The Victoria County History is one of the world’s longest-running research projects, exploring England’s rich local history.
The VCH is a vast, diverse and lively community of historians, researchers and local groups, working on county histories across England.
Find out more about us on this page, or contact us to find out how you can get involved.
The Victoria County History (VCH) was founded in 1899 as a national project to write the history of every county in England. Driven by local county trusts and their members, most of whom are volunteers, it’s led and managed in London at the Institute for Historical Research.
When started VCH was dedicated to Queen Victoria, which is how it gets its name. In celebration of our present Queen’s diamond jubilee, the series was rededicated to Her Majesty.
The VCH aims to complete authoritative, encyclopaedic histories of each county, from the earliest archaeological records to the present day, as well as topics such as topography, landscape and the built environment. Some VCH volumes were published over a century ago, while others are now in progress or planned for the future.
The Victoria County History is a series of publications: the iconic Red Books of county history, as well as the VCH Shorts, which focus on single parishes and towns. In Derbyshire we have also published what we call VCH spin-offs. Two of these have now appeared, the latest in June 2022.
In Derbyshire, two volumes were published in the early 20th century, Volume I (1905) and Volume II (1907) before VCH activity in the county had to finish. Work restarted in 2002. Between 2005 and 2010, VCH Derbyshire was part of the England’s Past for Everyone project. As a result, two paperback volumes were published; Bolsover: Castle, Town and Colliery and Hardwick: A Great House and its Estate.
The third Red Book volume was published in 2013. Derbyshire Volume III, Bolsover and Adjoining Parishes describes the small market town of Bolsover in north-east Derbyshire and four parishes immediately to its north (Barlborough, Clowne, Elmton – including Creswell – and Whitwell).
All lie mainly on a magnesian limestone ridge, rather than the exposed coalfield. So, they only became mining communities late in the nineteenth century. Since the end of deep mining in Derbyshire all have faced a difficult period of economic and social adjustment. As well as the general development of the five parishes, the book includes detailed accounts of the medieval castle at Bolsover, the mansion built on the site of the castle by the Cavendish family of Welbeck in the seventeenth century, and Barlborough Hall, a late sixteenth-century prodigy house built by a successful Elizabethan lawyer.
Part of volume II, detailing the medieval religious houses of Derbyshire, is available free on British History Online (opens in new window). For full access to all volumes, check the local library catalogue or your local archive.
To find out how we research VCH in Derbyshire and to get involved see our page here.
Page last updated 16 June 2022.