• This topic has 21 replies, 14 voices, and was last updated 1 week ago by hels.
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  • Historical artefact – legal and logistical questions
  • Premier Icon nickjb
    Free Member

    A bit of background, we live in a row of houses built in the 30s on the site of a very grand house that was demolished around 1900. As far as I was aware absolutely nothing remained of this house other than a few large trees from its grounds that are now in our gardens. Recently I found the gatepost for this house. It’s a large bit of stone, about 600 X 600 x 1200mm, with the house name carved into it. This stone was half buried in the undergrowth of the grounds of a nearby block of flats. Covered in ivy and lying in its side. Not placed or cared for. This land is not part of the original estate, it’s the other side of the road and 500m away.

    I’d like to move this stone back to the site of the house and maybe put a plaque up about the house. I can potentially put it exactly where the house was, now a block of garages with a well used path going past.

    I’m considering a number of options to make this happen. Obviously it would be nice to go through the proper procedures but whenever I think about it it seems very complicated. Who actually owns the stone? I’ve no idea how it ended up where it is. The landowner of the flats may have a claim but I doubt they even know it’s there let alone came by it legitimately. The old house and its owners are long gone. If it was smaller I’d probably just move it but given the size and weight it’s going to be quite an operation. I’m wondering about contacting a local history group or the local museum for help but does anyone here have any thoughts or experience? I will find out who owns the land around the flats as a starter.

    Premier Icon guido
    Full Member

    Contact your local Historic Environment Record office in the first instance. They may well have a record of the house and have planning restrictions in place. If they have no records try your Local Planning Authority.

    Premier Icon DickBarton
    Full Member

    Get a couple.of.mates and move it during the night…if it has been there for ages and overgrown it is unlikely it’ll be bothered about. (That is the dodgy bit)
    After that, clean it up and speak to local council and historic group and see if erecting it somewhere is possible. If not, add it to your garden.

    Premier Icon nickjb
    Free Member

    That was my first thought but it really will be quite an operation. It must weigh over a ton. I suppose my concern is who who would stop us if caught and would there be any potential long term comeback as it’ll be on display once moved.

    Actually installing it in the new location is much less of an issue. We know the landowner of the garages

    Premier Icon wzzzz
    Free Member

    The right answer is:

    Land registry will tell you who owns the land.

    Contact both sets first and get permission.

    Premier Icon sharkbait
    Free Member

    I suppose my concern is who who would stop us if caught and would there be any potential long term comeback as it’ll be on display once moved.

    Potentially/possibly no come back – but obvs you will have taken something from someones land without asking, so technically it’s theft!

    Get a couple.of.mates and move it during the night…if it has been there for ages and overgrown it is unlikely it’ll be bothered about.

    I have an old stone water trough that’s been in the field for a very long time and is covered in ivy – doesn’t mean I don’t want it or that someone can just come and take it!
    😉

    Premier Icon midlifecrashes
    Full Member

    Do you want to put it essentially in you garden or on public land near your row of houses? I see lots of hoops to jump through, and half a dozen people likely to say no along the way that’ll stop the idea dead. Is it very nice this thing?

    Premier Icon nickjb
    Free Member

    obvs you will have taken something from someones land without asking, so technically it’s theft!

    But do they own it? It’s on their land but that doesn’t automatically make it their property. Not sure how it got there though. I’d be putting it back on the land it came from. Is that still theft? I genuinely don’t know. Would prefer to do it officially if possible but appreciate it might be tricky, especially as I’ve no idea who actually owns it

    Do you want to put it essentially in you garden or on public land near your row of houses?

    Either on private land (which is crossed by a track used as a footpath but has no actual right of way) after talking to the owner (a neighbour) or if that can’t work then I could put it in the garden.

    It’s quite nice. Solid local stone, decoratively carved. Not art gallery material but architecturally pleasant. Nice enough in it’s own right but it’s more the historical significance as the last piece of a grand house that once stood here and now you’d never even know it was there without looking at an old map.

    Premier Icon midlifecrashes
    Full Member

    It’s on their land but that doesn’t automatically make it their property

    Usually, yes.

    I’d be putting it back where it came from. Is that still theft?

    Usually, yes.

    Not art gallery material but architecturally pleasant.

    If it’s nice enough to be wanted as a garden feature, once the owner is alerted to it’s existence, they may want to see that value via flogging it to an architectural salvage dealer. If it’s not nice enough for that, you probably don’t want it in your garden anyway.

