The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

For occasional articles, snippets and announcements by the Resident Historians.These articles are presented in date order, but if you explore the back-catalogue, you may find much of interest. Historical information doesn't really go out of date! Any member of the F&DLHS may add an entry or make a comment to an existing entry once they have got their userID and password from the Webmaster.

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Monday, December 06, 2004

The Pentlow Perambulations

I recently had a fascinating hour or two at the Essex Records office looking at a sketchmap of the Pentlow parish boundaries surveyed by the Rector, Rev John Bull in 1802, with memoranda of perambulations in 1802-12, the latter by Henry Bull.
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?


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