Local History News Number 130 Winter 2019


1. Artistic clutter Show more → Show less ↓

Alan Crosby

The great castle of Tarascon stands four-square on the banks of the Rhone, fifteen miles upstream from Avignon. Built between 1401 and 1449 by father-and-son combo Louis II and Louis III of Anjou and, like so many French castles, restored to slightly implausible perfection in the nineteenth-century, it’s a magnificent and awesome structure. The exterior is suitably forbidding, its stern lines relieved by machicolations and crenellations (don’t you love the esoteric terminology of military architecture?), and the western face plunges straight down into the deep waters of the river.

From the roof the view is breathtaking – there, down the broad and lazily-winding river, is the dramatic skyline of Avignon. To the east is the looming cone of Mont Ventoux, the mountain of the winds, its summit even in the intense heat of a Provencal summer apparently covered with snow – though it’s actually vast expanses of gleaming white limestone clitter. In the far distance there’s the real snow of the Alps, dimly visible in the haze, and all around at one’s feet spread the vineyards (Chateauneuf du Pape is just down the road) and the dark green scrub of the garrigues. 

Inside, up seemingly endless stairs and steps and along labyrinthine corridors, are the grand staterooms of the counts of Anjou, huge echoing masterpieces of medieval masonry. For the first part of our visit, all are empty and resonate with the ghosts of past splendours. Other great chambers resonate in other ways – their walls are thickly covered with graffiti carved into the soft limestone by English prisoners of war, not in the Napoleonic period but in those other conflicts which we too easily overlook, including the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) and the almost forgotten Anglo-French War of 1778-1783. The castle was regularly used as a POW camp, and men are immortalised in stone: ‘RICHARD WHITE OF KYMER IN THE COUNTY OF SUSSEX TAKEN FEBUARY YE 19th 1757’, ‘Jonath Taylarson : 1779’.  It’s a reminder that the British and the French were at war for almost half the entire eighteenth century.

The graffiti are not limited to names and dates. There are some splendid examples of ships in full sail, heraldry, and abstract geometric designs. And some of the coffered wooden ceilings have fine painted heraldic and mythological designs, recalling the sophistication and luxury which for a century or so from the 1450s prevailed in this forbidding place.

But what do I see before me? Not heraldry or historic graffiti, but an enormous number of plastic crates, arranged three deep, roughly twelve long, and eight or nine high, and in a variety of colours, in the centre of a room. The outer crates are on their sides, forming shelves of a sort, and on these are places glass jars of differing hues, containing brightly-coloured soaps, pieces of paper, and plastic objects. There are dolls made of cloth and paper, images of cartoon characters, folded origami shapes, a loofah, some soft toys, and much else besides.

A notice informs us that we are now viewing an INSTALLATION, apparently on the theme of clutter (and it is certainly effective in presenting that image) and designed to contrast with the stark emptiness of the surroundings. It leads on to a second INSTALLATION, occupying several rooms and themed as ‘The Cabinet of Curiosities’ (in French of course). On entering a room one is met by weird voices, spooky lighting effects, and cabinets crammed with grinning skulls, feathers, shells, bones, glittery fabric, glass beads, old spectacles ... the list goes on. Of course, it’s not easy to appreciate the finer points of late medieval architecture as flickering blue lights sweep the walls and bursts of manic laughter emerge from hidden loudspeakers, but after so many immense and empty rooms that probably didn’t matter too much. I imagine the INSTALLATIONS have now moved on, perhaps to divert visitors at another historic monument. But does ghostly laughter still echo at Tarascon?

2. The Trouble with Centenaries Show more → Show less ↓

Sarah Lloyd

It is striking that we live in an age of centenaries and anniversaries. They dominate many heritage programmes, and local historians are not immune to their appeal. Anniversaries offer a handy organising point, galvanise activity and place a local story within a broader national or even international picture. Joined with another contemporary preoccupation, with hidden, forgotten or secret histories, the opportunities are unmistakable.

But while a centenary opens fresh prospects, it also closes them down. Certain narratives tend to set or dominate the agenda: for the First World War, women are over-represented in centenary research as nurses, land army girls and munitions workers; stories of enthusiastic volunteering in 1914 drown out the very high proportion of men who applied for exemption from conscription in 1916. One person’s hidden history is often familiar to another person, with the result that the term is frequently applied to instances and elaborations within an official narrative, and much less often fractures or challenges it. Other stories in plain sight never find a mainstream audience: colonial troops are now incorporated into the social history of the military, but the repatriation of black soldiers in 1919 awaits broader acknowledgement, even though relevant material is available in local newspapers and in the National Archives. National anniversaries provide sounding boards for the present, which can alert us to new topics for consideration, but can also deflect attention. In years to come, it will be interesting to detect the traces of Brexit in the First World War centenary: will Windrush also leave its mark?

A further effect of anniversary fever can be seen at the level of historical evidence. Ever since I came across a diary kept by a Swindon teenager in 1917, I’ve been preoccupied by those sources which have little or nothing to say directly about the conflict.[ii] It is all too easy to reject these materials, or to mine them for their scanty references to soldiers, zeppelins and home front. What they reveal, however, is the pulse of everyday life. For Edward Taylor in Swindon, what mattered were the weather, work, meals and the time when he did things. His interest in foodstuffs, including what the household grew or gathered, is a powerful reminder of historical continuities. Digging, hoeing and harvesting were nothing new. By the early 20th century, allotments were well-established aspects of working-class life; foraging had long played a part in supplementing diets and was not just a response to wartime shortages.[iii] The diary reminds us that wartime experiences were about continuities as well as breaks with what had gone before. We run the risk of distorting the evidence when we slot it into a simple, received narrative about total warfare.

Ephemera, such as the 1917 diary, are a timely reminder that what we think mattered in the past was not necessarily understood or experienced in those terms. Another chance survival, which also came to light through house clearance, is Madge Withers’s account book from 1918. This Birmingham teenager came from a more prosperous background. Her life revolved around magazines, sweets and haberdashery: a substantial donation to the Birmingham Tank Bank was the exceptional item, which brought the war home.

Taylor and Withers encourage us to recognise the evidence of war in peripheral vision, to discover patterns in ordinary life. This approach values broad contexts; it remembers the historian’s responsibility to ask about silences in the record as well as a source’s responsiveness to larger historical trajectories. In many ways it is an experiment in de-familiarization, which can be extended to other material as well.

My own great aunt served as a nurse during the First World War and I recently came into possession of her autograph book. This is familiar, gold-standard, historical evidence. Unlike the 1917 diary, most people would recognise it as a document of war, with its photographs of men in uniform, greetings from nursing comrades, signatures, lengthy quotations and evocative comments: ‘18/11/14 just before entering the trenches’. It presents extensive opportunities for historical detective work: from the nurse’s own military record[iv], to the men whose images and writing is captured within the pages[v], to the medical establishments in which she served. But this autograph book is not a self-contained war record. Its owner continued to use it through the 1920s, a sign of its importance to her and of the social habits she had developed through years on a hospital ship and then in Cairo. When we study the document in its totality, therefore, we see wartime nursing alongside post-war life.

Are these men caricatured in 1921 related to the ‘Brothers in Arms’ or the handsome airman of 1918, a few pages away? Just three short years, but the shift in tone has implications for our own characterisation of the war and for the twenty-first century messages derived from it during the centenary. The class politics, the sense of social disintegration and division conveyed by this one drawing are part of the narrative too. It is a salutary reminder not just to pick out the material that fits a story we are aiming or hoping to tell. The trouble with centenaries, therefore, is that we may forget that history is complicated and often uncomfortable. Contexts -- then and now -- are everything when thinking about the past.

Professor Sarah Lloyd (University of Hertfordshire) is Director, Everyday Lives in War https://everydaylivesinwar.herts.ac.uk/


                  Jane L. Chapman, African and Afro-Caribbean Repatriation, 1919-1922: Black Voices (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018); National Archives: Colonial Office records; Stories of Omission: conflict and the experience of Black soldiers. The First World War (Birmingham, 2018): https://www.voicesofwarandpeace.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/storiesofomission-guide_rd.pdf

                  [ii] https://everydaylivesinwar.herts.ac.uk/2015/06/the-war-that-wasnt-there-2/

                  [iii] https://everydaylivesinwar.herts.ac.uk/2015/09/bread-and-primroses/

           [iv] The National Archives, WO 399: British Army nurses’ service records 1914-1918

                  [v] The National Archives, Research Guides: ‘British Army Soldiers of the First World War’; ‘Royal Air Force Service Records, 1918-1919’

3. Enthusiasm and leadership: profile of Carol Wilson Show more → Show less ↓

Born and brought up in the north east of England, Carol Wilson was a teacher and raised her family in Norfolk.  In 2000 she returned to North Yorkshire to take up the headship of a small village primary school at Castleton, in the North York Moors National Park.

Carol has always been interested in history, and loved wild flowers. On her retirement in 2007 she brought these together by taking charge of the medieval garden at the local folk museum where she was a volunteer. Research into the use of plants in the 15th century led to further study, a very successful  MA dissertation at the University of York, and continuing active involvement in the local history of the area.

For her dissertation, Carol investigated her village of Westerdale.  She used a diverse range of sources and methods, and her results showed it to be a key node in monastic and lordly landscapes, and in networks of trade and communication.  Westerdale: the origins and development of a medieval settlement was published in 2013 by the North Yorkshire Moors Association, and is widely heralded as ‘a model of local history publication’.

A characteristic of Carol’s work on Westerdale, and her subsequent history of Castleton School, is the high degree of involvement of local people.  She is the founder and organiser of Westerdale History Group which fosters local history in the area.

In recent years she has been asked to join the committee of the Hidden Valleys Community Project, set up to research the valleys of Kildale, Westerdale and Lonsdale. She is currently leading a series of archive workshops looking at documents relating to Westerdale including Templar records from 1308 and the bailiff's account of the manor from 1539.

As if she isn’t busy enough, Carol is also compiling a flora for the dale, including some ethnobotanical details of the uses of local plants in the past, which is due for publication in the Spring of 2019.

Due to Carol’s enthusiasm and leadership, there is now a thriving atmosphere of research and enquiry, which contributes to community identity as well as knowledge, as local people develop an understanding of the history of the landscape around them.

