Extract from 1906 Ordnance Survey Map. Second Edition. Surveyed in 1881. Author’s Collection
For nearly 150 years, two clay and tiled semi-detached cottages standing along the Attleborough Road, Great Ellingham, were occupied by tenants and not by the owners.
During this time, the cottages saw the comings and goings of several families. However, the Wenn family may well have occupied one of the cottages for several decades.
When were the cottages built?
The cottages were built before 1842 on land owned by Daniel Cocking. Cocking also owned adjacent land and other properties in nearby Church Street. I have explored the possibility that the cottages may have been built around 1819.
Who occupied the cottages in the 19th and 20th centuries?
We need to look at various sources to identify the occupiers of the cottages. Census returns and, later, electoral registers can help. However, these returns and registers may only tell us that a family or individual lived in a particular road – not the specific property.
Nevertheless, deeds can be extremely useful. Whilst they are an excellent source for identifying the owners of a property, deeds can include the names of occupiers.
The two clay and tiled cottages were (until 1910) owned by the same person who owned the property in Church Street which, much later, became known as ‘Ye Olde Thatche Shoppe‘. Consequently, and again until 1910, the deeds to ‘Ye Olde Thatche Shoppe’ include title to the two clay and tiled cottages along the Attleborough Road.
Given that for some 150 years, the cottages were tenanted, the deeds also include the names of the occupiers. Accordingly, we can be certain that these individuals lived in the cottages.
William Wenn, Robert Summons & Henry Denmark
William Wenn (also found as Whenn and When) likely occupied one of the two clay and tiled cottages as early as 1842.
Schedule of Rents
His name appears with Robert Summons [also found as Simmons] as occupying Daniel Cocking’s property ‘near the churchyard’ in an Abstract of Particulars of Great Ellingham dated November 1842. Even though Cocking owned another cottage in Church Street (which was also adjacent to the churchyard), later deeds confirm that William Wenn lived in one of the two clay and tiled cottages along the Attleborough Road.
Following the death of Daniel Cocking in July 1845, a ‘Schedule of Rents of Cottages and lands that belonged to the late Danl. Wm. Cocking‘ was prepared.
|Mr Wilemer rent
|Mrs Wilemer rent
|Mr Fox rent
|Mrs Coats rent
|Mr Bass rent
|Mr Simmons rent
|Mr When rent
Again, given that a later Mortgage Deed of 1866 mentions ‘William Whenn and Henry Denmark’ as the occupiers of the two clay and tiled cottages along the Attleborough Road, I think it is reasonable to think that around 1842, William Wenn and Robert Simmons lived in the cottages.
Unfortunately, the 1841 census is not particularly helpful. The head-count captures William Whenn with his wife Julia and five children in Great Ellingham. However, the census does not tell us exactly where the Wenn family is living.
Having said that, the census does indicate that the Wenn family lived in the area which included Church Street and that part of Attleborough Road where the clay and tiled cottages were built. However, the census does not show the Simmons family as neighbours to the Wenns. Accordingly, whilst it appears that the Simmons family (also found as Summons) occupied one of the cottages, this was for only for a short time.
Ten years later, the 1851 census shows 53 year old William Wenn with his 50 year old wife Julia and two children in Church Street. Given that the extent of certain streets or roads in the village appears to vary in the census returns, it is likely that the two cottages were included as being in ‘Church Street’.
It also seems likely that 32 year old William Dennis and his 28 year old wife Rebecca are living next door to the Wenns. William Dennis is working as a farm labourer as is William Wenn.
Moving on another ten years, the 1861 census finds William and Julia Wenn with their 18 year old daughter Harriet, in Church Road. Again, I think ‘Church Road’ extended to the cottages along the Attleborough Road.
I believe that 25 year old Mary Ann Denmark is living in the other cottage. 7 year old Sarah Fox is listed as a visitor to the Denmark household.
Mary Ann Denmark’s ‘status’ is not given on the census (i.e. whether or not she was married). However, around three years earlier, 21 year old Mary Ann Fox married 28 year old Henry Denmark in St James’s Church.
I have not been able to find Henry Denmark on the 1851 census. Where is he?
Given that six years later, Denmark appeared before the Swaffham Quarter Sessions, I wonder whether Henry Denmark was already in trouble with the law. Perhaps he was ‘detained’ elsewhere!
In 1866, Daniel William Cocking Warren (who, as a small child, had inherited his great uncle‘s property and land in Great Ellingham), mortgaged all his property. This included the properties in Church Street and the cottages along the Attleborough Road.
The Mortgage Deed recites the clay and tiled cottages as follows:
"also those two cottages or tenements under one roof with the yards, gardens and premises thereto belonging and adjoining situate in Great Ellingham aforesaid near the Public Highway leading from Hingham to Attleborough and now in several occupations of William Whenn and Henry Denmark"
The following year, 37 year old Henry Denmark (described as a drover) appeared before the Quarter Sessions at Swaffham in July 1867. He was charged and convicted of stealing an ewe sheep at Rocklands during the previous May. Denmark was sentenced to six months hard labourer.
