This simple question turned out to be far from simple, the answer required a delve into the deeds of 93 Chapel Cottage, Bidden Lane, Chitterne.

Back in the 1970s Chapel Cottage and Coombe Cottage were semi-detached dwellings in Bidden Lane. Then twenty-odd years later the two became one house again, and the Coombe Cottage name disappeared.

I was curious to know who had split 93 in the first place so I asked the present owners, and discovered more history of the house in the process.

93 Bidden Lane in the Maidment’s time. The shop door on the right, the door to living accommodation on the left. The bakery is just visible far right.

The present owners believe that their house had an extra storey added in 1872, and the difference between the 1871 and 1881 censuses gives weight to that theory. In 1871 Ann Fry and her son Tom inhabited the building, whereas in 1881 it was occupied by Jacob Everly’s family, his sister and a servant.

Jacob Everly, a woodman from Corton, had bought the premises from George and Charles Compton in 1879 for £250 with a mortgage intending to set up a bakery and grocery shop. Unfortunately things did not go well for Jacob. His wife Sarah (nee Poolman of Chitterne) died in 1880 after the birth of their third child William, and Jacob borrowed another£50 against the shop. Meanwhile villagers were reporting that he was being contrary and not opening the shop up. Things went from bad to worse, baby William ended up an orphan at Barnardos after his father’s death, and was shipped off to Canada as a child migrant. But I digress, at census time in April 1881 Jacob and family were still living in Chitterne, but not for long.

Jacob Everly’s mortgagors, Hill and Ponting, sold the premises in May 1882 to Frank Maidment of Burcombe for £300. Unlike Jacob, Frank and his wife Rose made a great success of the shop and bakery, staying in Chitterne for the rest of their lives. The villagers must have been very relieved. Their son Charles was born in the village and eventually joined them in the business before marrying and setting up his own business in Bournemouth. In 1906, following the death of William Brown the previous village sub-postmaster, Frank took over as sub-postmaster and 93 became the home of the village post office as well as the grocery and bakery. Besides wearing all these different hats, Frank was also the Minister in charge of the Baptist Chapel next door. What a busy man.

Bidden Lane heading down towards the village centre with 92 on near left and the Post Office grocery next door

The Maidment’s reign at 93 ended after 70 years with the death of Frank in December 1952. His son Charles inherited the premises, which he sold to J M Stratton in November 1953. The shop and post office had moved up the Lane to number 65 in 1949. At this point in 1953 number 93 was still one dwelling and J M Stratton filled it with their tenants. Strattons mortgagors sold the house to K and M D Gifford in May 1972.

Very little is known about the Giffords, not even their first names, but they were the couple that split the property in two, into 93 Chapel Cottage and 93a Coombe Cottage. They lived in Coombe Cottage themselves and immediately sold 93 Chapel Cottage to Sidney Cox.

The Giffords only stayed in 93a for a year, selling 93a to Reginald and Margaret Mansell in 1973. During that year the Giffords had enlarged the garden of 93a by buying two lots of land from Wiltshire County Council (WCC).

Cottages on the right were among those demolished for road widening

WCC had been buying up cottages on the St Mary’s side of Bidden Lane since 1966 with the intention of widening the road. In 1966 they bought 7 cottages, numbers 85, 86 and 87 from Cecil W Windsor and numbers 88, 89, 90 and 91 from John K Polden, in 1970 they also bought number 92 from the mortgagors.

The widening of the road in the late 1960s allowed the Giffords and later the Mansells to extend the garden area at 93a to take in all the remaining land formerly occupied by the cottages purchased by WCC which hadn’t been used by the council to widen the road.

Back to number 93 Chapel Cottage. Sidney Cox stayed there for year and sold the house on to J M Smaggasgale, who converted the loft to provide an extra bedroom before selling again in 1975 to Richard and Yvonne Whitehouse.

The Whitehouses sold 93 Chapel Cottage to ML in 1984. M and LL also bought 93a Coombe Cottage when it came up for sale by the Mansells, after Reginald’s death in December 1994, and turned the two cottages back into one – and that concludes the tale of 93 Chapel Cottage.

My grateful thanks to the present owners for taking on board my initial simple question and for allowing me to see the many complicated deeds associated with this property.

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