The delightful study of local history — very rewarding to anyone who appreciates the landscape around him — has always had its devotees. Today the pursuit is stronger and more widespread than ever, partly by reaction to the monotonous and characterless standardisation of everything. But it has become impossible to buy the classics of the subject, the splendid folios with their plates and pedigrees — Dugdale’s Warwickshire, Nichols’ Leicester, Hasted’s Kent, Surtees’ Durham; prices have rocketed up, with competition from all the university libraries of America, Canada and now Australia.
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