The Society has been very fortunate to have been donated a unique historical document relating to Fairford property and people of the 18th and 19th centuries. The foolscap-size notebook is titled “Lifehold Estates belonging to John Raymond Barker Esq” and was donated to the Society by a Fairford resident, whose late husband once worked for the Ernest Cook Trust. The 46-page document records the creation and renewals of leases relating to John Raymond Barker’s property in Fairford, the earliest being dated 1768 and the latest 1884. Over 120 leases are recorded and the details given add greatly to our knowledge of Fairford’s residents and property ownership during the Barker and Raymond Barker family’s time as landlords. Some of the entries are quite revealing; for example the entry for Jonathan Wane’s lease of a house in Milton End on 26 May 1803 gives him the option of paying either four shillings for rent, or just one shilling and “2 couple of fat hens”. In fact poultry seems to have been an alternative form of currency in the 19th Century as six other lessees were given the option of paying part of their rent in chickens!
The book has been transcribed and a copy of the transcription is available in the Society’s Archive Room in the Community Centre for all to see. Many of the old Fairford families are mentioned including the Wanes, Gilletts, Edmonds, Bettertons, Townsends, Beales, Savorys, Radways, Minchins, and many more. We are most fortunate to have been given this unique piece of Fairford history which will now be preserved for posterity. If you have any old documents in your attic or bottom drawer relating to Fairford please consider donating them to the Society where they will be cared for and made accessible for future generations. Alternatively we can take photographs of material so that the originals can be retained by the owners.