Friday, 30 May 2008

Research ...

There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.

J R R Tolkien



To parody Tolkien, when you start looking for something the outcome isn't always what you expected. Sometimes, what you find comes as a bit of a disappointment; sometimes the surprise is a pleasant one.

Maria's journey into old company records was tantamount to opening Pandora's Box. The search became complicated enough to make you feel that 'Hampton Court'

Hampton Court Maze

Find the path from the entrance at the bottom of the Maze (red triangle) to its centre (red dot).

The Maze - the most famous hedge-maze in the world - is situated at Hampton Court near London. It covers an area of a third of an acre (about 1350 sq meters), and its paths are half a mile (0.8 km) long. You might think, looking at the illustration above, that this maze is a very simple one. But don't be misled with its seemingly "simple" pattern; it is incredibly easy to lose yourself!

The Maze was planted in the Hampton Court Palace Gardens in 1702. It still attracts people from all over the world, and every year thousands of them are happy "to be lost" in it.


was in danger of being relegated to the second division.

In retrospect we regret that we didn't make copies of the older, hand-drawn documents that Maria stumbled across. We were in a hurry by now, wondering how many more obstacles were going to be thrown up by the bureaucrats; there were many! But for now we were concentrating on finding irrefutable evidence of the existence and layout of the properties as they were today. One of the earliest documents that showed the current layout is reproduced below. At least this was a start.


The earliest document that shows the current layout of the property.
The earliest document that shows the current layout of the property.
The extra 'roof' space (for building) came as a pleasant surprise!


An encouraging start! Further research brought to light more recent 'mapping' of the area undertaken by 'The Conservatory', the department responsible for keeping and issuing records of properties. If they issue you with a document to support your claim, it lasts for 30 days and it will cost you a few pennies, but it is the 'proof' you require when you have to deal with other local busy-bodies (don't you just lurve bureaucrats?) to have more permanent documentation produced.


The Conservatory have aerial maps of the property. A closer look at the property. The property (and village) in relation to the larger towns.
The pic masked so that the property stands out.


More digging by Maria, and things started to take a downward turn. By this time she was wearing two hats; one as the 'seller' (the Company's representative) and the other as the 'buyer' (representating OUR interests). Nice work, if you can get it. The small problem this time was that 'The Conservatory' clearly indicated that, although the property was shown as a group of five houses, all with their own enclosed 'garden' space, the houses were classed as 'Urban' and the gardens were classed as 'Rural'. It meant that even though the plans showed roofed areas on the land, they couldn't be built on if the land continued to be classed as 'Rural'. Worse, the split between 'rural' and 'urban' also meant that the houses and land had to be bought as separate parcels. In other words, none of the houses actually had gardens attached to them! How could this have happened? Who knows! All we knew is that past and present owners and administrators of the company had never really given the situation any thought. Why should they? They owned the lot!

There were several solutions to this predicament, but only one that made sense.

  • We could have elected to buy the property as it was, a split of 'urban' and 'rural'. Since there was more 'rural', and the price of 'rural' was about the tenth of 'urban' the combined property and land would be that much cheaper. But we would not be able to erect any structures on the rural bit.
  • We could have elected to only buy the houses and allow the 'rural' bit to come with the houses by default. Attractive thought, but one fraught with danger. If at some future date one of the successors to the current owners decided that he or she wanted that little bit of land and simply took it, we would not be able to do a thing about the situation.
  • We could arrange to have the two bits combined as a single parcel which would obviously increase the cost, but it would simplify the deeds.

We plumped for the last option.

Maria, with both hats firmly clamped to her head, arranged for the property and land to be amalgamated officially. We paid for the 'search' (not as magnanimous as it may seem), the company paid for the rest. It was in our interest to hurry this along; it was in the company's long term interest to establish a precedent for the sale of all the other properties when that time came. And there was "simple-ole-me", thinking that the only obstacle to buying a house was actually getting hold of the money to pay for it!

Little did I know that even bigger, unforseen headaches, were just over the horizon ...

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