The Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (RCHME)
The RCHME was established in 1908 as The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of England; it shortened its title to the one above and then merged with English Heritage in April 1999. The original architectural survey notes, sketches and photographs taken by RCHME investigators working on the published inventories are stored in the National Monuments Record (NMR) at Swindon, together with the results of new surveys.
Herefordshire was one of the earliest counties surveyed, and three printed volumes were produced: An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Herefordshire, 3 vols. (1931-4). The three printed volumes can be accessed at Volume 1 – South-west, Volume 2 – East, Volume 3 – North-west. In 2011 the Woolhope Club published Essays in honour of Jim & Muriel Tonkin. As one of Jim & Muriel's interests was vernacular buildings, the volume contained an illustrated essay about the RCHME survey, The Royal Commission’s survey of the historical monuments of Herefordshire, which is available to download.
However, the volumes also covered more traditional ‘historical monuments’ other than ordinary domestic buildings: great houses, churches, castles, earthworks etc. At this time, the study of domestic buildings (vernacular architecture) was still in its infancy and many of these buildings were just listed in the volumes. Few of the notes, plans or photographs taken by the RCHME surveyors were printed.
The surveyors’ notebooks are a valuable resource for the study of Herefordshire’s older buildings. Those that still exist have often been considerably altered. By kind permission of Historic England National Monuments Record officers' at Swindon the Herefordshire notebooks have been photographed. They were assembled per parish from loose foolscap pages of notes, the photographs usually attached though some are loose, as are other plans.
The photography has been mainly undertaken by David Lovelace as part of a research project, taking many hours, and he has kindly made his photographs available to the website. It is possible that some monuments such as churches have been omitted but over time it is planned to complete the task. The photography is just the start of the processing needed to make the information available on the website and it will take many months.
There are 267 parishes in Herefordshire. As each upload of the RCHME data is completed a link to the parish will appear in the list, though be aware that at the start of the project not all pages of the surveyors' notes were photographed so some buildings may be missing.