The 1871 census finds William Wenn with his 70 year old wife Julia in Church Street, Great Ellingham. Again, I have no doubt that William and Julia Wenn were living in one of the two clay and tiled cottages. At 74, William Wenn is working as a coal merchant. Ten year old Ada Bell Wenn is visiting her grandparents.
Next door is 42 year old drover Henry Denmark with his 34 year old wife Mary Ann.
Wenn & Houchen
William Wenn was widowed in 1875. On the 14th May of that year, 74 year old Julia Wenn was laid to rest in the churchyard of St James. The churchyard abuts the rear boundary of the cottages.
The 1881 census captures 85 year old William Wenn living alone in Attleborough Road. Given that the Old Age Pension Act did not come into effect until the 1st January, 1909, it is no surprise to find that William Wenn is still working. However, he is no longer a coal merchant but as a labourer.
Living next door (and I assume in the other cottage), is 61 year old tailor Robert Houchen and his 61 year old wife Maria.
Henry Denmark and his wife Mary Ann have moved out of their cottage. However, they are still living in Great Ellingham. The census finds the Denmarks living near to butcher, William Wilkins, in a dwelling not far from the junction with Chequers Lane.
Six years later, William Wenn died at the age of 90. He too is buried in the churchyard which backs on to his former home along the Attleborough Road. His burial took place on the 9th April, 1887.
Although the 1891 census finds Henry and Mary Ann Denmark once again living along the Attleborough Road, I think it unlikely that the couple were again living in one of the clay and tiled cottages.
Looking at the sequence of the households listed on the census, I believe that 37 year old agricultural labourer James Morter and his wife Emma (together with their four children) were living in one of the cottages. Likely they moved into the cottage which became vacant following the death of William Wenn. The other cottage was still occupied by Robert and Maria Houchen.
Reeder & Morter
Studying the census for 1901, the families most likely to be occupying the two cottages in Attleborough Road were the Reeders and the Morters.
The Reeder family comprised 38 year old farm labourer Joseph Reeder with his 36 year old wife Elizabeth and their three children.
Next door is 46 year old Emma Morter with her four children, including 15 year old Herbert who was employed as an agricultural labourer. Emma’s husband, 48 year old James Morter, is at North Farm, Barnham, Suffolk living in a shepherd’s hut.
Did Emma Morter intend to follow her husband to Barnham?
I am unclear as by 1911, James Morter is back in Great Ellingham.
The 1911 census captures 57 year old James Morter with his 57 year old wife Emma and 13 year old son Albert, in a two-roomed dwelling in Swamp Lane. James and Emma had been married for 37 years during which time nine children were born to the couple. Sadly one child had died.
Rosher & Lister
The next firm evidence of the names of the occupiers of the cottages is contained in a 1910 Particulars & Conditions of Sale.
I have mentioned that decades earlier (in 1845), the ownership of the two cottages (together with a shop, cottage and other property and land in Church Street) passed to Daniel William Cocking Warren on the death of his great uncle, Daniel Cocking.
The properties and land remained in the ownership of Daniel Warren until his death on the 17th July, 1908. However, I do not believe that Daniel Warren ever lived in any of his properties in Great Ellingham.
Following Daniel Warren’s death, his widow Hannah Maria Warren and his only child Annie Matthews Gladden, sold all Warren’s properties in Great Ellingham. Local auctioneers Salter Simpson & Sons were instructed to sell Warren’s properties in five lots.
Lot 3 comprised:
TWO CLAY AND TILED COTTAGES and Gardens, each with Sitting-room and Two Bed-rooms, adjoining the Churchyard and Lot 1, and occupied by Messrs. Rosher and Lister. POSSESSION WILL BE GIVEN AT MICHAELMAS NEXT. TENURE - FREEHOLD
Royal Hotel Attleborough. Courtesy Brian Vidler
The auction was held at the Royal Hotel, Attleborough on the 23rd June, 1910. Given that the auction particulars mention that ‘possession will be given at Michaelmas next’ we know that the tenants, Rosher and Lister, were ‘on notice’ to vacate their respective cottage on or before the 29th September, being ‘Michaelmas’.
Buyer William Downes
On the 22nd November, 1910, local farmer William Downes completed his purchase of the two clay and tiled cottages from mother and daughter, Hannah Maria Warren and Annie Matthews Gladden.
