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ROSE COTTAGE

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Rose Cottage is an old cottage, on Pergoed lane; the last dwelling you come across before reaching Pergoed. It has been uninhabited for since the middle of the 20th century.


We only find Rose Cottage being named as such from 1871 on the censuses, although I believe that the house is significantly older than that. James and Sarah Williams were living at Rose Cottage with their family in 1871 and it appears that Sarah had been at the house for about 9 years before that, with her first husband, John Pitt. I believe that the Pitts moved to Rose Cottage, Pergoed Lane before John’s death in 1865. My reasons for believing this were that by 1868 it is pretty clear that his widow Sarah was living at Rose Cottage. It seems that of the times we hear of John between 1861 and his death, it was in conjunction with other residents of Pergoed Lane - his 1862 run in with Martha Meredith (of Sunny Bank Cottage) for trespassing (also reported in the Free Press) was the earliest example. The fact John was enclosing his land indicates that it is quite likely that they had recently moved in and were establishing themselves. The Free Press account on the same date sheds more light on the cause. It appears that Martha (probably on behalf of the Meredith family - see their involvement in the “Glascoed Riots”) took exception to John erecting a hedge around his land. The land (belonging to the Duke of Beaufort) was disputed. Since Panta House was half a mile from the Meredith’s house (“Sunny Bank”), while Rose Cottage was merely 200 yards from Sunny Bank, it seems highly likely that the Pitts had recently moved to Rose Cottage and were enclosing and protecting their newly rented land.

The fact that Philip Lewis (of Bush Cottage) was the informant on the death certificate in 1865 (being present at the death) provides further evidence (Bush Cottage was “next door” to Rose Cottage).

John and Sarah had 5 children, all born at Glascoed: Sarah Ellen Pitt (born 1st Feb 1854), Henry James Pitt (born 5th September 1856), William John Pitt (born 1859), Alice Ann Pitt (born 1862) and Thomas Jesse Pitt (born Boxing Day 1864).

John Pitt was a stonemason, so it is quite possible that he would have made some improvements to the cottage in his time there, although he was only there from 1861 or 62 until his death on 9th August 1865 from small pox. His widow Sarah took in lodgers after John’s death,

It is worth reading Sarah’s bio for a number of stories relating to her time at Rose Cottage. The period from 1865 to 1870 was quite an eventful one. Sarah had started to take in lodgers in this period, such as Isaac Lindsay (who failed to keep up with the rent) and James Williams. James actually became more than a lodger, and this caused tongues to wag it seems, with bad blood evident between James and some neighbours in this story - a dispute involving a gun with their neighbours, the Philip and Hannah Lewis of Bush Cottage. Hannah Lewis had been involved in constructing an effigy of James Williams - presumably to parade around the village decrying James and Sarah’s pre-marital affair and Sarah’s pregnancy. Sarah sadly lost the baby and the inquest even investigated the possibility of infanticide. Sarah and Hannah had previously crossed swords, since Hannah accused Sarah of carrying on with her husband, Philip. This even carried on after Sarah’s marriage, as noted in the Mount Zion Baptist Chapel minutes. Sarah was later baptised at the chapel and seemed to disappear from being a local newspaper “celebrity” around this time!


James and Sarah had three children to my knowledge; although their first little boy died on the day he was born on 20th September 1868 at Rose Cottage. Alfred was born in 1869 (he was a later owner of Rose Cottage) and his sister Rachel was born circa 1872 at Glascoed (presumably at Rose Cottage).


James Williams was the son of Walter and Rachel Williams, who came to live at Common Cross, Glascoed by 1851. James was born in Llanfihangel Pontymoile circa 1835 and was living at Cwmoody, Pontymoile in 1841, then Mamhilad by 1860. He worked at various points as a Quarryman, and laboured at the Iron Works and in Agriculture. His first wife was Ann Pritchard, born circa 1831. She was living “near the Glascoed boundary” in Llanbaddock parish at the time of the 1841 census and at Mamhilad when they married on 13th August 1860. She must have died by the mid-1860s.


