife, often from her own money generated from various sources including butter sales and spinning.
What we have here, therefore are accessible, readable, thought provoking summaries and critiques of debates which Thirsk has been instrumental in making central to the study of rural social history, combined with practical examples of how a wide range of sources and techniques have been, and could be used by local historians to pursue the issues themselves.
MICHAEL WINSTANLEY was senior lecturer in history at Lancaster University until 2010 and continues to research aspects of the North West’s history in ‘retirement’.
(Dugdale Society 2016 x+454pp ISBN 978 0 85220-101-5) £30 plus £3 p&p
Another volume of published wills and inventories is greatly to be welcomed, as it adds to the rapidly growing resources available to the historian. This is especially the case as this collection dates from the sixteenth century for which published inventories are relatively rare. As we have grown to expect from the Dugdale Society, the quality of the publication is of a high standard and as well as the transcription of the primary sources, there is a substantial introduction, together with a very helpful map and illustrations. In particular, the drawings of the parsonage and the Old Crown were linked to properties in the wills. There is an extensive glossary and a detailed index which, as well as setting out persons and places, has a subject index which should enable the researcher to find occupations or specific goods recorded in wills and inventories relatively quickly. It is unfortunate that articles mentioned on more than 15-20 occasions are only indicated with an asterisk and not with page numbers (or inventory numbers) as this would greatly assist the researcher using the volume.
The collection comprises 110 wills and 126 probate inventories, mainly from the Lichfield Record Office, but some from The National Archives. There were eighty persons who had both a will and an inventory and comparison of these linked documents is always revealing. The introduction ably sets out the sort of place Birmingham was in the sixteenth century: a market town with a population of 1500-2000 including many tradesmen. The town was unincorporated and therefore enterprise could flourish. There was much by-employment as most tradesmen engaged in some sort of agriculture: 77 per cent of inventories recorded livestock and 60 per cent recorded crops.
The introduction reflects the editor’s interests—particularly the role of women and inheritance practices as well as what religious bequests reveal about beliefs. Perhaps it is my bias, but I was a little disappointed at the very limited coverage of possessions which historians such as Lorna Weatherill and Mark Overton, Jane Whittle et al have researched extensively using inventories of the following two centuries. An analysis of ownership of goods such as pewter, featherbeds, bed curtains and silver would have been illuminating. The opportunity for comparison with other sixteenth-century collections such as those for Surrey and Southampton has also been missed. The number of weapons recorded in the Birmingham inventories may be a reflection of Birmingham industry but swords, daggers, bows and arrows were also frequently owned in Surrey.
Transcriptions of inventories are very time consuming and readers are reliant on the expertise of the editor. This is difficult to judge without repeating the exercise at least for a sample of documents. However, comparison of wills and inventories can reveal anomalies. For example, in his will Humfrey Pemerton, a tanner bequeathed to his ‘servaunte ... my sowrd, my buckeles, my bookes and my sadyll’. The accompanying inventory recorded that Pemerton owned a ‘geldynge, a sadyll, bootes & sporres’ but no books. It seems likely that the will was referring to ‘boots’ rather than ‘books’; this might possibly be an error in the original document rather than made by the transcriber but if that was the case, it would be helpful to include a footnote. It is a warning for those who use published inventories to count ownership of books and make deductions about literacy and other matters. I have transcribed thousands of inventories and even a comma can be important. A ‘horse bridle and saddle’ could be interpreted as just a bridle and a saddle or the phrase may have meant that there was a horse present as well. Valuations can often assist in the correct interpretation of such cases. Another apparent error appears in the introduction which refers to John Howlett’s virginals as the ‘only musical instrument in the collection’, but Richard Whitall’s inventory also recorded a pair of virginals. While accuracy is very important in volumes like these, I doubt that any published volume of transcribed documents is wholly free from error. We are greatly in Jacqueline Geater’s debt for her huge efforts of transcribing and providing the raw material for future research.
KEN SNEATH teaches seventeenth- and eighteenth-century history for the University of Cambridge. Together with fellow tutor Jo Sear, he is currently writing The origins of the consumer revolution in England, which is based on around 9000 probate records, many of which have been transcribed by others.
(Hebden Bridge Local History Society [on behalf of South Pennine History Group] 2017 x+413pp ISBN 978-0-9933920-1-6) £20+£3.5 p&p
Alan Petford, a much-loved and highly respected teacher, lecturer and researcher in local and landscape history, died too early in February 2015. He came from Saddleworth, that quintessentially Pennine parish which, though in Yorkshire, was on the Lancashire side of the watershed. Its vigorous and distinctive character, and historically-rich, often bleak, and haunting landscape, with a wealth of early industrial sites and vernacular buildings, encouraged and inspired him, and to this and adjacent parts of the South Pennines he devoted much of his working life. As Gillian Cookson notes in the introduction to this beautiful and worthy tribute to his work, ‘The West Riding’s upland dwellers generally had much more in common with their east Lancashire counterparts than they did with many fellow Yorkshiremen and women’. This common social and economic identity and strong visual framework helps to create a clear sub-regional unit which is sharply different from the Peak District to the south and the Yorkshire Dales to the north, let alone the plains of Lancashire and Yorkshire to the west and east.
