Where to find out about Somerset's history in print



Printed books about Somerset and its localities, printed national records and histories, newspapers, magazines, journals, illustrations, maps, and other materials about Somerset can all be found at the Somerset Heritage Centre in Taunton. Other materials will be found at local libraries in the county and at several University libraries.

National materials are to be found in the National Archives at Kew and the British Library in London. The latter also has an extensive newspaper library at Colindale.

English Heritage’s National Monuments Record Centre and Library is in Swindon.

The Somerset Archaeological Society based in the Somerset Heritage Centre in Taunton has an extensive collection of books on national and local history including volumes of the Victoria County History for several western counties and a substantial and up-to-date collection of record society volumes and local periodicals covering most of the country. In addition the Somerset Studies Library holds directories, newspapers, parish magazines and other small printed items relating to local communities in Somerset.

The main source for the county’s history is the Victoria County History of Somerset. Volumes will be found in Somerset Heritage Centre and the main libraries in the county as well as major national and university libraries. So far 10 volumes have been published and others are in preparation. The first two volumes offer a general history of important topics such as economic, religious, and natural histories of Somerset including tables of census figures and a translation of the Somerset sections of the Domesday Survey. Nine volumes are now available on-line together with draft histories not yet published and photographs. For more information and a gazetteer of all the places in Somerset covered by the volumes see our publications page.

Other important printed sources are the volumes of the Somerset Record Society, the Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological Society, Somerset and Dorset Notes and Queries, the London Gazette, and he Historical Manuscripts Commissions, which includes a report on the early documents of Wells Cathedral.

For early history the calendars of public records are extremely important. They include Charter, Close, Fine and Patent Rolls, the Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, the Acts of the Privy Council, State Papers, Inquisitions Post Mortem, Book of Fees, Feudal Aids, Curia Regis Rolls, Ancient Deeds, Committees for the Advance of Money and Compounding, Papal Letters, and Treasury Books; the Record Commission volumes of Elizabethan Chancery Proceedings, the Taxation of Pope Nicholas and the Valor Ecclesiasticus; the volumes of the Pipe Roll Society and the Rolls Society notably the Red Book of the Exchequer.

For modern history the Parliamentary papers are invaluable as they include detailed reports on most aspects of community life often with detailed appendices of evidence on farming, education, charity and industry. There are many local Acts of Parliament and the printed Journals often Commons and the Lords contain useful information. Bodies like the Charity and Poor Law Commissioners produced comprehensive reports.

Other important printed sources for Somerset’s history are listed below.

Bibliotheca Somersetensis, ed. Green
Collinson, History of Somerset
Gresswell, Forests and Deer Parks
Somerset Protestation Returns
, ed. Howard and Stoate
Somerset Parishes, ed. Humphreys
Somerset Parochial Documents, ed King
Tate, Somerset Enclosure Awards
Phelps, History of Somerset (1836)
C. & J. Greenwood, Somerset Delineated (1822)
Somerset Regional Survey, 1934
Somerset Regional Survey, 1st review, 1964

Early Charters of Wessex, ed. H. P. R. Finberg
Grundy, Saxon Charters of Som.
Domesday Geography of SW. England ed. Darby and Welldon Finn
Domesday book: Somerset ed. Thorn
Domesday People; Descendants, Keats-Rohan,

D. Underdown, Civil War in Som.
Hearth Tax, ed. Dwelly
T. Barnes, Somerset 1629-40
J. B. Bentley and B. J. Murless, Somerset Roads
J. Billingsley, General View of Agriculture of Som. (1798)
Acland and Sturge, The Farming of Som. (1851)

Calamy Revised, ed. A. G. Matthews
Catholic Religion in Som. (1826)
Convocation of Canterbury records
Crippen, Nonconformity in Som.
English Episcopal Acta, x. Bath and Wells 1061--1205
A. Gordon, Freedom after Ejection
Original Records of Early Nonconformity ed. G. L. Turner
Places of Worship notified to Registrar-General 1867
J. Murch, Presbyterian and General Baptist Churches in the West of England (1835)

Report of the Commission on Ecclesiastical Revenues (1835)
Report of the Somerset Congregational Union (1896)
Somerset Incumbents, ed. Weaver
Walker Revised, ed. A. G. Matthews
Western Baptist Association Letters, 1769

J. B. B. Clark, Account of Church Education among Poor (1846)
Charitable Donations 1787—8, {published 1816 }
Educational Enquiry Abstract, (1835)
Education of Poor Digest, (1819)
M. Fuller, W. Country Friendly Societies
National Society Inquiry, 1846—7
Children and Women in Agriculture (1868-9)
Wells Wills, ed. Weaver