Archived news

Gordon Forster

We are sad to announce that one of the Historic Towns Atlas's longest-serving supporters, Gordon Forster, died on the 22nd July. 

Gordon was for many years a trustee of the Historic Towns Trust and acted as Honorary Secretary for many of its meetings, carefully noting the proceedings in long hand and producing an immaculate copy for typing up.  Latterly, when Gordon ceased to be able to be a more active member of the Trust, he was very pleased to become an Emeritus Member.

Gordon was a Senior Lecturer in, and Chairman of, the School of  History, University of Leeds through most of his working life having been an undergraduate there.  He was known for his encouragement of the study of local and regional history, bringing it to the department at a time when it was regarded as a second-rate area of research.  He was also - for fifty years - the editor of the journal Northern History.

Gordon had a very close association with the Historic Towns Atlas of York (Vol. V) and helped to shape the contents of the chapter devoted to York's early modern history, contributing much scholarship to that section and to its maps.

Gordon Forster was a scholarly and meticulous researcher, but also a kind and approachable man, down to earth and practical, with a gentle sense of humour. He was also a true gentleman, diplomatic in his language and gracious and considerate towards other people.

An obituary by colleagues at the University of Leeds can be found on the University's School of History web pages.

(Archived 20 Sept 2017)

London Map and London's Clerks

Professor Malcolm Richardson, Taylor Professor of English at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA, has been using the map of London in 1520 to form the background for a project to record the known locations of clerks in late medieval London.  Professor Richardson has used the map, which first appeared in Volume III and has since been published separately, to map a number of aspects of the clerks of London.

Professor Richardson and his wife Gabriele (a GIS expert) have taken part of the map, originally produced by M.D.Lobel and Henry Johns, to make a series of new maps which give geographical locations to the clerks.  Prof Richardson gave a presentation to the American Association of Geographers using five maps which he and his wife created:

  1. All (or most) legal inns, including the Inns of Court, c.1350-1470
  2. The Inns of Chancery, c.1450-1470
  3. Legal inns associated with clerks of the royal chancery to c.1417
  4. Legal inns associated with chancery clerks which later became Inns of Chancery
  5. Inns leased by married chancery clerks

One of the maps produced by Gabriele and Malcolm Richardson

Professor Richardson writes about the map of 'Inns of Married Chancery Clerks':

'The map suggests not only that a significant number of early London legal inns were run not by lawyers but by clerks of the royal chancery, who served as instructors of legal writing, but that many of these innkeeper-teacher-clerks were married and were assisted in running their hospicia by their wives. Apparently the royal clerks, who were supposed to be celibate members of the clergy at that time, were willing to forego advancement in the bureaucracy by marrying, and consequently female inn managers played a larger role in the legal inns than has been thought.'

More information on the project and on Professor Richardson can be found at his website.

(archived 31 January 2017)

HTT publishes an Historical Map of Oxford

The Historic Towns Trust has launched its own imprint entitled Town and City Historical Maps. The first publication under this new venture is An Historical Map of Oxford which is now available and was launched officially on January 21st 2016.  The launch took place in the Divinity School of the Bodleian Library Oxford. At the launch, an invited audience was able to see the map in the context of some of the best-known maps of Oxford such as David Loggan's maps of the 1670s and Ralph Agas's map of the late 16th century, which were on display in the Divinity School's proscholium.

The map, derived from the principal map of the British Historic Towns Atlas of Oxford (due for publication in 2017) shows the city of Oxford's main medieval and post-medieval public buildings in the context of the city in 1876.  The first large-scale OS map of the city has been selectively digitised and forms the background for displaying the complex topographical development of Oxford, one of Europe's most iconic university cities.

The cover of the Historical Map of Oxford

The map also carries a gazetteer of the most important sites and buildings shown on this map. Of interest to local historians, family historians, and to those who know this remarkable city well, the full-colour map is now available, priced £8.99.  More details can be found here.

