Local History News Number 125 Autumn 2017


1. Profitable teeth Show more → Show less ↓

Alan Crosby

Mr Lloyd advertised regularly in the Preston Herald during the late 1860s and early 1870s, under the eye-catching strapline ‘FRENCH, AMERICAN AND ENGLISH ARTIFICIAL TEETH’. A dentist of 41 Fishergate, a shopping street in central Preston, he was nothing if not an enthusiast, always taking pleasure in announcing ‘to the people of Lancashire generally, and the inhabitants of Preston particularly’ that he continued to supply his celebrated ‘incorrodible, incorruptible, and undetectable MINERAL ARTIFICIAL TEETH’. These were available in five qualities, which in 1868 ranged from teeth ‘on pure gold’ at 20 guineas, down to ‘strong vulcanite, for the working classes only, warranted to fit well, and to answer all the purposes of mastication and articulation’ for 5 guineas.

His advertisements reveal much about the horrors of Victorian dentistry: he made a special point of eschewing ‘the old and almost obsolete practice of removing sound and healthy stumps, and thereby completely destroying the symmetry of the mouth, making young people to look old, causing a great deal of acute, unnecessary pain, and necessitating the permanent adoption of artificial gums’. Some notices announce ‘POOR attended to as usual GRATUITOUSLY from nine to ten every morning’, but the remunerative business came from those rather higher up the social scale.

As was often the case, a metropolitan link was used to imply sophistication. Lloyd was, he stated, assisted by ‘Mr Smith from London’, who also attended each of the branch establishments at Wigan, Chorley and Lancaster once a week. Mr Lloyd himself was a newcomer in town—in 1866 he was working from 30 Mont Pleasant, Liverpool, and visiting Preston two days a week and Blackburn every Wednesday. In that year he proudly stated that he never used chloroform, that ‘Only one visit [was] required from Country Patients’ [his italics] and that his patent white cement would fill any holes in real teeth.

As most of us might guess from our own experience, the absence of anaesthetic was not in fact a good selling point, and by 1869 the policy had been abandoned: ‘Teeth extracted as usual in a perfectly painless and most agreeable manner by the aid of PURE NITROUS OXIDE GAS’. And by then, too, another aspect of oral hygiene was marketed: Lloyd strongly recommended his own ‘MEDICATED DENTIFRICE ... as a very suitable means for cleansing and beautifying the Teeth and Gums, as well as giving a pleasant fragrance to the Breath’.

Advertisements such as these fascinate me: as well as being highly entertaining at a safe distance of 150 years, they reveal so much about the nature of contemporary society. Take, for example, the casual reference to ‘Country Patients’, which highlights the role of the centrally-placed market town, while the use of the magic word ‘London’ imbues any advertisement with a sense of glamour. An adjacent small ad uses another magic connection—royalty. It simply exhorts ‘USE ONLY GLENFIELD STARCH: THE QUEEN’S LAUNDRESS USES NO OTHER’. Their extraordinary diversity reveals an emerging consumer society, the social aspirations of the upwardly mobile, and the complexity of the retailing sector in a town of (in this case) 100,000 people: the same column which has the advertisements for teeth and starch has others for safety matches; pianos and harmoniums; an engraver and printer who produced keys, dies and seals; boys’ clothing; jewelry [sic] and watches; coffee, tea, walnuts, apples, preserved ginger and fine wines; and Kaye’s Worsdell Pills which, implausibly, would cure ‘Sickness and disease of any form, and arising from whatever cause, and in an incredibly short time’. Testimonials were of course provided.

And given my own lack of head covering, I should perhaps make use of ‘Oldridge’s Balm of Columbia’, which ‘is an excellent corrective to the many sources of decay which ruin nature’s chief ornament [and] forms the basis of a magnificent head of hair’. If only it were true!


Note from Ian West, who draws our cartoons

Alan’s article reminds me of my grandfather. As a boy in 1905 he would go to Enfield on market day and watch the ‘dentist’ pulling teeth....a form of entertainment for the children!

2. Mapping the National Impact of the Jutland Battle: Civic and Community Responses during the First World War project: a partnership project Show more → Show less ↓

Melanie Bassett and Brad Beaven

Working with local community groups and heritage institutions is a dynamic way of producing research with public impact. Our project - Mapping the National Impact of the Jutland Battle: Civic and Community Responses during the First World War - has shown how a partnership between academics and a community group opens new avenues for the study of social and cultural history.[1]

Traditional histories of Jutland have focused on debates related to naval strategy and assessments as to which nation could claim ultimate victory. This project aimed to provide a new perspective on the Battle by mapping the human cost of Jutland and its impact on the communities of the 6,100 men lost. It was funded by the AHRC Gateways to the First World War Engagement Centre which facilitated collaboration between Port Towns & Urban Cultures, University of Portsmouth, and the Portsdown University of the Third Age group (U3A). The initial idea came from Portsdown U3A members interested in finding all the men from Portsmouth who had died in the Battle. They had amassed a wealth of information and thought that there was a wider story to be told.

Through Gateways-funding University researchers developed the project from a local to a national study, and supported Portsdown U3A’s successful award of a Heritage Lottery grant to develop their research on Portsmouth.  Researchers from the University and U3A advised the National Museum of the Royal Navy on the creation and development of an electronic map of Britain that displayed the towns and cities most affected by the loss of men at Jutland.[2] This map helped uncover the streets, neighbourhoods and communities which were hardest hit, and made available to the public the data that researchers had collated. It also allowed the general public to upload their relative’s stories, photographs and documents to the website, thereby providing further insights into the lives of those sailors who were lost.[3]

The project investigated the impact of the Battle of Jutland on British society through identifying and mapping the communities of sailors who lost their lives in the conflict. It has been assumed that most naval sailors were enlisted from seafaring communities since the navy recruited sailors directly from their base ports rather than establish recruiting centres in the UK’s major cities (as was the tradition in the Royal Marines). The project tested this theory by mapping sailors killed at Jutland to assess whether certain communities suffered disproportionally. Therefore, although we charted the national picture, we also examined how different localities connected with the consequences of the battle itself; making the project a mosaic of local histories, rather than an overarching national narrative.

Once regions most affected were identified, we turned to the local press to see how communities responded to the heavy loss of life. Investigating reaction to loss of local men provided a better understanding of urban elites’ response to tragic war-time events, potential accord/discord between local and national patriotism, and popular morale on the home front during the First World War. Project outputs included the compilation of a database which is the most comprehensive record of those men who died as a result of the Battle, and includes vital personal information on the name, ship, rank, service number, date and place of birth. It also includes the name and address of their next of kin. This is freely available to the public on the Port Towns and Urban Cultures website.[4] We have also published an article on reactions in the national and local press, and commemoration of the Battle in the years immediately after the War, in the National Museum of the Royal Navy’s exhibition catalogue, 36 Hours: Jutland 1916. The Battle that Won the War. [5] A pop-up exhibition on our findings is available for loan to interested groups.[6] An academic article with detailed statistical findings and analysis will follow shortly.

Collaborating with project partners can sometimes be difficult. Interpretation of research, different output agendas, and the differing resources and time commitments to a project comprising academics, volunteers from the public, and heritage institutions can create confusion and, in the worst cases, a breakdown of relations. These pitfalls were avoided by ensuring that we communicated regularly, and were flexible and accommodating with our partners.  We consulted and involved partners in public presentations, pop-up exhibitions and public workshops and events.  The U3A’s expertise in local genealogy and military databases complemented academic aims of contextualising local histories using key themes that shaped the First World War such as patriotism, civic culture and commemoration. We were pleased to be able to showcase the tremendous work of the U3A, especially the Portsdown branch. It is creditable that their ideas influenced academics and national museums, and that they co-operated in providing the public with a clearer picture of an often overlooked aspect of the First World War.



Brad Beaven is Professor of Social and Cultural History at the University of Portsmouth and the project lead for Port Towns and Urban Cultures (http://porttowns.port.ac.uk/). He is also a project partner for the AHRC’s Gateways to the First World War public engagement centre. Dr Melanie Bassett is Research Assistant for Port Towns and Urban Cultures and part-time Lecturer in History at the University of Portsmouth. 




[1] Gateways to the First World War is a centre for public engagement with the First World War centenary, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The aim of the Gateways team is to encourage and support public interest in the centenary of the First World War through a range of events and activities such as open days and study days, advice on access to materials and expertise, and signposting for other resources and forms of support. Professor Beaven is a Co-Investigator for the Centre. http://www.gatewaysfww.org.uk/

[2] With thanks to NMRN’s Casey Keppel-Compton, Nick Hewitt and Matthew Sheldon.

[3] You can access the map by visiting http://jutland.org.uk.

[4] http://porttowns.port.ac.uk/source-information/jutland-casualty-database/ With kind thanks to our project partners, Portsdown U3A and the student volunteers at the University of Portsmouth. Many thanks in particular to the U3A’s Carole Chapman, Steve Doe, Diana Gregg and Beryl Shepherd. Thank you also to the dedication of University of Portsmouth student volunteers Marcus Collins, George Dance, Eilis Phillips, Liam Pietrasik and Jason Sackey.

[5] ISBN-13: 978-0952637707

[6] For any enquiries about exhibition please contact PTUC@port.ac.uk


Images credit  National Museum of the Royal Navy

3. Reflections on the centenary of the First World War project Show more → Show less ↓

Lucy Noakes and Catriona Pennell

Since 2014 Britain, along with many other countries around the globe, has been commemorating the centenary of the First World War. Artworks such as Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, the installation of 888,246 ceramic poppies, each commemorating one British or colonial serviceman (or woman) killed in the war, and major museum displays, most notably the Imperial War Museum London’s re-imagined First World War galleries, have attracted many thousands of visitors. The national broadcaster, the BBC, have employed panels of historians to advise on their programming through the World War One at Home project, and multiple academic conferences have brought together scholars to analyse the war, and share new perspectives.


However, much of this global war has been commemorated – as it was experienced – at a local level. While the war acted to make national and local boundaries more porous, for example bringing more than 250,000 Belgian refugees to Britain, Indian soldiers to Brighton’s hospitals, and men from the Caribbean and China to Britain and France as members of the Labour Corps, the individual experience of the war was shaped in large part by locality. Towns on the north east coast were shelled from the sea and the south and the midlands were subject to air raids by Zeppelin and Gotha planes. Almost 210,000 Irishmen served in the British army during the war, drawn from across rural and urban Ireland. And of course the losses of war were experienced locally, the men of the Accrington Pals suffering 584 casualties and missing on the 1 July 1916.


