This opening section endeavours to introduce some general themes in Hook Norton’s history and to provide some guidance and advice about approaching the history of the village and parish. The opening contribution (Hook Norton’s Place in History) tries to briefly locate our history both geographically and interpretatively. The second essay (The Bad Reputation of Hooky Folk) asks why, for several hundred years, the people who lived in Hook Norton were widely renowned for being stupid and ill-mannered. Was it, after all, just a consequence of an unusual name, which was often corrupted to Hog’s Norton?
The third article establishes the basic facts (such as they are) about our Population, Then and Now, revealing how many people have lived (and do now live) in the parish, and how our population has grown (and declined) over time. The evidence is much stronger after 1801 than before, and fullest of all in modern censuses. We look closely at the most recent evidence showing the make-up of the parish in 2011, and await the results of the 2021 census with interest.
Many of our readers wish to pursue the history of their own family to discover ancestors and present relations, and the fifth article (Interested in Your Family History?) provides advice to help them get started. This involves the study of names, which can be revealing not only of our own family’s past but also of the places around us. So, the sixth article (Understanding Local Place Names) explains the origins of names we find around us and their significance. Why, indeed, is this place called Hook Norton?