The IHR Blog |

British History Online


April photo competition winner

by

For this month’s competition the voting among my colleagues gave us a shortlist of three. In no particular order the two runners-up were:

Tudor Barlow’s picture of the cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral

This will be a familiar setting to many but the light in this photograph is evocative. The bright light of the open doorway at the end of the cloisters conveys just the numinous effect that Gothic architecture, presumably, aspires to achieve.

Our other runner up was Disused Slate Mine by stephen bolton1. A photo which I find gritty and melancholy but also eerie – or, if you like, earthy and unearthly at the same time.

After discussion, however, we chose as our winner, Little Moreton Hall by alan tunnicliffe

Like Gloucester Cathedral, this a well known setting, but the photograph is quite unsentimental, perhaps because of the tripartite sky: part lowering, part blue and part irradiated. The context of the house seems to be in harmony with the building, both being somewhat overgrown and chaotic.

Everyone is welcome to add their photos the the British History Online group on Flickr. We are picking our favourite every month in order to celebrate our 10th anniversary. The winning photo will, with permission, appear on the BHO homepage.

Copyright and images, part 2

by

The Permissions Controller for the digitisation of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England, Rachael Lazenby, wrote an introductory guide to copyright for images, drawing on her experience on this project and on other work that she has done. Originally appearing on our British History Online blog, part one of Rachael’s guide was reposted here; the rest of the guide is reposted below.

Copyright and images – an introductory guide, part 2

Rachael Lazenby

Identifying copyright holders, orphan works and due diligence

Frequently publishers will include images which have appeared in other publications. The modern convention is to include a caption with the image which makes it very clear who the copyright holder is and who should be approached for permission to reproduce an image. However, the older the publication, the more likely it is that such information will not be found in a caption. The RCHME volumes, the earliest of which date from 1913, contained copyright holder information in a variety of places. This included the illustration lists, footnotes, and the preliminary materials of the texts as well as in illustration captions. When considering using images from older works it is advisable to check in all these places for information on the copyright holder if the original publisher no longer exists or does not retain rights information on older publications. Internet searches, local history societies and local museums may also be able to help in establishing the copyright status of historical images.
Inevitably there were some images included in the original RCHME volumes whose owners could not be traced. Such images are known as orphan works. Different organisations take different stances on how to approach such images and every organisation will have advice on what constitutes due diligence in attempting to establish a copyright holder.(1) A record should be kept of all efforts made in trying to trace the current rights holder.
Crown Copyright
Crown Copyright applies to images produced by certain UK government bodies and lasts for 50 years. The National Archives has a very informative section on this topic, including a list of bodies whose images now fall under Crown Copyright. Many images which are protected by Crown Copyright can be used if a link appears with the image directing the reader to a ‘click-to-use’ licence.
Fair use and Enforcement
So far I’ve tried to avoid distinguishing between reproducing images for a limited circulation (such as a dissertation) and a wide circulation (such as a paper published in a journal). Theoretically copyright law covers any reproduction of a work regardless of the circulation or the commercial value of the work. Of course in practical terms the greater the commercial value of an image the higher the likelihood that the copyright holder may take legal action to prevent or punish any unauthorised use of their image.
Fair use is a concept which enables students and researchers to provide examples and quotations of other people’s works in essays and papers without first obtaining permission from the originator. Generally speaking quotations tend to pose fewer problems than images and providing they appear in the body of a text and for educational, critical or journalistic purposes, they can be used without express permission.  Most educational institutions and publishers have a legal team who will be able to advise on any concerns you may have about reproducing images. In addition universities will often provide guidance on matters of copyright in student handbooks.
It is important to note that while fair use can be used as a legal defence, copyright is a complex issue, and copyright holders have the right to protect their work from any unauthorised use.(2) Following the principles of fair use will not necessarily prevent a case from going to court. The internet has made it easier to reproduce images without the consent of the copyright holder and the laws covering copyright are constantly evolving in response to new cases.(3) Although the copyright of images of buildings belongs to the photographer or artist, an interesting case went through the French courts a couple of years ago concerning the Eiffel Tower. Photos of the tower at night were deemed to be protected by copyright law as the lighting display constitutes a work of art.(4)
I hope this post has shed some light on the issues surrounding copyright of images. A few key points to take away with you are:
  • Copyright arises in a work, it does not have to be registered.
  • Publicly accessible content is not necessarily in the public domain.
  • Record your efforts to trace copyright holders if you intend on reproducing orphan works.
  • Stay within the guidelines of ‘fair use’ but bear in mind it will not always prevent legal action.
  • Check with your institution’s legal department if you have any doubts about content you intend to use.

