BALH e-Newsletter July 2014

St Mary the Virgin and the Holy Rood, Little Chart, Kent.
A picturesque ruin today – see Death & Destruction below.

Welcome to the June e-Newsletter from BALH

I hope you have been enjoyI hope you have been enjoying the few hot summer days we’ve been having, and have managed to get out and about and undertake some history research in the sunshine.  At this time of year, as the above photo shows, everything looks particularly picturesque.In this issue of the newsletter Jane Insley gives us an insight into her work at St Paul’s Cathedral; Jan Shepherd tells us about Church Recorders; Paul Tritton writes about Death & Destruction 70 years ago in Kent’s ‘bomb alley’; and Alan Crosby, the editor of The Local Historian, has some thoughts to share with you about the magazine.  We also have Society News from Cornwall and Hertfordshire, and information on conferences and courses we think may be of interest.

We invite you to write for the newsletter.  We welcome news or comments, and would like to hear about your research.  We would prefer items to be between 500 and 1000 words long, and if possible accompanied by up to three photos.  The newsletter is sent out in-between delivery of TLH and LHN, but copy can be sent in at any time to the email address below.  We look forward to hearing from you .. reading about other members research can enthuse and encourage.

From time to time you may receive emails from us with details of an event that we are involved with in your locality.  We may be asking for help, asking for support, or we may be passing on information of gatherings we think may be of interest.  Please be assured that you will only receive communications from BALH, and your details will not be passed onto third parties.

We hope you enjoy this issue of the BALH e-Newsletter.

Jacquie Fillmore



Surveying the ‘Fabrick’

The 40th Milestone

Death & Destruction

The Local Historian

Society News:

Cornwall News

Herts at War

BALH Events & Visits:

September Visits

Local History Day


Essex through the Ages

Festival of Archaeology


Latin and Palaeography Summer School

Strangers in Kent and Sussex




Surveying the ‘Fabrick’ –
the story of some survey equipment at St Paul’s Cathedral, London
The Dome of St Paul’s from St Martins Le Grand
Being recently retired from the Science Museum, I was delighted to have an enquiry passed on to me by my former colleagues – “St Paul’s Cathedral has some surveying kit they need catalogued – would you be interested?” Two questions sprang instantly to mind, the first being “I beg your pardon – what did you say?” And the second was “Why? Why does the cathedral have such equipment in its historical collections?” I live five minutes walk away, so I made an appointment to see what the problem was.In the architect’s office above the south transept, there were boxes and carriers, containing staves, levels, rules, tapes, wires, and some special forms of micrometers. Most had been made by E R Watt and Son Ltd, in about the 1920s, and were fairly standard. Less so was a straining trestle more usually associated with large scale outdoor mapping. And it turned out that the answer to the second question was rather more interesting.

At the turn of the 1920s the condition of the cathedral had become rather tatty. Cracks in the masonry had led to bits falling off (fortunately not onto any of the congregation), and the venerable old building was surrounded by building works of various kinds, posing a threat to its structure – an underground railway, a new bridge over the Thames, the re-routing of sewers, all nibbling away at the hill the cathedral stands on, and potentially diverting underground water away from the clays and gravels upon which it had been sitting for three hundred years. And the person whose concern it was most was the in-house architect, (from Sir Christopher Wren’s time, known as the Surveyor of the Fabrick), Mervyn Macartney.

The cathedral was not the only responsibility in Macartney’s architectural practice, but it was probably the most iconic, and the diaries, notes and records relating to it have been preserved, partly in the Cathedral’s own archives, and partly at the London Metropolitan Archives, via the Guildhall Library. By hunting through the records, and also looking in other publications of the time, it was possible to unearth quite a compelling story of the struggle to establish just exactly what part of the fabric was in danger, where it would be necessary to make repairs, and just how this would be done.

A preliminary survey in 1921 revealed that the shape of the building was far from uniform. Courses of masonry showed signs of slippage, but from the time of the original build rather than more recently. The main structural supports in the cathedral – the piers and the bastions at the crossing of the nave and transepts – were formed from piles of rubble, partly from the remains of the previous cathedral which had burned down in the Great Fire of London in 1666, and encased in fitted ashlar masonry. The location within the piers and bastions of the load-bearing lines from the dome and its superstructure were far from clear, and hotly debated by architects and engineers brought in to advise the Dean and Chapter by a Commission formed for the purpose. One of the more striking drawings revealed that the Whispering Gallery was not actually quite circular.  And one of the more important recommendations was that the survey should be repeated, more meticulously, in winter, summer and winter again, in order to detect if there was seasonal movement, and if so, where.

From the account books, it became clear that this three-part survey (using the equipment still in the cathedral’s offices) had been carried out by Lt Col Crompton Sankey, of the School of Military Engineering. He had been brought in by Sir Basil Mott, the celebrated bridge and tunnel engineer, who sat on the Commission with Sir Aston Webb, architect, as Chairman. It was confirmed that the building did indeed expand very slightly in the summer, but on contracting again in the winter months did not quite return to its original configuration. As the final report was being drafted, the London County Council survey department became alarmed at the prospect, and on Christmas Eve 1924, issued the Dean and Chapter with a Dangerous Structure Notice stating that the cathedral had to shut, immediately and to everyone, until the Dome and the eight piers supporting its weight had been taken down and completely re-erected safely.

