Aldershot Before The Army Came
This is the history of a small rural village in England. The results of this one place study are told in twelve chapters, one for each month of 1853.
At the start of the year, none in Aldershot have any inkling of what is about to happen. By the end of the year the Government has taken its decision. Not long afterwards, the place acts as the military centre for a country at war. It would later become known worldwide as ‘The Home of the British Army’.
The story is set in a period of huge changes for Britain, at home and abroad. The country’s commercial success, celebrated at the Great Exhibition of 1851, was based upon enterprise, manufacturing and colonial expansion worldwide. The coming of the Camp at Aldershot occurred at a significant point of pivot in the middle period of what textbooks regard as Britain’s Imperial Century, 1815 to 1914.
One Place Study
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This sets the scene, providing a national context and a brief review of the sources used in the research which underpins this story.
=> The Village
At least a brief scan of this chapter is recommended for an appreciation of the demography and the physical and socio-economic geography of the place.
=> January 1853
The story of life in the village begins on New Year’s Day.
A social history of the village then unfolds, the chapters for each month of 1853 made available in serial fashion during the months of 2022, a Centenary Year for Aldershot. Each chapter was released as a #OnePlaceWednesday post.
There are onward links at the foot of each monthly chapter. Alternatively, navigate by use the tabs at the top of the page; you can also use the back button on your browser.
Links are embedded in each chapters to more detail on various people and places. Those appear under the Names tab.
Aldershot Before The Army Came is written by Peter Burnhill and is licensed freely for use under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. When making reference to this work please state authorship and mention aldershotvillage.net .
=> Back Story
The backstory to the writing of this history dates from journeys taken on a school bus to and from Aldershot and to memories told me by an aunt. Since then, I have consulted a wide range of archival sources, much of which is now online, and have had the good fortune to confer with local historians.
The map shown on this HomePage is from the manuscript collection of the British Library. It is dated 1806.