 (5)

(1) This link will redirect to information on the European memorandum of understanding on orphan works http://www.ifrro.org/content/i2010-digital-libraries retrieved on 22/2/2013.
(2) http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/p01_uk_copyright_law retrieved on 22/2/2013
(3) The difficulties of dealing with such issues are discussed in these articles on policing the internet:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-17111041  retrieved on 22/2/2013 

(4) http://www.eiffel-tower.com/the-eiffel-tower-image-and-brand/image-rights-the-eiffel-tower-brand.html

(5) St Swithin’s Church London Stone. This is a Wren church destroyed in the Blitz and not restored. 

Image Copyright – An Introduction

by

The Permissions Controller for the digitisation of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England, Rachael Lazenby, has written an introductory guide to copyright for images, drawing on her experience on this project and on other work that she has done. This is part one of Rachael’s guide; the second part will follow shortly. Rachael’s posts were originally published on the British History Online blog, but we thought them so useful that they should be republished here.

Copyright and images – an introductory guide

Rachael Lazenby


I’ve recently been working on the project to digitise the inventory volumes of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England (RCHME). Some of the volumes are already live and can be accessed here.

My role has been to identify all images which were not provided by the Commission and seek permission to reuse them on British History Online. A full report on the methodology I devised for this work along with the results is freely available and is published here.

The work has touched upon many issues relating to copyright which are common when using images in research and so I thought it would be useful to explain some of the basics of copyright, how it affects images in particular, along with providing links to various resources available online.

Lammerside Castle, Wharton (1)


Definition of Copyright

Where better to start than with a definition of what copyright actually is:

the exclusive and assignable legal right, given to the originator for a fixed number of years, to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material (2)

A key feature of copyright is that it arises in a work the moment it is created by the originator. It does not have to be registered in the way that a patent might be for a process or a product. It is also important to note that ideas are not subject to copyright – it is the expression of ideas that is subject to copyright. This expression might be a photograph, a piece of text, a musical score or a painting. Copyright may be assigned by the originator to another party or waived by the copyright holder in certain circumstances.

Wherever an originator chooses to display or publish their work the copyright of the work remains with them unless they explicitly assign it to another party or until a fixed number of years have passed after their death. Copyright law varies country by country but in the UK a work remains in copyright until 70 years after the death of the creator at which point it passes into the public domain.

Misconceptions about the right to use images, especially those appearing online, abound.  One of the most common is that if an image does not appear with the copyright symbol and a named copyright holder it is not protected by copyright law. Although such copyright notices can help identify a copyright holder, images without this symbol are still protected by copyright law.  An image that is publicly accessible is still protected by copyright and an image being publicly accessible does not mean it is in the public domain. Copyright protects a work from any unauthorised use. Even if the reproduction of an image is not commercial, for example if it appears in a blog post, it is not legal without the permission of the originator.

Reproducing art and photographs

Cases involving paintings and drawings which are owned by museums can be complex. For example, should you wish to reproduce a photo of a painting by a living artist, you will have to gain permission from the artist, in addition to the permission of the organisation who owns the photo. It is frequently the case that photography is not permitted in museums and galleries, but if you have taken the photo yourself, and the composition is artistic and takes in more than just the painting itself, it may not be necessary to obtain permission. If an artist is deceased you may have to approach their estate for permission to reproduce an image if they have died within the last 70 years.

