"Each has his own tree of ancestors, but at the top of all sits Probably Arboreal." - Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Exciting news

In my post On my brief visit to the Forest of Dean, I mentioned that we were there to pick up some exciting post. I can now reveal the exciting news, finally, without jinxing it ... my boyfriend and I have officially bought our first house!
What does this have to do with genealogy, I hear you ask. Well, short answer, it doesn’t really. However, it has prompted a new line of historical investigation for me – house history.
I have done a little bit of this before, when I did some investigatory work into my parents’ new house a few years ago. However this was slightly different because what I was investigating wasn’t the history of the house, but the history of a working mill. This time, I’ll definitely be looking at proper house history.
The starting point for a house history would usually be the title deeds. However, we have a minor problem in that ours only date from 2004 (when it was purchased from the council), when clearly the house is much older than that. I suspect it’s Victorian, but it could be as late as 1930s possibly (I’m not great on architecture – it’s definitely old-ish though!) So, I may be forced to contact the council and see if they can tell me anything more. I don’t exactly relish the prospect, as they’ve been mostly useless during the house-buying.
However, I have done a bit of research around the street already. A document form the Cheltenham Museum informs us:
Sherborne Street is one of a number of small streets of artisan houses that were created on the fields to the north-east of Cheltenham town centre during the early 19th century. The street was named after Lord Sherborne, the Lord of the Manor of Cheltenham, and was laid out by a High Street grocer named William Gyde from 1808 onwards; no. 43, on the east side of the street, was probably built in 1818.
It seems to have been a very working-class street with lots of chimney sweeps living there. The museum document tells the story of a sweep’s sign that it has in its possession and traces the connected family, the Fields. They didn’t live in our house (no. 40), though they must have been close by. They began at no. 15, at the other end of the street (which probably no longer exists, I would guess), before they moved into no. 39, which today is no. 43. I assume this is across the road from us somewhere.
This does give me an interesting clue that there has been some change of numbering on the street, which doesn’t really help me in tracking down our house. However, the document says that number 15 was on the west side of the street, and number 39 was on the east. We are situated on the west side (I think, the street doesn’t exactly run due north to south though). With some comparison of the house numbering today, it may be possible to conjecture about what number our house was originally, but I think I might have to contact the council to find out more specifically about the history of the house. I’ll keep you posted!
L x

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