29 April 2013

Local and Community History Month

May is also Local and Community History Month.

The aim of the month is to increase awareness of local history, promote history in general to the local community and encourage people to participate.

You probably think that your local area is dull and boring with no history, but this is unlikely to be true. Almost everywhere in Britain is at least close to an ancient village or town, and a surprising number of places had something interesting going on.

There may well have been a manor house. What is the history of your local church — although it may be less than 200 years old, is it on the site of an earlier church? Was there a lost monastery or a royal deer park?

Just as an example, I was brought up in what is now a fairly dull, northern suburb of London; but I lived very close to the site of the Elizabethan Theobalds Palace (of which fragments still remain, see above) and to Waltham Abbey. Where I live now once had a trotting track, which was one of the earliest speedway tracks in the country — but, despite the layout still being visible in the modern roads, no-one seems to know!

So who knows what you will find out about your local area? The fun is in not knowing, and of finding out. It is like a treasure map of local community secrets.

Activities happen across the UK and include trips, library exhibitions and local lectures.  It is a great way for groups to highlight local history and for local people to get involved. 

Local and Community History Month is organised by the Historical Association and there is a database of activities on their website at www.history.org.uk/resources/general_resource_1567_55.html.

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