There are some organisations which specialise in sourcing paintings and drawings and for a fee will make available a high resolution scan of the work as well as arranging permission for an image to be used. Some UK based examples include the Mary Evans Picture Library specialising in historical images, and the Bridgeman Art Library.(3) Many national and university libraries also have extensive image collections which they are making available to students, researchers and commercial parties (although there are often charges for the service).

A great source of historical images with no known copyright restrictions can be found on the Flickr website: http://www.flickr.com/commons/ Their Creative Commons area is a project making freely available content from museums and galleries across the world. They also encourage tagging of the 
images to increase information available about the content.


The Ley, Woebley (4)

Licences
For images which have previously appeared in print or online, it is usually the publisher who can advise on who the copyright holder is, and how permission to reproduce an image can be obtained. The originator of an image might have transferred copyright to a publisher permanently, usually termed ‘assigning copyright’, or they might have granted permission for it to be used only in a specific publication in which case it is referred to as granting a licence.

Licences to use images in publications including online projects will state where and how images can be used. So for example to illustrate this article I can use an image which is now owned by English Heritage, as they have given us permission to use images to promote the digitisation of the RCHME volumes. I could also use any images which are now out of copyright. I cannot use images in this post which have been cleared for use in the volumes by outside parties as permission does not extend to any other use of the image.


(5)



1. Lammerside Castle, Wharton. Royal Commission on Historic Monuments of England, Westmorland (1936) plate 80 http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=120920 retrieved 23/2/2013
2. http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/copyright retrieved 7/12/12
3. http://www.bridgemanart.com/  http://www.maryevans.com/
4. The Ley, Woebley. Royal Commissions on the Historical Monuments of England, Herefordshire: Volume 3 North West (1934) plate 176 http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=124854 retrieved 23/2/2013
5. Plan of Ramsey Abbey. Royal Commissions on the Historical Monuments of England, Huntingdonshire (1926) p. 208 http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=123804 retrieved 23/2/2013

 

March photo competition winner

by

Our photo competition is ongoing through the summer, when we will be celebrating British History Online‘s 10th anniversary. As with last month, a great variety of images were added our BHO Flickr group.

This month we shortlisted three, not because the quality of the others was low but because of the way the voting broke down (staff of IHR Digital vote for their favourites, which then produces a cut-off point for the shortlist). Members of the BHO Working Group then met to discuss the shortlist and choose a final winner.

Again, the shortlisted photographers have kindly sent us copies of their photographs and permission to post them here.

Our two runners-up, in no particular order, were joycemacadam‘s Scotney Castle LR:

The judges admired the composition of this photograph, with the inclusion of quite a lot of surroundings giving pertinent information about the building’s context.

Secondly we have Bewcastle Ancient Cross by karenwithak:

This was an interesting picture, the ancient cross somewhat out of place among the more conventional gravestones, and yet expressing the same commemorative purpose.

After much discussion, we chose as April’s winner Derelict signal box in Stamford, by uplandswolf.

Derelict signal box will appear on the BHO homepage gallery for a month.

Keen readers of this blog may remember that uplandswolf was a runner-up in last month’s competition, so congratulations again to him. The judges like the unusual and dilapidated subject, a timely reminder of our industrial heritage, alongside the just-visible modern railways station. It turns out that there is an online database of signal boxes, from which you can find that, for example, the Stamford example was built in 1893.

Image Copyright: An Introduction (2)

by

Our Permissions Controller for the digitisation of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England, Rachael Lazenby, has written an introductory guide to copyright for images, drawing on her experience on this project and on other work that she has done. Part one of Rachael’s guide appeared here; the rest of the guide is below.

