I'm sure charities get a boost around this time of year, as thoughts of giving are pretty well up there, and it becomes easier to be generous in spirit as well.
Here's an odd one then...
During WW2, the three cottages which stood on the site of the present 'Turrets', were demolished by a V2 flying bomb, and about thirty other houses were badly blown about as well, including the church behind us. It went off in the air at about fifty feet, and was an unpleasant awakening for all the local citizens, none of whom were hurt thankfully, because it happened very early in the morning.
The current 'Turrets' was built in the early fifties, with all the restraints of post-war shortages like hardly any timber in the roof, and the odd weak patches in the floors, but it now looks in pretty good shape, apart from a few things which Mrs S has instructed me to do over the holiday, like a little paving, and painting everything that doesn't move etc...
But, the garden still retains signs of the old houses, like an old mossy wall here, and stone steps and a foundation there. When we built the greenhouse, we found some of the old foundations of one cottage, with the drains still in the ground, so we just dug round them and left them all in place.
While digging the patch, I am always finding bits of clay pipe (a previous inhabitant of the Turrets site was the Church Warden, so he obviously was not averse to a few tilts at the old St Bruno), and other things like buttons, coins etc., which also go with the plot. There are also bits of gravestone with just a few words still scattered about, so the old V2 did quite a lot of damage!
One day though, I found this...
It is a tiny stamp, similar to that on a signet ring, but set in metal, and with a tiny loop so it could be attached to a watch chain. These were used to mark sealing wax on deeds, documents, letters etc.
(Owing to the impossible photographic qualities of the 'Webley-Bullock Boer War Bellows Camera, with walnut veneered tripod, and built in emergency tincture flask', the actual stamp just does not come out well, but a quick splunge into some White Tack shows this, which isn't much better...)
The image is a Heart in a Hand, with the words 'Love' and 'Truth' on either side. It took only a little Googling to find that these two words, together with the symbol, are closely associated with The Shakers in the US, and also The Oddfellows in the UK as well.
From the 1700s and the 1800s, right up to the bombing, the smallest of the three cottages was used as a local shop, where a dear old lady sold sweets which she made herself. It was also sometimes used as a store, where left over grain from the local market was kept, and, it is strongly rumoured locally, it was used as a Penny Bank! These banks were sometimes provident societies, or plain savings banks, where restrictions on savings kept accounts down to a level like £150 p.a. They were often sub-branches of the larger banks, and did a useful job in the community. They also had a strong asociation with Friendly Societies across the country - like The Oddfellows!
It was only this week, that I had a long chat with a local historian, who is well into his eighties about all this, and because he ran the local shop for years, he knows everything about the village. He is very excited about this find, because he told me that just a few yards from here are two houses, which were once known as 'Oddfellows Cottages'.
But this is as far as the story goes, and because there are so many unanswered questions, it seems to fit the season of good cheer, in that I'm thinking 'Charity', and 'Goodwill', 'Love' and 'Truth', not to mention that I may just be digging out there one day, and stick the spade right down into a long-forgotten vault stacked with piles of gold splonders...
Mrs S and I are going to be Grandparents in the spring, and we are on cloud nine for this fabulous news, so, from the Scrobs' household, may I wish everyone who calls by here a happy and enjoyable Christmas, and hope for renewed strength and prosperity in 2010.