Edited by John Chandler
John Leland’s Itinerary is one of the key documents of English local history, offering eye-witness descriptions of hundreds of towns and villages, castles, monasteries and gentry houses during the reign of Henry Vlll, by one of the most intelligent and learned observers of his era. But is not straightforward – Leland became insane before he had time to organize his notes into a coherent and systematic account of his journeys. He left for posterity a jumbled mass of material, written partly in Latin, partly in robust Tudor English, to be plundered, damaged and in some cases lost by later antiquaries, and not published until the eighteenth century.
John Chandler’s modern English version based on the standard edition by Lucy Toulmin Smith of 1900-10, was first published in 1993 and has long been out of print. In it he identified place and personal names, and rearranged everything of topographical interest into historic English counties, with maps and a detailed introduction. For this new edition he has corrected the text, added parts of the material relating to Leland’s travels in Wales, revised the introduction, and established a reliable chronology for the surviving accounts of the five journeys which Leland undertook between 1539 and 1544. While Leland’s actual words will continue to be quoted by historians of the places he visited, this rendering into modern English offers an accessible and absorbing window on the world of our towns and countryside almost five centuries ago.