Saturday, 5 November 2016

One hundred years of one house in Chorlton part 67, paying the chief rent again

The continuing story of the house Joe and Mary Ann Scott lived in for over 50 years and the families that have lived here since.*

It is that time of year again.

Yesterday we got our twice yearly demand for chief rent.

It isn’t much and even when you put the demands together you wouldn’t have enough to buy a pint.

But with a certainty as fixed as the seasons the demand printed on old fashioned printer paper using  one of  those equally old daisy wheel printers falls through the door.

And its timing is no accident nor is its connection with the seasons and our agricultural past because the two demands arrive at the two traditional times when for hundreds of years farmers, tenants and tradesmen settled their bills.

That said our chief rent dates only from the time when Chorlton’s landowners began selling off the land in small parcels for housing from the 1880s onwards.

The rent was a way for the landlord to maintain some income from the land and was paid at first by the builder or speculator who wanted to build and the rent replaced a direct sale which suited everyone.

The landlord got a steady income and the builder was not forced to hand over a large amount of cash which instead could be ploughed into the cost of actually building the properties and when the houses were finished the rent passed over to the new owner.

So everyone was happy, except perhaps those of us who have to continue to pay and often the one member in the terrace who has the duty of collecting the rent from his neighbours.

I remember that once in another place it fell to me and given that I think the rent for each property was just 50p per half year I choose often just to pay the lot.

We were once offered the opportunity to pay a cash sum and wipe the obligation but I remember calculating that the cost would have amounted to continuing in the property for almost another half century.

Of course the actual ownership of the chief rent has long since passed out of the hands of the original land owner and may have gone through many companies since.

I remember that back in the 1970s our demand for another property came in the form of a hand written letter with shaky spidery hand writing from an address down south while the present demand comes from firm in the Midlands.

So instead we will continue meeting the twice yearly payment.

Pictures; that demand, 2016, and the house in 1974 courtesy of Lois Elsden

*The story of house,

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