By H. P. R. Finberg

[Extracted from Finberg, H. P. R. and V. H. T. Skipp Local History: Objective and Pursuit David and Charles, Newton Abbot, 1967, pp. 25-44.]


IN 1908 the Board of Education issued a notable circular on the teaching of history in secondary schools. Notable because it appears to have been the earliest state paper to accord local history a place in the national system of education. For centuries local history had been a favourite pursuit of elderly antiquarians, but now it was to be pressed into service for the instruction of the young. "It is essential," said the Board, "that in each school attention should be paid to the history of the town and district in which it is situated." (1)

This pronouncement did not come quite as a bolt from the blue. It had been preceded, and in all probability inspired, by a meeting of the Historical Association, at which one speaker after another had supported a plea for the teaching of local history in schools. Their advocacy, however, stopped well short of a disinterested and full-blooded enthusiasm for the subject. "Of course we all agree," said Professor Hearnshaw - and only one of the speakers who followed him did not agree - "that local history must be used in a way entirely subsidiary." Subsidiary, that is, to the teaching of national history

The young must not be encouraged to flounder in "the bogs and sands of local detail," but they might find history tedious if their lessons were not enlivened by frequent references to things they could see around them or near their homes. "A lamp for the guidance and entertainment of the learner:" such was the function of local history according to its leading advocate, and elsewhere in his address he described it as "a storehouse of vivid and pregnant t illustrations of the general course of national history." (2) This limited conception of its range was officially adopted by the Board of Education in the circular already quoted. The Board did not ask for separate courses of instruction in local history: all it required of teachers was that they should make " constant reference to the history of the locality as illustrative of the general history."

Thus local history makes its modest entry into the schools as "the sugar on the unpalatable but necessary pill that has to be administered to the young." (3) A parallel may be found in the use that great historians have made of local colour: one recalls, for instance, how Macaulay beguiles his readers with a graphic evocation of nineteenth-century Torquay, contrasting its "crowded marts" and "luxurious pavilions" with the naked shore that William of Orange approached in 1688. It is not at all surprising that the sugared pill should have found favour with the teaching profession. A teacher at Battle, in Sussex, let us say, would be well placed for making his pupils understand the Norman Conquest: he could show them the hill up which the Normans charged, the very spot where Harold stood. By so doing, he would transform their merely notional apprehension of the conquest into a picture of real people and familiar scenes. The remains of Battle Abbey would also illustrate the doings of Henry VIII in at least one important aspect. On the other hand, if the teacher wished to speak of Magna Carta or the Reform Act, he might not find much illustrative material in Battle. As a mirror of the national history, almost any village or town one cares to name is likely to be incomplete. "Certain limitations must be admitted; it is no use looking to Derbyshire, an inland county, for illustrations of Elizabethan maritime enterprise which belongs properly to the West Country. And although Derbyshire offers Some of the most tragic incidents of Mary Queen of Scots' life, little of importance will be found there about the Wars of the Roses or the pretenders of Henry VII's reign." These admissions, it will be noted, are made by a teacher who is prepared to ransack a whole County for his illustrations. (4)

From a different point of view the same preoccupation with national history was expressed some years ago when Dr G. H. Trevelyan represented local history as a sort of little harbour-boat in which a man is to find his sea-legs before launching out on the broad ocean of national history. (5) It is a training ground for historians of high rank, and as soon as they have acquired some proficiency they are encouraged to sally forth in search of better worlds to conquer. Against this notion scores of local antiquaries rise from their graves to protest, admirable and devoted scholars, many of them, whose highest ambition was to erect a worthy memorial of their own parish, town, or county.

Some of these learned men would conceivably have welcomed the definition of their undertaking propounded not long ago by Mr R. B. Pugh. In Mr Pugh's eyes local history is not just a sugared pill for young learners, nor a gymnasium in which promising historians may develop their muscles; it is a specialized technique of historical research. He defines it as "a method of ascertaining certain facts about the history of England by the minute examination of those areas smaller than the realm that combine to make the realm." In the same paragraph he likens it to the proceeding of the scientist who t studies natural phenomena through a microscope. (6) Parcelling up the map of England into conveniently small administrative or topographical units, the local historian focuses attention on one of them in the hope of discovering new facts, or new light on old facts, and thereby enriching the history of England as a whole. In much the same way, the archaeologist who excavates a particular Roman villa hopes to enlarge our knowledge of Roman Britain.

