Estimated reading time: 28 minutes
The Buildings is a row of six workers cottages which have stood for just over two hundred years. During this time they have seen many families come and go, some staying longer than others.
All these families have played their part in the history of the village, and all take their place in the rich tapestry which is Stinchcombe.
This article covers just a tiny part of the past lives and events of the The Buildings. If readers of this article wish add to this story, please contact Roger Batty who would be very pleased to hear from you.
The New Buildings
From the early 1800’s, documents found at Gloucestershire Archives show “The Buildings” as they are now known, were in their early days referred to as “The New Buildings”.
Eventually over time “New” disappeared and “The Buildings” became their official postal address.
The Buildings story begins in during the reign of George III in 1817, this being the date the first 4 cottages in the row were built.
The building continued in 1819 with the addition of numbers 5 and 6 to the row.
They were possibly built by the Mabbett Family, an important and wealthy landowning family within the village. An 1839 tithe map shows the land on which The Buildings stand was owned by the Mabbett Family.
Marriage of Brick and Stone
Man-made Brick had been used as a building material for centuries but the in the Georgian period it saw considerable expansion of its use for both rural and urban workers as well as the privileged homes.
The Buildings are a marriage of brick and stone. Local Brick and locally quarried stone. Numbers 1 & 2 have a brick exterior front and back with locally quarried stone used on the interior of this brick face giving a total wall thickness varying between 13 – 15 inches, 33 – 38cm.
This is also likely to be the case for numbers 3 & 4 but as the back of these properties have been rendered so the original outer walls there are not visible.
Numbers 5 and 6 which were built 2 years later in 1819, using brick as a facing only on the front of the buildings, the back of the properties are just local quarried stone.
Different Brick Types
Two distinctly different brick types have been used in the construction of The Buildings.
The bricks used on the outer brick face of Numbers 1 – 4 built in 1817 appear to be handmade from local clays.
Bricks used on number 5 and 6 built in 1819 are evenly sized and a familiar red colour.
Numbers 1 – 4
This variety of colour and folds in the clay of the brick used on properties 1 – 4 has shown from research to be indicative of local handmade bricks fired in a Clamp . The colour of the fired brick is also dependent on several factors. The red colour usually associated with bricks comes from iron in the clay. Clays with a higher lime content will produce white, cream, or yellow bricks. Many of the bricks used in 1 – 4 have this cream and yellow colouring.
This handmade method would also account for the difference in finished size of these bricks which vary in length from 8”/ 20cm to just under 9” / 23cm long. Different mixes of clay and temperature of firing within the clamp would have had an impact on the size and colour of the finished item.
Numbers 5 – 6
The brick used for the front face of the exterior of the two later builds, numbers 5 and 6 show a regular size and even colored red brick.
This may mean they were sourced from a brickwork’s that had access to iron rich clay and probably using a modern (for its day) kiln dryer. Kiln drying enabled a more consistent, even firing temperature, all of which was to be the starting block for mass production of bricks for the coming Victorian industrial era.
Itinerant brick makers were legion before to bricks began to be made made on an industrial scale.
These roving workers would move to an area where a large building project was to be undertaken and would be employed when transportation of bricks via horse and cart would have been too difficult or expensive.
They would arrive, set up camp, dig and wash the clay, make and fire the bricks in a clamp. and sometimes employed to lay the bricks too.
This manner of making bricks may have been used for numbers 1 – 4 hence the variety of colour and size..
The search for local brickworks
Brickworks local to Stinchcombe when The Buildings were built were few, those found to date are as follows..
A record of a brickworks at Gloucester in 1659 owned by Phillip Greene,
Brickmaking in was also happening at Frampton on Severn from 1746. In 1775 it is recorded they were selling bricks for 8 shillings a thousand.
Slimbridge History Society have kindly allowed us to use a reference taken from Slimbridge vestry minutes dated 1786 to a brickworks on or close to The Warth. There is a field close to The Splatt alongside the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal called The Brickfield
At a vestry meeting held this day it was agreed to put a stop to the present practice of making bricks (for sale outside the Parish of Slimbridge) on that part of the common called The Splatt or on any other part of the common of the said Parish and also prevent in future persons not being inhabitants of the said parish from trespassing with Wain or Carts or other Carriages on Slimbridge Warth. And for that purpose we do herby agree on behalf of ourselves and other persons paying to the poor to prosecute with the utmost vigour of the law such persons as shall trespass in the manner aforesaid. And to advertise the above resolution in the Gloster Journal. Signed Church Wardens and Overseers.