Downes, of nearby Bury Hall Farm, paid £32 10s for the two cottages. The 1910 Conveyance Deed to William Downes recites a similar description of the two cottages as was recited in a Mortgage Deed of some 50 years earlier:
All those two cottages or tenements under one roof with the yards, gardens and premises thereto belonging and adjoining in Great Ellingham near the public highway leading from Hingham to Attleborough and adjoining the Churchyard, then formerly in the several occupations of William Wenn and Henry Denmark but then or late of Rosher and Lester [Lister]
Accordingly, we can be confident that they are the very same cottages.
The Rosher and Lister familites vacated their respective cottage prior to William Downes completing his purchase. As it happens, the cottages were unoccupied nearly five months later when the 1911 census was taken on the 2nd April.
Edwards & Lambert
The cottages remained in the ownership of William Downes until he sold them (together with Bury Hall Farm) in 1932 to Frederick James Rivett.
The 1932 Conveyance Deed to Rivett describes the cottages as:
ALL THOSE two cottages or tenements under one roof with the yards gardens and premises thereto belonging and adjoining situate in Great Ellingham afore-said as the same are now in the respective occupations of Charles Edwards and Arthur Lambert being the property conveyed to the Vendor by a certain Conveyance dated the twenty second day of November one thousand nine hundred and ten made between Hannah Maria Warren of the first part Annie Matthews Gladden of the second part and the Vendor of the third part
We know from the property description that in 1932, the two cottages were occupied by Charles Edwards and Arthur Lambert.
But when did Edwards and Lambert move in? Were there other families occuping the cottages before them?
It was not until the Representation of the People Act 1918 that non-property owners were able to vote – although it was not until 1928 that women gained electoral equality. Accordingly, the electoral registers will not help us to find the names of the occupiers of the cottages until at least 1918. Even so, it is difficult to be certain who lived in the cottages in Attleborough Road when there was no formal numbering of houses at that time.
Nevertheless, the Electoral Register of 1929 shows Arthur George Lambert and Lilian Rosalie Lambert living in Attleborough Road. Also in Attleborough Road is Charles Daniel Edwards. These names concur with the names of the occupiers of the cottages recited in the Conveyance Deed of 1932.
Prior to moving to Great Ellingham, Charles Edwards was in Wacton.
The 1911 census captures Charles and Maria Edwards in a three-roomed dwelling with two daughters, Edna 3 and Violet 1, in Wacton. Maria Edwards was born Ann Maria Fox in Little Ellingham in 1884. Charles Edwards was born in Gissing around 1885.
Ten years later, the Edwards family had moved. The 1921 census finds Charles with his wife Maria and four children in Rocklands. However, by 1926, the Edwards family moved to Great Ellingham.
Death in Great Ellingham of Maria Edwards
Sadly, at the age of 42, Maria Edwards died in 1926 in Great Ellingham (most likely in her home along the Attleborough Road). Christmas that year must have been particularly difficult for the family. Maria was buried in Little Ellingham just two days after Christmas Day, on the 27th December, 1926.
Following his wife’s death, Charles Edwards continued to live in one of the cottages.
The 1939 Register finds 55 year old widower Charles Edwards with his 19 year old son, Cecil C Edwards, next door to the Lambert family. Charles is employed as a horseman on a farm and Cecil is working as an agricultural labourer.
Three years later, the Great Ellingham Invasion Committee Record of 1942 lists 58 year old Mr C Edwards in Attleborough Road. Charles is recorded as a stretcher bearer as part of the casualty service within the community.
I am uncertain as to how long Charles Edwards continued to live in Attleborough Road.
Turning to the Lambert family, we also know from the Electoral Register that by 1929, Arthur George Lambert and Lilian Rosalie Lambert are in Attleborough Road. We also know from the 1932 Conveyance Deed that Arthur Lambert occupied one of the cottages, and, accordingly, neighbours of Charles Edwards.
Arthur and Lilian Lambert married in 1921. The marriage was registered in the Aylsham District between January and March of that year.
Arthur’s Marriage to Alice Allen
Arthur Lambert was born in Wickmere, some 18 miles north of Norwich. The 1911 census captures 20 year old Arthur with his parents, John and Mary Ann Lambert, living in Wickmere.
In 1914, Arthur married Alice Allen. Their son, John William, was born the same year. Alice gave birth to another son, Charles P, in 1920. Tragically, 30 year old Alice Lambert died within weeks (if not days) of the birth of her second son. Alice’s death and Charles’s birth were registered in the Aylsham Disrict in the same quarter of 1920.
The census of 1921 captures Arthur with his seven year old son John William in Little Barningham near to Wickmere. His new bride to be, Lilian Rosalie Downes, is with her parents, William and Annie Downes, at Bury Hall Farm, Great Ellingham.
Marriage to local girl Lilian Rosalie Downes
Given that Arthur and Lilian’s marriage was registered between January and March 1921, I was puzzled as to why they appear separately on the census returns at this time – and shown as single.