Now it is certainly true that if the story of every parish in England could be told in full, we should know much more about the English past than we do; but the aggregate would still not be a history of England. That is not what Mr Pugh contends; he would almost certainly agree that in this case the whole is something other than the sum of its parts. He means, I take it, that all national histories are perforce written selectively. Faced with countless phenomena, the historian must bring them as best he can into manageable compass. He therefore selects those which impress him as significant, and arranges them into some sort of pattern. In doing so, he runs the risk of overlooking some local occurrence which, once perceived, necessarily upsets or alters the whole pattern. (Some years ago, if I may illustrate the point from my own experience, I investigated a dispute which revolved around an obscure village in east Devon. By so doing, I learnt more about the genesis of the civil war in Stephen's reign than could be gathered from all the standard histories put together (7) Again, the historian's choice of significant facts will be dictated as often as not by his own predilections. He may write as a partisan or propagandist; or-what very often comes to the same thing-he will tell the whole tale from the standpoint of the central government. Yet things seen from Westminster have a way of looking very different in the provinces. As the latest historian of High Wycombe has remarked: "We are in danger of falsifying history if we fail to realize that for the people of places like Wycombe their own borough was still the foreground of their view of the world, even in times of great national crisis." (8) The local historian, on the other hand, with his feet planted firmly on the ground, has a clearer and truer view, within his limited horizon, than the national historian surveying a vast field from his elevated watch-tower. He may supply important information which his more exalted colleague has overlooked; at the very least he provides a useful corrective, by exhibiting in all its diversity a past too complex to be securely imprisoned in generalized statements.

All this is true, and it will be seen that Mr Pugh gives local history a rather more dignified position among historical studies than the other writers I have quoted. But his ideas and theirs have one characteristic in common: an over-riding concern with national history .This is not surprising in an age like the present. We who enjoy the somewhat expensive privilege of living in the twentieth century inevitably find the national state looming large in our thoughts. Even when it is not plunging us into total war, it pursues, controls, and threatens us at every turn, taking toll of all our pleasures, saddling us with a burden of debt that we can never shake off, and, when we die, confiscating a handsome slice of anything we leave behind. But while none of us can forget it for a moment, the historian at least should be on his guard against permitting it to become an obsession. For, seen in historical perspective, any existing national state, our own included, is a thing of yesterday; and will anybody looking round the world we live in venture to prophesy that it still has a long life in front of it? To quote an American historian: "We are approaching the end of one of the great epochs of human history and the beginning of another. The period which is ending has lasted somewhat more than four centuries. It may be called the era of great national states. ...In military, diplomatic, and some political aspects it may still be proper to think of Europe chiefly as a system of great national states. But in nearly every other aspect it is plain that the Age of Nations is approaching its end. The nation is ceasing to be the leading form of the world's structure; organizations transcending national boundaries are becoming more and more numerous and effective." (9) This was written as long ago as 1912, and nothing that has happened since diminishes its force.

Here is one form of bias, then, which the historian should try to correct. It is often an instinctive bias, born of natural affection for the land of one's birth. When one thinks of King Lear, and Tom Jones, and Pride and Prejudice, and the chapter-house at Wells, and Habeas Corpus, and Stilton cheese, and Cox's Orange Pippins, one may well feel glad to have been born in England; but neither this feeling nor the less agreeable attentions of the income-tax collector should blind us to the fact that other societies, both smaller and larger than the community of the realm, have had life-histories of their own. National history occupies an intermediate position between local and what for want of a better word may be called ecumenical history. Hence anyone who treats it as the be-all and end-all of historical study finds himself under fire today from two directions. On the one flank are the critics who contend, quite rightly, that the history of this country makes very little sense unless the narrator constantly depicts England as part of a larger whole. On the other side we hear what has been called the "Leicester school" of historians declaring that smaller communities than the nation, local communities, have a history which deserves to be studied for its own sake. (10)