This very local experience of war has been commemorated in one of the largest public history projects ever seen in Britain. Up and down the UK numerous groups are investigating how the war impacted on their communities, and how this connects to their lives today. Much of this work has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).  Since 2010, the HLF has awarded over £90 million to more than 1,800 projects commemorating the First World War, ranging from ‘Wor War’, a project bringing together young people and Age Concern to discover the impact of the war in the North East; ‘Lest We Forget’, run by the Scottish Refugee Council in which refugees and asylum seekers in Glasgow explored the experience of Belgian refugees; and 'Subterranean Sepoys', which saw Tara Arts work with the UK Punjab Heritage association to create a radio play and education pack about life in the trenches for the Indian soldiers. Fought and felt across the world, the war, and much of its commemoration, is rooted in the local.


Since May 2017 the AHRC funded Reflections on the Centenary of the First World War project has been investigating the ways that the war is being commemorated in Britain, examining both the experiences of those involved in the multiple projects, and the wider impact this engagement is having on the cultural memory of the war. In order to gather the opinions of as many participants as possible, the Reflections project is launching a short online survey on 11 November 2017. Local History News readers, and their communities, are warmly invited to participate. To do so, please visit http://reflections1418.exeter.ac.uk on or after 11 November. We look forward to hearing your views!


Professor Lucy Noakes, University of Essex

Dr Catriona Pennell, University of Exeter

4. From tiny village to large region. Profile: Janet Brown Show more → Show less ↓

Janet Brown has a vast knowledge of local history across the North East of England, though she is a Londoner by birth. Leaving school after the 5th Form, with few formal qualifications to her name, Janet worked as a clerk in an insurance firm in the City.  She met her husband who was in the RAF stationed at Ruislip. When he left the service he worked in Air Traffic Control and they moved with his jobs.  They had 11 addresses in 11 years, plus two children, when he was posted to Boulmer on the east coast of Northumberland. They bought a house in Ulgham (pronounced "Uffam") and have now been there for 45 years.

Janet’s involvement in local history began when she became curious about the origins of the tiny village in which they were living. She started the research from scratch, and discovered a wealth of material, including the meticulously kept parish records which revealed much about the lives of the people from the early 17th century.  This resulted in her publication ‘Ulgham: its story continued’ which expanded on a Victorian publication.  She has written several more books and edited others.

Janet has worked tirelessly for a wide range of Northumbrian organisations for many years, her nomination form has a list of eight in which she is actively involved. 

One of the first she joined was Morpeth Antiquarian Society where she served a Hon Secretary and Publications Editor. She masterminded anniversary celebrations, was involved in the society’s museum, and in excavating and cataloguing.  She is now a Vice President, and still on the committee.

Janet is a founder member of the Northumbrian Language Society which seeks to keep going the local dialect and words, many of which are still in use today.  The Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering is the first folk festival in Britain each year, aiming to promote and develop the music, dance, language, traditions and crafts of the area. Janet has helped out for years, and intends to continue doing so, though she has just retired after over thirty years as Hon Treasurer.

Janet was closely involved with the Association of Northumberland Local History Societies, they and she were both founder members of BALH.  She has written about the Association on page XX of this issue of LHN.

While she was secretary of ANLHS the project was developed for which she is particularly well-known and widely recognised.  Long before everyone was working on their local war memorials as the centenaries of the First World War approached, Janet realised both the extent to which some memorials were at risk, and the potential they held for historians. A five-year project in Northumberland was followed by similar work in County Durham, which combined to become the North East War Memorials Project, associated originally with the Imperial War Museum and assisted by HLF funding. NEWMP has a uniquely important website that records so much more than the stories of the memorials and lists of names.

Janet Brown has dedicated herself whole-heartedly to the history of the area, enjoying participating in a wealth of relevant collaborations, voluntary groups and activities, while also instigating many initiatives which have inspired others to take up the cause.


With thanks to Janet Brown, Dorothy Hall, Bill Griffiths and Kim Bibby-Wilson.


Captions:  (depending on space)

Janet Brown receiving her certificate from Professor Caroline Barron, president of BALH at Local History Day, June 2017


NEWMP ‘on the road’ at the Railway Museum at Shildon


Janet Brown and the Duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House, attending a War Memorials Trust event


What I forgot to say is that for the past 22 years I have been a member of a ladies’ choir which looks at things from a female point of view, some very serious but others have hilarious results!

5. Local history and literature in Scotland. Profile: Louis Stott Show more → Show less ↓

Louis Stott is a local historian and literary scholar based in Aberfoyle, Scotland. He is a founder member of the Loch Ard History Group, which he continues to support as office holder and speaker, despite advancing years.

Born in Brighton, Louis is a geographer, educated at the University of Oxford. He spent his professional life in education, including a spell in Bulgaria. His career was completed as the head of the Lambeth Adult Education Institute, the largest in London. This sector particularly suited his inter-disciplinary approach. In the mid-1970s he was Director of the Quality of Life Experiment in Dumbarton, one of four 2 1/2 year government –sponsored projects seeking to discover innovative bottom-up methods of organising, funding and evaluating a wide range of artistic, cultural, historical and recreational activities.  This depended on appreciating the value of volunteers, which, together with his broad interests, has fed into his far-from restful retirement.

Louis Stott’s interest in local history began many years ago when he was living in Watford and set up ‘Exploring Hertfordshire’. Since moving to Scotland in 1974 he has become closely involved with the history of the Trossachs and surrounding areas.  His work is always thoroughly researched, well presented and accessible. He is the author of a number of books on Scottish history and literature, including Scottish History in Verse, a unique anthology of over 200 poems and songs marking the glories and tragedies of Scottish history. Locally he has collaborated with the Stirling Library Service and the Forestry Commission to produce a book on the Aberfoyle Slate Quarries

On his computer, Louis has an extraordinary collection of information which he willing shares with anyone requiring assistance. His knowledge is well known and used widely, ranging as it does over almost every aspect of the area – including the slate quarries, local authors, gaelic place names, transport routes and the history of individual properties.  He is remembered for leading some striking away-days of local historical investigation.

We were sorry that Louis was not well enough to travel to London to join us at Local History Day in June. However, he received  the award certificate in person  in August, when a ceremony was arranged locally. His family and many friends, with colleagues from Loch Ard  History Group, and Callander Ramblers, were there to see Alan Simpson, the Lord-Lieutenant for Stirling and Falkirk make the presentation and pay tribute of Louis’s longstanding voluntary efforts and contribution to local history in the community.

With thanks to Louis Stott, James Kennedy, David Miller and David Harvie.

CAPTIONS (depending on space)

James Kennedy receiving the certificate on behalf of Louis Stott, from Professor Caroline Barron, President of BALH, at Local History Day in June

Louis Stott with his certificate (centre) at the presentation on 16 August at The Forth Inn, Aberfoyle (photo Phil Crowder)

6. The Chapels Society Inaugural Lecture Show more → Show less ↓

The inaugural Christopher Stell Memorial Lecture took place at the annual meeting of the Chapels Society in Wesley Memorial Church, Oxford on July 8. Kate Tiller took the theme of ‘How to Read a Chapel’, proposing that a full understanding of chapels can best be achieved by a combined study of buildings, people and place. This approach interweaves insights and evidence from several histories- architectural, religious and denominational, social and local, inter-related perspectives too often treated separately. The lecture was illustrated by a case study of Cote Baptist chapel, west Oxfordshire, now in the care of the Historic Chapels Trust. Christopher Stell, who died in 2014, was a seminal figure in the work of the Trust, the Chapels Society, and the study of Nonconformist buildings. His RCHME Inventories of chapels and meeting houses are a standard reference for local historians. The memorial lecture will be published in the Chapels Society Journal in early 2018.

7. 70 years of the Wiltshire & Swindon Archives Show more → Show less ↓

Ally McConnell

This year Wiltshire & Swindon Archives is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the service. The Wiltshire Record Office started life in Trowbridge in 1947 and joined with Swindon Borough Council to become the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre in Chippenham in 2007. Although there have been many changes in archives standards, use and interpretation of archives, collecting policies and staffing, the constant – as with all local government record offices – has been the facility of an archive service for researchers of all types of history and the accessibility of records for these researchers.

To mark the 70th anniversary this year, we are holding an online exhibition of 70 favourite documents chosen by current and previous members of staff and volunteers. Images of these documents are available on our website www.wshc.eu and a few of them will be included in a physical exhibition at our Open Day on 28th October, which will be showcasing the 70 years since the service began. I will be going through some of these documents in this article, and I hope you agree that they are very varied and each interesting for often very different reasons.

The choosing of the documents has been interesting to see. Some documents are chosen for their scale and national importance – some have been chosen because they are particularly small, or relate to a very particular moment in history, or some – like the poem I chose – are just genuinely sweet documents that make me smile when I think of them. The online exhibition has been gradually added to, and was started in April running to October 2017.

One of the finest documents in our collections is the finely illuminated royal pardon of Sir William Sharington, dated 1550 (2664/3/4E/9PC). It has a beautiful royal portrait and great seal of Edward VI and pardons Sir William Sharington for his misdemeanours as keeper of the Bristol Mint. He was appointed keeper of the Mint and used his influence to shear and clip coins, partly to benefit the country (which owed money to Ireland) but also partly to benefit himself. His accomplice, Thomas Seymour, was executed for the crime but Sharington confessed and got away with losing his estates. Sharington owned Lacock Abbey, a key Wiltshire estate, having purchased it in 1540 following the dissolution of the monasteries. He was pardoned with all his lands restored in 1550 but died just three years later. Lacock remained in his family through the descendants of his brother Henry for 500 years before being gifted to the National Trust in 1944. The Pardon was chosen as a “favourite document” not just because of its impressiveness but because it has come to represent one of the key recent projects that the History Centre has been involved in, Lacock Unlocked, which catalogued the extensive Lacock archives.

Another very impressive document in our collections is the marriage settlement of Jane Seymour and Henry VIII of 1536 (1332/1/1/1MS). Again, it includes a royal portrait and illuminated letters and grants Jane “the Duke of Suffolkys Place in Southwark and manors and lands in Surrey, Essex and Hertfordshire. As this document gives such a good link to key historical figures it is always a fascinating one to show students and visiting groups, as well as being an excellent resource for the history of King Henry VIII.

Another well known figure represented by the archives in Wiltshire is Florence Nightingale, whose letters to Sidney Lord Herbert of Lea are currently being scanned and will hopefully go online soon as part of a project to make Nightingale’s letters more accessible. The image here shows a report by Nightingale giving figures for mortality in Crimea, 1855-1856 (2057/F4/66).

Many of our archive collections are of Women’s Institutes and we are often given documents by the institutes themselves and also the Wiltshire Federation of Women’s Institutes. The documents can be fascinating examples of social history in the 20th and 21st centuries and many include histories of particular villages or parishes done as projects by members. One great example is from the Bradenstoke with Clack Women’s Institutes (2026/1) and this gives the history of the village with examples of 19th century lacework, sketches and photographs.

One of the bulkiest items in our collections is our register of the Wiltshire Constabulary from 1893-1926 (F5/200/5). It includes details of police officers, their date of entry into the force, descriptions of them, details of misconduct and many other pieces of information. As a family history resource it is fascinating if you had ancestors in the force at this time because you would be able to find such detailed information about your ancestor. However it is very large and can make for awkward reading! It is one of the most loved documents in the archive, by staff and volunteers alike, and is affectionately called “Big Bertha”.