James married again, after Sarah died. She died at Rose Cottage on 13th January 1901 of general debility, aged 72. His third wife was a Mary Ann Williams (although this could be a married name). They married in 1902 and were still both living at Rose Cottage in 1911. Alfred Williams took over the house after James’ death (he actually bought the Cottage from John Lewis, Upper House in 1913). He lived there until 1939, I presume since this is when he sold the house to the Burge family of the neighbouring house “The Paddocks” (formerly Bush Cottage).


Quite a bit of the history of the house from 1899 onwards is included in the attached page: Rose Cottage today.


Prior to the Pitt family moving in, I believe that other families lived at Rose Cottage. I’m just not quite sure which they were since the census entries prior to 1871 have used different or no specific names for the properties in the area. The other possibility is that John Pitt built the house himself, although this appears unlikely, since it is described in the recent report for Mr Haviland as being “likely to be the oldest surviving cottage in the vicinity”.


The Site

The building is located in the minor settlement of Glascoed. Its curtilage adjoins 2 large detached dwellings and their grounds. It is neither listed nor within a conservation areas. The building comprises 2 rooms at ground floor, the larger includes remnants of an original fireplace and spiral stone staircase. There are separate doorways to each room both of which are located to the front elevation. This also includes 2 windows serving the larger room. Windows and doors are missing but the frames of all of these remain in situ. Two window openings are located in the rear elevation.


The building is likely to be the oldest surviving cottage in the vicinity with its traditional and modest design and proportions being at odds with the adjoining dwellings which are of a greater scale and of later date. It should be considered an asset to the settlement as a whole.


History


For information, the following is known regarding previous owners of the property (relevant sections of the deeds have been enclosed):-


1899. The ninth Duke of Beaufort and Duchess of Beaufort sold the cottage and adjoining land to William John Pitt of Glascoed; (William was the son of John and Sarah Pitt and step-son of James Williams, the tenant).

1908. William Pitt sold the cottage and adjoining land to John Lewis of Upper House, Glascoed. John was related to the Pitts since William’s brother, James had married Mary Ann Arnold. Mary Ann’s sister Martha had married John Lewis.

1913. John Lewis sold the cottage and adjoining land to Alfred Williams. (Alfred was the son of James and Sarah Williams and was also brought up at Rose Cottage).

1939. Alfred Williams sold the cottage and adjoining land to Reginald Gordon Burge of The Paddocks, Glascoed;

1966. Reginald Gordon Burge sold Rose Cottage and his property known as The Paddocks to Arthur Ernest Gilbert (at this time we know the cottage was not occupied);

1986. Arthur Ernest Gilbert “gifted” Rose Cottage and adjoining land to John Horace Gilbert [Arthur Gilbert had by this time sold The Paddocks to a third party – refer to Statutory Declaration of Mr J Gilbert);

Most recently, Mr J Gilbert has sold Rose Cottage and adjoining land to Mr Havilland.


We know from the evidence of witnesses that the cottage was occupied in 1947. The cottage was then owned by Mr Burge who lived at The Paddocks and who had purchased the cottage and adjoining land in 1939. The applicant understands that the family resident in 1947 left in part due to a severe winter that year when they experienced difficulties in accessing the site which, with 5 children, made life particularly difficult. At this time, a local businessman offered the family a property in Usk for rent which they accepted. This information has been obtained following discussions with 3 of the Pollard family. We also understand that there were other occupants after this time but little is known of them and they likely left in 1951. However we do know that since this time there have been no other tenants of the property, save the occasional squatter or trespasser, and there has been no other use of the premises. This is confirmed in the Statutory Declarations of witnesses.