Julian Munby, head of buildings archaeology at Oxford Archaeology, Trustee of the Historic Towns Trust, and one of the authors behind the Historical Map of Oxford spoke about the map, historic Oxford and how the map helps people to understand Oxford's history on BBC Radio Oxford's Bill Heine show on Sunday 17th January. 

The map was also featured, complete with many extracts from it as illustrations, in a fascinating and informative article by Malcolm Graham (contributor to the map and to the Oxford atlas project) in the Limited Edition supplement to the Oxford Times, published on Thursday 7th January.

(archived 31 January 2017)

Professor James Campbell

It is with great sadness that the Historic Towns Trust has to report that it has lost one of its longest-serving members, Professor James Campbell FBA FSA, who died at the end of May.

Professor Campbell had long been a trustee and member of the Trust, and a valued contributor to the whole atlas project.  He was the author of the atlas of Norwich which appeared in volume II.  Latterly, with failing health, he had become an Emeritus Member of the Historic Towns Trust, playing a less active role, but continuing to take a keen interest in the Trust's current projects. 

Born in 1935, he attended Lowestoft Grammar School and was then an Exhibitioner at Magdalen College, Oxford.  Most of his academic career was spent in Oxford as a Fellow of Worcester College and latterly as Reader (1990 to 1996) and then Professor (1996 to 2002) of Medieval History in the University of Oxford.  His area of speciality was Anglo-Saxon England.

An obituary of Professor Campbell by Charles Insley from History Today can be found here.

(archived 26 October 2016)

Oxford Atlas makes significant progress

The Historic Towns Atlas of Oxford is making significant progress, and funding to complete it has been given a boost following the launch of the Historical Map of Oxford described above. 

The creation of the principal map of the atlas, at a scale of 1:2500 is essentially complete and has formed the basis for the Historical Map of Oxford. We now need to produce a series of maps showing Oxford at key points in its development.

In order to complete the atlas, we need to find the funds to undertake the cartography, production and printing work necessary.  We have already received some very generous donations towards the project.  Can you help? Are you inspired by history and historical maps?  If so, please see our web page on how you can help us.

(Archived 31 Aug 2016)


Map of Roman York has magical effects!

Adam Parker, Assistant Curator of Archaeology at the Yorkshire Museum, is to use the map of Roman York to illustrate a paper he is giving in April.  Adam is undertaking a PhD with the Open University on magic in the Roman world and will be giving a talk to the Roman Finds Group's conference entitled Finds from Roman York, Brigantia, and Beyond.

Adam writes: '‘Magic’, in the Roman world, is a catch-all term used to describe all of the supernatural elements of daily life that fall outside the scholarly definition of 'religion’. It has traditionally been studied alongside religion, both as a related phenomenon and as a standalone concept. As a concept, ‘magic’ is difficult to define, largely because of its complex relationship with religion and other forms of ritual practice. This paper intends to examine the range of material culture which has been variously described as ‘magical’ within its geographical, chronological and material contexts in order to assess the implications of this interlinked approach and what it can tell us about the functions of magic in the Roman world.'

The map of York around AD200, which is published in the British Historic Towns Atlas volume on York, will be used to show the location of finds in York.  Details of Adam's research can be found on his Academia page, and further information about the Roman Finds Group and its conference in York at the start of April can be found here.

(Archived July 2016)

Windsor and Eton atlas available

Historic Towns Atlas on Windsor and Eton  is also now available.  Published by the Historic Towns Trust, the atlas is distributed by Oxbow Books, at £55.00 in the UK.  An on-line order form can be found at Oxbow's website. The volume has been simultaneously published in the United States through Casemate and the price is $99.95. North American customers can order the volume here.

The atlas was launched at Windsor Castle on the 25th March 2015 when 60 distinguished guests came to the Vicars' Hall (part of the College of St George) for a reception. Dr David Lewis, the principal author of the volume, gave an entertaining and informative short introduction to the atlas, and guests had the opportunity to purchase a copy and to inspect its contents.  The atlas was enthusiastically received and the occasion had a very positive feel to it.

(Archived July 2016)