Saturday, 6 May 2017

One hundred years of one house in Chorlton part 84 ......... the apricots and the ghost of Mr Gratrix

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.*

Apricots in the garden, 2017
After seven years our apricot tree is promising a good crop.

It follows on from the success of the cherry and apple trees which we planted at the same time  and the vine which suddenly burst forth almost a decade before..

Now I can’t really claim the credit.

I am one of those sorts of gardeners who succeeds more by luck than judgement, confirming my long held belief that everything grows very successfully in the Amazon Rain Forest with little human intervention so whatever I bring to the business is just a bonus.

Sadly I have no idea what Joe and Mary Ann grew, but looking at the two pictures that have survived from when they were living here they took care to keep everything neat.

Mr Gratrix's field and his farm house a little to the east, 1844
There was evidence of roses in the front along with three trees in the back but what else they grew is a mystery.

Back in the 1840s our bit of land was rented by Samuel Gratrix who lived just a little east of us on the other corner of Beech and Beaumont.

His farm was known as Bowling Green farm and in total he rented seven acres of land.

Some, like our field was turned over to arable, but he also had pasture and meadowland along with an acre and a bit of orchard.

Today the site of the farm house is a modern property which Joe began in the 1930s and I think completed after the last war.  In demolishing the farm building he left some of the footings in the ground and these were discovered by one of the owners a few years ago.

I like the way that our house which Joe built is linked to Mr Gratrix whose land we now occupy and have often wondered what other connections there might be.

Joe and Mary Ann'e house, 2017
The romantic in me even wondered with the fragment of clay pipe we turned up a few years ago might have belonged to Samuel.

But I am the first to admit that this is just fanciful tosh and it is equally likely that my clay pipe was discarded by someone walking up the lane beside the field or even from a pile of night soil brought up from Manchester and spread over the land.

And that is not a flight of fancy because in the collection I have a receipt for just such a batch of night soil delivered to farmer Bailey in 1853.

He lived just a field down the lane and spread his “Manchester treasure” on a bit of what is now the Rec.

So that is it.  Our bit of land was not part of Mr Gratrix’s orchards but may be lurking deep under the soil will be more evidence of a bit of night soil which once made the field green.

Location; Chorlton

Picture;  the apricot tree and Joe & Mary Ann Scot’s house, 2017 from the collection of Andrew Simpson, and Mr Gratrix's field, 1844, from the OS Lancashire, 1844, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

*The story of house,

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