One Family or Two
Some residents of The Buildings believe the cottages as they stand now may have originally been built to house two families. There are various characteristics which point to this within in our own cottage and mirrored in others
Our first question was why a small cottage would have two separate loft hatches.
The reason for this and other clues found during our renovation has lead us to think that maybe these cottages were indeed once intended as dwellings for two families.
I hope the following will explain.
The diagram above shows how we think the floor plan of Number 1 would have looked when first built which is pretty much as it is now minus the stairs in room B..
Each of the 2 original downstairs rooms either side of the corridor has a large high open fireplace, of the type that would have originally housed some type of range fire ,
We discovered the first of two identical range size fireplaces when we removed and old gas fire from room B and looking into the resulting gap in the wall, we saw the possibility of opening up the fireplace.
The end result is shown in the image below. This shows the original size of the fireplace complete with the original cast iron bracing strip across the top of the opening.
A second fireplace of the same size was discovered in room A on the opposite side of the central corridor when the pine paneling was removed from around the walls
We thought it unlikely that a large range size fireplace like this would exist on both sides of the ground floor if originally built as a single dwelling house.
Steps and Stairs
Staying with the two ground floor rooms, we know from the previous occupants that the stairs accessed from room A were originally winding in design and were behind a door in the corner of the room.
The stairs in number 1 were straightened out in recent years to accommodate a stairlift but other cottages still have these steeply winding stairs.
Room B had an area in the back left corner of the ceiling which had a square formed by the main cross beam and a shorter piece of wood going between this beam and the wall forming a square.
This square may have been a hatch opening for stairs or steps to go to the upper floor of that side of the dwelling. Similar stairs are shown within this water colour image from the early1800’s. This method was often used in one up one down rural workers dwellings of this era.
The stairs from room A opened out onto a landing with a small window overlooking the garden and with a doorway on the opposite side of the landing leading to a bedroom with a small fireplace. There would have been a solid wall at the end of this landing ( 15” thick) with room B on the other side.
This wall would have been opened up when / if the dwellings were combined.
The upstairs room on side B is now divided into two smaller rooms with the dividing wall ending central to where the fireplace would have been..
This brings us back to the two loft hatches. Taking that the above description of two dwellings becoming one theory is correct, this would probably explain the two loft hatches.
There is a loft hatch above side A and side B. This two dwelling theory continues with a substantial wall separating these two halves in the loft space.
As a final example this plan taken from the sale document of The Buildings in 1890 shows number 3 still as a divided property..
Unfortunately number 3 was internally gutted and re designed some years ago so has lost most of its original layout
Inside Number 3
I was fortunate enough to be able to speak to two people, Cherry Payne and Aly Langford who are relatives of the Hawkins family that lived at number 3.
They have personal and family recollections of Francis / Frank Hawkins (Father) and Queen Hawkins (Daughter) .and were also able to sketch out a few of the original property details.
It was confirmed that Number 3 originally had a corridor through from front door to back door the same as the other cottages in the row.
Sadly Aly and Cherry can only give details of the room through the door on the right of the corridor walking in from the front door which was called “The Parlour”.
Cherry recalls that the fireplace in the parlour housed a type of small cast iron range with a central open fire raised from floor level and an oven with a hotplate on the top.
The range shown below is similar to that description and I think would have been around the correct size to fit within the original fireplace we have in number 1.
Cherry also has memories of Queen boiling up potato peelings in a large pot on the hot plate of this range to feed to the chickens. she recalls sitting in this parlour on a summers day sweating buckets (Cherry’s words) while this pot was boiling away
Aly tells a story of Francis and Queen keeping chickens on land where the Village Hall now stands. There was apparently quite a kerfuffle when the chickens were evicted to make way for it.
Sadly there are no recollections of the room to the left side of the corridor which is a great shame as number 3 had some sort of shared housing with number 2 for the wash house. It would have been interesting to know how this all fitted together.