Copyright and images – an introductory guide, part 2

Rachael Lazenby

 

Identifying copyright holders, orphan works and due diligence
Frequently publishers will include images which have appeared in other publications. The modern convention is to include a caption with the image which makes it very clear who the copyright holder is and who should be approached for permission to reproduce an image. However, the older the publication, the more likely it is that such information will not be found in a caption. The RCHME volumes, the earliest of which date from 1913, contained copyright holder information in a variety of places. This included the illustration lists, footnotes, and the preliminary materials of the texts as well as in illustration captions. When considering using images from older works it is advisable to check in all these places for information on the copyright holder if the original publisher no longer exists or does not retain rights information on older publications. Internet searches, local history societies and local museums may also be able to help in establishing the copyright status of historical images.
Inevitably there were some images included in the original RCHME volumes whose owners could not be traced. Such images are known as orphan works. Different organisations take different stances on how to approach such images and every organisation will have advice on what constitutes due diligence in attempting to establish a copyright holder.(1) A record should be kept of all efforts made in trying to trace the current rights holder.
Crown Copyright
Crown Copyright applies to images produced by certain UK government bodies and lasts for 50 years. The National Archives has a very informative section on this topic, including a list of bodies whose images now fall under Crown Copyright. Many images which are protected by Crown Copyright can be used if a link appears with the image directing the reader to a ‘click-to-use’ licence.
Fair use and Enforcement
So far I’ve tried to avoid distinguishing between reproducing images for a limited circulation (such as a dissertation) and a wide circulation (such as a paper published in a journal). Theoretically copyright law covers any reproduction of a work regardless of the circulation or the commercial value of the work. Of course in practical terms the greater the commercial value of an image the higher the likelihood that the copyright holder may take legal action to prevent or punish any unauthorised use of their image.
Fair use is a concept which enables students and researchers to provide examples and quotations of other people’s works in essays and papers without first obtaining permission from the originator. Generally speaking quotations tend to pose fewer problems than images and providing they appear in the body of a text and for educational, critical or journalistic purposes, they can be used without express permission.  Most educational institutions and publishers have a legal team who will be able to advise on any concerns you may have about reproducing images. In addition universities will often provide guidance on matters of copyright in student handbooks.
It is important to note that while fair use can be used as a legal defence, copyright is a complex issue, and copyright holders have the right to protect their work from any unauthorised use.(2) Following the principles of fair use will not necessarily prevent a case from going to court. The internet has made it easier to reproduce images without the consent of the copyright holder and the laws covering copyright are constantly evolving in response to new cases.(3) Although the copyright of images of buildings belongs to the photographer or artist, an interesting case went through the French courts a couple of years ago concerning the Eiffel Tower. Photos of the tower at night were deemed to be protected by copyright law as the lighting display constitutes a work of art.(4)
I hope this post has shed some light on the issues surrounding copyright of images. A few key points to take away with you are:
  • Copyright arises in a work, it does not have to be registered.
  • Publicly accessible content is not necessarily in the public domain.
  • Record your efforts to trace copyright holders if you intend on reproducing orphan works.
  • Stay within the guidelines of ‘fair use’ but bear in mind it will not always prevent legal action.
  • Check with your institution’s legal department if you have any doubts about content you intend to use.

 (5)

(1) This link will redirect to information on the European memorandum of understanding on orphan works http://www.ifrro.org/content/i2010-digital-libraries retrieved on 22/2/2013.
(2) http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/p01_uk_copyright_law retrieved on 22/2/2013
(3) The difficulties of dealing with such issues are discussed in these articles on policing the internet:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-17111041  retrieved on 22/2/2013 

(4) http://www.eiffel-tower.com/the-eiffel-tower-image-and-brand/image-rights-the-eiffel-tower-brand.html

(5) St Swithin’s Church London Stone. This is a Wren church destroyed in the Blitz and not restored. 

Our First Photo Winner

by

In January we launched a photo competition on Flickr to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of British History Online. Because we began mid-way through January, we decided to judge all of January and February’s submissions together (there were nearly 200) and pick our first winner. We can’t offer a prize, except that the winning photo will be displayed on the BHO homepage for a month, with credit and a link to the photograph on Flickr, of course.

Here I’m going to show the shortlisted photographs, whose owners have kindly sent us low-resolution versions and permission to post them here. Other photographs, which didn’t make this shortlist, were also admired by the judges. Our thanks to everyone who entered.