Not unnaturally, this caused something of a stir. The Times newspaper launched a campaign to raise money to cover the cost of the works, the architects completed their debate about the best way forward, settling on a method avoiding complete demolition which involved effectively retro-fitting reinforced concrete to the piers, and parts of the cathedral did in fact remain open for small scale services from 1925 to 1930 when the works were completed.

In one of the most extreme cases of project creep I have come across, Sankey became the Resident Engineer to oversee the reparation works. Not only were the piers filled with concrete under pressure, but the filler holes were re-drilled when no more could be forced in and huge steel rods inserted into the masonry to hold it together. Two new steel chains were looped around parts of the Dome’s superstructure, which allowed the building to move, but not expand.

R A Piercy’s plan of the Whispering gallery, 1920s

Reproduced by permission of St Paul’s Cathedral

The Cathedral’s collections not only contain the survey equipment with which I began this tale, but pictures and photographs of the work in progress, and some beautiful examples of clerical copes and hoods crated specially for the Service of re-opening in 1930. When I went to photograph the latter items last summer, they were temporarily in the Minor Canons’ Room, where they had been used the previous day for an investiture, forming a part of the continuing service of the cathedral.And the last time I looked out of my sitting room window, I could see that the Dome was still up.

Jane Insley
Volunteer, Collections Department
St Paul’s Cathedral

THE FORTIETH MILESTONETwice a month our church sees a number of visitors peering intently at the building, climbing up to the bell tower and busily writing down lists and notes in the warm tearoom.  These are the church recorders.  For 40 years, NADFAS (National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies) have put volunteers into our historic churches to make a full inventory of their fabric, internal furnishings and documents in words and pictures.  During that time more than 1600 historic churches have been catalogued, each year these trained volunteers spend about 281,000 hours at their work in our churches.  They regard our churches as storehouses rather than museums.  The final record are bound books one of which will be placed in the Diocesan Archives, another with English Heritage, another with the Victoria and Albert Museum and each church will receive a copy.  Our church recorders have been busy, for the past three years, unearthing history from the local archives, from parishioners and church records.  Each item in the church is included: even the door hinges!  Every detail will be included in the final volume.  These recorders are fascinating to talk to; they have considerable knowledge either from their working life, their previous recording experience or their NADFAS training.  From a worshipper or an historian’s perspective, it is very enlightening to discuss with others the intricacies of a twelfth century building and consider their suggestions of its origins, its early use and the evidence of the past. I’m sure the final book will be of great interest.

Jan Shephard
Death and destruction 70 years ago in Kent’s ‘bomb alley’

St Mary the Virgin and the Holy Rood, Little Chart: a picturesque ruin today, hit by a Doodlebug on August 16 1944.

Seventy years ago next month (June), only a few days after rejoicing that the D-Day invasion had succeeded in capturing the Normandy beaches, the people of Kent faced the first of an unexpected series of air raids inflicted by Germany’s secret ‘revenge weapon’, the V1 flying bomb or ‘Doodlebug’ (the world’s first cruise missile).Once again the county was ‘bomb alley’ while enemy aircraft – pilotless and jet-propelled this time, unlike the bombers of earlier blitzes – caused death and destruction between the Kent coast and London. The first V1 was detected over Dymchurch soon after midnight on June 13 1944 and crashed harmlessly near Swanscombe. It was the first of 1,444 that struck Kent between then and March 23 1945, causing 200 deaths and many injuries.

Most people who were children in Kent in 1944 remember hearing the sinister growl and throb of V1s approaching at a height of 2,000 – 3,000 feet and speeds of up to 400 miles an hour, and hoping they would keep flying until out of sight! They were aimed at London and designed to crash after they had flown a predetermined distance from their launch ramps. Then, the engine would suddenly stop and there would be several heart-in-mouth moments as the Doodlebug dived, followed by an enormous explosion when it hit the ground.

Some V1s fell short of the capital; others were shot down over Kent by ‘ack-ack’ guns or intercepted by RAF fighters before reaching their target. All of them were liable to explode almost anywhere, killing civilians and service personnel alike and destroying or damaging many properties, including historic buildings.

One of the most cherished of these was Little Chart parish church – ‘St Mary the Virgin and the Holy Rood’ ‑ seven miles west of Ashford, described by journalist and writer Arthur Mee (remember his ‘The Children’s Encyclopædia’?) as being ‘exceedingly rich in sculptures’ in his volume on Kent, published in 1936 in Hodder & Stoughton’s ‘The King’s England’ series of county guides.

In his preface to the 1951 edition Mee wrote: ‘It has not been thought desirable to note the changes which the war brought about in some churches and other buildings’.

‘St Mary the Virgin and the Holy Rood’ is Kent’s best surviving example of such changes. A V1 hit the Norman church’s tower and exploded after being shot down by a fighter at about 8 pm on August 16 1944, demolishing most of the building. There were no casualties. Today just its ivy-clad walls remain. The ruin was preserved to remind parishioners and visitors of Kent’s wartime ordeal and is open to the public.

