On a visit to Aberaeron on the Ceredigion coast this week I discovered that the town was built in the early 19th century by the lord of the manor, the Reverend Alban Gwynne, who laid out the funds to create a harbour at the mouth of the river. What is striking is the uniformity of the Georgian architecture built around the harbour and the local convention for painting the houses in pastel colours – each one a different shade. This bit of town planning seems to have been of benefit to the town’s residents if the tourism trade is any measure of success.
However the visit brought to mind a couple of places where the local squire was more interested in the view from his manor house than the well-being of villagers and actually removed those properties that he considered a blot on the landscape. Milton Abbas in Dorset was one such village where some of its residents found themselves with a new address following the removal of their cottages, which were rebuilt a mile or so down the road. The thatched cottages with open green space between them also attract visitors today who may not be aware of the village’s history.
A similar thing happened at Shipton in Shropshire when the lord of the manor (again) decided the sight, and possibly smell, of the local population was too much and had their houses removed to pastures new, well away from his windows.
All the manor houses I have researched have had their share of interesting incumbents across the centuries, and most seem to have been of the ‘munificent’ rather than ‘dastardly’ variety. But if you notice anyone scanning the horizon from the windows of the ‘big house’ anywhere near you, keep an eye open for removal vans.