Tythe Cottages

There were originally four cottages here, numbered 26,27,28 & 29, but as their histories are so difficult to separate until more recent times they have been included as a single account.

The earliest date at which this piece of land is identifiable is at the time the Inclosure Act came to Norton in October 1807 when a plan of the village was completed from which the following is the relevant extract.

Inclosure Act Plan, October 1807

The Inclosure Act records the site in question as three Plots; Nos 28, 29 and 30.  Plot Nos 28 and 30 were detailed as being orchards and Plot No 29 as a ‘homestead’.  All three Plots were in the ownership of Edward Webb of Norton Court.  There is no reference to the name ‘Tythe Cottages’ at this time.

Our next valuable source of information about the village comes in the form of the Norton Poor Law Terrier of 1838.  This is a ‘terrier and valuation of the messuages, lands, and other hereditaments liable to poor rate in the parish of Norton’.  At 1838 we find what we now know as Hill Farm under the name Tythe Farm and this may be where the cottage’s name derives from.  By the time the 1844-1888, Ordnance Survey, 25” 1st Edition was released there appears to be four cottages on the site – Plot No 53 on the following extract.

1844-1888 OS 25” 1st Edition

Looking at the Ordnance Survey maps that followed there doesn’t appear to have been much change on the site through to 1939.  

                                     1894-1903 OS 25”  2nd Edition                   1898-1939 OS 25” 3rd Edition

In 1910, the Inland Revenue carried out a survey of all land and property in Britain and the results of this became known as the ‘Domesday’, or more accurately, the valuation books.  The record from this survey contains the first reference I have been able to find of these properties at Norton bearing the name Tythe Cottages.  The four cottages were inhabited by; William and Martha Stephens who were in a 4 bedroom cottage, Jeremiah Collins, Philip Cooling and Winifred Roberts were in the other three.

Using these names as a starting point it is quite likely that the cottages can be identified in the Census’ from the late 1800s, however, as the Census’ do not name the cottages, it is not possible to be certain. 

From 1881 at least, William Stephens had been the Norton Court Estate gamekeeper and had been living with his family at the Keepers Cottage above Hill Farm.  Perhaps by 1910, he had retired from this post and been moved into one of the Tythe Cottages where he was then employed as a woodsman.  Jeremiah Collins had also been in Norton prior to 1910 and was a cowman, farm labourer who must have moved here in the previous year having been at No 20 The Green in 1908.  Philip Cooling was also a farm labourer.  Winifred Roberts had been born at Norton. 

The 1901 Census lists four cottages between the entries for Hill Farm and Court Farm, surely the four Tythe Cottages.  The first was occupied by Esther Hughes, a 43 year old shirt seamstress who also had the village shop at Cold Elm later.  Then came Winifred Roberts, aged 37, who was a laundress.  Next door we find Charles and Hannah Oakley, a farm labourer and charwoman respectively.  Finally Robert and Comfort Baylis, a farm labourer and laundress respectively.

The 1908 Norton Court Estate Ladyday rentals tell us who was in each cottage.  William Stephens was in No 26 paying £7, Miss Winifred Roberts was in No 27 paying £4 4s and Charles Oakley was in No 28 but his rental is not recorded.  No 29 isnt recorded at all.

In 1915 William Stephens and Jeremiah Stubbs occupied two of the cottages.

The next definite references to these properties comes from the St Mary’s, Parish Burial Register in which we find; Jun 1923, Hannah Oakley, 98, of Tythe Barn Cottages and in May 1924, William Stephens, aged 79, of Tythe Barn Cottages.

The Electoral Registration records for Norton from this point enable us to identify many more occupants of the cottages.  These records are by no means complete and can on occasion be misleading but still give a good idea as to who was living here over the years.

In 1924 the four cottages were occupied by William, Annie and son Alfred George Henry Barnes, Ambrose and Laura Browning, Alfred Horsman, and finally Tom and Alice Wheeler, although again we do not know who lived in which cottage and it is 1947 before cottage numbers are recorded. 

