Where was Oak Terrace?

Oak Terrace was the name given to a row of three cottages in Chitterne St Mary. They were simple dwellings with earth floors built to house farm workers from The Manor and their families. At first the three cottages were numbered 1, 2 and 3 Oak Terrace, later 101, 102 and 103 Oak Terrace.

street small
Oak Terrace then – the row of cottages on the left foreground

In recent years, as with other properties in Chitterne, the three cottages have been combined, enlarged and made-over to provide one house. This is a partial history of the creation of that house.

 

Nathaniel Gibbs, farm bailiff, brother of Edward Gibbs of Chitterne Farm, lived at 2 Oak Terrace in his retirement. In 1892 he commissioned the funeral bier that still resides in the church. He died in 1894, the same year that his neighbour Joseph Williams’ daughter Bertha married Leonard Searchfield, a painter and decorator from Heytesbury. Joseph Williams, who was  Farmer Wallis’ gardener, lived at number 1 Oak Terrace and the newlyweds moved into number 2.

Leonard Searchfield involved himself fully in the village during his long life. Besides painting and decorating he was also a well inspector, a general factotum, a churchwarden, and a member of the choir. He died aged 91 years whilst still living at Oak Terrace, probably in number 101, because in the early 1950s two of the cottages, 102 and 103, were knocked together for the newly married Laurence and Charlotte Wallis of The Manor.

Laurence and Charlotte moved in early in 1953 renaming their new abode St Mary’s Lodge. Laurence was the son of Victor Wallis who farmed The Manor. In 1962 number 101 became vacant and the Wallis’ added it to their two cottages. Laurence, Charlotte, and their daughter continued to live at St Mary’s Lodge for the next 5 or 6 years until they sold up and bought the redundant vicarage in 1967 or 1968.

view saint marys small
Oak Terrace is centre left. The triangular field between the two roads at the centre of the photo is now part of St Mary’s Lodge grounds

Subsequent owners have improved St Mary’s Lodge. The ash trees at the front of the house were felled, the floors replaced and the entrance gate with a ducks-head handle made by the local blacksmith was copied to make a matching garden gate. More recently the house has been extended, renovated and the garden enlarged by the acquisition of the old tithing field, which has provided space for a new entrance.

st-marys-lodge small
Oak Terrace now – St Mary’s Lodge

 

 

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Where was Oak Terrace?

One thought on “Where was Oak Terrace?

  1. Amanda Hutchinson says:

    Hi Sue; interesting reading! Just to say that we uncovered a 40ft well at the rear of the house which might tie in with the previous resident… we built it up after having it inspected and its a good indicator of the groundwater levels. Its a pity that we didn’t get you to see inside the house as the history is quite fascinating. There are two large Inglenook fireplaces; both of which have had bread ovens to the side. The end of the house (west end) is a mixture of cob and stone and has a red brick original floor laid on earth, which we kept. Charlotte was very house proud and made sure that I was keeping this brick well polished! This end house must have been minute as it only consists of a small room up and down. After we had been inundated by run off from the road; we stripped all the walls and floors down to the chalk and flint and re-pointed with lime; rendered and plastered with lime and painted with distemper. We discovered two more Victorian fireplaces in the process. In the back garden there must have been quite a ‘midden’ as I found various objects in glass and a bronze cloak pin.

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