While working on the history of an Elizabethan hall in Shropshire I was delighted to discover a letter written to a poorly young boy in an attempt to cheer him up. The manager of an estate nearby had some excellent advice for Johnny: ‘If the kitchen maid boils you lettuce again when you have tripe for dinner, make her eat half a pound of the tripe without boiling and I rely upon it she will never make such a mistake again’. He went on to report that the farm bailiff who lived at the hall had a white Irish terrier puppy that ‘he would not part with to any other person in the world, and the only condition is that should you not like him he is to have him again, he calls him Paddy’. We can only assume the child was delighted when the basket containing the puppy arrived with the carter the following day. Using property deeds and many other sources I was able to piece together 350 years of history of the property and discovered many close family connections between the hall’s owners as well as its tenants.
Sale of the century
Researching the history of a Ludlow hotel recently I discovered the poster and catalogue of an auction of its contents held there in 1928. The property had been built in the mid-19th century by a Ludlow solicitor and had passed through his family until one of his daughters decided to let it to tenants unfurnished and appointed a local auctioneer to dispose of the household goods, furniture and pictures. The catalogue was a fascinating read as it described in great detail every item in the house room by room. Lot 180, for example, was ‘A fine 14in Famille Rose Pot-Pourri Vase, beautifully decorated with a Ho Ho Bird and flowers’ which fetched £17 5s – about £575 in today’s money so not to be laughed at.
Read the blurb
Another research project, this time for a Staffordshire delicatessen and café, was the first to be presented in our new luxury leather-bound album for display in their premises. The story was one of our Historical Highlights in which we found that the property had been a draper’s shop and surgery though not at the same time. We also used one of the photo book services now available to produce a high quality bound book complete with dust jacket for a really special offering for our clients.
As another summer show season ends I have been reflecting on the people I have met, the questions I have been asked (‘Can you research the history of a greenhouse?’), the clothes I have seen (Fitflops have replaced Crocs, and pink corduroy is big this year), and the weather we all experienced. As for weather, monsoon-like rain during the Shrewsbury Flower Show brought a bumper number of visitors into the marquee although I had to protect my display from dripping raincoats. But it wasn’t all wet and there was plenty of interest and lots of questions. My new pull-up banner could be seen over the heads of the crowd and attracted a lot of interest to my stand.
We’ve been blogging for more than three months now and have covered quite a bit of territory including dust levels in archives, the anniversary of custard powder, a possible criminal in the family, researching the history of a cave, the future of the census, and stuffed parathas. Read all about it on our blog.
From the archives – ‘Cure for warts’
Here’s some advice from the 1912 edition of The Folklore of Herefordshire by E M Leather to keep handy just in case:
‘There are many different cures for warts. One is to get a stick of elder wood, cut nine notches in it, and run the warts on the notches: seal the stick up in an envelope, and drop it at the first cross road you come to; the person who picks it up will get the warts. Or count them and make a packet of as many grains of wheat as there are warts. These are to be thrown over the shoulder without looking round, where four roads meet, in the hope of transferring them to the finder of the packet.’
Or go to the chemist.