Until 1939 when Mr Burge purchased the property, Rose Cottage had been the only dwelling on the land originally sold by the ninth Duke of Beaufort. However, following Mr Burge’s acquisition of the property it became part of a much larger holding comprising the original parcels of land (including Rose Cottage) sold by the Duke and Mr Burge’s own property and land known as The Paddocks. The latter property is of a much grander scale than Rose Cottage which then became the secondary residential unit on the site. We know that Mrs Burge died shortly after the purchase of Rose Cottage but Mr Burge continued to reside in their residence at The Paddocks whilst renting out the smaller unit of Rose Cottage. We definitely know that this persisted until 1947 and likely until 1951.


We understand that for 15 years after the Pollard family’s depart Mr Burge saw fit to leave the cottage vacant. We know that Mr Burge was of advancing years at this time. This may have affected his ability and inclination to manage a rental property. Also, the property had no services and was need of updating with the associated cost and inconvenience of this to the elderly Mr Burge. There is no evidence to suggest that Mr Burge intended for this to be a permanent arrangement. We cannot obtain legal statements from Mr Burge as he is now deceased and therefore we can only speculate as to his motives for leaving the property vacant over this period.


We do however have a Statutory Declaration from Mr J Gilbert who has confirmed the intentions of both himself and his father, Mr A Gilbert to one day reside at the property with repair works being occasionally undertaken to the cottage.


We know that the property has always been referred to as Rose Cottage. The 1899 conveyance literature was referring to it as Rose Cottage. The Ordnance plan annexed to the 1966 conveyance identifies the building as Rose Cottage and the subsequent Deed of Gift refers to in this manner. In fact all conveyance literature between 1899 and current have referred to the building as a cottage. Witnesses identify with the building as Rose Cottage and whilst the continuity of reference to the building as a cottage does not prove an extant residential use it does nevertheless suggest that no other use has been associated with it any time nor has there been any intention on the part of vendors to refer to it or utilise the building in any other way.


It is understood that when the property became vacant in 1947 it was a 2 storey residence with a thatched roof. Certainly, remnants of the stone staircase leading to the first floor can be seen. The cottage has never been a large dwelling, its modest proportions being characteristic to small rural dwellings of the 1800s. The first floor would have largely extended into the roof space with the ground floor walls perhaps being only marginally higher than they are at present if at all. It can be seen from the proportions of the remaining windows and door openings that the cottage was typical of its day and large window and door openings , and high ceiling levels were not expected. Whilst the original roof and first floor have disappeared during its period of vacancy, the remainder of the cottage, particularly the front and side elevations have remained such that when you approach the building from the front access it still looks like a cottage. The front door is in place but window openings are boarded. Whilst the original roof has gone, the property has retained a replacement roof that has contributed in maintaining evidence of some internal features such as a fireplace, the staircase and original floor coverings.


We know that the current owner, Mr Havilland, and previous owners, Mr J Gilbert and Mr A Gilbert, undertook works to safeguard the property with a view to its future occupation as a residence. With previous instances of trespass and vandalism, the security of the site has been a priority, particularly over the last 20 years (refer to declaration from Mr J Gilbert). Whilst the collapse of the rear wall of the cottage in 2005 is unfortunate it occurred during the efforts of the current owner to maintain the property and safeguard it from the effects of nature (i.e. root growth adjoining the property). Having regard to the construction of the building (i.e. stonework construction onto earth with no foundation reminiscent of properties of this age) it was essential that remedial works were undertaken in the best interests of the building. The replacement wall has now been completed and the building is once again secure and weatherproof.


The applicant has made no secret of his desire to refurbish the building and occupy it. A structural report undertaken in 2002 (prior to the completion of recent remedial works) concluded that the existing walls were structurally sufficient to be incorporated into any redevelopment to bring the building back into residential use. Certainly, on the basis of recent site inspections, the building appears to be in good overall condition (refer to enclosed photographs). Certainly it does not appear likely that, as per the Authority’s previous arguments, the building will continue to degenerate and collapse with the new wall being the only wall left. In order to bring the building back into use there is no reason to believe that substantial reconstructive works would be required.



RECORDS


Census:    1841    1851    1861    1871    1881    1891    1901    1911