Finally we have a confirmation by Richard I of a gift of Codrington and Wapley (near Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire) made to Stanley Abbey by Richard son of Stephen, who had received the land from Henry II (473/34PC). The 1191 grant bears an impression of his great seal in good condition and is of unusual interest in that it was dated at Messina in Sicily. On the back is a number corresponding to the entry relating to it in a list of the abbey’s muniments made about 1250 which is now in the British Museum. The grant was sent by Richard from Sicily just days before he set sail with a fleet of ships to the Holy Land.

Some of the documents chosen for the 70th anniversary online exhibition will be out on display at our Open Day which this year will be held on 28th October from 10am-4pm. The Open Day will also be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the opening of our new building. As usual, we are offering many activities and lots to see from all departments at the History Centre, which houses the Archaeology, Museum and Conservation service amongst others. Highlights this year will be a Highwayman, the Pelham Puppets, an exhibition of ARTeology (an art project being done as part of our Heritage Lottery Funded Creative Wiltshire project), the chance to see the conservation team in action, behind the scenes tours including the archive strongrooms and conservation labs, and some treasures from the archives will be on display including some of the 70th anniversary documents. If you’re able to come along, it is a family-friendly event and will be a lot of fun.

Here’s to the next 70 years! (and many, many more after that!)

8. Reflections on the First World War centenaries Show more → Show less ↓

Gill Bull

As we move towards the last year of the Council for British Archaeology’s Home Front Legacy project, currently funded by Historic England, there is a renewed focus on working even more closely with local history and archaeological societies and promoting the educational resources with primary schools and with a wide range of youth groups, including the CBA’s own UK network of Young Archaeologists’ Club branches. We need your help to find and map the sites that are being forgotten.

First launched in 2014 at the beginning of the centenary commemorations, the project is about involving local groups and societies in researching, recording and creating new knowledge about the physical legacy of the First World War. You don’t have to be an archaeologist to take part: we have developed a simple site recording app and toolkit that provide a standardised way to record sites and enables the data to be added to the local Historic Environment Record. By the end of the project there will be a single public online map, created by the public, that will also be part of the archive stored with the Archaeological Data Service.


So far, over 3,000 sites have been added to the map along with the human stories that are associated with them. They include a wide range of places from former drill halls, munitions factories, and training huts to pillboxes, sites of Zeppelin raids, allotments and practice trenches. To take part there is no need for extensive archaeological knowledge and our series of toolkit guides and online resources take you through a step-by-step guide. We are also building a network of ‘super-users’ to work with local groups if they want help in getting started. Meanwhile, taking an example from our environmental colleagues, in August this year, we launched a Big Recording Month to focus new site recordings on the changing role of women during the First World War, food production and local First World War events. 

For younger people, we have written a tailor-made guide to recording along with a series of videos created by members of the Sheffield Young Archaeologists’ Club branch. These sit alongside the cartoon images, quiz cards and session plans to support school-based and youth group sessions on the First World War.

By the end of the project we want our map of UK sites to be covered with little red pins and maybe one of them will be yours. 

If you want to find out more and get involved with the Home Front Legacy project go to www.homefrontlegacy/wp to register for the site recording app, guidance. The resources for schools and young people are at http://www.yac-uk.org/home-front-legacy-1914-18/.

Do share the recording work you are doing through Twitter: @homefrontlegacy and Facebook: www.facebook.com/homefrontlegacy

9. Dr John Latham and his notes for the history of Romsey, Hampshire Show more → Show less ↓

Phoebe Merrick

In 1795, the antiquarian and internationally acclaimed ornithologist, Dr John Latham, retired from medical practice in Kent and went to live in Romsey to be near his son and daughter. For the next four years he wrote to his friend Rev Samuel Denne of Wilmington, Kent. His letters contain descriptions of Romsey and comments on the affairs of the Society of Antiquaries, as well as anecdotes.

Then Denne died. Latham turned his attention to the history of Romsey. Inspired by accounts in the Gentleman’s Magazine, he studied the architecture of the abbey and described some memorable properties in Romsey. He borrowed old documents from his solicitor friends in the town and copied them out. He recorded all the memorials around the abbey church, drew a plan of the pews and galleries and recorded who owned which. He obtained access to Romsey corporation records and copied much of them.

He went further afield and transcribed excerpts from the Registers of the medieval bishops of Winchester that related to Romsey and its important abbey of nuns. In all his work filled seven volumes of notes.

In 1821, after a family tragedy, he went to live with his daughter in Winchester, and his work on Romsey more or less ceased. Like many another local historian, he never did anything with this vast collection of material. I suspect he did not know how to use it, or, the other reason for inaction, he was aware of the gaps in his data.

For 40 years the Romsey local historians have been using this material (bought on microfilm in the 1970s) but it was not available more widely than a typescript copy made by one of our members. Phoebe Merrick, another member, took this typescript, by then available as a computer file, checked it and filled in all the omissions which were mostly the Latin parts of the text and all the references.

She then checked all the references. This was challenging because, although Latham was meticulous about giving his sources, his references to books were usually in abbreviated format as ‘Sim Dun’ or ‘H. Hist’. It took about 18 months in university libraries, the British Library and the internet to track down and check most of them. The bishops’ register excerpts had to be retranscribed and translated. Copies of pictures were obtained from the British Library and the copyright sorted out. The material was arranged into logical groups and the whole designed and indexed. A decision to change the page size meant that this had to be done twice, but probably better for the revision. The whole text is now available in four hardbound volumes at £120.

John Latham, Collections for a History of Romsey, Hampshire, (2017) ISBN 978-0-906921-14-2

The individual volumes are 1 Romsey Abbey; 2 Romsey People and Places; 3 Romsey Administration and General matters; 4 Letters to Denne, bibliography and index.

10. The National Council For Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) Show more → Show less ↓

Margaret O’Sullivan

What is the NCVO?

Edward Vivian Birchall, who died of wounds in France during World War I, left a legacy which was used to set up the National Council of Social Service, the predecessor of the NCVO. Now almost a hundred years old, it has a long-established track record in supporting the voluntary sector in numerous ways. Many high profile voluntary organisations began as NCVO projects. Examples include the Citizens Advice Bureau and Age Concern.

Currently, NCVO has a membership of over 12,500 organisations, of which BALH is one. This membership is estimated to represent about a third of the voluntary workforce in England.

What does the NCVO do?

As well as acting as champions for volunteers and volunteering, the NCVO works to enable organisations to make best use of the resources available to them, especially by providing training and advice. The NCVO also represents the voluntary sector to government, using evidence- based research to demonstrate the sector’s real value.  Free information and guidance covers topics from how to start a charity, to funding, managing people and volunteers, and governance, with case studies and step-by-step guides. If you are a NCVO member, you can also download templates, toolkits and model policies. Another resource, Funding Central, provides access to contracts, grants and loan finance opportunities and access is free to organisations with income under £100,000.

Details of the wide range of training and events provided by NCVO can be found on their website (https://www.ncvo.org.uk/) and online training, free to NCVO members or with subscriptions from £9.99 per month, is also available.  Current on site training sessions of potential interest to local history societies include: writing successful bids; project management in the voluntary sector; good practice in volunteer management; collecting outcome and impact data; and data protection reform: an introduction for the voluntary sector. Consultancy services on a range of subjects such as governance, impact and evaluation, can also be arranged.

Larger voluntary organisations can also take advantage of training towards recognised quality standards. These include:Investing in Volunteers;Investing in Volunteers for Employers;Mentoring and Befriending Approved Provider Standard;PQASSO  (a quality assurance self- assessment tool); and Volunteer Centre Quality Accreditation

In addition, practical benefits also include

Hire of the NCVO Conference Suite at 8 All Saints St., London, N1 (close to King’s Cross and St Pancras) for events, with a discount of 20% for members.
 NCVO list of Trusted Suppliers, offering discounts and preferential arrangements on a wide range of products and services which can help voluntary organisations cut costs and become more effective.
NCVO publications, including a Good Trustee Guide, with a discount of 30% for members

How is the NCVO governed?

There is a central body of twelve trustees, complemented by a broader assembly of fifty members.


How much does NCVO membership cost?

Subscriptions are based on the annual turnover of the subscribing organisation with a differential  between those under and over £100,000 p.a.

How do I find out more about NCVO membership?

See the NCVO website: https://www.ncvo.org.uk/ or email: membership@ncvo.org.uk or telephone 020 7520 2414

11. Star Chamber: using and contributing to local history online Show more → Show less ↓

Gill Draper

The Star Chamber court and its journey from dealing with petty oppression to facilitating royal tyranny is well known. Its judges were Privy Councillors and on occasion some common-law judges, and it dealt in the reign of Elizabeth mainly with complaints made against members of local society, often at the level of gentry. Its lengthy and complex records, held in the National Archives, are being made accessible to local historians by an indexing project being carried out by Helen Good and others.  The project is to be found online at WAALT: the Wiki for the Anglo-American Legal Tradition Website. WAALT is a project of the Anglo-American Legal Tradition (AALT) website of the University of Houston, http://www.uh.edu/waalt/index.php/Main_Page . This main page is well worth reading for its introduction to where the Elizabethan Star Chamber indexing project sits in the wider scheme of its  volunteer work.

WAALT's goals are:

furthering the history of England and Wales
enabling the exploitation of TNA documents available on AALT and elsewhere
expanding the research community by providing a research purpose short of publication
lowering the cost of research by expanding online research capability
providing a collaborative model of research

As the website says, ‘academics, students, independent researchers and enthusiasts of all varieties are welcome’. Local historians in particular are able now both to benefit from and, if they wish, contribute to the Elizabethan Star Chamber project. Helen Good has opened up the great potential of the project for those researching people across England and Wales. It is now possible to search for them by name and find a brief summary of the surviving papers relating to cases in which they were involved, together with the National Archives call number. You do have to then go and read the documents for yourself if you find material of potential interest! The cases cover matters such as tithes, poaching hedge-breaking (in relation to enclosure), abduction and forced marriage of heirs, both male and female, conspiracy, fraud, perjury, authorities failing to act and juries giving the ‘wrong verdict’. Towns and cities generally tried to ensure issues arising were dealt with by their own urban courts but cases involving trade disputes and professionals do appear in Star Chamber.

As Helen Good says, ‘TNA STAC 5 (Star Chamber Elizabeth) [together with STAC 7 and part of STAC 10] contains perhaps 100,000 documents. The whole of the Elizabethan world, political, religious, mercantile, social and literary, is referred to in those documents, but practically nobody has used them because there is no useful list. The references are chaotic and the finding aids inadequate’. Over the last ten years she has made a series of indices and lists which can be found by following the link above.


