News - Building Beginnings

Newsletter – November 2015

Welcome to our autumn newsletter.

The chase is onCatch that horse!

We recently uncovered a very enterprising parish who had been suffering from ‘diverse burglaries, robberies and felonies, trespasses and misdemeanours’ in their midst and were determined to do something about it. Apprehending perpetrators was largely down to local people before there was a regular police force, and this particular area established a formal society to deal with the problem. Their Plan of Action included:

‘When any felony is attempted any person shall with all convenient speed give verbal notice to the dwelling house of the Treasurer of the society who will give notice to the other members.

Members shall take note of the height, marks, colour and description of the offender’s horse.

Each party shall within two hours of receiving such notice to go or send an able person on horseback for a distance of 20 miles from his house in search of the offender

Any person apprehending the offender shall summon assistance and convey them to the parish constable or JP

Double lightning strike

We’ve been researching what aWood pigeonppeared to be a late-Georgian property near Hereford which on closer inspection turned out to contain a 16th century timber-framed house. Its many nooks and crannies have revealed some intriguing clues for Sue to interpret in understanding how the building developed. Meanwhile I discovered that the house was struck by lightning twice, the first time in 1831:

‘A large mass of electric matter, forming apparently a ball of fire, entered at the back kitchen chimney displacing several bricks, and passed in a seeming brilliant globe of flame through the kitchen, into a passage, and up the stairs where it was attracted by a bell wire, penetrated through a partition into a bedroom and there it set on fire the top of the bed curtains. It dispersed amongst the different bell wires of the house, breaking all of them, some windows and tearing off portions of the walls in various places. The fire was immediately extinguished and, most providentially, no person in the house was injured.’

Three years later lightning struck a tree in the garden which tore off two large boughs and killed a wood pigeon. A lucky escape for all except the bird.

Take your partners

One of our more unusual discoveries, hidden in a box of manorial court books, was a set of instructions for how to dance the mazurka. It was in the form of a set of eight cards, six setting out the steps and movements, and two containing the music for the ‘reigning favourite in circles of the highest distinction‘.


The author, a Miss Mason of Regent Street, was nothing if not thorough in setting out the twelve extremely complex movements. In explaining the Polish origins of the mazurka Miss Mason assured her readers that the ‘Gentleman has the singular privilege of proceeding in any direction that suits his fancy either through the ballroom or elsewhere about the mansion, all being obliged to follow him till it may please him to conclude‘. I’d love to think that earlier residents of my client’s house used these cards to practice in their drawing room.

Capital offence

One of our current projects is a Staffordshire farm, and I came across this delightful advertisement by the tenant in need of help. The capitals are his, not mine:

‘Sheep – Wanted, 500 to Eat SWEDES; also, 200 tons for Sale’.

Enjoy your winter.

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