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A Planning Application of Yesteryear

Betty Cawte (Joint Heritage Warden)

As part of my searches at the County Records Office, connected with the Parish Heritage Watch for Staunton and Lount, I came across a ragged piece of paper on which someone had scribbled a map. It accompanied a letter drawn up by "The Trustees of the Hinkley and Melbourne Turnpike Road". It was dated 5 October 1857, and was instructing the Clerk to the Trustees to call a special meeting on the 24th, to consider the proposal of The Earl Ferrers for the alteration of the Turnpike Road near Staunton Harold.

Two Trustees signed the letter, they were George H. Beaumont and Francis Mereweather. Others present were the Rector of Heather, the Reverend G P Belcher, who had chaired the meeting and Mr Clare. Mr Clare was a major landowner in Ibstock.

Below the formal letter was a description of the proposed alterations, with crossings-out and additions in another hand.

The original says the road is to be "directed and altered from a certain ash tree marked A to a certain oak tree marked B." It also said the "old line of the road from A to B ... shall be given up to Earl Ferrers in exchange for ground given by him for the new road."

"The said Earl undertakes ... To keep the proposed road in good repair for the space of two years from the completion thereof". The alteration added details such as:

  1. The new road would "cross Cliffe's Close in occupation of one Daniel Earp".

  2. "The new road to be formed and completed to the satisfaction of the Surveyor of the said Turnpike Road."

The rough sketch map shows the Park Wall, New Lodge, a house(s) on the line of the old road with "Dunnicliffe" lightly marked in, and the Tennants' route to the fields.

The house is now called Malthouse Cottage, the home of Mr & Mrs R Williams. Today as you pass Staunton's Melbourne gateway, as far as the bend beside Hill Top Farm you are travelling on that new stretch of turnpike from 1857. I wonder whether "Cliffe's Close" is short for Dunnicliffe's Close. Later maps show different field names. I hope to have illustration on view at the next Parish Meeting.