A County Bibliography
You are strongly advised to begin a county bibliography as soon as you begin work on your county, and to update it conscientiously as new works are discovered. That way you will build up a comprehensive research tool, and you will be able to copy and paste entries from it into your site reports, saving yourself a lot of tedious typing.
The Pevsner Architectural Guides
These books form the basis of our identification of Romanesque sites in England, Scotland and Wales. The Corpus uses the Pevsner Architectural Guides to identify sites to be visited. When it comes to writing site reports, Pevsner’s comments are often valuable and can be included in the Comments/Opinions section.
It must be remembered that the original fieldwork for the first editions was all Pevsner’s own, and that he rarely spent more than a month on each county. There was very little documentary work involved, and while we can only marvel at the man’s virtuosity, there are omissions and errors throughout the series. Pevsner was a man with strong opinions, pithily expressed throughout the series. He seems to have had a blind spot for fonts, and often omitted to mention them, especially if they were plain.
For the History section of reports, the Domesday Survey (please write this in full in your reports – not DS) is usually the starting point. The information you need from the Domesday entry is the landholder (or Tenant-in-chief), the sub-tenant (usually the person who actually occupies the manor and likely to be the patron of work at the church at that time)
Victoria County History
To take the story beyond 1086, the most convenient source is the Victoria History of the Counties of England (insert space) (VCH); an incomplete and ongoing project to record the history of every county in England down to parish and religious foundation level.
Many volumes of the VCH can be accessed on the website of British History Online (BHO): http://www.british-history.ac.uk. Once at your parish, look for the manors, which will take up the story where the Domesday Survey left off, and for the church, which will describe the building in some detail and equally importantly give details of the advowson (who had the right to present vicars to the church). This last is often important evidence of which manor the church was in (a Domesday holding often included several manors.
Most of the buildings you will deal with, including all parish churches, are listed by Historic England (HE), who now operate the process rather than English Heritage (EH). References to list descriptions should be included in bibliographies, and the descriptions themselves often offer opinions on dating sculpture that can be included in the Comments/Opinions section of a site report. There are several ways to access list descriptions online, including HE’s own site (http://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list). I often use the site British Listed Buildings (http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/) which covers England, Scotland and Wales.