No 2 Cold Elm Cottages (Belmont, Norton Court Estate Cottage No 2)

The property in question was originally a single cottage, at one time a cottage and blacksmiths shop, later a pair of cottages that stood end on to the old lane, for many years Nos 2 and 3 Cold Elm Cottages, and more recently a single property again.  A lot of the history of this site will also apply to No 3 Cold Elm Cottage and will be repeated there.

No 2 Cold Elm Cottage is the one furthest from the road.

The earliest reference I have found to this property is dated 25 March 1804 and is a feoffment of two lands at Norton from William Vick to Richard Lea.  At the time of the Inclosure Act, 1806, there appears to have been just a single building on this plot of land.  It was then Plot No 166, a house and garden, 0-0-18 in area, and this confirms that it was owned by Richard Lea.


On 9 June 1902 George Norton Walker bought two properties on this site causing an inventory of related documents to be added to the Norton Court Estate records.  These documents hold a lot of details.

On 5 May 1807 Richard Lea took a mortgage by demise for 1000 years with William Cook Ward.  On 12 November 1807 there is an assignment and ratification of mortgage by W C Ward and Richard Lea to Ann Jelf.

On 10/11 May 1809 there is a lease and release, the latter from James Lea to Jonathan Arkell and Giles Arkell.  Later, in October 1809, an assignment of term of 1000 years by Mrs Ann Jelf by direction of James Lea to Giles Arkell in trust for Jonathan Arkell.  From 80 Jonathan Arkell, the younger, had held the lease on Norton Farm.

James Lea was likely Richard’s son whose interest in the property was caused by Richard’s death.  The burial registers of St Mary’s from this time bear witness to a boating accident when on 2 February 1809 we find; “John Baylis, John Holder, Richard Lea, John Bridgeman and William Barnard, were buried.  The above five last named men were unfortunately drowned”.  Richard Lea had been a carpenter.

An indenture dated 25th January 1810 between Jonathan and Giles Arkell sells property at Norton to the Misses Freeman but it is not clear if this was the farm or another piece of land.

On 25 November 1816, there is a surrender of mortgage term on the property from George and Robert Freeman to Jonathan Arkell.  On 10 December 1821 a mortgage by Jonathan Arkell to Revd Theophilus Browne and on 21 July 1823, a further charge by Jonathan Arkell to the Revd T Browne.

On 27 July 1831 we find a release in fee from Jonathan and Giles Arkell to John Baylis and an assignment of mortgage term from the Revd T Browne to Thomas Smith in trust to attend the inheritance.

The ‘Terrier and valuation of the messuages, lands, and other hereditaments liable to poor rate in the parish of Norton’ dating from 1838 tells us that there were then two properties on this site and one of them was a blacksmiths shop.  No 2 Cold Elm Cottages was then Plot No 166 was a house, buildings and land, owned by John Baylis and let to William James Snr.  Plot No 167, 0-3-6 in area, had become a house and blacksmiths shop, also owned by John Baylis and let to John Newman.

William James was the founder of the successful chairmaking enterprise in the village.  John Newman was a blacksmith here at Cold Elm from before 1838 till after 1881 when he was 78 years old.

The 1st Edition 25” Ordnance Survey map, 1844-1888, gives an idea of the footprint of these buildings that is little different from that of today.

1st Edition OS 25” map, 1844-1888

On 30 December 1864 George Baylis took a mortgage on the property with William Elmes Payne.  George Baylis died and there is a succession account (with receipt endorsed) dated 5 November 1881 for duty payable on the succession of Louisa Bainbridge on his death.  On the same date, 5 November 1881, there is also a legacy receipt for duty on the legacy of £50 payable to Elizabeth Hayward on the death of her mother Mary Ann Hayward who died on 6th November 1880.

The Gloucestershire Chronicle newspaper of 26 April 1902 advertised; “Norton. Bruton, Knowles and Co. are instructed the Executor of the late Mrs. Creese, to sell by auction, at the Bell Hotel, Gloucester, on Saturday, May l0th, 1902, at two for three o’clock, a freehold dwelling house with Blacksmith’s shop and orchard, situated on the main road from Gloucester to Tewkesbury, and let to Mr Curtis at £19 per year”.