One of Little Chart’s parishioners in WW2 was H E Bates (author of ‘Fair Stood the Wind for France’, ‘The Purple Plain’, ‘The Darling Buds of May’ and many other novels). Having witnessed close to home the damage a single ‘Doodlebug’ could do he wrote a book about the V1 and its successor, the V2 ballistic missile, but the government banned it for 30 years. It was finally published in 1994 as ‘Flying Bombs over England’ by Bog Ogley of Froglets Publications. Whilst in the RAF, Bates wrote short stories about service life under the pseudonym ‘Flying Officer X’.

A new St Mary’s, consecrated in 1956, was built in Swan Lane, closer to the centre of the village, but all was not lost of the old church. Its six bells were salvaged from the rubble and the metal from five of them was used to cast six new bells. The family memorials within the church that survived the blast were reinstated in the new building. The parish’s most distinguished family in Tudor and Stuart times were the Darells. Sir John Darell of Calehill Park was King Henry VII’s personal attendant; another member of the family was chaplain to Queen Elizabeth I. The Darell memorial was originally removed to the new church but is now at St James, Egerton.
Few pre-war photographs of ‘St Mary the Virgin and the Holy Rood’ survive but one came to light earlier this year during the conservation of a collection of more than 200 glass plate negatives and photographic prints donated to the Kent Archaeological Society by Witham Matthew Bywater, a member of the society from 1877 until he died in 1911.

St Mary the Virgin and the Holy Rood, Little Chart, pictured during a Kent Archaeological Society excursion in August 1883, 61 years before the church was damaged beyond repair by a Doodlebug.

Bywater, a London saddler and pattenmaker, was among up to 400 members of the KAS who from 1876 until shortly before the First World War made annual excursions around Kent, travelling in hired trains in order to visit churches and other historic buildings. Some of these were so remote that the members – the ladies no doubt wearing the voluminous and fashionable dresses of the day – had to walk several miles from the nearest railway stations, unless met by horse-drawn carriages.Other Kent parish churches damaged by V1s in 1944 but subsequently repaired were East Peckham (early July, 18 windows destroyed); Eltham (August 29, V1 collided with steeple then exploded beyond church, killing two people); Hawkhurst (September 7, church damaged and tombstones shattered); and Lynsted (July 9, following damage by bombing on August 15 1940).

There is a V1 at the Royal Engineers’ Museum at Brompton, Gillingham. Two replica V1s can be seen at the Battle of Britain Museum, Hawkinge, one of which was built for the 1965 British spy film Operation Crossbow.

Old St Mary’s churchyard

St Mary the Virgin and the Holy Rood’s churchyard, now disused, was restored after the war. Many of the inscriptions on the headstones have become illegible, due to damage and years of erosion, but fortunately they and those on memorials within the church were recorded in 1920 by KAS member Leland L Duncan and have been posted on the Research pages of the society’s website :  . Duncan’s record contains hundreds of names, dating back to the 17th century, on more than 100 memorials, and is a unique and invaluable family and local history resource.
One of Britain’s oldest ‘rank-and file ‘ soldiers (and probably Kent’s very oldest) of the First World War lies buried close to the church, beneath a Commonwealth War Grave headstone. He was William James Matcham of the 330th Road Construction Company, Royal Pioneer Corps, who died on February 25 1917 aged 60. Before he enlisted he was a newsagent at Sandpit, Charing Heath, and before that a grocer at Leaveland, near Faversham. His story is told on the Charing pages of the Kent Fallen website,

The churchyard’s most prominent monument, surmounted by a stone urn, marks the burial vault of James Haydock Haydock [sic], who died in Canterbury in 1855 and his wife Mary Maria Haydock, who died in Brighton in 1875. Only a few letters on the monument are now legible but thanks to Duncan we know that it also commemorates James’s father, Colonel Joseph Haydock Boardman, of the Royal Scots Greys, who died in 1803 and was buried in the chancel. His wife was Barbara (née Darell) of Surrenden Dering Manor, Pluckley.

Also damaged by enemy action …

Among Kent’s churches bombed or shelled by enemy action before 1944 were:


  • St James, Dover. Badly damaged by shelling on October 20. Landlord of nearby Ancient Druid pub killed. Further shell damage on April 5 1943. Church subsequently collapsed and was not restored. Its roof had been damaged by a bomb in March 1916.
  • St Andrew’s, Paddock Wood (which had to be demolished after being severely damaged on the night of November 4).
  • St Margaret of Antioch, St Margaret’s-at-Cliffe. Extensive shell damage on November 28.
  • All Saints, Lydd. Chancel destroyed October 15 (clock stopped at 4.07pm). Further bomb damage in 1944.
  • St Joseph’s, St Mary Cray. Severely damaged by bombing; rebuilt in 1959.
  • St Peter & St Paul, Bromley. The entire church, except the tower, demolished by a bomb on the night of April 16. The church was rebuilt in the 1950s.
  • St George’s, Canterbury. Bombed June 1, 1942 during the ‘Canterbury Blitz’. Fifteenth century tower and walls survived but only the tower was restored.
  • St Mary Bredin, Canterbury, also destroyed on June 1 1942. New church built in Old Dover Road in 1950s.
  • Holy Trinity Old Church, Margate. Bombed June 1 and reduced to a shell. The tower survived. Ten people killed, four seriously injured, 46 slightly injured. Church rebuilt in the 1950s. It is an enlarged version of Little Chart parish church by the same architect, Harold Anderson. Tower of old church, a landmark since 1825, demolished 1958.
With acknowledgments to Bob Ogley, who comprehensively documented Kent’s V1 ordeal in his books ‘Doodlebugs and Rockets: the Battle of the Flying Bombs’ (Froglets Publications 1992) and ‘Kent at War’ (Froglets Publications/KM Group 1994).
Paul Tritton, Hon. Press Officer
Kent Archaeology Society

