Handy Gazetteer captures changing face of Cumbria

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A new A to Z guide, the first of its kind and published today, provides a snapshot history of every community in Cumbria.

The easy to use Gazetteer, published in association with the Cumbria County History Trust, contains short, pithy summaries of historical information about every community in Cumbria, both large and small. 
Published by the Regional Heritage Centre at Lancaster University, the publication provides a digest of facts about population, landownership, local economic history, places of worship, schools and other community institutions across the centuries.

The groundwork for the Gazetteer was carried out for the Victoria County History (VCH) of Cumbria project by a 90-strong team of volunteer local historians, who compiled brief historical cameos for the project website, drawn from a checklist of key sources. Many of the volunteers, who became the core research team, had completed local history courses at Lancaster University.

The cameos have now been edited and re-written for publication by Professor Winchester to ensure accuracy and consistency. 

“It’s been a real labour of love,” says Cockermouth-raised Professor Winchester. “I have really enjoyed doing it. I thought I knew Cumbria well but, doing this, I realise now there is so much I don’t know.”

Professor Winchester used printed sources, population returns and even Google maps and ‘Street View’ in a bid to collate an accurate picture as possible.

Providing comprehensive coverage of the whole of the modern county of Cumbria from the earliest written record to the present day, the volume contains 348 separate articles, one for each of the Civil Parishes as they existed in the 1890s. 

“It’s surprising how much has changed in recent years with, for example, schools and chapels closing and wind farms emerging,” he added.

The Gazetteer will be an indispensable work of reference for all with an interest in Cumbria’s past, residents and visitors alike.