|No.4 New Street, Hinckley|
After the various appeals made for documents in earlier editions of The Hinckley Historian, the idea of presenting a documentary history of one building appeared as a possibility. Mr. Haley was kind enough to offer his collection of deeds as a basis for such a brief history and the article which follows gives examples from this collection as a way of illustrating how such a documentary history might be presented. Deeds are of course normally held by the Building Society until a mortgage is paid off, and with the registration of land deeds are in a sense of less significance than in the past when lack of documentary evidence of owner¬ship could be a disaster. At the time of enclosure in the Hinckley area in the mid eighteenth century, lack of documentary proof of ownership could turn a cottager into a landless labourer.
The documents which would normally be associated with a building would include abstracts of title which list the previous history of owner¬ship and the names of the owners and dates when changes took place. In the case of 4 New Street, the abstract of title in 1874- relates to the land on which the house was later to be built. It is particularly useful as it provides details about the land not represented in any other documents and dating back to the beginning of the nineteenth century. Previous owners of the land are listed. These included Lord Radnor, Erasmus Darwin and Sir R. Wilmot who owned the area of which that occupied by 4 New Street was but a part in 1797. In 1809 the Revd. Edward Pole of Radborne in Derbyshire is recorded as being the owner and in 1813 Nicholas Hurst. The abstract of 1874 in all runs to a total of 18 pages and unlike the other documents relating to 4 New Street up to the 1880s is paper rather than parchment.
In 1867 a Conveyance of land from Mr. Thomas Abell to Mr. James Holt took place, Mr. Abell being a hosiery manufacturer and Mr. Holt a tailor. Four years before the land had been sold to Mr. Thomas Abell consisting of 5 acres one rood and 26 perches or thereabouts in an agreement with the Earl of Radnor. The state of Hinckley at this time is indicated by the mortgage of 18th October 1874 of Mr. George Knight, bricklayer, made with the Hinckley and Country Permanent Benefit Society. In those days the building societies in Hinckley had only existed for a little over a decade but were fulfilling an important function as the popu¬lation expanded.
In order to obtain a £60 share in the society the security was "All that piece or parcel of land or grounds... Part of the close of land in Hinckley called Lammas Close and afterwards known by the name of Backside Close, bounded on the north by the lane called Back Lane and on the south by the newly laid out street or road called the New Road and also all that newly erected cottage built on the said piece of land."
Agricultural land was also becoming residential in the 1870s in the way that in the 1970s Hinckley expanded. In those days smaller developers such as Mr. Knight were involved and the parcel of land on which 4 New Street was to be built changed hands in 1884 when a Kentish carpenter from Plumstead, called Charles Clay, purchased three messuages (dwelling places) and premises situate in New Street. In 1881 an indenture naming Ann Bass referred to the newly built dwellings of which 4 New Street was one. A map of the exact dimensions of the property appears and this may be verified by reference to the 1887 large scale Ordnance Survey Map (1 to 500).
In 1914 following the death of Mr. Clay, the properties of 2B and 4 New Street were sold by his executors and two further changes of ownership in 1949 and 1973 brought the house into the hands of Mr. and Mrs. Haley. Each change of ownership is recorded in detail by mortgage and conveyance documents. The increase in property prices is well indicated from the sum of not less than £60 in the 1880s to the thousands of pounds which is the current property price today.
Not only are the abstracts and other documents of interest but also insurance certificates. One in particular in 1916 gives a hint of the horrors of modern warfare. In this year a Government Aircraft Insurance was taken out on a basis of the damage caused by Aerial Craft (hostile or otherwise) or Shots, Shells, Bombs or Missiles from or used against Aerial Craft. Fortunately there is no evidence that such a policy proved necessary.
The owners of the property of 4 New Street have numbered but four but the bricks and mortar are history no less than the documents briefly described, The references to building societies name the notable figures of the town of a century ago with their signatures on the mortgage docu-ments. That of 1874 records the trustees of the Hinckley and Country (Permanent) Benefit Society, as Mr. Cotman, postmaster; Mr. Beardsmore, malster and Mr. Farmer, currier. One gains the impression that only a century ago Hinckley was a community in which a few figures dominated the town on the brink of its expansion into the much larger community of today.
My thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Haley for making their deeds available as the basis for this short article.
Author: Hugh Beavin
Written for: Hinckley Historian Magazine