Welcome to our summer newsletter.
I’m delighted with my new profile pictures from C-J Photography. Catherine has a studio in Telford and specialises in portrait photography and – in my case – a fantastic ability to make people look younger.
17th century downsizing
Ignoring the usual convention of moving to a smaller house when you no longer need extensive accommodation, the 17th century proprietor of the former manor house we have been researching took a different approach. In an agreement drawn up with his new tenant, the owner reserved the right to ‘take down for his occasion the south end and part of the mansion house so far as the hall or entry doing to prejudice to the remaining part’. And he did.
The most likely reason for demolishing what would have been one of the building’s cross-wings was that he had built himself a new manor house a few miles away and wanted to establish it as the most prestigious property in town.
Isn’t that the pits?
Did you know that fields have names? Not short, snappy names like Jim or Ann, but along more descriptive lines. Some are straightforward: The Four Acres, Pool Meadow, or Rocky Piece, but others sound much more interesting. Soldiers’ Field, Coachman’s Croft, and Beggar’s Hill presumably had associations with certain people, as did Jennings’s, Foulke’s and Julian’s Croft. Steward’s Britches really was shaped like a pair of trousers, but Goose’s Neck and Nick’s Nose weren’t so accurately named. As for Alice Rough, Plum Pits, Hell Hole – well, who knows?
Every now and again we discover a ‘gateway’ document – one that opens up our research and provides a connection with one of the established county families. In our research into an unusual Shropshire country house designed by the architect who built the Shrewsbury Butter Market, the testimony of a local farmer helped us discover how this new estate had been established.
Not only that, but having followed the trail back through the former owner we discovered the all too familiar story of a young man’s debt caused by exuberant electioneering expenses and speculation in South Sea stocks.
On the radio
It was as close as I’ll get to Desert Island Discs. Choose some of your favourite tracks and come and talk about yourself on the radio for an hour. Heather Noble invited me to her morning slot on Calon FM, a community radio station, and demonstrated her excellent communication skills and mastery of the broadcasting kit. I enjoyed being interviewed by Heather, telling her my story, and giving out a few house history tips to listeners.
We have booked our stand at this summer’s Shrewsbury Flower Show on 8-9 August and are looking forward to our seventh appearance at this great Shropshire event.
These are the topics we have been discussing on our blog recently: recently:
Beach houses with history – a busman’s holiday discovering the history of some New Zealand baches.
Fire Mr Fawlty! – Fire insurance 18th century style.
From the archives
Who would have been able to resist buying a ticket to this ‘grand fashionable performance’ at Shrewsbury’s Theatre Royal in October 1861?
Thiodon’s Celebrated & Beautiful Museum of Arts programme included:
- A Beautiful View of Gibraltar, a Tableau of Washington and his Generals at Valley Forge concluding with a Splendid Allegory.
- Rome, the Eternal City animated with Mechanical Figures, and the Feast of Cocagne on the River.
- Bonaparte Crossing the Alps with an Army of 30,000 Men, all Moving Figures.
- The Unrivalled and Wonderful Automaton Slack Rope Vaulter.
- A Storm at Sea accompanied with its characteristic Phenomena concluding with the Great Eastern Steam Ship crossing the Atlantic.
Boxes 2s, Pit 1s, Gallery 6d.