Navigating via the link given above or by putting the surname of interest and the letters STAC and WAALT into a search engine takes you to occurrences of the surname, and you go from there. There will usually be a series of documents, from an initial bill of complaint and the defendant’s answer to interrogatories and witness depositions. As an example of what can be found, I have chosen the Oxenbridge family, a member of which, Robert, appears twice in the Names index as follows.

STAC 5/L6/11 - I D - 40 Eliz [1597-8] -  George Lawrence v Robert Oxenbridge (‘see STAC Lawrence’)

STAC 5/O4/22 - B – 36 Eliz [1593-4]  - Robert Oxenbrigge v Thomas Harwood, John Pollenton et al.

I know the Oxenbridge family well as residents of the town of Rye in Sussex, part of the Cinque Ports confederation, and holders of the nearby manor of Brede. Oxenbridges were involved in local political life in the later 15th century as mayor and MP of Rye and - perhaps by making money through customs collection- rose to roles in the royal household and national events.[1] Elizabeth Oxenbridge, the daughter of Sir Goddard Oxenbridge of Brede (or Forde) Place, married Sir Robert Tyrwhitt, Master of the Horse to Queen Katherine Parr. As Lady Elizabeth Tyrwhitt, she briefly became governess to Princess Elizabeth when she was fifteen.[2]

Brede Place remained in the hands of the Oxenbridge family until 1616 when it passed to the Frewens, another Sussex gentry family.[3] Like so many gentry families, the Oxenbridges used a limited range of forenames, and I reviewed various websites to find out which Robert was involved in the Star Chamber cases since the one I knew best (1508/9-1574) was clearly, from the 1590s dates, the wrong one. The most helpful was the MPs biographies on the website of the Houses of Parliament: British Political, Social and Local History [HoP].[4] However one may note that on the Oxenbridges the HoP drew on the work of an assiduous local historian of Rye and New Winchelsea, William Durrant Cooper, who published in Sussex Archaeological Collections in 1856 (also now online) and the VCH.[5] As well as Brede Place, this Sir Robert had two other Sussex manors and a London House in Trinity Lane. Robert married Lady Alice Fogge of Ash in Kent, the Fogges being an extremely wealthy gentry family who rebuilt Ashford church and college, Kent, in the later 15th century.[6] Robert remained a lifelong Catholic and at Elizabeth’s accession bought and effectively retired to a new home at Hurstbourne Priors, Hampshire, where he has a fine tomb in the parish church.[7] His namesake grandson and great-grandson were, like him, also MPs, but for Whitchurch and Hampshire rather than Rye. However they retained connections with Sussex and Kent as commissioners for sewers i.e. overseeing the drainage of marshland areas such as surrounded Brede on the edge of the river valley leading into Romney Marsh- which along with their connections to Rye is how I knew about them. The HoP biographies are very full, especially on religious beliefs and associated political actions, and do not need repeating here, but they are not always so strong on local connections and activities. The HoP’s introduction noted the difficulty of distinguishing between men of the same name, particularly when they were borough rather than county MPs. In fact it was the ‘Fart’ section of the website Early Stuart Libels which first introduced me to the grandson and great grandson, Roberts II and III as it were. The reference to Oxenbridge appears in ‘The Censure of the Parliament Fart’, a political poem which ‘accrued substance and meaning into the 1620s’ according to the website’s introduction.[8]

Investigation of these various websites made clear that it must be Robert the grandson [1568-1616] who appears in the indexed Star Chamber cases, and I look forward to reading the documents one day and getting further perspectives on a family I know well from local and county sources.

The Elizabethan Star Chamber indexing project can greatly benefit from the feedback of local historians who will likely have wide knowledge of other aspects of the lives of individuals caught up in Star Chamber cases. In particular, a County index is being compiled at the moment and all information which links people identified in the Names index to a locality and county will be welcomed by Helen Good on mail@helengood.com .  Helen would like local historians to increase the value of the County index by identifying a reference as being of a particular County, with a few words as to how this is known. For example, as well as gaining a more rounded view of the Oxenbridges from using some of the excellent websites now available, and identifying which Robert was involved in the Star Chamber case, I will be able to pass on his county connections, primarily Hampshire and Sussex but also Hertfordshire (Broxbourne), which will be linked to the Names index. The project is keen that as many of us as possible pass on the benefits of our local knowledge to extend the County index and its future usefulness for others.

Gill Draper

Events and Development Officer



[1] G. Draper, Rye: a History of a Sussex Cinque Port (The History Press, 2016), 69 95, 103, 106, 119-20, 124,136, 138, 182, 193, 238nn; Calendar of Fine Rolls, vol. 22, 1485-1509, pp. 90-1

[2] G. Draper, Failing Friaries: the mendicants in the Cinque Ports’, in ed. N. Rogers, The Friars in Medieval Britain: Proceedings of the 2007 Harlaxton Medieval Symposium (Shaun Tyas, 2010), 315-6; Patricia Brace, ‘Tyrwhit , Elizabeth, Lady Tyrwhit (d. 1578)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2012 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/46929, accessed 20 May 2017]. Only two other Oxenbridges, of the 17th century, have entries in the ODNB, although earlier ones can be found by searching on ‘full text’ not ‘person’- always a worthwhile exercise.

[3] http://www.mandywillard.co.uk/places/brede/brede.htm [20.5.17]

[4] http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1509-1558/member/oxenbridge-sir-robert-15089-74 [22.5.17].

[5] Suss. Arch. Colls. 8, pp. 228-9, 231-2; VCH Hants, 4, pp. 287-9.

[6] The author’s academia page can be used to read about Fogge and Ashford church, https://www.academia.edu/12280513/_The_education_of_children_in_Kent_and_Sussex_interpreting_the_medieval_and_Tudor_ways_Nottingham_Medieval_Studies_52_2008_

[7] http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1509-1558/member/oxenbridge-sir-robert-15089-74 [17.5.17]; http://www.britainexpress.com/counties/hampshire/churches/hurstbourne-priors.htm [20.5.17]

[8] A web-based edition of early 17th century political poetry from manuscript sources, bringing into the public domain over 350 poems, many previously unpublished, http://www.earlystuartlibels.net/htdocs/parliament_fart_section/C1iii.html [17.5.17]. Regrettably this gave an incorrect birth year for Robert the grandson as compared with HoP; http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1604-1629/member/oxenbridge-sir-robert-i-1568-1616 [22.5.17]. It is important to search through all the sections (ordered by date of office) on the HoP website to find all men of the same name.




Anne Oxenbridge brass, Brede Church

© Copyright Julian P Guffogg and licensed for reuse under creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0


Anne Oxenbridge brass, Brede Church

The altar tomb was mutilated about the middle of the last century. Originally there was a kneeling figure with a scroll, thought to be Elizabeth Etchingham - first wife of
Sir Goddard, the Brede Giant.
The missing brasses were replaced by others originally on the floor. They show Anne Oxenbridge (D.1493) in full gown with hands in prayer. Of Robert her husband, only the feet and a leg remain.
The latin inscription reads:
"Here lies Robert Oxenbridge Esq and Anne his wife. He died on 9th of March 1487 and Anne died 27th of February 1493. On whose souls and all those of the faithful departed may God have mercy. Amen"
There is also a small brass to their daughters Margery and Katherine.

12. Kent History Federation One Day Conference Show more → Show less ↓

Susan Lavender

This year’s Kent History Federation conference, on 20 May, was hosted by Sandwich Local History Society to commemorate the Battle of Sandwich in 1217.  Unfortunately, The Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Boyce KG GCB OBE DL, could not address the conference as planned but he did make a brief appearance from hospital via a video link. 

Richard Brooks author of The Knight who saved England spoke about William Marshall and the French Invasion of 1217, the siege of Dover and Deal, and King Louis of France’s landing at Sandwich in 1216.  He concluded the main error historians make is to misplace the battle off Dover, and it was a major national event and a key cultural moment.

Dr Sophie Ambler spoke about Hubert de Burgh, showed interesting illustrations and reviewed accounts of the battle from sources including Matthew Paris, and Roger of Wendover’s account of the Siege of Dover.

Ian Russell, MVO MA MSocSc, Registrar and Seneschal, Confederation of Cinque Ports, talked about The Cinque Portsmen – the English Navy of their day.  He included their origin, locations, ships, and how many became unruly pirates.  Changes  in naval warfare, new technology, and silting up, meant many Cinque ports were no longer suitable and became obsolete.

Dr Sheila Sweetinburgh from Canterbury Christ Church University spoke about the Medieval Hospitals of Sandwich, detailing the types, numbers, fees and changes of use. The hospitals guaranteed food and somewhere to live for the lucky few.

John Henderson, Chairman of Sandwich Local History Society talked about Sandwich since 664 AD, situated on the Wantsum Channel which provided a shortcut for vessels to London and anchorage for ships. An elephant arriving in 1255, as a gift of the King of France,  was attacked by a bull on the Canterbury Road when travelling to a menagerie in London! 

Linda Elliott, Honorary Archivist of the Sandwich Museum told how an original copy of the Magna Carta, Charter of the Forest and Sandwich Custumal were recently found inside an 18th Century scrapbook, and returned to Kent History & Archive Centre in Maidstone in 2012. In 1932 the documents were recorded in the Guild Hall but lost during WWII when the archives were stored in a disused slate mine in Wales. The Sandwich Custumal contains ancient rights and privileges of the town.  

Various guided visits around Sandwich in the pleasant afternoon weather followed by refreshments at the Guild Hall made the day very enjoyable for all.

13. Association of Northumberland and Local History Societies Show more → Show less ↓

Janet Brown

The Association of Northumberland Local History Societies held a final meeting to wind up its affairs in November 2016.


It was launched 50 years ago as an initiative from the Northumberland Records Office under the name of the Northumberland Local History Society. The aim was to establish and support societies throughout Northumberland and Newcastle upon Tyne.  Most of the original members were individuals. At that time there were only two or three local history societies in existence.  


After a few years, several societies had been founded, and had been joined by others with a heritage interest, who were known as Institutional Members,   It changed its name to the Association of Northumberland Local History Societies to reflect this.


Help and advice were offered on a number of matters.  The Society was a registered charity and in that capacity was able to help those who were not registered but who needed funds from grant making trusts for a project or publication.  It worked with the Charity Commissioners to provide a draft Constitution for new societies.  It also provided a list of speakers which was regularly updated.  A publication called "Tyne and Tweed" was produced which gave members a means to publish their work.  It ran a Spring Conference and a One-Day School each year.  There was also a "Round the County" Day where one society would act as host and offer an invitation to other societies to come and be shown the locality and learn about its history.


It was the envy of one or two other county societies, who wanted to know how ANLHS managed to get societies to join.  It was pointed out that ANLHS was there when the eggs were hatched, they didn't have to try to round up any chickens!


The ANLHS was represented at the meetings of the Standing Conference for Local History when the decision to create the British Association was taken, and was present at a lot of meetings in the beginning. It promoted BALH in the north-east.


