The Pentlow Perambulations
The sketchmap started at Pentlow Mill, and meandered along the boundaries of the parish, noting the name of every field, landmark and feature. It listed the names of the local dignitaries who joined in the walk, and mentioned those little boundary disputes that happen between neighbours, namely Belchamp St Pauls. It is certainly a charming document, and it needs to be carefully correlated with the later, and more accurate, tithe map, and both maps corrected to the OS map.
Reading the document was like time-travel. It was delightful to notice that there was a hop-field near the mill, obviously to support the commercial brewing taking place there at the time. One could see the extraordinay road at Paddock Mill that actually ran along the river-bed. All quite fascinating.
The charming lady at the Records Office invited me to part with a considerable sum of money to have the item scanned. I told her that I was mildly surprised that an item which was actually our Parish property should be subject to a charge that seemed well over the actual cost of doing the work. She told me that, if the document was really the property of the parish, we could ask for it back temporarily for study. Bless her: This might be the answer.
Generally speaking The various County Records Offices too quickly slip into the false notion that they are owners rather than custodians of these documents, and can forget that they are providing a service. Some damned accountant gets his nose in and points out a way of raising money, and the wider perspective gets lost.
Generally, the photocopiers at Records Offices date from the Bronze Age and produce nasty smeary copies which they then charge ridiculous sums to impoverished Local Historians for copies. Surely they should be encouraging local historians, not exploiting them?