VCH Shorts

Judith Everard, James P. Bowen, and Wendy Horton
November 1, 2019

Wem lies on the North Shropshire Plain, about nine miles north of Shrewsbury. The centre of a much larger medieval manor and parish, the township consists of the small medieval market town and its immediate rural hinterland. Anglo-Saxon in origin, the town developed after the Norman Conquest, with a castle, parish church, market and water mill. The urban area of the township, ‘within the bars’, was distinguished from the rural, ‘without the bars’. Burgages were laid out, with a customary borough-hold tenure, but the borough never attained corporate status. Isolated from the main regional transport routes, Wem developed as a centre of local government and trade in agricultural produce, especially cheese. It was thrust onto the national...

Andrew Senter
June 30, 2019

Exploring the changing character of Harwich, Dovercourt and Parkeston through the course of the 19th century, included in this book is the economic, social and political history of the borough. The book provides an overview of the development of areas such as education, religion, public health with a strong focus on Harwich’s maritime history.

The borough of Harwich, including the parish of Dovercourt, lies in the far north east corner of Essex. Its coastal location as a natural harbour at the mouth of the Orwell river dictated that Harwich had a prominent role as a port and naval base from the 14th century onwards. In the 19th century Harwich retained its military function, particularly during the Napoleonic and...

Richard Brockington and with Sarah Rose
March 15, 2019

Kirkoswald and Renwick is the first parish history to be produced by the Cumbria County History Trust in collaboration with Lancaster University for the Victoria County History of Cumbria. Covering 30 square miles of agricultural land and moorland, the modern civil parish of Kirkoswald lies between the river Eden and the Pennine heights, on the western edge of the North Pennine Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Kirkoswald township, anciently a market and small industrial centre, lies nine miles north east of Penrith. Until 1566 Kirkoswald Castle was the principal seat of the powerful Barons Dacre of the North whose massive landholdings extended over six counties. In 1523 Lord Thomas Dacre translated St Oswald’s church, a pre...

Alison Deveson and Sue Lane
December 15, 2018

Tracing the history of two small, closely-linked parishes which lie to the south of Basingstoke on the edge of the chalk downlands, and a third parish, Hatch (abandoned towards the end of the 14th century and has formed part of both of the others), Cliddesden, Hatch and Farleigh Wallop is the latest publication from the Victoria County History of Hampshire project. Each settlement has a common manorial descent from the 15th century onwards and they were managed as components of a single estate under the lordship of the Wallop family from their seat at Farleigh House. This volume discusses the manorial owners and the development of the estate, and also includes much more about the lives and activities of ordinary people...

Edited by Francis Boorman
November 20, 2018
St Clement Danes, now the central RAF church in the Strand, is at the heart of the capital, sandwiched between ‘theatreland’ and legal London, and connecting the dual historic centres of Westminster and the City. This book reveals the vibrant cultural, economic, political and religious life of the parish from the Restoration to its abolition in 1900.
This period was one of rapid urban transformation in the parish, as the large aristocratic riverside houses of the 17th century gave way to a bustling centre of commerce and culture in the 18th. The slums that developed in the 19th century were then swept away by the grand constructions of the Royal Courts of Justice and the Victoria Embankment, followed by the new thoroughfares...
Edited by Alex Craven and with Beth Hartland
June 1, 2018

The familiar image of Cheltenham, a large and prosperous former spa town, world-famous on account of its Georgian and Regency architecture, its festivals and educational establishments, masks an earlier history. While numerous descriptions of the town have been published over the years, most say little about the many centuries of its existence before the 1740s, when it began to develop as a fashionable resort. This is the fullest account ever attempted to chronicle those centuries, from the late Saxon period until the 18th century. In this period, Cheltenham developed into a successful small town, ranged along a single main street, with the market and trades serving not only its own needs but also those of the surrounding...

John Hare
December 22, 2017

Basingstoke is frequently seen as a very modern town, the product of the last decades of the 20th century. In reality it has a long, rich and prosperous history. From its beginnings c.1000 it became a significant market centre for the area around, and a place on the route to London from the west. By 1500 it was among the top 60 towns in England by wealth and taxpayers, and the centre of a major industrial area, whose manufactured cloths formed part of international patterns of trade. Moreover, it is well documented particularly for the 15th and 16th century, when it was at its peak, and should provide a useful addition to the limited number of studies of small medieval towns.

Much of the old town has been...

Pamela J. Fisher
October 27, 2017

Buckminster and Sewstern, in north-east Leicestershire, are two small villages within a single parish, and although both were established before 1086, they have developed different characters.

Buckminster was purely an agricultural village until the 1790s, when Sir William Manners enlarged a small park, built a mansion and began to create an estate village. Many of the houses are of red brick, and were built for estate employees by the 9th earl of Dysart between 1878 and 1935, as part of a programme of village improvements. All the land, residential and commercial properties in Buckminster were held in 2017 by the Tollemache family, descendants of Sir William and Lord Dysart.

In contrast, Sewstern’s houses...

Pamela Taylor
August 31, 2017

Today’s Knightsbridge, the wealthy shoppers’ paradise, is a recent cross-border development. This book breaks new ground by uncovering an earlier, larger Knightsbridge and showing why its initial extent and history have been largely forgotten. Knightsbridge was the southern part of the Westminster abbey manor of Knightsbridge and Westbourne, and until 1900 covered the same area as the parish of St Margaret Westminster Detached. Pre-1900 Knightsbridge/Westminster included today’s Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens, almost half of ‘South Kensington’, and Hyde Park west of the Serpentine (or river Westbourne). So why was so much of Knightsbridge lost to memory, becoming thought of only in terms of Westminster, Hyde or (until 1900...

Pamela J. Fisher and J.M. Lee
December 9, 2016
The parish of Castle Donington  in north-west Leicestershire lies on the south bank of the river Trent, 20 miles north-west of Leicester and 8 miles south-east of Derby. A nucleated village developed on the present site more than 1,000 years ago. A castle was built in the 1150s, and several features of a town soon developed, including a market, fair and hospital. Secondary settlements grew up alongside the Trent, by the King’s Mills and at Cavendish Bridge, the site of an important medieval ferry. Donington Park, which originated in the early 13th century as a hunting park, became a separate estate of the earls of Huntingdon in the late 16th century.

Later history has been shaped by strong religious...

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