Guest column: ‘History is not just about big events - it surrounds us’

History is often thought to be about big events: wars, treaties, kings and parliaments, writes David Thorpe, of the Bucks Local History Network.

Whatever the appeal of this, the reasons why our local areas have evolved over time should be of immediate interest to us all as local history surrounds our lives.

David Thorpe, from the Bucks Local History Network PNL-140828-160658001

David Thorpe, from the Bucks Local History Network PNL-140828-160658001

In Bucks, there are many groups who have taken this a step further by documenting their histories with maps, statistics and photographs.

For instance they show why is this road straight and that one crooked? Why is one village small and another large? Who originally lived in the houses in a given area?

Family history is said to be one of the fastest growing occupations. Local history is necessary to put one’s ancestors into context. It is easy to start by asking such questions as those set out above. Sources are the 19 century census returns and the large-scale plans of the Ordnance Survey. Local newspapers provide a further perspective. Many parts of the county have published local histories but much remains to be discovered. The sense of continuity that one gains from such investigations is very satisfying at a personal level.

At a community-level such continuity is even more important as it helps us see how we are the temporary custodians of our local patch.

A visit to a local studies section of a library, or the Old Gaol in Buckingham and the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies in Aylesbury, is a good way to start an interest in local history.

A better one is to attend the annual meeting of the Bucks Local History Network. This brings together the various local and county-wide groups to display some of their discoveries and to hear talks from expert speakers. This year the meeting is at the Royal Latin School on September 27.

The programme includes talks on the origin of the county, competition between Aylesbury and Buckingham and researching the local impact of WW1. National experts are to cover the historic maps of the county and the Ordnance Survey plans.