ALHA Avon Local History & Archaeology map18.jpg

ALHA is the umbrella group for local history and archaeology societies in Bristol, Bath, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset.

We help member societies by compiling an annual list of recommended speakers, and by publicising societies’ activities through our newsletter and website. We organise a local history study day each year, and our AGM is accompanied by a lecture with a distinguished speaker.

Each year we publish 3-4 compact but authoritative books on aspects of Avon local history, and each summer we organise a series of walks.

We have strong links with the Regional History Centre at the University of the West of England, and with the libraries, archives, museums and other organisations in our area.

We offer both Society and individual membership, and further details can be found here..

Click on About Us for how to contact ALHA

Click on Publications for information about our publishing programme, and how you can contribute to the written history of our area.

Click on Events for details of the meetings, walks and other activities organised by our member societies.

Click on Groups for links to our member societies, and details of what they do and how you can contact them.

Click on Archive for back copies of ALHA publications “Quest” and “Avon Past”.

News and Forthcoming Events

Latest Newsletter and Update

The October update is now available for download here. An extraordinarily prescient John Everett Millais anticipated the demand for our latest issue, and painted a picture of a stern husband imploring his wife to show him the copy held behind her back. Other explanations have been suggested, but are now discounted by most serious scholars.

The September Newsletter, which covers the period September to December, is still available for download here.

Diary of Events

Following a software problem, our Diary of Events now appears in a different format. Instead of three pages showing the diary by date, society and speaker there are now three downloadable pdf files with the same information. The files can be easily downloaded and printed, but unfortunately no longer include a clickable hyperlink to website of the organising society. The three new files are:

Events arranged by date

Events arranged by name of society

Events arranged by name of speaker

Click on the file you want.

Coach trip to The National Archives - Saturday 17 February 2018

Bristol & Avon Family History Society are organising a coach trip to The National Archives at Kew on Saturday 17 February. Places booked before 31 December cost £20, with the price increased to £25 after 1 January. Pick-up points are Chipping Sodbury Car Park and BAWA, Southmead Road, Bristol. Click here for further details.

Destruction of Jacobean Ceiling in Small Street, Bristol

Readers’ reactions to reports of the destruction of a Jacobean plaster ceiling at 15 Small Street, Bristol, will range from indifference to rage. Many will feel sadness, annoyance or anger, or all three. To read more about what has happened, and what might be done to prevent future similar occurrences, please read the article in our latest newsletter.

We understand that, following a public campaign, Heritage England have now listed the chapel at the original Bristol Royal Infirmary building.  

ALHA Local History Day 21 April 2018 – Call for papers

The theme for next year’s local history day, on Saturday 21 April at UWE’s Frenchay campus will be around religion and change, broadly interpreted. We hope to look at how religious beliefs changed, how religious organisations changed within themselves, and how those changes affected local people at large. Our area is rich in religions and their impact: two abbeys of historical importance; a battleground of the reformation and of the religious ferments on the 17th century, which both had political consequences; a hotbed of nonconformity in the 18th century, with Moravians, Unitarians, Baptists, Quakers, Independents and Methodists prominent, and driving political and social reforms in the following century. Sects (Lady Huntingdon’s in Bath?) have come and gone. Religion declined in Victorian times, yet it was then that it was prominent in public life. Church buildings have dominated our towns and villages for centuries, but not all are still in use and the uses of some have changed. Wesley’s new room has been revamped, but Whitfield’s tabernacle is at risk. In the 20th century we have seen gurdwaras, mosques and other buildings to meet the needs of immigrant communities, while St Werburgh’s is used for climbing, St Paul’s for circus training, and St George’s for concerts. Highbury chapel, originally Congregationalist, became Anglican. Some chapels, in villages as well as towns, are now flats or houses. Topics could include the importance of religious beliefs and practices at various times; how they changed; and how they changed the lives of people, places, and politics.