A few books of photographs of the "Then and Now" theme were published. There was a List of Sources which, although very basic, gave new societies an idea of where to look for information.  It also ran projects, such as the Graveyard Survey.  In 1988 it launched its War Memorials Survey. The ANLHS called a halt after five years. It was carried on by one member, and this grew into the North East War Memorials Project which is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind outside of the national project.


The decision to cease to exist was a sad one.  Attendances at meetings were starting to dwindle.  Because of the internet, members of new societies had more knowledge about constitutions and other legal matters.  It was decided to go out on a "high" rather than fizzle out.  A final meeting was held in which the formal closure was agreed.  The funds were distributed among the member societies.


The Association of Northumberland Local History Societies did not fail.  It looked at what had been achieved and decided that it was a job well done.  Local history thrives in Northumberland and Newcastle, and much of that is due to the ANLHS.  All who were ever involved with it should be congratulated on its achievements.

Janet Brown  is former Hon. Life Vice-President of ANLHS.

14. A Picture Puzzle Show more → Show less ↓

Historic sketches, paintings and printed illustrations can show us what Shanklin and the surrounding area looked like before the age of photography, but sometimes identifying a particular location is not straightforward. The 18th century print (the original is coloured) shown here is one example. Intrigued by ‘Landguard’ in the title, we have been puzzling over it for some time and can now report the story and results of our detective work.

The picture

Four buildings, three of them thatched, are shown grouped in an irregular row with a road or track and a pond in the foreground and trees beyond on the right. The building on the right, with a chimney and a porch, is probably a dwelling and the others farm buildings.

The printed title printed is both informative and confusing:


London Pubd  March 20 1797 by F.Jukes Howland Street

Another Landguard?

We had never heard of a ‘Landguard Fort’ on the Island. Neither had any of the experts on Isle of Wight military history we contacted. The only Landguard Fort we could find is in Suffolk and so we began to wonder whether ‘Isle of Wight’ was an error in the title.

Landguard Fort, near Felixstowe, was built in the mid-18th century and its archivist, Dave Wood, was contacted. Dave kindly checked through his records and could not find a match. He sent us some historic pictures of cottages near the Suffolk Fort but these were completely different to those in our picture. We concluded that Suffolk was not the location and our investigations returned to the Isle of Wight.

An imaginary scene?

It was suggested that the picture might be an imagined scene, so our attention turned to the question of who the artist might have been. The named publisher was the prolific printmaker and publisher Francis Jukes (1745-1812) of Howland Street, Westminster, who published work by numerous artists and was one of the first to exploit the newly discovered method of aquatint printmaking.

A number of copies of the ‘near Landguard Fort’ picture would have been printed so we searched on-line public collections, hoping for more information.  The first copy identified was originally part of the Topographical Collection of King George III who was fascinated by British landscape and geography. This is now in the British Library, where it seems they have not been able to identify the location or the artist.

A black and white copy was purchased by the British Museum in 1875. The Museum also have a coloured version, donated in 1917, as part of a collection of some 20 aquatint prints of Isle of Wight views. Subjects include Carisbrooke Castle and a ‘View of Dunnose from the Cliff near Shanklin’, depicted with a distinct degree of artistic licence. The print maker was watercolour artist John Hassell (1767-1825) and most (if not all) were published by Jukes in 1796-97. It would seem that Hassell, known for his illustrated book ‘Tour of the Isle of Wight’ published in 1790, was also almost certainly the original artist. This information increased our confidence that ‘near Landguard Fort’ was really somewhere on the Isle of Wight and not an imaginary composition. As the collection included views of Dunnose and Shanklin Chine, somewhere in the area around Landguard Manor also seemed a likely location.

FORT   or FORD  ?

We next considered whether ‘Fort’ in the title might be a simple misspelling of ‘Ford’ and looked for possibilities in the vicinity of Landguard on old maps.

The two editions (1769 and 1775) of John Andrews’ ‘Topographical Map of the Isle of Wight’ are not strictly accurate in the same way as later Ordnance Survey maps, but seem to follow the convention of showing a stream crossing a road (a ford) or vice versa (indicating a bridge). To the west of ‘Gr Languard’ (now Landguard Manor) the maps show Scotchells Brook and its tributaries crossing over three tracks and also the main road leading from Lake towards Arreton (now Scotchells Bridge near Morrisons).  This gave us a number of possibilities for small settlements that might have been described as ‘near Landguard Ford’.   

The 18th century Landguard estate included land on both sides of the Lake road and a ford on a main route seemed the most likely candidate for a named landmark. It is seems that a bridge on the road from Lake may only have been built in the early 19th century: in March 1824 the Commissioners of Highways received tenders (now in the IW Record Office) for carting stones (50 loads are mentioned) from Shanklin to Scotchells Brook for the construction of a bridge.  Scotchells Bridge is first shown named on the 1862 Ordnance Survey map.

A matching footprint?

Our investigations continued with a search for group of four buildings which matched the distinctive footprint of those in our 1797 picture. For this we examined the Ordnance Survey’s original 1793 preliminary drawing, including settlements at Landguard, Little Landguard, White Cross, Merry Garden, the small settlement of Lake, Black Pan, Lee Farm, Cheverton and Ninham.

The only match found was at Black Pan which also had a track leading away as shown in our picture when viewed from the north. The 1793 map did not indicate a pond and the nearest group of trees was shown as further away from the buildings. Given the embellishment of other prints in the 1796-97 collection we considered it possible, and even likely, that these features were the result of artistic licence.        

By the time of the next Ordnance Survey visit in about 1862 only the footprint of one 1793 building (far left in the picture) is indicated, either extended or possibly replaced. No other illustrations of Black Pan have been found and no buildings survive on the site.   

A working hypothesis

Our puzzling picture is now 220 years old. While we think the evidence suggests it probable that ‘near Landguard Fort’ should have read ‘near Landguard Ford’, that this was located at what is now Scotchells Bridge and that the view is a representation by artist John Hassell of the late 18th century farm at Black Pan, viewed from the north-northwest. However, this should be regarded as our current working hypothesis and if you have any more ideas, information or clues, please get in touch!  

Report by Helen Thomas.

Research by Terry Nigh, Helen Thomas and other S&DHS Committee Members.

The 1796-97 collection of prints by John Hassell can be viewed on the British Museum website and the 1793 Ordnance Survey map on the British Library website. Copies of all the maps mentioned are available at the IW Record Office.


Note to Ian on illustrations


For the article to make sense the 1797 Puzzle Picture and the 1793 6” OS are essential

If space allows then the 1775 2” Andrews is quite jolly

The 1862 25” OS is not really necessary but included here to complete the record and just in case you need to fill some space







The 1797 Puzzle Picture


1775 2” scale Andrews Map

1793 6” scale Ordnance Survey drawing


1862 25” scale Ordnance Survey Map

15. The Rise and Demise of the Norton Sub Hamdon Local History Society Show more → Show less ↓

Janet Hutton

The once flourishing Norton sub Hamdon Local History Society was founded following a request  to Rev James Pulman from Mrs Mauvyn Greenham to form a society to record village events before they were forgotten. An initial meeting  was held on Ist June 1992  to see how much interest there would be and at the first committee meeting a few weeks later, held at Knapp Farm on 30th June 1992, a committee was formed of  6 members:  Penny Cudmore as Chairman,  Mauvyn Greenham  as Honorary Secretary and  Denise Gale as Treasurer. Committee  membres were John Lynas, Katharine Muller, John Hopping and Cecil Gillman. Rev Pulman was elected the first President.  The Society was affiliated to the Somerset Archaelogical and Natural History Society from the beginning.


In the 21 years that the society was going it had many excellent achievements which included a local history magazine   'The Nortonian'  the first of which  was published in 1992. This  was followed by editions 2 and 3 within a few years. After a gap of several years Muriel Parkinson who became Chairman in 2011 helped steer the group into publishing Nortonians 4 and 5 and  after the dissolution she has continued to produce Nortonians 6, 7 and  8 in a private capacity.


 A local history newsletter from 2000 to 2007 was published by John Jones who included fascinating articles on visits made and talks given and items of interest involving old  village families or places in Norton. Examples of this were the items about the Red Cross Hospital at the Manor House in the First World War and an item about HMS Hesperus – Norton had adopted this ship during Warship Week in 1942 and contributed over £1200 to help the Yeovil area fund to purchase the destroyer.


The society also funded a booklet  written by Kenneth Dives about the Norton Poet, Francis Webb – a study of an unknown literary gentleman who lived from 1735 to 1815.


Many outings were arranged both locally and far afield including Salisbury to see Edward Heath's House 'Arundells', Bristol to see the SS Great Britain, and Highgrove House.


As a way of promoting its existence Notelets and Tea Towels  were produced and sold to help funds and a stand was taken at the annual Flower Show.


A very special project involved a lot of work in helping the Parish Council publish the Norton sub Hamdon Domesday Book which was 'a portrait of the village at the Millennium'  and  covered some 70 topics including  the many community facilities and organisations, leisure activities and village events. There was a full list of residents in Norton on 31 December 1999 and also a comprehensive survey of flora and fauna in the parish. Two of the books were printed on acid-free paper and bound in leather – one for the County Museum in Taunton and the other for the village safe.


Many societies go through rough patches and this has been no exception in Norton. Committee members had done their stint over the years but at a Special General Meeting on Wednesday 13th November 2013 the Society members reluctantly voted to close the Society due to lack of committee members to run it. The Assets would be donated to local organisations and the papers and books amassed over the years were  to be transferred to the  Somerset Heritage Centre in Taunton.


History is being made as we live our lives here in Norton and there is a great deal of information about Norton in the village and also in the Record Office at Taunton so it would not be impossible for the Phoenix to rise again – the future will tell!!  


Janet Hutton  was formerly Secretary of N LHS


With thanks to Muriel Parkinson

16. News from Societies Show more → Show less ↓

Thank you to everyone who has sent in their newsletters and to all those who have submitted particular pieces of news. It is especially good to welcome new society members, as it is sad to hear of those who have reached the point in their history when the right thing to do is to call it a day. A persistent message from the local history world is its dependence on volunteers who are willing to contribute their time and energy to organise groups throughout the country. Long may there continue to be such people to maintain the vibrancy of our subject.


