Who created the collection we now call Views of England and Wales is a puzzle.[1] Professor Harold Fox presented it as an accident of nature, but the collection seems to have been completed long before his retirement in 2007. Harold was a member of staff at the Centre for over 30 years having arrived in 1976 to become Senior Research Fellow in the postgraduate Department of English Local History (as it was known then) at the University of Leicester. In 1998, he temporarily became Head of the Department while Professor Chris Dyer was on research leave and between 2000 and 2002, he advanced to a British Academy Research Readership. Then, in 2003, he was awarded a personal chair in Social and Landscape History.

While Harold may have expanded the collection, he did not own it and it was possibly built up over many previous years by other members of the Department. Like the current map collection, it may even go back to the days of W. G. Hoskins and H. P. R. Finberg, who were the first and second Heads of the Department.

The Department of English Local History was formed largely for the benefit of the exceptionally gifted and highly influential W. G. Hoskins in 1948, at the recommendation of the then Professor of History at University College, Leicester, Jack Simmons. When Hoskins left to take up a readership at the University of Oxford, Finberg became Head of the Department in 1952. Intriguingly, some of the artworks in Views of England and Wales were created by members of his family. Perhaps he added them to the collection? Finberg was replaced as Head of Department by Alan Everitt and then Charles Phythian-Adams, both of whom could also have contributed to the collection themselves.

Temple Bruer, Lincolnshire

A print showing Temple Bruer, Lincolnshire.

[1] Many thanks to Professor Christopher Dyer for providing his thoughts on the history of the collection for this section.