Stonnall History Group News
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Lost Chapel Update 10/4/2013
Investigations of the chapel site continued on April 10 with an extension to the trench at its western end (nearest Church Lane). We discovered a metal disc and on cleaning it up, we concluded that it is a church token. These were used as a form of currency in the Middle Ages. The object is shown in the photo alongside a modern 5 pence coin. The token has a central raised cross and roughly triangular patterns in its quadrants. It appears to be made out of lead or possibly pewter. Tokens such as these would be issued by a minister in exchange for goods and services. They could be redeemed as payment for church services such as baptisms, marriages, funerals, etc.
Inside the Church Clocktower 30/3/13Upper left
: the bell and pulleys. The bell clapper is used only whern the bell is rung manually. When an hour is sounded, the bell is hit from the side with a striker. Upper centre
: the weights that are suspended from the pulleys with cables. There is one set for the timing mechanism and one set for the striker. When wound, the weights are raised to a higher position. The clock mechanism allows the weights to fall at a steady rate. Thus, the clock is gravity-actuated. Upper right
: this is Tony. He is responsible for maintaining the clock. Lower left
: Tony is winding the timing mechanism. Next, he will wind the striker mechanism. Lower centre
: A close-up of the clock mechanism. The dial measures minutes and actually runs anti-clockwise. The name on the dial is W Evans & Son, Birmingham. Lower right
: another shot of the bell. It was cast in Whitechapel, London and the year is marked on it as 1823.
Pinfold Shows Signs of its Earlier Function
This photo depicts a rowlock - or a series of upturned bricks - in the centre of the south wall of the pinfold. This would have been constructed to provide a step or sill for an entrance and, as a feature of this sophistication would not have been required for a simple enclosure where stray animals were impounded temporarily, it seems to confirm an earlier function as a chapel-yard.
Next Group Meeting
Our Spring meeting will take place at the Old Swan, Stonnall on 23/3/13 @ 12 noon. And guess what? Yes, you're invited! History chat, photos and more.
The South-East Wall of the Hill Fort
This is the formidable south-east wall of the promontory-style hill fort in Stonnall, the upper part of which is almost vertical. This is the part of the defences that presented itself to visitors approaching from Chester Road. If you happened to be one of the bad guys in the Iron Age, you might easily have been discouraged from going much further up the hill after seeing this (especially when a load of Stonnall people were chucking cobbles and other missiles at you from within).
Elm Cottage and the Welsh Harp Estate
In 1838, Elm Cottage was owned by Joseph Eld and was occupied by Sarah Eld, who was presumably Joseph's daughter. At the time, Joseph occupied the former Welsh Harp which had not yet been renamed as Wordsley House. That event would not take place until 1871 when Dr Cooke bought the property at the time the Eld estate was auctioned off. By then, the estate included a property that was described in the sales catalogue as 'Lot 2 the Swan' (the present-day Old Swan) and another one described as 'Lot 3, nearly opposite Lot 2, and until recently used as the Welsh Harp Inn'. This was the second iteration of the Welsh Harp that is marked on the Tithe Map as a 'public house, garden and yard'. It is very fortunate that we have photographs of this Welsh Harp and that they will be preserved for posterity. By 1918, when the estate was sold off again, we find Mrs Woods was the tenant of Elm Cottage. Evidently, she and her husband decided to buy the freehold. This period is also very notable because It was at this time that much of the original Welsh Harp estate passed into the hands of the Burton family.
I think this property will be up for auction soon.
Next Group Meeting
These snowdrops in the churchyard herald the coming Spring - and our forthcoming Easter/Spring Equinox meeting, which will take place at the Old Swan, Stonnall on March 23 @ 12 noon. Everyone is welcome!
The Bricks of Thornes Hall 3
Gordon and I went to have a close look at the boundary wall of the vicarage on Saturday, 26/1/2013 to see whether we could determine anything about its composition and history. We found that it is made up of at least two types of brick: newer, light-coloured, machine-cut types and older, blue-coloured, hand-made types. Of the older bricks, it appears that they originate from at least two different eras of brick-making.
All the bricks were second-hand when the wall was built, showing degrees of damage from previous use and subsequent demolition, as can be seen in the way that the bricklayer applied mortar to the damaged areas so as to fill them.
As is now well-known, Thornes Hall occupied the vicarage garden until about 1830, when it was demolished. It is also known that the house was rebuilt, extended and refurbished at various stages of its history that spanned at least 400 years and that bricks were used in its construction. Further, it is known that some of its bricks were used to construct Church Cottage/the Old School House and its associasted schoolroom.
Gordon and I came to the conclusion that the best bricks of a single type from Thornes Hall were used to construct the school house and room. The remaining bricks of poorer quality, whether older or newer, were used to construct the boundary wall. Thus in the wall, we can see bricks of various types and origin because they reflect the different stages of the redevelopment of the Hall that took place over its long period of existence.