Rosemont Cottage (Montrose, Norton Court Estate Cottage No 14)

As you head towards Yew Tree Farm from The Green at Norton you pass a row of adjoined cottages on your right just before Yew Tree Cottage - No 176 on the following map. This building is now three separate houses but it wasn’t always that way. The property appears to have begun life as a two messuages, was later a single property before it became the three cottages that are here now.  The three cottages share their early history so this will be repeated in each account.

The earliest reference I have been able to find concerning a property on this site is with an Indenture dated 10th May 1662 between Dame Gertrude Anderson of the parish of St Martyn in the Fields in the County of Middlesex, widow, of the one part and Judith Mills of the parish of Norton in the County of Gloucestershire for the other part. The Indenture talks about a property that was “…formerly in the occupation of Walter Mills and now in the possession holding or occupation of the said Judith Mills”.

A slightly later document tell us that Judith Mills, widow of Walter, and her son Walter, took out a 99 year lease on the property in what the document refers to as the fourteenth year of the reign of King Charles II. This was possibly 1663 but King Charles I was executed in 1649 and the Parliament of Scotland proclaimed Charles II as the new King. The English Parliament ruled this proclamation unlawful as the country entered the period known as the Interregnum or Commonwealth where the country became a republic under Oliver Cromwell. Charles was defeated in battle at Worcester in 1651 and fled the country where he remained in exile for the next nine years. Cromwell died in 1658 and in 1660 Charles returned to this country to rule. After this date, it is said that all legal documents were dated as though Charles had succeeded his father directly in 1649. From this final comment we can assume therefore that the 14th year of King Charles II was most likely 1663. The lease was for “… all those two messuages or tenements with their appurtenances lying and being in Norton aforesaid sometime in the tenure holding or possession of one Arthur Mauncell … and then of the said Walter Mills…”. The document goes on to tell us that “… Walter Mills and Judith his wife and Walter Mills their son …” were paying a “… yearly rent of four pounds…”.

A Gloucester Diocese case of 21 February 1625 tells us a little more about Walter Mills. He was born at Stonehouse in approximately 1575, had come to Norton at the turn of the century, and was employed as a weaver, a trade that was to continue through the family for a number of generations. So if Walter Mills had been living at this property from approximately 1600 then Arthur Mauncell's period of occupancy would have been earlier in the 1500s.

Judith Mills died in 1665 and left a will in which she stated “… I give and bequeath to my son John Mills his heirs and assigns forever all that messuage or tenement with the appurtenances wherein I now dwell situate lying and being in Bishops Norton aforesaid together with all houses outhouses barns stables gardens and orchards thereunto belonging or in any wise appertaining…”.

The property is described in much more detail some twenty years later in an Indenture of sale dated 13th March 1685 between “…Thomas Mills of Norton weaver and William Mills yeoman, brother of the said Thomas Mills, of the one part and Edmund Holder of Norton, husbandman, of the other part … for the sum of forty pounds … all that messuage tenement or house commonly called or known by the name of B???house situate and being in Norton now in the possession holding or occupation of Thomas Mills … and also those two parcels of ground planted with fruit trees and now lying and being an orchard and adjoining next to the said house … and to the whole by estimation three quarters of an acre or thereabouts … and all lying next to the highway in Norton leading between Gloucester and Tewkesbury … which said premises are part or parcel of the Manor of Bishops Norton…”.

The property may have left the Mills family at this time but their name was to crop up again later as the name given to an adjoining orchard.

We have a gap in our knowledge then for the next 100 years until 17th June 1801 when a Joseph Cox sold the property to Robert Bompass for £260. Robert Bompass (the elder) was a dyer living at Bodlam Mill in the parish of Swindon and was married to Ruth. “This Indenture made the seventeenth day of June in the forty first year of the reign of our sovereign Lord George the third by the grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland King defender of the faith and so forth and I the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and one. Between Joseph Cox of Blacknest in the County of Berkshire, housekeeper, (nephew and heir at law of Walter Cox late of Longford in the County of Gloucester, joiner and cabinet maker who died intestate and also eldest son and heir at law of Thomas Cox… All that messuage or tenement wherein Judith Mills, mother of William Mills, formerly dwelt and since in the possession of the said William Mills…. And also two gardens and one orchard heretofore divided into two but now lying together in one to the said messuage or tenement belonging… being in Bishops Norton…”.

Robert Bompass appears to have had problems maintaining the mortgage on the property and contemporary documents are a little confusing. He firstly appears to have borrowed £200 from Elizabeth Hooper of Cheltenham. By 27th May 1802 Robert Bompass (the elder) was living at Cockleford Mill in the parish of Cobberley, at which time he appears to have sold the mortgage on the house to a John Humphris, yeoman of Charlton Kings. On 11th February 1803 the mortgage was sold on again to John Withorne Esq and Mr Richard White and later again to John Phelps of Minsterworth.

The Inclosure Award describes his plots as follows;

“No 83 - House and Garden. 1 rood and 4 perches, land not awarded.