In this book fourteen scholarly essays highlight various aspects of the Yorkshire side of the South Pennines, divided into four sub-sections based on geographical divisions: Calderdale, Marsden, Saddleworth and Shipley. The book is a collaborative effort between members of the Hebden Bridge, Marsden and Saddleworth local history societies, with each of which Alan was involved, and the whole has been ably edited by the landscape historian Nigel Smith from Hebden Bridge. The chronological span of the essays covers the period from the end of the fifteenth century to the middle of the nineteenth, with something of an emphasis on the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a crucial period in the social and economic evolution of the sub-region. The book is lavishly illustrated and uses full-colour throughout, allowing some particularly clear and attractive maps and graphs, and excellent photographs of the fine landscapes of the district.
In the first section Nigel Smith has a very interesting paper on the township boundaries of the Upper Calder Valley, demonstrating that, contrary to an often stated assumption, these were in many cases not formally fixed until the nineteenth century, especially in areas of open moorland, and that disputes over boundaries were a widespread feature. He emphasises the significance of the Ordnance Survey in the context of the disputes of the 1840s and suggests that the exercise of rights of common in the upland areas was a significant element in these inter-community conflicts.
Members of the Hebden Bridge LHS contributed an well-researched and notably well-illustrated review of population trends in the parish of Halifax from 1539 to 1670, using the parish registers and looking at the theoretical background to demographic analysis before considering the population of individual townships; migration patterns; mortality, with a special emphasis on the various mortality crises of the period and the impact of the Civil War; and an overview of change during the whole period. This is followed by Mike Crawford’s paper on the probate records of the Upper Calder Valley from 1688 to 1700, based on a project initiated by Alan Petford ten years ago. Among the themes picked out are religious preambles; the rationale for bequests; wealth, landscape and economy; agricultural activity and textile production; and patterns of spending and lending. David Cant investigates the rebuilding of the house of Little Brackenbed, just north of Halifax, which is uniquely well-documented with a detailed agreement and specification, while Peter Robinson discusses the ‘design, function and layout of licensed houses’ in the Halifax area before the mid-nineteenth century, a period for which a surprising amount of written and physical evidence has been assembled. He covers a broad range of types of premises: inns, alehouses, spirit vaults, dram shops, and beerhouses. Another architectural paper, by Sheila Graham, considers the building of public libraries, looking at several Yorkshire towns (Leeds, Halifax, Keighley, Sowerby Bridge and Todmorden) and highlighting the factors debated locally which determined the timing, size, scale and ambition of the buildings in question.
A detailed case study by Dave Smalley focuses on the Nodale Dam in upper Calderdale, exploring its early history and archaeology, construction methods and rather sudden end in 1936-1939 when a small breach was rapidly widened during terrible weather, the dam collapsed, and the remains were permanently slighted for safety reasons. A short case study, by Richard Davies, looks at an abortive mid-1820s proposal to build a 6½ mile quarry railway from Cold Edge to Halifax and the Calder and Hebble Navigation. The section on Calderdale concludes with a descriptive analysis of the value for local historians of the memoirs of the Reverend John Taylor (1743-1818) of Northowram near Halifax. It covers family and religious life, sickness and death, the roles of women, and the problems of poverty and destitution, as well as giving valuable insights into coal-mining.
Under the guidance of Alan Petford, Hazel Seidel and the Marsden History Group undertook a probate record project between 2007 and 2013, researching all 209 wills, 182 inventories and 86 bonds processed by the Marsden Peculiar Court in 1655-1855. Their paper discusses in detail the nature of the material itself, including its social and economic bias, and then analyses aspects such as farming, the woollen industry, tradesmen, houses and domestic lifestyles, inheritance strategies, the place of women, religion, education and funerals. This wide-ranging survey gives a convincing and effective overview, and serves as a model of its kind. Mike Buckley analyses the anomalous geography and complex administrative origins of the parish of Saddleworth, looking at boundary features and marks; place-names; the medieval pastoral economy; medieval estates and land grants; the expansion of settlement in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (including the creation and sub-division of tenements); and a gazetteer of medieval place-name references. This paper is superbly illustrated with very clear full colour maps, and is an exemplary piece of landscape and documentary analysis.
The final three sections include Elizabeth Paget’s comprehensive account of the linen industry in seventeenth-century Saddleworth, which is commendably strong both on the processes involved and the broader context, using probate evidence but making it clear that linen production was also found widely in the region, including parts of Lancashire and some of the lower Yorkshire Dales. Victor Khadem gives a splendid and fascinating local historical perspective on Samuel Bottomley’s poem Greenfield, written in Saddleworth in about 1780 and packed with references to and descriptions of landscape, buildings and social comment, as well as dramatic local legends. The last paper, by Richard Coomber, dissects the process and consequences of parliamentary enclosure in the township of Shipley, near Bradford, arguing that it created the physical framework for much of the present town. The book finishes with a very comprehensive bibliography, and it is fully referenced throughout.
This is a major contribution to the history of the sub-region, each of the essays being to the highest standards—it would not be easy to single out any as being weaker than the others. It is thoroughly recommended not only for local historians in the area, but for anybody interested in Pennine history, Yorkshire history and (dare I say it?) Lancashire history. And some of the essays are models of how local history analysis should be presented. It’s a delight from beginning to end, and a source of many new ideas.
ALAN G. CROSBY is the editor of The Local Historian. He has lived and researched in Lancashire for over thirty years and has a special interests in the landscapes and social and economic history of the Pennines.