The HRC Mystery Solved (21-9-20)
It didn’t need Morse, Vera, Lewis or even Miss Marple to solve the mysteryo HRC, just the efforts and cooperation of a bunch of Cropwell Bishop people.
In August, John Greenwood revealed that he was puzzled by a plaque on an old barn near his home. It is next to the Creamery on Nottingham Road and the plaque bears the initials and date: H.R.C. 1880.
At first, no one could help but then a chain of discoveries led to a sound explanation for its existence.
It was Jacquee Lacey who started the ball rolling when she discovered that a house in Clifton village had an identical looking plaque but dated 1879.
However, we still didn’t know who HRC was: maybe a local builder?
Then, a few days later, Paul Pickup got in touch to point out that the initials were the same as a Henry Robert Clifton who lived at Clifton Hall in the late 1800s.
He also discovered that Henry had paid for the building of a school in Clifton village.
Further online searches revealed another house in Clifton village with a similar HRC plaque.
This all pointed to HRC being the initials of Henry Robert Clifton. But why were his initials on a barn in Cropwell Bishop – no one could find any connection between him and our village.
Until, that is, Pam Wregg joined the search.
She found that a Gervais Clifton had once owned land around Cropwell Bishop and then recalled seeing his name on an old map.
The 1804 map of the village is well known and contains the names of numerous land owners but it needed Pam to spot the Clifton name.
I have highlighted in yellow the location of The Yews farmhouse and its outbuildings. The fields painted blue are known to have been owned by “Sir G Clifton” – one contains his name and the others are listed in associated documents provided by Anne Terzza.
I think we can safely assume that this Sir G Clifton was indeed the Sir Gervase Clifton that Pam had found. He was one of the hereditary Baronets that successively owned the Clifton estate – but which one?
Here is a list of the Clifton Baronets (with known dates of birth and death):
- Sir Gervase Clifton (?-1588)
- Sir Gervase Clifton (1587-1666)
- Sir Gervase Clifton (1612-1676)
- Sir William Clifton (1663-1686)
- Sir Gervase Clifton (? -1731)
- Sir Robert Clifton (1690-1762)
- Sir Gervase Clifton (1744-1815)
- Sir Robert Clifton (1767-1837)
- Sir Juckes Granville Juckes-Clifton (1769-1852)
- Sir Robert Juckes Clifton (1826-1869)
- Henry Robert Clifton (1832-1896)
- Sir Hervey Juckes Lloyd Bruce (1843-1919)
- Percy Robert Clifton (1872-1944)
- Peter Thomas Clifton (1911-1996)
It should be noted that when a family member ‘next in line’ inherited the estate, they often changed their name to a more appropriate one.
This explains the recurrence of the ‘Gervase Clifton’ name, but also makes it impossible to identify the original owner of the ‘blue’ Cropwell Bishop fields. However, it is enough to know that the Clifton family would probably have still owned these fields in 1880 when the barn was built.
But did they also own The Yews farmhouse and its buildings?
Jonathan Good had the answer.
He found original documents relating to the purchase of houses on Mill Lane in 1909 which show that land to its west (ie. The Yews farm) was owned by Sir Hervey Juckes Lloyd Bruce – the Baronet of the Clifton estate at that time. Can we assume that Sir Hervey also owned the buildings as well as the land? Once again, Jonathan had the answer.
He found documents describing the purchase of The Yews farmhouse in 1920 by Matthew Richards from Percy Robert Clifton, the Baronet of the Clifton estate. Apparently, Percy had to sell it to enable him to pay the death duties due on Sir Hervey’s death.
This then, confirmed that the Clifton estate had previously owned, not only the land, but also the buildings associated with The Yews farm.
So, in conclusion, The Yews farm and its buildings were owned by Henry Robert Clifton when the barn was built in 1880 – which explains why his initials, H.R.C., appear on the barn’s wall.
Thanks to John, Jacquee, Paul, Pam, Anne and Jonathan for their searching, inspired guesswork and tenacity which solved this local mystery.
Now, what else requires the skills of our History Investigators?