Jan 122019

This week I agreed to do two talks to two different groups on two very different subjects. As those who know me might have guessed, one of the talks was about mapping - to my local Huntingdonshire history society. I used the title above and concentrated on some of the stories I have explored when looking at and comparing maps of my One Place (Holywell-cum-Needingworth).

I showed old small scale maps and talked about three interesting stories they raise:
• Was there a (parish) Church/Chapel in Needingworth? (as well as in Holywell)
• Were there two roads to Holywell? (there is only one now)
• Why does the High Street bend?

I also showed old large scale maps, that a local fund had helped me get scanned, and OS 25 inch maps. I used my mapping system (M4OPS) to look at different buildings, fields, boundaries etc in the parish and had identified 57 places of interest. During the talk we looked at a few of these to see how they had changed over the years.

We had interesting questions at the end of the talk, and several people there expressed an interest in helping me explore the stories in more depth.

If anyone would like to see the presentation it can be found here, and the list of web references can be found here. If you would like to do anything similar in your own One Place, feel free to contact me at peter.cooper@one-place-studies.org.

Peter Cooper

Dec 232018

Boy, it has been A Year, hasn't it? When there is so much drama going on in the outside world it can be hard to summon up the mental energy for more personal pursuits like one-place studies. But the holiday season does shake things up for a wee while, hopefully mostly in a good way, and our holiday wish for you is that the change in routine helps you shake off worries and reset yourself. Your one-place study's residents aren't going anywhere, you can catch up with them next year! Whether you're gazing out at snow or sand, we hope you find a little bit of time to yourself, to relax, and just maybe think of nothing at all.

Alex Coles

Dec 072018

I was reading Janet Few’s book, Barefoot on the Cobbles, on the train recently. It is a work of historical fiction based on true events which involved people from one of her study places (Bucks Mills, Devon) and adjacent places. It is interesting to read her descriptions of the way of life in a community very different from my place.

Her novel got me thinking though. I wonder if anyone else is studying a place which features in works of art of any nature?

Now Bucks Mills isn't a large place by all accounts but is larger than Springhill's 12 houses. Thinking over life in my place, I don’t think that the major landowner having his name taken in vain in an attempt to procure some rabbits is going to form the plot of a blockbuster. Neither is a novel based on the two nieces of the said landowner’s wife disputing the terms of her will all the way to the Chancery courts going to win the Man Booker prize, though it did lead to some very interesting Chancery documents and (praise be!) a map showing who lived were in 1898. This confirmed that there were indeed two different Cross Cottages within 100 yards of each other... great. Similarly is 'the bad character of Francis Pilling' in the 17th century worth more than a couple of hundred words (he left his wife in labour and moved in with another woman)? My place has its usual share of small town news - reports of inquests, drunken behaviour, failing to maintain highways and the like, but nothing earth shattering. They were mainly solid Churchmen or Godfearing Baptists with the odd Quaker thrown in.

Expanding to the wider community, I can't think of any nearby town or village which has featured in a novel. The murder of an elderly, allegedly cantankerous widow by a cross-dressing lesbian half a mile from here has been reassessed recently ("Odd Man Out" by Denise Beddows). Maggie "Bill" Allen was hanged in 1949 after a trial of 5 hours and a jury deliberation of just 15 minutes. She was one of the last women to hang in the UK.

Other than that, I’m struggling. For those who like smutty innuendo there is the "Rawtenstall Annual Fair" which takes an alternative take on 19th century fairground attractions. For those whose tastes are more spiritual then there is a hymn tune named after Waingate, the next village on the hillside.

Is anyone studying a place which feature in the arts? Alternatively, has anyone got any good stories of life in their place worth of a retelling?

("Rawtenstall Annual Fair" by Lee Nicholson is on YouTube for the interested)

Janet Barrie

Nov 162018

For those one-place studiers who have taken a DNA test (or encouraged others with ancestral links to your place to do so), checking out who amongst your matches has someone in their family tree from your place will be top of the to-do list. However not all DNA testing websites have the ability to combine your DNA test with family tree data and report back on that aspect. It's great to see that MyHeritage has now added that feature:

"Shared Ancestral Places refer to towns, countries, or U.S. states that appear in your family tree as well as in the family trees of your DNA Matches, where birth or death events of your ancestors (and those of your DNA Matches’ ancestors) took place...If you and a DNA Match have a Shared Ancestral Place, you will be armed with more information to investigate the match further. You may be able to determine which common ancestor you and your match share from whom you both inherited the same DNA segments."

This is really crucial information for one-place studiers! If you tested with MyHeritage, or have uploaded your test results from elsewhere to their website, make sure you also have uploaded your tree so you get the benefit of this new feature, and take a look to see if there are any happy surprises in your Shared Ancestral Places.

Alex Coles

Aug 102018

five birthday presents

It's (nearly) our birthday! On 1 September we'll be celebrating five years since the Society for One-Place Studies was launched. We wanted to mark the occasion by doing something a little bit special so there's going to be birthday presents - for everyone! Well, not quite everyone, but eight lucky members will win genealogical website subscriptions and books to help them with their one-place study endeavours. You are cordially invited to join us as a member - all paid-up members on 1 September are automatically in the draw, so if you've been thinking about joining, now would be a most excellent time.

Oh, and another thing you are cordially invited to - our conference on 26th and 27th October. There's a visit to the Black Country Living Museum on the Friday, followed by the body of the conference on the Saturday focusing on this year's theme of The Built Heritage Of Your Place. Join us and keynote speaker Gill Blanchard in Dudley, West Midlands - register now and bring a friend or two along too!

Alex Coles