Local History

These are some of my talks on local history themes. Many are based on my research in Warwickshire and Herefordshire but can be tweaked to suit a particular audience. All talks are fully illustrated by PowerPoint presentations. I have my own projector and laptop, if needed.

Almshouses: A Social and Architectural History

This is a general introduction to the history of almshouses for anyone interested in social and architectural history. The lecture traces the history of the almshouse from medieval religious foundations to the sheltered housing of today. Drawing on examples from all over England it includes detailed references to Warwickshire examples.

From Doles to Donations

This is a history of charities in Warwickshire, from medieval doles to modern trusts. (This talk can be re-jigged to focus on particular aspects of charity, such as apprenticeship, schools, village reading rooms, or to look at the ritual calendar of early-modern England and how charity was interwoven with religious and secular festivals.


Castles: A Social and Architectural History

The lecture will look at castles from many perspectives, from their military origins to domestic comforts. Castles were far more than forts, they were seats of power and government, settings for display and leisure. Learn about castles from the Norman motte and bailey to the modern tourist attraction.


A Tale of Two Castles: Warwick and Kenilworth Castles

This lecture explores the contrasting histories of these two famous Warwickshire castles. Warwick, founded by William the Conqueror in 1068 and lived in until the 1960s, is now a major tourist attraction, complete with waxworks and re-enactments. Kenilworth, its younger neighbour, was founded in the 1120s by Geoffrey de Clinton. In its heyday it was a splendid royal palace as well as a stronghold. It was slighted after the Civil War and its crumbling ruins inspired Sir Walter Scott and other promoters of the Gothic. Its ruins are now in the care of English Heritage, which has recently recreated the splendid Elizabethan gardens.


The True History of Maria Home, Housekeeper to the Earls of Warwick

Housekeeper at Warwick Castle for nearly 60 years, she left over £20,000 when she died in 1834. Find out how she made this money and something of the lives of servants in great households.


Compton Verney: the story of a great house

Compton Verney, Warwickshire, is now an art gallery. Learn about its 600-year long history as a great house and some of the people who lived there.


Guinea Gardens: Victorian Detached Town Gardens

Since at least the 16th Century urban tradesmen who lived ‘above the shop’ rented or bought plots of land on the outskirts of towns to form gardens. These gardens were for recreation more than production. A description of London gardens in 1533 described them as ‘places where people can recreate and refresh their dulled spirits.’ In the 19th Century they were often called Guinea Gardens (from their common rent) and were numerous in places of all sizes from small market towns to cities like Birmingham. This is a general introduction, with specific reference to Hill Close Gardens, Warwick. A


Hodge: the Life and Hard Times of the Agricultural Labourer

This lecture looks at the living and working conditions of agricultural workers (male and female) down the centuries, with particular emphasis on the 19th and early 20th-centuries.

The Great Fire of Warwick, 1694

Everyone knows about the Great Fire of London, but major conflagrations were a common occurrence in towns up until the 18th century. This lecture takes as an example the fire which destroyed the centre of Warwick and looks at the relief that was given to those who suffered and the way in which the town was rebuilt.


%d bloggers like this: