The View from the Wiltshire Victoria County History, Virginia Bainbridge

 

This time last year the Victoria County History was preparing to thank Dr Douglas Crowley for 37 years of service. A Celebration of Wiltshire Local History, the conference held in his honour at the University of the West of England Regional History Centre, was a great success. Thanks to all of you who came and made it such an enjoyable occasion. This year there is a new team in the VCH office at County Hall. I was appointed to the post of county editor last April, having been assistant editor since September 2004. James Lee joined me as the new assistant editor in August. Although VCH editors develop an understanding of all periods of English history, from the pre-Conquest era to the present day, we do have our own areas of specialism. I am a medievalist by training and my PhD on parish life, ‘Gilds in the Medieval Countryside: Religious and Social change in Cambridgeshire 1350-1558’ was published in 1996. My interest in religious history continues with my research on the Bridgettine nuns of Syon Abbey 1400-1600. James is more of a political historian and his PhD on ‘Political Communication in Early Tudor England’ focused on Bristol and the South-West. His book, Preachers, Pulpits and Politics in the Restoration Era will be published in 2007. Between us our period of detailed knowledge extends from around 1300 to 1714. We are always happy to answer queries in our specialist areas besides more general queries relating to VCH work.

In 2006 staff worked towards the completion of Volume XVIII. Before retirement, Douglas Crowley wrote the history of the town of Cricklade. The volume will also contain parish histories of Ashton Keynes and Leigh, Eisey, Latton, and Lydiard Millicent by assistant editor Carrie Smith, and Marston Meysey by myself. I am currently writing the history of Purton and James is writing the history of Minety. The volume will go to press in 2007. I am already planning research on Volume XIX on Heytesbury hundred, parishes of Boyton, Chitterne All Saints, Chitterne St. Mary, Codford St. Mary, Codford St. Peter, Brixton Deverill, Heytesbury, Horningsham, Imber, Knook, Orcheston St. George, Tytherington and Upton Lovell; and South Damerham Hundred, parishes of Compton Chamberlayne, Longbridge Deverill and Monkton Deverill.

Our next event will be a Book Launch and Local History Fair at Codford Village Hall on Saturday 21 April 2.00-5.00. We will celebrate the publication of the VCH History of Codford by Phillimore & Co. with financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The highlight will be a talk by Rex Sawyer, author of Little Imber on the Down. Display stands and admission are free, so do get in touch for details.

The Wiltshire VCH Appeal Trust is organising a series of fund-raising events. Last summer, Mr. and Mrs. Cartwright-Hignett opened their wonderful gardens at Iford Manor to trustees and their guests. Victoria Landell-Mills, Chair of the Trust has details of a similar evening event to be held at Longford Castle on Friday 8 June and Ivor Slocombe is planning a public lecture to be held in Bradford-on-Avon. The Trust paid for a travelling exhibition on the work of VCH Wiltshire. It was displayed at the Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office for six months, at several other venues and is available for more bookings. The Trust has also established a bursary towards the fees of a PhD student working on an aspect of Wiltshire History, which will assist VCH staff with research and writing. Initially, we intend to fund a thesis on the Wiltshire estates of Glastonbury Abbey, focusing on those in the area covered by Volume XIX. Contact me for further information.

VCH staff will be teaching on the new MA in Regional History at the University of the West of England from Autumn 2007. James has updated the website and information has been transferred from the old address www.wiltshirepast.net to www.victoriacountyhistory.ac.uk/Wiltshire. The Institute of Historical Research in London added Wiltshire VCH Volume VI to Volumes III, VIII, XVI and XVII on the British History On-line website www.british-history.ac.uk. The VCH office will move to the new Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre at Chippenham later this summer, where we will share office space with other Heritage Services staff.