I finally made my long overdue trip to the archives in Gueret. I’m so glad I did. I’ve barely made a start on finding out the history of Les Fragnes – who built it, who lived here, what they did – but I’ve already uncovered one fascinating fact. Our large lake, Alder Lake, is a pre-Napoleonic lake. That is huge in lake terms since it means these lakes have all sorts of privileges and exemptions from normal regulations controlling lakes. And we had no idea! Nor, obviously, did the vendors or the estate agents or they would have made a big deal of it.

I requested the Napoleonic cadastral of Nouzerines, dated 1829. I saw our neighbours’ properties at Montpetut and Les Guérins, but there was no Les Fragnes. There was, however, a lake. Our lake! It was land parcel no. 263. When I looked this up in a weighty register written up in 1829, I found this described as ‘Pêcherie du Frâne’. It’s not too difficult to see where ‘Fragnes’ has come from. Somewhere between now and 1829, the ‘a’ of Frâne lost its circumflex, a ‘g’ got slipped in and it became plural. I’m trying to find out what ‘frâne’ means. It’s an old word and possibly means a landslide or a subsidence, something along those lines. However, I have more homework to do here.

André Beaufils owned this étang. Beaufils is a name I’ve come across before. In the stash of attic treasures, we found a roll of election posters. Marcel Beaufils was standing in the 1910 elections. Also, I’m pretty sure Genevieve Beaufils is written in the front of one of the books we found. I’m about to get very busy<img class="alignright size-full wp-image-1063" title="archives inside" src="http://www.bloginfrance.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/archives-inside.jpg" alt="" width="122" height="180" />

André Beaufils owned most of what is now Les Fragnes, although M. Parrot had a tiny bit and so did Louis Payat. Possibly François Desfausses, a surgeon in Boussac, also owned a small corner. I shall take the up-to-date cadastral with me next time I go to compare with the Napoleonic one. I’ve yet to track down how many people the land went through before it came to us, but one step at a time!

The archives has an impressive set-up in Gueret. Very helpful staff, plenty of space, and a vast wealth of documents to call up and scrutinise. You can take your computer and camera in. I didn’t realise that before today, so I’ll be back next week to take photos of the 1829 cadastral and the register that goes with it. Absolutely fascinating stuff!

Quickly onto knitting, this being knitting blog week. Today we’re meant to talk about projects or skills we’d like to master. I need to hone up on my four needle skills. You use four needles to knit round objects like hats or socks – anything that you don’t want to have a seam in it. With two needle knitting, you’re always going to have to sew one side to the other. I’d also like to get to grips with entrelac knitting. This looks so impressive, and I don’t think it’s too horrendous to learn – it’s just a matter of making the time for it.