4. Henry VII and Elizabeth of York’s Royal Progress, Summer 1502 Show more → Show less ↓

Samantha Harper

The first Tudor king acquired the throne by conquest, after beating his predecessor, Richard III of Leicester Car Park fame, in battle in 1485. He had spent the previous fourteen years in exile, firstly in Brittany and latterly in France, before landing with his largely mercenary army in Wales and marching to meet the king in battle at Bosworth. Despite limited magnate support at the outset of his reign, few powerful family connections and an underwhelming bloodline, Henry held the throne for 24 years and successfully passed the crown onto his son, Henry VIII, in 1509.

In the summer of 1502, Henry VII and his queen, Elizabeth of York, visited the small Gloucestershire town of Fairford whilst on a royal progress of the area which encompassed the king’s favourite hunting lodges of Langley and Woodstock in Oxfordshire, many areas that formed part of the queen’s dower lands in Gloucestershire and areas of South Wales known to Henry in his childhood. In Fairford they stayed with Edmund Tame, who served as receiver of the queen’s lands in the area.[ii] This visit, as will be explained, may have left a permanent, visible reminder in Fairford, and inspired a visit by Henry VIII in 1520.

The timing of this visit was curious, as it was only a few months after the sudden death of their eldest son, Arthur, and whilst the queen was in the mid-term of a pregnancy that would eventually lead to her own death the following February. Arthur, aged only 15 at his death, had lived in his own household at Ludlow since he was six, figuratively heading the Prince of Wales’ council there which administered crown lands in and around the marches.[iii] Though his death had apparently inspired a keenly-felt grief in his parents, the royal progress of summer 1502 did not include a trip as far as Worcester to visit the boy’s burial site in the cathedral there.[iv]

Much of the source material for this progress, and other royal visits during Henry VII’s and the early part of Henry VIII’s reign, is to be found within the Chamber Books of John Heron, Treasurer of the Chamber from early in Henry VII’s reign until 1521. The University of Winchester’s recently completed, Leverhulme-funded, ‘Kingship, Court and Society’ project has produced online freely-available and fully searchable digital editions of these books in both the original Middle English and Latin as well as in Modernised English. Between them they span the chronological period of 1485-1521 and comprise of three receipt books, nine payment books, one payment book for Elizabeth of York and an antiquarian copy of a no-longer extant payment book. These are the earliest systematic private records of the personal financial decisions of an English monarch, giving an unparalleled insight into royal personality, the purchase of luxury and material items, the interaction of private and public, and the politics and finances of kingship. Most of the weekly entries within Henry VII’s Chamber Books start on a Sunday, and frequently list where the king and his court is that week, often with details of who he is staying with and what he has done whilst there. Hence these are central government records that are of use to the local historian with an interest in the period.

To take the royal progress of 1502 to illustrate this point, the royal couple’s stay in Fairford took place on their way back from South Wales before travelling on to the royal hunting lodge at Langley, Oxfordshire. Their brief tour of Wales had lasted 24 days and taken in Monmouth, Troy, Chepstow and Henry’s childhood home of Raglan, where the couple were hosted by Henry’s childhood companion, Sir Walter Herbert.

Walter Herbert was the second son of Sir William Herbert, who had been awarded the custody and wardship of the young Henry Tudor, then earl of Richmond, in 1461. William Herbert had been the first native Welshman to be awarded an English peerage, initially as Lord Herbert of Raglan and, in 1468, he was given the earldom of Pembroke which had been forfeited by Henry’s uncle, Jasper Tudor.[v] At Raglan, Henry formed a close attachment with Pembroke’s wife, Anne Deveraux, as evidenced by Henry sending for her almost as soon as he reached London after his Bosworth victory. Anne and William had 10 children together, and their two eldest sons, William and Walter, were of an age with Henry and the boys would have had their lessons together in subjects such as Latin, literacy, numeracy and trained together in the tiltyard.[vi] If not friends, they certainly would have been close acquaintances for the eight years that Henry lived at Raglan. It is probable that all three spoke fluent Welsh, the Herbert boys as native speakers like their father, and Henry because he would have been surrounded by Welsh-speaking nurses, servants and Herbert retainers. It was possibly for this reason that Jasper chose to take Henry to Brittany, where a similar dialect to Welsh is spoken, when Edward IV’s return to the throne forced them into exile in 1471. Walter fought for Henry at Bosworth and was knighted for his efforts soon after. The continuing close relationship between Walter and Henry after Henry’s accession to the throne is evident in the Chamber Books. As well as sending traditional New Year gifts, Walter sent Henry gifts every August until his death in 1507, possibly in commemoration of Henry’s landing in Wales or victory at Bosworth.[vii]

Henry and Elizabeth reached Fairford by the end of August, 1502.[viii] It is probable that during this visit Henry and Elizabeth visited the local parish church that had recently been rebuilt by their hosts, the Tame family. Given that the royal glasier, the Bernard Flours, is often credited with the creation of the magnificent stained glass windows that can still be seen in Fairford church today, it is possible that this visit facilitated the connection between the Flemish craftsman and the small Gloucestershire town, and it is not infeasible that Flours’ involvement with the church had been a royal suggestion.[ix] To follow this line of thought to its natural conclusion, given that the windows were known to have been installed between 1517 and 1520, Henry VIII’s visit to Fairford in August 1520, when he also stayed with Sir Edmund Tame, may have been to see the completed and installed windows.[x] During this visit Henry knighted Tame’s son, also called Edmund.[xi] The timing of this visit is rather curious, as it was only a matter of weeks after his sojourn to France for the famous ‘Field of the Cloth of Gold’ meeting with the French King, Francis I.

The Tudor Chamber Books are a freely accessible resource and available for personal research projects. For more information or to explore the Tudor Chamber Books database, please visit https://www.tudorchamberbooks.org/ and follow us on Twitter @TudorKingship.



TNA, E36/210, ff.46-55; TNA, E404/84.

[ii] TNA, E36/210, f.5.

[iii] Sean Cunningham, Prince Arthur: The Tudor King who never was (Stroud, 2016), 2.

[iv] G. Kipling, ‘The Receyt of the Lady Katheryne’, Early English Text Society, no.296 (Oxford, 1990), 81.

[v] Charles Ross, Edward IV (Trowbridge & Esher, 1974), 77.

[vi] Ralph Griffiths and Roger Thomas, The Making of the Tudor Dynasty (Gloucester, 1985), 59.

[vii] TNA, E101/414/6, f.43r; TNA, E101/415/3, f.26r; BL, Add. Ms. 59899, ff.32v, 45v, 62v; TNA, E36/214, f.42r.

[viii] TNA, E404/84.

[ix] Sarah Brown and Lindsay MacDonald, eds., Fairford Parish Church: A Medieval Church and its Stained Glass (Stroud, 2007), 75.

[x] TNA, E36/216, f.102r.

[xi] Chris Hobson, The Tames of Fairford (Shropshire, 2013), 23.

5. Local history at Oxford: An anniversary celebration Show more → Show less ↓

Kate Tiller

Autumn 2018 marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the start of Oxford University’s graduate programmes in English Local History. The first students embarked on the Master’s in English Local History in 1993 and since then 14 cohorts of students at Oxford University Department for Continuing Education (OUDCE) have undertaken the MSt (later the MSc). This was followed from 1995 by another new Oxford part-time programme, the DPhil in English Local History. Over 200 students have been, or currently are, involved.

As the first bespoke, part-time degree course in Oxford University’s long history the MSt was a significant overall milestone in access and opportunities for study. Past and present students, hosted by Mark Smith and Kate Tiller, current and founding Directors of Studies for the programmes, met at Rewley House, Oxford in October to celebrate and recollect. As historians faced with ourselves as a subject for study, we realised how easily information, experience and opinions can be lost. There is plenty to capture, but a few topics from the day offer a flavour of this piece of the history of local history.

In 1979 the first (initially temporary) academic post, charged with developing local history programmes, was established at OUDCE. It was held briefly by Mick Aston, before his departure to Bristol University, and then by Kate Tiller. Over the following decade  a range of courses, including evening classes, local research groups, day and summer schools, undergraduate level certificates (linked to the other OU, the Open University) was established. These showed the levels of interest and talent for advanced- level study in local history that existed, a safe basis for a parallel provision by the University alongside its traditional programmes. The wider programme also provided a progression route for would-be graduate students to develop their skills and interests. The support of stalwart allies in the History Faculty, particularly in fields of history (economic, social, political, landscape and buildings) that had long employed local evidence, was invaluable. It included Joan Thirsk, Asa Briggs ,David Eastwood, Paul Slack, John Blair, Jane Humphries and others. Vital elements of structural support were also secured with the opening, especially from 1990, of college places to part-time graduate students (an Oxford necessity) and the granting of access to library and IT facilities.

Some features of the programmes remain the same, like the key commitment to breadth of curriculum and options across the medieval, early modern and modern periods. Landscape and building evidence continues alongside documents, with added emphasis on twentieth-century studies, oral history and family, community and cultural histories.

The Master’s began in a world largely of face-to-face teaching, its structure closely modelled on Oxford’s intramural MSc in Economic and Social History.  This meant two unseen, three-hour written exams, undertaken in full sub fusc attire in the central Examination Schools on the High Street. Early alumni at the reunion recalled surviving these rigours as a badge of pride, whilst those from later cohorts were thankful that their examination is now by long assessed essays. The programme has increasingly developed in a context of growing IT resources, particularly significant for part-time study in terms of student access to reading and research materials, and for teaching, supervision, assessment and communication. The MSc and DPhil are now supported by a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) to provide materials, news and contacts. In the 1990s OUDCE also pioneered the Advanced Diploma in Local History at year 3 undergraduate level and delivered online. This has attracted students nationally, and some internationally. At the reunion many hands went up when asked if they had done Certificate and Diploma courses before tackling the Master’s and DPhil.  The graduate degrees remain rooted in regular face-to-face contact as a key part of the experience, but are very much linked to a wider world of courses and activities.

This local history diaspora was embodied at the reunion and in news and messages from those not able to attend. English local historians end up all over the place and do many different things, such as keeping sheep in Cornwall, running a café in the Lake District and teaching yoga. They are to be found in West Cork and Northumberland, and from Kent to Cumbria. Their contribution to our subject is immense. Very many continue to be active historians, researching, publishing books and articles at national, county and local levels, teaching (including on the Master’s), giving talks, and generally keeping local history going as participants in history, heritage and community organisations and projects all over the country. The reunion was a happy occasion, both to look back and to re-emphasise the importance of continuing these opportunities for local historians to develop themselves and the subject. As Mark Smith remarked teaching, supervising and supporting some of the most motivated students to be found anywhere must be the best job going.

