Rent in Sileby, Leicestershire, England
Sileby – In the 1880’s was “Only a poor labouring village”.
1880 – The rent man was easily spotted as he carried a ledger under his arm and a steel-nibbed pen behind an ear, ink was carried in a small bottle in the waistcoat pocket.
If a family were in arrears with their rent, it was the custom to pay off the debt by adding an extra amount to the weekly sum. After an illness, when the rent could not be paid, it would take weeks or even months to recover. Sometimes, a family in arrears would move out of the house secretly, without giving the landlord due notice, which was known as “doing a midnight flit”. On those occasions when the landlord turned to the law to recover his unpaid rent, a bailiff was sent to seize furniture to be sold in settlement of the amount owing. Word would go round the village, “Ayer eerd, owd Tommy’s got the bum-beelifs in!”
The rent of a four-roomed cottage in good condition was usually 4 shillings a week. One family who paid 4s 3d a week, decided to move when the daughters had reached the age to leave school. They chose a newer house where the rent was 4s 9d a week, the mother observing “way should afford it now the gels ar wukin”.
A Cottage A Castle
It was said to every Englishman’s home is his castle, and this was true in Sileby. Once rent was paid, the property whether large or small, became “ar part”, and that which belonged to the neighbours, “theer part”. Woe betide any who dared to transgress the code of possession. Trespassing, or interfering with “ar part”, began more rows and family feuds than any other matter in the course of daily life.
The footpath outside the house was known as “the causey”. This was not a slang expression, as causey is the original and correct spelling for a pathway which is raised above the level of the ground. In Sileby these were generally made of square granite setts, with granite curb-stones. Some smaller streets had egg-shaped stones set close together, known as “petrified kidneys”.
Housewives washed the causey using a hard bristled causey-brush. If neighbours were not friendly, the washing down of this area could result in a noisy quarrel. If the water happened to spread over a portion of the causey which belonged to the house next door, the intrusion, and state sternly, “ay, doont yo goo wettin ar part!”
The Causey did not remain clean for long. The lanes in the village were little more than dusty rutted cart-tracks in the summer, and a sea of mud in the winter. And grass used to grow in the middle of the road all the way up to Seagrave.
Sileby had enough water, and in a rainy season, more than enough, for then the brook would over flow and flood the meadows.
Heavy and continuous rain in July 1875, and especially on Tuesday 20th brought a great flood. In the church magazine for August 1875, the Vicar, the Rev. Augustus Shears, wrote, “...the water rose 10 feet above the level of the culvert in Brook Street...the floods extended 30 yards along Cossington Lane having a depth of 2 feet.” At the Parish Church there was a special Service of Thanksgiving “for a change in the weather,” on Sunday 25th July.
Houses in Brook Street were the first to suffer during a flood. Sometimes the brook would overflow during the night, and a family would find the floors of the lower rooms under a foot of water. Men who rose early to go to work, groped their way down stairs in the dark, and found themselves up to the knees in very cold water. In the flood of 1912, a dog was drowned when water poured into a living-room during the night.
Water could be found almost anywhere under Sileby, from one foot to fifteen feet below the surface. There used to be wells all over the village, and if they were not guarded properly, were a danger to life. The Church magazine for December 1876, records an example: “On Thursday November 2nd, Emma Riddles was walking near a well behind her father’s house in High Street, when she turned back, apparently to look, for a playmate. She tripped up in some way and fell down the well, 38 feet deep, with 9 feet of water in it.” The child was rescued by a man using a ladder. When she was brought up, she seemed “almost dead, but with attention revived.” The well was later sealed, and a pump used in its place.
In most parts of the village, a group of houses would use the same well. In times of drought, when the demand for water exceeded the capacity of the well, householders had to beg or buy water from other places in the Village. There was a good deep well at the rear of the Primitive Methodist Church in King Street. In times of shortage, water was sold there at a farthing a bucket. A long pole like a shepherd’s crook was used to fill the bucket. The income from the sale of water was given to the Chapel funds.
(all the italic is how the people of Sileby talk)
All information from a magazine called 'Bygone Sileby', pictures from the internet.