Friday, 29 August 2008

The Story of a Down-to-Earth Family Heirloom (Part 2 of 3)

In Part 1 of this article, I provided some background to the Miller family of Weston Underwood (Derbyshire, England), together with a couple of old photographs of the house where they lived, and in which they ran a grocer's shop and post office.

After reading the article about John Miller, carrier of Weston Underwood fellow photo-sleuth and Derby resident Nigel Aspdin, who often visits the nearby Kedleston Park, paid a visit to Weston Underwood to see if he could see any evidence of the brickyards and the former post office. Although he hadn't seen my old photos at the time, he made a very good educated guess and hit on the exact building straight away. He found,
a large jumble of buildings or different build, all one property now, I think. There are a few things about this building that attracted my attention. It is called "Stores Cottage" or "Old Stores Cottage," depending upon which gate sign you look at. I note that the roof has been patched with red roofing tiles, on both sides. The blue roofing tiles are what are called, locally, as "hand made Staffordshire blue", but these reds are clearly from somewhere else. Could they have been produced locally? The location of this building is, in my view, a ... likely location for a shop/post office/carriers office etc ... It is by all of the road junctions.
Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

Coincidentally, Nigel chose almost exactly the same spot for one of his photographs of the building (above).

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

He also took photographs of other houses in the village, including a couple with dates on the gables.

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

The dates 1861 and 1862 indicate that the houses were built at a time when James Miller was producing bricks in the village, and it seems likely that the houses were constructed of bricks from his brickyard. The ornate "S" we assume stands for Lord Scarsdale, although we have not yet been able to verify that the coat of arms is an appropriate one.

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

Nigel also noticed, just around the corner from the "post office," an interesting pair of stone gate posts. It appears that they might once have framed the entrance to a substantial building of some kind. The stone wall on either side of the gate posts appears to have been a later addition.

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

This necessitated some further research, and Nigel paid a visit to the Derby Local Studies Library, where he found an 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map of Weston Underwood, dated 1898. A portion of the map is shown above - clicking on the image will bring up a larger image, revealing more of the map. The map shows a building in the "vacant" plot, exactly where one might expect it in line with the stone gate posts, labelled "Meth. Chap. (Wes.)," i.e. Methodist Chapel (Wesleyan). This plan is overlaid on the modern Google Maps satellite image below.

Image © and courtesy of Google Maps & the Ordnance Survey

Kelly's 1899 Trade Directory for Derbyshire shows only a "parish hall, built by Lord Scarsdale in 1879" in Weston Underwood, but the 1887 edition states, "here are Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist Chapels."

Image © Andrew Knighton and courtesy of Picture the Past

I found a photograph, almost certainly in postcard format, of the cross-roads in Weston Underwood, including what must be the chapel, on the Picture the Past web site (Ref. DCHQ501676).

In the third, and final, part to this story, I will relate the discoveries made by Nigel on his second visit to the village, after I asked him if he could try to take a photograph from the same viewpoint as the postcard shown above.

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