About VCH Shropshire

The Victoria County History of Shropshire is part of a major national local history project known as the Victoria History of the Counties of England, more commonly known as the ‘Victoria County History’ or simply the ‘VCH.’ Founded in 1899, it is without doubt the greatest publishing project in English local history. Its rededication by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the year of her Diamond Jubilee, signifies that today, it continues to play a leading role in promoting English local history. Reputed for producing its famous ‘Big Red Books’, it now publishes popular paperbacks, such as, the ‘England’s Past for Everyone’ series and recent ‘VCH Shorts’ – single parish volumes, and increasingly provides online resources through the freely accessible website: ‘British History Online’. Maintaining the format originally devised in Victorian England, the VCH continues to study the nation through the locality in the 21st century and is a valuable resource for family historians and genealogists.

In-line with the overall VCH plan general volumes have been published for Shropshire. The first published in the pre-war period was on natural history, early man, the Romano-British period, Domesday, ancient earthworks, industries and forestry. A county committee was established in Shropshire in 1960, work resuming in 1961 funded by the County Council with the second covering ecclesiastical and religious history, schools, sport, Domesday and administrative and political history. Three topographical volumes appeared between 1968 and 1998, giving accounts of the history of each parish by topic and organised by hundred. For instance, these volumes have covered twenty-two parishes in central Shropshire, stretching from the Severn Valley up to the South Shropshire Hills; an area between the north of the River Severn and the Weald Moors, covering most of the East Shropshire coalfield, two parishes from the borough of Wenlock and eight from Bradford hundred contributing territory to Telford new town; and a volume encompassing Wenlock, Upper Corvedale the Stretton Hills and the Upper Division of Munslow Hundred. There has also been a thematic volume on agriculture with contributions by leading agrarian historians namely, Peter Edwards and Anne Kettle.

By comparison with other Midland counties, Shropshire is well endowed with red book volumes having no fewer than eight volumes. Shropshire is one of a number of counties in which good progress was made with local authority support, but with the withdrawal of that support, work ceased in 2002. The latest volume Shropshire VI: Shrewsbury was the first new red book since Shropshire X: Wenlock, Upper Corvedale and the Stretton Hills published as long ago as 1998, and is the first of two volumes devoted to the county town of Shrewsbury. It was originally planned as a single volume in 1991 by the former long-standing county editor, George Baugh. It presents a survey of the town’s history; the second volume will, by contrast, focus on individual topics and themes in greater detail.

It is hoped to restart work on Shropshire XII Part I: Newport and the Weald Moors which was part complete when the last salaried member of the VCH Shropshire staff retired. Future red books, which remain the aspiration of the VCH, could cover the small market towns and rural parishes of north Bradford hundred and the town of Ludlow and its surrounding rural parishes. Interest has also been expressed from researchers interested in writing further shorts.

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