Welcome to our spring newsletter. We’ve been researching urban and rural properties in Shropshire and a farm in Staffordshire recently, all very different and each with their own stories.
Snapping up properties in need of modernisation with a view to refurbishing and selling them on is nothing new. Over a century ago a Shrewsbury builder took advantage of an opportunity to buy a pair of houses in a prime location by the river, ‘do them up’, build two new ones next door all for less than £2,000 (about £98,000 today). The only casualty was the size of the garden, now minus its ‘pleasure ground’, but with a magnificent promenade along the Severn nearby there was still plenty of opportunity for the Edwardian occupants to take the air.
An elegant Regency hall in south Shropshire was another property with a pleasure ground along with a pool (for fish, not swimming), garden, orchard, plantation, and over 400 acres. The former farm had belonged to the Glynne family of Hawarden, one of whose daughters married William Gladstone who became Prime Minister in 1868. Now there’s a reason to have a pleasure ground.
A most extraordinary map drawn in 1613 by cartographer Samuel Parsons showed a house on the site of this farm and since it included the names of landowners I was able to connect one family with the property through two centuries. Not only was the map beautifully drawn with little 3D representations of the houses but by comparing it with a modern map it was remarkably accurate in its depiction of the local road network. It’s quite something to have a 400-year old original map made available for your personal perusal thanks to our great archive services.
Sitting at my desk saying ‘The Hill’ in different dialects trying to turn it into ‘The Yell’ is one of the more unusual ways I spend my time. But I leave no thought unvoiced when it comes to solving house history puzzles such as how a name changed over time and other mapping idiosyncrasies. I’m pretty convinced that if you drop the H of Hill it works, try it. Evidence from deeds confirmed my suspicions and eventually I was able to track down the property’s origins in the 1770s.
No, there’s no apostrophe missing there as I am not talking about underwater luggage, but the 18th century terminology for describing a person’s landholding. ‘LVIII in divers parcels’ meant there were several pieces of land on a map, each labelled LVIII, that belonged to the same person. Whereas the letter ‘e’ was gratuitously added to the end of words as if from a salt shaker, ‘divers’, being in need of one, seems to have escaped.
We will be exhibiting at three Shropshire shows this summer and would love to see you. Here are the details:
13 July Newport Show
1 August Burwarton Show
9-10 August Shrewsbury Flower Show
Of course the weather will be good!
We look forward to seeing you.
Some of the topics we’ve been discussing on our blog recently:
Two fields of turnips. To be eaten by sheep only, in the township of Smethcotte.
Apply to Black Birches.