Some thoughts about The Local Historian: part 1

When, over the years, we have discussed The Local Historian (as we have done on many occasions), and when we have sought the views and reactions of the BALH membership, some interesting points have emerged. By and large, there is much positive and indeed enthusiastic comment about the journal. For over 62 years this has been the main British journal for local history, though of course over the years other journals have arrived on the scene and some are still going strong – and it should hardly need to be said that there are hundreds of local, county and regional journals and magazines which complement TLH, many of them of outstanding quality.One comment which is sometimes made is that too many of the contributors to TLH are ‘doctors and professors and other academics’ and that there ought to be more contributions from people who aren’t in the business as professionals. This is a really difficult one – though if you look at back numbers from, say, the 1980s you’ll find that a hefty proportion of the authors thirty years ago were in fact in different ways academics. Right from the start, although for the first decade the journal was actually called The Amateur Historian, the majority of its contributors were actually not amateurs but were lecturers, tutors and – in some cases – extremely prominent academic mainstream historians.I can’t be entirely without bias, since I am myself an academic local historian, have a doctorate, and earn my living from local history and historical research, but I feel that we should actually regard this as a strength. It is in fact a remarkable tribute to the success of BALH and its journal that academic historians not only want to write for the journal but voluntarily submit unsolicited contributions. Throughout its life (well, the period since the war at least) local history has often had a poor reputation – an undeserved reputation, too – among university historians as a lightweight, trivial and amateurish pursuit (the ‘ish’ on amateurish is important). That attitude has never ceased to infuriate me, for reasons too lengthy to go into here, but the more we can demonstrate to these people that their highly-regarded colleagues are happy to publish in TLH, the better it is for local history as a whole.That is not to say that only such people are acceptable as authors – far from it. In reality, as study of the mini-biographies at the end of every article will reveal, the critics are probably wrong. A large number of the contributors to TLHare NOT professional academics – they are (and there is no satisfactory word here, so forgive the use of this one) ‘ordinary’ people who have developed a love for, a passion for, local history over the years and have gone on to do diplomas and certificates and in a few cases degrees in the subject.For them, TLHoffers a perfect opportunity to carry the process of research and writing and gaining a qualification to its logical conclusion – to publish the fruits of their work in a widely-circulated national journal of high reputation, one which gives them no rewards other than the joy and pleasure of seeing their work in print, and that the knowledge that other people will learn from them, may gain inspiration, and might begin their own researches, case studies and analyses.I am always delighted to receive contributions from ANYBODY who is interested in submitting articles and short papers to TLH. This is a refereed journal, like many others (for instance, Local Population Studies, Agricultural History Review, and most county journals). That means that I would normally send a submitted paper to one or more external readers, asking for their comments and observations. The purpose of the exercise is not to be negative but to make sure that what is said in the paper ties in with up to date perspectives (not flashy fashionable ones, mind you!), is clear and coherent and readable, and references the recent literature. I also add my own penn’orth (or sometimes a lot more than a penn’orth … perhaps a shilling-worth) as editor, looking at such matters as the style and structure, the thread of argument, the order of themes and topics, and the level of detail or its absence.Sometimes I’m able to do the refereeing myself, because the paper is on a subject within my own specialist area, but usually it’s sent to other people – these may be academic historians, experienced non-professionals, and quite often I will also send it to someone I know is not involved with that subject, just to see whether they find it interesting and stimulating. It’s rare for a paper to be rejected – though quite often a measure of reworking is suggested.To my continuing satisfaction, it is very unusual for authors to respond negatively to these comments and suggestions – I never expect them to take the comments and observations on board, lock, stock and barrel (I know I don’t when my own papers receive the same treatment from other journals!) but in my experience almost every author is pleased to have weaknesses pointed out, grateful for suggestions for improvements, and often highly appreciative of the careful attention which the referee or I, the editor, have given. One contributor, years ago, did tell me that she’d never had a piece of work returned with so much written on it since she was doing o-level history (she was a university academic) but that she realised that her paper was very much improved as a result!So, I really want to encourage readers to send in contributions. Even if I conclude that they aren’t suited to TLH, I can usually give suggestions and advice about alternative possibilities for publication. And I want to emphasise again that the philosophy of BALH and its predecessors, and of The Local Historian, is that we see ourselves as a broad church – we embrace professional academics (sadly, a dwindling band, as adult education is squeezed and suffers death by a thousand cuts), those non-professionals who have moved towards qualifications via local history courses and programmes, and the committed, enthusiastic amateurs (in the best possible sense of the word). All are welcome and all have a major contribution to make.
Editor, The Local Historian
77 Wellington Street, PRESTON PR1 8TQ
Society News
CornwallThe Cornwall Association of Local Historians visited Davidstow airfield and museum on 14 June, and will be visiting St Columb Major, including the medieval church, on 19 July and Illogan on 3 September 2014.

