Newsletter – August 2013

Welcome to our summer newsletter. We had lots of visitors to our stand at the Newport and Burwarton Shows as well as the Shrewsbury Flower Show and are delighted to have some new subscribers and clients.  This last quarter we have been researching some fascinating properties in Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Shropshire, and discovered more great stories.

Shopping spree

A former shop in Herefordshire provided us with some interesting research challenges, particularly in dating the property. Sue, our architectural historian, uncovered the core of an early-16th century timber frame which she was able to date from timber saw cuts – a fantastic piece of detective work. Her findings were backed up by evidence from case studies of similar properties in the area. My documentary research revealed a connection to a nearby inn, more stories of debt including a spell in prison for one of the property’s former owners, and the evolution of the shop. The property has been in the client’s family for 90 years and we were able to include her personal reminiscences of their life in the house and the changes they made.

A peppering of salt

I suppose I should not have been surprised to find that many properties located along the Saltway that passes through Gloucestershire and Worcestershire were called Saltway House/Cottage/Farm/Barn etc. At least three were in the vicinity of our client’s house, and we had to pull out all the detective stops to discover whether there really were three different buildings or the map makers had got their labels mixed up. Once again field names came to the rescue in identifying land belonging to our client’s Cotswold farm – thanks to the wonderfully named Ragged Bush Hill. We imagined visions of stunted hawthorn trees torn by the wind and bent against constant gales that might have given the field its name. We were able to trace the land back to 1714 and follow its ownership right through to today.

Arthur and Martha

A stunningly beautifully volume of coloured maps from 1681 marking houses and land in and around Newport, Shropshire led to the discovery that the house we were researching was much older than previously thought. You can read about the story in our press release. Also at this property was the sad story of Arthur and Martha whose 2-year old son Norman died as a result of drinking polluted water from the farm’s well in the early 20th century. Investigators were called in and discovered that the water was contaminated with organic material and a new water main was laid on as a result.

Friends

I was delighted to be invited to join the committee of the Friends of Shropshire Archives to bring a business perspective to the group and help to promote Shropshire Archives and their services. Resources and funding are being relentlessly stripped from archives across the country and many experienced and knowledgeable staff have already lost their jobs. This has long-term implications for the future care, conservation and availability of original historical records. I’m very keen to promote all county record offices, and Shropshire Archives in particular, as almost every story you’ve read in any of my blogs and newsletters, not to mention much of the content of my house histories, originated from some kind of historical document in their care. Archives need friends and I’m proud to be one of them.

Blogging news

During the last three months we have tackled tithing, window etchings, and terriers on our blog.

Two eggs for each hen, a penny for a barren cow, and twopence for children over sixteen were some of the tithing charges in 17th century Shropshire.

Windows are an unusual place to leave a calling card.

Learning about terriers.

From the archives

The Notting Hill & Bayswater Times, 25 June 1870

  • Her Majesty has not been favoured with the Queen’s weather since her sojourn in the Highlands.
  • The Chicago Times says that when a superior rascal graduates from anywhere he at once comes to Chicago.
  • The Czar is said to drink 150 dollars’ worth of wine a day, and that is chiefly what’s the matter with him.
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