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.

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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.

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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.

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Oak Terrace now – St Mary’s Lodge

 

 

Where was Oak Terrace?

Ann Whittaker, faithful servant, becomes Mrs George

What happened to Ann Whittaker after the death of her employer Charles Morris in 1879 was an unanswered question of mine until recently. Now we know thanks to the in depth research into the George family done by H & W.

The Round House
The Round House

Charles Morris lived at my house in Chitterne from about 1815 till his death in 1879. The house is now known as The Round House, but in Charles’ time it was called Laura Cottage. In the 1841 census Ann Whittaker is listed as a servant to Charles and Charlotte Morris and their daughter Hannah Anne.

Grave of Charles Morris and family in St Mary's graveyard
Morris Grave

Ann Whittaker was born in 1819 at Nunney, near Frome, Somerset and remained with the Morris family for at least 40 years, most of her adult life. She saw the family through good times and bad. Through the marriage in 1841 of their daughter Hannah to surgeon Henry Hayward Richardson and Hannah’s return home after Henry’s early death in 1851. Through the deaths of Charlotte Morris in 1862, Hannah in 1868, and grandson Charles Richardson in 1871. Charles Morris survived them all with Ann looking after him for another 8 years until his death at age 94 years in 1879.

Charles Morris provided for an annuity in his will for his faithful servant Ann, but she had no home of her own. So in 1881 we find her lodging just a few doors away from Laura Cottage at 101 Oak Terrace (part of St Mary’s Lodge) with Joseph and Sarah Williams.

The White Hart early 20C
The White Hart early 20C

On 27 September 1882, when she was 63 years old, Ann married 66 year old Thomas George, becoming his third wife. This was the exciting find for me. I had come across Mrs Ann George in my researches but I didn’t know she was Ann Whittaker. I hadn’t connected the dots, so I thought Ann had disappeared and I was unaware how her life had panned out. But now all is clear, she married Thomas, a freeholder of Chitterne, a beer retailer and carrier at the White Hart, and a landlord of cottages. A man of some means who left Ann well provided for when he died in 1889.

Gate House 19C
Gate House 19C

In 1891 Ann was living on her own means and renting Flora Villa (Gate House) for herself and her companion, niece Martha Whittaker. Martha married James Grant in 1894 and moved to Amesbury; Ann moved with her and died there in 1899, but she was buried back here in Chitterne where she had spent most of her life.

Ann Whittaker, faithful servant, becomes Mrs George