6. ‘A Forgotten Landscape’ HLF Landscape Partnership Project Show more → Show less ↓

Stories from A Forgotten Landscape: where Bristol meets Gloucestershire

Local history volunteers from the Lower Severn Vale, where Bristol and Gloucestershire meet, have been busy recently.  Since 2016 a group have been meeting regularly at both Bristol and Gloucestershire Archives to research the history of this once forgotten corner of marshland.  Liable to flooding, the Levels once provided seasonal grazing for farmers from surrounding villages.  Produce included Gloucester cheese, cider and Severn salmon.  In recent centuries flood defences and rail and road transport allowed Bristol’s northern suburbs to expand. The two Severn road bridges and the motorways have turned the area into a centre for distributive trades.

Congratulations to the volunteers who have written for not one, but two local history publications supported by their historian-trainer Dr Virginia Bainbridge. This is excellent work from a group with little or no previous experience of research and writing for publication!

Tales of the Vale: stories from A Forgotten Landscape, the official publication, contains 12 local history pieces ranging from medieval to modern topics.  A piece by archaeology volunteers takes the story of people in this landscape back to Prehistory. It is brought up-to-date with a CD of local memories from the Second World War to the present, recorded by oral history volunteers supported by trainer Julia Letts. It is also available to read on-line.


The Regional Historian, celebrates this area of Wessex in a special AFL edition (New series 1, 2018). Here, eight AFL historians have published longer essays giving more details about their research.


These two publications, with their wide-ranging content, make an important contribution to the history of the Lower Severn levels.  AFL historians are now exploring local topics ranging from forgotten markets and fairs of Yate and Sodbury, missing portraits of the Bristol Inuits, the mystery of Cromwell’s soldiers drowned in 1645, 18th-century Olveston burials, migration to the new 19th-century suburb of Avonmouth, Pilning 1st World War Roll of Honour, and 2nd World War farming. They are giving talks, planning exhibitions and writing more publications.  AFL is the latest Heritage Lottery Fund Landscape Partnership scheme to be completed.  Many other parallel strands of volunteer activity, from wildlife monitoring and habitat preservation to recording cider orchards and creating walking trails have produced a rich legacy!

Dr Virginia Bainbridge, A Forgotten Landscape Historian-Trainer


7. Berkshire Schools in the Eighteenth Century Show more → Show less ↓

Peter Durrant

In 2013 I was in search of a project. We (Berkshire Record Society and a consortium of local partners) had just completed a major revision of the index to Berkshire Archdeaconry probate records, and several of the dedicated volunteers who had supported the latter stages of that work were keen to continue with a new project. But what should that project be?


Inspiration came from among the publications of another record society. In 1998, Sussex Record Society had published Sussex Schools in the Eighteenth Century. This topic fitted the bill perfectly. I had long been interested in the history of education; the area was under-researched both locally and nationally (Victorian schools, perhaps because they are better-documented, perhaps because more survive, had always seemed to me to have had a better deal); it lent itself to group work; and, importantly, it would have a publishable outcome.  I put it to the probate volunteers, and they were enthusiastic, so we made plans. We established a project board with representatives of the Record Society, the Berkshire Record Office and the BLHA; we approached a local U3A (Wokingham) with which the Record Office had already established links, and recruited a few more researchers; and we were fortunate in finding a project editor in the person of Sue Clifford, a mature post-graduate at Reading University who was in the final stages of writing her PhD thesis on elementary education in nineteenth-century Berkshire. We were ready to begin.


The project board identified the key sources and set out the chronological limits (1660-1834: the former somewhat arbitrary, but the latter determined as the date the government money first became available for school buildings). To establish a degree of consistency among researchers we devised a spreadsheet that enabled us to analyse data under such heads as type of school, name of founder, benefactor or proprietor, fees, information about staff, pupils and buildings, and we distributed research assignments, either to investigate individual schools, where the records survived, or to collect evidence about several schools from sources such as diocesan licences and of course newspapers. As each assignment was completed and returned the report was passed to Sue for analysis and a new assignment issued. Gradually we built up a picture of changing patterns in education in the county over a period of 175 years, and it has proved illuminating.


In 1700, scarcely one in ten of Berkshire’s rural parishes had a school (the towns, unsurprisingly, were rather different). In 1833 fewer than one in ten did not have a school of some sort, and of these all but one reported that they had arrangements with a neighbouring parish (the exception was Sotwell where the rector reported that the poor were not interested in education – though one is left with the impression that it was the rector rather than the poor who lacked interest). We found evidence of the gradual spread of charity schools from the first half of the eighteenth century onwards, and of the rapid increase in the number of private academies (many of them for girls) from the latter part of the century, not only, as you would expect, in Berkshire’s towns, but also sometimes in quite remote villages. And we found tantalising but valuable fragments of evidence about rules and routines, finance, buildings, curriculum, and even some examination questions (at Radley Hall School, under moral philosophy: ‘Describe the fourfold office of deliberation’).


Of course, a few old-established schools still survive, and some have been researched and published. Many more schools, however, appear at best as brief mentions in parish histories and at worst not at all. Many small local schools were short-lived and vanished before the end of our period. And hardly any of the numerous private schools and academies that abounded from the late eighteenth century onwards had emerged from the obscurity of the newspaper pages that contain the only evidence of their existence. (Mrs La Tourelle’s school in Reading’s Abbey Gateway, famously attended by Jane Austen, is a rare exception). Our work has not only rescued them from oblivion but has also has provided valuable insight into the spread of, and attitudes towards, education in a rural county in the eighteenth century.


The work will be published on 25 February 2019 under the title Berkshire Schools in the Eighteenth Century as volume 26 in the Berkshire Record Series. Copies are obtainable from Berkshire Record Society, c/o Berkshire Record Office, 9 Coley Avenue, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 6AF, price £25 plus £2.60 p&p.

8. Finding money for local projects Show more → Show less ↓

Margaret O'Sullivan

During the last two decades many local societies have benefited from grants from  Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) programmes  such as Awards for All and First World War:Then and Now. In addition, at national level, England’s Past for Everyone was a local history project with a £3.3million grant from HLF and run by the Victoria County History between 2005 and 2010. Volunteers throughout the country worked alongside authors and researchers to produce outcomes ranging from a series of paperback books to learning resources for schools and an interactive web resource.

Now the funding landscape is changing. From 2019 HLF will move to a different model without the multiplicity of schemes previously available. The emphasis will be on one programme for all heritage projects. Grants on offer will range from £3000 to £5 million, with proportionate processes and requirements at different levels. Because HLF expect intense competition for all grants, there will be a new initial stage of Expressions of Interest for larger ones (over £250,000). Some priority will be given to heritage at risk through physical, environmental or financial challenges.

If HLF is not an option, where else can local societies apply for grants? There are many possibilities and some are outlined below, but the same principles apply to every successful application.

Know your funder. Each grant-awarding body is different.  Time spent researching the fund is never wasted. It can be more effective, especially with smaller grants, to identify the funder and then tailor your bid accordingly.
Know the fund’s criteria. Most are very specific, but they do change over time. Finance for a publication may not be acceptable but publishing, whether hard copy or digital, may be one suitable outcome, especially if linked to a programme of public engagement.
Know the fund’s exclusions. As well as financial limits, funders may exclude performance (because it is ephemeral), acquisition of documents or other material, conservation, or objectives which aim to replace public service funding.
Know the fund’s timescale. Applications may be accepted throughout the year, but decisions made monthly, quarterly or annually. You need to allow for this in your planning.
Know the fund’s geographical remit.  Larger funders often have place-based criteria. This does not mean they are interested in a particular locality. It signifies that they aim to distribute grants across the home countries (Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, England) or across the regions. So you need to be sure your bid does not resemble another in your county or city.
Research successful bids. Funders publicise grants they have awarded, either on their website or in an annual report. Reports will emphasise outcomes and these can be useful pointers.
Assess whether you can sustain a relationship with the funder. Most grant schemes are heavily over-subscribed and evaluators quickly spot opportunistic bids. You are wasting their time and yours if there is not a close match with their objectives. If a grant-awarding body specifies it is ‘a fund of last resort’ (as do the Marc Fitch Fund and the National Heritage Memorial Fund ), you need to be able to demonstrate you have tried other possibilities.
Organise match funding. Contributions in cash or kind equivalent to the amount of the bid are required by many funding bodies.
Consider your responsibilities if your bid is successful. It’s not just the effort of preparing a grant application, it’s what follows in terms of management and delivery, especially for smaller groups.
Understand the language. If you are told your bid is ‘strong’, this can mean ‘not this time’ or ‘try again with a different proposal’. It can be a preliminary to rejection of an application, rather than an endorsement.

Other than HLF, what main sources of funding are available to local societies?

Local sources

Always begin by exploring local sources of grants, especially for community-basedprojects. Local authorities are very stretched for finance, but some have small pots of money for groups in their area.Check your council’s website for details. For an example of such fundraising, see ‘Spondon Archive Books’ by Anita Hayes (LHN 127 pp.32-3). Some charitable trusts also have a regional or local focus.

Charitable trusts and foundations

The Heritage Alliance lists trusts relating to heritage in its Funding Directory (http:/www.the heritagealliance.org.uk/fundingdirectory/main/fundinghome.php). If you have access to a good reference library, you can consult the Directory of Grant Making Trusts. History Online lists sources of funding for historical research and related activities. See https://www.history.ac.uk/history-online/grants. One of the largest foundations which makes grants to charities for heritage projects is Esmee Fairbairn but it supports only organisations with an annual turnover of over £50,000. See https://www.esmeefairbairn.org.uk/

Other national grant schemes

The Arts Council through its lottery-funded Project Grants scheme (https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/projectgrants ) and the National Heritage Memorial Fund (http://www.nhmf.org.uk/about-nhmf )are two examples of grant-awarding bodies with a nationwide remit.

Given all these factors, is a grant application worth it? The answer is yes, because you gain knowledge and experience and, most of all, you demonstrate initiative. But it can be difficult, especially if time and resources are limited.

One increasingly popular alternative is crowdfunding. This is using an internet platform to find volunteers or raise funds. Its advantages for local history and similar societies are that individual donations are easier to organise and manage than grants. The number of crowdsourcing platforms is large and growing. All depend on effective e-communication via your website, social media such as Twitter, e-newsletters and/or blogs.  To find out more, see the BALH website or email:admin@balh.co.uk or write to BALH Head Office, Chester House, 68 Chestergate, Macclesfield, SK11 6DY for a regularly updated list.

