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News: 16 December 2017


Focus on Local History
If you are interested in local history Images of England may provide the perfect resource to aid your research.

'Pip's Graves', Cooling, Kent - IoE number: 172854 © Mr M.K Lofthouse The Images of England site allows you to search under several criteria including location, building type, materials and period it was built in. It can also be searched under "Associated People". For example, a search for all the buildings and structures associated with the Victorian author Charles Dickens, identified 53 listed building records that include a reference to Charles Dickens. Dickens travelled widely across England and there are a number of houses recorded on the database that the writer lived in including No. 11 Ordnance Terrace, Chatham. This was the home of the Dickens's family from 1817 - 1821. Many of the buildings found in the database were a source of influence or inspiration to Dickens in his writing. He stayed at the Royal Hotel in Great Yarmouth while writing David Copperfield and met James Sharman, Keeper of Nelson's column, on whom it is said he based the character of Ham Peggotty. The search also retrieved a photograph of a row of ten children's tombs in Kent. Known locally as "Pip's Graves", it is thought that these tombs were the inspiration for the first scene of Great Expectations.
It is not just authors who are recorded in the listed building records. Designers, architects and engineers can also be researched on the Images of England site. Searching under Isambard Kingdom Brunel results in 120 listed building records being identified. These include images of his work such as the spectacular Clifton Suspension Bridge as well as more biographical listings such as his home Cheyne Walk, Chelsea and the family tomb in Kensal Green. Clifton Suspension Bridge - IoE number: 379208 © Mrs Joy Roddy LRPS
Hannah Twynnoy's grave, Malmesbury, Wiltshire - IoE number: 460903 © Mr G Williams Searching for "Associated People" is fine if you are researching a notable figure but if you aren't lucky enough to have such a person to research how can Images of England help you? Even if you are already familiar with the listed buildings you are studying you might not have seen the statutory listing for them. These listings might give you some surprising connections. Perhaps the stained glass in a Parish Church is by a notable designer such as Kempe or an eminent architect might have designed a property. If the building was on the statutory lists at the start of the 21st Century, it is likely that you will find it on the Images of England site. The images can also be used to compare the surroundings. As each of the images is of the exterior of the building it gives a good idea of the context of the property. Comparing the recent picture on Images of England with older pictures will give you a good idea of how the area has changed.

As well as buildings, the Images of England database also has some more unusual listings. There are over 2000 gravestones currently listed on the website. Where the inscriptions are legible, they are often included in the list description. Searching for gravestones in Malmesbury brings back the unusual result of Hannah Twynnoy who was killed in 1703 by a tiger perhaps not what you would expect for 18th Century Malmesbury!

The database can also be used to find information and photographs on telephone and post boxes, milestones, and windmills to name but a few of the interesting but unusual listed structures. Modern buildings also feature as listed buildings, for example, the Trellick Tower in West London, which was designed in 1967.

All of the ideas above will give you a way of discovering your local area's heritage by using the Images of England website.

If you are a member of a local history group who uses the Images of England website for your research we would love to hear from you. Please contact Alexandra Saxon by e-mail: alexandra.saxon@english-heritage.org.uk


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