Cottages at Chalk Hill

I like to get the facts right, so after my last blog about Georges Terrace, which I admit I got wrong, I have been wondering where the cottages referred to in Bill Windsor’s information were.

An 1882 Conversion of Corn Rents Map and Schedule for Chitterne All Saints was recently discovered in the church vestry. It shows that the cottages owned by the Atkins family were further up the part of Bidden Lane once known as Chalk Hill. It was when I studied this map and schedule that I realised I was mistaken about Georges Terrace.

Here is a section of the 1882 map showing the plots and houses on the All Saints side of Bidden Lane (to orientate you: Number 159 at the top is Elm Farm). Notice halfway down a turning off to the right, which is the Dring, a track that nowadays leads to the allotments and the back path behind the houses. Below the Dring are two plots numbered 146 and 147, these plots are now the site of Georges Terrace, but in 1882 they were ‘gardens’, not owned by anyone called Atkins, but by Lord Long and rented from him by Benjamin Carter and John George. 68, 69 and 70 Bidden Lane did not exist in 1882.

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Part of the 1882 map showing Bidden Lane, All Saints side

John Atkins’ plot in 1882 was number 140 a little further out of the village and described as a house and 24 perches of land, rent 10 pence per annum, occupied by Thomas Grant and others.

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The part of the schedule that refers to John Atkins house and land at 140 on the map

Below, in italics, is the section I have cut from the original Georges Terrace blog that perhaps refers to number 140:

Thanks to some old documents shown to me by the late Bill Windsor we know quite a lot about the history of these cottages. One cottage in the centre was built first, date unknown, but before 1851. The old documents dating from 1871 described it as:

Cottage with 25 perches of land E of the road from Chitterne to Shrewton. Bounded on the E by garden formerly of William Whatley, but now of John Parham, N by garden formerly in the occupation of James Noyes but now of James Dyer, W by garden in occupation of John Polton (Polden).

Ann Payne (1812-1855) owned one cottage in 1851 and lived there with her three children and lodger Joseph Poolman. Ann was a dressmaker. In 1852 Ann and Joseph had a daughter together named Lucy Green, and Ann sold the cottage to Henry Atkins of Warminster for £35. The following year Joseph and Ann married and bought the cottage back from Henry Atkins.

Joseph Poolman, who was also known as Joseph Green, was born in 1827. He was an engine driver on a farm. Between marrying Ann in 1853 and her death on 31 January 1855, Joseph had built two more cottages on the site, one each side of the original building. On 17 March 1855 he sold the: “three cottages at Chalk Hill, Chitterne All Saints” to Joseph Miles for £140.

Joseph Miles, a shopkeeper from Corton, let the properties out to tenants Betty Feltham, Thomas Grant and Mary Ann Dewey. He sold the cottages to John Atkins, auctioneer of Warminster, for £80 on 25 March 1871.

One of the cottages was found to be on fire by some men working in the fields on 22 March 1884. A report in the Warminster Journal said:

Efforts were made to extinguish the flames, but it being thatched and no water near, it was a hopeless task. By the united exertions of the villagers, two adjoining cottages were saved. The cottages belonged to Mrs. Atkins of Warminster. The property is insured. The cause of the fire is unknown and will probably remain a mystery.

The mention of John Atkins in 1871 and Mrs Atkins in 1884 clinches the identification for me. The only problem left is identifying the building or site today. Where was plot 140? I believe Chalk Hill was the part of Bidden Lane from numbers 71 to 80. Comparing the 1882 map with a current planning map of Bidden Lane, plot 140 appears to have been in the area of numbers 75 – 78. Looking at the 1881 census for this area Thomas Grant, who is mentioned in the schedule as occupying plot 140, in the census lives seven houses from the top of the lane. Unfortunately we have no way of knowing if some old houses have been demolished and replaced with new, apart from numbers 77 and 78 which are definitely missing. So the answer eludes me at the moment.

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Part of Bidden Lane formerly known as Chalk Hill?

If anyone has any thoughts on where plot 140 might have been, please comment, your information would be welcome. If someone from Bidden Lane has the Atkins family mentioned in their deeds that would be perfect.

Cottages at Chalk Hill

Georges Terrace

100 years ago a row of three cottages in Bidden Lane was known as Georges Terrace. The cottages built facing up the hill at ninety degrees to the road are numbers 68, 69 and 70.

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The three cottages once known as Georges Terrace

Some time between before 1912 William Poolman, the landlord of the White Hart Inn, acquired the cottages known as Georges Terrace. He also owned six more cottages next door, numbers 62 to 67. When he died in 1912 his widow Harriet inherited these properties and in 1913 conveyed his entire estate to her step-daughters, William’s daughters Lydia Polden and Rosa Dewey by his first wife.

Arthur Spratt (1907-1992) was the owner of Georges Terrace in about 1964 when a tragedy happened. A lorry ran out of control in Bidden Lane and smashed into number 68 demolishing a corner of the cottage. Arthur’s brother Bill and his wife Daisy were inside at the time but luckily were unhurt. Bill Windsor told me how he rebuilt the end wall and chimney stack, but was amazed that the rear wall of cob had remained intact throughout the accident and rebuild.

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Number 68 after the accident in c1964

Since I first wrote this blog I have realised that I made some wrong assumptions! A recently discovered map of 1882 shows that these three cottages did not exist at that time and the gardens on the site in 1882 were owned by Walter Hume Long and used by John George and Benjamin Carter.

I hestitate to venture further opinion on who had the cottages built, but we know that Thomas George, previously the carrier at the White Hart, was a landlord of cottages too, so he may have owned these, which neatly explains the name Georges Terrace. But I stress this is only an idea! Thomas died in 1889 and maybe that’s when William Poolman acquired them, as mentioned above.

Georges Terrace