These are the flagship publications of the Society, each written by a leading expert in the field and, at the time of writing, taking account of the latest research on the particular period or topic under discussion.
Each book has been prepared under the direction of the SLHA History of Lincolnshire Committee, of which Professor John V Beckett, University of Nottingham, is the current chairman. Further details of the Committee, its operation and plans for the future may be obtained from SLHA.
The original task undertaken by the Society to prepare 12 volumes covering the main historical periods of the County's development was completed in 2000. A new series entitled Studies in the History of Lincolnshire was then launched to deal in detail with particular aspects of Lincolnshire's past. (Read fuller details below.)
The Committee plans to publish several new titles in the near future.
Prospective authors are encouraged to submit proposals to SLHA.
The History of Lincolnshire
Paperback ISBN 978 0902668263, £19.99 (£23.14 by post UK)
R W Ambler, 2000
HARDBACK NOW REDUCED IN PRICE: WAS £9.95
Hardback ISBN 0 902668 17 X, £7.95 (£11.50 by post UK)
Paperback ISBN 0 902668 18 8, £4.95 (£7.75 by post UK)
Seeks to understand developments in religious life between 1660 and 1900 through an exploration of its place in the lives of local communities of the County. This is an account of how the development of Protestant dissent, the Evangelical Revival, the rise of Methodism, the transformation of the Church of England, and the changes in the Roman Catholic Church affected and were shaped by the people of Lincolnshire.
Rod Ambler is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Hull. He has written a number of papers on the social and religious history of local communities, especially in north Lincolnshire, where for many years he has worked as adult education tutor.
Review 1: David W Bebbington, University of Stirling
in English Historical Review, Volume 118 (2003)
The last volume to appear in the History of Lincolnshire series covers the religious life of the country from the Restoration to the end of the nineteenth century. Written by Rod Ambler, Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Hull, who is immensely knowledgeable on the subject, it adopts a definite theme. The central contention is the vibrancy of the autonomous parish community. Members of each parish were not so much victims of ineluctable social change (there may be a polemical thrust here against Jim Obelkevich's Religion and Rural Society (Clarendon P.,1976), which stresses the involvement of the churches of part of Lincolnshire in class formation) as active agents in the transformation of their lives. Thus infant baptisms took place not at the time specified in the Book of Common Prayer but when it suited the parishioners; and churchwardens reported ‘omnia bene’ to visitation enquiries in order to protect the community from unwelcome outside interference.
Even Dissent was bound up in parish life, far more closely than most commentators have suggested for the earlier part of the period. Thus the Nonconformists numbered some substantial property-owners in their ranks; and the Baptists, lacking the separate poor relief system of the Quakers, looked to the parish to provide for their needy. Fringe attenders helped blur the boundary between the core church members and the rest of the community.
There is a wealth of evidence, very often presented in statistical form, on many other issues usually discussed less concretely in the standard literature on religion in the period. Thus clerical non-residence was clearly a serious problem: sixty-three per cent of incumbents were non-resident in 1790, still sixty-two per cent in 1832 but then only thirty-eight per cent by 1853.
Ambler argues for weak bonds between clergymen and their flocks, which may help explain why at the 1851 census one village recorded a parish church attendance of only three. That must also be a factor in explaining the huge impact of Methodism on the county. The Methodists clearly gained by revivals, and this is one area where more might have been said. The reader is assumed to understand what took place in a revival, so that no example is analysed. In particular the revivalists centred on Louth, which broke away from Wesleyanism to create a strong United Methodist Free Churches presence in the area, deserve further scrutiny.
It is a pity that the sources have been listed in the bibliography not in the standard form, by author or manuscript collection, but in order of abbreviations used in the book, an arrangement that makes them difficult to comprehend. The sources, however, have been trawled with immense care and insight. The result is an appraisal of the religious life of a county in all its main denominations that carries conviction and authority.
Review 2: Andrew Chandler, George Bell Institute, Birmingham
in Midland History, Volume 33 (2007)
Seven years have now passed since this impeccable study first appeared in the multi-volume History of Lincolnshire, published by the Society for Lincolnshire History and Archeology. R.W. Ambler is Senior Lecturer in the Department of History at Hull University, and not the least of his qualifications for the task here is an edition of the 1851 religious census returns for the county, published in 1979, and a later portrait of Primitive Methodism in South Lincolnshire. These two studies have clearly laid deep foundations for this far more extensive survey, and the dividends are rich. It is a steady, self-assured and impressive excavation of the subject, and surely the definitive work of its kind.
