HISTORY OF POW COTTAGE
According to local tradition the cottage was built in 1472, which, if true, makes it over five hundred years old. We definitely know it was here in 1780 when it belonged to the FORTESCUE family. It was rented by ELIZABETH KELHAM who left the tenancy to her cousin ROBERT KELHAM. He lived in Middlesex and purchased the property from the Fortescue estate in 1798.
In November 1811 his nephew ROBERT KELHAM LONGSDALE inherited, but to do so he had to change his name to KELHAM making him ROBERT KELHAM KELHAM. He also had to pay to take up the Kelham Coat of Arms, which were granted by the Prince Regent in 1812. He married DOROTHEA PHILIPS in 1812, and by the October of that year they had a son…ROBERT KELHAM.
Robert Kelham (Junior) sold the property to CAESAR JONES BEEBY in 1849 for the sum of £177. Caesar was a Plumber/Glazier who worked on some of the restoration of the windows in the local Parish Church. Three years after the purchase Caesar found himself in financial difficulties and mortgaged the property for the sum of £130.
Caesar had two sons, CHARLES and HENRY. In 1870 the mortgage was taken over by a friend of Charles, a Mr. DIXON of Sutterton. This mortgage was cleared after the death of Caesar, which was sometime in 1871. Apparently Caesar committed suicide, a criminal offence in those days. Possible confirmation appears in documentation, which the owners have in their possession. This shows the actual date of the death left as blanks in the script, as it was illegal to record such details on legal documents.
Although Charles inherited the property his brother Henry actually was the inhabitant along with his wife, daughter and widowed stepmother. In 1893 Charles sold the property to his niece CHARLOTTE GIBSON for the sum of £40. She moved back from Dublin and between the years of 1900 and 1905 the cottage was called THE TATTERSHALL TEMPERANCE HOTEL.
Sometime in the 1930’s the property came into the possession of the Millhouse family. After the death of Mrs. MILLHOUSE it was used as storage for family effects and antiques until purchased in 1965 by BILL BREWITT. It is almost sure this cottage survived as the last most complete Mud and Stud property in the village as the result of the Brewitts’ deep affection and care. Previously there were many such properties…including one next door which covered the area now opening up to the “new” Curzon Estate…it survived until the 1950’s/1960’s.
On the 1st of August 1987 John and Jane Pow took possession. Some work was completed during the first two years. However it was not until May 1996 that they secured the finances to start the work. They took on the project over a ten-year period to restore, as much as possible, the original building as well as keeping the necessary creature comforts of modern living. Sadly, in October 2003, John died leaving a substantial amount of work to be completed. In 2005 Jane raised the remaining monies needed to complete the renovation, and by early spring of 2006 the last of the work was in hand…mainly painting and decorating.
Until fairly recently not much information was available about LINCOLNSHIRE MUD AND STUD buildings. As a result, some of the repairs over the years were not sympathetic to the structure. These buildings have to be considered as “alive” for two reasons. Firstly, no matter how old wood is it reacts to the atmosphere, expanding when it is damp and contracting when it is dry. Secondly, the walls need to “breathe” to maintain a certain amount of water content…like the wood there is a certain amount of reaction to the atmosphere.
In most of the cottage the walls had been covered with wood or plasterboard. In many of the repairs cement had been used, which does not bond with the original materials and is too heavy, as a result the cottage was actually tearing itself apart. Over the years the walls were gradually stripped and most of the cement was removed. Each area had to be left to dry out and stabilise.
During the first few years the inglenook fireplace in the ground floor middle room was discovered and restored. Unfortunately, the only way to use this fireplace was to install a wood burning stove.
Major reconstruction work started in 1996. Before the roof could be replaced the oak STUDS had to be repaired. After the roof was finished the walls were restored including four of the Yorkshire sash windows. During this time two oak beams were put into the middle and the east end ground floor rooms. By December the cottage was ready for re-wiring. During all the renovations John and Jane still lived in the cottage except for the week of the re-wiring. During the early months of 1997 the first coats of lime wash were applied. The cottage continued to “dry out”, guttering was fixed and soak-away installed.