 No 81 - Orchard. 1 acre, 1 rood and 14 perches, land not awarded.

 No 82 - Allotment in Bradley Field, land awarded".

"Unto and for Robert Bompass. All that piece or parcel of land in Bradley Field, No 82, containing 2 acres, 1 rood and 11 perches, bounded on the North West and part of the North East by Law hereinafter awarded to the said Edward Webb, on the remaining part of the North East by an allotment hereinafter awarded to Robert Barnard, on the South East by an old inclosure belonging to the said Robert Bompass and on the South West by an allotment hereinafter awarded to the said Walter Williams”.

Robert Bompass finally ended his association with the property on 6th April 1808 when he sold the property to Pearson Ballinger, a cordwainer of Gloucester.

Pearson left a Will bequeathing “all and singular my freehold messuage or tenement and premises situate at Bishops Norton” to trustees for the benefit of his wife Sarah. The trustees were instructed that they should; “immediately or at such other time or times after my decease as he or they shall in his or their own discretion think proper sell and dispose of by public auction or private contract all and singular my messuage or tenement and premises”. This wish appears to have been carried out. The Gloucester Journal newspaper of 11 July 1814 reported that due to another sale that had already been arranged near the premises, the auction of Pearson’s estate would be postponed from the 12th to the 19th July and the report provides an account of what the sale of the “Compact freehold Estate, growing crops, and household furniture” actually included;

“All the neat and clean household furniture and effects consisting of four-poster bedsteads and furniture, prime seasoned feather beds, blankets, sheets, quilts, counterpanes, and table linen; mahogany and other tables, chairs and wash-hand stands, pier and swing glasses, excellent eight-day clock and case, very good copper furnace; a complete assortment of kitchen requisites, amongst which is a highly polished range grate, also a variety of brewing articles, casks, trams, &c, &c. The Estate will be offered for sale precisely at four o’clock in the afternoon, after which the whole of the growing crops will be sold in suitable lots; likewise the live and dead stock on the farm. To commence with the sale of the household furniture at the hour of ten in the forenoon. All persons having claim or demand on the late Mr Ballinger, are requested to send in their accounts to Mr Ballinger, at the Malt Shovel, Barton Street [Tewkesbury] or to Mr Creed, Appraiser, &c, Westgate Street, Gloucester; with either of whom those indebted to the deceased are required forthwith to settle what they may be indebted to the Estate”.

On 29th August 1815 occupation of the property was granted to John Baylis, yeoman of Norton. The mortgage was still changing hands and on 1st September 1815 it was sold on to Thomas Rudge then on 5th November 1825 from Thomas Rudge to John Lewis. By 1830 the property was two houses. John Baylis died in February 1832 leaving a widow, Hannah.

In a 'Terrier and valuation of the messuages, lands, and other hereditaments liable to poor rate in the parish of Norton' from 1838, there is a reference to Plot No 83, that appears to indicate there were three properties on the site. The plot was owned by Henry Baylis, son of John and Hannah, and was partly a house and garden let to Henry Cox, partly a house and garden let to Josiah Bartlett but also a Methodist Chapel let to James Grimes. It is not known how long the property had been used as a chapel but it would likely have ceased when, on 10 July 1841, it was recorded in Diocesan records that “...a Chapel recently erected near The Green, in the parish of Norton is to be used as a place of religious worship by Protestant Dissenters...” and the purpose built Methodist Chapel opened its doors.

The 1841 Census reveals that there was a Henry Cox, a 65 year old agricultural labourer, living alone at Norton at this time although it is not clear where he lived. Josiah Bartlett's name crops up at numerous properties around the village around this time but James Grimes hasn’t been identified again.

By 1845 the property had definitely completed its development from a single house into three houses and on 19th July 1845 Henry Baylis, son of John Baylis, yeoman, formerly of Minsterworth but now of Norton, and his wife Anne, appear to have sold the property – “…three cottages and orchard called Mills Orchard and gardens thereto containing about two acres and also a piece of arable land in Bradley Field No 82 on Norton Award Plan containing two acres one rod and eleven perches and all commons, common of pasture, etc…” - to Elizabeth Francis Webb and into the Norton Court Estate. This appears to be confirmed by an auction sale advertisement from 1845; “To be sold by auction, by Mr R Weaver, on Tuesday, the first day of April next, at four o’clock in the afternoon, at The Fleece Inn, in the city of Gloucester, subject to the conditions of sale which will be then produced :- All that well-built messuage, tenement, dwelling house, barn, and mill house, with the garden orchard, and piece of arable land, in the occupation of Henry Baylis. And also, two other cottages or tenements, and gardens, adjoining the before-mentioned premises, in the occupation of Richard Leach and George James; the whole of which are freehold of inheritance, and contain together four acres and three-quarters, or thereabouts, and bounded on the northward side thereof by lands of Miss Webb, and the southward side thereof by lands of – Wilkins, Esq, and are situate in the said parish of Norton”.

A survey of the Norton Court Estate from 1864 records the same names; "Henry Baylis, his two sons and wife. George James, wife and one child. Richard Leach, wife and five children at home. The three last families reside under one roof at Baylis' near Norton Green".

