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The Victoria History of the Counties of England, commonly known as the Victoria County History
Victoria County History
or the VCH, is an English history project which began in 1899 and was dedicated to Queen Victoria with the aim of creating an encyclopaedic history of each of the historic counties of England. In 2012 the project was rededicated to HM Queen Elizabeth II in celebration of her Diamond Jubilee year.[1]:7 Since 1933 the project has been coordinated by the Institute of Historical Research in the University of London.

Contents

1 History 2 Progress 3 Structure and content of the county histories 4 Completed county histories 5 Counties in progress 6 Dormant counties 7 Counties with no published volumes 8 General editors 9 Notable county editors 10 Genealogical editor 11 See also 12 References 13 Further reading 14 External links

History[edit] The history of the VCH falls into three main phases, defined by different funding regimes: an early phase, 1899–1914, when the project was conceived as a commercial enterprise, and progress was rapid; a second more desultory phase, 1914–1947, when relatively little progress was made; and the third phase beginning in 1947, when, under the auspices of the Institute of Historical Research, a high academic standard was set, and progress has been slow but reasonably steady.[2]:54–6 These phases have also been characterised by changing attitudes towards the proper scope of English local history. The early volumes were planned on the model of traditional English county histories, with a strong emphasis on manorial descents, the advowsons of parish churches, and the local landed gentry: a prospectus of c. 1904 stated that "there is no Englishman to whom [the VCH] does not in some one or other of its features make a direct appeal".[2]:55 More recent volumes – especially those published since the 1950s – have been more wide-ranging in their approach, and have included systematic coverage of social and economic history, industrial history, population history, educational history, landscape history, religious nonconformity, and so on: individual parish histories have consequently grown considerably in length and complexity. From 1902 the joint general editors were H. Arthur Doubleday and William Page. Doubleday resigned (in acrimonious circumstances) in 1904,[3]:148–52 leaving Page as sole general editor until his death in 1934. In 1932 Page bought the rights to the ailing project for a nominal sum, donating it to the Institute of Historical Research
Institute of Historical Research
the following year.[4] Page was succeeded as general editor by L.F. Salzman, who remained in post until 1949.[4] The early volumes depended heavily on the efforts of a large number of young research workers, mostly female, fresh from degree courses at Oxford, Cambridge, London or the Scottish universities, for whom other employment opportunities were limited: the VCH of this period has been described as "a history for gentlemen largely researched by ladies".[2]:54 From 1909 until 1931 Frederick Smith, later 2nd Viscount Hambleden, was the VCH's major sponsor.[4] In February 2005 the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded the VCH £3,374,000 to fund the England's Past for Everyone project, which ran from September that year until February 2010.[5] Progress[edit] The first VCH volume was published in 1901, and publication continued slowly throughout the 20th century, although in some counties it has come to a halt, especially during the First World War[4] and again in the 1970s. Some inactive counties have recently been reactivated. There are now more than 230 VCH volumes, with around three new volumes published per year. Each is published with a red cover, and they are therefore sometimes known as "the big red books". When the Institute of Historical Research published a short history of the project to mark the 75th anniversary of taking it over, it was titled The Little Big Red Book.[6] A special edition Jubilee book was published in 2012, A Diamond Jubilee Celebration 1899-2012.[1] A map showing the publication status appears on the VCH website.[7] Structure and content of the county histories[edit] From its inception, responsibility for writing the volumes was delegated to local editors for each individual county. The county editors traditionally worked under the direction of a general editor, following a uniform format and style. In general, the histories begin with one or more volumes of general studies of the county as a whole, including major themes, such as religious history, agriculture, industries, population (with summary tables of decennial census totals 1801–1901), and an introduction to and translation of the relevant section of Domesday Book.[8] These volumes are followed by others consisting of detailed historical surveys of each Hundred, Wapentake
Wapentake
(discussed in separate Riding (country subdivision) volumes) and Ward (country subdivision), parish by parish. At first, ancient ecclesiastical parishes formed the unit of investigation, but "since the mid-1950s the VCH parish is the civil parish, the modern successor of the ancient parishes or of townships within them. Large towns are dealt with as a whole, including, since the 1960s, built-up areas of adjoining, formerly rural parishes.[8]:18–19 Under the original plan, each county, in addition to its general and topographical volumes, was to have a genealogical volume containing the pedigrees of county families. Genealogical volumes were published in a large folio format for Northamptonshire
Northamptonshire
(1906) and Hertfordshire (1907), but the research costs were found to be excessive, and this side of the project was discontinued.[3]:156–57 Completed county histories[edit] Some of the county histories have been completed. For each of these, the number of volumes published and the date of completion is as follows:

