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Analyse the extent to which Villages across Britain have changed during the 19th and 20th centuries

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Introduction

Analyse the extent to which Villages across Britain have changed during the 19th and 20th centuries Ripley is a village in the parish of Send and Ripley in Surrey. Close to the River Wey and the current London to Portsmouth road it has a population of 1,697 (1991 census). Within this essay I hope to demonstrate the variety of sources that are available to gather information about the landscape of the village and how it has changed during the 19th and 20th centuries. I will also analyse how the sources provide information and whether it is better to use them together or independently. The main sources I have use are local maps - tithe and Ordnance Survey - Kelly's Directories, a book of photos published by the Send and Ripley Local History Society, some Francis Frith postcards, the Victoria County History for Surrey and the Census enumerator schedules for the village over a number of years. The Victoria County History is an excellent place to begin research into any village or town within the UK. The VCH was begun in 1899 to collect and document the history of all the counties within the UK divided up by their hundreds. Although even now not all counties are completed. The Surrey edition has a number of entries for Ripley which details the village from Victorian times back to its origins. ...read more.

Middle

The 1800 Census Act was created to ensure that a head count of the population was taken every 10 years starting from 1801. The information gathered was very basic in the beginning but from 1841 it became more detailed and was collected and collated by Enumerators in schedules. The accuracy of census data is often in dispute as the population was suspicious of the potential use of the data and may have bent the truth. Census enumerator forms can provide you with a lot of information that can be manipulated to demonstrate population development within the village. As well as names of families, their location within the village, details on the members of their family, their relation to the head and their professions, the forms also contain information about the birthplace which can enable migration analysis. A close study of enumerator forms covering a number of census years will tell you how far people travelled from their birthplaces to their current residences, most probably in the search for work. Maps are a very valuable resource for investigating the landscape of any area. Formal mapping really only began in the late 18th Century with the Ordnance Survey embarking on a project to map the whole country. Maps can visually demonstrate a wide range of data covering areas such as geology, politics, population, wealth and leisure. ...read more.

Conclusion

Historical facts can get lost as the attached memories to the photographs are recounted and distorted so it is worth checking the information given in these publications. The Francis Frith collection was created by the photographers of F. Frith & Co Ltd between 1860 and 1970 and printed them as postcards for the populace to send to one another. I found 14 of Ripley showing the High Street, The Anchor Hotel and Rose Lane amongst others. Using the photographs and the postcards and taking a walk around modern day Ripley it is surprising to see how many of buildings haven't changed and still retain their original facing. As you can see, independently the sources I have looked at provide the reader with a huge amount of information about the area being studied. Standing alone they can offer statistical (qualitative and quantitative) and visual data that can give you an idea of the village history. The student of local history can interpret the information and manipulate the data from each source to describe the growth, and maybe the decline, of the village they are studying. You can plot statistical data on maps to bring static numbers to life. Lines on a map can be enhanced through the use of photographs. But each source only provides part of the picture. I believe that no single source can provide the definitive historical evidence and it is only when you combine sources, for example maps and directories, that the village begins to come to life. ...read more.

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