Local and Regional History of Wessex

Submitting Institution

University of Winchester

Unit of Assessment


Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies, Literary Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies

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Summary of the impact

Winchester's History Department has an impact on all periods of local and regional history, principally that of Wessex, engaging with:

  • The general public, especially those interested in Anglo-Saxon Wessex, via two exhibitions of international significance and reach.
  • Volunteers, local communities of the Basingstoke area, and more widespread local historians through the internet edition of the New Victoria County History of Hampshire.
  • Local and family historians everywhere via the interactive websites of the Overland Trade Project (a detailed study of pre-industrial inland trade) and of the 1549 rebellions.

Underpinning research

Over the past fifteen years Winchester's historians have published research in all periods of local and regional history (mainly Wessex) from the Anglo-Saxons to the twentieth century. Emerita Prof. Yorke's books on the Anglo-Saxons, followed by Lavelle's on Royal Estates (2007) and Alfred's Wars (2010) have a strong Wessex focus. There are editions of the Southampton Brokage Book 1447-8 (Harwood, 2005-7), and The 1871 Winchester Census (James and Allen, 2007). Sandall co-authored the interactive website `1549 rebellions and the making of early modern England'. The following research projects are grounded on these solid academic foundations.

The Victoria County History (VCH) of Hampshire of 1901-14 was the prototype scholarly history of every English locality. Now available online, the `Hampshire VCH' attracts 100,000 web hits per year. The VCH still publishes volumes that now cover such topics as economy, landscape, government, public services, nonconformity and education missing from the original Hampshire VCH. Hence the project to revise, update, and greatly extend the `New Hampshire Victoria County History'. Work started in the Basingstoke area. The University seconded Dr Morrin as volunteer coordinator and trainer. Interim findings and transcripts are posted on the national VCH's `Explore' website: www.victoriacountyhistory.ac.uk/explore/search/content?f[0]=im_taxonomy_vocabulary_18%3A1044

The substantial booklet on Mapledurwell is the first of many parish histories of Hampshire to modern academic standards. It will feature in the first New VCH Hampshire red book.

Winchester's historians and research students have used the excellent archives of Southampton to research its historic port. Several PhD theses were published by Southampton Record Series (Butler 2007-10, Harwood 2008). Two relate to the remarkable brokage books of 1430-40 (Lewis 1993, Harwood 2008), recording all traffic through the Bargate and containing the largest dataset relating to English inland trade prior to the 18th eighteenth century. The Overland Trade Project developed by Hicks (in partnership with the GeoData Institute of the University of Southampton) created the freely-accessible web-mounted GIS-linked interactive database People, Places, and Commodities. This looked to rectify the data-processing shortcomings of earlier paper publications and other works by Fryde (1996) and Duxbury (1996 and 2011) which undertook some such work but not the full analysis over the century 1430-1540 that the data deserves. Development was the work of Harwood, whose Southampton Brokage Book 1447-8 was an important staging post. Trade in all commodities within years, over a century, of particular places, by carters and suppliers can be visualised online. Placing twelve volumes online in readily searchable and analysable form, therefore, constitutes excellent research in its own right. The website went live in 2013.The final stage is the multi-authored book of the project English Inland Trade 1430-1540: Southampton and its Region, part-funded by the British Academy. This will be published both online and as hard copy by Oxbow in 2014. The book parallels the classic books using customs records on English overseas trade by Power, Postan, Coleman, M.K. James, Veale, and Lloyd.

References to the research

The following works have been included as outputs, or as part of the research environment, in previous RAE cycles and this REF cycle and are appropriate for at least a 2* rating.

T.B. James & M.A. Allen (eds.), 1871 Winchester Census, Winchester Historical Database RAE 2008


W.A. Harwood (ed.), Southampton Brokage Book 1447-8, Southampton Record Series (2008); also Winchester Historical Databases 1 (2005).


R. Lavelle, Alfred's Wars: Sources and Interpretations of Anglo-Saxon Warfare in the Viking Age, REF 2014


Warfare in History series (Boydell, 2010)


J. Hare, J. Morrin & S. Waight, Mapledurwell, Victoria County History of Hampshire, University of London

(2012). See also the related website http://explore.englandspastforeveryone.org.uk/

M. Hicks (ed.), English Inland Trade, c.1430-1540. Three chapters have been posted here: http://www.winchester.ac.uk/academicdepartments/history/research/overland/Pages/English-Inland-Trade-1430-1540.aspx


B.A.E. Yorke, Nunneries and the Anglo-Saxon Royal Houses (Continuum, 2003) RAE 2008


Grants received:

Charlotte Bonham-Carter Trust: £2,589 (2008); £3,000 (2011); The Pilgrim Trust: £2,758 (2009)

Details of the impact

Impact is achieved in three principal ways: by enhancing the knowledge and understanding of local historians; by enhancing the understanding of volunteers and communities covered by the Victoria County History; and by creating resources to all the localities within Southampton's hinterland for local and family historians.