‘Midland Ancestors’ is the new name of Birmingham & Midland Society for Geneaology & Heraldry.  Their journal, which often contains material of interest to local as well as family historians, has been called ‘The Midland Ancestor’ for some considerable time, and now the organisation has arrived at, as they put it, ‘something shorter and more in keeping with the 21st century. The new website address is www.midland-ancestors.uk


The Black Country Society is continuing to celebrate its 50th anniversary.  Their latest publication ‘The Tommy Mundon Story’ has raised over £10,000 for the Mary Stevens Hospice. The Society continues to be closely involved with the Black Country Museum where they are represented on the Advisory Panel for the proposed new development. This has now received LHF and Arts Council England financial support. www.blackcountrysociety.co.uk  www.bclm.co.uk


Leckhampton Local History Society is in the process of celebrating ‘25 glorious years’. The September 2017 issue of their newsletter ‘Smoke Signal’ reviews the highlights in the quarter century since that first formal meeting on 1 October 1992.  The moving force was their first chairman the late Bruce Stait, who was not only an excellent historian, but well known for his quirky cartoons that illustrated the newsletters. www.llhs.org.uk


A specially bound copy of  The Christchurch Miscellany has been presented to the archives of Christchurch Priory. The Miscellany was compiled by Herbert Druitt (1876 – 1943) and contains a wealth of information about the history of Christchurch and the Priory, Copies are also held in Christchurch Library and the Christchurch History Society archives; the copyright belongs to the History Society. www.historychristchurch.org


Keyworth  & District Local History Society have produced a 16-page booklet ‘Our Listed Buildings’, including a brief introduction to the local conservation area, a reproduction of the 1799 Inclosure Award, and an explanation of how buildings come to be ‘listed’.  www.keyworthhistory.org.uk


Project Purley Local History Society have a collection of literary references to Purley, which they are always on the look out to increase.  The recent BBC 2 production of King Charles III omitted the conversation between fictional characters which mentions Purley, but it was included in the original stage versions and those broadcast on Radio3. The publishers have given permission for the relevant extract to be kept in the society’s collection.  www.project-purley.eu


Horley Local History Society has recently joined BALH. Their newsletter of September 2017 demonstrates the variety of interests, concerns and activities of the members. They have made suggestions for appropriate street names in a local new development. Concern about the lack of a good history of St Bartholomew’s Church is being rectified by the group and one of their leading members, first by a talk and exhibition and then  a published booklet. The forthcoming lecture topics include ‘History of Sanger’s Circus’, ‘A Horley Chrismas Evening’, Votes for Women and the impact on Horley’, and  ‘History of the Horley Car’.  www.horleyhistory.org.uk


The War Memorials Trust Bulletin of August 2017 contains an update on War Memorials Online. 33,500 war memorials have now been recorded, ad around 1,500 are being updated every month. More than 72,000 photographs have been added by more than 4,200 contributors.  Over 23,000 condition reports have been submitted, suggesting that 7% may be in ‘poor’ and 1% on ‘very bad’ condition. This information contributes directly to the Trust’s grants and conservation programmes. www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk


On 4 November the Edmonton Hundred Historical Society will be holding a day conference entitled ‘Edmonton Hundred Firsts’- examining ‘things which happened here first’ from the obscure to the well-known.  www.edmontonhundred.org.uk


The 2017 Local Population Studies Society conference will be held at the University of Leicester on 11 November. The topic is Population and Transport. Bookings can be made online and the closing date is soon so you need to act quickly! http://www.localpopulationstudies.org.uk/confer.htm


Hampshire Field Club Landscape Section is holding a one day conference on 11 November at Peter Symonds College, Winchester. The whole programme is devoted to Romsey, as a religious centre, market and industrial town. The speakers are members of  the Romsey Local History Society who are working on a major Anglo-Saxon project. http://www.hantsfieldclub.org.uk/sections/landscapeconf17.html. www.ltvas .org.uk


British Society of Sports History Scottish Network will be holding ‘Scottish Winter’ on 15 November in Perth. This one-day conference will examine the history of tourism, sport and leisure during the winter months in Scotland. Clish Clash is the e-newsletter of the Scottish Local History Forum


18 November is the date for Suffolk Local History Council’s AGM at Elmswell, followed by a talk on ‘Tea for the British’.  www.slhc.org.uk/news-and-events/


Warwickshire Local History Association  Christmas event will be on 25 November. They will be going to Salford Hall, a grade 1 listed building that was originally a 15th century monastic house; it is now a hotel. They will have a tour of the building, an enactment relating to the catholic history of the house, and a seasonal tea. www.warwickshirehistory.org.uk




Kent History Federation dates for your diary in advance: 6 – 8 April 2018 Medieval Canterbury Weekend, at which speakers include David Starkey, Caroline Barron and Janina Ramirez.; 12 May 2018 provisional date for One Day Conference. http://kenthistoryfederation.org



Redlynch & District Local History Society put their archives to effective use recently when they assisted the village Primary School with a local study on Morgan’s Vale and Woodfalls. They provided appropriate photographs, maps, books and a CD, outlining a trail for the pupils to use. Three members spent an enjoyable day and a half, accompanying the class and teacher on the walk and assisting with follow-up work in the classroom. The children completed a questionnaire and took photographs so that they could compare past and present. Working in groups, they produced display sheets on various aspects, including houses, churches and chapels, the school and trades and industries. It was very successful and it was good to see young people being enthusiastically involved in their past. Some of their work is included in the society’s Exhibition on 13th and 14th October, on the theme of ‘A Redlynch Childhood’. This uses photographs and articles from their own resources, as well as artefacts to portray what it was like to grow up in the local area.

Further details can be found on the website: www.redlynchlocalhistory.org


Joy Woodall, well-known local resident and historian, was presented with the Jennens Cup at the recent AGM of the Solihull Local History Circle.  Joy has been a member of the Circle since its foundation in 1987 and, through her many well researched and respected books, educational classes and talks to different groups, has  contributed greatly to the knowledge and protection of the local historical environment. The Jennens Cup was originally given by Philip Jennens (1910-1986), a local dentist, to the Solihull Society of Arts to be awarded for the best contralto solo at its Annual Music Festival, which ran from 1954 to 1981. It was passed to the SLHC in 2013.  https://sites.google.com/site/solihulllocalhistorycircle/


Wallasey Historical Society (Wirral) is presenting an exhibition of 30 photographs at Wallasey Central Library from 30th October to 11th November. These are a selection from a collection of several hundred glass negatives and lantern slides held by the Society of which 450 have recently been scanned with excellent results.


The aim of digitising the collection is to make them accessible to the members of the Society and to the wider public, and to store them correctly for their future preservation. It is also the first time these negatives have been digitally scanned. The slides have been grouped in subject areas, for example the townships of Wallasey Village, Liscard, and New Brighton. The photos of the districts of Seacombe and Egremont include the Mersey ferry terminals.


A number of the images are well known in the district but digital technology has allowed the Society to extract never before seen detail from the images and produce prints of excellent quality.


Prints will also be offered for purchase at the exhibition. Entrance is free.


If you would like to contact us our website is at wallaseyhistoricalsociety.co.uk which has the facility to send emails to Terry Edgar, Chair of the Society.


An overhaul and re-design of the website of Cumbria Local History Federation has recently been completed. The results went live on Tuesday 12 September 2017 and can be seen at www.clhf.org.uk The well-illustrated site contains full details of the Federation and its member groups.  In addition to an archive of its thrice-yearly Bulletins, there is the latest edition of its Directory of Speakers, Walks/Tours & Research Assistance and an Events Diary.  There is also a Guide to the other organisations which have a major county-wide role in local history, together with a comprehensive list of links to on-line resources and organisations supportive of local historians in Cumbria.



Shanklin & District History Society – thanks for permission to reprint article on p 21


While some districts depended on industries that were specific to their locality, in times past there were numerous industries that were vital to the livelihoods of people in many different places. This means that local research work can be of relevance around the country.


Berkshire Old & New, the journal of the Berkshire Local History Association No 34 for 2017,    contains extensive articles on Philbrick’s Tannery in Reading, and on Wallingford’s malting industry.  Illustrated below is the tannery by the Kennet and County Lock, c 1895. www.blha.org.uk


Gutta Percha was used for many objects that we would now make out of rubber or plastic.  Troon @ Ayrshire Family History Society report a recent talk on the subject, based on the local company history of R & J Dick.  www.troonayrshirefhs.og.uk


The ‘industry’ of producing commemorative ware is described in an article headed ‘Wesleyana’ in the Bulletin of the North East Methodist History Society. It helped that Methodism was well-established in the major pottery producing areas by the latter part of John Wesley’s ministry, but it would seem he is the most pictured person in history for this type of ware. The variety and quantity is vast, and can be found in public and private collections world-wide, though it is not a well-studied subject. www.northeastmethodisthistory.weebly.com.


Fleet & Crookham Local History Group offer ‘Meet the Local History Detectives’ sessions in their local library. These provide an opportunity for the public to ask questions, and to share photos and memories, and for members to share their interests and enthusiasm with other people.   www.fclhg.org.uk

17. News from Archives Show more → Show less ↓

A decision was announced in early August by Northamptonshire County Council to suspend drastic alterations to public access hours at Northamptonshire Archives. The changes would have resulted in free access being reduced to 13 hours per week, and public charges for access of £31.50 per hour at other times. The proposals generated a wave of local opposition from a wide range of groups.


The letter sent by the Archives and Records Association to Northamptonshire County Council in June set out very clearly the need to reconsider the decision and is shared here with Local History News readers who could be facing similar cut-backs in other parts of the country





Jill Hyams and Jane Lewis from Surrey Heritage enjoyed a busy day at the London Family History Fair, helping new and experienced researchers alike with their enquiries. Jill, an archivist, and Jane, a professional genealogist, are based at Surrey History Centre (the county record office) in Woking. Take a look at Jane's Seeking Surrey Ancestors blog at http://www.exploringsurreyspast.org.uk/category/ssa/

On the occasion of the national Heritage Open Days at the beginning of September, Lancashire Archives put on a special exhibition of Preston building plans. Their complete series, 1852-1974, can now be searched thanks to volunteers who have produced a complete and detailed listing, accessible through the online catalogue Lancat.

‘Getting to know Lancashire Archives’ sessions will be run on 14 November 5.30 – 7pm, 8 December 2.30 – 4 pm, 9 January 5.30, 9 February 2.3 and 13 March 5.30.  www.lancashire.gov.uk/archives


Bedfordshire Archives & Records Service Newsletter reports on the value of having work experience students to hand when a big sorting job arrives. They recently received two tin trunks, one wooden box and 7 banana boxes of material relating to the family of the late Rev Ian Graham-Orlebar; the archives already had a substantial estate collection from the Orlebar family. The first task was to sort ‘wheat from chaff’ - rejecting, for example, a pair of ice skates and a large brass grasshopper. Secondly, due to pressure of space, they tried to reduce the duplication of family photographs. So with the students they played a combination of Happy Families and Snap!  www.bedford.gov.uk/archive


Hampshire Archives & Local Studies are holding a House History Workshop on 15 November at 2 pm.  The last Thursday lecture of the year will be on 30 November, on the subject of the ‘Women who built the Motor Torpedo Boat during WW2’ On 1 December they are holding an evening of fun ‘Capturing Christmas’ which will allow visitors to explore some of their seasonally themed treasures (including mulled wine and mince pies). For tickets and all booking details go to their website. www3.hants.gov.uk/archives/whatson-hro.htm

18. News from Museums Show more → Show less ↓


A new resource ‘Uncovering railway worker accidents 1911 – 1915’ is available on the project website at www.railwayaccidents.port.ac.uk.  This is a joint initiative between the University of Portsmouth and the National Railway Museum. A team of volunteers has used nearly 4,000 worker accidents reports produced by UK state inspectors. Details on the website, with associated blog, answer many questions about the nature of railway work, the people involved and the accidents they incurred. Future developments hope to extend the timeframe, and bring in other records held at the NRM, TNA and Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick.  ‘Outreach’ is the newsletter of the Friends of the National Archives.

