One area that I’d particularly like to add to is Combe Down photos – especially any historic ones whether they be from your own or family archives or from postcards etc.
If you have any other ideas for what might be useful or relevant on the site then I’m always happy to ‘hear ideas’.
I have, now and then, wondered about a forum that includes the ability to post events etc. but I’m not sure whether it would be used and then there’s the question of moderation. Unfortunately there are always idiots who try to ruin it for the good guys, but it’s reasonably easy to do if there’s any demand.
Other than that I hope the new elements add to the site and that you enjoy them.
I was just looking at the Hunt & Co. and Silverthorne directories for Bath and Bristol for 1848 and 1846 respectively and thought it would be interesting to see what went on in the village around then – what was it like on Combe Down around 1846 – 1848? Who is mentioned? What trades and professions?
The problem is that, unlike later Kelly’s directories that locate a place and then show the people living there plus their occupations etc. these earlier directories are alphabetical and by class, so it’s not so simple to get an idea of what was going on.
Luckily, in this age of the internet you can find ‘electronic’ copies of most things, which makes it easier to do a search and then……
The results are below and provide an interesting snapshot of some of the people who lived and worked here.
I find a number of things interesting, compared to today.
For example the use of ‘nobility and gentry’ and people describing themselves as ‘gent’.
The boarding and day schools situated in private houses.
The fact that there were actually shops in the village (!) – no cars or supermarkets then.
Additionally, given the total population of 1,600 – 1,750 there are, unlike say the old telephone directories, actually very few people listed.
One other thing is the blacksmith. In Silverthorne’s of 1846 it is George Humphries but by Hunt & Co of 1848 it is Harriett Humphries – presumably his wife or daughter. But, was she the owner or did she actually smith? It would be interesting to know.
The census’ for 1841 and 1851 also give a picture and are shown below the directory findings.
Some interesting things were going on with property on Combe Down around this time.
John Ovens Thomas (1778 – 1836), the eldest son of John Thomas, the owner of Prior Park had died 10 years earlier but in 1846 his trustees decided to sell much of the land he had inherited from his father as well as some of his ground rents. The land, as can be seen from the estate sale notice below included the farm next door to St. Michael and All Angels Church at Monkton Combe, a number of fields near the Dundas Acqueduct and Midford Brook as well as ground rents for the Tyning Road area, The Brow, and Tyning Place.
John Ovens Thomas estate sale – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 16 April 1846
It also included the land from North Road to Church Road as the map below shows, The map also gives a really good idea of what this area of Combe Down was like in 1846.
Hunts & Co 1848
Nobility, Gentry, &c.
Baskett Mrs. Sarah, 6, De Montalt place, Combe down
They were written by quill pen and iron gall ink in court hand, chancery hand or secretary hand on large squares of parchment.
The heading and capital letter of old deeds are often ornamented with scroll work.
So much work went into them as they represented peoples’ wealth and legal title – something that, not so long ago, could only be shown “on paper”.
So, what goes into an old deed?
Parchment is most commonly made of calfskin, sheepskin, or goatskin.
It was historically used for writing documents, notes, or the pages of a book.
Parchment making is a slow process and requires the selection of good skins from healthy animals, which are then washed, dried, soaked in lime, scraped, stretched and scraped and stretched again and again and dried under tension until the finished product is ready for use as a writing surface.
Parchment is not tanned like leather, this makes it more suitable for writing, but leaves it reactive to changes in humidity and allows it revert to raw hide if too wet.
Vellum denotes a finer quality material referring to a parchment made from calf skin and comes from the Latin word vitulinum (meaning made from calf) and Old French vélin.
Indentures are a form of deed or legal contract. The Indenture on old deeds was so called from the fact that its upper edge was indented – a method of testing authenticity as each party had a copy.
These duplicates were written on a single strip of parchment cut irregularly afterwards, so that when required to be produced as evidence the two divided portions would fit each other exactly as indisputable evidence of their originality.
By convention in common use after about 1675, the old deeds documents open with the title ‘This Indenture’ in large capital letters.
Court hand was a style of handwriting used in medieval law courts from there into use by professionals such as lawyers and clerks.
Chancery hand could produce beautiful calligraphic writing; in England it became known as the Italian hand to distinguish it from the angular, cramped, black letter or gothic derived English chancery hand which had been developed earlier.
Secretary hand arose out of the need for a hand more legible and universally recognizable and was widely used by scriveners and others whose daily employment comprised hours of writing.
Another important part of an old deed deed is the iron gall ink.
The main ingredients are oak galls, iron sulphate and gum Arabic and it was permanent and water resistant.
A 1770 recipe suggests two ounces of crushed oak galls soaked overnight in one pint of water to produce tannin, then strained into one ounce of ferrous sulphate. A half ounce of gum Arabic (the hardened sap of the Acacia Senegal tree) is added and the mixture stirred until it is dissolved which might take a week or two.
Iron gall ink is purple black or brown black and coloured inks were seldom employed for legal documents.
It was the standard writing and drawing ink in Europe, from about the 5th to 19th century and remained in use into the 20th.
The writing was done by a quill pen made from a moulted flight feather (preferably a primary wing feather) of a large bird such as a goose or swan.
A quill is hand cut to six or seven inches after being soaked and tempered in hot sand for longer life so that the slit does not widen through wetting and drying with ink and will retain its shape, require infrequent sharpening and be used many times.
The hollow shaft of the feather (the calamus) acts as an ink reservoir and ink flows to the tip by capillary action.
I just love old handbills and maps. Bath Record Office has a small treasure trove of them.
Here are some prepared for the Prior Park sale in 1808 before John Thomas bought in in 1809.
The language is wonderful. “A capital mansion, seated on an eminence, erected, in the most substantial manner, about the Year 1738, by RALPH ALLEN, Esq. Planned for the accommodation of A NOBLEMAN, OR FAY OF DISTINCTION”.
If one had the wherewithal it would be difficult to resist. It’s a world away from the ‘estate agent speak’ we are so used to; but then, so is the property.
Anyone wondering what A, R, and P are was obviously born more recently! It’s acres, roods and perches.
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