University of West England Launch of A History of Wiltshire XVIII: Cricklade and Environs at Cricklade United Church Hall, Calcutt Street, Cricklade, SN6 6AZ On Saturday 10 September 2011, 2.00 – 5.00pmThe latest volume in the Wiltshire Victoria County History (VCH) series, on Cricklade and its Environs, is about to be launched on 10 September by Wiltshire Council and historians from the University of the West of England. The Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire, John Bush OBE, will formally present a copy of the new volume to the leader of Wiltshire Council, Councillor Jane Scott, at the United Church Hall in Cricklade. Work on the definitive history of Wiltshire has been going on since 1947, and the project has been a part of the UWE history department since 2004, and a large part of the funding has come from UWE’s Wallscourt Foundation.
The new volume tells the story of the town of Cricklade from its origins as part of King Alfred’s defences against the Vikings, and its medieval career as a roadside market town, to its notoriety as a pocket borough, and its more recent role as a dormitory for Swindon. The character of the area was greatly changed in the nineteenth century with the arrival of the railways and the expansion of Swindon into a major urban settlement. Dr Virginia Bainbridge, who is County Editor of VCH Wiltshire, and her colleague Dr Alex Craven are both from UWE’s History department and are researching the history of Wiltshire towns and villages for the Victoria County History of England (VCH). Virginia said, “This new volume, produced in co-operation with the local communities, demonstrates the vitality of historical research within Wiltshire. It charts the history of Cricklade and its environs, from pre-history to the founding of Anglo-Saxon burh as part of King Alfred’s defences against the Vikings, from the civil war to its highly controversial political culture in the eighteenth century, to its modern-day role as a satellite to Swindon. The research of VCH Wiltshire is only made possible thanks to the continuing support of Wiltshire Council and the University of the West of England.” Dr Steve Poole, Director of UWE’s Regional History Centre, said, “This is a magnificent achievement and shows once again the real value of deep, tightly focussed regional research. More than a century after its founding, the VCH remains at the forefront of our continuing fascination with the history of place, and the vital role played by locale in the history of the nation. UWE, and the Regional History Centre, are immensely proud to be associated with its work in Wiltshire.” The launch will be celebrated by events at Cricklade and Purton museums in the morning. There will also be an illustrated talk by Dr John Chandler, a contributing author to the volume, visiting research fellow at UWE and recently appointed editor of VCH Gloucestershire. The VCH was founded in 1899 as a private enterprise, with the intention of producing a history of each English county. This latest volume, Wiltshire XVIII, covers the area to the west of Swindon, which was once the western half of Highworth, Cricklade and Staple hundred. The volume also contains the histories of the ancient parishes of Ashton Keynes, Eisey, Latton, Leigh, Lydiard Millicent, Marston Meysey, Minety and Purton with Braydon. Much of this area fell within the boundaries of the royal forest of Braydon during the middle ages. Mr Bush, who is also the patron of the Wiltshire VCH County Appeal Trust, said, “It is always a delight when another volume of the Victoria County History is published for Wiltshire. Being able to read about the development of specific areas of Wiltshire provides an invaluable insight into the historical development of our county, whilst providing a wonderful research resource for many.” Other speakers at the launch will include John Tetlow – Chairman of Cricklade Town Council; Elizabeth Williamson – VCH Executive Editor, London University; Dr Peter Fleming – UWE and Christopher Newbury -Wiltshire Councillor and Chair of Wiltshire VCH Advisory Committee. Article is a press release at http://info.uwe.ac.uk/news/uwenews/news.aspx?id=2074