Local history

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...

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...
Janet Cooper
October 24, 2016
Bosbury is the second parish history to be produced by the Trust for the Victoria County History of Herefordshire, following the history of Eastnor published in 2013.

Like Eastnor, Bosbury is an agricultural parish, near the market town of Ledbury. It covers a relatively large area below the western slopes of the Malvern Hills. In the Middle Ages Bosbury was the site of one of the favourite residences of the bishops of Hereford; in the western part of the parish, called Upleadon, was an estate belonging first to the Knights Templar and then to the Hospitallers. From the 16th century onwards both estates passed into the hands of tenants, leaving the parish without a major resident landowner until John Stedman...
Jean Morrin
May 19, 2016

Steventon, a chalkland village near Basingstoke, is best known because Jane Austen, the famous novelist and daughter of the local rector, spent the first 25 years of her life here. Unlike Chawton and Bath, no house or museum commemorates the author’s memory in Steventon but this new history explains how family life and observation of north Hampshire society shaped her early literary career. She wrote early versions of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey in Steventon from 1796 to 1798, drawing on local society for inspiration for characters, manners and sentiments.

But the village had a rich history before and after its famous novelist and there are many other reasons to enjoy this book. Steventon is a...

Rose Wallis
July 31, 2015

Yate is a town in South Gloucestershire, north-east of Bristol. Its ancient parish extended across a largely flat vale, which until the 13th century lay within Horwood forest, and was then cleared, inclosed and farmed as rich pasture by the tenants of the influential owners of its three manors. A limestone ridge fringing the vale provided good building stone, and across the parish seams of coal and a rare mineral - celestine - have been exploited until recent times. Yate lay on an important early route between Bristol and Oxford, and its mineral wealth attracted early railway links, so that it was well placed for industrial development. Bristol-based industries moved there during the decades after 1900,...

Edited by Anthony Tuck
April 2, 2015

The parish of Newport lies in the valley of the river Cam in north-west Essex about three and a half miles south-west of the market town of Saffron Walden, and a short distance from the Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire borders. It probably originated in the early 10th century as a royal foundation, and it soon developed some urban features such as a market. Its position on an important through route between London and East Anglia gave it a more varied character than some of its neighbouring villages, and the coming of the railway in the 19th century led to the establishment of a gas works and maltings. Even so, it remained a largely agricultural community until the mid 20th century, but thereafter its position as...

John Hare, Jean Morrin, and Stan Waight
January 30, 2015

Mapledurwell is the first parish history to be published by the New Victoria History of Hampshire group. Since publication of the first Victoria County History account of the parish in 1911, ideas about what constitutes a good parish history have been transformed.

This new history includes much more about the village itself and about its economy and society, highlighting the lives of ordinary people as well as tracing those who owned the parish's land and property. It discusses Quakers and Congregationalists as well as the congregation of the established church, and looks minutely at the history of elementary education, revealing the appalling sanitary conditions suffered by pupils at the local...

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