ALHA invites proposals for talks, presentations and displays: max 500 words please to Bob Lawrence, Flat 1 Chartley, 22 The Avenue, Bristol BS9 1PE, lawrence.chartley@btinternet.com or William Evans, 5 Parrys Grove, Bristol BS9 1TT, 0117 968 4979, wm.evans@btopenworld.com


ALHA offers grants to assist local history research, publications, events, conservation and other projects which accord with its charitable objectives. The Committee has wide discretion over the kind of work to be assisted and the terms of the assistance. Recent grants include one to support the publication of volumes of the Victoria County History to cover parts of Gloucestershire.

Details of the conditions and how to apply can be had from the Treasurer.

UWE Regional History Centre - Programme of Seminars at M Shed

The programme for 2017-8 is now available and can be found here. Seminars are held on Thursday evenings at M Shed, Princes Road, Wapping Wharf, Bristol, BS1 4RN. Admission is free. The range of subjects is wide, and this series includes women’s lives in Tudor England, Brunel’s first steamship and popular music in nineteenth century Bristol.

Talks at Holy Trinity Church at Westbury on Trym

Holy Trinity Parish Church at Westbury-on-Trym is celebrating its history this autumn with a programme of talks. Each will be held in the church at 7.30 p.m.. Speakers include Canon John Rogan, Jinx Newley, Canon Jon Cannon and Professor Richard Coates, author the recent ALHA publication about Rev Henry John Wilkins. Tickets cost £2 for each talk, light refreshments included. Tickets can be bought in advance. For further details, click here.

Centre for Medieval Studies Postgraduate Conference

The Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Bristol is organising a conference on Hype, Transmission and Truth in the Middle Ages on 23 and 24 February 2018. They have issued a call for papers, which can be downloaded here. The deadline for responses is 1 December 2017.

Refusing to Kill - Bristol’s First World War Conscientious Objectors

On Saturday September 9th an exhibition 'Refusing To Kill – Bristol's World War 1 Conscientious Objectors' opens in Bristol Cathedral on College Green. The exhibition runs until 8th January 2018 and is presented by Bristol's Remembering The Real World War 1 group. Over 300 men from the Bristol area refused to fight in World War 1. They claimed the status of conscientious objectors for moral, religious or political reasons. Some agreed to take non-military roles. Other spent much of the war in prison, often under harsh conditions.

A largely untold part of Bristol’s World War 1 history – this exhibition tells the stories of these men and the people in the city who supported them. Rarely seen documents will be displayed together with photographs, letters from COs and artefacts. There is a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/RefusingtoKillBristolWW1COs/

Know Your Place - West of England - Now Complete

The final phase of the expansion of Know Your Place has now been completed and coverage has been extended to the whole of the historic County of Somerset. Historic maps of Bristol, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Bath & North-east Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Council areas are all now available online, together with illustrations and much other local history information.  The website is at www.kypwest.org.uk.

Wilkins of Westbury & Redland

The latest ALHA publication was launched on Saturday 22 April at our Local History Day at UWE. Written by Professor Richard Coates, it is a study of Rev. Henry John Wilkins who was a progressive force in local politics before entering the great tradition of English parsons who have been active local historians.

Full details of all ALHA books and an order form are on our Publications page.

You can also now buy ALHA publications online, and pay by card, through GENfair.

Bristol Archives

This is the new name for Bristol Record Office, and it now has a new logo. Click the logo for the Bristol Archives website.

What’s On at Bristol Museums & Archives

Click for details of the exhibitions, tours, walks and other activities taking place in Bristol in future weeks and months.

Heritage events in Bath

Click for details of the exhibitions, tours, and talks taking place in Bath.

Crossing the river at Pensford. The ALHA Summer Walk, July 4 2016

Follow ALHA on Facebook


The photo of Chipping Sodbury market was found on the Facebook page entitled Chipping Sodbury Photographs. The photo of Stanton Drew Stone Circle is by Michael Day and is taken from flickr. The photo of the Netham Lock in Bristol was taken by the webmaster. Click on each photo to see a full-screen image.

The photo of Pensford is by the webmaster.

Avon Local History and Archaeology is a Registered Charity. No. 270930

This website was last updated on Tuesday, November 21, 2017. If you spot any errors or omissions, please advise the webmaster.

Chipping Sodbury Market Day 2.jpg Stanton Drew.jpg Netham Lock.jpg