About VCH Herefordshire

The first volume of the Herefordshire VCH, containing introductory articles on natural history, archaeology, Domesday book, political history and agriculture was published by the central VCH staff in London in 1908. Shortly afterwards, financial and other difficulties prevented the continuation of work on the county. Now, although Local and Family History has never been more popular, people in Herefordshire are hindered by the lack of a VCH, providing detailed histories of towns and villages.

To address this lack, the Herefordshire Victoria County History Trust  (Registered Charity Number 1070427) was established in 1998. Patrons have included the Lord Lieutenant of Herefordshire, the Bishop of Hereford, Sir Roy Strong and Mr Lawrence Banks, CBE, DL, George Clive, Esq., and Mr James Hervey-Bathurst, CBE. The current chairman of the Trust is Dr Janet Cooper (see below). Since 1998 the trustees have worked to publicise the VCH in the county, mainly by issuing a twice-yearly Newsletter which is circulated widely, and to obtain local funding for a Herefordshire Victoria County History. In 2005 the Trust was part of a successful bid by the central Victoria County History to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a new, national project: England's Past for Everyone (EPE). The Herefordshire part of the project was supported by Herefordshire County Council and by the University of Gloucestershire. EPE was thus able to fund work on two new paperback books and a website of supporting material on Ledbury.

The Trust wants to build on the foundation of the EPE project, including its community involvement with local history societies, volunteers and schools, to achieve its aim of writing the history of the whole of Herefordshire, parish by parish. The plan is to produce VCH 'Red Books' or EPE-style paperbacks, but town or village histories will also be published on-line as they are completed.

Staff Profiles

a Photograph of Professor Charles Watkins Charles Watkins, Herefordshire Volunteer

Charles Watkins took over as Chairman of the Herefordshire VCH at the AGM in May 2016. He is Professor of Rural Geography at the University of Nottingham and undertakes research and teaching on the history of landscape and forestry. His research on Herefordshire, where he was brought up, has focused on landscaping in the 18th and 19th centuries. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and a trustee of the Sherwood Forest Trust.

He has published widely on rural and ecological mattters, ranging from rights of way and game management to the National Farm Survey of England and Wales, 1941-43 and 19th-century arboreta. His recent publications include Trees, Woods and Forests (paperback 2016); England's Changing Woods & Forests: From wildwood to managed landscapes (with Keith Kirby, 2015) and Uvedale Price (1747-1829): Decoding the Picturesque(2012). He has also edited Price's correspondence for the Walpole Society.





Janet Cooper Janet Cooper, Newsletter

Janet Cooper trained as a medieval historian then worked for the Victoria County History Trust, firstly as Assistant Editor for Oxfordshire, then for twenty years as County Editor for Essex. Her research interests include church dedications. On her retirement to Herefordshire she became involved with VCH Herefordshire Trust  and was its chairman until 2016. She also acted as Volunteer Grroup Leader for the EPE project. She remains a Trustee of VCH Herefordshire and is Editor of the Newsletter, Herefordhire Past.

A photograph of Dr James Bowen James Bowen, Consultant Editor

James Bowen will take up the role of Contributing Editor to research and write the history of Colwall in January 2017.

He is an historian/historical geographer with research interests in the environmental, economic and social history of the British Isles, specifically rural agrarian history, landscape studies, local and public history. He is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate based in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Liverpool, working  on a project 'Spaces of Experience and Horizons of Expectation: the implication of extreme weather events, past present and future'. The project investigates extreme weather events in the United Kingdom since 1700 and his research has already brought him to the Herefordshire Archives and Records Centre. He is a native of nearby Shropshire, though has ancestors in Eastnor and Pixley.

Contact details:  j.p.bowen@liverpool.ac.uk or on 07800 530416 (mobile).