An extract taken from an Indenture regarding number 2 reads.
And also the right in common with the owners of number 3 The Buildings to use the wash house lying behind such last mentioned cottage (number 2.)
The image below showing the long slim tiled roof to the centre of the picture is where the wash house used to straddle the boundary of number 2 and number 3.
Come Into The Garden
The gardens attached to The Buildings were once exceptionally long. On an 1838 estate map and also the 1847 Tithe map it shows they extended to the top of Street Farms lower field as shown below.
The long version of the gardens shown on the left.
By 1881 the gardens had been reduced to the size they are now as the diagram on the left shows .
When the gardens were shortened and possibly as some compensation for loss of land, brick-built structures were erected at the far end of the gardens and are referred to on conveyance documents as Piggeries.
A Map of 1881 shows the Piggeries were built across the top of adjoining gardens with an area to the front which may have been an open yard area to pen the livestock.
Just one part of these Piggeries remain which is in the garden of number 2. There is a metal brace running from the front wall to the back wall on the far left of the Piggery. I assume this brace was put in place when when the section of piggery in the garden of number 1 was demolished to hold the walls together.
Small buildings alongside the piggeries are also shown on the 1881 map, these could have been the home of the privies.
The well lies within in the grounds of number 3 and served all 6 cottages.
The following extract is taken from an Indenture relating to Number 2 The Buildings.
All that cottage or tenement with the garden ground and outbuildings thereto adjoining and belonging called or known as number 2 The Buildings and now in the occupation of James Woodward and together with the right in common with the owners and occupiers of the other cottages known as The Buildings and all times hereafter to take water from the well at the rear of number 3 The Buildings for supplying the cottage and buildings herby assured. And also the right in common with the owners and occupiers of the said adjoining cottage known as number 3 The Buildings to use the Wash House lying behind such last mentioned cottage and the cottage hereby assured such right being respectively subject to the payment by the purchaser and persons drawing title under here of a proportionate part of the cost of keeping in repair the said well and the tackle for drawing the water therefrom and half the cost of keeping the said washhouse in repair.
I am told by the current residents of number 3 that the well has a Cotswold Stone base and was topped by a carved stone well head.
Cherry recalls that the well had a roof and winding mechanism for drawing water up in a bucket and looked very much like the typical story book wishing well.
The well is no longer in use and is covered over for safety reasons.
As mentioned in a previous section, straddling the present-day garden boundary of numbers 2 and 3 was the wash house. We cant say for certain how the interior of this wash house looked up but the image below gives some idea of how it may have been set out with a fire to heat the boiler.
The Bread Oven
In 1957 the villagers of Stinchcombe contributed to a book of recollections and stories all about the the village and its occupants , I am grateful to them for making a small observation regarding The Buildings which says, ” At the back of The Buildings there was a bread oven for all the cottagers to use”
The exact location of the bread oven is not know for certain but there is a small brick building in the grounds of number 5 which could have been a possible home for it.
Right of Way
A right of way pathway still exists along the back of the cottages from North to South and out onto the public road by Street Farm.
At the time of sale of The Buildings in 1890 an indenture refers to a strip of allotment land included in the sale which ran alongside the garden of number 1 and the road leading up to Stinchcombe Hill..
Not included in this sale was the Shed or Building in the occupation of Isaac Woodward as a yearly tenant at the rent of 2 shillings.
It could be possible that the afore mentioned Isaac Woodward is the same Isaac Woodward who later took the post of Stinchcombe sub-Postmaster and began his Grocery business from this little shed building.
1871 Census , Isaac Woodward, single living with parents, occupation Grocer.
1881 Census, Isaac Woodward, occupation Sub Postmaster and Grocery shop on The Street.
In 1837, notice was given in a local newspaper that Turnpike Trustees were calling for a meeting.
A SPECIAL MEETING of the TRUSTEES acting for Wotton Under edge division of turnpike roads will be held at the Red Lion Inn Newport on the 13th of March for the purpose of considering and making orders for the deviation of certain roads and erection of additional TOLL-GATES proposed (fast forward here) a Toll Gate at Stinchcombe at or near certain houses there called” The New Buildings” adjoining Hill Lane.
