October Cottage (Norton Court Estate Cottage No 16)

At the time that the Inclosures came to Norton in 1807 the site of the  two properties that became Estate Nos 16 and 16a looked a little different.  The boundaries of Plot Nos 73, 77 and 78 seem a little off on the following plan.  There appears to be 2 red blocks in Plot No 77 but I believe the one furthest from the lane was what is now the White House and actually in Plot No 78.  The other red block would appear to have been a cottage that is no longer here.  The red block just north of the '77' on the plan would have been the thatched property which appears to be in Plot No 73.  Plot No 77 was described as being a cottage and garden, owned by John Tombs, and being 16 perches.

In 1788 John Tombs married Ann Harding at St Mary's, Norton, suggesting that the Tombs family had been in the village for some time.  In fact October 1750 is the earliest mention of the surname when William Tombs of Churchdown married Elizabeth Postin here.

From 26/27 September 1823 there is a conveyance by lease and release from John Tombs the elder to William Tombs of a cottage, garden, etc at Norton together with commons and common of pasture that appears to relate to this cottage.

The ‘terrier and valuation of the messuages, lands, and other hereditaments liable to poor rate in the parish of Norton’ from 1838 records that Plot No 77 was then in two parts.  John Tombs was still recorded as the owner but one part, a cottage and garden, was occupied by Charles Townsend and the other, a cottage, by Robert Williams.  The gross estimated rental or annual value of each holding was £3 and £2 10s, and the rateable value or net annual value of each holding was £2 and £1 10s respectively.  In 1837 Robert Williams held freehold land at Norton and John Tombs held freehold house and land that was occupied by Charles Tombs.

John Tombs senior died in November 1838.

It has not proved straightforward to identify occupants of Nos 16 and/or 16a or even to determine when the cottage was split, or was it built as two separate cottages, etc.  I believe it possible that this area was remodeled and Plot No 77 disappears around this time, split between what was originally Plot Nos 78, 76 and 73.  Could Robert Williams have been living in the cottage that has since disappeared and Charles Townsend at No 16 ?

In 1841 Robert Williams, an agricultural labourer, with son William, Ann Eynon and her infant son Charles, was living near the Green, whilst in the next property was Charles Townsend, an agricultural labourer, with his wife Phoebe and three children.

Robert Williams had married Sarah Caudle at Norton in 1807 and also part occupied a garden in Plot No 114 with Henry Tombs. Wife Sarah died in 1833 and Robert in 1846. His son Thomas, a sawyer, married Mary Bevan in 1837 and they had a number of children, then Thomas also died in 1846, and in 1851 Mary was widowed, a pauper and still living next door to the Townsends, presumably in the same house. 

Charles Townsend had come from Barnsley in the Cotswolds, marrying Phoebe Wilkes at Churchdown in 1815, and as their first child was baptised at Norton later that same year it seems likely that Norton was their first home after marriage.  

From 24 April 1852 there is a conveyance from William Tombs and Mary his wife to William Mann of the cottage, garden, etc including commons and common of pasture along with an undertaking of Mary Tombs to release dower.

Charles Townsend died in 1859 but Phoebe continued to live at Norton and was still at ‘The Green’, likely still at No 16, working as a washerwoman with two of her daughters when she died and was buried at St Mary’s in 1872.

From 21 January 1878 there is a statutory declaration by Esther Mann as to the title of Henry George Mann to 2 cottages, garden, etc adjoining Pound Green at Norton and 6 May 1878 a conveyance from Henry George Mann to Charles Betteridge Walker of two cottages ... respectively together with all rights etc.  It is said that in 1878 one of these cottages was in the occupation of Ann Townsend.  So, in 1878, No 16 became a part of the Norton Court Estate.  [The record of this transaction in the Norton Court Estate papers states that in 1923 the cottage was occupied by Jabez Trigg which helps identify the cottage].

Charles and Phoebe's daughter Ann had always lived at No 16 with her parents, working as a washerwoman with her mother.  We know she was still here in 1878, she was still here 1881, with 9 year old Laura Stubbs lodging with her, in 1891, with 9 year old Thomas Trigg lodging with her, still a laundress throughout, so it is likely she was still here when she died in November 1894.