For thirty years Winchester's historians have run many of Wessex's local history societies, journals and record series. Winchester's historians have made major contributions to the Wessex environment as indicated under research environment in RAEs 1996-2008. All these researchers have engaged in transferring academic scholarship to more popular audiences. A key medium, here, is word of mouth via the freely accessible research seminars of the University's Wessex Centre and its twice-yearly day conferences in Winchester and Salisbury. These have covered such topics as Danes in Wessex, Death and Commemoration, Rural Landlords, Landscapes and Church Organisation. Two volumes of proceedings are forthcoming. The Wessex Centre also organises a dozen research seminars a year at the University and the Hampshire Record Office. These conferences and research seminars seek to inform and spread best practice in local history throughout the region. Many of our speakers have been mature PhD and MA students. Advertised by postings through local societies and e-mails to local historians in the region, the eleven conferences have attracted 550 delegates overall and the 85 research seminars drew more than 2,000 individual attendances. Winchester's historians contribute to similar conferences elsewhere, such as the two Rye Partnership conferences (2010, 2012) organised by Hicks.

History staff's prominent role in the local history of Wessex, especially Hampshire, enabled them to form the New Victoria County History of Hampshire partnership with Hampshire County Record Office and two charitable trusts, the Hampshire Field Club (county archaeological society) and Hampshire Archives Trust. The Lord Lieutenant is patron and a county councillor is chairperson. Research is undertaken by forty volunteers, mainly retired and/or members of local societies, trained and coordinated by Dr Morrin, seconded by the University. The project educates (and thus impacts on) the volunteers, who learn to undertake research on their own communities while writing and posting results on the open access VCH `Explore' website. This is a model to be adopted for other counties. Mapledurwell is unique as the first completed parish history produced by volunteers anywhere in England. The entire initial print run was purchased immediately by local residents. Within the charitable status of the Hampshire Archives Trust, the necessary funding has come from private donations, and grants from parish councils and the Bulldog Trust, Charlotte Bonham-Carter, Marc Fitch, and national VCH trusts.

Yorke's research underpinned her two exhibitions in Winchester on `Hyde 900 Exhibition' (organiser, 2010) and `Alfred the Great: Warfare, Wealth and Wisdom' (researcher, 2006-8), two local events of national and even international reach. Of 295 visitors to the Alfred exhibition, 84% found it very enjoyable or enjoyable (Final Report 2008). `Hyde 900' attracted more than 10,000 visitors over 4 months and was highly rated in interviews, online surveys and the evaluation report Treasures of Hyde Abbey (2010). James' longstanding conservation project culminated in his Clarendon. Landscape of Kings (with Gerrard, 2007). Lavelle has continued and developed the work of both Yorke on the Anglo-Saxons and James on the landscape.

The impact of the Overland Trade Project is manifested in the wide availability of accessible data relevant to local and family historians wherever they are located. It is explicitly academic research for the benefit of non-academic audiences. Hence the support received from Southampton City Council, owner of the archive, and the grants from the Charlotte Bonham-Carter and Pilgrim Trusts. It records the distribution of commodities throughout south-central England, much of it via Salisbury and London, and beyond, as far afield as Coventry and Kendal. It thus contributes to the local history of all these places, including Frome, Cirencester, Winchester and Salisbury. Local historians can locate data relating to local industry, businesses and transport facilities that are available nowhere else. Moreover the database contains many thousands of names of carters, traders and consumers, each identified by place and date and often by family connections, which are a huge and highly significant resource for family historians interested in tradesmen and artisans of the pre-parish register area. The website `People, Places and Commodities 1430-1540' permits searches, collation, and analysis linked to a particular date by anyone with web access anywhere. An overarching framework and guidance will be provided by the book English Inland Trade 1430-1540: Southampton and its Region to be re-published by Oxbow in 2014.

Sources to corroborate the impact

  • Evaluation reports on exhibitions: Winchester City Council, Treasures of Hyde Abbey (2010); Tourism South-East, Alfred the Great Exhibition 2008: Final Report (2008).
  • Attendance figures at conferences organised by the Wessex Centre for History and Archaeology.
  • Grant letters and emails: Pilgrim Trust, Charlotte Bonham-Carter Trust
  • Letters of support 2010: Renaissance South East; Victoria County History, Hampshire; Joint Committee of Southampton Records Series; Hobnob Press (Sarum Chronicle); Lower Test Valley Archaeological Study Group.
  • Website hits from Google Analytics: Overland site will record hits separately as will the 1549 rebellions site.
  • Explore postings