The cottage nearest The Green became Estate No 14 and between approximately 1843 and 1905 it was in the occupation of George James and his wife Mary Anne who helped to run a successful family chairmaking business in the village.

George was born at Tewkesbury on 9 January 1819, most likely the son of William and Ann James, chairmakers at 98 High Street. At some time in the 1830s, George and his brother William came to Norton and established a chairmaking enterprise in the village that was to thrive over the following 60 years. George married Mary Anne Phelps at Norton in 1843, and by 1851 the couple were living with new born son Reuben, at The Green, presumably in the house where they were to remain for their entire married lives. Mary Anne died on 11 July 1904, George on 7 August 1905 and they have a memorial at St Mary’s, Norton, along with their daughter Fanny. The headstone records that it was erected by their son Reuben, ‘of Canada’. [Reuben was born on 11 November 1849 and appears to have emigrated in 1871. By 1881 we find him married to Emma, nee Williams, and living with 4 children at Toronto, Ontario. At the time, he was employed as a bartender which seems a strange profession for someone who also declared himself a Methodist. Later he appears to have taken to farming. By 1901 the family were living at Peel, Ontario. Reuben died, as a result of heart disease, on 3 July 1925, at East Luther, Dufferin, Ontario].

The Citizen newspaper of 8 August 1905 reported the following; “By the death of Mr George James, The Green, Norton, which occurred on Monday, the village loses one of its oldest and most highly respected parishioners. Deceased, who had reached the ripe old age of 86 years, was wonderfully active until a few months ago, but the loss of his wife was a severe trial, and practically started the break-up in his general health. The whole of deceased’s married life, extending over 60 years, was spent in the house where he breathed his last, and a more devoted couple it would be impossible to meet. The old gentleman, who was a regular subscriber to the Gloucester Journal, was most interesting company, for he was a keen observer, and kept himself well versed in all the leading topics of the day”.

In 1908 No 14 was occupied by Mrs Eliza Stubbs who paid £4 10s to the Norton Court Estate at the Lady Day Rentals.

In 1931/32 Shadrack and Kate Lake were here briefly before, on 26 October 1933, Rice Duck of The Forge, Treddington, signed an agreement with the Norton Court Estate to occupy the cottage from 1 November 1933 at £10 per annum payable monthly. “The tenant of cottage Estate No 13 shall have the right to use the washhouse attached to the cottage hereby let on each Monday and possibly one other day in the week as may be arranged. The cottage shall be used as a dwelling house only and not as a shop”. The Duck family moved to Norton Court Estate Cottage No 16 in 1937.

In 1939 No 14 was occupied by Ernest Howard, a motor driver, and Annie Kathleen Meecham. On 1 April 1948, Henry and Violet Pauline Ann Parsons signed an agreement with the Norton Court Estate to occupy the cottage from 1 January 1947. At that time it was confirmed that the cottage had formerly been occupied by Mr Meecham. Mr and Mrs Parsons' rent was set at 16s 8d payable monthly.  

In 1947 No 14 was also the home of Edward William Hooper and in 1948 Edward Hooper was still there with Harry and Violet Parsons.  Henry Parsons died at No 14, aged 75 years, in March 1949.  Edward Hooper married Violet Parsons at St Mary's, Norton, in 1949 and the house became their home. 

In June 1952 the Norton Court Estate was sold at auction and the brick built, tiled roofed, cottage was described as follows; “Living room with cupboard under stairs, larder cupboard, back kitchen with furnace and two bedrooms each having a fireplace.  Coal shed, EC, and garden.  ... water is obtained from a well and pump common to the three cottages" (Nos 12, 13 and 14)”.  It was occupied by Mrs Hooper.

It was still home to the Hoopers in 1963 at which time it also bore the name ‘Montrose’ for a number of years.

Much has happened to this property since 1952 although it is still No 14 The Green. I went to see this property in approximately 1975 when it was up for sale. As I remember, the house was near derelict and didn't look as though it had been lived in for a while.

In 1985 the house was occupied by Barrie W and Pamela J Jackson and their children Sally A and Nicholas P.

Was marketed by Alder King, Black Horse Agencies, in February 1991 at £119,000 (offers); "Modernised retaining wealth of character, 3 receptions, 1/5 acre plot".

In 2002 Ursula L Markham was in residence.

In 2019 the property was named Rosemont Cottage, marketed by Farr & Farr at £475,000 and was described as follows in the sale brochure; “Rosemont Cottage offers highly practical and surprisingly light accommodation which has been beautifully modernised over the last 8 years within the current ownership. All 3 bedrooms are of a good size, the bathroom is large and to the ground floor 24’ sitting room which has aspects to the East and West. Additionally there is a study/music room as well as a dining hall and highly practical and very comprehensively fitted kitchen which adjoins the Westerly facing rear garden. The origins of the property date back to the late 18th century (well in excess of 200 years) but various sympathetic extensions have taken place over the years to give large and highly practical accommodation”.