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Pacing your Place
If you live within easy travelling distance of your study area, and assuming it covers a small area comprising just a village and a few surrounding hamlets, rather than a whole region, it’s great if you are able to ‘pace your place’.
Essentially this means exploring every street, lane, alleyway etc. of your study place looking at the buildings etc. for clues of their age, past uses etc. Also looking at the physical terrain and considering how the features and resources of the local landscape would have dictated the use of the land in years gone by. Try and put yourself in the shoes of those who walked there a century or two before!
Take as many photos and notes as you can on your tour -
If you are able to print out a large-
Look out for date stones set in buildings and possible changes of use. To the right we set out just some examples of the type of thing you may come across while pacing your place.
Your place will have its own unique features -
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Pacing your place can reveal some unusual features -
Door arch retained
Cottage in hillside
House with no windows?
Steps to nowhere?
By pacing the place (and clambering over high graveyard walls) these steps were spotted leading up to the old church. Were they to make access easier for villagers living at the bottom of the hill? No! On making further enquiries it transpired they lead down to a private family mausoleum built into the hillside.
Not any more!
Clues to a bygone era -
How thoughtful some builders were in times gone by to leave us with clear information of when buildings were constructed. Be careful though, somtimes the dates may be when additional works were carried out, for example an extension or even the conversion of a single storey building into two storeys.
Have you paced your place?
This feature ‘Pace Your Place’ goes hand-
Below we show some examples of what may be found by ‘pacing your place’.
A redundant chapel of ease now -
This building, with only a door facing the street, was built as a Poor House where elderly or infirm villagers could be looked after. All the windows were on the far (east) side of the building.
Still standing -
Heading up a grassy track revealed derelict farm buildings -
Postcard views of same church -
Yes, a lychgate has been added and the trees have grown -
[The clock may give you a clue to the missing story (storey!)]
Sometimes you may be prevented from pacing all of your place -
In some cases whole villages and hamlets may be inaccessible as they now form part of military firing ranges.
Please do not venture on to private or military land without express permission.
Unable to pace your place?
If for any reason you are unable to pace your place, look at other ways of being able to get a feel of the place. We give a few suggestions below.
Don’t be afraid to ask others for help. If you’ve set up a facebook group for your OPS, you may have some very willing volunteers! Or can can place an appeal for help in the local parish magazine etc.
Satellite / Streetview
Old postcard views can reveal buildings no longer in existence, or being used for different purposes than today. Check out internet auction sites. Ancestry also have images of thousands of old postcards.
If your study place is in the British Isles, check out the millions of photographs at Geograph. The project aims to collect geographically representative photographs and information for every square kilometre of Great Britain and Ireland. As at 12 May 2014, 12,063 contributors had submitted 3,954,256 images covering 271,348 grid squares, or 81.7% of the total. You can publish the photographs on your study website or blog, etc. under a Creative Commons Licence.
Explore your place using Streetview or satellite images e.g. Google. -
Also check for historical aerial views, for example at Britain from Above
This image shows derelict buildings near the coast just south of North Walls in the Orkneys
Check out the British Listed Buildings website which provides information about listed buildings in England, Scotland and Wales, for example:
SY 8280, SY 8279, SY 8179, SY 8379
17/292 WEST LULWORTH LULWORTH COVE
Nos 1 to 8 Coastguard Cottages
Grade II Coastguard cottages. Early C19 -
© Crown Copyright Source: English Heritage
Although age is usually stated, it is often only a matter of opinion rather than hard fact.
This feature ‘Pace Your Place’ goes hand-
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