Each month the team at Gloucestershire Archives delve into our diverse collections and put together a piece that appears in Cotswold Life magazine. Articles often include - Photograph of the Month, Spotlight on Maps, Documents of the Month and Gloucestershire Character.
In this newsletter we're including two articles written by John Putley which featured in the October 2022 issue.
This is John Evans, taken from one of the photograph albums compiled by Rev Edward Blackwell, vicar of Amberley. These photographs often have brief biographical details, but this one – which was taken around 1865 - has none, which is a great shame because it surely begs a tale! The most obvious aspect is that John has lost his right leg and has a classic ‘peg-leg’ prosthetic. The 1851 census has a John Evans living at Nailsworth Hill in Amberley who is listed as an agricultural labourer. Farming was (and still is) a risk-laden occupation so it seems likely that John lost his leg after some agricultural accident. For the photograph, it looks like the wooden leg has been deliberately exposed as a trouser leg can be seen behind it. Another mystery here is what is John making? We thought it might be thatching crooks (wooden pegs used to fix thatch directly onto the roof timbers), or tines for wooden hay rakes or tent pegs but they look too fragile for these and are more like kebab skewers! If any readers can suggest what these mystery objects are please let the Editor know!
Document of the Month
This is a contract made on 23rd January 1656 when Sheriff of Gloucestershire Richard Whitmore of Lower Slaughter engaged Valentine Strong of Taynton to rebuild his ruinous medieval manor house at Lower Slaughter. Originally a convent it was seized by the Crown during the Reformation and came into the Whitmore family in 1611. The contract was “for the sum of £200 in lawful English money” and Strong was to ‘provide make reddy and sett up all the walls windows chimney tuns and stone worke’. He was also to ‘find and bring to the place of building of the said house all sutch wall stones and morter as shall be necessary for the building of the house’ as well as ‘wheelbarrowes hods, handbarrowes, buckets and towles’(this word is either trowels or tools!). Strong was a noted mason, having rebuilt Fairford Park House and helped at Lodge Park at Sherborne House near Burford. His sons became masons also and helped Sir Christopher Wren build St Paul’s Cathedral. Whitmore’s Lower Slaughter manor house remained in the family for over 350 years and is now a luxurious hotel, although greatly altered from Strong’s mid-17th century rebuilding.
If you are interested in the county’s buildings Gloucestershire Archives has two events coming up -
Our monthly Secrets Revealed online talk by John Putley, 'Opening the door on house history' on Wednesday 25 January, 1 - 2pm. Free of charge.
For more information visit Secrets Revealed online talk: opening the door on house history
Gloucestershire Heritage Hub's next Saturday event ‘If walls Could Talk' on Saturday 4th February from 1- 4pm. For more information visit If walls could talk - Heritage hub