The 400th anniversary of Penzance getting its town charter was celebrated with an exhibition entitled Penzance 400: A Celebration of the History of Penzance at Penlee House Gallery & Museum.  It received very favourable reviews and a royal visit from the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.  400 pewter medals were commissioned showing the 1614 coat of arms of the head of St John the Baptist on a plate – a novel gift idea for a historically-minded relative?  A number of First World War exhibitions can now be seen in Cornish Museums including St Agnes Museum and Perranzabuloe Folk Museum.  Check out Cornwall Museums – the home of museums in Cornwall website and individual museum websites.  We are hoping to start our 100 faces 100 stories First World War archives and museums project, subject to our Heritage Lottery bid being successful, in July or early August 2014.

Another successful heritage weekend was held at Wheal Martyn on 8-9 March 2014.  Most Restormel museum group members put up displays and there was a fun session on how to date plates from Registration and makers marks.  Consultation for the Kresen Kernow project – the new Archive centre for Cornwall – took place on the Sunday and the consulation process is now almost complete.  Everyone seems keen on a café and exhibition space there.

Joanna Mattingly

The Herts at War Project – A Commemoration InitiativeThe 4th August 2014 marks the commencement of the 100th anniversary of the First World War.  One Hertfordshire group who are working hard to recognise this hugely significant event are the Herts at War team. The project sprang out of a series of individual historical research assignments, and collaboration with Letchworth’s Highfield School History Department to uncover the wartime exploits of local soldiers in the Great War. The tales of bravery and heroism which emerged seemed to demand that the stories be told for posterity, education, awareness and as an act of remembrance. This community led project has been created to commemorate the diverse experiences of the men and women of Hertfordshire during the First World War. Whether it be a soldier fighting on the frontline, a Zeppelin Raid on a county town, a Conscientious Objector harangued in the street or an anxious mother waiting for a child that would never return, these experiences shaped and changed both the county and the country as we know it today. Amongst other things, the project is helping local people and organisations to research and share stories about what the First World War meant for their communities.  This activity is being led by Project Manager, Dan Hill, with support from a team of volunteers who through its website, a pop-up museum exhibition, live events and bespoke battlefield tours hope to bring the forgotten story of the war back to the county. As the team is made up largely of heritage workers, professional historians and teachers the founding principle of the project was always to uncover and tell Hertfordshire’s forgotten story. The aim is to give the public new insight into the county’s history and will also run workshops with local schools and provide teaching resources which will be freely available to download from the website. It is not looking to simply impart knowledge, but to involve the countywide community in the project by providing new stories and driving the direction of our research. We also want the community involvement in the pop-museum, writing articles for the website and live events; such as an initiative where local schools will put on plays written and performed by Hertfordshire residents during the war.

The Hertfordshire Regiment
One aspect the team are looking at is the story of the 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment, who were part of the Territorial Army. During November 1914 British troops, including men of the Hertfordshire Regiment, successfully resisted all German attempts to capture the small Belgian town of Ypres (Ieper) and march on to the Channel coast. The German Army did, however, manage to occupy a ring of higher ground that overlooked the town on the east and south which allowed their artillery to fire down on the British trenches and to reduce Ypres, and its neighbouring villages, to ruins, and made the Salient one of the most dangerous places on the Western Front. In 1915 the Battalion were engaged in actions at Cuinchy, where Private Alfred Burt (pictured) won the Victoria Cross, one of only two awarded to members of the Battalion in the Great War. In May of that year they fought at the Battle of Festubert and in September were in action at the Battle of Loos. 1916 saw the Battalion engaged in the Battles of the Somme, including being involved in the Battle of the Ancre Heights in October, as well as in the Battle of the Ancre in November. By 1917 the Battalion were heavily engaged in the opening Battles of Ypres 1917, also called the Third Battle of Ypres and Passchendaele, when the it lost over 450 men during their assault on St. Julien, part of the Battle of Pilkem. The Herts at War project is currently busy raising funds for the erection of a memorial in St. Juliaan to the men of the Hertfordshire Regiment who were lost in this action. The Battalion were also involved in the Battle of Langemarck in August 1915, the Battle of the Menin Road and the Battle of Polygon Wood in September, as well as the Second Battle of Passchendaele in October.

During 1918, the battalion was again heavily engaged in the First Battles of the Somme 1918, also known as the German Spring Offensive, Operation Michael or Kaiserschlacht. They were heavily involved in the Battle of St Quentin, the actions on the Somme crossings and the Battle of Rosieres.

