Allerton History Society
A summer visit will be arranged and will be advertised here and in the Allerton News so keep an eye out for it
The 2018 AGM was held on Wednesday 10th January and followed by an excellent talk from Hazel Hudson on Allerton Sinners through through the Centuries.
2017 AGM and talk
Over twenty people turned out on a bitterly cold February evening for the Allerton History Society AGM and a talk by Dr Sue Shaw. The Chair, Secretary and Treasurer of the History Society remained unchanged from last year, but Alan Williams has regretfully decided it is time to retire from the Committee. Alan Williams will be greatly missed as he is almost the last remaining founder member of the History Society. If anybody would like to replace him on the committee please contact Kate Durston on 712309.
The History Society is continuing to focus on old houses and the talk, “Every House tells a tale”, was designed to help with research into old houses. As a landscape archaeologist, Sue was able to explain the importance of detailed observation of the exterior and interior of our homes. She used slides to help us spot interesting features of old houses, and she suggested that we took photos of interesting features and details in our houses and put them in scrap books. She also suggested we catalogue any items found in our gardens and in the backs of cupboards or under the floor boards. It is vitally important to note where things have been found.
Sue showed us slides of some of the very old houses which she has researched. Many of them went back to mediaeval times. Most of the houses were “vernacular” – that is built by local people from local materials. There was only one “polite” house designed by an architect and built out of expensive materials. It had been built in the early twentieth century in Barton. She had included it because of a very interesting discovery in the garden. When footings were being dug for a conservatory, the digger went through a skeleton. The police were called in to find out whether it was from a recent murder victim, but it turned out that the skeleton was that of a Romano-British man. There happens to be a Romano-British settlement quite near the house but why had this man been buried in a coffin all on his own?
Sue used to keep the skeleton pieces in a Tupperware container under her bed and took them to village fetes at Winscombe where she laid out the pieces of the skeleton for children to look at. The skeleton was named George!
Having shown us how much we can learn about houses through careful observation, Sue went on to suggest we also draw up plans of houses. These can reveal dead spaces which show how they have been altered over time. We should also explore the roof space as this can provide important clues about the house. Charcoal on roof timbers indicates a very old house that had open fires in the middle of the building before any chimney were built.
Old maps help indicate the age of a house. Sue finished off her talk by showing us some old maps of Stone and Chapel Allerton and accompanying lists of the owners of properties and the names of tenants. Chapel Allerton is quite a straight forward village to research, but Stone Allerton was divided between Chapel Allerton and Weare Parish in a most confusing and haphazard way. Sue told us that being on a border would give us double trouble with researching this village.