In February 1927, Mary Janet Waite was buried at St Mary’s, aged 3 days, having been living at 28 Tythe Cottages.  Mary was the daughter of William and Victoria Waite.  William was born in 1891 at Sandhurst, son of Sidney Waite and Phoebe nee Pensam.  In 1901 William was living with his parents at Sandhurst and a few years later likely moved with them to Smithfield Cottage, Norton, for a few years.  William Waite, a labourer, married Victoria Maud Hawkins, a widow, at St Marys in 1924, and they lived at ‘Wainlode’ until 1930, although it is not clear if they were at Tythe Cottages for all that time.

In 1927 the Barnes, Wheeler and Browning families were all still present and things remain the same into the early 1930s. 

Esther Hughes who had left Tythe Cottages some years previously and opened a shop at Cold Elm was unfortunate inasmuch as her shop was burnt to the ground in 1935.  In a piece written by Canon Evans Prosser much later; “Miss Hughes went to live with her niece at Longford to get over the shock but she soon came back to Norton and lived in one of the Tythe Cottages, which Mr A J Cook [Court Farm] let her have, and there she opened a shop again”. 

On 31 August 1936, Frederick H Cole of Norton signed a Norton Court Estate agreement for the Tithe Cottage formerly in the occupation of the executors of Mrs Browning decd from 1 July 1936 at £18 per annum.  “It is agreed that the tenant shall provide accommodation for a gamekeeper in the employ of the landlord if at any time this is required”. There is a pencil note on this agreement saying that it was cancelled 21 August 1948.

Returning the Electoral Registers, in 1938 the Barnes’ are still here, Marjorie Browning has married Frederick Henry Cole and they are now living here and a new name Alfred Albert, a general labourer on the Norton Court Estate, and Nellie Blake also appear.

In The Citizen newspaper of 22 March 1945 I have found the following report; “Mr and Mrs A Blake, of 28 Tythe Cottage, Norton Lane, received news that their son, Bombdr L A T Blake, has been released from a German Prisoners of War Camp by the Red Army.  He is now in Allied hands and it is expected that he will soon be returning to this country.  He had been a prisoner for nearly five years.  Before joining the Army he was employed at the Staverton and Horton Road Nurseries of Messrs Hopwood and Sons”.

A few more details are available in 1939.  At No 26 were Fred, a gardener, and Marjorie Cole, who had taken in an evacuee, Barry Southall, who lodged with them before returning to Birmingham in October 1940.  No 27 was occupied by William, Annie and son Alfred Barnes with both men being employed on the Norton Court Estate and Alfred also a special constable.  No 28 was Alfred Albert, then a farm carter and Nellie Blake.  No 29 was still Tom, a stockman, and Alice Wheeler.

Denise Cole who used to live at Hill Farm and 26 Tythe Cottages from the 1940s, shared her memories with us in 2009;

“My grandmother, Ambrose Browning’s widow, had suffered a stroke and my parents moved in there to nurse her and take care of her and after my grandmother passed away my parents went on living in the cottage.  Then the wartime came along and my father was employed at Innsworth Camp as a stoker in the boiler room there.  My father also used to rent the orchard at the back of the cottage, I believe the orchard at the bottom of Hill Farm where my sign used to be for teas and accommodation, that went with the cottage and my father used to have a few sheep out there.  My mother wasn’t able to be a land girl because she was expecting me at the time and I was born in 1941 and during the time I was a little girl at the cottage down there and the war was still taking place, the American military had a rehabilitation centre in the orchard at the bottom against the hedge of the cottage.  That little orchard there, as I said, where my sign was displayed.  They had big tents there and they would have 6 weeks rest from the front line before they had to go back again.  My mother used to tell me stories of them being extremely lonely and they would come over and bring coffee over with them, sit in the kitchen and talk to my mother and father and show my parents pictures of their children and they were just fascinated there was a little girl toddling around.  I always used to have a pet lamb on a lead because my father used to have all these sheep in the paddock and my mother would say they would come to the fence and say can I have the little girl with the lamb and my father would take me over to visit them for a while.  I don’t think my mother and father seemed to go short of tea and coffee and things like that because the Americans always seemed to have a very good supply.  My father, being a butcher, always seemed to have a good supply of meat from his butchering so wartime I don’t think was too hard on them.  My mother and father also had a little evacuee boy come to stay with them.  I believe most people in the village were asked to take in a child during the wartime”.

