Tuesday 12 March 2013

Life in a stately home

No, not THAT one, this is a real one. Arley Hall in Cheshire is one of many magnificent historic houses in Cheshire, and is a member of the Historic Houses Association. Many of us enjoy visiting houses like this to see how our ancestors would have lived - let's be honest, they were more likely to have worked in the kitchens or on the land than to have lived a life of luxury 'upstairs'. All the same, rubber-necking round other people's houses is utterly irresistible.

Now you can not only visit the house and gardens, you can see detailed accounts for the estate covering the period 1750 to 1790. This was a significant period in the history of this part of the country, as the industrial and agricultural revolutions were getting under way. A collection of accounts has been digitised and indexed on a new website Arley Hall Archives 1750-1790 These records are a wonderful resource for family historians, local historians and social historians. If you family comes from this part of Cheshire you may be lucky enough to find them named as servants, or suppliers of goods, or even among the local poor in receipt of Christmas presents from the Warburton family. The hall is roughly equidistant from Warrington, Northwich and Knutsford. Most of us won't be this lucky, but if your ancestors lived in a similar community around this time you can still get a real insight into the kind of lives they lead - their working lives, what they ate, and how business was carried on.

If only collections of documents like this survived for more places, and were scanned and indexed...oh well, we can dream.


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