So, a One Place Study…?

This project is brand new, but it feels as if it’s been a long time coming. Ever since we moved to Warwickshire almost ten years ago I’ve been fascinated by the tangible and intangible history of a completely new-to-me part of the country. I’ve researched my own family history for years, but we’ve had only the most fleeting of contacts with this beautiful county.

Initially I focused on the history of our house, which we knew was old, even if its age was hidden under layers of PVC and woodchip wallpaper. Eventually a lucky find in the National Archives helped to trace the plot back into the mid 17th century (the house itself isn’t quite that old!). I was struck by how many of the documents referred to it as being not in Berkswell or the more modern Balsall Common, but in a mysterious place called Oldnall End.

Interest piqued, I began reading, researching, and gathering data. Eventually I was able to establish that Oldnall End was an ancient hamlet; the Survey of English Place Names finds it recorded in the 12th century as Holdenhale or Odenhale. The name seems to have survived through the nineteenth century in tax records and property transactions, but fell out of use around the turn of the 20th century. The photo below shows the field recorded on the 1839 Tithe Apportionment as ‘Oldnall End Piece’ (it’s opposite the Brickmaker’s Arms pub in what is now Balsall Common).

Cut to November 2022 and I’m sitting on almost a decade of data, Twitter is melting down, and like thousands of others I sign up to Mastodon. Here I was lucky enough to come into contact with the wonderful and welcoming One Place Studies community and thanks to their encouragement, I signed up to the Society for One-Place Studies. So now the Oldnall End One-Place Study is real and I’m very excited to find out more about the people and places of this beautiful forgotten hamlet.

Now is a bittersweet moment to be starting this study. In the 1830s, Oldnall End was bisected by the London & Birmingham Railway, and now it is being dug up again for the new HS2 line. Once HS2 is complete, the remaining fields in the south-west quadrant of Oldnall End have been earmarked for housing development. I spend as much time as I can walking the footpaths and fields, taking photographs and recording this precious landscape before it is lost forever.

One comment

  1. Hey, this is really fascinating! The landscape looks beautiful and it will be sad when it’s all developed and made less than it really is now.

    Good luck with your study!

    Liked by 1 person

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