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‘Locality and Region’ – the Victoria County History seminar at the IHR

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220px-Edmundbeingmartyred05Adam Chapman is Editor and Training Coordinator at the Victoria County History office in London. In between bringing VCH volumes to press and creating training material for volunteers his own research is into the Wales and England in the later middle ages.

The Victoria County History as part of the Institute for Historical Research has its own seminar series, with the theme of ‘Locality and Region’ held at Senate House, London on alternate Tuesdays .The idea is that the seminar welcomes all those who are interested in the relationship between local and national history and who wish to share ideas, viewpoints and work in progress.

Some of the speakers are contributors to the VCH, but most are not, and this allows them to make some points about the work I do for the VCH and about what we publish. The VCH has been around for so long that one speaker described early volumes (available on British History Online – http://www.british-history.ac.uk/catalogue.aspx?gid=153 ) as ‘a primary source for local history’. She had a point; one of the unique features of the VCH is that its histories go right up to the ever moving present. Since the VCH started in 1899 many of the volumes published before the First World War, for example record communities, buildings and local economies that have changed beyond all recognition and it is only right that the VCH gives researchers an opportunity to present their work.

This is one way in which the VCH makes a contribution to the wider academic world, and part of my work with the VCH is to be the lead convenor. As you might expect, the content of these seminars is extremely varied; this year so far our speakers have spoken about such diverse subjects as nineteenth century industrial communities in Sevenoaks (and how this leafy commuter town appears in Marx’s Das Kapital), the cult of St Edmund in East Anglia in the middle ages, the effects of the Reformation on Sussex churches and Medieval Welsh Law.

While the seminar is open to anyone with an interest, obviously it is not convenient for everyone to come to London to be in the audience, so we have started to offer selected seminars as podcasts so that anyone can listen whenever they want. Only two are available so far, and these could hardly be more diverse, with Louise Rayment discussing her current work on networks of scholars and musicians in a 16th century London parish, and Simon Draper speaking about the development of surnames in Britain. You can find them here together with the programme for the remainder of this year. [http://www.victoriacountyhistory.ac.uk/events/locality-and-region-seminar-2013-14]