Abergavenny Museum has been awarded the Women’s History Network annual Community History Project Prize for its exhibition ‘Monmouthshire Women Making Change’, which runs until 11 March 2018 . The project explores the contribution the county’s women have made to suffrage, the war effort, agriculture, the peace movement and how continued involvement in different issues continues to improve women’s lives, locally and globally. This collaborative exhibition is curated by an intergenerational group of volunteers - a graduate, two university students and a member of the community, working with community organisations.  The judges praised the museum’s team for the ‘enthusiastic way in which community groups of all ages and cultures have worked together to bring their own material to illuminate the women's histories brought to light. The panel were truly uplifted to see a small rural museum working so creatively.’  www.abergavennymuseum.co.uk

An exhibition at 1 Royal Crescent, Bath, celebrates the 250th anniversary of Bath’s landmark building. ‘A View from the Crescent’ runs until 19 November. www.no1royalcrescent.org.uk

While many museums face cuts in funding support from local government, Dorset County Museum is to receive a grants of £150,000 and a loan of £457,000 from West Dorset District Council for its new project ‘Tomorrow’s Museum for Dorset’.  The £13.2 m programme has a £9.9m HLF grant and will include new galleries, state-of-the-art storage facilities, a new learning centre and a new shop and cafe.  AIM Bulletin August 2017. www.dorsetcountymuseum.org http://tomorrowsmuseumfordorset.org/

Bungay Castle Trust together with Bungay Museum has been able, thanks to a generous bequest from a local resident, to purchase the King’s Head Hotel. This 16th century former coaching inn is one of the most prominent buildings in the town centre, adjacent to the 12th century castle built by Henry Bigod. Plans are being developed for the entire site which will include renovation of the hotel to provide bed-and-breakfast accommodation, and the establishment of a community Heritage Centre with a new venue for the town’s museum. Suffolk Local History Council Newsletter Autumn 2017.  www. slhc.org.uk www.bungay-suffolk.co.uk/activities/museum.asp

An exhibition at The Foundling Museum in London running from 29 September to 7 January 2018, is entitle ‘Basic Instincts’. This explores Georgian attitudes to love, desire and female respectability through the radical paintings of Joseph Highmore. There are a number of associated events. Further details can be found at www.foundlingmuseum.org.uk/events

Whitchurch Silk Mill is temporarily closed for a major refurbishment project. They celebrated with a splendid evening ‘Last Night of the Mill’ and the end of September when visitors enjoyed street food, fireworks and a ceilidh. Their  ‘Preserving the Fabric Project’ benefits from HLF support. The Mill, Shop and Café are due to re-open August 2018. www.whitchurchsilkmill.org .uk

19. News from Education Show more → Show less ↓

Centre for English Local History Thesis Collection


A new online resource for local historians from the University of Leicester


A new website makes available all the PhD theses completed by students at the Centre for English Local History, University of Leicester. The collection comprises 100 theses covering subjects from medieval moats to hunting in Northamptonshire. The full text is available to read and download in the majority of cases.


Founded in 1948, the Centre pioneered local history as an academic discipline in Britain. Research students have been central to its activities, and the theses are important research publications in their own right. We hope that improved access and discovery tools make this collection a useful resource for anyone interested in local history.

The diversity of themes and places found in the collection reflects the Centre’s mission to undertake research across the regions of England, and to encourage interdisciplinary approaches. Landscape history, a Leicester speciality, is well represented. Many studies are comparative, or use long time frames that break the conventions of periodisation.

The collection should also be seen as a source for the history of history. At least two PhD’s supervised by W.G. Hoskins can be found here. Authors such as Margaret Spufford, David Hey, and Michael Reed all became academic historians with distinguished careers.

It is hoped that more material can be added in the future.  We are also interested in knowing more about the earlier authors and how they came to their research topics. If you are an author, or knew them, please do get in contact with William Farrell, email: wjbf1@le.ac.uk  Tel. 0116 252 2018


Found out more here: https://elhleics.omeka.net/about


Birmingham History Day  takes place on 25 November, at the University of Birmingham. The industrial theme includes papers on ‘James Watt’s Lap Engine at the Soho Manufactory’; the hidden histories of the men, women and children who worked at Boulton & Watt’s Soho sites; an example of children working in local history with ‘The News Team’; and local projects on the slave trade, and on local manufactures.  Contact email m.m.dick@bham.ac.uk or book online athttp://shop.bham.ac.uk

Friends of the Centre for West Midlands History hold a series of Thursday evening research seminars which are free and open to everyone, there is no need to book.  On 16 November ‘Birmingham’s Hill family: a philanthropic dynasty? Future dates are 18 January, 8 February, 8 and 22 March and 2 24 May. Further details can be found on the website at http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/cwmh/events/index.aspx or contact Kate Croft to be included on their mailing list K.Croft@bham.ac.uk

 The programme for ‘Locality and Region’ seminars at the Institute for Historical Research will be found on the website http://www.history.ac.uk/events/seminar/locality-region


The Department for Continuing Education, University of Oxford offers many courses of interest to local historians. They will be holding Open Events (days/afternoons/evenings) for prospective students.  For postgraduate studies in history this will be on 5 December; for the undergraduate diploma in social and local history the date is 18 January. Full details of these and others can be found at https://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/about/openday


The British Schools Museum, Hitchin, and the British & Foreign School Society are working together on three educational programmes. Schools Outreach will take the museum to schools, particularly those who do not already have contact, motivating children to succeed in key subject areas, and helping teachers develop innovative lessons. Talking in Class will develop and deliver training and support for secondary school children in presentation skills and techniques. The Informal Learning Programme helps children maintain motivation and learning through the summer holidays. www.britishschoolsmuseum.org.uk


Eastbourne Local History Society’s newsletter issue 184 contains an article that illustrates the complexities of researching the history of a school.  When many schools were private businesses their prosperity varied; they moved address, but usually kept the same name; they merged and divided; they advertised for pupils; they received bequests – all of which might provide evidence for their history. The society was able to help an enquirer with a comprehensive reply to a query that began with an insignia on a prize book. www.eastbournehistoryorg.uk

20. Publication and research awards 2017 Show more → Show less ↓

Alan Crosby

This year we had another excellent set of papers to judge for the Publications and Research Awards, with long-lists of nine each for the ‘short article’ and ‘long article’ categories. The winner of the former was Rosemary Wherrett, with her intriguing and carefully-researched paper on the early photographers of Tewkesbury, taking a theme which has hardly ever been considered by local historians but is of major importance in that it provides us (and family historians) with a crucial new source from the 1850s onwards. The article (which was published in the July issue of The Local Historian) emphasises the importance of looking at the local newspapers, themselves a crucial source, and especially the advertisements—a topic which I also address in one of my ‘endpieces’ in this issue of Local History News. This is an approach which other local historians could usefully follow, and researching photographers is clearly feasible and illuminating (and it also means that there should be good potential for illustrating the finished product).

The runner-up was Catherine Alexander, whose analysis of an eighteenth-century manuscript cookery book from Northumberland is set against the framework of the social circle of its compiler, Jane Loraine of Kirkharle. This paper, which is published in the present issue of The Local Historian, draws attention to the potential of using the names of those ladies (and some gentlemen) who provided recipes for Jane, because they allowed Catherine Alexander to build up a picture of her network of friends, society acquaintances and kinsfolk. The article also identifies the significance of medical remedies (which are numerous in the book) and to the blurred boundaries between these and the recipes for food.

Other short articles in the list of award winners included Geoffrey Ball of Saffron Walden, who assessed the impact of Capability Brown’s landscape changes at Audley End upon the field sports which had hitherto been practiced in the area. Lee Ruddin also used newspapers, to look at the nature of anti-German sentiment on Merseyside following the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915, while Fabian Hiscock analysed the circumstances which prevailed in Berkhamsted (Hertfordshire) during the near-famine of 1795-6. Finally Robert Sephton, who sadly died just before he could receive his certificate, considered the role of women in the lengthy strike at the Bliss Mill tweed factory in Chipping Norton just before the First World War—a local case study convincingly set in the context of the wider labour movement of the early twentieth century.

The winner of the long article category was Cherry Lewis, whose article on what Simon Winchester called “the map that changed the world” (William Smith’s geological map of England and Wales, of 1815) focused on the contribution made by the industrialist David Mushet and his work in the Forest of Dean. All the judges were impressed by this paper, which illustrates how detailed local research and analysis can contribute valuable perspectives to a broader subject. This article is published in the present issue of The Local Historian. The runner-up was Paul Quayle’s fine study from the Isle of Man. Enclosure of commonland is a familiar concept in local history in England and Wales, but Paul highlights how it is poorly understood and little researched on the Island. He notes the steady depletion of commonland by piecemeal inclosure over the centuries, and ten charts the moves towards the great1860 Act of Tynwald, for inclosing the remainder of the uninclosed ‘Forest’. He discusses the debates about the legislation, the settlement reached, the allotments made and, especially, the end of common grazing and the removal of access rights and the social and economic impact – importantly, he has a final section which sets out an agenda for future archaeological and historical research.


Among the other winners in this category were Janet Few, who studied the Bible Christians, a little-known Protestant denomination, in rural north-west Devon, including the evidence for their migration to North America. She discussed the religious make-up of the area in the eighteenth century and moves forward to the 1851 religious census, placing the group in the context of social structures and the social order and arguing that the hostility which they received at home was a major factor in their moving to the New World. Glyn Scott Sutcliffe provided a detailed account of the ‘Bounty Baby’ scheme introduced by the mayor of Halifax in 1908, in the wider context of infant welfare in the Edwardian borough, notes the remarkably low rates of infant mortality that now prevail, and that the circumstances of 1908 are now scarcely imaginable. José Bosworth, Pat Hudson, Maureen Johnson and Denise Shillitoe jointly-authored a paper on the impact of the lunacy of Sir Robert Hodshon, a seventeenth-century gentleman of Hebburn, County Durham, on his family and estate. They use the letters from Lady Frances Hodshon to her brother-in-law and sister, Sir Peter and Lady Mary Middleton of Stockeld in Yorkshire, and explore the ramifications, including the way the lunacy contributed to the disintegration of an estate already burdened by economic, religious and political pressures and by litigious behaviour.

Finally, David M. Yorath investigated the events in South West England during the Perkin Warbeck rebellion in the mid-1490s. He traces the impact of Perkin Warbeck’s rebellions from 1495 to 1497, and looks at the movement of the principal protagonists, the local management of the crisis – a very interesting example of the local significance of, and local responses to, national and international events.