We approach here a conception which differs radically from those examined so far, in that it treats local history not as an ancillary discipline but as one subsisting in its own right. Those who take up this position - and without more ado let me avow that I am one of them - draw a distinction between local history per se and national history localized. The latter is what Mr Pugh seems to have in mind when he speaks of "areas smaller than the realm that combine to make the realm" and recommends their study as "a method of ascertaining certain facts about the history of England." (Mr Pugh is editor-in-chief of the Victoria County Histories; does he really consider the six-score volumes of that massive work to be nothing more than a footnote to somebody's yet unwritten History of England?) The "Leicester school," on the other hand, insists that the local historian should concern himself not with areas as such, but with social entities. It declares that his business is "to re-enact in his own mind, and to portray for his readers, the Origin, Growth, Decline, and Fall of a Local Community." (11)

What do we mean here by 'community'? An American scholar who examined ninety-four definitions of the term found that they agreed on only one point: namely, that it was something to do with human beings. (12) But his enquiry was conducted in a sociological context; for historical purposes the idea need not perplex us. Let us say that a community is a set o people occupying an area with defined territorial limits and so far united in thought and action as to feel a sense of belonging together, in contradistinction from the many outsiders who do not belong. This definition obviously fits the national community. It also fits, or has fitted in the past, many a smaller social aggregate, both rural and urban. True, on most men's lips today the word foreigner means a citizen of another country, but historically it means any outsider, a man from another town or from the next village, An incident recorded in 1833 illustrates vividly though not in most pleasing light, the exclusive spirit which formerly animated two market towns in Devonshire barely fifteen miles apart. A tipsy carter on his way back from Okehampton to Tavistock tried to ford the river instead of crossing the bridge. The day was stormy, and he soon found himself in extreme danger from one of the sudden swells to which moorland streams are subject. Jumping from his horse on to a large rock that still kept its head above water, he called out for help. A passer-by fetched a rope, but finding it impossible to throw it far enough, he asked a couple of Okehampton men who came up to lend a hand. But after taking a good look at the carter, one of them said: " 'Tis a Tavistock man; let un go." So they let him go, and the man of Tavistock was drowned. (l3)

It would not be hard to find instances of similar antagonism between rural communities. In 1439 it was decreed that the men of Isleworth in Middlesex should beat the bounds of their parish on Monday or Tuesday in Rogation week, and their neighbours of Twickenham on the Wednesday , experience having shown that if the processions took place on the same day they usually ended in bloodshed. (14) On the other hand, there have been striking instances of co-operation between neighbouring communities. Describing the process by which nearly a hundred square miles were reclaimed from the Lincolnshire fens during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Dr Hallam observes: "Most of this reclamation was a communal process. ..the co-operation of comparatively free communities amongst themselves." (15) Again, the Cinque Ports acted with complete unanimity in their long-drawn struggle to retain control of the East Anglian herring trade, though here, it is true, the enemy was the 'foreign' borough of Yarmouth. (16) Even a shire could feel and act as a self-conscious unit. In 1313 "the community of the whole county" of Kent made petition to the justices in eyre "that they might be allowed their customs which they had ever been used to have" customs, they said, "which were not in accordance with the common law ." And the justices answered that the king would not have their customs taken away from them, but they had better put them in writing. (17) Many and various have been the factors making for the cohesion of the local community. One of the most powerful, before the religious upheavals of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, was the unity of belief and worship that found its rallying-point in the parish church. For some time after that unity broke down, the young of all ranks continued to learn their letters at the local grammar school. On the secular side, fealty to the lord of the manor provided the community with a recognized head; and his court served as the local organ of justice and administration. In the borough craft guilds and merchant guilds looked after the townsmen's economic interests. The earliest formal grant of incorporation, that of Coventry in 1345, empowers the burgesses thenceforth to have "communitatem inter se," a community amongst themselves. Outside the boroughs thousands of villages and hamlets depended for their bread, meat, and ale on the sustained co-operation of common-field husbandry .

Few of these things, it must be allowed, are in evidence .today. We have moved away from a world of small, intensely self-conscious local units into the world of megalopolis, or what the town-planner calls conurbations. Hence we are in danger of forgetting something which has played an immense part in the social experience of mankind. It may be difficult for us to conjure up a picture of the largely self-contained local community in the fullness of its life and vigour, but the measure of our difficulty is also the measure of our need to have its history put on record, for unless that is done a large and important tract of human experience will have passed beyond our ken.

