19th Century English Bicknor by Brian Carne


19th Century English Bicknor a talk by Brian Carne

Meeting of 8th April 2010

The 19th Century English Bicknor project began with a meeting in the run up to the Millennium where the idea for the book first arose. Research was organised and findings presented at meetings. The Parish Registers (starting in 1561) were put on spreadsheets, church memorials indexed and Jeff Carrick’s trawl of the Quarter Sessions records yielded 73 recorded criminals for English Bicknor (so far).

Brian told us EB in the 1800s had its own almshouse and workhouse and the village pretty much ran itself with locals volunteering to be responsible for roads, for example, and taking turn to act as parish constable.

1801 saw a head count to assess how many there were to feed as life got difficult during the Napoleonic Wars. This count was repeated every ten years, with more information collected each time, and became the Census. Brian is collating the EB information plus school logs and other records. One snippet he found was that the Gospel Oak near Sterts Farm was replaced in 1725; the Gospel was read here as part of the regular marking of the parish bounds (you may remember that there used to be boundary stones here).

Another snippet was that the first rector, who had served in Sierra Leone, saw the foresters as possibly more in need of rescue and more primitive than his previous flock!

Barbara Britton gave us her Introduction to Mining in Hillersland. Knowing a mine was in their garden (people remember the steam engine shed) her son began digging, and finally discovered it some distance from the recorded point. This Hillersland Colliery (later known as Harpers Shaft) was once owned by James Harper – can anyone help Barbara out with dates for Mr Harper and his shaft? The shaft is recorded as 24 metres. There are hundreds of other shafts in the area which the Forestry Commission are working to make safe; you may recognise the old entrances now marked with forest stonework or old colliery equipment standing like sculpture.

There is always more work to be done; Jeff particularly needs help with the church memorials. Please let us know if you can do anything from research to indexing and inputting.

Over coffee we attempted to identify bottles the Warden-Heggie family had dug up over the years; studied the 1838 tithe map of the village that Brian had supplied (at this time the Machens owned over half of the 2,377 acres) and viewed the CD of Barbara’s mine research. CS