Monday, 21 December 2009

Hearts and Hands...

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.

18 comments:

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Fascinating bit of local history, thanks!

Happy Christmas to you and your, and congratulations on the good news.

Scrobs... said...

Thankyou Weekenders!

It's all downhill from now as the evenings start to draw out too!

Thud said...

Scrobs...a great post, finding these little links with the past is one of the real perks of working around old buildings. Real treasure is as they say in people and not in gold,your little stamp is to me of more interest than any gold coin you may have found (easy for me to say!)congrats on your forthcoming status and may you and yours have a merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous new year.

El-Kevo said...

Happy Christmas to you too.

If I were to dig down in my garden I expect I'd find a drug stash of some sort - or the bodies of some missing prostitutes.

It's that type of hum-drum neighbourhood.

" 'e kept 'imself to 'imself. 'e woz totally normal but quiet. Nun of us kin beleeeeve it !"

Scrobs... said...

Morning Thudders!

You're right of course, these things do mean a lot.

When I started in building surveying, my boss always used to pocket up any stray screws, nails etc, because when you think about it, some of these (especially the fixings nowadays), they all have a value, and even now, I can remember where a simple nut and bolt came from!

I still do it, and have boxes of the stuff...

Have a great Christmas!

Scrobs... said...

Aaah but Elecs, you're already talking about finding something of value, which is my point!!!

I bet your garden has much more than you think.

I recently drew up the three houses in Google Sketchup, using about five or six old photographs (the only ones ever taken), and measuring the plot to within about a foot.

I finished up with a fair representation of the cottages from the front, but the rear elevations had never been photographed, so now I have something which looks vaguely like what they were originally, because you can circle the site in Sketchup.

I took a copy of this round to my learned historian, and he can't remember either...

So we'll probably never know!

Modo said...

Merry Christmas my old darling.

Modo

idle said...

Interesting find. I wonder why it ended up in the sod.

Happy Christmas to the scrobs.

Trubes said...

That's so interesting Scrobs, you really are a mine of information.
Have you got a metal detector by chance?
You could be residing over a veritable fortune.
Wonderful news about the forthcoming grandchild.
Congrats to all.x
Have a wonderful Christmas,

Love from all at Chez Trubes,

Di.xx

Scrobs... said...

Modo my old Friend!

Happy Christmas to you too, and may the great mince pie fest be forever soaked in the best brandy in the shop!

Scrobs... said...

I have to assume that the old boy just lost it Iders! I dread to think what The Oddfellows would have said if their priceless seal had gone missing...

(cue Dan Brown...)

There's also a lot of glass in pieces, not bottles, but old ornamental stuff, which is now piling up in the corner.

As this has been going on for over 20 years, you can understand that the pile is getting quite large, and needs a sizeable compost heap to keep it from prying eyes...

Happy Christmas to you and all as well!

Scrobs... said...

Hiya Trubes - great to see your name in these lights again!

I've always wanted a metal detector, and a local old boty mentioned that we in fact live nearest one of the oldest commons in England, and that it may well be hiding artifacts from William the Conk's time!

However, digging up the cricket pitch is somewhat frowned on round here, so I'm resisting the offer...

Thanks for your good wishes, and have a great Christmas yourselves!

Blue Eyes said...

Merry Christmas!

The Lakelander said...

Merry Christmas Scrobs - and thanks for all the contributions you've made in the past year on my blog.

Scrobs... said...

Blues!

And a Happy Christmas to you as well - many thanks for such an interesting list of posts on your blog!

Scrobs... said...

And a Happy Christmas to you too Lakes - your blog is becoming an institution and always up for a visit!

Kindest regards!

fleetofworlds said...

Happy Christmas to you and yours, Scrobs!

Scrobs... said...

Fleeters!

So nice to see you here again, and many thanks!

Of course, the same to you and all the other Fleetsers...!