History of Charlton Cottage, 45, Church Street, Winsham


Charlton Cottage is the remains of a through-passage house, probably Elizabethan, if not earlier in date. 

Between Elizabethan times and Victorian times it is not certain what changes were made. In the Georgian period it is believed that the small, back bedroom was pushed out over an old cow byre, and the farm was converted from thatch to slate, by raising the eaves. This was probably done in the early 1800's, following a series of fires in the village. (See plaque over Magnolia Cottage, opposite lych- gate). This explains why the ceilings are higher upstairs than downstairs.

During this period, it was divided into two artisans' cottages; one had the front door in its present position and the second front door was reached through the side passage, and opened into what is now the kitchen, behind the shelves by the boiler.

In the 1950's, Slade, the builder, who live in the village, did a great deal of repair work on the cottage.

In Tudor times farms were much smaller than they are now. Church Street would not have been a residential street as it is now. This house, plus the houses of the immediate neighbours, to the sides and the back, would have been a large, detached, L-shaped farmhouse, housing all manner of beasts and people.

Church Farm, across the road, was another such building. Manor Farm, by the telephone box, was another. As time went by and industry came to the village, Winsham prospered and Church Street slowly filled in to become the more-or-less Georgian street it is today. Charlton Cottage must be the remains of one of the oldest buildings in the village.

Dining Room

This has a box construction beam wall (party wall). The floor beam had to be removed due to partial rot. The infill is of handmade bricks (note the "doublers"), not as old, but certainly older than Victorian because they are handmade. It is believed that they are late 17th or 18th century.

Looking towards the window there is Victorian infill between original stone pillars. This was an opening to allow access for a cart.

Under the stairs behind the rendering there are two similar pillars. One can be seen on the left, as the stairs are climbed, on the side of the niche. The present dining room was originally a covered courtyard opening to the front and back.

In the centre of the floor there is a roughly oval concrete area which, it is believed, was a well. It is approximately seven paces from the inglenook fireplace and in the opposite direction, approximately three paces to the wall. Expert advice confirms that an inglenook, which was the kitchen fire, is almost invariably seven paces from water. Three paces in the opposite direction is where the horses were probably stabled. They needed to be close to water because of the large quantities they required. At that time the next-door house (No. 47) was, in all likelihood, the stable.

The remaining flagstones are blue lias and have fossils embedded in them.

Sitting Room

A large cooking fire; various holes in the back wall show the positions of various cooking irons, spits, etc. The bread oven is of the faggot oven type. Bundles of sticks were touched alight on the main fire and thrown into the bread oven in great quantities until the oven was hot. The ashes were then scraped out, the bread put in, and the door closed. The original tar deposits from burning wood above the bread oven can be seen, as can the red colour of the stone where the ham stone has been scorched.Two signatures, dated 1796, are scratched into the inglenook wall on the left - 'J Baker' and 'W Baker.' The Bakers are an old Winsham family. The road off the recreation ground is called 'Bakersfield.' The oak beam (bressemer) probably came from an oak tree at least 500 years old. The annual rings on the end of the beam are a shallow S-shape, so figure out the original curve! If this beam is original, which it surely must be, the acorn took root the best part of 1,000 years ago! Someone who lived here over 30 years ago told us there used to be a spiral staircase rising up the side of the fireplace, which is why the landing above is now so large.The party wall is of cobb construction and original. There are cross beams in the ceiling which would look fantastic if exposed.

Kitchen

The beams in the ceiling mark the lines of the original wall of the old kitchen, now the living room. The main kitchen area was a cow byre. The cow was milked, the milk taken through the now blocked door, across the 'through passage' to the buttery. Therefore, our neighbour's house would be the wash house and buttery - the service rooms.

The passage wall contains some original timbers and, we suspect, some Victorian replacement timbers. The wall was so rotten when we moved in that only the top half could be saved. The bottom half is now a brick wall.

