Victoria County History

Cheltenham Local History Society works closely with and supports the Gloucestershire County History Trust (GCHT), the body that raises money for and administers the Victoria County History (VCH) in Gloucestershire. Dr Nicholas Kingsley is Chair of the GCHT and two Society members are Trustees of this body. They oversee work on Cheltenham and the surrounding parishes of Charlton Kings, Leckhampton, Swindon Village and Up Hatherley that will make up Volume XV, Cheltenham’s ‘Big Red Book.’

CLHS has an enthusiastic and productive volunteer group, which contributes to the work research on Vol. XV by adding previously un-catalogued material to the Gloucestershire Archives catalogue, making it available to VCH (and other) researchers. Several of our members have contributed research or written part of the draft texts. Latest news on the project and draft texts for Cheltenham can be found at the VCH website. The Volunteer Group of around 10-12 people continues to work at the Gloucestershire Archives every Monday.

After many years John Chandler has retired as Gloucestershire County Editor and his place is taken by Dr Simon Draper. Simon is Assistant Editor of Oxfordshire VCH, having previously worked for the VCH in Gloucestershire (2007-2010), and is Editor of the BGAS (Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society) Transactions. A landscape archaeologist by training, his primary research interests lie in the Anglo-Saxon and medieval periods.

Sally Self and Simon Draper

Funds needed

While volunteers can help with some of the initial research, if we are to bring our Big Red Book to completion, we need to employ professional expertise. This costs money, so please consider a one-off donation to Gloucestershire County History Trust or a monthly amount.

Progress in the five parishes – VCH Volume XV – Borough of Cheltenham


The VCH ‘short’ published 2018 Cheltenham before the Spa, completed covered the development of the town to around 1738, and will, with some expansion, form part of Vol. XV. Three drafts taking the town’s history into the 21st century have been completed. Also draft sections on Communications, Charities, Education, Sport, Religious History and Parliamentary Representation which are available on the VCH website.

Charlton Kings

Preliminary work has begun. The large deposit of the Prinn, Russell and Hunt families has been fully catalogued. Transcription of all the remaining Charlton Kings wills is now completed; currently being undertaken. Cheltenham volunteers are now working on four solicitors’ deposits relating to Charlton Kings and Cheltenham. Contracts to appoint two professional researchers and writers have been issued: Mark Forrest for pre-1540 research and Alec Craven for post 1540, although some overlapping will occur.


In June 2021, Louise Ryland-Epton, was appointed to research and write the history of the parish. She is being assisted by Leckhampton Local History Society members and two Cheltenham volunteers. Most sections are in draft form and will shortly be available on the VCH website. All available Leckhampton wills and inventories have been transcribed.

Swindon Village

Work on Swindon Village is nearing completion. As part of this work Sally Self has researched and published articles on the Kingsditch Trading Estate and Market Gardening.

Up Hatherley

Work will continue, from when the area became a civil parish. Up Hatherley is now one of the five parishes within the Cheltenham Borough.

The next Gloucestershire volume to be researched is Winchcombe, which after fund raising and recruiting professional researchers and a group of volunteers will become Vol. XVII. Some of the Cheltenham volunteers are assisting with transcriptions of Winchcombe wills and inventories.

If you are interested in helping with this task please click here to contact Sally Self or phone 01242 243714.