STEPHEN Price, chairman of Worcestershire Archaeology Society, played to a full house on Wednesday, February 20, when he gave a fascinating talk on the 17th century hearth tax imposed on residents in local villages from 1662-68 at the Villages Hall, Bishampton.
Stephen explained that he is researching the hearth tax for Worcestershire as part of a national project being coordinated by the University of Roehampton.
Sets of returns show the number of hearths for each house, and members of Bishampton History Society were able to see a transcribed copy of the local constable’s return for the village from 1662 from the National Archives showing the number of hearths against occupants’ names.
The hearth tax, or chimney tax was imposed on occupants, at the rate of two shillings per annum ( in today’s money about £8).
The documents are a useful source for local, social and family history and the Bishampton record shows some familiar and recurring names such as Tandy, Hemyng, Chockett – and John Callowe, who had five hearths in his home.
A visitor from neighbouring Harvington reported he had found a 17th century receipt intact tucked in the eaves of his half-timbered house.
Stephen Price is keen to continue his research and also to identify the names associated with ancient buildings in the village and the society has pledged its support.
The society announced a packed programme for the year including a visit to Worcester, a talk on Tudor Textiles, and a heritage trail around the village on Saturday September 14 to coincide with National Heritage Open Days.
Anyone interested in joining the society or finding out more can visit the website at bishampton.org.uk or contact Mike Rickard on 01386 462037 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.