Meeting held at The Swan Inn Wotton Under Edge.
In July 1838, the Stinchcombe Toll Gate was in place just outside number 1 The Buildings and ready to be let by auction to the best bidder.
This section of an old estate map from 1838 shows this gate now in place, to the right of the map.
I believe this gate was only there for a short time, possibly until The Avenue was made ready for traffic at which point gates were erected on Taits Hill and The Dursley Rd.
While the Stinchcombe Gate was in place, the toll keeper would have required somewhere to operate from so maybe the small building rented by Isaac Woodward mentioned in the previous section “Woodward’s Grocery Shop” was originally put there for the Toll Keeper to station him or herself. Questions questions.
Some Past Occupants of The Buildings.
The Woodward’s were a prolific family in Stinchcombe over many generations and pop up in all areas of village life. They were an industrious family holding many important village posts and trades through the years.
There were Masons, Wheelwrights, Builders, Surveyors, Postmaster, Church Wardens, and Bell Ringers among their number,
Various branches of the Woodward tree have occupied at least 4 of The Buildings cottages. There seems to be a pattern of Woodward children taking over tenancies when parents become old and widowed with the parent continuing to live with them.
This makes for very confusing work in attempting to work out who lived where and when. This even more so because the Woodward’s seem to populate most parts of the village. Census gatherers only recorded workers dwellings as cottages with very few reference’s as to where the cottage actually was..
The Woodward’s at Number 1 in 1911
1911 Census, occupants of Number 1
Walter Woodward, Head, Age 52, Mason
Louisa Jane, Wife, Age 49,
Gerald Francis Woodward, Son, Age 28, Occupation Belt man sheep shearing factory.
Percy Herbert Woodward, Son Age 22, Occupation Cloth Carrier for Cloth Mill
Lucie Annie Woodward, daughter, Age 19,
Victor Julian Woodward, Son, Age 14, Occupation Teasel Carrier in Cloth Mill
Elsie Matilda Woodward, Daughter, Age 13, Scholar
Hector Robert Woodward, Son, Age 10, Scholar
Elizabeth Woodward, (Walters Mother), Age 81, Widow. She had 15 Children Born, and 3 Died
Sale from Professor Edward Granville Browne to Mr Walter Woodward, Occupation, Mason, of 1 The Buildings.
On 18th Oct 1923,Walter Woodward purchased his home, number 1 The Buildings.
Purchase price £140.00
The Mason Line
Walter Woodward’s occupation on the 1923 sale document was Mason.
Further research has shown that this had been in his occupation since the age of 12 when he was a Masons boy to his father Walter Woodard, he in turn had been a Mason since becoming a Masons labourer from the age of 15 to his father David Woodward and this may well have continued further back in time.
It was quite common in days gone by for trades to be taught and passed on through successive generations. What better way to learn your craft and earn your place in village life.
The Woodward’s at number 2 in 1901
1901 Census occupants living at Number 2
John Woodward, Head, Age 62, Farm Labourer, Born Stinchcombe.
Charlotte Woodward, Wife, Age, 61, Born Berkeley.
James Woodward, Son, Age 20, Worker, Born Stinchcombe.
1911 Census occupants living at Number 2
1911 shows James Woodward, John and Charlotte’s son, still living at number 2 but there as head with his wife and 2 children. His his father John Woodward had died and his mother Charlotte then a 71 year old widow was living with them, .
James Woodward, Head, Age 30, Tinsmith (Listers) Born Stinchcombe
Alice Rose, Woodward, Wife, Age 28, Born Dursley, Children 4 Born 2 Living children
Ena Alison Woodward, Daughter, Age 3, Born Stinchcombe
Cecil John Woodward, Son, Age 2, Born Stinchcombe
Charlotte Woodward, Mother, Age 71, Widow, Born Berkeley
The Hawkins Family of Number 3 in 1884
The head of the Hawkins family was Francis / Frank, born in Hardwicke 1858. The family are recorded as arriving at number 3 somewhere between the 1881 and 1891 Census but probably in 1884..
Francis married Mary in 1884 in Dublin Ireland where Mary’s family came from. They met in India where Francis was there as groom to Colonel Browne of Piers Court and Mary was in India with her family. Mary’s father was stationed in there.
