To scholars of early modern Europe, Earls Colne in Essex must be one of England’s best known parishes, thanks to the work undertaken in the 1960s and 1970s by the historian and anthropologist Alan Macfarlane, and following his work, the availability, firstly on microfiche and latterly online, of transcriptions of a large corpus of contemporary sources about the parish which has prompted signifi
The Victoria History of the Counties of England, more commonly known as the ‘Victoria County History’ or simply the ‘VCH’, founded in 1899, is without doubt the greatest publishing project in English local history.
How fortunate are historians of that broad band of southern Somerset covered by seven topographical volumes of the Victoria County History (VCH) compared with those of most of the historic county for whom no such resource yet exists. It is the distant ideal of the complete set for Somerset that is most urgently required.
Joseph Chamberlain exercises more interest among historians than any other politician who did not either hold one of the major offices of state or introduce a major legislative reform. He has been the subject of numerous biographies and monographs.
I knew David Hey for 30 years, and it is with great sadness that I offer this review of his last and posthumous book. I recall well how I first met him. It was Easter 1985 and I was on my way to the British Agricultural History Society conference to give a paper. I hadn’t been to that conference before, nor had I ever given a paper to a conference (as opposed to a seminar).
Some monographs feel as if they have slotted themselves – like a puzzle-piece – snugly into the picture presented by our extant historiography. And just like single parts of a complex jig-saw, these works often add brilliantly to the overall image.
It is acceptable to like bishops again. Perhaps this change in the historiographical weather (would it be too much to label it an ‘episcopal turn’?) is not so much a result of the opening up of new sources, but a reflection of academics’ own positions in the wider world. The 1970s and 1980s fixed us with a standard of bishops as intolerant heresy hunters and seekers-out of deviancy.
This impressively researched and finely written study is an ambitious attempt to use the history of specific regions and localities to explore wider themes of national identity and attitudes to landscape and the environment across the long 19th century, from around 1780 to 1914.