No 1 Cold Elm Cottages

In the early 1800s the piece of land where No 1 Cold Elm once stood was Plot No 374, known as Cold Elm Ground, was 1a 1r 1p in area and was owned by Thomas Rudge.  There were no buildings on this plot, in fact, the only building on that side of the old road was directly opposite Wainlode Lane.  Thomas Rudge also owned other land around the village at that time including Plot Nos 373, 375 and 386 on the following plan.

Extract from the 1806 Inclosure Act map for Norton

Thomas Rudge does not appear on the Land Tax schedules for Norton in 1796 so must have been a new arrival in the village around this time.  The plot of land can’t be identified any earlier than 1806.

The divisions between Plot Nos 373, 374 and 375 get a little blurred at this time but a Norton Court Estate plan from 1856, see above, roughly records this area of Cold Elm. Lewis owned the cottages that are now Conquest House and Enderleigh, then Richard Vick with The Laurels, then the Mealings with the other group of cottages opposite the Wainlode Lane junction.

There had been a family of Lewis blacksmiths at Newent since the early 1700s and Joseph was descended from these.  Joseph Lewis was a wheelwright of Norton when on 18 May 1811 he swore an allegation to marry Sarah Humphries at Shipton Oliffe.  On 16 May 1823 Joseph was a 25 year old carpenter of Norton and a widower when he swore an allegation to remarry Alinda Bisco, a 25 year old spinster of Norton, at St Mary’s, Norton.  [Perhaps the age of 25 was meant as ‘at least 25’ as Joseph was born in 1780 and Alinda in 1795].  Alinda was likely the daughter of Benjamin and Martha Bisco, a farmer of Norton.  Benjamin witnessed her marriage allegation and stood bond to the sum of £500.  Benjamin was still farming at Norton in 1826 but I can find nothing more about the Biscos at Norton although Martha has a memorial in the churchyard from her death in 1835 aged 83.  She may have suffered a long illness as her memorial reads; “Affection sore so long I bore physicians help was vain till God alone did hear my moan and ease me of my pain”.

In 1838 Joseph Lewis owned part of Plot No 374 at Cold Elm that was described as a house, buildings and a garden, of 2 rods 4 perches. The site was let to William Everiss, William Clift and William Loveridge.  According to this there was only one house here then.

In 1841 William Everiss was a 30 year old agricultural labourer living with his wife Catherine and son George.  William Clift was a 45 year old living with his wife Jemima and six children.  William Loveridge was a 30 year old shoemaker living with his wife Mary and four children.  Other than saying that they all lived at Norton, however, the census doesn’t say where.

By 1841 Joseph and Alinda Lewis had moved to Newent and were living at Broad Street with two children and extended Bisco family including Alinda’s father Benjamin.  Joseph died at Newent in 1843 as did Benjamin Bisco and by 1851 the widowed Alinda and son John had returned to Cold Elm, Norton, where she had become a Post Office keeper likely in one of these cottages.

1st Edition OS 25”, 1844-1888

The property we are discussing is shown to the left of the properties in Plot No 292 on the above map.  It is believed that the row of cottages here were built prior to 1828 but identifying residents through the nineteenth century has proved impossible so far.  Whilst the plan from 1856, above, isn’t too clear and may not be too accurate, there does appear to be just the two cottages on this site so perhaps No 1 Cold Elm Cottages had not yet been built at this time.

Alinda Lewis was still recorded as postmistress in the 1856 Kellys Directory for Gloucestershire and in 1861 was still postmistress living at Cold elm with sons John and Joseph.  Alinda died at Cheltenham in 1868 but was returned to Norton for burial.  By 1871 both sons John and joseph had left Norton and were in lodgings at Gloucester.

It is 1908 before we can positively identify this cottage when Phillip Cooling paid the Norton Court Estate the Ladyday rent for Estate cottage No 1.   Phillip Cooling and family appear to have arrived at Norton in 1888/89 and initially lived at the Tythe Cottages, then W Cottages near West House. Phillip was born at Kempsford in 1829, had married Hannah Brunsdon at St Nicholas, Gloucester, in 1867, and had six children the youngest having been born at Norton indicating their arrival in the village.  Phillip died in 1909.

The Gloucester Citizen newspaper of 13 May 1912 reported; “John G Villar is instructed by the executors of the late Mr Joseph Nash to sell by auction, at the Queen’s Head Inn, Longford, near Gloucester, on Thursday, May 23rd, 1912, at 7 o’clock in the evening precisely, - Parish of Norton. Lot 2 – Three freehold cottages, with gardens at rear, and blacksmiths shop, adjoining Lot, in the occupation of various weekly tenants, at rentals amounting to £19 8s per annum.  Rates by landlord”.  Lot 1 was No 1 Cold Elm next door also owned by Joseph Nash.

