Dr. Negley Harte, Chairman of the Corsham History Group, has been conducting a survey of buildings in Corsham that have a date on them, whether on a date-stone or on a dated rainwater-head or a commemorative inscription of some sort. It seems apparent that there is a higher than average number of buildings bearing dates in Corsham than in other towns, even fine Wiltshire towns such as Devizes or Bradford-on-Avon.
This is not the result of a policy of the Methuens, lords of the manor here since the late eighteenth century – very few Methuen buildings have a date on them. It may well have something to do with the strong local tradition of stone- cutting and stone-masonry. The date-stones themselves are interesting works of vernacular art, many of them strikingly elegant, as well as being quietly resonant of the date they proclaim.
Dr. Harte has now listed almost all of them, and Michael Rumsey, keen photographer and Chairman of the Corsham Civic Society, has agreed to photograph them all once the weather is better. It is thought that they might together produce an interesting little illustrated book that could reveal much about the town.
Negley would like to hear about dates on buildings not evident from looking at the façade of the building. He knows of several examples of dates on the backs of buildings, and at least one date inside a building. He would be very pleased to be told about dates on buildings that cannot be seen from the street, on the backs of buildings or outbuildings, or inside buildings in any way.
Please let him know about anything he may not have been able to observe at N.Harte@ucl.ac.uk or phone him on 01249 713529. He will be keen to hear and, in due course, Corsham will be pleased to know.