They had fond memories of their time in India so much so that the front door of number 3 proudly displayed the name Kasauli (also spelt Kasouli) which was a Cantonment established by the British Raj in 1842. Kasauli being where Francis and Mary met.
They had 9 children, 5 sons and four daughters, all born in Stinchcombe. Francis continued to live at number 3 until his death in 1956 age 98.
Mary his wife died in 1932 aged 72 but Francis went on to live a long and active life in the community.
He was very keen on entering local produce shows with his vegetables and flowers, and won numerous prizes. His close neighbours the Woodward’s were also well known for entering local shows and also regularly winning prizes so I expect quite a lot of friendly rivalry went on between them.
The news clipping above dating from 1896 reports prize winners from the annual flower show. You will see Francis is there along with numerous Woodward’s.
An Embarrassing Moment
In 1897 Francis found himself in the Dursley petty sessions up in front of his employer Col. Browne but it seems he was in good company, the previous week a Justice of the.Peace and the Rector of Dursley were fined for the same offence as the following newspaper excerpt from 1897 tells
Petty Sessions Dursley August 1897
Yesterday, before Capt. Graham, (Chairman), Col. Browne. Sir Chas, Prevost, Bart, Mr. J H Borrer and Mr. W Phelps. Thomas Wm Croft, grocer of Dursley, Francis Hawkins, Groom of Stinchcombe, and Arthur Geo Hunt, Schoolmaster of Dursley were each fined 2s 6d for contravening the Dog Muzzling Order. At the last session four defendants including Mr. Phelps J.P and the rector of Dursley Rev N W Gresley were fined 10s each for a similar offence, but the magistrates now reduced the fines to 2s 6d it having since come to their knowledge that they were imposing heavier fines that any other bench in the country, the practice being to only inflict a fine of 2s 6d.
In 1897 the Dog Muzzling Act order was passed.
Francis was one of the first of a team of village bell ringers which formed to ring the new St Cyr’s Church Bell’s after their dedication c1880’s and continued as a bell ringer for many years. He was also a member of the church choir and continued to be so until over the age of 90.
Queen, daughter of Francis and Mary whose real name was Isobel Catherine ,has been described by her family as being quite a formidable lady and village character.
Cherry recalls Queen’s father Francis, fondly referring to Isobel as “My little Queen” this became the name by which she was to be known by thereafter .
Queen spent her early adult years working away in service and later closer to home within the village, this including time with the Browne’s at Piers Court.
She lived and worked the rest of her life in Stinchcombe looking after her father Francis until his death.
Cherry recalls that Queen died in 1982 at Henlow residential home Dursley where she spent her latter days..
The Woodward’s at Number 4 in 1881
Number 4 was yet another cottage at one time occupied by members of the Woodward family.
In 1881 David Woodward, Head, Widow, Age 75, Mason, was living alone at number 4.
This David Woodward was the father of the David Woodward, who in 1881 was living at number 3 with his wife and three children. David Woodward (Father) died age 77 at which point David his son and family moved from number 3 into number 4.
This was probably the point when the Hawkins moved into number 3.
Wheelwrights seemed to be the specialty of this branch of this Woodward Tree. In the 1939 register David and two of his sons are all listed as self-employed Carpenters and Wheelwrights, own account, at home.
The Burcombe’s at Number 5 in 1881
The Burcombe name has been part of Stinchcombe history at least since the early 1700’s.
A transcript Stephen Burcombe’s will dated 1734 can be found here The Burcombe Will It makes interesting reading and gives an insight into past lives and times.
Transcribing old documents can sometimes be challenging as such, there are a few question marks on this transcript you will have to forgive where wording is unclear on the original.
It is clear from Stephen’s will that the Burcombe’s were once a wealthy family. When you read through the will it makes mention of his house on Stinchcombe green.
This is a hand drawn plan taken from papers concerning a dispute with Stephen’s will and shows where his House stood. It can be seen on this plan as a small black rectangle just to the right of Stinchcombe Green .
The 1881 Census shows the Burcombe’s at number 5 having 10 people living in their cottage with an age range between 2 weeks to fifty years. Quite a crowd.