Between 1924 and 1926 Bernard Marston was here.  He was summoned on assault charges by  William Slatter, his neighbour, and later Walter Teakle and was given a prison sentence.

From approximately 1923 Alfred George and Fanny Beatrice Hannis and family lived at Wainlode but in 1926 they first came to No 1 Cold Elm and were to reside here for the next ten years.  Bill Hannis, their son, died in 2006 but had shared some of his memories with me in 2004.  The following are relevant extracts; “I was born at No 1 Cold Elm, Norton, in a very dilapidated cottage situated on the right about 50 yards beyond the Wainlode turning in the direction of Tewkesbury.  It had one bedroom upstairs and a sitting room with adjoining kitchen and washhouse downstairs.  The floor in the sitting room consisted of uneven flagstones which if not careful when sitting on a chair by the fire you could easily be pitched into the open fireplace if you moved too much.  It was infested by cockroaches and other vermin which the landlord, Capt Walker, would not do anything about.  Cottages 2 and 3 were in better condition.  My babyhood memories of Norton were related to me by my late sister Kathleen.  All of my family are now deceased.  I was the youngest son of Alfred George and Fanny Beatrice Hannis.  My brothers and sisters were Alice Lillian, Albert Henry, Kathleen Beatrice Anne, Alfred William Thomas and me, William George.  I was born prematurely on 20th February 1927 weighing just 3lb 1 ounce.  I was very ill in fact, Dr Foster asked the vicar, Rev Congdon, to name me at 2:15am.  He called again at 6:30am and asked my parents if I was still alive and he told them he could not do anything for me and told them that only prayer would bring me through”. … “My mother loved sweet peas and she had a lovely show along the fence at the side of the road”. ... “Father at last found us a new place to live in the village of Deerhurst in 1936.  Though it was better than Cold Elm it was unsatisfactory because it was prone to flooding although it did not flood while we were there”.

Bill Hannis standing outside No 1 Cold Elm with his mother in about 1933

The Hannis’ were followed by the Slatters whose extended family lived in a number of the cottages at Cold Elm over the years.

In 1947 No 1 was occupied by Albert A, Nellie, Kenneth A, Leslie A T, and Marjorie Blake

In 1947 Frank Bishop was also in residence.

In 1948 No 1 was occupied by Albert A and Nellie Blake

In 1948 No 1 was occupied by Roland Charles Slatter

In 1949 Mavis Olive Mueller was also here.

In 1954-60 No 1 was occupied by Roland Charles and Ethel F Slatter. 

In 1954 Gerald P Trigg and Mavis Olive Mueller were also here.

In 1956 Sidney Taffs was also in residence.

In approximately 2000, Denis Williams who, with his wife Lily, had lived in several houses at Cold Elm from the early 1950s wrote the following;  “Mr and Mrs Charlie Slatter had two girls and a boy, and occupied No 1.  There are many tales to tell of Charlie, he was a first class darts player and could add or subtract faster than any man I ever knew.  Many a townie was fooled by his air of innocence, finding out to their cost that Charlie was too smart on the darts board to buy his own beer !  When the floods were across the main road he would help many a stranded motorist to start their car after pushing it clear when it had cut out in the flood water with a ‘thank you sir’ as he received his gratuities.  Of course they didn’t realise Charlie had put a potato which he had in his pocket across their exhaust pipe which had caused the engine to cut out in the first place !  One evening I heard a commotion, as I ran into the garden a wall of flame met me.  Charlie’s motor cycle, of ancient vintage, had caught fire.  He had thrown water on the ignited petrol and this had spread the flames, luckily having sand available we were able to dowse out the fire before further damage was caused.  The shout went up ‘where’s Charlie ?’ and a muffled voice replied ‘down here’.  We discovered him at the bottom of the well into which he had jumped when his trousers caught fire.  Having hauled him out of the well soaking wet, scorched and minus his trousers we then stood in a solemn circle around the remains of his burnt out motor cycle.  Every New Years Eve at 12 o’clock Charlie would stand to attention in the middle of the road and play the last post on his bugle.  His favourite song was Danny Boy, the vicar was none too happy to have it played at his funeral.  Mabel (Mis Goulter) played it anyway, she along with the rest of the congregation knew exactly what Charlie would have wanted.  Mrs Slatter went to live with her daughter, Charlie moved to Churchdown.  Nos 1 and 2 came into my ownership, No 1 which was in a dangerous state was demolished”.

Photograph taken in 1954 showing Nos 3 and 2 Cold Elm in the foreground with No 1 just visible to the right.

By 1962 The Williams’ had taken on Nos 1 and 2 from the Slatters who were no longer living at Norton.  No 1 would have been demolished at this time.