Volume I of the Victoria History of Somerset was published in 1906 and Volume II
in 1911. Those two volumes contained all the 'general' articles planned for the county's
history, but little progress was made with the 'topographical' volumes that were to
present the histories of the individual towns and parishes. It is likely that the First
World War put a stop to work on the History of Somerset as of many other counties.
Following proposals made in 1963 by the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History
Society for the resumption of the Victoria History of the county, the Somerset County
Council resolved to make funds available for the appointment of a special staff to write
and organize the completion of the work. In 1966 a sub-committee of the County
Records Committee was formed to superintend the arrangements, presided over by
Lt.-Col. C. T. Mitford-Slade, C.M.G., C.V.O., H.M. Lieutenant of Somerset. The
result was another of those partnerships between local patrons and the University of
London, of which the prototype was that between the University and the Wiltshire
Victoria History Committee, described in the editorial note to Volume VII of the
Victoria History of Wiltshire. The essence of such a partnership is that the local patrons
undertake to provide money to meet the expenses of compiling and editing the History
of their county, and the University agrees to publish what is prepared, provided that it
approves the result. The present volume is the first-fruits of the partnership in Somerset.
The generous attitude displayed by the Somerset County Council is most sincerely
appreciated by the University.
In 1967 Dr. R. W. Dunning was appointed county editor for Somerset, and he was
joined in 1970 by Mr. R. J. E. Bush, as assistant editor.
Many people have helped in the preparation of this volume. The help of those who
were concerned with particular parishes is acknowledged in the footnotes to the accounts
of those parishes. The keeper of the records of the Duchy of Cornwall, the Duke of
Devonshire, P.C., M.C., the Duke of Northumberland, K.G., T.D., F.R.S., the
Marquess of Northampton, D.S.O., the Dean and Chapter of Bristol, the Dean and
Chapter of Wells, Mr. R. J. R. Arundell, Mr. J. Stevens Cox, and Mr. A. R. E.
Pretor-Pinney are thanked for making available the records in their possession. Among
the public libraries and record offices to whose librarians or archivists and their staff
thanks are rendered for their sympathetic co-operation, special mention must be made
of the Somerset Record Office.
The structure and aims of the History as a whole are outlined in the General Introduction (1970).