New local history publications.
Most local history publications are by definition, a labour of love; however exciting the scholarship or research, the authors often face Herculean labours in getting their work published and distributed. It is heartening then to see that much of the material appearing recently should be broad enough to attract a wide range of potential readers.
The Long March of Everyman from the Norman Conquest to the Channel Tunnel is a favourite genre in telling the tale of local communities and this is the approach used in The House on the Hill: A Petham Record 1086-1986, by J.R.V. Thompson (available from The Albion Bookshop, Mercery Lane, Canterbury CTI 2JJ). The author tells the story of this Kentish village near Canterbury from its first mention in the Domesday Book of 1086 (where its pre-Conquest value was given as seventeen pounds, six shillings and sixpence) through to the effects of the 1987 hurricane.
Another approach is the 'great man behind the great house' monograph and Richard Smith, the former librarian of Nottingham University, has done justice in Sir Francis Willoughby of Woolaton Hall (available from City of Nottingham Arts Department, 51 Castle Gate, Nottingham NG1 6AF) to a Tudor entrepreneur and builder, and to the extraordinary family battle over his inheritance built out of coalmining, a tale which would rank worthily with the best inventions of the TV soap operas Dynasty or Dallas.