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The Wivenhoe Encyclopedia

About the Victoria History of the Counties of England

The Victoria History of the Counties of England was begun in 1899 and named, with her permission, after Queen Victoria. It has an international reputation as a work of reference for English local history. It aims to write the history of every county from the earliest times to the present day, working from original sources.

VCH Essex

Work on the Essex volumes, encouraged by the great Essex historian J. H. Round, began in London in the early 20th century. Financial difficulties and two world wars combined to disrupt the production of volumes, but in 1951 the local authorities in Essex entered into an agreement with London University to provide the money to complete the Essex volumes. A County Committee was set up, and a County Editor and Assistants appointed. In 1965 the Metropolitan area of Essex was taken out of the county to form the London Boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, and Waltham Forest, but Essex V.C.H. has continued to cover the area both in its topographical and in its bibliographical volumes. In 2000 the University of Essex entered into a partnership with Essex County Council and the Institute of Historical Research at London University to guarantee the continuation of the project. The County Editor and two Assistant Editors are now members of the History Department of the University), although they maintain close links with the Essex Record Office and other County Council departments concerned with history and heritage.

Areas Already Covered

Three general and seven topographical volumes have been published. The general volumes cover the whole county and deal with Natural History, Archaeology, and Domesday Book (Vol. I, 1903), Ecclesiastical, Political and Economic History,and Schools (Vol. II, 1907), and Roman Essex (Vol III, 1963). Each topographical volume contains accounts of c. 20 parishes, covering all aspects of each parish history. The Bibliography (1959), its Supplement (1987), and Second Supplement (2000) list printed works (mainly books, pamphlets, and articles in periodicals) published up to the end of 1995. All the volumes are available in major libraries, including Essex County Libraries in Chelmsford, Colchester, and Southend.

Volume I Natural History, Early Man, Ancient Earthworks, Anglo-Saxon Remains, and Domesday Book, ed. A. Doubleday and W. Page, 1903

Reprint ISBN 07129 0774 2

Volume II Ecclesiastical History, Religious Houses, Political History, Maritime History, Social and Economic History, Industries, Schools, and Sport, ed. W. Page and J. H. Round, 1907

Reprint ISBN 0 7129 0775 0

Volume III Roman Essex, by M. R. Hull, ed. W. R. Powell 1963

Reprint ISBN 0 7129 0776 9

Volume IV Ongar Hundred, ed. W. R. Powell, 1956

Reprint ISBN 0 7129 0777 7

Volume V Waltham Hundred, Becontree (part), ed. W. R. Powell, 1966

ISBN 0 19 722712 0

Volume VI Becontree Hundred (continued), ed. W. R. Powell, 1973

ISBN 0 19 722719 8

Volume VII Havering Liberty, Chafford Hundred (part), ed. W. R. Powell, 1979

ISBN 0 19 72270 1

Volume VIII Chafford Hundred (continued), Harlow Hundred, ed. W. R. Powell assisted by Beryl A. Board and Norma Knight, 1983

ISBN 0 19 7272721 X

Volume IX Colchester Borough, ed. Janet Cooper, 1994

ISBN 0 19 727784 8

Volume X Lexden Hundred (part), ed. Janet Cooper assisted by Shirley Durgan and C. C. Thornton, 2001

ISBN 0 19 722795 3

Reprints are available of parts of volumes in: Colchester 1835--1992 (ISBN 0 86025 300 7, 9.95) and Tudor and Stuart Colchester (ISBN 0 86025 302 3, 9.95) from Volume IX, and Harlow (ISBN 0 86025 301 5, 6.95) and Brentwood and South Weald (ISBN 0 86025 303 1, 6.95) from Volume VIII. They are distributed by Ian Henry Publications Ltd. and may be obtained from the Essex Record Office or other bookshops.
In addition to the general and topographical volumes, three bibliographical volumes have been published. They list printed and some typescript works on Essex history and topography (including articles in scholarly journals and Acts of Parliament) produced before the end of 1995.

Bibliography, 1959 Out of print

Bibliography Supplement, 1987 ISBN 0 19 722770 8

Bibliography, Second Supplement, 2000 ISBN 0 19 722794 5


Volume X (part of the Constable Country, including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe and surrounding parishes) was published in the autumn of 2001.

Much of the first six months of 2001 were spent seeing that volume through the press. The work involved careful proof-reading, and painstaking indexing of every one of the 307 pages. Even using a database which sorted the entries automatically, indexing alone took the whole of April, and then the index itself had to be proof-read.

In between the work on Volume X, and since its completion, the Essex staff have been planning and doing preparatory reading for the next volume which will cover the coastal district of Clacton, Frinton, Walton. Coastal history is a new departure for all of us, and we need to be sure that we understand its complexities. We also need to take time to see what has been published on Local History in general and Essex History in particular while we have been absorbed in the final stages of Volume X.

At the University of Essex, the VCH staff have contributed to the MA in Local Studies, including running a summer school on small towns in the Colchester region, drawing on the research carried out for Volume X. Chris Thornton has prepared a new module on Landscape History for the MA course in 2001/2.

Click here for the VCH web site


Last updated:
05 January 2015

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