By April they were also engaged in the Battle of the Lys, namely the First and Second Battles of Kemmel as well as the Battle of Scherpenberg, during which time their already exhausted Division fought as Composite Battalions. After the Battalion was supplied with fresh troops it was engaged in the Second Battles of the Somme, also referred to as the opening phase of “The 100 Days”. They saw service at the Battle of Albert and the Second Battle of Bapaume and by September were involved in the Battles of the Hindenburg Line, specifically at the Battle of Havrincourt and the Battle of the Canal du Nord, as well as the Battle of Cambrai and the subsequent pursuit to the Selle in October. It was at the Battle of Havrincourt that Second Lieutenant Frank Young won the Battalions second Victoria Cross. In the Final Advance in Picardy, they were engaged in their last series of actions, specifically in the Battle of the Selle in October and the Battle of the Sambre in November. Their final day in action came four years to the day from their arrival in France on 9th November 1914. The armistice two days later also marked the fourth anniversary of the first time they came under fire. The Battalion was gradually wound down and finally disembodied in March 1919, although it was reformed as a Territorial Army unit again in February 1920.

The Roll of Honour
When it comes to the military aspect of the county’s sacrifice, the fact of the matter is that 4 out of 5 men who served in The Great War came home, many carrying untold psychological damage that even today we cannot comprehend, although of course there were thousands of Hertfordshire’s young men who did not return. With this in mind the Herts at War website has been created as an ongoing project where members of the public will be able to actively participate in the development of the site. One major aspect to the project is the Roll Of Honour, which aims to provide profiles of the men and women of Hertfordshire whose names are recorded on over 700 memorials throughout Hertfordshire. This section of the website will be broken down into individual county locations and then into personnel files on all servicemen who fell from that location. The Roll of Honour team, led by Jonty Wild and Paul Johnson, aim to research and publish the story of every single serviceman who made the ultimate sacrifice and who called Hertfordshire home. The ultimate aim of the Roll of Honour is to compile a detailed historical record of each person’s pre-war life and military service, uncovering thousands of forgotten stories and preserving them for future generations in the process.

Hertfordshire Life
Despite the turmoil caused by the conflict across the world life had to continue across the county. In every town and village workers continued in their trades and industries vital to both the war effort and keeping the county intact. Schools, pubs and social clubs continued to open their doors in a bid to maintain a semblance of ordinary life. The project is looking at a number of aspects that impacted upon county life including Belgian refugees, who totalled over a quarter of a million people, and were the largest refugee movement in British history. Towns across Hertfordshire became home for many of these refugees for the four year period of the war. Conscientious Objectors, also known as ‘conscies’ or C.O’s, were men who refused to fight in the war on the basis of religious and moral grounds, and were a sign that not everybody was as enthusiastic about the war as the government would have liked. By 1916, with the numbers of volunteers for the army dwindling, conscription was introduced which forced young, able bodied men to sign up to the armed forces. A ‘conscience clause’ was added whereby those who had a “conscientious objection to bearing arms” were freed from military service. Conscientious Objectors came from across Hertfordshire, in particular the often socialist and independent thinking residents of the Garden Cities. The project intends to widen the level of knowledge on this often forgotten aspect of the Great War and its effect on the people of the county.

The outbreak of the war saw a wave of xenophobia sweep the nation and many Germans nationals who were considered a threat to the nation were sent to internment camps for the duration of the war. Hertfordshire was no exception when it came to the provision of shelter for German Nationals with Libury Hall, north of Ware, becoming the county’s largest internment camp. Other minor camps also existed at Ashwell, Baldock, Berkhampstead, Bishop’s Stortford,  Braughing, Buntingford, Hemel Hempstead, London Colney, Panshanger, Rickmansworth and Standon.

Zeppelin Raids
It was in May 1915 that Zeppelin bomber raids were first directed at London, becoming an increasingly regular occurrence in what has become known as the ‘First Blitz’. As the flight path from the North Sea crossed Hertfordshire there were isolated incidents in which the county came under Zeppelin attack. At first British defences were totally inadequate to deal with the Zeppelin threat. However, by 1916 a range of anti-airship defence measures were introduced. Many more guns were deployed, and searchlights. Fighter aircraft were also sent against them. British defences learnt to pick up their radio messages, so had warning of their approach, and a central communications headquarters was set up. It was realised that Zeppelins were extremely vulnerable to explosive shells, which set light to the hydrogen, often in spectacular fashion. Zeppelin raids were called off in 1917, by which time 77 out of the 115 German Zeppelins had been shot down or totally disabled. Raids by heavier than air bombers continued, however. By the end of the war over 1500 British citizens had been killed in air raids, including a number in Hertfordshire.

Our volunteers are the driving force behind the project and we are proud to be ever increasing in numbers and knowledge through the diverse team that share our common goal. We would like volunteer help to collect as much data as possible, check its accuracy, and organise it so that it can be linked to our interactive website. This will bring together a wide range of sources and help communities to explore their past and prepare centenary commemorative events. If you share our aim and would like to be involved in researching the men and women from your local town then why not visit the website at  or send the team an e-mail at and join our ranks.

