Writing for the VCH

Local history is the study of places and communities. It dates from the time of the great antiquarian county histories from the sixteenth century onwards.

The VCH was founded in 1899 with the intention of writing a new and up to date history of each English county and, within each county, each historic parish. So far work has been completed in thirteen counties, and more than 3,250 parish studies have been completed.

A ‘parish’ for VCH purposes is a place which became a civil parish in 1866, so separate parish histories should normally be prepared for every later 19th-century civil parish. In exceptional circumstances (where an industrial village straddles civil parish boundaries, for example) it may be appropriate to deviate from the norm; such cases should be discussed with Central Office when parish histories for the area are being planned.

In southern and Midland counties the forerunners of the civil parishes of 1866 were usually ancient parishes; in the North Midlands and much of northern England, the forerunners were, in many cases, townships. Where the territory being treated in an article did not coincide with an ancient parish its status and relation to the ancient parish should be made clear in the introductory paragraph. In multi-township parishes where individual townships became civil parishes in 1866, a separate brief introductory account of the ancient parish as a whole should be prepared, and the account of the parish church should be given in the article for the civil parish in which it stands.

The parish history template outlined in the following pages is geared primarily towards rural parishes, including quasi-urban settlements (industrial villages or suburban and commuter settlements, for example). The framework of chapter headings will often also be appropriate (perhaps in an adapted form) for the histories of smaller towns, including smaller medieval market towns, though the balance of content will prob