News - Building Beginnings

Newsletter – March 2018

Full circle

We have been on the trail of a large country house, researching its origins and former owners, and came up with some surprising answers for our client. We were able to pinpoint the former farmhouse and its 115 acres on several 18th and 19th century maps and discovered that it had been in 1829 a thatched property with a half-timbered and thatched barn ‘wanting some repair‘.

A survey of local roads undertaken two years later concluded that the lane from the farm leading to the turnpike road was ‘useless and may be stopped up and wholly discontinued without any inconvenience to the public‘. The farmer may have had a different view.

The property was sold in the 1860s and the new owner demolished the farmhouse and barn and built himself a large country mansion which descended through his family for the next hundred years. The property is now, by a quirk of history, back in the same ownership as it was in the early 18th century.

Stand and deliver your turnips

A remote farmhouse in another part of the county was a delightful project which we traced back to the late 16th century when the owner stipulated in his will that the property should descend to his daughter. From there we traced the property right up to the present owner with it frequently being left to the daughter of the family or given to her in marriage.

One tenant joined the local association for the apprehension of offenders perpetrating crimes in the parish. The sum of 10s 6d was the reward for convicting anyone of stealing turnips, leading on a sliding scale up to a £50 fine for housebreaking or highway robbery.

There was also a shocking incident in more recent times when a neighbour who had been courting the daughter of the house and had been rebuffed, turned up at the property with a shotgun and proceeded to fire rounds into the front door on being refused entry.

Family trees

We have been working on an unusual project that came about when one of our house history clients asked if we could document the history of his family to produce one of our ‘lovely books’. This turned out to be a ‘lovely book’ for each of the five family lines they had researched, and in the process we have travelled the world from the comfort of home and learned a lot en route.

We have written about the escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie, the American Civil War, the Charge of the Light Brigade, the Indian Mutiny, and the South Sea bubble. Our virtual travels have taken us to Bengal, South Carolina, Shanghai, Cape Town, Yorkshire, and the Isle of Skye, and we have encountered framework knitters, Florence Nightingale, Huguenots and the East India Company.

It’s been an adventure.

From the archives

A prescient article in The Bystander in March 1926 suggested that children should be introduced to the joys of the telephone at an early age. Not sure teachers today would agree with the proposal:

According to Commander Kenworthy, MP, we are the most under-telephoned civilised country in the world, and he makes the very interesting suggestion there should be two dummy telephones in every schoolroom in order that youngsters may be initiated into their mysteries at an early age. This is an excellent suggestion, and education might be further developed along such practical lines.’

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