Bedfordshire
Bedfordshire
(3 volumes + index) 1914 Berkshire
Berkshire
(4 volumes + index) 1927 Buckinghamshire
Buckinghamshire
(4 volumes + index) 1928 Cambridgeshire
Cambridgeshire
(10 volumes + index) 2002 Hampshire
Hampshire
(5 volumes + index) 1914 Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire
(4 volumes + index) 1923 Huntingdonshire
Huntingdonshire
(3 volumes + index) 1938 Lancashire
Lancashire
(8 volumes) 1914 Rutland
Rutland
(2 volumes + index) 1936 Surrey
Surrey
(4 volumes + index) 1914 Warwickshire
Warwickshire
(8 volumes + index) 1969 Worcestershire
Worcestershire
(4 volumes + index) 1926 Yorkshire
Yorkshire
(general volumes) (3 volumes + index) 1925 Yorkshire
Yorkshire
(North Riding) (2 volumes + index) 1925

Counties in progress[edit] For each uncompleted county history on which work is continuing (i.e.: "active" in VCH terminology), the number of volumes published and the dates of the most recent are as follows:

From a VCH frontispiece, 1911

Cornwall
Cornwall
(1 volume in 2 parts) 1925 County Durham
County Durham
(4 volumes) 2005 Cumberland
Cumberland
(2 volumes) 1968 Derbyshire
Derbyshire
(2 volumes) 1907 Essex
Essex
(10 volumes) 2001 Gloucestershire (11 volumes) 2016 Herefordshire
Herefordshire
(1 volume) 1975 Kent
Kent
(3 volumes) 1974 Leicestershire
Leicestershire
(5 volumes) 1988 Middlesex
Middlesex
(12 volumes) 2004 Northamptonshire
Northamptonshire
(5 volumes) 2002 Nottinghamshire
Nottinghamshire
(2 volumes) 1970 Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire
(16 volumes) 2011 Shropshire
Shropshire
(11 volumes) 1985 Somerset (10 volumes) 2010 Staffordshire
Staffordshire
(14 volumes) 2013 Sussex
Sussex
(11 volumes) 1987 Westmorland
Westmorland
(0 volumes) Wiltshire (18 volumes) 2011 Yorkshire
Yorkshire
(East Riding) (7 volumes) 2002 Yorkshire
Yorkshire
(West Riding)

Dormant counties[edit]

Logo of VCH publisher, Constable & Co. Ltd

Cheshire
Cheshire
(6 volumes) 2005 Devon
Devon
(1 volume) 1906 Dorset
Dorset
(2 volumes) 1968 Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire
(1 volume) London (1 volume) 1974 Norfolk
Norfolk
(2 volumes) 1975 Suffolk
Suffolk
(2 volumes) 1975 Yorkshire
Yorkshire
(general volumes & city of York) (4 volumes)

Counties with no published volumes[edit]

Northumberland

(produced its own, non-VCH, history in 15 volumes, published by the Northumberland
Northumberland
County History Committee, completed in 1940) General editors[edit]

William Page (General Editor 1904–34) Louis Francis Salzman (General Editor 1934–49) Ralph Pugh (General Editor 1949–77) Christopher Elrington
Christopher Elrington
(General Editor 1977–94) Christopher Currie (General Editor 1994–2000)[9] Anthony Fletcher (General Editor/Director 2000–2005)[10] John Beckett (General Editor/Director 2005–2010)[10] Elizabeth Williamson (Executive Editor 2010–2014)[10] Richard Hoyle (General Editor/Director 2014–2016)[11]

Notable county editors[edit]

William Page (Somerset and General Editor) Peter Ditchfield (former Berkshire
Berkshire
editor) Mary Lobel (former Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire
editor) J. Horace Round (former Essex
Essex
editor) John William Willis-Bund (former Worcestershire
Worcestershire
editor)

Genealogical editor[edit]

Oswald Barron (general editor of the genealogical volumes for Northamptonshire
Northamptonshire
and Hertfordshire)

See also[edit]

Gloucestershire Victoria County History Somerset Victoria County History Wiltshire Victoria County History Cambridge County Geographies English county histories Historiography of the United Kingdom

References[edit]

