The history of parts of the cottage building extend back for at least 300 years. It is described in the RCHME survey of houses in the Salisbury area (Ref 1, 164) as being constructed of one storey with attics, having flint walls with brick dressings and a thatched roof. The survey concluded that the house originally consisted of a range of at least three cottages, and that the middle part of the range dated from the first half of the 18th century. Closer examination of the interior of the cottage reveals that the central portion has chalk walls dating to around 1700.
Although the history of the cottage(s) is incomplete it is known to have been the home to people involved in a number of different trades or occupations, many carried out on the premises. These included dress/lace making, carpentry/wheelwrights, a Post Office, a Grocers, and a Public House.
Before looking in more detail at when people were conducting these occupations it is worth examining the importance of the house location. It sits on the junction of The Portway and the main Stratford to Salisbury Road and would have been strategically placed to attract trade passing through the village from all directions.
Some idea of the density of dwellings in the area in the mid 19th century can be seen in the map (left) which is part of a survey carried out in 1849. Farthing Cottage, formerly Moreton Cottage, (the present owners renamed it when they moved into the property nearly 25 years ago) was surrounded by quite a number of dwellings. Today only two of these still exist, The Old Laundry Cottage and Portway Cottage now called Albertine Cottage. Most of the properties existing in 1849 were removed as the village was gradually developed during the second half of the 20th century.
In the 1960’s the new houses in Shakespeare Drive were erected on the site of Blundells Garden and those in Castle Keep on the land opposite Laundry Cottage. The main road from Salisbury through the ‘dogleg’ in Stratford was widened in the 1960’s, often referred to in writings of that time as ‘road widening by the Old Post Office’. This despite the fact that the local Post Office ceased to operate from Farthing Cottage in the early 1930’s when it relocated to Graces shop at Old Sarum View on the corner of Stratford Road and Mill Lane (described in the article on Old Sarum View).
Farthing Cottage sits on one of the former burgage tenure plots of land which had their origin in the time of the first city of Salisbury. There were burgage plots either side of the Portway from Old Sarum down to the River Avon. There is an extant record (and sketch map) from c1700 which shows that at that time the land was tenanted by a Mr Wyndham (Ref 2, 66). No other information on who had the property exists until the mid 19th century when in 1849 the property belonged to a W Orchards. From this period on census records and local directories provide a picture of the occupants of Farthing Cottage and the surrounding properties through the second half of the 19th and the 20th centuries
In 1881 the Newman family lived there, George (30) a wheelwright, his wife Sabina (28), two children, and his father John (62) and an apprentice, W G Bryant (20), both wheelwrights. There was a thriving wheelwrights business in existence at this time which ties in with the onsite occasional finds of metalware and with the strategic location of the property.
By 1891 Sabina had been widowed and was now operating as a sub-Postmistress running the Stratford Post Office at Farthing Cottage (before that the PO had been in the Old Forge Cottage under the control of Mrs Augusta Titt the wife of the Smithy), this position Sabina maintained for almost 25 years until the middle of the First World War. In 1927 a Mrs M F Gray is listed as a Shopkeeper at the Cottage which by 1931 was a Grocery shop under the ownership of a Henry Taylor. At this time there were in fact two grocers shops open in Stratford, the other one being Fred Grace’s in Old Sarum View.
By the Second World War no one is listed as living in the cottage, a situation which appeared to continue until the mid 1950’s when a Mrs C Thomas was in residence. The next name against the property is a Col Wilfred Tranter from 1964 to 1966, followed by Jeremy Hunt in 1971 and Robert Bernard in 1974. The present occupants took up residence in 1987.
So what other trades or occupations are there reputed to have taken place in Farthing Cottage? It is believed that for a brief period in the late 19th/early 20th century it was a public house called ’The Bunch of Grapes’. Also at one point in its 300 year history it was home to lace making while in the mid 19th century dress making was carried out there.
Recently the present owners have decided to restore the very old, derelict, ‘small barn’ in their garden lying just beyond the south-western end of the cottage. The restoration will add yet another chapter to the long and fascinating history of the Farthing Cottage site.
1. RCHME ‘Salisbury Vol 1’, 1980.
2. Victoria County History of Wilts Vol 6, 1962.
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The article above was first published in the Friends of St Lawrence Church Spring 2012 Newsletter and appears on this website by kind permission of David James.