In May 1811 a devastating flood engulfed people and property in Minsterley and Pontesford in Shropshire, the like of which had never been witnessed in living memory. One of the victims was the grandmother of the person whose house we have been researching so this story had a special poignancy. This was an epic storm by any measure. Hailstones measuring 5″-6″ across thundered down followed by a cloudburst that created a torrent of water that swept away entire cottages, trees, animals and anyone caught in the maelstrom. Those houses not entirely demolished were inundated up to the eaves, and the force of the water actually turned the current of the River Severn as it reached the edge of Shrewsbury, one man reporting that it rose four feet in less than ten minutes. There was great loss of life, land and livelihood as a result of this extreme weather that was no doubt recalled with dread by survivors for many years afterwards.
If you thought the Victorians were the great moralisers, consider this view of the ‘poorest sort’ presented in a case for building a school in a Cheshire village in 1725:
‘It was found by experience that profane swearing, cursing, lying and profanation of the Lord’s Day and dissolute and disorderly practice were greatly owing to a gross ignorance of the Christian religion especially among the poorest sort and that to prevent and reform the same there was no more likely way or means to be taken than by instructing the children in the Christian religion, that a careful religious and sober education of children was not only of great importance both to the religious and public welfare but had for the most part a very powerful and lasting influence upon the whole course of their lives.’
The inhabitants went further and proposed that ‘by reason of the great distance of their habitations from the parish church’ that the proposed school should include a chapel consecrated for divine worship. The local gentry duly provided two acres of ground, funds were subscribed, and the school and chapel were operational by 1735. Job done.
It came as something of a shock to a recent client to discover that their present living room with en suite bedroom above were formerly coal stores, a loose box and loft with adjacent pig sty. Where they now sit and enjoy the view over the Cheshire hills, a former occupier’s horse pondered the same scene over the heads of his porcine neighbours. The former tailor’s cottage has also been home to stonemasons and agricultural workers. Its transformation from a two-up, two-down modest dwelling to the present spacious and comfortable family home took place over a period of half a century. It was a particular thrill for us, and our client, to find the original title deeds to the property.
Sometimes you just wonder at people. Consider this tragic episode that took place at a Romanian wedding reported in the Hull Daily Mail in July 1912:
‘Fourteen persons, including the bridegroom, a postal official named Chiabano, the bride and her parents, are reported to have been poisoned at a wedding banquet at Bucharest. Carbolic acid was served by mistake instead of wine, and all drained their glasses, dying in a few minutes.‘This entry was posted in News