Moving Local Political History Centre Stage

Date / time: 24 November, 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Traditionally there has been a marked disparity between the attention given by historians to national politics as compared with local politics. Whereas the former has attracted extensive and forensic interest the latter has tended to be either marginalised or ignored. In the first part of the presentation we will outline the substance of, and approaches to, local political history; consider some of the reasons why it has been neglected; and make the case for it to receive the attention it deserves. The second part will be a case study of politics in the small Kent market town of Sevenoaks from the 1870s to 1914, ‘“Economists” versus “Progressives”’. Here the focus will be on the public issues that helped shape local political loyalties, new unities and political factions, with the great national issues of the day often being viewed from profound religious beliefs and considerations allied to democratic ideologies about future social and economic welfare. At local level this embraced the relief of the poor, water supply and sanitary reform, improved working conditions and labour relations, tenant farmers’ interests, the position of women and children, education, public spaces, and the provision of housing and social welfare.

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