500 year old Elm leaf?

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500 year old Elm leaf?

Post  Guest on Mon Dec 14, 2009 3:01 pm

I have been tidying my shed today and came across a box of bits I thought some might be interested in. In 2001 I started thatching a roof locally. The cottage was grade 2 listed and dated as 17th c. Before I start working on a house, I generally inspect the timbers in the roof, for woodworm or water damage. As soon as I lifted the loft hatch and switched on my torch, I realised I had found a much older house. All the timbers in the roof space were soot blackened, which points to a dwelling that predated chimneys. There was a small gap, between the rafters and the chimney, through which I could crawl. My suspicions were confirmed when I squeezed through, as up in the apex, at the end of the house I found a gablet hood ( a small arch, at either end of a house, where the smoke from a hearth would escape) As it turned out, one of two surviving in the county. At the bottom of this arch I found a soot blackened Elm leaf.
First pic is of a number of items I found in the house.

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500 year old Elm leaf?

Post  Guest on Mon Dec 14, 2009 3:17 pm

A thathing collegue of mine, put me in touch with an historical buildings expert at Cambridge Univesity, who was so exited, he visited the next day. He redated the house at circa 1450. Could my leaf be that old? Pic of leaf.

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Re: 500 year old Elm leaf?

Post  fiona on Mon Dec 14, 2009 3:17 pm

What a great find Will. Do you have to notify anyone of finds that are historic or potentially historic like this?

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Re: 500 year old Elm leaf?

Post  Tony on Mon Dec 14, 2009 3:18 pm

Wow Bill, The Hop bonnet or gablet hood is particular to Suffolk, I studied Timber framed buildings as part of my degree, being a big fan of Alec Clifton-Taylor he opened a whole world of 'recent archiology' to me... NOW I want come and stay at YOUR house!

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Re: 500 year old Elm leaf?

Post  fiona on Mon Dec 14, 2009 3:19 pm

Oops. We seem to have crossed mid-ether.

Or else we've strayed into that Two Ronnies "Mastermind" sketch where he is answering the question before! Laughing

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Re: 500 year old Elm leaf?

Post  Tony on Mon Dec 14, 2009 3:21 pm

will baddeley wrote:He redated the house at circa 1450.
Wow 42 years before the 'mericas were discovered... how is your pilgrim father Will?... you have still got his bonnet Laughing

Tony

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500 year old Elm leaf?

Post  Guest on Mon Dec 14, 2009 3:37 pm

Whilst the expert was explaining the different timber joints for certain periods, he also spoke of a people, who were very supersticious and although very reigious, were quite pagan as well. Any holes or gaps in the house would have sharp objects placed there to ward off evil. I started inspecting these nooks. there was a large crack in the chimney breast, which had a very tightly rolled piece of paper. I carefully unravelled it and it turned out to be a receipt for the hearth tax 1678.

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500 year old Elm leaf?

Post  Guest on Mon Dec 14, 2009 3:47 pm

The chimney was obviosly quite old by the time the owner tucked his receipt away in the crack. last pic is a piece of thorn, fond in a hole by the side of the chimney.

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Re: 500 year old Elm leaf?

Post  Guest on Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:41 pm

Fiona, I told the owner, a developer and suggested he framed them and keep them in the cottage. He saw no value and thought it was a bit spooky and might put people off. I might offer the items to our local Museum, if they're interested.

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Re: 500 year old Elm leaf?

Post  bonsaistud on Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:31 pm

What a great piece of history, Will. Good work.

Pat

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Re: 500 year old Elm leaf?

Post  Guest on Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:49 pm

Tony, I've been hunting for the last hour, trying to find some pics for you. When I found this feature, I informed the local council as they deal with listed property. They asked me to strip off the more modern thatch, so they could document this now rare piece of history. First pic showing half hip with thatch stripped to show gablet hood.

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Re: 500 year old Elm leaf?

Post  Guest on Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:53 pm

Second pic taken just after I stripped the more modern layers.