Silas Burcombe, Head, Age 50, Agricultural Labourer, Born Stinchcombe
Elizabeth Burcombe, Wife, Age 42, Born Cam
Albert Burcombe, Son, Age 16, Agricultural Labourer, Born Stinchcombe
George Burcombe, Son, Age 14, Agricultural Labourer, Born Stinchcombe
Harry Burcombe, Son, Age 11, Scholar, Born Stinchcombe
Ann Burcombe, Daughter, Age 9, Scholar, Born Stinchcombe
Louisa Burcombe, Daughter, Age 7, Scholar, Born Stinchcombe
Charlie Burcombe, Son, Age 4 Scholar, Born Stinchcombe
Ellen Burcombe, Daughter, Age 2, Born Stinchcombe
Not yet named Burcombe, Son Age 2 weeks, Born Stinchcombe
Silas died in 1884 leaving Elizabeth his widow and eight children.
By 1891 there were just four children left at home, one of these being Louisa who is mentioned age 17 as a dress maker.
Louisa is recorded in the 1911 census, still single, age 37, Dressmaker, Own account, at home. She was living at number 5 with her mother aged 72.
The 1939 register shows Louisa still at number 5 age 66, Dressmaker Private. She had made herself a steady career as a dressmaker and had also signed herself up as a first aid worker with the local A.R.P services. WW11 had arrived.
Ward family at Number 6, A Sad Tale
Charles Ward, Head, Age 32, Gardener / Domestic Servant, Born Maldon Essex
Ellen, Wife, Age 30, Born Maldon Essex.
Samuel J, Son Age 2, Born Stinchcombe
Dorothy, Daughter, Age 6 Months, Born Stinchcombe
1901 Census shows their son Samuel had died but they had another daughter Ellen.
Charles Ward, Head, Age 42, Gardener, Born Maldon Essex
Ellen, Wife, Age 40, Born Maldon Essex.
Dorothy, Daughter, Age 10, Born Stinchcombe
Ellen B, Daughter, Age 4, Born Stinchcombe
1911 Census shows daughter Ellen had died leaving just one daughter Dorothy.
Sadly, It also records that they had a total of 4 children born alive and 3 had died.
The1939 Register shows daughter Dorothy Ward as a Domestic Daily maid and her Mother Ellen as Unpaid Domestic Duties, both still living at number 6
Surprise Census detail
In 1911 Census records began to include much more detail of peoples lives which also included the number of rooms in the house. Interestingly it shows number 6 in 1911 still having only four rooms.
In a previous section “One Family or Two” it described how some cottages in the row had an extra room made on the upper floor by dividing one of the upstairs rooms into two..
For whatever reason this had not yet happened to number 6.
Lest We Forget
The Great War, the war that was to change family and village life forever.
Three families briefly covered in this article had sons that fought and some who lost their lives in the Great War.
Walter and Louisa Woodward living at number 1 had 6 sons who fought and 2 who did not return.
Private Percy Herbert Woodward St Cyr’s Bell Ringer 1888 – 1916
Private Edgar Woodward St Cyr’s Bell Ringer 1885 – 1917.
Private Victor Julian Woodward
Private Lawford Woodward.
Private Gerald Woodward.
Private Archie Woodward.
Francis and Mary Hawkins from Number 3 had 4 sons who fought and 1 who did not return.
Private William Francis Hawkins St Cyr’s Bell Ringer 1885 – 1916
Henry Levi Hawkins.
Donald Charles Hawkins.
Elizabeth Burcombe of Number 5 had 1 son who fought.
Sergeant Charles Burcombe, recorded in 1939 as living in Shepton Mallet.
Onward and upward
The Buildings are now rolling along into their 3rd century and have seen many changes in their time. This is an ever evolving story and hopefully one which generations to come may add to.
My thanks go to the following people who have helped in putting this story together.
To John Pinch, the talent who drew the image of The Buildings at the head of this article plus the diagrams in the section, “One Family or Two”.
To Kath Hudson who researched the Mabbett family
To Aly Langford and Cherry Payne, relatives of The Hawkins family that lived at number 3 and kindly supplied personal family details, also an insight into the interior of the cottage that would otherwise have been lost..