Chronicle helps paint picture of homes’ history

Old copies of the Shrewsbury Chronicle have proved useful for one businesswoman who has been able to trace the history of residents’ houses back nearly 200 years.

Visitors to this year’s Shrewsbury Flower Show were offered the chance to find their place in history with the help of Jill Ming and her company Building Beginnings. Jill started her business three years ago after researching the background of her home near Church Stretton. Jill uses a variety of historical sources in her hunt for clues including old photographs, postcards, drawings, plans, maps, court records and newspaper clippings.

Jill has used various sources in her research including the Shrewsbury Chronicle. ‘In 1811 there was a flash flood in Shrewsbury which damaged homes. I found a house I was researching was mentioned in a copy of the newspaper from May 31. The flood happened on May 27 and described people clinging to the rafters of the Angel Public House.’

Jill says people can have various reasons for wanting to know who lived in their home before they did. She says ‘House histories are something which a lot of people are interested in. They are fascinated to know who used to live in their house and about the social history.’

Jill’s research on her own home led to the discovery of a royal connection. ‘It’s an old rectory built in 1735. In Church Stretton there is a road called Sandford Avenue after the rector who lived in our house who organised the planting of all the lime trees there. He got sponsorship from people to buy the trees and donated some himself. The great and the good from the county donated money and even the then Prince of Wales contributed.’

Jill has just finished researching a house in Minsterley which she discovered used to belong to a man who ran the White Grit mine. ‘It was really interesting as it used to belong to John Lawrence who was one of the first users of steam to pump water out of the mine. He lived there from 1795 to 1832. After a while the mining industry went into a decline. He was leasing the mine and the landlord refused to renew the lease. He went to court and won but he lost all his money.’

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