Review by the British Association for Local History
TICKHILL Discover its past by Carol Hill with Tickhill and District Local History Society (Tickhill and District LHS 2014 xvi+332pp no ISBN) £20: on sale in the village and via the website of Tickhill and District Local History Society www.tickhillhistorysociety.org.uk
Tickhill, approximately 8 miles from Doncaster, is a settlement that has received the continued interest of historians and local history groups. This publication draws upon the legacy of those previous works, yet also presents the newer research of the author and the local history society. The title is very apt, as the book provides a portal through which to uncover the history behind its modern veneer, and to make discoveries. It begins with a chronological overview of the origins and development of Tickhill, a framework which informs the rest of the book by providing a brief history of the settlement. The remaining thematic chapters follow a chronological structure, with the addition of case studies.
Although little survives today, Tickhill Castle is of the utmost importance in any study of Tickhill. It was crucial to the development of a medieval planned town, and the reader is left in no doubt about the intrinsic link between the development of the castle and of Tickhill itself. Subsequent chapters explore diverse themes including trade and commerce, farming, industry, housing, worship and education, public health and leisure. Particular strengths include the use of case studies, engaging illustrative material and links between historic and modern Tickhill. The latter is particularly evident through familiar trading names and their historic legacy; the study of domestic housing in order to chart Tickhill’s changing fortunes; and links between the present layout of the settlement and the medieval burgage plots.
Inevitably the scope of the book presents challenges. At times one senses that only the surface is being scratched or that the complexities of history are being oversimplified. While every chapter has its own bibliography, at times it would be nice to have clearly referenced links throughout in order to delve deeper into some of themes. Such quibbles do not detract from the book’s overall aim of engaging people with the history of Tickhill, and indeed from the fact that this book is the culmination of further research undertaken by the society but not published here.
This is a well-produced publication. It is lavishly illustrated but not at the detriment to the written content, and significantly the old photographs are largely previously unpublished. They really bring the stories of Tickhill alive. It is a very accessible publication, reflected in the way in which it has been written and the content. A strong sense of local community is present through the text and illustrations. It will inevitably be of particular interest to those with connections and a specific interest in Tickhill but may well be of interest to those further afield, serving as a case study of the evolution of a medieval planned town for a wider audience.
Sarah Holland is associate lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University and tutor with the Workers’ Educational Association. Her research interests focus on the development of rural communities, knowledge networks, the relationship between town and country, and hiring fairs. She has also undertaken research into educational and cultural impact, and mental health and wellbeing.