Porch Cottage was once the name of the little cottage squashed between 17 Townsend and the back of 19 Townsend. It has an interesting past.

When this 1950s photo was taken, the cottage was numbered 18 Townsend and still looked like a separate dwelling. Now it is part of 17 Townsend and looks like this.

In 1771 this cottage was leased by John Till for 99 years from the owners of the Chitterne estate, the Methuen family of Corsham. In 1826 the cottage was offered for sale along with the rest of the Methuen’s estate in Chitterne. It was acquired by Warminster Union, who ran the Warminster workhouse for poor people in need, and stayed under their ownership until 1905, when William Chant bought it from them.

Earlier, widower Robert Wansborough, lived here in 1861 with his son Thomas, who was deaf and dumb. Robert died aged 77 years in 1888 but Thomas continued to live in the cottage with his sister Ann Dewey until at least 1901. He eventually moved to the Warminster Workhouse and died there in 1915 aged 82 years.

Going back to William Chant. Willie Chant was a grocer from Shrewton, who lived in Tilshead and ran a shop there. He married Maggie Smith, of the Chitterne Smith family, at the Baptist Chapel in Bidden Lane in 1905. Maggie’s parents, Jacob and Elizabeth, were also shopkeepers who already owned both 16 and 17 Townsend, and had built the grocers at number 17 between 1871 and 1881. Now the cottage came under the control of the same family, albeit owned particularly by Willie Chant, although Willie and Maggie continued living and working in Tilshead and brought up their family there.

In 1911 our cottage, number 18, was occupied by yet another member of the extended Smith family. Willie had let the cottage to Maggie’s sister, Florence Sainsbury and her husband William, who was a groom at the Racing Stables. Florence died in 1915 and the cottage does not appear in the 1921 census, nor is it mentioned by Rev Canner in his vicar’s visiting book of 1925, so maybe it became absorbed into the shop premises at that time.

However, we do know that Willie Chant sold number 18 for £50 to grocers Francis and Alice Perrett in 1932. Francis also bought numbers 16 and 17 Townsend from Henry John Smith, eldest son of Jacob and Elizabeth. So, definitely, from 1932 the little cottage has been part of the house next door.

With grateful thanks to EE who allowed me access to the deeds of her house, which informed much of this blog.

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