The competition will be running again next month, so there is still time to enter if you’d like to. Simply post read the rules we’ve set out in the BHO Flickr group and add your photos.

First we’d like to give honourable mention to a photo which was entered by a staff member and so not eligible to win. Fade Away is by Alex Craven, who is the Assistant County Editor for the VCH, Wiltshire series; it shows the cloisters of Gloucester Cathedral:

There were five shortlisted photos. Our four runners-up, in no particular order, were:

The Palladian Bridge, in Prior Park, Bath, by shinytreats, a picture whose compositional balance seems in keeping with the style of its subject:

Then we have Normanton Church 4 by uplandswolf. The church as a focus of interest in its eerie landscape is emphasised by the people outside it:

You may not recognise this building from the unusual perspective, unless you are a cathedral roofs specialist. This is Norwich Cathedral: the Crossing by White Stilton - a striking and evocative image:

An urban perspective on historic buildings was provided by Mark Kirby5 in his photograph of St Vedast in the City of London. The judges admired the strong verticals in this picture:

That meant that our first winner was this unusual juxtaposition, in a photo of St Clement’s Church, West Thurrock, by Whipper_snapper. Congratulations to Whipper_snapper, our first winner, and to our runners up.

You can see from the photos posted here what a difficult choice we had. Please do have a look at all the photos in the BHO group, and even add some more if you wish.

Image Copyright: An Introduction (1)

by

Our Permissions Controller for the digitisation of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England, Rachael Lazenby, has written an introductory guide to copyright for images, drawing on her experience on this project and on other work that she has done. This is part one of Rachael’s guide; the second part will follow shortly.

Copyright and images – an introductory guide

Rachael Lazenby


I’ve recently been working on the project to digitise the inventory volumes of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England (RCHME). Some of the volumes are already live and can be accessed here.

My role has been to identify all images which were not provided by the Commission and seek permission to reuse them on British History Online. A full report on the methodology I devised for this work along with the results is freely available and is published here.

The work has touched upon many issues relating to copyright which are common when using images in research and so I thought it would be useful to explain some of the basics of copyright, how it affects images in particular, along with providing links to various resources available online.

Lammerside Castle, Wharton (1)


Definition of Copyright

Where better to start than with a definition of what copyright actually is:

the exclusive and assignable legal right, given to the originator for a fixed number of years, to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material (2)

A key feature of copyright is that it arises in a work the moment it is created by the originator. It does not have to be registered in the way that a patent might be for a process or a product. It is also important to note that ideas are not subject to copyright – it is the expression of ideas that is subject to copyright. This expression might be a photograph, a piece of text, a musical score or a painting. Copyright may be assigned by the originator to another party or waived by the copyright holder in certain circumstances.

Wherever an originator chooses to display or publish their work the copyright of the work remains with them unless they explicitly assign it to another party or until a fixed number of years have passed after their death. Copyright law varies country by country but in the UK a work remains in copyright until 70 years after the death of the creator at which point it passes into the public domain.

Misconceptions about the right to use images, especially those appearing online, abound.  One of the most common is that if an image does not appear with the copyright symbol and a named copyright holder it is not protected by copyright law. Although such copyright notices can help identify a copyright holder, images without this symbol are still protected by copyright law.  An image that is publicly accessible is still protected by copyright and an image being publicly accessible does not mean it is in the public domain. Copyright protects a work from any unauthorised use. Even if the reproduction of an image is not commercial, for example if it appears in a blog post, it is not legal without the permission of the originator.

Reproducing art and photographs

Cases involving paintings and drawings which are owned by museums can be complex. For example, should you wish to reproduce a photo of a painting by a living artist, you will have to gain permission from the artist, in addition to the permission of the organisation who owns the photo. It is frequently the case that photography is not permitted in museums and galleries, but if you have taken the photo yourself, and the composition is artistic and takes in more than just the painting itself, it may not be necessary to obtain permission. If an artist is deceased you may have to approach their estate for permission to reproduce an image if they have died within the last 70 years.