A few useful websites  –  including subscription-based.

www.fundingcentral.org.uk .This website provides access to funding and finance opportunities from grants to contracts and loans, as well as tools and resources to help develop appropriate income strategies for third sector organisations. It is linked to: www.dsc.org.uk:the Directory of Social Change which is a source of information and training for the voluntary and community sector. Access to guides on trust funding, company giving, government funding and grants for individuals is by subscription. There is also an extensive range of publications for purchase, as well as a listing of news and press releases.

www.fundinginformation.org This is a subscription-based service providing frequently updated information and weekly emails on new sources of grants and other finance, as well as general advice on specific fundraising plans, including social enterprise funding, individual donors and membership fundraising.

www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk Free & impartial money advice, set up by central government, and including some advice on sourcing local authority funding.

www.ncvo-vol.org.uk/sfp NCVO’s Sustainable Funding Project has information for voluntary and community groups on how to diversify their income sources to include trading, social enterprise activities, service level agreements and contracts, as well as grants and charitable donations.

9. Your house may be earlier than it looks. Show more → Show less ↓

Elaine Murphy

This is a cautionary tale for fellow house historians. Do not assume that the age of a building is what the experts say it is! Monks Hall, Syleham is a strikingly beautiful timber-framed house in the Waveney Valley in North Suffolk. Architectural historians and British Listed Buildings had dated the hall to the early 17th century with a possibly earlier wing on the west end. Recent detailed research into the 1000 year history of the hall and manor estate has revealed however a house that goes far back into the medieval period, before 1433, at least a century before the accepted construction date and reminds us that documentary evidence can reveal a very different date to first impressions.

At first glance Monks Hall looks quintessentially Tudor with its fabulous decorative brick chimneys and jettied porch gable but the Manor was owned by Thetford Priory for four hundred years before the Dissolution of the religious foundation in 1540, one of a dozen or so manors that sustained the Priory’s wealth, a valuable possession because of the manor’s watermill on the River Waveney. The priory kept a detailed record of all expenditure and activities, which has been miraculously preserved and meticulously transcribed by medieval historian David Dymond.[1] In addition to this valuable source, there are in the British Library surviving surveys or ‘Extents’ of the manor from 1379-1380 and 1433, which indicate there was no hall in 1379 but a very clear description of a three-bay hall house in 1433, next to stabling, a stud, barns and a ‘plumbery’ (a metal working shed).[2] It did not take much imagination to realise that the 16th century appearance of the house created after the Dissolution by the Tilney family c1547 was simply a makeshift amalgam of the buildings described in 1433.

Recently, academic scholarship has concluded that thousands of rural buildings in Britain are likely to be substantially older than previously believed. Research in 2014 at Letheringham Lodge, Suffolk for example, a small moated manor owned originally by the Wingfield family, revealed that the building was 15th century although it was for many years thought to be Tudor.[3] A larger survey in the Midlands has revealed that many similar buildings date from the 13th to early 16th centuries rather than the late 15th to early 17th centuries as assumed until now.[4] Using the technique known as tree-ring dating or dendrochronology, archaeologists are able to work out the exact age of a piece of timber by examining its tree-ring pattern. But finding documentary evidence of age is so much more satisfying.

The full story, covering 1000 years of history is described in a new book, Monks Hall, the History of a Waveney Valley Manor by Elaine Murphy, published by Poppyland Publishing, 2018.

[1] Dymond, D.P. 1995. The Register of Thetford Priory, 1482-1517 (Part 1) and 1996, 1518-1540 (Part 2). Norfolk Record Society, Norwich.

[2] Monks Hall Manor Extent 1379-80 and Extent 1433, British Library Manuscript Collections. Ref Add Ch 15561 and 16562.

[3] A Heritage Asset Assessment of Letheringham Lodge, Edward Martin April 2014. http://www.letheringhamlodge.com/edward-martin  accessed 6 August 2018.

[4] Alcock,N, Miles, D. 2013 The Medieval Peasant House in Midland England, Oxbow Books Oxford. Introduction, p 7-10.

10. Homes fit for Heroes Centenary Show more → Show less ↓

Mark Swenarton

On 11th November 1918, as everyone knows, the first world war came to an end. The following day the prime minister, David Lloyd George, called a general election and promised ‘habitations fit for the heroes who have won the war’. This pledge – generally abbreviated to ‘homes fit for heroes’ – marked the start of the nationwide system of council housing as we know it today.

With the 1918 election out of the way, legislation followed, with Christopher Addison as minister of health guiding the new Housing Act onto the statute book in July 1919. Local authorities were charged with building working-class housing in their areas and to make sure they did so, a system of open-ended (yes, really!) Treasury grants was introduced to cover their losses. Half a million ‘homes fit for heroes’ were promised. Following the recommendations of the famous Tudor Walters Report (1918), these were not to be terraced houses packed into streets on narrow plots, but low-density garden suburbs where generously proportioned houses were set in large gardens – something very different from the typical working-class housing of the time.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Addison’s programme was not carried out in full. By 1921 the immediate postwar crisis had passed and in July 1921 the programme was axed – limited to houses on which construction had started or for which tenders had been approved (176,000 in  England and Wales). But subsequent governments could not simply ignore the housing problem, with the result that the 1920s as a whole became a decade in which local authorities built housing in garden suburbs, following the principles set out in the Tudor Walters Report and often using the sites that they had acquired in 1918-20.

To commemorate these momentous events, a conference is taking place on 18th-19th July at the Institute of Historical Research in London (https://www.history.ac.uk/events/event/16727).

The Homes fit for Heroes Centenary Conference has been organised by the Learning from 1919 Steering Group, a group of historians and architectural specialists from across the country, in partnership with the Institute of Historical Research. The Steering Group comprises Dr Elizabeth Darling from Oxford Brookes University, Dr Michael Passmore from University of Greenwich, Professor Mark Swenarton from University of Liverpool, Dr Matthew Whitfield from Historic England, plus Matthew Bristow from the Institute of Historical Research.

The conference will explore new historical perspectives on the 1919 Housing Act and the housing that was built under its provisions (and those of subsequent Acts in 1923 and 1924), which established the principle of state-subsidised social housing for the next 60 years, as well as wider themes in social/council housing policy and design across the centenary period, and look towards the future of housing in the next century. The conference themes are:

New historical perspectives on the 1919 Act and the housing that was built under its provisions (and those of subsequent Acts in 1923 and 1924), especially proposals that add to, amend or challenge received wisdom about inter-war housing.
Issues in social housing policy and design across the centenary period, especially the broader themes that have informed housing theory and practice from 1919-2019.
Looking towards the future of housing in the 21st century - how social housing can and might develop and/or what might be learnt from the previous century.

While Homes fit for Heroes was a national programme – covering England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland – its manifestation was local, with hundreds of housing developments undertaken by councils large and small across the country. The projects ranged in size from the London County Council’s mega-development of Becontree (Dagenham) to mini-schemes of less than a dozen homes.

The centenary is therefore local as well as national and the occasion for community history and celebration. A case in point is at Sea Mills in Bristol, one of the four garden suburbs planned by Bristol corporation under the Addison Act, where ‘Sea Mills 100’ (http://seamills100.co.uk) is planning a series of events, including in June 2019 the centenary of the planting of the ‘Addison Oak’. In projects such as these local historians can play a crucial role: a grassroots celebration of an event that changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of families for the better.

Mark Swenarton is emeritus professor of architecture at the University of Liverpool. His 1981 book, Homes fit for Heroes, was re-issued by Routledge last year.

11. Oxfordshire Manorial Documents Register Project Show more → Show less ↓

Oxfordshire Manorial records - a new Source for local and family history!

Did you know that many families rented their homes from the lord of the manor until 1922? In that year Parliament abolished the powers of manor courts and set up the Manorial Documents Register (MDR) to protect tenants’ rights. Surprisingly many manorial records were made between 1700 and 1922 and they are a great underused source for local and family history.

It is now Oxfordshire’s turn for the county MDR to be revised and uploaded onto TNA Discovery. Work began at Oxfordshire History Centre in May. The process of revising old archive references to all Oxfordshire’s manorial records held in and outside the county will take a year. TNA will then mount the database on Discovery ready to go live in Autumn 2019.


Manor court rolls, surveys, maps and lease books all contain information on families and inheritance, farming, field names and buildings, and how local communities were organised. The MDR lists the location of thousands of records by parish. All you have to do is to punch in the name of the parish and the manor you are studying to find all the records held in UK archives and abroad.

In Oxfordshire two ½-day study sessions and a conference on using manorial records are planned for all those who are interested. Watch OHC’s Website for details, sign up, and address any queries to project officer Dr Virginia Bainbridge.


Mark Priddey, OHC Manager (Archives) MDR project manager

Dr Virginia Bainbridge, project officer


12. School photographs Show more → Show less ↓

Dave Sankey

As a participant in the Elston Heritage Project (www.elstonheritage.org.uk), I am responsible for collecting photographs of the village, its people, and the events over the last 150 years, an archive which currently exceeds 5000 images.  In 2006 I invited villagers to loan me their family photographs to scan, and our village primary school allowed me to review their albums and to scan a selection of photographs to reflect the regular and special events in each school year.  In addition, the oldest resident in the village, who had been a pupil and later a teacher in the school, supplied many class photographs going back to 1884. Thanks to her excellent memory and as her mother had also been a pupil and teacher, she identified children in the early photos that her mother had told her about. This remarkable resource has enabled me to find pictures of the mothers and fathers of visitors to the village in search of their forbears.   

During the latter part of the project the school had become reticent about providing photos, and I learned that they had instigated a policy which involved keeping all photographs under lock and key, accessible by designated teachers only, and that, after the children had moved on to secondary schooling, the photographs would be destroyed. From the point of view of a heritage project this was disastrous, as there would be absolutely no photographic record of any school activities after the inauguration of this policy. It was based on a model formulated by a former official of the Notts County Council Education Dept and which had probably been adopted far more widely in the county. I spoke to an official in the Dept of Education and received a sympathetic ear to the problem and confirmation that these measures were far beyond what the relevant legislation required and that some mutually agreeable accommodation could surely be reached. 

Approaching the school again, I was partially reassured by the headmistress that no photographs had been destroyed as a result of this policy and that it was of very low priority. Nevertheless, no regular access has been given since. The headmistress retired and I have made similar requests to her successor and been given a copy of the school’s current policy. It makes no mention of destroying photos and I am promised 14 photos per year to reflect school life. I am happy with this and accept that, for reasons which we all understand, the children in them will not be named.  However, it makes no concession to the needs of future researchers and posterity in general.  I have suggested therefore that the school should record the names of the children in the photographs as that would make them much more valuable to family researchers looking for pictures of their ancestors.  There is also a photo each year of the whole school, which comprises a little over a hundred pupils, and I have proposed that these could be withheld for, say, ten years or even twenty years, so that their publication in the project archive with the names of all the pupils would present no risk to the children, as even the youngest of them would by then be adults.  The photos with captions would therefore become available at a time when they can present no harm to any child currently at the school. However, the headmistress feels that current legislation prohibits her from agreeing to this reasonable safeguard.

