Annual report and accounts

Professor Keith Lilley writes about the past year's activities of the Historic Towns Trust

50th anniversary of the HTT

2019 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the first BHTA (1969), and the first such atlas in Europe. Conscious of the significance of this occasion the Board developed plans for a series of public events for Autumn 2019 particularly aimed at raising the public and professional profile of the HTT. This programme included an Oxford University Department of Continuing Education (OUDCE) day-school, on ‘Mapping the Town’, involving a number of Trustees, and a second event, led by Prof Barron, aimed at existing and potential supporters and friends of the HTT, held at Skinners’ Hall, London, with the launch of the Medieval London map and a talk by Sir Simon Jenkins.

Public outreach

In addition, the HTT was represented at the 2018 North American Conference on British Studies, as well as the 2019 Irish Historic Towns Atlas (IHTA) annual seminar at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. The HTT convened a session at the 2019 International Medieval Congress in Leeds in July, which was well attended, and again raised the profile of the work of the Trust internationally. Local events in the UK with a HTT presence included the annual Oxfordshire Family History Day (October 2018), and presentations and talks at Ludlow (April 2019) and Guildford (April 2019). The Ludlow event was designed to test out local interest in a potential HTA map of the town, while the contribution at Guildford followed initial interest expressed there for a HTA.

The Royal Irish Academy ‘Irish Historic Towns Atlas Annual Seminar’, May 2019 in Dublin, held in partnership with the HTT, on the theme of “Seascapes and Townscapes—Ports and the nineteenth-century city”. Picture of the plenary panel discussion convened by HTT chair Keith Lilley, seen on the right (Photo: RIA/IHTA)


Progress continues to be made on HTT publications. The next British Historic Towns Atlas (BHTA) in the landmark series is Vol 7 (Oxford), expected for 2020 publication. Sales for BHTA Vols 5 and 6 (York and Winchester) continue to be strong, as are sales of HTT maps, including Tudor London, York and Winchester. Thanks to generous grants (totalling £9500), the HTT was able to progress the creation of a new Historical Map of Medieval London in the Town & City Historical Maps series to complement the existing Map of Tudor London.

Developing new projects

For future HTT publications, discussions took place with Canterbury Archaeological Trust on developing a new map and atlas of Canterbury, a collaboration that includes Canterbury Christ Church University. A fundraising plan for the Canterbury project is in place and progress has been made identifying suitable base-mapping. New HTT Town & City Historical Map projects also progressed for Bristol in 1480, Cambridge and Coventry, each involving HTT Trustees on local committees. A possible new map for Ludlow was discussed with local groups there, and also a possible map for Edinburgh. Future HTT publications are always a topic examined by Trustees; a timetable and plan has been proposed for future atlas and map projects.

Evolving the HTT

To assist with an ongoing internal review of HTT governance an ‘Away Day’ for Trustees was held in London (21 March 2019). The event was facilitated for HTT by Mark Crabtree and the outcomes of the event were circulated to Trustees to reformulate the organisation and contributions of Trustees. The Away Day resulted in a new governance structure for the HTT designed to maximise capacity of the Trust in three key areas: ‘programmes and projects’, ‘marketing outreach and communications’, and ‘fundraising and friend-raising’.

International co-operation

The International Commission for the History of Towns (ICHT)—the umbrella organisation for the European national historic towns atlases projects—required an additional UK representative. The ICHT is governed by a General Assembly (GA) made up of membership from across Europe and the UK’s representation comprises three members. Two HTT Trustees already sitting on the ICHT GA, Prof K Lilley and Prof R Sweet presented Prof V Harding for nomination, a proposal which was passed in September 2019 by the ICHT Assembly. This means the ICHT now has three UK members, and this will help forge closer links between the ICHT and the HTT.


Keith Lilley

April 2020


The HTT's accounting year runs from 1st October to 30th September. The report and accounts for the Historic Towns Trust for the year ended 30th September 2020 are available below to view as a PDF.