^ a b Beckett, John; Bristow, Matthew; Williamson, Elizabeth (2013). The Victoria County History
Victoria County History
1899-2012: a Diamond Jubilee celebration (2nd ed.). London: University of London, Institute of Historical Research. ISBN 9781905165919.  ^ a b c Lewis, Christopher (1989). "The Victoria County History". Particular Places: an introduction to English local history. London: British Library. ISBN 0712301755.  ^ a b Powell, W. Raymond (2001). John Horace Round: Historian and Gentleman of Essex. Chelmsford: Essex
Essex
Record Office. ISBN 1-898529-19-1.  ^ a b c d Lewis, Chris (2008). "William Page (1861–1934), general editor of the Victoria County History
Victoria County History
1902–34". Making History.  ^ "England's Past for Everyone". Victoria County History. Retrieved 30 March 2014.  ^ "75 years at the IHR". Victoria County History. Retrieved 24 May 2009.  ^ "VCH Counties". Victoria County History. Retrieved 24 March 2013.  ^ a b Tiller, Kate (1992). English local history: an introduction. Stroud: Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-86299-958-8.  ^ "Dr Christopher Currie, MA, D Phil (Oxon), FRHistS, FSA". IHR. Retrieved 25 February 2015.  ^ a b c "Contributors to the VCH". IHR. Retrieved 25 February 2015.  ^ "Professor Richard Hoyle appointed as VCH Director & General Editor". IHR. Retrieved 25 February 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

Beckett, J.V. (2008). "Local history, family history and the Victoria County History: new directions for the twenty-first century". Historical Research. 81: 350–65. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2281.2007.00426.x.  Beckett, J.V. (2009). "The Thoroton Society and the Victoria County History". Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire. 113: 119–36.  Beckett, J.V. (2009). "Libraries and the Victoria County History". Library & Information History. 25: 217–26. doi:10.1179/175834809x12489648790016.  Beckett, J.V. (2011). "Writing Hampshire's History: the Victoria County History, 1899–1914". Proceedings of the Hampshire
Hampshire
Field Club & Archaeological Society. 66: 201–214.  Beckett, J.V. (2011). "W.G. Hoskins". Midland History. 36: 115–127. doi:10.1179/004772911x12956221816321.  Beckett, J.V. (2011). "W.G. Hoskins". Transactions of the Leicestershire
Leicestershire
Archaeological and Historical Society. 85: 165–191.  Beckett, J.V. (2011). "Topography and landscape history: the role of the Victoria County History". Landscape History. 32: 57–65. doi:10.1080/01433768.2011.10594659.  Beckett, J.V. (2011). "The Victoria County History
Victoria County History
in Devon, 1899–1910". Devonshire Association Report and Transactions. 143: 283–310.  Beckett, J.V. (2011). "The Cumberland
Cumberland
and Westmorland
Westmorland
Antiquarian and Archaeological Society and the Victoria County History". Transactions of the Cumberland
Cumberland
& Westmorland
Westmorland
Antiquarian & Archaeological Society. 3rd ser. 11: 207–225.  Beckett, J.V. (2011). "Canon Thomas Taylor of St Just and the Victoria County History in Cornwall, 1899–1938". Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall: 31–44.  Beckett, J.V.; Watkins, Charles (2011). "Natural History and Local History in Late Victorian and Edwardian England: the contribution of the Victoria County History". Rural History. 22: 59–87. doi:10.1017/s0956793310000142.  Cooper, Janet (1992). "The Victoria County History". In Neale, Kenneth. Essex
Essex
Heritage: essays presented to Sir William Addison as a tribute to his life and work for Essex
Essex
history and literature. Oxford: Leopard's Head. pp. 15–30.  Currie, C.R.J. (1999). "Victoria County History". History Today. 49 (12): 28–30.  Dunning, R.W. (2006). "The Victoria County History
Victoria County History
of Cornwall: an uncertain start". Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall: 14–21.  Elrington, Christopher (1992). "The Victoria County History". The Local Historian. 22: 128–37.  Hackett, Mel; Whitston, Kerry (2008). The Little Big Red Book: a celebration of 75 years of the Victoria County History
Victoria County History
at the Institute of Historical Research. Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer. ISBN 978-1-904356-14-1.  Pugh, R.B. (1971). "The Victoria County History". British Studies Monitor. 2: 15–23. 

External links[edit]

Wikisource
Wikisource
has original text related to this article: Victoria County History

Official website Parish index VCH texts at British History Online England's Past for Everyone (Heritage Lottery Funded local history project run by the Victoria County History, September 2005 to February 2010) The Victoria County History
Victoria County History
at Boydell & Brewer Professor Christopher Elrington
Christopher Elrington
– Daily

.