The chronological frame is a broad one, and essentially it is set down by national, rather than local narratives. With 1660 comes the Stuart restoration, while 1900 may well be taken to usher in a new age in which the bustling, diverse world of communal religion which this book examines so intricately would soon wane. Ambler finds much local material to substantiate what are now recognized as general trends. The new Church of England of Charles II finds its feet unsteadily but is soon secure. Dissent persists, showing something more than sectarian reality, for they are religious forces rooted strongly in the soil of the region and the relationships of an essentially agricultural social order. Catholicism evolves from being the preserve of great families; Presbyterianism is a force in the towns; Independency struggles somewhat in much the same terrain; Baptists are conspicuous throughout the region and do better in rural areas.
Time brings alterations and new perspectives. The worship of the Church and the practices of the clergy shift markedly across the eighteenth century. As elsewhere, it is the growth of institutions of education and voluntary societies which by degrees convert the Church from a stable establishment force into a livelier power in the communities, one through which the winds of popular participation blow gustily. The world of Dissent, too, is by the early nineteenth century a 'transformed' one. Ambler writes well of the interior worlds of faith and devotion which these traditions spawned, describing their attitudes and practices in matters of 'order' and discipline, charity, education, piety and theology.
The emergence of Methodism in the north of the county and among villages with strong labouring populations is traced with a fine pen. These are all developments evoked not only by a remarkable succession of individuals, congregations and passing situations, but by the very architecture of religious life. New Bolingbroke Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, a pure and simple expression of 1825, speaks of limited means and disdains any seeking after superficial effect. By contrast, the imposing façade of Market Rasen Wesleyan Methodist chapel, a miracle of 1863, shows a religious force which had truly arrived as a social power, and one that was in no doubt of its claims.
In the second half of the nineteenth century the establishment was setting its house in order nationally, its clergy busy in residence across the parishes, benefiting from a growth in popular involvement and sensing, no doubt, a strong whiff of competition in the air. There is little here of the significance of the new manoeuvres of higher authorities; of the pastoral bishops and vigorous archdeacons to whom Arthur Burns has more recently attached the vision of a diocesan revival on the Church of England. But Ambler's exploration of community life in the Victorian age allows us to see how parish life achieved a more insistent rhythm; Sunday services increase in number (not necessarily with much popular effect) and Ritualism brings new enthusiasms, perhaps among as many as half of the clergy of the diocese. It is enough to cause righteous consternation among the ranks of the Protestant Church Association. Social rites show all traditions setting to work in a veritable free market of religious loyalties.
Meanwhile, churches and chapels themselves are not merely preserved but turned into various kinds of gothic — further evidence not merely of the loyalty of numbers but the fresh opportunities brought by new riches. Irish immigration increases and redefines the Roman Catholic Church in towns like Grimsby and in Lincoln itself. By the last third of the century every tradition is awash with self-improvement classes, charitable bodies, Sunday schools, schools altogether, temperance societies and missions. Nonconformity of all strains exulted in its hey-day. It was enough to disconcert Bishop Edward King and alter the social roles assumed by his clergy. But, as Ambler observes, the Church's 'inherent historic institutional strength' would see it through.
Within only a decade or so, all of this was looking vulnerable, owing not least to regional economic frailty which brought the beginning of a great migration from the countryside. The book ends rather abruptly, the author perhaps wishing to avoid an undue generalization or broad provocation. But its basic points have been well made. This offers a rich mine of information for any committed religious or social historian and it will certainly deserve a place on their shelves. For the historian of the modern Midlands, it must provide an essential point of reference.
Prehistoric Lincolnshire (Volume I)
Jeffrey May, 1976
Roman Lincolnshire (Volume II)
J B Whitwell, 1970 and 1992
Deals with the Roman invasion of Lincolnshire and the effects of the occupation - the distribution of towns and rural settlements, roads and canals, industries, trade and religion. Special attention is given to Lincoln, one of the few Roman coloniae in Britain. The study concludes with an account of the collapse of Roman rule and its effects on the region. Ben Whitwell, an expert in the archaeology of Roman Britain, is a former Keeper of the City and County Museum in Lincoln.
Anglo-Saxon Lincolnshire (Volume III)
Land and People in Medieval Lincolnshire (Volume IV)
Graham Platt, 1985
Church and Society in Medieval Lincolnshire (Volume V)
Dorothy M Owen, 1971, 2nd edition 1990, ISBN 0 902668 13 7
The first general survey of Lincolnshire's medieval religious history. The main theme of the book is the role of the church in medieval Lincolnshire society. It describes the parochial setting of the county and discusses the origins of churches and chapels. It examines the effect of the Bishop's government, and of monks, nuns and friars on the life of the people of Lincolnshire.