The census was originally due to take place on the 24th April, 1921. However, it was postponed due to industrial upheaval. It was finally taken on the 19th June, 1921.
Nevertheless, this does not account for the couple being married by the initial date of 24th April. Having said that, perhaps there is no mystery at all. It may be the case that the census paperwork was completed before the marriage took place and the details were left unchanged.
Baptism of Daughter
Church of St James Great Ellingham
Following their marriage, Arthur and Lilian Lambert made their home in Wickmere. However, on Christmas Day, 1921, the couple brought their daughter Eileen Margery to St James’s Church, Great Ellingham for baptism.
Birth of Son
By the time Harold George was born on the 19th May, 1926, the Lambert family had moved to Great Ellingham. I assume into one of Lilian’s father’s cottages on the Attleborough Road (next door to the Edwards family).
Arthur Lambert may well have been employed by his father in law, William Downes. Harold’s baptism entry records Arthur’s occupation as a farm labourer.
Lilian’s Father sells the Cottages
In 1932, Lilian’s father, William Downes, sold Bury Hall Farm and the two clay and tiled cottages in the Attleborough Road to Frederick Rivett.
Even so, the Lamberts continued to live in the cottage along the Attleborough Road.
The 1939 Register captures Arthur and Lilian Lambert with their two children, Eileen and Harold, in Attleborough Road. There are three other people with the Lamberts – 10 year old Frederick A Weeks and two others. However, details of those persons (and they could be children) have been redacted from the Register – this is usual where the person may still be living.
Approaching 18 years of age, Eileen Lambert is working as a typist and general clerk. Her father, Arthur Lambert, is desribed as a ‘farmer – heavy worker’. 13 year old Harold is attending school – presumably the local school in Hingham Road.
The 1942 Great Ellingham Invasion Committee Record lists the Lambert family in Attleborough Road.
All four family members have been allocated civil defence jobs. Arthur Lambert as part of the fire service, Lilian with general utility duties, Harold (now aged 16) casualty service and Eileen a control office clerk.
The Lamberts move to Carleton Rode
By 1953, Arthur and Lilian Lambert moved to Flaxlands, Carleton Rode. Arthur died aged 62 in 1953. He is buried in the churchyard of St James within yards of the rear of his former home in Attleborough Road.
Following Arthur’s death, Lilian Lambert (née Downes) continued to live at Flaxlands, Carleton Rode. She outlived her husband by some 20 years. Lilian died on the 23rd December, 1972 and is also buried in the churchyard of St James.
As mentioned, I am uncertain how long Charles Edwards remained living in one of the cottages. Was he still in one of the cottages when the Lamberts moved out in 1953?
In any event, the two cottages continued to be occupied by Frederick Rivett’s tenants.
Owner Occupied after 150 years!
It was not until a year after the death of Frederick Rivett, that in 1975 the two clay and tiled cottages were individually sold and were, after some 150 years, occupied by their respective owners!
1845 Schedule of Rents of Cottages and Lands. 1866 Mortgage Deed. 1910 Particulars & Conditions of Sale – Deeds and related papers to property in Great Ellingham 1769-1913 1 bundle. All rights reserved Norfolk Record Office Catalogue Ref: MC 16971, 821X7
1802 Russell James Colman Plans. Great Ellingham. All rights reserved Norfolk Record Office. Catalogue Ref. C/Ca 1/84.
1799-1842 F W Horner, Records of the Surveyors to Commissioners for Inclosure in Parishes in Norfolk and Suffolk. Great Ellingham (Act 1799). All rights reserved Norfolk Record Office. Catalogue Ref: NRO, BR 90/2
1932 Conveyance Deed. Private Collection – Bury Hall Deeds. Thanks to Emma Wilson
1841 census H0107/781/8
1851 census HO107/1823/130
1861 census RG9/1237/90
1871 census RG10/1841/89
1881 census RG11/1974/93, RG11/1974/96
1891 census RG12/1513/160, RG12/1549/80
1901 census RG13/1829/55, RG13/1902/44, RG13/1867/81
1911 census RG14/11473/138, RG14/11213/32, RG14/11465/76
1921 census RG15. Index of names only accessed via www.findmypast.co.uk
1942 Great Ellingham Invasion Committee Record. Sue Fay
Great Ellingham Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office. PD 609. Also available www.familysearch.org
Wickemere with Wolterton Parish Registers. Norfolk Record office PD 112. Accessed via www.ancestry.co.uk
1929 Register of Electors. Southern Parliamentary Division of the County of Norfolk. Polling District of Ellingham, Great.
GRO Index. https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro Also available via FreeBMD website. https://www.freebmd.org.uk
1939 England & Wales Register. The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: Rg 101/6590h. Accessed via www.ancestry.co.uk. Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2018.
13th July 1867 Norwich Mercury. Accessed via https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk 27th June 2022