The formation of the Department of English Local History was approved in 1948 by F.L. Attenborough, the then Principal of the University College, at the recommendation of the then Professor of History, Jack Simmons. The new Department was largely for the benefit of the exceptionally gifted W.G. Hoskins, who is best known for his hugely influential and inspiring The Making of the English Landscape.
Attenborough, who was himself an editor of Anglo-Saxon texts, was also an excellent photographer, and his plates of churches, villages and landscapes illustrate many of Hoskins’s works. Hoskins went to take up a readership in Oxford in 1951, and then returned in 1965-8. He was replaced as Head of Department (and later Director of the Centre) successively by H.P.R. Finberg, Alan Everitt, Charles Phythian-Adams, Harold Fox, Christopher Dyer, Keith Snell, Peter King and Richard Jones. In 2000 the Department became a Centre affiliated with the Department of Economic and Social History. Three years later the Economic and Social historians were merged into a School of Historical Studies. In 2016 the Centre became part of the School of History, Politics and International Relations.