England's Past for Everyone Wiltshire

Overview

The Wiltshire project, focused on the west Wiltshire parish of Codford (an amalgam of the ancient parishes of Codford St Mary, Codford St Peter and Ashton Gifford), and was the first of the 15 projects to be completed and the first of the paperback series to be published by Phillimore. Proposed as a project for an HLF application as early as 2000, the Codford project acted as the pilot for the England’s Past for Everyone HLF application, granted in 2005.

The delicate funding situation in Wiltshire, namely the requirement for the Victoria County History to turn its attention to West Wiltshire and the desire within the county for the continued production of parish histories, led to the selection of Codford, a small village in the Wylye Valley as the focus of the pilot project. Mentioned in Domesday Book and containing within the parish, prehistoric archaeology, an intricate carved Anglo-Saxon stone, two parish churches and the sites of substantial 20th century military camps, Codford offered the opportunity to generate a varied and interesting parish history which introduced the detailed research approach of the Victoria County History to a wider audience.

In 2002, VCH Wiltshire Assistant Editor Carrie Smith, began the research into a parish history of Codford, while local historian John Chandler began producing material for Key Stage 1 and 2 learning, and coordinating a local history group of volunteers. Despite a hiatus between 2003 and 2005 while the HLF application for the EPE project was being processed (during which time Carrie Smith moved on to a new post with the Gloucestershire VCH), Codford was included within the final EPE project design, with a one year project to be led by John Chandler. This short project would bring all of the previous work together, delivering the three EPE outputs of a paperback book, an interactive website and a schools project.

Publication

The Codford paperback went through many incarnations during its long gestation, including; Codford: Change and Continuity in a Wiltshire Village, Codford’s Place in History and Codford and the Wider World, before being launched, Codford: Wool and War in Wiltshire (ISBN: 978-1-86077-441-6), on 21 April 2007. The book was launched at a local history fair held in Codford Village Hall.

As was hoped when Codford was selected for the pilot project, the published paperback represented the result of a multi-disciplinary study in which the parish history, researched and written by Carrie Smith to VCH guidelines, was reshaped by John Chandler to appeal to a popular audience. The paperback incorporated a study of the village’s buildings, produced by the VCH Architectural Editor Elizabeth Williamson, a detailed survey of a 19th century industrial buildings, conducted by Dorothy Treasure and Clive Carter of the Wiltshire Buildings Record, and a phased map of the development of the village and over 70 postcards and archive photographs uncovered by local historian and volunteer Sally Thomson.

As the first of the paperback series, Codford: Wool and War in Wiltshire was also the test bed for a number of the key components of the paperback series: the layout and design of the volumes, the ‘how to’ panels and the maps drawn to a new specification for this series.

Schools Resources

The school project, like the research for the paperback, also formed part of the pilot project which began in 2002. Coordinated by John Chandler, schools material was web mounted onto the Victoria County History website www.historyfootsteps.net, under the heading ‘History Footsteps’. This initial education material was aimed at Key Stage 1 and 2 pupils and saw the generation of resource packs and exercises around the three themes of Travelling, Farming and Housing – with one specific exercise examining the history of the plot of land now occupied by Codford School’s playground. All of this material was web mounted by 27 June 2005, two months before the EPE project officially commenced.

As with the research conducted by Carrie Smith, the education material produced by John Chandler for the pilot project formed an integral part of the one year Wiltshire EPE project. Having received feedback that the History Footsteps material was too complex for Key Stage 2 learning, the schools material was revised to match the changing focus of the paperback and have a more Wiltshire-wide focus, extending its potential application. The Wylye School (including Steeple Langford School) were keen to work in partnership with EPE to deliver the schools project.
The unit was trialled among 150 Key Stage 1 and 2 pupils (ages 5 – 11) at Wylye Valley School over a six week period (one morning a week) during the autumn term 2006. Each mixed-age group took part in a historical site visit, including water meadows, Iron Age houses, parish churches, farms and classroom-based workshops. Pupils also built their own models of an Iron Age hut; together with the teachers, the pupils then built a large-scale replica in the school grounds.

All of the resources created during the Codford schools project are available on our Schools Learning Zone (/schoolswww.englandspastforeveryone.org.uk)