Dorothy Owen was well known as an ecclesiastical historian and author of works on medieval religious history. At one time she worked as assistant Archivist in the Lincolnshire Archives Office and thus acquired detailed local knowledge.
Tudor Lincolnshire (Volume VI)
Gerald A J Hodgett, 1980
Seventeenth-Century Lincolnshire (Volume VII)
Clive Holmes, 1980
Agricultural Revolution in Lincolnshire (Volume VIII)
T W Beastall, 1978
Rural Society and County Government in Nineteenth-Century Lincolnshire (Volume X)
R J Olney, 1979
Lincolnshire Towns and Industry : 1770-1914 (Volume XI)
Neil Wright, 1982
Twentieth Century Lincolnshire (Volume XII)
Dennis Mills (Editor), 1989
Hardback 372pp, ISBN 0 902668 14 5
Reviews many aspects of the County's history from about 1900 to the 1970s: population change and urban growth, farming, industry, transport, the social impact of the RAF, holidaying and the conservation of the coast, the early days of planning, local and constituency politics, education, religion and spiritual life. Includes an important collection of old photographs which illustrate a wide range of Lincolnshire events and scenes.
Local authors with specialist knowledge write on 12 distinct themes.
History of Lincolnshire Committee
Some counties were lucky enough to have historical surveys prepared in pre-Victorian times; one thinks of Plot’s Oxfordshire, Hutchins’ two volume (later extended to four) study of Dorset and Hasted’s Kent. Lincolnshire has no equivalent.
The Victoria County History series was initiated at the end of the nineteenth century and, it was hoped, that in Lincolnshire’s case, a comprehensive record of the county’s history would result. Some counties hardly ‘got off the ground’ and Lincolnshire was one such. Only a Volume Two appeared and the project for this county has fallen by the wayside.
When Dr (later Professor) Alan Rogers heard that a committee had been set up in Cheshire to produce a history of that county he proposed to the Lincolnshire Local History Society that a similar project administered by the Rural Community Council be set up.
On 12 January 1966 a meeting was held in Lincoln Castle at which a History of Lincolnshire Committee was inaugurated. Shortly after, at a meeting in Nottingham University, Dr Joan Thirsk agreed to chair a group comprising Professor Bullough and Dr May (both Nottingham), Ben Whitwell (Lincoln City and County Museum), Dr Dorothy Owen (Cambridge), G A J Hodgett (King’s College, London), Dr Rogers and Mrs Simpson (Leicester).
Sufficient funding and guarantees were obtained so that the project could proceed. It was originally expected that there would be eleven volumes dealing with the county in a chronological sequence. It was also hoped that there would be two volumes issued each year since work from several potential authors seemed to be well in hand already.
By 1968 Dr Rogers had become Chairman and the committee had taken on a more Lincolnshire orientated colour with the inclusion of Tom Baker (Director, Lincoln City Libraries and Museum), the Lindsey & Holland County Librarian, the Lincolnshire County Archivist, Rex Russell and Jim English. Mr G R Watson became treasurer.
The early days were difficult owing to the failure of most of the intended authors to produce acceptable material. It was not until 1971 that Ben Whitwell’s volume Roman Lincolnshire appeared as the first of the series.
It also proved impossible to issue books in the order of the proposed chronological sequence. In the event, the final books of the series, now increased to twelve, did not appear until 1998 and 2000 and dealt with Anglo-Saxon Lincolnshire and Churches, Chapels and the Parish Communities of Lincolnshire, 1660-1900 respectively.
In the thirty years between the first and last of the series the Committee was chaired by Professor Maurice Barley, followed by Dr Dennis Mills and then by Professor John Beckett of Nottingham University; the personnel has also altered considerably.
Once the project had been completed the Committee decided to pursue a policy of publishing monographs on topics relating to the county but cutting across chronological distinctions by concentrating the focus on special subject areas or on specific geographical parts of the county.
The first three to be published in the new series are The Lincolnshire Wolds in the Nineteenth Century by Dr Charles Rawding (2001), Farming in Lincolnshire, 1850-1945 by Dr Jonathan Brown (2005) and Britons and Anglo-Saxons, AD 400-650 by Dr Thomas Green (2012). Other titles are in the pipeline.
The Editorial Board of the History of Lincolnshire Committee will consider the academic merits of any proposed volume, and the Committee will assess its commercial merits.
Books should comprise 80-90,000 words, with full scholarly apparatus, maps and appropriate illustrations.
No subject is excluded, but publications must satisfy the parameters of the series, and fit within the broad sweep of Lincolnshire's history and archaeology, taking into account the latest research on the particular period or topic under discussion.
Priority may be given to books with a broad spatial coverage and a reasonably long time span, but there is no obligation on an author to cover fixed periods or the whole county.