Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Auction Deeds for Townend Farm

It’s the general lot of antiquarians (such as what we are…or at least attempt to be) to examine, study and contemplate every last scrap of history, no matter how seemingly trivial, that’s dropped onto our doormat, because, to put it succinctly, only in the minutiae can we ever hope to see the greater picture. (Good axiom that, isn’t it? We were quite proud of it, anyway.)
With that in mind, we were naturally fascinated when Phil Barker brought us round a collection of property auction sales brochures, all dating to between 1900 and 1940, for various Fylde and Wyre farms.
By way of example, because let’s face it very few people reading this will ever have seen one of these rarities before, we’ve scanned in the brochure for Townend Farm in Thornton, auctioned off on Thursday July 14th 1901. The front cover can be seen below, and before we get any complaints along the lines of: “These scans are put together piecemeal and bits of them don’t fit”, it should be noted that the brochures themselves are massive, our scanner isn’t, our scanner is also crammed onto the middle shelf of my computer table and it’s difficult to lift the lid because there’s another shelf above it, and I’d also had a couple of glasses of scotch before I started work on all of this.
It should also be noted that this website is currently free, so stop complaining.

Inside the brochure we discover the ‘Particulars’, which, in their own right, are an interesting historical record. Especially, again by way of example, if you happen to live in one of the buildings now occupying the land that was being auctioned off. (We strongly recommend that you click on the thumbnail below to enlarge the image before attempting to read it, otherwise your eyeballs might break.)

Don’t ask us what ‘roods’ and ‘perches’ are. Presumably they’re measures of land, or possibly where parrots are banished when they swear too much. Feel free to leave your own answers and/or innuendoes in the comments box below this posting.
Because we’re that way inclined (and on the million to one chance that our reader is absorbed by this subject) here’s the second page:

Each brochure also contains a detailed map, surprisingly colourful and incredibly difficult to scan without tearing into it fragments, which is why the one for Townend Farm below looks rather the worse for wear. Phil Barker doesn’t realise we’ve shredded it into numerous pieces yet because we haven’t told him, although after reading this he’ll be getting the idea. (Joke! It’s a joke, Phil! Your brochure’s perfectly fine…honest! It was just a really lousy scan. There are missing sections because I couldn’t fit the page onto the scanner properly, that’s all.)

Anyhow, despite the lack of (no…it really is still intact, Phil…you can stop panicking…honest)…where was I? Oh yes, despite the lack of field names (which would have been a bonus) there’s a still a lot that can be garnered from stuff like this. For instance we already know that, in 1935 at Townend Farm, a cobbled track measuring roughly ten feet in width was unearthed. Up until this point we’d always assumed it was a continuation of the Iron Age track surrounding Bourne Hill.
Re-examining the brochure, however, we realised that the fields belonging to Townend Farm actually covered the area immediately west of the Saxon village of Bourne (or, to give it its proper Saxon name ‘Brun’). Those multi-coloured strips are all typical Saxon fields, the central road once running between them whilst similar fields were mirrored on its eastern side…if that makes any sense.
To put it another way, the central road for the Saxon village of Brun would have crossed the fields belonging to Townend Farm, so, on reflection, it seems highly likely that the ‘cobbled track measuring roughly ten feet in width’ was actually the Saxon high street rather than the continuation of our Iron Age road.
Of course it might not have been, but it’s certainly worth a rethink.
Anyhow, we’ll be posting more of these documents at some point in the future, working on the assumption that Phil will let us borrow them for a while longer yet following that stupid, throwaway joke further up the page. We still need to scan the others in yet, but hopefully somebody out there will find them as fascinating (and possibly even as informative) as we do.


John said...

These items have an historical interest, of course, but could also be a valuable sourse of information, as the road you mentioned proves.

You never know what could be uncovered by comparing old maps, eh?

Cheers, JOHN :0)

PS I noticed your use of the phrase "this site is currently free", so you'll get no complaints from me!

Brian Hughes said...


The phrase "This site is currently free" was also a euphermism for us making a half-arsed, third rate job of scanning the brochures in. The main reason why the site's free, of course, is that nobody would part with real money for this rubbish. (And, to be honest, I don't blame 'em.) gives Michelle and I something to do on a rainy weekend.

8of9 said...

I'm old enough to have been taught at school about rods, poles and perches. As well as being a fish and a thing that a dead parrot would fall off, a perch is, confusingly, a unit of length and of area. As a length it's equal to 5.5 yards (or a quarter of a cricket pitch). In this mode, pole and rod mean the same thing and 40 of them make a furlong. As a unit of area, it is equal to a square rod, or 30.25 square yards.

A rood is a quarter of an acre (or 40 perches (when perch is used as a length)). A rectangle 1 furlong in length and 1 rod (pole or perch) wide would be a rood.

8of9 said...

Sorry that final paragraph should have read:

A rood is a quarter of an acre (or 40 perches (when perch is used as an area)). A rectangle 1 furlong in length and 1 rod (pole or perch(as a length)) wide would be a rood.

Brian Hughes said...


Excellent! Thanks for that. (I'm going to make a note of those figures for future reference.)

I wonder why the old imperial measurements were so complicated? Probably to keep schoolkids on their toes and give the educators something to fill out their maths books, I reckon.

I was taught the metric system myself. Our year was one of the first to engage in this experiment. There were great hopes back then for a less confusing mathematical future.

As it transpired the metric system was considerably worse than the imperial system. The government failed to take into account the previous generation's refusal to adopt the simpler method. As a result, despite continuing to be taught in the schools, metric failed to catch on in the real world, and those in my age group are now completely incompetant in both systems, as is patently obvious in the article.

I shall study your explanation carefully and do my best to memorise it.

8of9 said...

Before you put your pencil away then, you might want to note that 4 perches (length) is a chain. So it's no accident that a cricket pitch is 22 yards long.

Brian Hughes said...


Thanks again, it's much appreciated. I know how long a chain is, roughly...I think. They've got one hung up in the Fylde Country Life Museum and it actually is a chain. The individual links, if memory serves, were all significant lengths as well...but I can't remember how long each one is now.

There's probably a book in these measurements somewhere...'Imperial for Dummies' perhaps...i.e. people like me who haven't got a clue. And I suspect there's an awful lot of folk like me out there. If there isn't a book, then there should definitely be a wall chart.