Paul Johnson
BALH Events & Visits
In September 2014 we will be holding the following visits:
Leeds & York –  Guided Visit
Wednesday 3rd & Thursday 4th September
(You can take part in one or both of these visits)South Derbyshire The Magic Attic & Staunton Harold Church – Guided Visit
Saturday 27th SeptemberFor further information and a booking form visit our website

BALH Local History Day

We had a very pleasant local history day this year with interesting and enlightening speakers both in the morning when Chris Webb, from the Borthwick Institute, talked about the York Cause Papers, and in the afternoon with John Minnis, from English Heritage, who talked about the impact of motoring in the inter war years.  The venue once again proved popular and a lovely lunch was provided. After lunch the BALH Awards were presented for personal achievement, a society newsletter, and research and publication.It was a very nice day with two topics and speakers that left us wanting more.  The York Cause Papers appear to be extremely interesting and diverse, (especially when Chris spoke about the reasons for marriage annulment!) and showed that this was a good historical source not just for York.

More about the day will be printed in the next issue of Local History News.

Essex Through The Ages
find out how you can discover centuries of Essex life using Manorial RecordsA one-day conference at the Essex Record Office. Manorial documents include many thousands of fascinating records, dating from the 1300s to the 1900s.Join us to find out about the background to manorial documents, and for inspiration on how you can use these records in your own research into your family, house or local history.Speakers:
• Prof Nigel Saul – Manors and manorial documents: what are they?
• Liz Hart – The national Manorial Documents Register project
• Katharine Schofield – Highlights from the Essex manorial records
• Prof L.R. Poos – An Essex case study: Stebbing and its late medieval and Tudor manorial documentation
• Graham Jolliffe – Unlocking Stebbing’s history from its manorial documentationSaturday 12 July 2014, 10.30am-3.30pm
Essex Record Office, Wharf Road, Chelmsford, CM2 6YT
£15 including refreshments and buffet lunch
Please book in advance on 01245 244644
More details at
Festival of ArchaeologyThe 24th CBA Festival of Archaeology runs from 12-27 July across the UK and is the largest celebration of archaeology in the world!  Co-ordinated by the Council for British Archaeology, the Festival offers over 1,000 events – many of which are free – organised by national and regional museums, heritage organisations, universities, local history and archaeology societies, and community archaeologists.

The Festival encourages everyone to explore the latest discoveries and research in their local area, watch experts at work, and experience archaeology for themseves.

Dig visits and open days give you the chance to try your hand at techniques such as digging and identifying finds and experience the excitement of archaeology.

Enjoy talks on new discoveries and expert-led walks and talks through prehistory and our industrial past, from Anglo-Saxon Suffolk and Victorian Sheffield, to Ironbridge gorge. Take a rare glimpse inside working structures from our industrial and military past, from windmills and a restored Victorian hydroelectric powerstation in Yorkshire, to cold war bunkers and a Stephenson railway tunnel.  Experience the past as a Roman or medieval pilgrim in Bristol, or try mummification with young volunteers in Swansea, or enjoy living history at archaeology days through the country.

If you have always wanted to have a go at archaeology yourself, there are many opportunities to get hands on.  Learn about the technology behind archaeology and have a go at rock art recording and photogrammetry, or take part in a geocaching trail on the Wales Coast Path.  Discover your own finds on the Tower of London foreshore, learn about the archaeology of the First World War in Norfolk or take part in a community dig at the National Trust’s Petworth Park in Sussex.  Uncover Vanburgh’s 18th century garden paths in Bristol or clean up a stone circle in Cornwall.

As ever, the Festival will kick off the summer holidays with hundreds of activities to help you, your family and grandchildren to enjoy archaeology together.  Look up what’s on in your area using our online events search

Join the UK’s leading archaeology charity, the Council for British Archaeology, keep up with the latest discoveries and events and hep us safeguard Britain’s heritage, from prehistoric and medieval sites to industrial structures and 20th century buildings.

Receive British Archaeology, our flagship magazine, and our members’ newsletter direct to your door, plus offers, special events and plenty of ways to get involved with groups and events in your local area.  Options for adults start from just £3.00 a month.  Order your membership pack today!

Louise Ennis
Head of Strategic Development
Council for British Archaeology
How to deal with reading documents in Latin
Many local historians find it difficult to push back their research into a local community or family beyond the 1600s because surviving documents are mostly written in Latin, and indeed usually in an abbreviated form. This relates especially to conveyances and manor court rolls, which are full of local detail.
A few county record offices run courses, but help is also at hand with Keele University’s annual Latin and Palaeography Summer School. This school is an excellent way for local historians to gain a solid introduction to medieval Latin and palaeography, as well gain further expertise in reading the kind of texts that they are most likely to come across. And the benefit of a week-long course is that you do not have time to forget what you learnt the week before!
Now in its 37th year (and so clearly serving a demand), the school takes place this year from Saturday 26 July to Thursday 31 July.
For details please visit the home page:
For further information please contact the Director, Dr Nigel Tringham at
‘Strangers in Kent and Sussex’ –  Two study days on Huguenots in autumn 2014Saturday 18 October or Tuesday Saturday 28 October (date TBC) at University of Kent Tonbridge centre (by the station).
Also at Canterbury Christ Church University on Saturday 15 November 2014 (central Canterbury).
Huguenots and Walloons arrived in south-east England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries largely as a result of religious persecution. They formed part of a larger number of immigrants who travelled for economic opportunities.  We will start with an introduction to all these Strangers in the context of religious dissent in Kent and Sussex, investigating their own beliefs and practices. We will explore where they settled and how they worshipped (the ‘French churches’) and what they did for a living. Taking the examples of particular towns and cities such as Rye, Sandwich and Canterbury, we will then investigate their contribution to industry, education, and material, intellectual and built culture.