21. BALH Trustee Profile: Dr Virginia Bainbridge Show more → Show less ↓

I have always loved history, and I first became excited by local history when I did an ‘A-Level’ history project using original documents from the Essex Record Office.  I have taught Local History and Palaeography in several counties: Essex, Gloucestershire, Greater London, Kent, Oxfordshire, Surrey, Sussex and Wiltshire.  I am currently organising The Swainswick History Trail, a community history project in my own parish near Bath, 2016-19.  A lecture, A Brief History of Swainswick, exhibitions and activities will lead to a walking trail for the neighbouring suburb’s Larkhall Festival next year. 

Throughout my career I have been engaged with adult learners and researching and writing public history for a general audience.  I have an academic background and began by teaching Extra-Mural and WEA classes in London.  I moved on to work as an editor on the prestigious Victoria County History volumes in Oxfordshire and later in Wiltshire.  I was subsequently employed as Manorial Documents Register project officer for Wiltshire and Swindon to update the county MDR catalogue for The National Archives Discovery website.  I am currently the historian-trainer for A Forgotten Landscape, a Heritage Lottery funded project based at South Gloucestershire Council. 

My PhD was on late medieval parish life, Gilds in the Medieval Countryside: Social and Religious Change in Cambridgeshire c.1350-1550 (1996).  I am now writing a book on religious life and the English Reformation, Prayer and Power: the Bridgettine Nuns of Syon Abbey c.1415-1600.  Friends have challenged me to finish it by the time I am 60 (2021), so I must hurry!

I enjoy teaching palaeography and all aspects of local history from Domesday Book to the present.  I do freelance work for community groups and other clients, transcribing and translating Medieval Latin and later documents, and explaining their historical context.

22. Visit to the Houses of Parliament and the Parliamentary Archives Show more → Show less ↓

George Gascoyne

Early in August a party of BALH members assembled in Westminster Hall, the only surviving part of the Palace of Westminster following the destructive fire of 1834. From here, with our guide Timothy, we were treated to an extensive tour of the Houses of Parliament starting at where the Queen enters the building and goes to the Robing Room to prepare for the Ceremony of the Opening of Parliament, and when the Royal Standard is raised on the Victoria Tower to indicate her presence in the Palace of Westminster. Our tour took us along many long corridors and assembly rooms which were adorned with many monarchs and outstanding politicians together with some quite large paintings of key events in British history, especially the Battle of Waterloo with Wellington meeting Blucher, and the Battle of Trafalgar at the death of Nelson. We eventually came to the House of Lords with its red upholstery and the magnificent Royal Throne (designed by Pugin) completely gilded and from where the Queen addresses both Houses after the House of Commons has been summoned by the Black Rod banging on the door to the House of Commons after it has been closed in his face.  The archway to the door to the House of Commons still retains the bomb damage caused in the Second World War. From here we moved into the Central Lobby with the large statues of Margaret Thatcher, Clement Atlee, David Lloyd George, and Winston Churchill, and where a member of the electorate can ‘lobby’ their Member of Parliament.  We now moved into the House of Commons with its distinctive green upholstery (on which you cannot sit!) and our tour guide pointed out the Speaker’s Chair, the Government and Opposition benches and the Voting Lobbies.  Finally we arrived back in Westminster Hall after this exhilarating and most enlightening tour of this magnificent piece of architecture and gave our most grateful thanks to Timothy our guide.



In the afternoon, after assembling in the Black Rod’s Garden, we were escorted up into the Victoria Tower to see the Parliamentary Archives. We were taken by our guide, Jennifer Lynch – Senior Archivist, to the centre of the tower over the place where the Royal Carriages enter during the Ceremonies and where the original cast-iron circular staircase is located. From here we were taken into the air-conditioned, humidity-controlled, fire -protected rooms where all the original Acts of Parliament are stored as parchment rolls each with their Regnal Year-an absolute treasure to actually see. We then had a most informative lecture with displays on the holdings of the Parliamentary Archives, ranging from the maps and plans of railways and canals to the Journals of both Houses, Hansard Reports, and the personal papers of politicians like David Lloyd George. We then inspected a wide range of maps, documents and artefacts including a copy of the Constitution of the United States of America and a gravestone submitted in an inheritance dispute! Finally we gave our thanks to Jennifer for such an excellent talk and tour.

23. Book review: Middle Ridgeway Show more → Show less ↓

Eric Jones and Patrick Dillon with paintings by Anna Dillon

Salisbury: Wessex Books, 2016

144 pages

ISBN 978-1-903035-48-1

£16.95 available from http://middle-ridgeway.co.uk/


Middle Ridgeway tells the story of the chalk downland of the North Wessex Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in a refreshingly new way, considering the themes of the influence of the London market for trade and agriculture, the relationship between ploughland and grassland, land use and countryside sports, all of which have contributed to make the MR what it is today.


Also taken into account are perspectives from nature conservation and the ecology of the bird population over time, using practical examples to show how environmental history can expand our view of the landscape. Historical literary references are included and add much to the text, with extracts from authors such as Richard Jefferies and Alfred Williams well chosen to vividly portray the MR over time and illustrate the changes, both in terms of wildlife and also the customs and way of life for those who resided in the area. The archaeological record is also considered, as are the difficulties of evaluating data which is often historically patchy.


The artwork by Anna Dillon beautifully complements the prose, encouraging the reader to reflect on a sense of place and giving a wonderful colour and texture to the book. Jones and Dillon have utilised a wide range of historical material from diaries to trade directories, estate records, excavation reports and ornithological reports. Middle Ridgeway showcases the use of these varied and under-used, perhaps in some cases unfamiliar sources, providing a clear understanding of how they can be of practical use when researching a landscape to enable a more comprehensive study.


Middle Ridgeway aims to look at the landscape from a new angle; to combine the ecological and historical record to weave a story; to give a sense of place to what is a beautiful and compelling landscape. Jones and Dillon have been inspired by the idea of ‘storyline’; engagement with an area which connects people, places, events and ideas across place and time. With a clear and easy to read prose, MR has the power not just to help the reader understand the Middle Ridgeway as a unique environment, but it also provides the tools and inspiration to enable everyone to look more closely at the places which matter to them.


An extremely enjoyable read, Middle Ridgeway offers a unique insight into the study of the landscape. References are described within the text and there is a bibliography at the end. It is excellently written and thoroughly researched.


This publication offers a refreshingly different approach to the study of the landscape. A highly recommended read for anyone interested in local history, social history, agricultural history and nature conservation, as well, of course, for those who love the North Wessex Downs.


Julie Davis



Julie Davis is County Local Studies Librarian,  Wiltshire & Swindon Archives

24. Landscape in the Welsh valleys Show more → Show less ↓

Alan Crosby

My daughter and her partner have bought a house at Machen, between Newport and Caerphilly. I’m delighted that they chose to live there, since it gives me a chance to learn more about a beautiful and historically rich area. Machen is in the Eastern Valleys, on the south-east fringe of the South Wales coalfield. If I’d been writing this 50 years ago there would have been numerous local pits still in operation, but now none remains.

The Afon Rhymney flows at the bottom of the village, the mound of Mynydd Machen (1192 feet) stands sentinel behind, and the ridge that divides the deep valley of the Rhymney from the dramatic valley of the Sirhowy lies to the north. Four miles west is Caerphilly, with its sensational castle – the second largest in Wales – and to the east is Bassaleg, whose name contains the word ‘basilica’, and is thus of very great antiquity.

There is something compelling and at the same time troubled about the history of those lands. They had, and now have again, great beauty, with long ridges, steep slopes, deep valleys, wooded hillsides and summits with huge views. But they have a harrowing human history, especially from the beginning of the 1840s when this became the world’s greatest coalfield. Only six miles from Machen is Senghenydd, the scene in October 1913 of Britain’s worst ever mining disaster. At least 439 men and boys were killed in a massive explosion at the Universal Colliery, twelve years after 81 miners had been killed in a disaster at the same pit. The little town had a population of less than 5000 in 1911 – almost 10 per cent of the people, 20 per cent of the men and boys, died on that dreadful day.

Thankfully, Machen was spared such nightmares, but its industrial history is remarkably varied – there were Roman silver-lead mines south of the village, on the hill at Draethen in the parish of Rhydygwern; there were seventeenth century ironworks here; and today there are quarries on the north side of the valley stretching far back into the hillside. But like so many places in the Valleys, Machen is now also a commuter village—Anna works in Newport and Sean travels daily to Llantrisant, north-west of Cardiff, making good use of the improved road links to the M4. It’s another chapter in the history of a community whose roots go back many centuries.

I study my copy of the Ordnance Survey 1-inch to 1-mile sheet 154 Cardiff, published in 1956. Skeins of railway lines thread the Valleys—three lines converge on Machen from the west, and the parish has five stations, three of them closed—today all are long gone. Southwards, beyond Machen, the ancient rural landscape of Glamorganshire and Monmouthshire is almost untouched in 1956, but in the Valleys the mining villages straggle along the main roads, and the speckled symbol which indicates spoilheaps is ubiquitous. Collieries punctuate the valley floors, and tramways and mineral lines climb slopes and wriggle through narrow side-valleys, heading for the hills where the waste was dumped.

Everywhere are signs of a vastly more ancient landscape—numerous tumuli dot the ridges, there are  cairns along parish boundaries, farmhouses have names in Gothic script, mottes and castle mounds crown prominent summits. This is, in short, a classic landscape of layers, a palimpsest where every historical phase of the past three thousand years has left its mark. At Gelligaer, six miles from Machen, a medieval church stands next to a Roman fort, overlooking Ystrad Mynach (‘valley of the monks’) and a host of transport and mining sites of the industrial period ... a wonderfully rich historical landscape—but I can never forget the human dimension. 

25. U3A Family History Conference Show more → Show less ↓

Held at the Palace Hotel, Buxton, Peak District, 21 September 2017.


This was the fifth annual conference of this nature and attracted active U3A members from all over the country, apparently often group leaders. They were very knowledgeable about family history but local history was a newer area to many. There were four talks during the day, the first being by  Else Churchill on family history research before 1700. My talk was entitled ‘Local History for Family Historians’ and largely based on the latest edition of BALH’s Internet Sites Directory. My husband Stephen volunteered to help with the driving and carrying the book stock for the BALH book stall, and staffed it throughout the day. There were two rooms of bookstalls, and we sold £360 of BALH books, including 37 copies of the Directory. We gave out 150 BALH membership leaflets, two individuals joined as members on the day, and there may well be more to follow in the weeks to come. Despite the very long and slow drive to the venue, culminating a 15-mile diversion across the narrow but charming High Peak road as the sun finally set, this was an occasion well worth attending on BALH’s behalf, and most enjoyable thanks to the excellent and friendly U3A organisation.

Gill Draper