I would be grateful to hear if any other local history societies, particularly in the Nottinghamshire area, have had similar problems and if they have found solutions.   

    Dave Sankey is Leader of the Elston Heritage Project  

13. ‘Tracing the Belgian Refugees’ - A new history database from the Universities of Leeds and Leuven Show more → Show less ↓

Philippa Read

A hundred years ago, approximately 250,000 Belgian men, women and children came to Britain after the invasion and subsequent occupation of 95% of their homeland in the opening stages of the First World War. Most went back to Belgium, but some of them settled after the conflict. Despite this large number of people, their histories are still largely hidden. The 'Tracing the Belgian Refugees' project is hoping to change this.

Not only is this history little-known, but the research that has been carried out by community groups and heritage organizations such as museums and archives in the UK and Belgium has never been made accessible via a centralized, digital database. We are going to accomplish exactly that. Digitizing these records will give people greater access to them, will help to preserve any fragile documents or letters, and will provide us with new tools for historical analysis.

We are building an online database, which anyone can use to input data on a Belgian refugee or several refugees. You will also be able to search the information that others have inputted to help with your own research. The database will be accessed via the project website: https://belgianrefugees.leeds.ac.uk/.

Since we started the project in March we have already heard about many Belgians who were hosted in various regions in Britain. The Friends of Beckett Street Cemetery group in Leeds tells us the story of Joanna Cools:

"Sandwiched between 2 guinea graves in the unconsecrated part of Beckett Street Cemetery is a common grave containing 13 persons. This is plot 22048. Interred in the plot is young Joanna Cools who died in August 1917 of tuberculosis. She was seventeen years of age.

At the time of her death Joanna was a patient in the workhouse opposite, presumably because of her illness, but she lived at 1, Holderness Street in the Hyde Park/Woodhouse area of Leeds Joanna was a Belgian refugee who arrived in Leeds some time in 1914 at the outbreak of World War One. She came, we believe, with her father Leonardus and her mother Anna Maria. However, living at the same address was Hermina Cools who died in 1916 aged 41. She is buried in St. George`s Fields Woodhouse in plot 6217 along with Blanch Cools who died in 1916 aged 4 months. What relation Hermina and Blanch were to Joanna is still a mystery. That they were related is almost certain.

More than 250,000 Belgian refugees came to the UK during World War One, having escaped the German invasion. There was initially no government funding and local relief committees relied heavily on donations. The Yorkshire Post ran a series of articles encouraging the donation of food, clothing and money. Because of the response furnished houses were put at the disposal of these committees and were a true reflection of Yorkshire kindliness and welcome. Over £10,000 was raised in Leeds in one week [£1m by today`s money]. Many refugees worked in factories contributing to the war effort and filling the gaps left as men signed up for recruitment. At the time of going to press our knowledge of Joanna and her family is still very vague, but we felt that she and the story of the Belgian refugees deserved to be mentioned”.

Communities, heritage organizations and academics in the UK and further afield have already worked hard to trace Belgians in exile across the country. Our project aims to pool this knowledge in an online resource that will help to link research projects together and give a bigger picture of the refugee experience. We also hope to trace some stories forward so that we can continue to improve our awareness of this crucial moment in international history, which is still of much importance today.

Are you interested in the history of Belgian refugees in the UK during the First World War? Have you been involved in researching them in your local area? Do you have family stories, or want to share your findings with other researchers and find out more about how you can do this? If so we’d love to hear from you.

Visit our website, follow us on Twitter, or email: belgianrefugees@leeds.ac.uk.


(Thanks to Lynda Kitching, Secretary of the Friends of Beckett Street Cemetery, for sharing this case study)

14. Ivor Gurney, Herbert Howells and Ivor Novello: together at Gloucester Cathedral Show more → Show less ↓

Simon Carpenter

For a few months between 1909 and 1910 the organ loft of Gloucester Cathedral was simultaneously the training ground for three of the 20th century’s most iconic cultural figures. These were the composer and poet Ivor Gurney (1906-11), composer Herbert Howells (1909-12) and Ivor Novello (1909-10), whose place in musical history would have been assured if he had just composed the song Keep the home fires burning, but who went on to be a major composer, actor, playwright and impresario.

All three were among the teenage articled pupils of the cathedral organist, Sir Herbert Brewer. As my recent research for a University of Gloucestershire MA dissertation shows, such pupils - and Brewer would generally have had a few at any one time - were generally ex-cathedral choristers, the sons of local lower middle class families. However of the three stellar pupils of Brewer at this time only Gurney fulfilled all those criteria. Howells was from the Grammar School at Lydney and Novello from Cardiff via Magdalen College School Oxford. 

By the time Brewer was taking on these young pupils at Gloucester Cathedral that training method had been evolving over several centuries, having grown out of the apprenticeships available for membership of the medieval craft guilds. At its heart and in its purest form apprenticeship was a contractual relationship between master and apprentice involving reciprocal obligations on the part of both parties. An indenture was signed and a premium was exchanged.

Over the course of the nineteenth century the system, as it was used by organists, became progressively more flexible as regards the length of time a pupil might spend with a master and also the legal arrangements behind the relationships. In some cases no legal document existed and the arrangement was done by ‘gentlemen’s agreement’.  Typically organists would advertise vacancies they had for pupils in the trade journals of the time.  

Up to about the time of the Second World War it was the default method of training for the aspiring church musician; Brewer himself had been an articled pupil of one of his predecessors in the Gloucester organ loft, C. H. Lloyd. Of his training, one of Brewer’s pupils reported that, ‘We attended all services, in the organ loft, chorister rehearsals in the Song School, and had one piano and one organ lesson a week and showed our paperwork for correction more or less when we had some ready.’  He also said that the pupils automatically studied for the standard professional organist exams of ARCO and FRCO and then for a BMus (external) ‘if good enough.’ All Brewer’s articled pupils also had the advantage of the presence of the Three Choirs Festival on their doorstep every third year. These were a good extra training ground and experience for them.

My research was initially prompted by a sense that Brewer has been given a raw deal by the biographers of his more well-known pupils who generally downplay his role and disparage him as a musician. I discovered that contrary to the established views that the relationship problems were all on Brewer’s side, many of the difficulties that Gurney, Howells and Novello had with Brewer were as much to do with their own characters and ‘issues’ and some of the commonly quoted incidents between Brewer and Gurney, Howells and Novello are based on flimsy evidence and most probably did not occur in the way that they are commonly reported and repeated.

Brewer was the most organised and business-like of men, whereas even Gurney’s most ardent admirers said that he did not take kindly to having to commit to anything. Therefore the accusation that Gurney made to a close friend, Marion Scott, that Brewer had an unprofessional attitude to his lessons has to be taken with at least a pinch of salt. Similarly Brewer kept himself abreast of contemporary music and commissioned Vaughan Williams to compose the Tallis Fantasia so the idea of that he just knew it was being submitted by ‘a strange man from Chelsea’ as reported by Howells is nonsensical. Finally the assertion that Brewer told Novello that he had no future in music if it was actually said by Brewer in so many words is likely to have actually been part of a sentence that also included ‘unless you knuckle down and learn the basics.’ It was Novello’s composing of Keep the home fires burning just a few years after leaving Brewer that set him up and enabled him to employ others to do the basics for him and thus render Brewer’s wise advice look not so wise after all. 

I also discovered that teaching was Brewer’s vocation. He was not just a musician who happened to have teaching roles within his job description. He believed in the civilising power of music education in all its forms and took every opportunity to input its knowledge to those within his sway whether they were the unmotivated public school pupils of Tonbridge School (where he worked for a few years), his choir boys at Gloucester and elsewhere or his concert and recital audiences.

As a result of this research therefore Howells, Novello and Gurney and their relationship with Brewer at Gloucester Cathedral can now be seen in a different light. He clearly believed in all three of them otherwise he would not have taken them on as pupils – and for two of them (Howells and Novello) he had previously had them as piano pupils so had a clear idea of their potential. However, Gurney was a complex, disorganised genius. Howells was riddled with insecurities and an inferiority complex, Novello had his insecurities but like Gurney was a complex genius. Brewer was seen in his best light as a teacher with averagely talented people who were prepared to graft – like Herbert Sumsion, his chosen successor at Gloucester and many others.

15. The importance of the 1840s for York (and elsewhere) Show more → Show less ↓

John Bibby

The 1840s were a decade of great change. Short periods have big impacts, and local historians can understand this by focussing on a small locality in one particular period. This is the aim of "York 1844 and all that": the ecclesiastical city of York was being pulled into the modern era by factors as diverse as new political institutions and ideas, the Irish famine, and new technology.

Primary among technologies influencing modern York were those associated with railways. These also had a social and personal dimension - if George Hudson had not been such an effective campaigner, then all railways might have gone to Leeds! The spin-off from railways was considerable, and continues to be so today. York extended its market position, selling tourism above all, and was able to exploit its location midway between the twin capitals, Edinburgh and London.

The 1840s in York were also important for medicine and health. The People’s Dispensary flourished, and Dr Thomas Laycock supported Chadwick's national work by studying cholera in York and its relationship with housing poverty. The old-school gentility of the York Medical Society began to lose its influence as technocracy developed.

The 1840s saw Quakerism thriving in York, and the beginnings of chocolopolis - Joseph Rowntree arrived, to be later joined by fellow Quakers Cadbury, Fry and Terry with their footholds in York's thriving chocolate industry. There were also less fattening developments - gas and sewers provided the key sinews of modern life, to be followed by electricity.

Social structures began to change. There was a new middle class, but the monarchy was still important - Victoria and Albert visited both together and separately - and Castle Howard and the aristocracy still dominated. So too did the church, under the leadership of Dean Cockburn at the Minster, who still believed that the world was created in 4004 BC.

But the established church was on the wane. Catholic emancipation had led to grand rebuilding near the cathedral with a new Catholic rival to the Minster designed by local architect Joseph Hansom, inventor of the Hansom carriage. Meanwhile in nearby Walmgate, less sublime architecture developed for the influx of refugees from the Irish famines, as well as others from York's hinterland.

