Many parishes produce a small history of the Parish and the Church. Over the years I have collected a small group of these histories.
The histories give us a really good understanding in the history of the Parish and the importance that The Church and Religion played in the lives of our ancestors.
We are then cast back into a time when the bells rang out across the parish calling parishioners to Church where they could give thanks for the the lives they had. The significance of the bells is important, many people could not read, and even if they were able to afford a clock the chances are they could not tell the time. Even now, when I hear bells ringing out on a Sunday I have a lovely feeling!
The depth of the booklets and histories varies considerably. I have several where a brief history is given, acting as a leverage to a published book. Others give more depth to the history of the parish. Whatever the data they provide they are a welcomed addition to understanding the environment that our ancestors lived in. They often provide further stepping stones to other archives.
One thing that does seem consistent is that each book provides brief details of Memorials and Pews within the Church and it is that information that can provide further data. Memorials are often made to substantial members of the parish - wealthy landowners and alike. Very often those same families had their own pews in the Church. It is well worth checking the archives of the records office and to see if there are any papers that relate to the well known family.
My own ancestry is in the Guildford area of Surrey. There were well known family archives and it is worth checking these papers and diaries to see if there is any references made.
- Loseley Papers
- Victorian County History (Surrey)
- Percy Wood Manuscripts (Godalming)
- Smallpeice Family Records
As I said, the parish was intricately interwoven with the Church. Establish the name of the Rector and Curate and other Parish Officials. Did any of them leave a collection of papers, or a diary?
In the Village of Puttenham Surrey, the Curate called Charles Kerry kept a series of manuscripts which have survived. They are currently in the Records Office in Derbyshire which is where Kerry was born, but there are copies available. I hold some of the data relating to Puttenham in my one place study.