From the 1947 Register we can say that the Barnes’ lived at No 27, the Wheelers at No 29 and the Cole’s were still present at a cottage whose number wasn’t recorded – No 26 seems most likely.  Florence Winifred 'Winnie' Jefferies was also recorded at No 29 with Tom Wheeler and she was their daughter.  Winnie had married Fred Jeffries who worked for The Citizen office.  By 1948, Fred and Marjorie Cole had moved up to Hill Farm and No 28 was occupied by Kathleen (Kitty) Cook, who was to remain here until the early 1960s.  August 1948 sees the first reference to a No 26, with occupants Gordon and Elsie Margaret Morris, who moved here from No 33 Wainlode and were still here in 1949.  Also in 1949 a Jesse Dunn was living with the Barnes’.   

The Gloucester Journal newspaper of 1 January 1949 included the following photograph of Tom Wheeler of No 29 who had just retired after working for over 50 years at Court Farm, Norton.

In June 1952 the Norton Court Estate was sold by auction and three of the Tythe Cottages were included under Court Farm as brick and tiled cottages; "Nos 27, 28 and 29 situate in the lane leading to Hill Farm.  No 27 contains: living room with fireplace, oven and sham, and cupboard, pantry with cupboard, back kitchen with fireplace, two bedrooms each with a fireplace and landing bedroom.  Nos 28 and 29 each contains: sitting room with fireplace, oven and sham and cupboard, back kitchen with furnace, larder, bedroom with fireplace and landing bedroom.  Each has a coal house, EC, pigscott and garden.  Water is obtained from a pump in common with these three cottages".

No 26 was included in the Norton Court Estate auction in its own right, separate from Court Farm, and was described as; "a well built semi-detached cottage being No 26, situate in the lane leading to Hill Farm.  It is built of brick, has a tiled roof, and contains: Living room with cupboard under the stairs, larder, kitchen with fireplace, furnace and cupboard, two bedrooms each with a fireplace and landing bedroom.  Pigscot, EC, and caol house and a good garden.  Water is obtained from a well jointly shared with the three adjoining cottages.  The assessment for rates is £8, the current half year's payment being £3 12s 8d.  Vacant possession will be given on completion of the purchase.  This Lot is sold subject to the owner bearing one quarter of the cost of maintaining the well and pump and also the gate".

By 1955 Kitty Cook was still at No 28 and in 1960 Ada M Wegg was here.  Alfred George Barnes had married Vera Betty Bradshaw in 1941 and by 1955 they were recorded as living at No 27, with Cyril C H, Emily F and Charles H Gabb, at No 29. 1962 finds William John and Ada Marion Davies, at No 26.  William John Davies died here in March 1965.  By 1966, Henry N S and Shirley Cook, were at No 29.

The Tythe Cottages [1979]

In 1979 the three cottages were put up for auction along with Court Farm.  Strangely they were described as being located at Norton Green, Twigworth, Gloucester ?  Cottage No 28 was purchased by the tenants prior to the auction and was withdrawn from the sale.  The cottages were described as follows;

“26 Tythe Cottages.  This cottage is situated about 200 yards to the west of the main farm complex [Court Farm] and comprises about .23 acres.  The cottage is the end of a terrace of three, and is constructed of brick under a tile roof.  The present accommodation is arranged to form a 3 bedroomed house, but requires modernisation before occupation.  The cottage is ideally located close to the farm, and would provide an excellent farm worker’s dwelling.  The accommodation is arranged on two floors and comprises; 2 Reception Rooms, Kitchen and Bathroom on the Ground Floor, and 3 Bedrooms on the First Floor.  The cottage is not occupied, and Vacant Possession will be given on completion”.

“27 Tythe Cottages.  This cottage is the centre unit of the terrace, and comprises about .20 acres.  It is also constructed of brick under a tile roof and is set in its own compact garden site.  The accommodation is arranged on two floors and comprises Living Room and Kitchen on the ground floor, and 2 Bedrooms and Bathroom on the first floor.  There is a concrete Single Garage in the front and a brick and tile Shed in the back garden.  The Cottage is occupied by Mr and Mrs E W V Cook on a Statutory Residential Tenancy at a rental of £18.08 per calendar month with the tenant liable for the rates”.

