Get Adobe Reader
Site map


Register now for our 2024 Spring Conference!

We are pleased to announce that our Spring Conference will take place at the University of Nottingham from the morning of Friday 12th April to the afternoon of Saturday 13th April. We have a wide-ranging programme and registration via Eventbrite is now open.

University of Nottingham Jubilee Conference Centre

Call for Papers: The mill in British and northern European economy and society, 1500-1800

Mills can be many different things. They might be corn mills, fulling mills, sharpening mills, saw mills, textile mills or mills to crush sugar cane to release its juice. What all of them have in common is the capacity to harness natural forms of energy – falling water, tides, the wind – and turn the energy into forms of rotary motion which could drive millstones, hammers or saws. Whilst mills driven by natural resources have been superseded by first steam and latterly oil powered or electric mills, there is now a new interest in exploiting natural resources through mills to generate energy.

Swallowfield Mill

The mill was – and remains – an indispensable part of food processing. The staple diet of northern Europe was grain. Grain is useless as a food until it has been milled into flour, just as malt needs to be ground into meal or rice have its husk removed, and so milling is an essential process that grains have to pass through before they can become a foodstuff. The mill was part of the daily or weekly round for many households: but we also assume that there was a long transition from households buying grain in the market and taking it to the mill to have it ground to the modern pattern of households buying flour from shops.

Following on a successful and enjoyable session at Rural History 2023 in Cluj (Romania) in September 2023, proposals are invited for a second workshop on Mills and milling at the University of Reading to be held on 24 May 2024. On this occasion the focus will be on milling in food processing although papers on other forms of mills and mills are welcome, ideally in the age before the introduction of steam. The geographical focus will be the British Isles and northern Europe, Papers on the transfer of European mill technology abroad would also be welcome.

Possible areas in which we would welcome papers include:

  • The number and capacity of mills
  • Investment in mills, their running costs and their profitability, including investment in urban mills
  • The reputation of millers and antagonisms between mill owners and people using their services
  • The defence of mill rights including the suppression of household milling
  • The development of flour as a commodity
  • The seasonality of milling
  • The place of mill ponds in the landscape, and their use as fisheries

The core of the workshop will be papers by Prof. Mike Braddick and Dr Mabel Winter, Prof. Richard Hoyle (Reading) and Rachel Riddell (Mills Archive Trust) We have room for two other papers and invite proposals which are in tune with the area of interest above. Proposals should be sent to Professor Richard Hoyle at as soon as possible and certainly by Friday 29 March. Small sums may be available to assist speakers.

Expressions of interest in attending should also be sent to Professor Hoyle. A full programme will be circulated at the beginning of April.

National Farm Survey records being digitized

We have heard that the National Archives are digitizing the National Farm Survey (MAF 32 and MAF 73), funded by a grant of £2.13 million from Lund Trust. This is super resource for historians of farming in England and Wales in the Second World War. More details...

Join the BAHS Today with an image of medieval peasants

It’s easy to join the BAHS and by doing so you will be supporting the work of the Society in promoting rural history.

Membership is £30 a year or £10 for students or registered unemployed. More details, including overseas membership...

Agricultural History Books for Sale

Ex Libris Peter Clery

Complete lot £1000 including UK delivery. Delivery elsewhere by negotiation. Or pick up at Nottingham on the Saturday of the Spring Conference.

If not sold as one lot, for sale individually at a later date, at the prices listed below:

  • Horse Hoeing Husbandry. Jethro Tull. Fourth edition 1772. (£150)
  • Communications to the Board of Agriculture. 7 vols. Ex The Farmers Club library. 1797, 1800, 1802, 1805, 1806, 1808, 1811. Recently beautifully re-bound. (£500).
  • The Journal of Agriculture. William Blackwood . Edinburgh & London. 9 vols. Ex The Farmers Club library. 1843-45, 1847-49, 1853-55, 1855-57, 1857-59, 1859-61, 1861-63, 1863-65 & 1865-66. As new for their age. (£250).
  • The Rural Economy of England, Scotland and Ireland. Leonce de Lavergne Paris 1854. (£25)
  • The Complete Grazier and Farmers and Cattle Breeders Assistant. Youatt. 14th edition. Fream 1900. (£125).
  • Stephens Book of the Farm. Fifth edition. 3 vols. Land & Equipment, Farm Crops & Farm Livestock. Edinburgh 1908. (£150)
  • Please contact

    LIBRAL News

    The Online LIBrary of Rural and Agricultural Literature now comprises nearly 1250 digitized items, classified into more than 200 categories. The LIBRAL Gateway enables you to exploit this classification to find literature you didn’t know existed. And once you have entered the library itself, you can use its magnificent full-text search capability.


    The centrepiece of this month’s circulation is three second-generation General Views, Aiton on Ayr (1811) – which is perhaps one of the largest of all the General Views and has certainly been a test – Pitt on Stafford (1808) and Strickland on the East Riding (1812). This advances us some distance towards achieving a comprehensive coverage of this most important literature.

    East Riding 

    The other additions to LIBRAL are as random as ever: Long on The Small Farm (1901), a new scan of Dampier-Whetham’s Politics of the Land (1927) which replaces the unsatisfactory one previously on LIBRAL and two Second World War pamphlets on tractors and tractor ploughing (1940-1). This month’s bonus is a seed catalogue of 1901 from a firm that evidently specialised in root vegetables.

    The Farm Tractor   Trade Catalogue of Agricultural Seeds 

    We have also added further volumes from The Perkins Library at Southampton including two works on hops and two on the Rinderpest epidemic of 1865.

    Rinderpest in Aberdeenshire   Hops and Hopping 

    As always, do tell us what you find useful and what you would like us to add.


    Some of the books we have scanned for LIBRAL are available for purchase. Other than raising some money, we need to make room for more books. We make no great claims for the quality of the books – they are strictly working copies – but if there is anything you would like to have for a modest price, do get in touch.


    And if you have trouble remembering to look at this web site, sign up for our email newsletter. We send one out about once a month when the content on the web site changes. We promise not to bombard you with spam, and you can un-subscribe whenever you like, from a link at the bottom of each newsletter.

    Agricultural History Forum

    Apparatus for lifting hay

    This image started a discussion on our Agricultural History Forum, although we still don’t have a name for it. The forum is the place where anyone can ask questions or start discussions on any subject related to agricultural history and the history of rural economy and society. We’ve noticed that far more people have signed up to receive our newsletters than have signed up for the BAHS forums. Some of you are missing out on some interesting discussions, and the world is missing out on a huge pool of rural history knowledge. We would really appreciate it if more of you could sign up and be ready to join in the discussions! You can register here.

    Work in Progress

    Work in Progress is a list of researchers working in the field of agricultural history and the history of rural economy and society – and related disciplines. Researchers listed here have reported contacts being made with them as a result of their entry, making it a valuable resource. We made the word art below from keywords used by researchers in their entries.

    Word cloud for WIP keywords

    If you don’t already have an entry in the list please use the form to let us know your research interests, period and regions of interest. If you already have an entry, please check that it’s up to date and use the form to update it.