In 1908 Jabez and Emma Trigg paid the Norton Court Estate £6 at the Lady Day Rentals for cottage No 16, there was no No 16a recorded.  They were living at the Green by 1901 so had probably followed Ann Townsend into the cottage.  In 1911 their cottage was described as having four rooms so could only have been half of the thatched property and judging by the following photographs was actually No 16.

Jabez was a carpenter and later wheelwright who had married Emma Townsend of Norton at St Marks, Gloucester, in 1871.  Emma was the daughter of Thomas and Sarah Townsend who had also lived near The Green for many years indeed, possibly even in this house.  When Jabez and Emma celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary in 1921 a report stated that Emma had been born here and had lived almost her entire life in the cottage.  

Assuming that Jabez and Emma were both in their 60s at the time of the following photos we can date the photos to approximately 1915.

Jabez and Emma had at least eight children whilst living here; William Charles, Jonathan, Ernest Arthur, Thomas, Edith Ann, Albert, Elizabeth Jane and Henry George. Emma Trigg died on 18 January, Jabez just a few months later on 17 May, 1927 and both were buried at St Mary’s, Norton.

The next occupants were John Brooke and Elsie Arthur who were definitely here between 1930-36.

The next reference was found on 27 May 1937 when Rice Duck of Norton took on cottage Estate No 16 that was in the occupation of Mr & Mrs Arthur.  The agreement contained the condition; “No lodgers or relations other than the tenant’s unmarried children (if any) shall occupy any part of the cottage without the landlords written consent”. 

So it appears that Rice Duck, wife Jane and family, moved here in 1937 when Rice was employed as a blacksmith.  Rice’s son Arthur Edward Duck married Phyllis Hilda Hicks at St Mary’s, Norton, in 1946 and they came to live with his father at No 16 in apparent contravention of the tenancy agreement.

At the time of the 1952 auction of the Norton Court Estate the house was Lot No 18 and was described as follows; “… being No 16.  It is built of stone, brick and half-timbered and has a thatched roof and contains: Living room, pantry, back kitchen, landing bedroom and bedroom (the portable range in the back kitchen is claimed by the Tennant).  Workshop, EC, coal house and garden.  Well of water in common with the adjoining cottage No 16a”.  In the occupation of Mr R Duck at a rent of £10 per annum.  This Lot is sold subject to the joint use of the well on Lot 19, the cost of the maintenance to be borne equally by the respective owners.”  At the auction it appears to have sold for £150. 

Rice Duck died in 1956 but son Arthur and Phyllis remained here until at least 1966.

I believe this photo dates from approximately 1970.

By 1985 John George Gilbert and Patricia L Ward were in residence along with Reginald William Wareing, Pat’s father.  The Wards had a lot of work done to the property during which they discovered a pair of old shoes hidden in the chimney which they replaced when the work was complete.

In 2002 David A and Sally Rolls were living here.  The property has more lately been known as October Cottage.

In 2021 the property was still named October Cottage and was still owned by David and Sally Rolls who had been here for approximately the previous 30 years.  They also owned Cottage No 16a, Goose Cottage, next door.  In 2020/21 the property was marketed by Savills at £450,000 and was described as follows in the sale brochure; 

“This is a charming semi detached cottage, built in stone and brick with white painted elevations under a thatched and tiled roof, believed to date from around 1750. The current owners, who have been resident for around 30 years, have lovingly maintained the property including adding a conservatory, fitting a new kitchen, and double glazing. The accommodation is based on a sitting room with large fireplace and bespoke fitted oak cupboards, leading through to a dining room. Beyond the dining room is the study which is also used as an occasional bedroom. Also on the ground floor is the well fitted kitchen with window to the front overlooking the village green, and a ground floor bathroom. On the south side of the cottage is the conservatory, with bi-fold doors out to, and a lovely outlook over the garden. Upstairs the principal bedroom has fitted furniture and an en suite shower room. The second bedroom also has fitted furniture and leads through to an attic room which is currently used as a sewing room, and has previously been used as a study and a children’s bedroom or nursery (restricted head height).  The property sits off the no-through village lane opposite the green and pond. To the side is the detached garage and workshop space, with power and light, plus additional gravelled parking.  There is a home office/studio in the garden, with power and light, and double glazed windows.  The gardens are a lovely feature being mainly laid to lawn, south west facing and level. There are mature and attractive beds and borders, and patio area.”.