Following a busy autumn we had a sudden rush of Christmas orders and, anxious not to disappoint everyone who had such a good idea, it was heads down for some serious researching with the last book being delivered with two days to spare – with the consent of the client of course.
We are tremendously excited about our new website launched this month. We wanted to have a brighter look, incorporate our blog that has been running for the last 18 months on a separate site, be able to update and maintain the site more easily, and, of course, to provide lots of interesting content for our visitors. Feedback has been very positive so far – do send us your comments. Many thanks to Ascendency Internet Marketing’s Website While You Wait service which we highly recommend.
One of our winter commissions was a Cheshire farmhouse near a former spa whose properties were widely acclaimed in the 18th century. Such was the efficacy of the waters that redundant crutches and bathchairs were left behind as newly invigorated bathers leapt onto their horses and galloped away. We traced the property’s tenants back through 250 years of estate records thanks to the fantastic Crewe archive. The changing fortunes of two of the farm’s 19th century tenants were vividly illustrated by their wills: one leaving over £40,000 to friends and family (including his ‘natural’ son), while 50 years later in the midst of an agricultural depression, a subsequent tenant left less than £100 and expired only hours after writing his will.
The construction of a former coachman’s cottage on a Shropshire estate was something of a puzzle to its present and former owners who commissioned us to work out its original structure and explain how it had been built. Sue did a great job analysing brick bonds and came up with no fewer than six different bonds, four of which were on one wall. Mapping the bonding and the brick sizes enabled her to see which parts of the building were contemporary with each other, while comparisons with neighbouring buildings helped to date other parts of the property. Meanwhile my attention was drawn to the ‘unsuitable marriage’ of the estate owner’s eldest son that led to his eventual downfall, bankruptcy and a Chancery lawsuit.
Historical Highlights photo book
We also researched some of the history of an early Victorian town house in Shrewsbury and discovered that it had been renamed in the 1920s to reflect the Leicestershire birthplace of its owner. The occupations of its residents over the course of a century included an ironmonger, estate agent and auctioneer, vicar, Post Office engineer and gentleman of independent means. This client was the first to take advantage of our new, smaller sized photo book which is ideal for our Historical Highlights.
We’d love you to follow us on Twitter. Here’s a flavour of what you’ll see:
- 1831 Cheshire farm tenant had to do 2 days team work a year and deliver a cheese.
- Love reading the back of old postcards. Alice was missing Mr Gregory in 1908. Ah.
- Lord Crewe paid for ‘spent bark and wet hair’ sent to Crewe Hall in February 1832. My guess is for plastering but I could be wrong.
- Encountered an unusual name in the archives – Richard Strongitharm. Presumably a variation on Armstrong which is certainly easier to say.
- Witton-cum-Twambrooks is an actual place.
Curious rent demands, history by numbers and spot the difference, and an appreciation of indexers (Pulpit, goose in see Church) have all been discussed on our blog recently.
From the archives
Some 1639 Cheshire sins:
- John Ridley caught in bed with Mrs Pick the glover’s wife.
- Absence from church playing shovelboard.
- Elbowing Anna Taylor, sitting upon her in a pew that she called out in pain, her hat was almost thrust off her head and her band turned about her neck.
- Churchwardens accused of being arrant knaves who spent the parish money idly and did not attend church on holy days.
- Anna Anderton charged with wasting her dead husband’s estate on drink, living with John Cumberbach and neglecting her children.