It should be noted that the theme proposed here for local history possesses a time-scheme or chronology of its own, distinct from that of national history. For, leaving on one side the possibility that some of our towns and villages may have had a continuous existence from a Roman-British or a still more ancient starting-point, it is undeniable that many of them are older than the realm; they date, that is to say, from a time long before the kings of Wessex established a united English monarchy. On the other hand, there have been casualties. Quite a number of settlements recorded in Domesday Book vanished from the map a century or two later, and the enclosures of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries wiped out hundreds more. Then there are the little market towns which from their date of origin in the twelfth or thirteenth century down to the era of stage-coaches flourished more or less vigorously, then perhaps resisted all too successfully the coming of the railway, became backwaters, and sank into a death-like trance, from which the later advent of motor transport mayor may not have reawakened them. To counterbalance these losses there have been new births: eighteenth-century spas like Cheltenham, nineteenth-century railway towns like Swindon, twentieth-century 'garden cities'.

Thus the subject-matter of local history, as understood by the Leicester school, is not identical either in space or time with the subject-matter of national history. It follows that these are two different studies: the one is not a part of the other. The history of Mellstock or Barchester is not a mere fragment splintered off from the history of England: it deals with a social entity which has a perfectly good claim to be studied for its own sake.

To overthrow this claim, it would be necessary to establish one or other of three propositions. The opponent should convince us that the history of the English local community has been sufficiently well studied already; or that it is not worth studying; or that it cannot be studied at all. But when Mr Pugh writes: "English local history ...is not or ought not to be an end in itself;" when Professor David Douglas, from the presidential chair of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, assures his hearers that the distinction sometimes made [ !] between what he calls general (meaning national) and local history is "completely arbitrary," and not only arbitrary but "meaningless," (18) they are not arguing against the Leicester thesis: they are just ignoring it. The only writer who has condescended to argue the matter is Mr W. R. Powell, who recently propounded three objections. (19) In the first place, he says, rural and urban communities survive to this day all over England; it is therefore premature to speak of their .decline and fall. Secondly, England from Saxon times to the present day has been an administrative unity, and "the actions of the central government have influenced the lives of people living in all parts of the country," so that the local community cannot usefully be studied in isolation. Thirdly, "in some, perhaps many, cases the story of the community can never be told, because the essential records are missing." Are we then to confine our attention to those communities which have left abundant records, and ignore the rest?

Before considering these objections, it is pertinent to enquire what Mr Powell understands by a local community. "No human community," he says, "can be truly said to have disintegrated while it includes people who are born, go to school, work, play, make love, worship, and die." This seems to land us back again in the sociological quagmire where the only thing that can be safely predicated of a community is that it consists of human beings. It is obvious that Mr Powell is not really envisaging anything like the closely integrated social formation which has been an ever-present, not to say obsessive, reality for so many thousands of people through the centuries.

In any case, the first objection rests on a misunderstanding. When we define the local historian 's theme as embracing not only the origin and growth of a local community, but also its decline and fall, we are defining the theme at its fullest possible extension. We are not asking the historian to wait until a given community is dead before writing its history, any more than we are saying that nobody should write a history of England because England is not finished yet. "Origin and growth" may well be a sufficient and satisfying theme. Some even closer limitation of period can be accepted without the least demur. We are not saying no to the writer who should offer us a finely executed history of Elizabethan Ipswich or Georgian Weymouth or Victorian Exeter .

The second objection is identical with the reason Professor Douglas gave for his peremptory denial of independence to the local historian, namely, that he "can only make his work of general value if he constantly remembers that it is part of a larger whole." But if the local historian needs this reminder, so too does the national historian. What sense will the history of England make unless the narrator constantly remembers that England was once part of a united Western Christendom and is today a member of the Atlantic power-bloc? To recognize this, however, is not to admit that the history of England has no significance except as a chapter in the history of Europe. We may picture the family, the local community, the national state, and the supra-national society as a series of concentric circles. Each requires to be studied with constant reference to the one outside it; but the inner rings are not the less perfect circles for being wholly surrounded and enclosed by the outer .

The objection that for many local communities the "essential records" may be missing makes one wonder what records or class of records Mr Powell regards as essential. The smallest village has a name; so have its farms and fields; and modern place-name study has shown how much can be learnt about the pattern of early settlement from this source. The geological and geographical data are never missing. The church and perhaps other buildings will contribute their testimony: Nor are written records likely to be wholly lacking. There will usually be an entry in Domesday Book; later, there will be parish registers, tax assessments, lawsuits; later still, census returns, directories, and newspapers. The sum-total of these materials may not produce a book of three hundred pages, but then not every community deserves or requires such extended treatment. The intrinsic interest of the theme, as well as the availability of materials, will dictate the proportions to be observed. (20) In any case, it will be time to consider what the local historian shall do next when the classic histories of our towns and villages have been written. At present all but a very few of them are still to come.