There are some organisations which specialise in sourcing paintings and drawings and for a fee will make available a high resolution scan of the work as well as arranging permission for an image to be used. Some UK based examples include the Mary Evans Picture Library specialising in historical images, and the Bridgeman Art Library.(3) Many national and university libraries also have extensive image collections which they are making available to students, researchers and commercial parties (although there are often charges for the service).

A great source of historical images with no known copyright restrictions can be found on the Flickr website: http://www.flickr.com/commons/ Their Creative Commons area is a project making freely available content from museums and galleries across the world. They also encourage tagging of the 
images to increase information available about the content.


The Ley, Woebley (4)

Licences
For images which have previously appeared in print or online, it is usually the publisher who can advise on who the copyright holder is, and how permission to reproduce an image can be obtained. The originator of an image might have transferred copyright to a publisher permanently, usually termed ‘assigning copyright’, or they might have granted permission for it to be used only in a specific publication in which case it is referred to as granting a licence.

Licences to use images in publications including online projects will state where and how images can be used. So for example to illustrate this article I can use an image which is now owned by English Heritage, as they have given us permission to use images to promote the digitisation of the RCHME volumes. I could also use any images which are now out of copyright. I cannot use images in this post which have been cleared for use in the volumes by outside parties as permission does not extend to any other use of the image.


(5)



1. Lammerside Castle, Wharton. Royal Commission on Historic Monuments of England, Westmorland (1936) plate 80 http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=120920 retrieved 23/2/2013
2. http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/copyright retrieved 7/12/12
3. http://www.bridgemanart.com/  http://www.maryevans.com/
4. The Ley, Woebley. Royal Commissions on the Historical Monuments of England, Herefordshire: Volume 3 North West (1934) plate 176 http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=124854 retrieved 23/2/2013
5. Plan of Ramsey Abbey. Royal Commissions on the Historical Monuments of England, Huntingdonshire (1926) p. 208 http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=123804 retrieved 23/2/2013

James Bettley on RCHME, Essex

by

This post first appeared on our British History Online blog. British History Online is currently making freely available all the inventory volumes of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England:

Following the publication of the RCHME, Essex volumes on British History Online, the architectural historian James Bettley has kindly written a guest post about the value, and limitations, of these volumes. Dr Bettley’s revision of the Pevsner Architectural Guide to Essex was published by Yale University Press in 2007; he was also one of the contributors to the Victoria County History of Essex, Volume 11, published in 2012.

The Inventory of Historical Monuments in Essex

The Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England) covered Essex in four generous volumes, published between 1916 and 1923. Essex was larger then than it is now – the south-west corner was cut off in 1965, to become the London boroughs of Barking, Newham, Havering, Redbridge, and Waltham Forest – but nonetheless the number of pages devoted to the county is a fair indication of the quantity of interesting buildings still to be found within its borders.

The fieldwork was carried out before the outbreak of the First World War, so it would not be unreasonable to question the value of an inventory that is now nearly a century old. But for those of us who work daily with historic buildings – and for those who only very occasionally wish to find out about an individual building – the Essex volumes remain an invaluable source of information. The descriptions of the major buildings, especially churches, are more detailed than Pevsner’s could be, and because they are written in fluent English, with a minimum of specialist terminology, and follow a standard format, they are easier to follow than the often impenetrable descriptions of the later statutory lists. Nearly all the parish churches, and selected secular buildings, are accompanied by a plan that shows the different phases of building, and there are numerous photographs taken in what was arguably the heyday of architectural photography. The maps are still often the best way of locating an individual building. And for those who wish to know more, the investigators’ original notes, often with additional plans and photographs, can be consulted at the National Monuments Record in Swindon.

Of course, the volumes have what seem to us now to be shortcomings. The brief was to cover buildings ‘from the earliest times to the year 1700’, extended in 1913 to 1714; any building (or any alteration to an older building) after that date was usually just described as ‘modern’. Moreover, works of this kind are only as good as the current state of knowledge, and timber-framed houses (especially plentiful in Essex) were assumed to be 17th, or sometimes late 16th, century, unless otherwise stated; most are now known to be considerably earlier. But that does not detract from the overall value of the descriptions.

