Old maps

When I was looking into how old the property was, I used some of the old maps in the Local History Unit in Huddersfield Library.  I have a photocopy of the oldest one that has our property on it – 1788.  The map is well out of copyright so the library was happy for me to photocopy it.

I then wondered about whether old maps ever appeared on ebay.  And the answer is yes.  I found a couple of old maps that show the property – one from 1901 and another from 1938.  The scale on the 1901 map was a little small, but the 1938 map clearly shows the property.  I purchased both maps – £3 for the 1901 map and £12 for the 1938 map.  There are both copies of the originals.

I spotted the one of the sellers had a 1:2,500 map of the area, but unfortunately our property was just off the bottom of the map.  I sent them and email enquiry if they had the adjoining map.  No luck, but I do now know the map number that I am looking for! 

The vendor (Chris @ Wealden Relics.  See the ebay site here) pointed me in the direction of www.old-maps.co.uk.  This site allows you to search on a postcode and then view a number of old Ordnance Survey maps of that location.  The 1:2,500 maps are the most detailed and the most useful.  There are a number available showing our property over the years.  The maps are a little on the expensive side, but you can get a lot out of the site without having to purchase a map.

The farm today

Here’s some photographs of the property as it is today.  It is organised as a small attached cottage, a larger cottage and an unconverted barn.  All on a 2 acre plot of land.

From the road.  The odd shaped building to the right of the picture is a coal hole.  This odd shaped part of the building seems to be fairly original as it appears on even the oldest of the maps that we have found. Take a close look at the 1788 map, particularly where the property adjoins the road. The porch is for the small attached cottage.

From the back of the property.  This is the view from the back of the top field.  The unconverted barn is at this end of the property.  It has clearly been rebuilt in recent years, but is still unconverted.  The lower photograph is the rear of the property, but this time from the bottom field looking up.  The odd shaped appendage is the back of the coal hole seen above.

The unconverted barn.  This has a sloping roof and has two floor levels inside.  The lower floor level is the same level as the ground floor in the adjacent property.

How old is the property?

One of the questions that has been bugging me ever since we first saw the property has been it’s age.  Exactly how old is it?

This seems like a hard question to answer – at least, answer accurately.  I am guessing that it was built in the 1800s and I am assuming that some of the interal features might help dated it.  However, often a visit to the Local History unit in the local Library will provide a number of the answers.

Well, I have looked into this will previous properties that I have owned so have an idea about the process.  With this in mind, I visited the Local History unit in Huddersfield central Library.  I was not quite sure how much information I would be able to find – it is very variable depending on the age and area.  However, I was very pleasantly surprised to be able to spot the property on an old map.  First of all, it was definitely there in 1894.  I then looked on the 1854 map and it was there too.  Then onto the oldest map in the library.  And bingo.  It was there too.  In 1788! 

The amazing thing is that the outline of the house really hasn’t changed that much in the past 250 years (it is the “T” shaped building above the letter “A” in “Lower Hagg”.  Just compare the scan from the 1788 map with the image from Google earth on my other posting.  Almost identical.

With the help of the librarians at the library, I looked through the boxes of photos of the area and managed to find an RAF aerial photograph from 1948 that also includes the property. [Incidentally, many of these aerial photographs are available online, however, not the one that I was looking for.  English Heritage maintain and archive of these images online and you can find it here: http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/.]

A quick through the census for 1901 established that the property (10 Hagg Lane as it was referred to then) was occupied by Smith and Mary Littlewood and their three children (Ernest, Wilfred, and Denis) and a step daughter Evelyn Eastwood.  Their occupations were listed as Woollen Weaver.  The property next door (9 Hagg Lane) is occupied by a 50 year old farm labourer, named Joseph Hobson. The census data can now be accessed online, although I used  the microfiche in the library for this purpose.

All of this I established within a hour, pretty amazing really.

Now to be able to date house any further, I will need to visit the Registry of Deeds in Wakefield.  The Registry of Deeds was established by an Act of Parliament in 1704 to allow land holders to register publicly deeds relating to property.  But this will have to wait for another weekend!