The Corporation wanted to ease traffic congestion and demolish the medieval city walls. Fortunately this move largely failed, due to local artist William Etty and others. However, sufficient was demolished to provide a later standing-place for a statue honouring Etty in front of today's art gallery, as well as the rather grand St Leonard's Place, York's architectural answer to Regent Street in London.

Many other towns could write a 600-word summary of their local 1840s history. It would be interesting to put them together. Is anybody interested in this?

Where York is concerned, we have two relevant events in 2019.

On Tuesday March 12th there will be a day-school in York to which all are invited. Details appear at www.TinyURL.com/York1844   This wide-ranging event will cover music, religion, health, wealth, poverty, disease, the cattle market and other new buildings, trains and drains and maps and chaps.  Offers from speakers and presenters are still invited.

In September/October 2019, the Yorkshire Philosophical Society and others are planning a 175th anniversary exhibition of very early photographs taken in York at the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in September/October 1844. This event was the largest scientific congress in the world that year, and was important in the history of photography: David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson travelled from Edinburgh to photograph the delegates; there were interesting patent discussions with Fox Talbot; a photo studio was established in the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey, and the outcome was the first set of photographs taken at a scientific conference. Although taken in difficult conditions using the primitive calotype process, Hill and Adamson’s photographs are much more than technical or artistic curiosities. The pair have an international reputation, with a varied and insightful body of work. This exhibition will provide an opportunity to view a selection of the York 1844 photographs in the iconic setting in which they were taken.

16. News from societies Show more → Show less ↓

As I am compiling this section of LHN, Gatwick Airport is closed to traffic due to drones flying overhead. This relates, in a somewhat circuitous way, to two items of news.

Horley Local History Society Dec 2018 Newsletter reports the chequered history of The Gatwick Racecourse Bandstand. The course was opened in 1891, to ‘overcome the rowdiness of courses near London’. The Grand National was held there for three years during WW1. The bandstand was built between the wars. In 1958 the racecourse had to make way for the new Gatwick Airport, and the bandstand was moved first to Queen’s Square, Crawley, and recently to the Memorial Gardens.  The Society is making representations to the Council to display a plaque telling the bandstand’s history. https://www.horleyhistory.org.uk/

Drones, and light aircraft, are important tools for the archaeologist. The hot dry summer of 2018 revealed an exceptional quantity of cropmarks, many revealing previously unknown sites while others showed extra details and new aspects of known places. British Archaeology magazine has published stunning photographs in the Sept/Oct and Nov/Dec issues. CBA www.archaeologyUK.org

Burbage Heritage Group has recently completed a four year project of World War One commemorative events with local schools.  Each of the 64 soldiers who died during the conflict have been remembered with a candle lit on the anniversary of their death, biographies produced, assemblies and displays held.  A new memorial heritage trail leaflet has been produced.(attached) The final event will take place in June 2019 when the schools will re-enact the Peace Parade that took place to mark the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. http://www.burbageheritage.co.uk/

The Friends of Clarendon Palace are holding a one-day conference entitled

‘Caring for an Old Ruin!’ at Salisbury Museum on 16 March 2019. Speakers include representatives from Historic England as well as building conservators. This will be of interest to anyone involved with maintaining historic building remains, graveyards, local landmarks or churches. Cost (including tea and coffee) £17.50 (full); £15.00 (concessions). For further details contact clarendon850@btinternet.com

The Local History Section of the Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society in collaboration with the Wessex Centre at the University of Winchester will be holding their annual spring symposium on Saturday 27th April at the Hampshire Record Office, next to Winchester station. This year’s theme is Childhood and Adolescence consisting of five papers covering different aspects of the lives of children and young people at various stages in history, with a Hampshire slant. For further details and booking arrangements please contact rogerottewill@btinternet.com.

The Local Population Studies Society Spring Conference will be held on 13 April 2019 at the Wilson Carlile Centre, Sheffield. The theme is ‘Let’s talk of graves’: mortality and graveyards c 1700- c 1950. Speakers will present a variety of papers, including changing patterns of mortality, exhumation, funerary practice, and studies of urban graveyards. For further details, including the full programme and booking instructions http://www.localpopulationstudies.org.uk/confer.htm

As part of their WWI commemorations, The Buckley Society has published The Reverend Horace Enfield Simmons M C   D F C   M A (1895 -  1935) Buckley’s Forgotten Hero by Bill Pritchard, £4.50 plus p&p. 44 pages. Simmons had a distinguished WWI army career, during which he was wounded three times and was awarded a Military Cross. He then volunteered for the Royal Flying Corps and then the RAF, serving in Salonika and Russia where he fought as an observer and pilot with the White Russians against the Bolsheviks. After the war, he entered the church, first as an assistant curate at St. Bridget’s Church, West Kirby and then at his home church of St. Matthew’s, Buckley. He was a prominent figure in the Buckley British Legion, working to help ex-servicemen adapt to civilian life. He later became Vicar of All Saints’ Church, Owston, Yorkshire where he died suddenly in his sleep aged only 40. He is buried in St. Matthew’s churchyard, Buckley.The author is a local historian and has written books on towns in Flintshire, including Buckley and District in 2006. www.buckleysociety.org.uk

Images of more than 600 Lincolnshire Anglican churches can be viewed on the Society for Lincolnshire History & Archaeology website www.slha.org.uk, and the record of all those which survive today is nearly finished. However there are a number which have either been demolished or drastically converted, and the society is seeking pictures of these, preferably in their original form, to complete this valuable collection. Those required are Aby, Amber Hill, Asgarby (East Lindsey), Authorpe, Gayton le Marsh, Little Carlton, Low Toynton, Miningsby, Moorby, Muckton, North Elkington, Salmonby, South Reston, Tothill, West Barkwith, Wildsworth, Withern and Woodhall (Old).  Please contact the Society if you are able to help.

‘Peterloo’ is reviewed as one of the outsanding films of 2018. The Historical Association have recorded and published an interview with the film’s director and writer Mike Leigh, and historical adviser Jacqueline Riding, where they discuss the selection and adaptation of historical sources, and the impact the film may have on its audiences. Go to https://www.history.org.uk/historian and scroll down the left hand side of the page to ‘Peterloo: HA interview with ...’ The address of the interview preview itself it too long!

Many local history societies are using various forms of social media very successfully to share and gather information. Christchurch History Society has an active Facebook presence, for example, but the group is also conscious that it has members who, for various reasons, miss out on what is discussed there. So they are including examples in their Journal, for the benefit of everyone. In the Winter 2018 issue we learn about the artist John Bedlow Goddard, based on one of his paintings from Fisherman’s Bank in 1895, shown here. www.historychristchurch.org.

A request is published in Clish-Clash, the e-newsletter of the Scottish Local History Forum, the from a University of the Highlands and islands post graduate student for assistance in tracking down the account notebook of an 18th century Inverness merchant, Bailie John Steuart. An edited version was completed in 1915 which is available on numerous websites, however the student is trying to discover the location of the full notebook to use as the basis for his Masters dissertation. The Highland Archive holds a partial transcribed copy and the notebook is believed to have passed to the Hay-Newton family from East Lothian. Any assistance in locating the notebook would be greatly appreciated and ‘we are hoping one of our readers might just come up trumps’.

Please email Alistair Ross with any information: 11005108@uhi.ac.uk

Readers will have noticed the BALH essay prize for work on medieval and early modern topics, so they will know that such things are warmly encouraged and relatively rare. An article in Ruislip, Northwood and Eastcote Local History Society Journal for 2018 draws an interesting picture of ‘Women in 13th century Ruislip’ as well as describing the use of the Ruislip Customal of c 1246 and Manor Court Rolls. Women appeared at the manor courts seeking their rights to property, as jurors and as offenders, for example allowing their sheep to stray to another’s land, selling substandard ale, or having children who trespassed.  www.rnelhs.org.uk

The Record from London Colney Local History Society uses a single page effectively as ‘Did you know ...?’ answered by a series of bullet points of interest. In the Autumn/Winter 2028 issue, St Peter’s Church is the subject, and we learn that it was built in1825, and needed because ‘London Colney being on the high London Road, and full of Publick Houses, exposes its people to examples and temptation, which must necessarily cause the Sabbath to be Lamentably neglected, or spent in an indecent and disorderly manner’. www.londoncolneyhistory.co.uk

Balsall Heath Local History Society is running a two year project to research the early and later lives of children who were sent to live with families in the backwoods of Canada. Birmingham Children’s Emigration Homes sent around 6,000 destitute children across the north Atlantic between 1873 and 1948.  The children, mostly between 7 and 11, though some were as young as 3, spent a year at the Home, receiving a basic education and training in skills that would be useful in their new life. www.balhsallhealthhistory.co.uk The Midland Ancestor Dec 2018 www.midland-ancestors.uk

Comprehensive collections of photographs of people at work, and especially of women’s work, are exciting to find.  Borough of Twickenham Local History Society Newsletter publishes a report from its editor about one such ‘cache’ relating to Hampton Court Laundry from the 1960s. Probably typical of such businesses at the time, this one was located in East Molesey (despite its name) and served towns in the surrounding area. A contemporary article from Molesey & Ditton News in 1961 described the history and current operation of the laundry.  www.botlhs.co.uk

The local history society for Croydon is the Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society, established as the Croydon Microscopical Club in 1870, local history being added as a section in the 1960s. It maintains a very wide brief, stating ‘meetings cover Local & Industrial History, Archaeology, Geology, Entomology, Botany & Ornithology’. Regular publications are its Bulletins and Proceedings, as well as its Programme listing walks and talks. The Bulletin of September 2018 contains an entertaining and interesting article about ‘Alfred Russell Wallace and the John Hampden flat earth wager of 1870’. The diagrams in the article are essential to follow the experiments carried out on the old Bedford Canal to demonstrate whether the earth was flat or round, against a wager of £500. We of course have the benefit of photography from space!  www.cnhss.co.uk

17. News from Archives Show more → Show less ↓

Magna is the magazine of the Friends of the National Archives. Amongst the regular features is ‘Photograph in Focus’. In the November 2018 issue is this evocative photograph of Whitby Abbey taken in 1886 by Carl Norman, of Tunbridge Wells in Kent. Record series COPY 1 relates to applications made between 1842 and 1912 to Stationers’ Hall under the Copyright Acts. Applications usually include a print of the image that is being registered. Carl Frederick Musans Norman (1841-1927) had various photographic businesses in Tunbridge Wells, Bournemouth and London. The registration documents state that ownership of this image was assigned to his company Carl Norman & Co, Graphic Villa, Tunbridge Wells.www.ftna.org.uk

Bedfordshire Archives & Records Service plan to have regular events at Luton Libraries during 2019, on the first Thursday of every other month, beginning February. They will begin with a talk or activity, followed by a general Q & A drop-in session. Further details of these, and a programme for people in Central Bedfordshire, will be available on their website www.bedford.gov.uk/archive

Cheshire Archives have a new web address address www.cheshirearchives.org.uk.  There will be other changes in the coming months, including improvements to the content and navigation of the website to make it easier for users to find what they are looking for. Any comments or suggestions are welcome. 