The volumes have also become monuments in themselves. They record buildings that no longer exist, such as Little Horkesley Church

Little Horkesley, the Parish Church of St. Peter & St. Paul

destroyed by a stray bomb in 1940; or the interior of Castle Hedingham, before it was ravaged by fire in 1918. Many of Essex’s country houses are of later date than 1714, but Albyns, Belhus, Hallingbury Place, Marks Hall, Shortgrove and Weald Hall

all now demolished, are described and illustrated as they were at their period of greatest extent.

The circumstances surrounding the compiling of the volumes are also of historic interest, as Rachael Lazenby’s post mentions. But there was another aspect to the work that was not covered in the surprisingly interesting Report that was printed at the beginning of the first Essex volume. In the Report one of the investigators, Captain R. E. M. Wheeler, is congratulated on his commission in the Royal Field Artillery. Wheeler was to become better known as the archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler, and in his biography Still Digging (1955) he gives an account of his first day’s probationary work in Essex with the senior investigator, J. Murray Kendall, in 1913. They met (with their bicycles) at Liverpool Street Station and began with what Kendall called ‘a Little Reinforcement’ – a ‘double whisky in new milk’. This was followed with similar reinforcement upon arrival at Dunmow, before starting work at Stebbing, where Wheeler’s realisation that he knew nothing about the items he was being asked to describe was consoled by a third reinforcement at the White Hart. What with that, and the outbreak of war the following year, it seems miraculous that the volumes ever appeared at all.

James Bettley

James Bettley on RCHME Essex

by

Following the publication of the RCHME, Essex volumes on British History Online, the architectural historian James Bettley has kindly written a guest post about the value, and limitations, of these volumes. Dr Bettley’s revision of the Pevsner Architectural Guide to Essex was published by Yale University Press in 2007; he was also one of the contributors to the Victoria County History of Essex, Volume 11, published in 2012.

The Inventory of Historical Monuments in Essex

The Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England) covered Essex in four generous volumes, published between 1916 and 1923. Essex was larger then than it is now – the south-west corner was cut off in 1965, to become the London boroughs of Barking, Newham, Havering, Redbridge, and Waltham Forest – but nonetheless the number of pages devoted to the county is a fair indication of the quantity of interesting buildings still to be found within its borders.

The fieldwork was carried out before the outbreak of the First World War, so it would not be unreasonable to question the value of an inventory that is now nearly a century old. But for those of us who work daily with historic buildings – and for those who only very occasionally wish to find out about an individual building – the Essex volumes remain an invaluable source of information. The descriptions of the major buildings, especially churches, are more detailed than Pevsner’s could be, and because they are written in fluent English, with a minimum of specialist terminology, and follow a standard format, they are easier to follow than the often impenetrable descriptions of the later statutory lists. Nearly all the parish churches, and selected secular buildings, are accompanied by a plan that shows the different phases of building, and there are numerous photographs taken in what was arguably the heyday of architectural photography. The maps are still often the best way of locating an individual building. And for those who wish to know more, the investigators’ original notes, often with additional plans and photographs, can be consulted at the National Monuments Record in Swindon.

Of course, the volumes have what seem to us now to be shortcomings. The brief was to cover buildings ‘from the earliest times to the year 1700’, extended in 1913 to 1714; any building (or any alteration to an older building) after that date was usually just described as ‘modern’. Moreover, works of this kind are only as good as the current state of knowledge, and timber-framed houses (especially plentiful in Essex) were assumed to be 17th, or sometimes late 16th, century, unless otherwise stated; most are now known to be considerably earlier. But that does not detract from the overall value of the descriptions.

