Rose Cottage & Rose Cottage, Somerwood

These two cottages are known to be the original cottages put up at the time the land was enclosed about 1650. At this time most of the Parish west of the Walcot – Roden road was heath or woodland, and these two cottages are reputed to have been built under the custom that whatever land could be enclosed between dusk and dawn, and a chimney built through which smoke must be coming by the end of that period, was the property of the encloser.

The Lord of the Manor naturally opposed this and in the case of Rose Cottage was successful in getting the then member of the Grice family, who enclosed the land, to sign a paper, which like most people in those days he was unable to read. The paper was brought to him by the Rector of Withington, in which Parish Rose Cottage was then situated or was at the time held in plurality with Rodington.

This paper purported to be an agreement to pay tithe in cash but was more probably an agreement to pay the Lord of the Manor a sum, on condition of which the Lord of the Manor would pay the tithe. After 7 years or so this payment was demanded as rent and a tenancy created.

The Bates family, who enclosed Rose Cottage (Manley), also appear to have lost the freehold of their cottage and garden, as the Parish tithe award of 1842 shows this land in the ownership of Anne Corbet and in the occupation of Mary Dobbs – although at a later date they owned it.

Subsequently the cottage was very considerably improved and altered, mainly by Mr. A.R. Manley. It is interesting to note that the timber framework of this cottage was second hand when it was erected more than 350 years ago, and was probably old ships timber, for in those days when wooden ships were broken up many of the sound timbers were transported inland for building.

Both cottages were constructed by laying a row of large stones on the ground and laying thereon a timber beam on which a timber framework was then erected and filled with wattle and daub or brickwork; or perhaps the brickwork was done later. Both cottages were, until 1910, thatched and Rose Cottage was still so in 1950, although the thatch had been covered with corrugated iron. The accommodation of these cottages was kitchen and sitting room, with two bedrooms above; Rose Cottage had the stable also under the same roof.

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