Views of England and Wales: a new online collection

At the end of March 2023 Library and Learning Services at the University of Leicester has launched ‘Views of England and Wales‘, the latest collection to be added to Special Collections Online. It is the culmination of a project to digitise over 2,000 prints, paintings, drawings and photographs belonging to the Centre for Regional and Local History. For many years, this extensive collection sat in a big wooden chest of drawers at Marc Fitch House, walked past every day, its contents unknown to most and rarely viewed. After many months of work, it is now fully accessible online and searchable

There are now over 2,000 images of historic landscapes, buildings and monuments belonging to the Centre for Regional and Local History. The majority of images are prints made in the 18th and 19th centuries and cover most of the historic counties of England and Wales.

‘A view from Durdham Down near Bristol’. Credit: Centre for Regional and Local History, University of Leicester (CC BY-NC 4.0).

B. Garland, ‘Mosaic pavement at Leicester taken in 1710’. Credit: Centre for Regional and Local History, University of Leicester (CC BY-NC 4.0).

Views of England and Wales is also an excellent visual record of buildings, landscapes and places that have changed or disappeared since the prints, or the artwork they were based on, were created. Most of the prints and artworks in the collection were originally published between 1770 and 1850 during the Industrial Revolution. Both during and since this period, the world around us has experienced great change and development. With Views of England and Wales, you are able to see how places and buildings might have looked as far back as two hundred and fifty years ago or more.

It is also an important new resource that offers varied insights into the seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, through the mediums of printing, painting, drawing and photography. It will be valuable to those with interests in themes such as local history, social history, cultural history, travel, topography, art, architecture, printing, engraving, etching, fortification, archaeology, ecclesiastical history, antiquarianism, natural history, garden design, engineering, maps, religion, heraldry and fashion, and more.

The images have been released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial licence (CC BY-NC 4.0). This allows them to be re-used for non-commercial purposes, as long the Centre for Regional and Local History, University of Leicester is credited, you provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.

Views of England and Wales joins other online collections of topographical images for local and urban history, reflecting long-standing research strengths at the University of Leicester and in its library collections. These include:

  • Fairclough Topographical Collection
  • Ghost Signs of Leicestershire
  • Vanished Leicester
  • Leicester Mercury Archive: Industry Photographs

Taken from the CRLH blog by Dr. Alister Sutherland

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