There are towns which, despite their modest size, have exhibited in a state of high perfection the most characteristic elements of our economic, religious, parliamentary, and civic history. A market-centre founded perhaps in the twelfth century on the domain of some bishopric or abbey, secularized three hundred years later, sending one or more representatives to parliament from the reign of Edward I to the Reform Act, experiencing the full force of the religious upheaval in the sixteenth century and of the subsequent divisions between church and chapel, struggling more or less successfully for municipal autonomy, earning its livelihood in twenty or a hundred different ways, and all the while preserving an ethos of its own, marked enough to differentiate it from towns which have passed through similar vicissitudes elsewhere: an urban community of this sort will present its would-be historian with an exacting and variegated theme, by no means lacking in drama. So too, in perhaps a quieter strain, will the rural community which from a date of origin far back in the Old English period to the age of parliamentary enclosure tilled its common fields, worshipped in its parish church untroubled by dissenting murmurs until the disciples of Wycliffe or Fox or Wesley broke up its unity of belief, and accepted more or less contentedly the dominance of a manorial lord until modern taxation drove the squire from his ancestral home. If these are to some extent typical patterns, we have also, by way of contrast, communities with eccentric, highly individual records: Barrow-in-Furness, for example, a new industrial town which the local bishop described in 1872 as being "one of the miracles of our time;" Stourport, the almost accidental off-spring of a canal; or, again, Cleethorpes, where a poverty-stricken group of oyster-fishers, converted to Methodism by a follower of Wesley, was almost immediately transformed by the vogue for sea-bathing into a community of well-to-do boarding-house keepers, without abating one jot of its Methodism.

The theme, then, need not be dull, and for the student of humanity is certainly not insignificant. If the historian is to do it justice, what equipment must he possess?

In the first place, he should have a sufficient working knowledge of national and even international history, for we have agreed that the local community, even at its strongest, is subject to the most various external pressures, and its history cannot be understood without reference to them. In other words, the local historian must be at once a good Englishman and a good European. Nor can he safely close his eyes to the history of local communities other than his own, for without some knowledge of them he will be incapable of recognizing the distinctive features of the tale he sets out to unfold. We are requiring him to be well read in more than one branch of historical literature.

Next, let us wish him a lively topographical sense. Gone for ever, let us hope, are the days when a man could suppose it possible to write local history without ever stirring outside libraries and muniment-rooms. A pair of legs not easily tired, an observant eye, some acquaintance with geology and architecture, are necessary items of the equipment. For every community will have left traces of its history on the changing face of England, and it is part of the historian's business to decipher that unwritten record, "to construe" - in Maitland's phrase - "the testimony of our fields and walls and hedges."

Although field-work is not the least important part of his research, it will bear full fruit only when conjoined with research among private muniments and public archives. A vast and seemingly endless range of documentary materials will claim attention, beginning perhaps with an Anglo-Saxon charter of the eighth century and ending with the files of the local newspaper. Mastery of these records implies a degree of palaeographical, diplomatic, and linguistic skill not easily or quickly attained. The maturest scholarship is not out of place in local history.

To feel equally at home in all the centuries is beyond most men's capacity. Nevertheless, the local historian should not allow himself to be too strongly repelled by any era with which he has to deal, for a lack of sympathetic insight can ruin even the most scholarly performance. If he sees the age of Anselm and Edmund Rich as a period of unmitigated squalor, or again if the age we live in fills him only with nostalgia for the good old days of Queen Victoria or Queen Anne or Queen Elizabeth I, he is unlikely to make the best of his theme.

In sketching the ideal attributes of our historian we have specified ripe scholarship, wide reading, wider sympathies, and sturdy legs. It is much to ask, but to these requirements let us add one more. The local historian should be no stranger to the art of composition. This is the more necessary because his subject has never been a favourite with the reading public. Yet the slow and often painful process by which a rural or urban community is brought into existence and nursed up to its full strength is not accomplished without tensions, often dramatic in their force and effect. The same may be said of the possibly more rapid and still more painful process of disintegration. The historian should possess a sufficiently vivid narrative gift to make those tensions felt. If local history has too often appeared dull, relying overmuch on the ready-made sympathy of the native or adopted inhabitant, it is because the writer has either misconceived his theme or lacked the imagination and literary skill required to communicate its interest. The perfect history of a town or village will be one that can be read with pleasure even by people who have never set foot in the place.

