I have enjoyed history for as long as I can remember; sometimes studying it, sometimes working with it, sometimes experiencing it, sometimes just soaking it up. As a child I loved the drama of famous people and great events – largely discovered through those wonderful 1960s Ladybird books. Since then I have discovered the fascination of history that is smaller scale and more local, the story of places and the people connected to them.
I love to see the places around me through the lens of history, adding the past as a fourth dimension to the landscape. Foor example, on my regular drive to work I pass the the site of World War II prisoner of war camp, the location of a medieval holy well, a grange of a medieval monastery, one of the oldest schools in the county, the site of another medieval religious foundation, an army barracks, an old coaching inn, a number of pubs, the entrance arch to a demolished ironworks – I could go on with a much longer list. And all these places are brought to life by their stories. The soldier who was punched by a comrade and tragically died after hitting his head on the brickwork of the entry arch of the army barracks; the former soldier who accidentally killed himself and three other employees in an explosion as he tried to dismantle a souvenir German shell in a workshop at the ironworks; the vicious assault on a pub by an angry mob in 1915 because although the landlord was naturalised British he had been born in Germany; the abbot executed in the grounds of his monastery because he refused to take Henry VIII’s oath of supremacy; the pilgrimages to the medieval well which were stopped by an edict of the bishop of Lincoln. Again, this just scratches the surface of the stories of the places I pass.
I have been thinking for a while about creating a place online where I can share my love of local history, tell the stories of some of the places I visit, and help readers to dig into the past and discover the stories of their own places. I am not sure yet quite what shape this blog will take. It will inevitably be biased towards my own local area – the counties of Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire – but I intend to travel further afield too, both in real life and online. I also hope to share some of the amazing work done by local history societies, archives and community projects to bring the past to life. I don’t know yet where else the blog may wander, but I would love you to join me on the journey.