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The BAHS is the national society for the study of the history of agriculture, rural society and the landscape of Britain and Ireland. The Society regularly updates this web site, with it online Library of Rural and Agricultural Literature (LIBRAL), online discussion Forums, Work in Progress list, and Related Links. In addition we publish a magazine, Rural History Today, as well as a scholarly journal, Agricultural History Review (both of which are available online), and our conferences provide opportunities for historians (professional and non-professional) to meet, mix and exchange views in a friendly and sociable atmosphere.

It’s easy to join the BAHS and by doing so you will be supporting the work of the Society in promoting rural history.

Thirsk Prize 2020

The British Agricultural History Society is pleased to invite submissions for its annual Thirsk Prize. Books published for the first time in 2019 in the broad area of British and Irish rural history, or which use Britain and Ireland as comparators, are eligible. Submission is by sending a pdf of the work to the secretary of the prize committee by 12:00 noon on 13 January 2020. The Winner will be announced at the Society’s annual conference on April 2019. Full details of eligibility and how to submit can be found here [PDF].

Previous winners of the prize have been:
2017: Peter Jones, Agricultural Enlightenment: Knowledge, Technology and Nature, 1750-1840 (OUP)
2018: Briony McDonagh, Elite Women and the Agricultural Landscape, 1700-1830 (Routledge)
2019: Paul Warde, The Invention of Sustainability: Nature and Destiny, c.1500-1870 (CUP).

New arrangements for the Review

Professor Richard Hoyle is standing down as editor of Agricultural History Review after 20 years service. His successor will be Professor Paul Warde of Pembroke College, Cambridge, who will take charge from Volume 68. With immediate effect new article submissions to the Review should be sent to Professor Warde at (or use the online contact form).

Agricultural History Review, 67 part 2

For a variety of reasons, the Review is running behind schedule and will now be published in February 2020.

Call for papers

The Folklore Society is holding their annual conference on Folklore, Learning and Literacies, 24-26 April 2020 in Central London, and they have published a call for papers.

Latest BAHS publications

Cover of current issue of Rural History Today

Agricultural History Review Volume 67 part 1 is available online.
Rural History Today issue 37 is now available online.

Cover of current Agricultural History Review

Rural Museums Network Regional Seminars

The 1940s Farm at Beamish, The Living Museum of the North

If you are a non-specialist working with, or looking after, rural and agricultural collections in any role, the Rural Museums Network (RMN) has created a practical knowledge-development seminar specifically for you. This national programme, run regionally, is free to attend, and comes with a bursary.  Details.

Call for nominations

The Agricultural History Society has announced their call for nominations for their 1919 Awards.

email newsletter

Do you have trouble remembering to look at this web site? Would you like a reminder now and again? We plan to send out email newsletters about once a month (on average) when the content on the web site changes. We promise not to bombard you with spam, and you can un-subscribe whenever you like, from a link at the bottom of each newsletter.

BAHS forums

Do have a look at BAHS forums, where you can ask questions or start discussions on any subject related to agricultural history and the history of rural economy and society. Even if you don’t have a question in mind right now you might be the one person able to answer one of the questions that are there! So please register now and subscribe to the ‘Agricultural history’ forum so that you will be notified by email about any new posts.

Spring Conference 2020

Booking is now open for the 68th annual British Agricultural History Society Spring Conference, Historical Perspectives on Rural Economies, Societies, Landscapes and Environment, 6-8 April 2020 at Wortley Hall Conference Centre near Sheffield.

Wortley Hall

Programme and registration form.

Update on Laxton

As part of our Spring Conference this year, we visited Laxton Open Field System, with Professor John Beckett of Nottingham University. Professor Beckett has sent us this update.

Laxton open field system

The annual Jury Day was held this year on 28 November, and was followed by a meeting of the Court Leet on 5 December 2019.

At Jury Day the new owner, Hugh Matheson on behalf of the Thoresby estate trust, told the farmers that the long silence since the original deal was agreed with the Crown Estate was a result of the Crown being unable to provide evidence which Hugh thinks is vital for him as future owner. It is all a little tedious I suspect, but not having any drainage maps, or any idea of who is responsible for certain things in the village, has made life difficult all round.

At the Court Leet it was announced that many of the drainage maps had reappeared, some of them misfiled in the papers of the agents, Carter Jonas. Many other details have still to be worked out, but Gregor Matheson, on behalf of the Thoresby estate trust, told the court that Carter Jonas had now answered many of the queries that had been raised with them, and that the trust fully expected to go ahead and sign the transfer papers in the next few weeks.

The Trust then expects to call several meetings, including one for the whole village, and another for the estate tenants. The latter meeting may determine the actual date of the transaction in such a way as to avoid disruption of the annual agricultural cycle or rent days.

I remain optimistic that Laxton is passing into good hands, and that at least in the medium term the future of the village looks secure.

John Beckett
5 December 2019


Our online LIBrary of Rural and Agricultural Literature now comprises over 600 digitized items. To browse the collection sign up for LIBRAL here. If you already have an account go straight to LIBRAL. Please contact the Web Weaver if you have forgotten your log-in details.

This month we have added seven issues of The Agricultural Advocate, which we think was probably the complete run; and four issues of The Gardeners' Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, just a sample of this long-running publication. The complete list of recently uploaded titles is:

We continue to digitize new items and add them to the library, and to work with TannerRitchie Publishing to improve their MEMSOshell platform that hosts it.

If you have any books that you would think would be a useful addition to the library please contact the Web Weaver.

Publicity leaflet

The Society has a publicity leaflet. If you would like copies of the leaflet to distribute to potential members, or to leave at a location likely to be frequented by potential members, please contact us.

Work in Progress

If you don’t already have an entry in the list do fill in the online form to create one. If you already have an entry, do check that it’s up to date and contact the Web Weaver to amend it. Researchers listed here have reported contacts being made with them as a result of their entry, making it a valuable resource.

Funding opportunities

We have a fund available to support otherwise unfunded Conferences and Initiatives. If you are considering holding a conference, workshop, special meeting or something similar, why not apply?   We also offer bursaries to student members who want to attend our conferences and other meetings supported by the Society.

Bursary Announcement

The Richard Jefferies Society has established a bursary to support work on Jefferies or related topics: highly suitable for agricultural history applicants.

New Boydell & Brewer Series

Boydell & Brewer, the leading independent publisher of academic works in History and the Humanities, announces the launch of a new series, Boydell Studies in Rural History, under the editorship of Professor Richard Hoyle.
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