The electoral registers for Norton from this time indicate that a John Creese of Bushley, Worcs, qualified to vote at Norton by nature of owning a freehold house and land here.  During the same period an Alfred Curtis qualified to vote on account of land at Cold Elm.  This is most likely the property in question.  In 1901 John and Louisa Creese were farmers at Church Street, Rose Hill, Bushley.  Louisa died in 1902 but John survived her by several years dying in 1905. Although John was qualified to vote due to the cottage at Cold Elm it would suggest that the property was in his wife’s name.  Indeed, Louisa Creese provides the connection to most of the families involved at this time.  Louisa was the daughter of Edwin and Mary Ann Hayward and the granddaughter of George Baylis, she married Thomas Bainbridge and on his death remarried John Creese who had previously been married to Thomas Bainbridge’s sister Harriet.

As a result of this sale, on 9 June 1902 the two properties here were sold to George Norton Walker for £310 and became a part of the Norton Court Estate.  There is a conveyance by Henry Richard Payne and Francis Horne Cooper (mortgages) and John Creese and Edward Hayward (trustees) of the Will of Louisa Creese to George Norton Walker of two messuages (formerly one messuage with the stabling formerly used as a blacksmiths shop) and other outbuildings and the gardens and also of a close of arable land planted with fruit trees adjoining containing together 3 rods 9 perches situate at Norton.

In 1908 James Bishop paid the Norton Court Estate the Ladyday rent for Estate cottage No 2 of £7. In 1871 James had been lodging in an unidentified cottage at Cold Elm with the Stanton family; widow Jane and three young children.  James Stanton had married Jane Taylor at St Marks, Gloucester in 1859 and they had three children before James died in 1869.  The places of birth of the children suggest that the family had moved to Cold Elm from The Leigh in approximately 1862.  Later in 1871 James Bishop, a general labourer, born in 1848 in Wiltshire, married the widowed Jane Stanton at Gloucester Register Office and by 1881 they were living together at Cold Elm.  James and Jane Bishop were at what became Estate cottage No 2 by 1901 and were still here in 1911 when it was recorded to have 3 rooms. James died in 1918 and Jane in 1919.

In 1923 Frank Mills was at No 2 perhaps moving in after the death of Jane Bishop in 1919.  Frank Mills had left by 1927.

In 1939 No 2 was the residence of William C ‘Bill’ Slatter, born 1888, a County Council labourer, his wife Elizabeth E, born 1891, and five children.

Bill and Jack Slatter at work in the orchards where Mandalay Drive now stands.

In 1947 Winnie E Halling, youngest daughter of William and Elizabeth Slatter, was at No 2. 

Between approximately 1947 to 1955 No 2 Cold Elm was named Belmont and was the home of Edwin and Daisy M Birt.  Edwin Birt was born in 1893 at Harescombe before he married Daisy May Hayward, born in 1898 at Kings Stanley, in 1927 at St Margarets, Whaddon, Gloucester.  Before coming to Norton they had been living in Cheltenham with Edwin employed as a general labourer.  Edwin died in 1971 and Daisy in 1990.  There had previously been a Birt family at Norton between the 1830-60s although it is not known if there was a connection.  It is an uncommon surname and the earlier family had named one of their sons Edwin so it is possible.

In June 1952 the Norton Court Estate was sold at auction and the cottage was described as follows; "A pleasantly situated brick and tiled semi-detached cottage containing: passage entrance, pantry, sitting room, kitchen with fireplace and cupboard, two bedrooms, each having a fireplace and lean-to partitioned bedroom.  Covered way to the wash house with furnace, EC, and well of water in common with No 3.  A timber, brick and tiled mill house with cider mill and press.  Garden and productive orchard.  In the occupation of Mr A Birt at a rent of £20 per annum".  It was also noted that "This Lot is sold subject to the joint use of the entrance and well of water with the owner or occupier of Lot 11 (No 3) the costs of the maintenance of the gate and the well are to be borne equally by the respective owners".

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; “The adjacent cottage was the home of Mr and Mrs Birt.  He was a thresher by calling and he would run the threshing machine at the local farms during the harvest, fascinating machines steam driven, superseded by the combine harvester.  Their cottage came into the ownership of two spinsters.  They kept a donkey in their orchard that was situated at the rear of the house backing onto Mr Phelps’ property [Norton Villa].  I recall on one occasion retrieving my daughters from a tree into which they had climbed to escape, having been chased there by the donkey.  A mean animal who would not allow anyone on his patch !  A feature to the front of their cottage was a magnificent elm tree, unfortunately like so many of these fine trees it succumbed to Dutch elm disease and had to be felled”.

In 1958-1966 Mary E Jefferson and Gladys E Partlett were here and it was still known as Belmont.  No doubt the spinsters remembered by Denis Williams.

In 1985->2002 No 2 was the home of Robert L J and Sally A Wilkinson.


A crude overlapping of 2 photos taken by Bryan Welch in 2002.

With the death of Michael Toombs of No 3 the two cottages are now one again.