Archive of the month: Parish Councils – Local government of a very local variety!

A read through the minute books of parish councils can give a fascinating insight into the history and development of rural towns and villages

Oct 20 2017

Parish Councils – Local government of a very local variety

Many illuminating episodes of village life can be seen through their pages.

Over 250 civil parish councils were established in Hampshire in 1894 as the third tier of local government, to take over the administrative functions of the parish, from allotments to drainage, lighting, village halls and war memorials. Hampshire Archives and Local Studies is the official repository for these records of very local government in Hampshire, and anyone is welcome to come and have a look.

Even in the 19th century, planning issues on which parish councils were consulted, could cause lots of controversy and debate. Disputes between parishioners are also common features of the parish council minute books – and sometimes these could be quite heated, with protracted debates about the same issues cropping up time after time. Favourites sources of disagreement are footpaths, rights of way and the up keep (and cost thereof) of public places.

Family historians may also find the lists of those attending meetings, making declarations of acceptance of office, renting an allotment or subscribing to the war memorial as a useful source of information.

Do consider depositing any parish council records you have in your possession.  What may be quite mundane or prosaic issues at the time can provide fascinating insights to future historians.

Find out more from Rhian Dolby, in the Hampshire Archives & Local Studies blog