09:00AM, Tuesday 14 April 2015
An atlas charting the history of Windsor and Eton that has taken years of painstaking work to put together has had its launch at Windsor Castle.
Town centre resident Dr David Lewis has spent the past eight years compiling information about the town’s medieval history to put together the British Historic Towns Atlas Vol.IV Windsor and Eton.
He started looking into the history of Windsor and Eton only to find that nothing had been done from original sources.
His research saw him search through thousands of ancient documents held in St George’s Chapel archive, Windsor Castle and Eton College.
Windsor’s medieval town records were destroyed in the late 17th century, but Dr Lewis used a collection of town property deeds to carry out his research.
But the deeds presented numerous levels of complications as not only were they written in Latin, but they were abbreviated into a form of shorthand, written in elaborate handwriting and many of the place names had different spellings.
The information extracted from the 3,000 deeds held by the historic institutions has been deciphered and put into colour maps in the new volume.
Dr Lewis, who has lived in the town for more than 25 years, spoke about what it was like to discover new bits of history.
“It is a little bit like a jigsaw puzzle,” he said.
“You put a few more bits in place and suddenly the penny drops.”
Some of these historic titbits include finding out more about Windsor’s old town hall, which he said was larger than the current one and had dungeons. Other facts he discovered were that there is an old leper burial ground close to Combermere Barracks in St Leonards Road, and an old quaker burial ground which determined the shape of Kings Road.
Dr Lewis decided to take on the massive task as part of his PhD after completing an MA in history at Royal Holloway.
The volume also includes an essay on Old Windsor by Prof Derek Keene and is published by Oxbow Books.
The atlas was launched on Wednesday, March 25 at an event in Windsor Castle.
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