I twill be obvious that local history as defined here is anything but an elementary study. Indeed, since at its fullest range it lays most of the other historical disciplines under contribution, a good case could be made out for regarding it as the most advanced of them all. This doubtless is why it still has far to go in achieving academic and public recognition. For although it has called forth a whole library of books and enlisted the devotion of many fine scholars from Camden onwards, it remains in its infancy still. Its technique has not yet been perfected, and its raison d'Ítre is far from being generally understood.

We cannot be sure that it would have fared much better if it had been monopolized from the first by professional scholars. In point of fact, the portion of the field which they have cultivated is tiny compared with the vast area that has yet to be explored. There is work in plenty waiting to be done by willing hands. This being so, it is fortunate that local history possesses a seemingly inexhaustible attraction for the amateur. For the veriest novice can help to collect materials, and enjoy himself in doing so. There are field-names to be rescued from oblivion, reminiscences of old inhabitants to be gathered and sifted, family papers to be scrutinized. These and a host of other tasks call for no technical equipment, or none that cannot be acquired with a little patience. A respect for historic truth and a capacity for accurate recording will carry the beginner a long way. Local history is not only a challenge to the most highly trained master of historical techniques; it is also-and long may it remain!-the last refuge of the non-specialist. (2l)



1 Board of Education Circular 599, dated 25 November 1908, P.5.

2. Historical Association Leaflet No. II, March 1908. The speaker was W. M. Childs, principal of what was then the University College of Reading. Some years later he justly claimed some credit for having promoted at Reading a living interest in the study of local history ''as a means of illustrating the wider study of national history." From 1908 to 1912 the college possessed a research fellowship in local history, the first post of its kind in any English university, and memorable not only as such but as having been held by F. M. Stenton.

3. Eric C. Walker, History Teaching for To-day, 1935, p. 96.

4. Ibid. p.131.

5. p.9above.

6. R. B. Pugh, How to write a Parish History, 1954, p. 9.

7. H. P. R. Finberg, Lucerna, 1964, pp. 204-21.

8. L. J. Ashford, The History of the Borough of High Wycombe from its Origins to 1880, 1960,p. 119.

9. J. Franklin Jackson, 'The Future Uses of History', reprinted in the American Historical Review, LXV, 1959, pp. 61-71.

10. The term "Leicester school" was first used by Professor Asa Briggs when discussing work published by past and present members of the department of English Local History in the university of Leicester.- The New Statesman, 15 February 1958.

11. H. P. R. Finberg, The Local Historian and his Theme, reprinted supra, pp. 1-24. The same idea was propounded almost simultaneously by Dr W. G. Hoskins in History Today, 11, 1952, p.490.

12. George A. Hillery, 'Definitions of Community', Rural Sociology xx, 1955, pp. 111-23.

13. Mrs Bray, A Description of the Part of Devonshire bordering on the Tamar and the Tavy, 1836, III, p. 170.

14. M. Robbins, Middlesex, 1953, p. 303.

15. H. E. Hallam, The New Lands of Elloe, Leicester University Press, 1954, p. 42.

16. The Scottish boroughs appear to have shown a much greater capacity for united action than English boroughs in general; see T. Pagan, The Convention of the Royal Burghs of Scotland, Glasgow,1926.

17. Selden Society, XXIV, pp. 11, 18, 50.

18. R. B. Pugh, loc. cit.; Transactions of the B. and G. Arch. Soc., LXXVI, 1957, pp. 19,20.

19. W. R. Powell, 'Local History in Theory and Practice', Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, XXXI, 1958, pp. 41-8.

20. For an excellent account of a community which never contained more than a dozen households, see M. F. Howson, 'Aughton, near Lancaster'. in Trans. Lancs. and Cheshire Antiquarian Soc ., LXIX, 1959, pp. 15-42; and for one of an average Leicester village, W. G. Hoskins, The Midland Peasant, 1957.

21. It now has its own admirable textbook: W. G. Hoskins, Local History in England, 1959.