Two of the bedrooms have been fully restored and furnished. In 1998 the rear porch was demolished and replaced including the Yorkshire sash windows. During 2001 the brick repair to the wall in the kitchen was demolished and replaced by the final piece of Mud and Stud restoration, including yet another Yorkshire sash window.
The restoration received a severe blow in 2002 when John suffered two minor strokes and the work was put on a temporary hold. However, within months John was able to resume work and replaced the second kitchen window with yet another hand crafted Yorkshire sash. In 2003 work continued with the bathroom being refurbished, again including the window being replaced in the traditional style. A new bath and cistern augmented the floor and wall tiling and match boarding. The latest piece of restoration was the replacement of the French doors and window on the north side of the middle room…done to suit the Yorkshire sashes and still retain the access to the garden.
Sadly, on 13th October 2003, John Pow died at the age of sixty-six. Jane Pow is continuing the restoration. The cottage has now been renamed as a tribute to all the work achieved to date by John. Hopefully Pow Cottage will continue to enhance our village for a few more centuries.
The major projects completed by 2006 are the kitchen, solid oak flooring throughout the ground floor and the final third bedroom upstairs. Most of the doors have been replaced; hand crafted by John himself, to ledge design. The remainder of the work is now the final painting and decorating (which will be ongoing).
Meanwhile the garden has gradually evolved to include areas for woodland, meadow, fruit cordons, vegetables, herbs, water features and numerous flowerbeds…planting has really become “an act of nature” with occasional interference from Jane. As a result, a lot of wildlife has taken up occupation, including frogs, hedgehogs and over twenty varieties of wild birds.
- FOUNDATIONS: – Based on a single layer of small sand stone boulders impacted into the ground…there is no damproof.
- PLINTH: – Built of two/two and a half-inch handmade bricks, probably made locally. Rising to approximately two feet. The bricks go from stud to stud.
- FRAME: – Made in recycled oak. The uprights are called STUDS. The top rail is called the WALL PLATE, down from that is the MID RAIL and resting on the plinth is the SOLE PLATE. The studs are set onto a PADSTONE, which protects the base from damp and rot. ASH LATHS are attached to the outside of the frame going from wall plate to the mid rail and from the mid rail to the sole plate.
- WALLS: – Made from CLAY, LIME, SOIL AND SPRING BARLEY STRAW. Originally they would dig a pit close to the building, line it with clay and leave it to dry. Once the pit was dry they would mix the clay, soil and lime and leave it soaking in water over night. The next day the chopped straw was added by treading it in until the mixture was firm but sticky. A similar method was used in the restoration. This was pressed onto the ash laths on both sides gradually building it up in stages. Externally the whole frame would be covered; internally the laths would be covered leaving the main frame exposed. The whole was then covered by a mud plaster, which in turn has been lime washed with linseed oil added externally to give some waterproofing, and egg white added internally to enhance the finish. Water coloured tints can be added to the lime wash to achieve a variation in the wall colours.
- ROOF: – Originally thatched but changed to pantiles sometime during the last two hundred years. Most of the rafters are original and new ones have been laid alongside both to strengthen the roof and to straighten the roof sufficiently for the new handmade pantiles. A micro porous roofing felt has been used to allow air circulation and so preserve the wood. Internally the rafters are lathed and plastered.
- WINDOWS: – Originally much smaller they have over the years been enlarged. They have been replaced by smaller hand crafted Yorkshire sashes…i.e. sideways sliding windows inset into a wooden frame. This gives the impression of smaller windows, which is much more faithful to the original design of the cottage.
DISCOVERIES DURING RESTORATION
- Inglenook in the middle room including space for salt cupboard.
- Three windows in the kitchen/hall wall…two, which have been opened out.
- Two original plastered reed partitions on the upper floor.
- Original hemp thatching ties still attached to the rafters.
- Ridgepole from central stack to the half-hip at the west end intact proving the cottage has always been this length.
- A Victorian letterbox inset into the kitchen wall, which has had to be removed when the wall was restored.
- Oak wall plate going the width of the west end of the cottage.
- A COFFIN SCARF JOINT in the middle south facing wall plate…helping to date the cottage to the late fifteenth/early sixteenth century.
Copyright Veronica Jane Pow, Pow Cottage, 27, High Street, Tattershall, Lincolnshire, LN4 4NP. 01526-343143