Kate Tiller

We regret to advise of the death of a pioneer and trailblazer of local history, Dr. Kate Tiller, who sadly passed away in hospital on 30th May 2024.

Kate Tiller OBE DL FSA FRHistS was an academic in the History Faculty at Oxford University, Reader emerita in English local history and a founding Fellow at Kellogg College, University of Oxford. She was also Visiting Fellow in English Local History, University of Leicester; Visiting Professor in History, University of Suffolk and Deputy Lieutenant of Oxfordshire.

In Oxfordshire she was chair of the Oxfordshire Record Society, and chaired the Oxfordshire Victoria County History Trust (2005-2021) and Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board (2008-12). She had connections with many county and community history groups in Oxfordshire.

Her academic fields were British social and local history, with particular research interests in English rural change post-1750, and in religion and community in Britain since 1730. She also wrote on the academic practice of local history, with a focus on local histories of the 20th century and of remembrance and community. She taught on graduate and outreach programmes and supervised Master’s and DPhil students in Chartism and Methodism.

As Director of Studies in Local History at the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education she planned and implemented the University’s first graduate degree course specifically designed for part-time students, the MSt in English Local History, introduced in 1993. Its students have played a major part in Kellogg’s development. In 1995 English Local History was one of three subjects included in the University’s first, pilot project for part-time research degrees, bringing Kellogg some of its earliest doctoral students. In 2001-2 the University made the part-time DPhil permanent. Kate Tiller was closely involved in securing practical support for part-time students through access to University facilities and financial support, including Kellogg’s first Graduate Studentship scheme.

She wrote a classic guide to exploring English local history, a standard text since its first edition in 1992, this book offered an unrivalled introduction to understanding and researching local history.

Described as ‘the book’ for anyone wanting to explore local history in England it summarises, in an accessible and authoritative way, current knowledge and approaches, bringing together and illustrating the key sources and evidence, the skills and tools, and the contexts and interpretations for successive periods. Since 1992 it has been updated to reflect additional availability of evidence, changing interpretations, new tools and skills (not least the use of IT), and developments in the time periods and topics tackled by local historians. The interdisciplinary character of twenty-first-century local, family and community history is a prominent feature.

Her other published books included:

  • Blenheim: Landscape for a palace. Alan Sutton, 1987. (2nd edition 1997) (Edited with J. Bond)
  • Dorchester Abbey: Church and people 635-2005. 2005. (Editor and contributor, including “Religion and community: Dorchester 1800-1920”, pp 61–83.)
  • An historical atlas of Oxfordshire. Oxfordshire Record Society, 2010. (Edited with G. Darkes)
  • Religious census returns for Berkshire, Berkshire Record Society, 14 (2010), lx +133pp.
  • Remembrance and community: War memorials and local history. British Association for Local History, 2013.
  • Parsonages. Shire, 2016.

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