London Metropolitan Archives current exhibition which runs until 10 April 2019 is ‘Child Health in London’ which explores the history of the health of the capital's children. From the medical records of the Foundling Hospital established in the 18th century by Thomas Coram, one of the first pioneers of child care, through the records of children's hospitals and clinics founded in the 19th century, to those of the school health services set up by the London County Council in the 20th, this exhibition makes connections in a sometimes fragmented history and a provides a fascinating background to the issues facing children and young people in London today. https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/london-metropolitan-archives/Pages/default.aspx

18. Libraries News Show more → Show less ↓

The magnificent late Victorian structure in Newcastle upon Tyne that houses the library of the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers is closed for 18 months. Refurbishment and reorientation of the role of the building will permit its survival, and the retention of the Institute's invaluable collections under one roof - and in the North East. The Institute's 2019 lecture programme will now take place in the neighbouring Lit and Phil meeting rooms.   https://mininginstitute.org.uk/

The new library in Lichfield was opened just before Christmas, in the former St Mary’s Church in the town centre. After a two year and £1.4m development project, the new library and Tourist Information Centre occupy the ground floor, while above there is a museum, exhibition and performance area, as well as an access point for digitised archive collections (held in the Staffordshire Record Office).  The flexible space makes the most of the church building, including the 19th century columns, choir stalls and pews.  Equipment includes computers, free WiFi and 3D printers. https://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/leisure/librariesnew/Help-shape-library-service/Lichfield-Library.aspx

Photographer Jack Lowe is visiting all 238 RNLI lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland to take pictures of the volunteer crews using the Victorian Glass Wet Plate Collodion process. A selection of those from Wales will be on display at the National Library of Wales, in the Upper Central Hall until 9 March 2019. www.library.wales  https://lifeboatstationproject.com/

19. News from Museums Show more → Show less ↓

Bruce Castle Museum, Lordship Lane, Tottenham, London N17 is holding an exhibition until the end of March 2019 entitled ‘Inspiring Women of Haringey: A Suffragette in the Family’. Presenting research, artefacts and photographs, courtesy of their families, the displays reveal the lives of women, such as the Spongs of Muswell Hill, who made their voices heard in the struggle for the vote.  Edmonton Hundred Historical Society www.edmontonhunded.org.uk

New Brighton Heritage Centre, St James Church, is the venue for ‘Deeds not words’, a Momentary Art Project jointly with Wirral Older Peoples Parliament on ‘The Suffragettes & The Woman’s Peace Movement’. It is open 11am to 1pm daily, closed Mondays and Sunday, and runs from 4th Dec 2018 to 4th March 2019.

Chipping Norton Museum and Local History Society have a new website with lots of information about the museum’s interesting collections and about the society’s programme of events. Museum volunteers are slowly digitising the glass plate images of prolific and well-known local photographers Percy Simms and Frank & Basil Packer. http://www.chippingnortonmuseum.co.uk/  Oxfordshire Local History Association  www.olha.org.uk

The Locksmith’s House Museum in Wllenhall was the home of the Hodson family, whose business making locks and keys began in 1792 and finally closed in 1970.  It is run by the Black Country Living Museum. Some 14,000 records associated with the business are at the BCLM. The family did not throw things away, and this is easily the Museum’s largest archive collection. Archivist Karen Davies writes about the riches to be found there, and the issues facing the Museum with its sorting and cataloguing, in the Autumn 2018 issue of The Blackcountryman, from The Black Country Society. www.blackcountrysociety.com


Interesting historical exhibits can be discovered in surprising places. Highlands End Holiday Park, Bridport Dorset,  is the home if the Bridport Fire Engine, purchased after a public subscription,  for the Town Volunteer Fire Brigade in 1902 to mark the coronation of King Edward VII.  It was horse drawn, and the horses were provided by the Bull Hotel. The original was recovered from a scrap merchant in Birmingham in 1960. It is now on display with a later engine (illustrated) and a large amount of Fire Brigade memorabilia.  Bridport History Society editor’s email william633@btinternet.com



The Museum of the Broads at Stalham Norfolk, has won a grant for an accessible electric trip boat plus a new engine for Falcon, its Victorian steam boat.  The accessible boat will enable many more visitors to experience the water first hand, it is not weather-dependent and will be available to hire. It’s also environmentally friendly as its batteries are charged with power from the Museum’s solar panels. www.museumofthebroads.org.uk  AIM www.aim-museums.co.uk


The first building in the Remaking Beamish project has been opened. Joe the Quilter’s cottage is a recreation of the home of Georgian quilter Joseph Hedley, who was murdered in 1826, in a crime that shocked the nation.  Its remains at Warden, Northumberland, were uncovered during an archaeological excavation. The new exhibit also tells the story of quilting and the growth of cottage industries in the early 1800s. http://www.beamish.org.uk/about/remaking-beamish/

20. Education News Show more → Show less ↓

Gresham College was founded in 1597 and has been providing free lectures within the City of London for over 400 years.  The College's annual history lectures and events are open to all, and are recorded and made available online for those unable to attend in person.  Historical Association e-newsletter Dec 2018


History and Citizenship resources for schools: The HA has launched a new online suffrage resource that tells the unsung stories, struggles, stands and sacrifices of those who helped to achieve the vote 100 years ago. Along with academic podcasts, the Women's Suffrage Website includes a database of 3,000 women and men who campaigned to make the UK more democratic by ensuring that women had the right to vote.  Find out more about the story of campaigners in your region. https://www.suffrageresources.org.uk/about

The Spring programme for Locality & Region seminars at the Institute of Historical Research in London can be found at https://www.history.ac.uk/events/seminar/locality-region.  Places range from London to Lincolnshire, Somerset to Kent, time from medieval to modern. Amongst the speakers is Gill Draper, BALH Development Officer.  Further details are on the website, everyone is welcome.

21. Book review:Emily's Longhorsley Show more → Show less ↓

Margaret Scott with

Longhorsley Local History Society

2018  ISBN  978 1 9164179 0 8



It is a challenging task to place an internationally known figure into her relatively unknown local context. Since the centenary of the death of Emily Wilding Davison in 2013 and the commemorations during 2018 of the Representation of the People Act 1918, the individuals involved with campaigning for a parliamentary vote for women, and their activities, have been widely examined.  This book looks at Emily Davison's connections with Longhorsely in Northumberland. 

Emily's mother, Margaret Davison, is known to have lived in the village between 1901 and 1918, at the heart of the community running a shop. Emily stayed with her mother for holidays and periods of rest from the arduous work of the militant Women's Social and Political Union. She regularly gave her address as Longhorsley, calling the village her home.

Sources like the 1911 Census, trade directories, newspapers, the Inland Revenue Land Valuation Survey, and old photographs have provided material for a detailed examination of the village community in the early 20th century.  Local papers clearly took a great interest in Emily's  campaigning work , in the area and further afield: 'Suffragist (sic) meetings at Morpeth. An Address by Miss Davison', and 'Local Suffragette once more in court'. 

The collection of letters to and from Emily held at the Women's Library LSE, has been used  to give a personal  and atmospheric feel to her militant work in the years 1911 - 1913. In February 1912, Margaret Davidson wrote to her daughter in Holloway prison describing the snowy weather in Longhorsley, and referring to parcels she was sending.  Emily wrote to both local and national newspapers on what was happening to the suffragettes - for example to the Manchester Guardian in September 1912: '. .. as one who has several times undergone the torture of forcible feeding I pray that you will allow me to appeal to the people ... If your nation could only realise the degradation, the unspeakable misery which it involves to the helpless prisons, it would not allow such re-enactments of medieval barbarity to be carried out in our midst.'

After the events of 4 June 1913, Emily's mother wrote to her daughter in Epsom Hospital, signing it 'with oceans of love from your sorrowful Mother'. The letter was never read by its recipient, as Emily did not regain consciousness.


Part 2 of this book examines how Emily Wilding Davison has been remembered in the area. Commemorations were held at various anniversaries, debates aired on the reasons for her death, and concern expressed at the condition of her grave. The school, the church, the WI and the Local History Society were all involved. A plaque was unveiled in July 1993 on the 80th anniversary of her death.  Activities reached a peak in the summer of 2013, including 'Emily Inspires' workshops, and a 'Bikes and Bonnets' day.  Beamish Museum held a Suffragette Celebration, and that summer's Longhorsley Village Day featured many related events.

Emily's Longhorsley is an interesting, impressive and effective piece of work,  linking local and national history, of which the author and society have every right to be proud.

Jane Howells

22. Book review: Caldbeck - A Special Part of Lakeland Show more → Show less ↓

Tony Vaux

Caldbeck & District

Local History Society   

ISBN 978 0 9526009 5 4  

2018  £15 320pp

Available from bookshops in Cumbria or by post from  Sally Vaux, Brownrigg Farm, Caldbeck, Wigton CA7 8EG at £17-50. Please send a cheque payable to Caldbeck and District LHS Booksales. For any other enquiries please contact the author by email on vauxt@aol.com

For many years the author was puzzled by a plaque on the wall of his home on Faulds Brow above Caldbeck. It was inscribed with the words ‘Robert Vaux 1722’. Who was this Robert Vaux and what had he done to the house in 1722? A dusty newspaper article left by a previous resident provided some clues. The Vauxes were a Norman family who lived at Brownrigg for fourteen generations. This Robert Vaux was the last. These clues set Tony on a track to discover the history of the local Vaux family, the house and then the whole of the Caldbeck area.

The focus of this book is on the history of an upland farming community over many centuries, leading to an examination of the reasons why Caldbeck is widely regarded as special. The people of Caldbeck and Hesket Newmarket have a fascinating history, and also face particular challenges today.  Their experiences are placed in context by comparison with surrounding villages, especially Uldale, Sebergham, Dalston, Castle Sowerby and Mungrisdale. The relationship between local life and events of wider national importance, such as the wars with Scotland, comes over clearly.