The volumes have also become monuments in themselves. They record buildings that no longer exist, such as Little Horkesley Church

Little Horkesley, the Parish Church of St. Peter & St. Paul

destroyed by a stray bomb in 1940; or the interior of Castle Hedingham, before it was ravaged by fire in 1918. Many of Essex’s country houses are of later date than 1714, but Albyns, Belhus, Hallingbury Place, Marks Hall, Shortgrove and Weald Hall

all now demolished, are described and illustrated as they were at their period of greatest extent.

The circumstances surrounding the compiling of the volumes are also of historic interest, as Rachael Lazenby’s post mentions. But there was another aspect to the work that was not covered in the surprisingly interesting Report that was printed at the beginning of the first Essex volume. In the Report one of the investigators, Captain R. E. M. Wheeler, is congratulated on his commission in the Royal Field Artillery. Wheeler was to become better known as the archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler, and in his biography Still Digging (1955) he gives an account of his first day’s probationary work in Essex with the senior investigator, J. Murray Kendall, in 1913. They met (with their bicycles) at Liverpool Street Station and began with what Kendall called ‘a Little Reinforcement’ – a ‘double whisky in new milk’. This was followed with similar reinforcement upon arrival at Dunmow, before starting work at Stebbing, where Wheeler’s realisation that he knew nothing about the items he was being asked to describe was consoled by a third reinforcement at the White Hart. What with that, and the outbreak of war the following year, it seems miraculous that the volumes ever appeared at all.

James Bettley

Richard Wade on Herefordshire

by

Recently we published Volume One, Volume Two and Volume Three of RCHME, Herefordshire. Richard Wade, Archivist of the Herefordshire Archive Service, has kindly written this guest post for us, explaining the significance of these volumes:

The Inventory of Historical Monuments in Herefordshire

In 1908, The Royal Commission on Historical Monuments for England were appointed to undertake a massive project to survey all the pre-1714 buildings, monuments and architectural features surviving in England at the time. The survey is of immense value as it recorded buildings that existed prior to the destruction inflicted by the Second World War and subsequent reconstruction and development. They cover many diverse items including buildings from manor houses to churches, castles and city cottages and include features such as fireplaces, bells, chests, ceiling decorations, doors and porches and effigies. The work of the surveyors was compiled into published volumes. There are three volumes for Herefordshire, which were first published in 1931: volume one covers the South West of the County, volume two covers the North West of the county and volume three covers the east of the county.

Unlike some counties, many of the buildings and features described still survive in Herefordshire. Hereford itself has the 17th Century Old House and the 15th Century Booth Hall and there is a Black and White trail around the north of the county where several of the villages, such as Dilwyn, are still predominantly still made up of Black and White Timbered Houses. There also several Iron Age Hill Forts around the county, such as those at Dinedor and Credenhill, which are described in detail in the volumes with diagrams. As many of the features have survived, the volumes form less of a record of what has been lost as in other counties. The inventories do however; still draw peoples’ attention to items that they perhaps know very well and maybe even walk past everyday without stopping to think about their history or significance. The inventories give detailed accounts of each parish with the monuments in it, highlighting those items of particular interest. They provide much background information to anybody wishing to visit these monuments, and in the case of churches for example, show plans of the churches and which parts of the churches date from which periods. The volumes also highlight features you may not otherwise necessarily see, such as capitals in the chancel arches in Garway and Rowlestone Churches. It is important that these features are described and people can appreciate them, when at the present time several churches and chapels have been made redundant and are difficult to access and others such as All Saints in Hereford now have Cafes in, which have dramatically changed their appearance inside. I am sure many developments have also taken place in some of the private homes that are described.

The area which has probably changed most is Hereford itself, and the volumes give information by street of all the pre-1714 buildings that existed at the time, many of which are no longer in existence and all of which there are brief histories given of.

Much attention is paid to the features of Hereford Cathedral, but there are also detailed notes on Dore Abbey and Croft Castle and the Feathers Hotel and Market Hall in Ledbury all feature.

As a result, the volumes are a valuable resource for anybody studying local or architectural history in the county and it is of great benefit to have them made available online.

Richard Wade
Archivist
Herefordshire Archive Service

< Older Posts

Newer Posts >