“28 Tythe Cottages.  This cottage is the end of the terrace of three, and is of similar construction to Nos 26 and 27, being brick under a tile roof.  The accommodation is more spacious than that of No 27 and comprises; Hall, Sitting Room, Kitchen/Breakfast Room on the ground floor, 2 Bedrooms and Bathroom on the first floor.  There is a brick Shed at the rear of the house.  The Cottage is occupied by Mr and Mrs R W Townsend on a Statutory Residential Tenancy at a rental of £23.83 per calendar month with the tenant liable for the rates”.

More recently we are indebted to Yvette Mattes (Cook), formerly of Court Farm, who purchased the cottages at auction at the time she came to Court Farm in July 1979 and who has provided the following recollections;

“I owned nos. 26 and 27 when I had Court Farm. They are known as 26, 27 and 28 Tythe Cottages. Originally it was a row of 4 cottages. At some point, before my time, the 2 nearest Fir Tree Cottage were joined together and that one is now No 28.  The middle one is No 27 which we extended very slightly at the back. The one nearest the track down to Court Farm is No 26 and we renovated and extended that considerably when I acquired the farm, so that it would be suitable for a herd manager and his family as soon as we acquired our dairy herd. The work on that was done in 1980. I think that Denise Blanchard or some of her relatives may have lived in one or more of the Tythe Cottages at some point. [This was the Browning and Cole families as recorded above].  Viv and Edd Cook (no relation to our family or Rachel Phelps's) were sitting tenants in No 27 when I acquired it in 1979.  Edd died, and then after a few years Viv moved out when we wanted it to house Brad Smith, our gamekeeper, when he got married (I'm guessing around 2000).  I sold No 26 to Tom and Emma Eastwood in 2004 when I sold the farm, they are still there [2017] and have extended it a bit more. I sold No 27 to another couple who lived there for a few years and have now sold it on. Mr and Mrs Townsend were living in No 28 when I bought Court Farm. They eventually both died and Martin and Cathy Fowler then bought it.

When I first got involved with Court Farm, all 3 cottages belonged to the Oppenheims and were for sale in the sale particulars when Court Farm was put up for sale. Shortly before I bought the farm at auction in July 1979, No 28 was withdrawn from the sale because the Oppenheims had agreed with Mr. and Mrs. Townsend (the sitting tenants) to sell it to them prior to the auction.  This was rather disappointing (for me, not them!) as, obviously, I would have liked to own the whole row of cottages even though Nos 27 and 28 had sitting tenants occupying them.

The door into No 26 is in the extension, but faces away from the road (i.e. is on the L-shape part of the house). Before we put the extension on, the door was close to where it is now (also facing away from the road) and led directly into the cottage's kitchen.  As you might be able to see on the 1979 photo, No 27 had a much bigger front garden than its frontage would rightly have given it. Edd (that's how Viv, his wife always spelt it) Cook was a keen gardener and fruit and vegetable grower; being in the middle cottage meant that he would only have had a tiny garden at the front and the small paved yard at the back. At some point (before my time) the garden space in the front of Nos 26 and 27 was divided in such a way that No 27 was given all the front garden space the road side of the front wall of No 26. It had a concrete path in it and was divided off from the garden space that was then allotted to No26 (at the side and back of No 26) by a chain link fence which ran from the front corner of No26 - this is visible in the photo if you know it is there. This meant that the lounge window (the one facing the road) of No26 looked out onto garden that was maintained by the occupier of No27. We re-organised the boundaries of the front gardens back to where they should have been after Edd Cook died, as his wife Viv didn't want to have to deal with such a large plot on her own.  After the sale of No 28 to the Townsends was agreed shortly before the auction, No 27 was changed from being a separate lot to being included in the sale of the rest of the farm; so at the auction there was only one lot to bid on, which comprised the entire farm and Nos 26 and 27 Tythe Cottages”.

In 1985 Martin R Messenger was at No 26, Edgar W and Vivien Cook at No 27, and Reginald W Townsend at No 28.


In 2002 Terry D and Wendy A Joyce were at No 26, Bradley J and Anne-Marie Smith at No 27, and Martin J and Cathy M Fowler at No 28.

Tythe Cottages [2011]