The Square, Clifford Chambers
by Nat Alcock
(The full article from the commissioned chapter contributed to
Round the Square and up the Tower)
Context for report
This report presents the results of historical and architectural research on the houses in The Square, Clifford Chambers, as commissioned by the Hosking Houses Trust, for use in the published book Round The Square.
The Square, Clifford Chambers (Fig. 1) (SP 198 521) is a group of some 15 close-set houses next to the church in Clifford Chambers. Although one of the houses (no. 24) was built in the sixteenth or seventeenth century, as was a second (no. 29) that has since been rebuilt, and one is of the later eighteenth century, most date from the early to mid-nineteenth century, developed after 1804. The four adjoining houses along the street (20-23 Clifford Chambers) are included in this survey, because they formed part of one of the original properties, in the same ownership as nos. 24-27, in the Square itself. Fig. 2. shows the location and street numbering of the houses. The lane running beside nos. 29-32 is now known as Duck Lane. The name is first documented in 1910, but may well have been coined when this part of The Square was developed into separate cottages, in the 1830s.
Tracing the ownership has proved to be complex, working back from the known evidence, in order to find what other documents might be relevant, and has been based in part on a systematic examination of all identified deeds relating to Clifford Chambers, even if they did not appear to be directly relevant.
The Square has been in two separate ownerships since 1804. It originally seemed that these had previously been a single property, but a number of sources show that this is an oversimplification, and that they only came together briefly, from 1800 to 1804. Although some adjustment of the boundaries seems to have been made during the short period of common ownership, we can now trace the two halves of The Square (western and eastern) back to before 1700, as individual properties. One (west) had been a small farm that was split up and the land added to other Clifford farms in 1803. The other (east) was a smaller holding, used since at least the 1720s for a blacksmith’s house and forge. In 1919 and 1934, the two parts became part of the Clifford Chambers Manor estate. This was dispersed in 1951, with the individual cottages in The Square sold separately, in many cases to their tenants.
One complication of the ownership is not fully recorded. The 1951 sales did not describe clearly what land was associated with each cottage, particularly in relation to the eastern part of The Square (nos. 28-37). They seemingly relied on the traditional allocation to the various tenants of their gardens, access to the privies, the well and the river, and the use of Duck Lane.