Rear Hall

The exposed stones were originally an outside wall, with probably a Georgian infill between the two stone pillars. This was a door, but it is much wider than would be needed for humans. They compare with the width of the stalls in the cattle fattening pens at Barrington Court, and was almost certainly an entrance for a cow . Initials are carved in the stonework by the back door.


The remains of the defense

window can be clearly seen

The beams in the ceiling mark the line of the original back door. Immediately above is the defense window - on the landing. It does not take a great deal of imagination to see the defender sitting on the spiral staircase, pushing a blunderbuss out of the aperture to defend the original back door.

Carved initials by the Back Door

 

Stairs and Landing

The dogleg staircase put in in the 1950's. The niche to the left was created from an old Victorian flue. The beams at the head of the stairs are of the original Tudor party wall. There are the remains of a chuck beam to the left. The horizontal beam is an elm replacement for a badly 'beetled' piece of lime. The rest are oak.

Where the balustrade is attached to the stone wall on the landing is a sawn-off chuck beam which matches a few pieces of wood in the outside wall of the bedroom opposite. These mark the line of one of the original A-frames that held the thatch. The stones were built up around them when the eaves were raised. The notch in the cut-off chuck beam marks the comer of the original Tudor window. There was a brick infill, now replaced, under the present window sill and to the right of the present window sill showed that the original window was long and narrow, with the thatch pitching steeply down following the line of the sawn-off piece of wood remaining on the left side of the current window recess. To the left of this sawn-off chuck beam is the defense window which was lined with Tudor plaster - the pattern was very similar to some Tudor plaster on display in The Tudor Merchants' House in Denby. Unfortunately, it has now completely disintegrated. As you look at this window, you are standing in the area that used to be occupied by the spiral staircase coming up from below.

First Front Bedroom

Plastered section of outside wall (half thickness of stone part of outside wall) was probably filled with wooden doors for the grain loft. Staining on the stones in the front corner on the right is reminiscent of staining caused by rotting grain. There is a straight line of stones approximately one metre up the wall in the back of the chimney breast (much more obvious before re-pointing). This could have been a large hollow shelf for drying grain. There are some original beams in the party wall but many have been replaced.

Master Bedroom 

This room has Victorian windows and wooden beams in the party wall are as yet uncovered. It also features a fifteenth century perpendicular style 'four-centred' arch fire place. The original mason's marks - three straight lines can be seen. It is supposition, but perhaps this stone lay unfinished in some mason's yard, perhaps because he chipped it (see bottom left of stone), until an earlier owner of the farm acquired it as a bargain and installed it. The fireplace is an integral part of the chimneybreast and fully functional . Upstairs fire places, in these old farmhouses, suggest a certain level of affluence as servants would be required to carry upstairs all the fuel necessary to keep the fire going.

The floor has two layers. Very thin Victorian boards run the length of the room and original (?) massive oak boards run the other direction underneath. These are warped, uneven and slightly worm-eaten which is why the pine floor was put down.

Back Bedroom

Fitted cupboards mask the side of walk-in storage cupboard, belonging to the next house. This probably once connected the upstairs of the two properties as a passage.

Shelving in the stonewall shows the site of an older window, blocked when found. The original wooden lintel is still in place. This looks as if it was part of an old agricultural machine, tenons at each end and a V-groove along the edge, cannibalized and thrown in the wall.

The ‘Dolls House' window of pitch pine is probably Victorian. There are some interesting scratch marks on the windowsill. A tailor lived in this house, circa-1800; some old tools, bradawls, etc, were found in the stonewall below the floor level.

The heavy stones to the right of the shelves mark the original line of the Tudor building. Above these stones in the top right hand corner of the wall, a large triangular patch of mud and straw was found. We suspect that this was part of the original insulation under the thatch. Mr & Mrs S.Weller now own Charlton Cottage. A previous owner wrote the above account in the 1980’s.No significant changes have been made to the house since.

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This page revised 23 January 2016