    While likely quite illegal, I think a little stealth and plausible deniability might be your best bet here. For the size you’ve given, that’s a good ton in sandstone, bit more in granite, but hey, the pyramids were built without electric cranes, as was the house this came from. Bunch of mates, Halloween costumes and a fake coffin anyone?

    Premier Icon nedrapier
    Full Member

    I’d be putting it back where it came from. Is that still theft?

    It’s a grey area.

    Premier Icon nedrapier
    Full Member

    Good luck moving your megalith*, though, if you get that far. You might fond aome fexperimental archeological group whoo are keen to try out some new techniques.

    *Is it big enough?

    “Microlith”?

    Just “lith”?

    Edit: “Monolith”. https://www.dictionary.com/e/monolith-vs-megalith/

    Premier Icon nickjb
    Free Member

    A little update. The owner of the land the stone is currently on is the local council. In my mind that makes doing it officially much harder and more red tape but taking the unofficial option much easier.

    Premier Icon IHN
    Full Member

    If you’re going to get a couple of mates to do you a favour and give you a hand moving it, make sure the new blue plaque mentions the slavery involved 😉

    Premier Icon poly
    Free Member

    A little update. The owner of the land the stone is currently on is the local council. In my mind that makes doing it officially much harder and more red tape but taking the unofficial option much easier.

    Personally I’d say the opposite if you are right that it’s in the wrong place (are you sure it wasn’t the entrance way to the estate?) – councillors would love that shit for a photo opp in the local rag with some kids from the local school unveiling it! Now if you can make them believe it’s a liability where it is – even better.

    However, if the council think you’ve moved it without permission then expect them to be draconian to set an example! A developer sitting in an office in london – probably less bothered.

    Premier Icon Greybeard
    Full Member

    Talk to your local Councillor. Suggest that it’s win-win to get it moved from the council land and put somewhere suitable. If the Councillor is convinced, ask them to square it with the officers. If you go straight to the officers you might meet a jobsworth.

    Premier Icon maccruiskeen
    Full Member

    Who actually owns the stone?

    The owner of the land it sits on. The stone may originally have been part of another property but but all sorts of transactions could have taken place with any part of the house that once stood. The stone belonged to the owner of  a house thats gone – it now belongs to someone else. Its doesn’t matter what names on it or where it once stood – where its currently sits defines who owns it.

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Full Member

    Sorry, I’m confused. You say “this house,” is that in the sense of “a house”? I thought at first you were talking about your own home.

    Its doesn’t matter what names on it or where it once stood – where its currently sits defines who owns it.

    That’ll be good to know next time the kids next door kick a ball over the wall. (-:

    In seriousness though, how does that work? I could understand it for a fixed structure, but for something that’s just lying there…?

    Premier Icon andrewh
    Free Member

    In seriousness though, how does that work? I could understand it for a fixed structure, but for something that’s just lying there…?

    I think we’re in the grey area between ball kicked over the fence thirty seconds ago who’s ownership is not in dispute and buried treasure from three thousand years ago who’s owners have long since vanished and it therefore belongs to the landowner

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
    Free Member

    As the plan is to put it into public space I’d go to the historical society/local councillor

    Similar has been done elsewhere, local historical society gets title of the small footprint if required. You probably will get an interpretation board as well

    Premier Icon poly
    Free Member

    That’ll be good to know next time the kids next door kick a ball over the wall. (-:

    In seriousness though, how does that work? I could understand it for a fixed structure, but for something that’s just lying there…?

    What if you leave your bike lying against a fence in a local park – its not locked so its a free for all right? (if left long enough there may be rules on abandoned property) How about if you buy a large ornamental boulder for your garden? Now if you sell that house, and its gets sold a few more times, is the 4th owner in the chain not also the owner of the big heavy lump of stone? It doesn’t seem hard to me to work out who owns something on a bit of land. But I suppose if you wanted to decide if it were yours, lets assume it was upright rather than lying down. If it fell on someone and injured/killed them – would you be happy to accept the liability for that? If no – its probably not your lump of stone then.

    Premier Icon dyna-ti
    Free Member

    Who actually owns the stone?

    Well you do.
    Obviously 😉

    Been in your garden since you bought the house.

    Where it came from ? who knows.

    Premier Icon hels
    Free Member

    Does bona vacantia apply here? This is the legal principle around unowned property. l am not sure about England but in Scotland this is dealt with by Queens and Lord Treasurer’s Rememberancer (seriously it’s a real thing) qltr.gov.uk.

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