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Re: 500 year old Elm leaf?

Post  Guest on Mon Dec 14, 2009 8:01 pm

Third pic shows the original thatch. The leaf was in amongst the thick soot at the top. Note the tool marks on the right side of the arch.

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Re: 500 year old Elm leaf?

Post  Guest on Mon Dec 14, 2009 8:08 pm

This one from inside, with thick build up of soot and not one single woodworm hole. the original willow and honeysuckle witheys, used to tie the thatch to the rafters, was still strong after all that time.

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Re: 500 year old Elm leaf?

Post  Tony on Mon Dec 14, 2009 8:54 pm

Great pix Will thanks for digging them out, We have VERY few thatched buildings in Lancashire (coz its too damn wet) there are a few in Cheshire... but you guys have the lions share... we do have some great 'Cruck framed' buildings in particular Rivington Barn near Terry's House.

where the odd HARLEYRIDER meets almost every weekend, and in particular at Bank holidays

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Re: 500 year old Elm leaf?

Post  fiona on Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:02 pm

Hey Tony. That first pic looks just like some of the "traditional" bonsai society meetings I've been to. Evil or Very Mad

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Re: 500 year old Elm leaf?

Post  Guest on Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:19 pm

Tony wrote:Great pix Will thanks for digging them out, We have VERY few thatched buildings in Lancashire (coz its too damn wet) there are a few in Cheshire... but you guys have the lions share... we do have some great 'Cruck framed' buildings in particular Rivington Barn near Terry's House.

where the odd HARLEYRIDER meets almost every weekend, and in particular at Bank holidays

What have you done with Harleyrider? His absence has been noted.

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Re: 500 year old Elm leaf?

Post  Tony on Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:45 pm

will baddeley wrote:What have you done with Harleyrider? His absence has been noted.
Was with him all yesterday... He is a wee bit busy at the moment but will be back being disgracefully eloquent over the next few days... he tells me Suspect

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Re: 500 year old Elm leaf?

Post  Harleyrider on Fri Jan 08, 2010 1:33 pm

Disgracefully eloquent? How very dare you sir! Eloquent, indeed. The very thought.

Will, fascinating finds. I love stuff like that. I have a slight problem with the receipt, though. Surely such an everyday item would have been handwritten in those days? I can't argue with the experts though, and it is dated. I've just never seen a common or garden receipt of this age in printed form before.

I wonder if anyone could furnish you with the complete text. It would be interesting to read what the taxman had to say!

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Re: 500 year old Elm leaf?

Post  Jay Gaydosh on Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:08 pm

Great detective work, did you take photos of the thatching in progress?

As a side note, I find the comment "odd Harley rider" to be quite interesting. As a "rice-burner" myself, I find all Harley Riders odd, which would make that one busy establishment! Very Happy

Ride on Harley Riders, ride on!

Jay

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Re: 500 year old Elm leaf?

Post  Guest on Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:50 pm

I've just done a bit of research on the hearth tax and only found returns, no receipts. Apparently, the hearth tax ran from 1662 _ 1689 and was very unpopular....Sound familiar? All the returns seem to be handwritten, so why the receipt is printed I do not know.
I cant find any finished pictures of the roof for you Jay but I could post some others if your interested.

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Re: 500 year old Elm leaf?

Post  Kev Bailey on Fri Jan 08, 2010 11:06 pm

The returns would all be from small businessmen, who couldn't aford anything other than handwrtitten. I assume the government in 1600's would be having theirs printed rather than written? Gutenberg had invented movable type around 1450.

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Re: 500 year old Elm leaf?

Post  Guest on Sat Jan 09, 2010 1:20 am

Kev Bailey wrote:The returns would all be from small businessmen, who couldn't aford anything other than handwrtitten. I assume the government in 1600's would be having theirs printed rather than written? Gutenberg had invented movable type around 1450.
Makes perfect sense Kev.. Thanks Smile

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