I was just about to get into the car to take mum to the doctor's when I was beckoned over by our next door neighbour, Mr M. "I think you should change your name", he said. This was before the Grant Shapps/Michael Green story broke so he obviously wasn't referring to that. "My name?" I questioned him, trying to work out if this was some bizarre marriage proposal. "No, the name of the Old Rectory. It's never been a rectory. It's always been the vicarage."
So, this is interesting food for thought. I rushed back to peruse the information that I received from the Historical Society. It is indeed referred to as the Vicarage. Title deeds mentioning it as such date back to 20th October 1626 and relate to a cottage and barn that once stood on the grounds of the property. The Vicarage is also mentioned in title deeds dated 20th February 1664; 12th October 1665; 6th April 1692; 27/28th June 1701; and 11th April 1870.
The 1841 Census refers to Vicarage House and then it becomes simply the Vicarage in the returns for 1851, 1861 and 1871. However, in 1847, Highworth Workhouse was sold and changed its use to become the Vicarage. The Old Rectory then technically became the Old Vicarage. (The Workhouse moved to larger premises at Stratton St Margaret, which I suspect became the geriatric hospital where my mum worked when we came to Swindon.)
By the 1881 Census, however, the Old Vicarage had been bought by Francis Hambidge, the brewer, and became known as The Limes. This refers, of course, to the lime trees that line the left hand side of Vicarage Lane as you walk down from the market place. A bit confusingly, it was also listed in that census as No.12, even though it is now No. 8. It continued to appear as The Limes in the 1891, 1901 and 1911 census returns. Then, in the 1930s, it was returned to the Church and became the Vicarage again. The information that I have suggest that it was given back by the Miss Hambidges, Minnie and Amelia. However, the 1911 Census seems to refer to the Misses Williams living there, Eliza and Margaret, single sisters in their late fifties attended by their servant, Clara, and from Hartlepool in County Durham. Something to be investigated here, I think, and my chance to delve into the archives.
Lime Trees (But Not Vicarage Lane Lime Trees ...Must Get a Camera!
The change in the street number of the Old Rectory from 12 to 8 may be due to the fact that three cottages once stood on the open ground to the east of the Church Room at the market square end of the Lane.When the cottages were being demolished, some skeletons were found under the flagstones. Apparently, suicides were often buried to the north of the church and just outside its boundary.
So, the Old Rectory, the Vicarage, the Old Vicarage or the Limes? It seems evident from the available evidence that the Old Rectory is a more recent moniker and that we should toy with changing it to one of the others. And for those of you of a technical disposition, we would need to make a written request to the Council's Highways or Engineers Department, including an alternative suggestion in case there's already a house locally with the first choice name. They then tell the Royal Mail. We would then also need to register the change with Land Registry, the local Council Tax Department, the Electoral Roll, BT, utility providers, mortgage lender, doctor and everyone else who writes to us. So, probably the best time for someone to make such a change is when they first move into the house and are doing all that anyway.
Thank you, Mr M! An interesting suggestion. We'll let you know.