The book, which is lavishly illustrated, draws on oral histories recorded by the Society and on its remarkable archive which has been developing for more than thirty years, together with a range of published sources.

All proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the local Fellview School and youth work of the Northern Fells Group. At the school this will contribute to refurbishment developing an appealing library and research area in the heart of the refurbished school building.

23. Film review: Behind the Lines A Great War Nurse and the Fight for Survival Show more → Show less ↓

Tudoe & Spennymoor Local History Society 2018


This documentary film about medical services on the Western Front tells the story of Sister Kate Maxey, of RAMC medics Joseph Willis and Samuel Bott, and of school teacher John Leckie.  These four individuals from Spennymoor contributed to the efforts to save lives in the midst of the danger and destruction of the battlefields. Kate Maxey was awarded one of the first International Red Cross Florence Nightingale Medals (see also Local History News  114 p 8). With a grant from the HLF, the local history society commissioned Lonely Tower Film and Media to make the film which marks the centenary of the end of the Great War, and provides an insight into how communities were involved in medical services at the beginning of the 20th century.

The film’s premier was held at Spennymoor Town Hall last October, a most appropriate venue as it was a new building that saw many of the local events associated with the war, including fund-raising for those serving, and celebrations of homecomings and medals won.  The film opens there, and displays its present day splendour.

Copies have been distributed free to schools and local history societies in the area.   The Society offers to give showings to groups and organisations. A limited number of copies of the DVD are available for sale. The film is free to watch on YouTube under a creative commons licence at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAui3MFlqZE&feature=youtu.be.  The society’s website has more information about the making of the film.

This is a very special and impressive way of sharing the results of local research into a community in the First World War, thoroughly recommended.

24. British Association for Local History Trustees’ Report 2018 Show more → Show less ↓

Who and what are we?  The Association is an unincorporated charity governed by an elected Council.  Its purpose is to encourage and assist the study of local history throughout Great Britain as an academic discipline and as a rewarding leisure pursuit for both individuals and groups.   The elected members of Council are the trustees of the Charity.  Trustees are listed elsewhere in this report with Officers of the Association and members of the advisory committees.  Professor Caroline Barron, the President of BALH, has been a constant source of support for which I am personally very grateful as the recently elected chair of Trustees.  Since that appointment in early June, I have also received the encouragement of a splendid group of fellow Trustees, supportive colleagues eager with ideas as to how to promote local history.  


What have we done?  This past year has continued with a successful working relationship with our administrative partner KSAM which body has provided vital support in helping to manage data and procedures relating to finance and membership.  Following ideas in the Development Plan, Dr Iain Taylor, has been elected as the new treasurer, and his remit promises a clearer devolution of administrative and financial burdens among Trustees.  That process of creating a more collaborative administrative system for the Association is expected to be carried further by the appointment of a secretary, an important office currently being discussed by the Trustees.  Two advisory committees, their membership consisting of Trustees and appointed members of the Association, assist the Trustees on Outreach and Education, and on Publishing.   Membership of the BALH has been sustained during the year, half the members being societies.  How membership might be increased and encouraged is a constant issue for the Trustees, alert to new ideas and strategies.  Several new trustees have joined the Board, others have departed, their accession and departure noted in Local History News.


What services are provided?   Prominent for members is the Association’s quarterly journal, The Local Historian, and the quarterly Local History News. Both publications provide articles and up-to-date information on the state of local history across Britain and beyond, and point members to good and fruitful practice.  That latter idea has been given strength during 2018 by the Association publishing Prof. Geoff Timmins’, Exploring Local History: a practical guide for teachers in Primary and Secondary schools, a 130 page paperback book offering detailed guidance along with case studies useful in the classroom.   In preparation is an Association publication aimed at aiding researchers interested in pursuing local history in the years between the two World Wars.  An important service offered by the Association is insurance cover for the activities of local history and conjoined societies.  Risk mitigation to the fore!


Local History Day at York in June was marked by a good attendance of members, although most came from within the County or from adjoining counties.  The day included the annual general meeting, a talk on the sources in the York Railway Museum, the annual lecture by Professor John Beckett on research on Nottingham parish churches, and the presentation of Awards for personal achievement and publications in the field of local history.


Carol Wilson, North Yorkshire: a knowledgeable and enthusiastic local historian who has encouraged others to become involved in understanding and researching the landscape that shapes their lives, recently through the Hidden Valleys Community Project

John Higginson, Lancashire: a founder member of Fylde Country Life Preservation Society, and of its museum which has become an important community resource both for individuals and other organisations who use the collections


Cleveland and Teeside Local History Society



The David Hey Memorial Article Award 2018

Andrew Emeny, ‘When Bill Sykes junior came to visit: the rise of juvenile crime in Southend during the Great War’, Essex Journal vol.52 no.1 (Spring 2017) 15-24 [winner, long articles]


Julie Chamberlain, ‘Women’s contributions to public life in early modern Coventry’, Warwickshire History vol.16 no.5 (Summer 2016) 193-209
Kevin Davey, ‘The Hadstock arrests of 1661: Quaker radicals encircle Saffron Walden during the Protectorate’, Saffron Walden Historical Journal no.33 (Spring 2017) 10-17
Megan Webber, ‘”Next of Kin to a prison”: prison reform and the Refuge for the Destitute’, Hackney History vol.19 (2016) 1-10


Jacqueline Cooper, ‘Murder at Clavering 1862: new documents’, Saffron Walden Historical Journal no.32 (Autumn 2016) 27-30 [winner, short articles]
Patrick Hegarty Morrish, ‘Music in Alexandra Palace Internment Camp’, Hornsey Historical Society Bulletin no.58 (2017) 6-9
Martyn Richardson, ‘”Oh, just think of Huddersfield, that’s Christmas enough”: the Sex Pistols at Ivanhoe’s, 25 December 1977’, Huddersfield Local History Society Journal no.28 (2017/2018) 61-66
Brigitte Mitchell, ‘Windsor and the Contagious Diseases Act’, Berkshire Old and New no.33 (2016) 9-13


The Trustees believe that the Association continues to run effectively and according to the constitution and rules of its charitable status.   Constant attention is being given to find ways and methods for the Association to function more effectively in reaching a larger constituency of people interested in local history.  In all these endeavours the Trustees are grateful to all those who support BALH whether on paid contracts, on committees or as volunteers without whom the Association could not function.

David Killingray

25. BALH Trustee: Paul Dryburgh Show more → Show less ↓

A Yellerbelly (for the uninitiated I am from Lincolnshire), I have spent most of my working life with archives and bringing some of the country’s most important pre-modern collections to life. I completed my doctoral thesis entitled ‘The career of Roger Mortimer, 1st earl of March (c. 1287-1330)’, at the University of Bristol in 2002. My postdoctoral work on research council-funded projects at, respectively, the universities of Bristol, Reading and King’s College London resulted in a handbook to records relating to medieval Ireland at The National Archives (UK), publications on the medieval wool trade in England around 1300, and an edition, both online and in print, of the Fine Rolls of the Reign of King Henry III (www.frh3.org.uk). I have therefore ranged across the full chronological span of government records in the medieval period and developed a strong research interest in the structure and operation of English ‘colonial’ administration in the Middle Ages. I also have a rather puritanical interest in editing records for publication and indexing, being one of the Joint General Editors of the Pipe Roll Society (with Professor Louise Wilkinson).


I qualified as an archivist at the University of Aberystwyth in 2014, having volunteered first at Lincolnshire Archives and then worked professionally from 2011 as the Access Archivist and Medieval Records Specialist at the Borthwick Institute, University of York. In York, I was responsible for managing access to the collections – engaging new and current audiences within the university and across Yorkshire, sorting and cataloguing new accessions, notably the archive of the playwright Sir Alan Ayckbourn, and devising new access initiatives. I also immersed myself in medieval and more modern records of provincial, diocesan and parish government in the North. I was one of a team behind the York Archbishops’ Registers project (https://archbishopsregisters.york.ac.uk/), which aims to conserve, digitise and index the registers of the pre-modern archbishops.


In 2014, I moved to TNA where I am now Principal Records Specialist (Medieval Records). I am part of a small team within the Collections Expertise and Engagement Department tasked with researching our medieval collections, leading on cataloguing projects, liaising with volunteers, managing research students on placements, devising and delivering student training, and engaging new audiences with our pre-modern collections, amongst a varied and ever-changing set of responsibilities alongside the main duties involved in advising researchers.


Since 2009 I have been Honorary Secretary for the Lincoln Record Society, one of the country’s leading local record publishing societies, where I have been fortunate to work with some of the most knowledgeable and passionate scholars on a vast array of projects, publications and events. In that year, I was also approached to be one of the Honorary Presidents of the newly-formed Mortimer History Society, which aims to study the medieval Mortimer families and the Marches of Wales.


Election as a trustee of the BALH is therefore a particular honour for me. The BALH represents the very best of scholarship combined with a mission to bring local history to as wide an audience as possible across Britain. These are ambitions to which I aspire, even if I am not always successful in realising them! As a new trustee, I naturally hope to work with colleagues in several academic and professional fields to bring the archival riches of this country to new audiences in innovative and hopefully inspiring ways.

26. Notes News Issues Show more → Show less ↓

Local History Day 2019

The booking form for Local History Day on 1 June 2019 is in the centre of this issue, and see the note above for society members. Why not organise a group visit from your society? We are looking forward to seeing many of you in London in June.


We are delighted to share the news that Kate Tiller, Reader Emerita in England Local History, University of Oxford, has been awarded an OBE in the New Year ‘s Honours List ‘for services to local history’.  A former Trustee of BALH, Dr Tiller is the author of many valuable local history books which readers will know, including Remembrance & Community: War Memorials & Local History published by the Association, which people around the country have used to enhance their local projects recently.  History is well represented this year, as in the same list appear Dr Malcolm Dick, Director of the Centre for West Midlands History at the University of Birmingham, and David Olusoga, whom you will have seen frequently on television, including his series on house history in Liverpool.        

Thank you, as always, to members and friends who contribute to Local History News, please continue to do so. We wish all your readers a historically peaceful and rewarding 2019.

National Sporting Heritage Day is held every year on 30 September. Go to the website to see what activities have been carried out to celebrate in the past, and get planning to recognise the local sporting heroes, teams and events in your area.


National Lottery Community Fund

From 30 January 2019 the Big Lottery Fund will change its name to the National Lottery Community Fund.  The Big Lottery Fund distributed over half a million pounds in 2017, 40% of the money for good causes raised by lottery players. Also in 2019 the National Lottery reaches its 25th birthday.