Tutor: Dr G.M.Draper FRHistS FSA
If you are interested in attending, please email me on





Title: A History of Shropshire, volume VI part 1: Shrewsbury, General History and Topography
Editor: W.A. Champion and A.T.T. Thacker
ISBN/Date published:  9781904356424 15 May 2014

Blurb:  This volume examines the county town of Shrewsbury, which boasts a largely unaltered medieval street plan, and over 600 listed buildings, including some of the finest timber-framed buildings in England, Ditheringon flax mill (the first iron-framed building in the world), a Norman castle, Shrewsbury abbey and the remains of the medieval town walls. It recounts the history of the town from the early medieval period until the twenty-first century in a series of chapters written by experts. They include the archaeologist Dr Nigel Baker and Professor Richard Holt on Shrewsbury before 1200; Alan Thacker, Robert and the late Dorothy Cromarty on the town between 1200 and 1350, when Shrewsbury was of national importance; W.A. Champion on developments between 1350 and 1780 when the town within the walls achieved its current physical shape and character; and Barrie Trinder on modern Shrewsbury, its industrial development and suburban spread. There are also sections on individual religious congregations and their buildings, institutions and their continuity, and topics particular to Shrewsbury such as the common lands, its county institutions, the town walls and castle, and the liberties and municipal boundaries.


Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace 14-18
On this website there are some moving photos captured over the past seven years by Michael St Maur Sheil.  His photography combines a passion for history and landscape and presents a unique reflection on the transformation of the battlefields of the Great War into the landscape of modern Europe.

Michael commented:
“This collection represents a legacy which I hope will create a gateway to the battlefields themselves thus, encouraging people to visit these historic landscapes during the centennial period and so create awareness and understanding of the events and historical implications of the First World War.”


We have been asked to put this advert into the newsletter:

Discover Your Ancestors – FREE TRIAL for your society members, and donations to your society for every new subscriber!
Are your society members looking for a fresh approach to researching their family history?
Whether your members are longstanding or just starting out, whether they are advanced in their research or have reached early brick walls, Discover Your Ancestors magazine can help them along.
Discover Your Ancestors is packed full of family histories, case studies, UK and overseas features and advice on identifying those hard to find forebears. We also write on particular regions of the UK and if we haven’t featured your region in our published issues to date, our editor will certainly be in touch before too long. To liaise with our editor please email in the first instance Andrew Chapman on
Discover Your Ancestors magazine is now on its third annual edition in print, and is available at WHSmith stores around the UK or selected overseas premium newsagents or direct from the publisher here.
The magazine has also been running a monthly digital edition, to rave reviews. Priced at just £12 per annum, our loyal and engaged subscribers enjoy this digital magazine which is archived by issue in their very own members section of our website.
But please don’t just take our word for it, or those testimonials that are found on our websit
We are inviting each and every one of your society members to enjoy a FREE OF CHARGE 3 ISSUE TRIAL so they can find out for themselves what a good read it is.
We would be most grateful if you would extend this no obligation offer to your members via your newsletters, at your meetings and events and in your circulars.
Also, for every 12 month (£12 total) subscription sign up we receive from those 3 month free trialists we will be happy to donate £2 back to you, the society that has introduced us a new subscriber. All you will need is to ask your member to quote the code DYAFHS (followed by the name of your Family History Society).
Once a year, we will count up any subscribers that have used the offer code and send your society a cheque for the total sum.
The following wording can be used or adapted for any communications you may elect to send to your members:
Subscribe to Discover Your Ancestors for just £1 per issue and they will make a donation to our Family History Society.
Discover Your Ancestors monthly digital magazine is packed full of family histories, case studies, UK and overseas features and advice on identifying those hard to find forebears.
The publishers are offering a FREE 3 MONTH TRIAL to members of our Society. To register for your FREE 3 month trial please email with the subject line DYAFHS (then the name of your society).
Alternatively you can subscribe for a full year (12 issues) for just £12 (£1 per month) by clicking here. It only takes a couple of minutes  to register and your details will never be shared – ever. For every new 12 month subscriber that enters the promo code DYAFHS (then the name of your society) the publishers will donate £2 back to our Society.
Thank you for taking the time to explore Discover Your Ancestors on behalf of your members. We appreciate any coverage or recommendation you may decide to put forward to your members, and to enriching their family history research experience.

Cover photo: contact Paul Tritton, Hon. Press Officer, Kent Archaeological Society.