Monday, 13 June 2011

The beauty of old documents

If I were a more devoted historian I would do a much longer post on this, but this is a quick skim sort of post.  Recently I was shown this conveyance, in which  Richard Goodwin, yeoman, appears to be selling most of the village of Irchester to Thomas Ekins, of Chester (which in this case I think refers to nearby Chester House, not Chester in Cheshire).  

Whether or not this conveyance includes our house and the land that was once associated with it is debatable.  The document mentions "All that messuage or tenement lying next the churchyard in Irchester..." We do know that the farm once stretched down to the Wellingborough Road, which would certainly include the land mentioned above.  We haven't traced the ownership of the house as far back as 1698, which is when the document is dated, but Richard Goodwin and Thomas Ekins look like possible owners, though it's more likely that Thomas Ekins owned the house rather than lived in it himself. 

Besides the historical interest, I was struck by the sheer beauty of the document (which is either on vellum or parchment:  I don't know enough to tell).  It's a wonderfully exuberant piece of lettering.  I hope whoever did it enjoyed it.




4 comments:

Goldielover said...

That shows that even 250 years after the first printing presses made their appearance in the mid 1400s, the art of the scribe had not totally died. I do wonder if it is possibly a printed copper engraving, as those were well established by that time, but you can see that the style has its roots in medieval illuminations. There is also a very good chance the document is actually paper rather than parchment or vellum - paper had become common at about the same time as the introduction of the printing presses.

Jane Badger said...

The thing that makes me think it isn't paper is the differing in thickness. You can't really see in the pictures but there are areas which are thinner in the calligraphy area, which makes me think it is something scraped rather than pressed. If you know any failsafe way of finding out I will go and request the document again and check!

Goldielover said...

Parchment or vellum is usually darker on one side, and if you look closely there is a definite difference between the hair side and the flesh side of the skin. Paper of that period was usually made from rags, and is actually more durable than modern paper made from wood pulp is. As it was made by using a metal screen in the liquid rag pulp solution, there are usually visible marks from the screen on one side of the paper when held up to the light (the origin of the watermark). It was also not as even as modern paper. While parchment and vellum were still being used in the late 17th century (and still are today) they were not as common as they had been two hundred years previously, as they are so much more expensive to produce.

Rosemary Hall said...

Thank you for this - I loveold documents! & how lovely to have a home which has been lived in for ages...(I live in a modern fat, and when I tried to look it up on an old OS map there was a gap! Nothing there!)