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Jasmine Cottage 21 Fisher Lane
(once known as Hill View)

Summary

Jasmine Cottage probably dates from about 1820 or maybe even the late 1700s. It bears a striking similarity to number 23 Fisher Lane and the two may have been built at the same time and for the same purpose. It was most probably an agricultural worker’s cottage and was owned (and possibly built) in the mid nineteenth century by Robert Brewster, who farmed 160 acres and lived in Porchester Farm on Long Acre. The family farmed here and at Holme Farm. In 1884 his executor, son Charles, sold Jasmine Cottage to the then tenant, George Swanwick, a shoemaker. He had been there since at least 1881 and stayed until around 1894 when he moved to his own business in Church Street, where he lived in 1901. His nephew, George Swanwick, inherited the property, about 1909. The Bingham Town Crier, Henry Huskinson, rented it for a few years from 1901.

The house remained in the Swanwick family until 1950, the nephew’s son George and then grandson Cedric George inheriting. From at least 1901 until 1954 the property was always occupied by tenants. In the 21 years from 1950 the house changed ownership ten times. The present owner bought the house in 1982.

Review of deeds documents, maps, census and trade directory information.

The earliest document in the deeds bundle is a conveyance dated 21 January 1884 from ‘trustees under the will of Mr Robert Brewster (dec’d) to Mr George Swanwick’. The indentures record that Charles Brewster (farmer of Bingham) and Henry Smith of Cropwell Butler (trustee) and Frances Brewster (Robert’s widow) sold the property to George Swanwick, shoemaker for £146.

By his will dated 1st September 1883 Charles Brewster had appointed his son Charles Brewster and Henry Smith as executors to invest the residue of his estate to set up a trust for his wife. Swanwick already occupied the cottage and so it was sold possibly along with others, to set up a trust fund for Frances. He may have been tenant for some time. The property is described as:

All that piece of or parcel of land messuage dwellinghouse or tenement with the outbuildings thereto belonging situate in Fisher Lane Bingham and containing two hundred square yards or thereabouts now or late in the occupation of George Swanwick.

The indenture was signed and sealed by Charles and his mother in presence of Lot Louder who appears in directories and censuses of the time as clerk, solicitor etc.

Brewster was clearly a substantial farmer and would have probably owned several tied cottages to house some of his farm workers. Val Henstock’s Victorian Bingham records that the Brewster family lived first at Holme Farm and later at Porchester Farm (where they are recorded in the census of 1861), leaving their groom (1861 census) and then their shepherd (1881) living at Holme Farm. They would have been tenants of the Shelford Estate owned by the Earls of Chesterfield.

Swanwick was in occupation of the cottage in 1881 but not 1871 so had been there for at least three years but not more than 13 years before he bought it. However, the house would appear to date from the early 1800s, or even late 1700s. (See below for more discussion on the house itself)

Shoemaker George Swanwick appears described as a shoemaker in the 1881, 1891 and 1901 census returns for Bingham, but not 1871. George, aged 43 and wife Mary, aged 42 and described as a dressmaker, were in Fisher Lane in the 1881 census. It was Mary’s second marriage; the household included her unmarried daughter Martha Moffatt (aged 20). They also had a boarder, John Christmas (aged 29), who was a clerk with the Great Northern Railway Company that operated the station in Station Street. All four were still there in 1881 and 1891, but by 1901 Mary had died and George had moved with Martha to Church Street where he had his own shoe making business, with Martha as sales assistant. The electoral register suggests they probably moved about 1893 - John Christmas was a boarder at Church Street until 1895. George Swanwick is in the electoral registers until 1909.

Swanwick does not seem in the earlier years to have had his own business as a shoemaker as he does not appear in the directories. He may have worked for one of the number of boot and shoe makers operating in Bingham at that time. It would seem a reasonable assumption that to be able to buy his own house he would have been reasonably well off and might well have owned his own business. He does not appear in a directory until 1894, but we suspect the directories of the time were confusing two Swanwicks, both named George, one of whom was a castrator - an old term for a veterinary surgeon.

A George Swanwick is listed as a castrator of Fisher Lane in the Wrights directories for 1889, 1891, 1893 and 1894. Mary Swanwick is listed as a dressmaker of Fisher Lane in the same directories and in 1894/5. This directory shows a George Swanwick as a castrator in Mill Lane. To add to the confusion both Georges were married to a Mary! The census return for 1881 show that the shoemaker’s wife was the dressmaker, both in Fisher Lane; the castrator, whose wife had no occupation shown, lived in Long Acre. Whilst the directories show George as in Church Street, they continue to show his wife as a dressmaker in Fisher Lane, presumably erroneously.

Examination of the census information demonstrates that the other Swanwicks in Bingham were unrelated to George the shoemaker. He was born in Shelford; most of the others were born in Bingham and the others elsewhere.

We have traced George’s family in Shelford. George was son of Thomas Swanwick a grocer of Shelford, who in 1841 was 48; George was 12 and he had a brother Robert, 14 who had already become a framework knitter. The census returns show George Swanwick, 82, as a framework knitter so it is possible he was the brothers’ grandfather. It seems likely that grandson would become apprenticed to grandfather.

By 1861 Thomas and his wife seem to have died as the family is shown as all living with brother Robert, now a cottager. His household includes a brother Thomas, who is older than either George or Robert and was presumably named after his father; he was not listed in the 1851 census for Shelford and had probably left home. By1881 he was living in Cotgrave and had named his elder son, our George’s nephew, George.

A long standing resident of Bingham remembers Henry Huskinson, town crier, living at Jasmine Cottage in the early 1900s. The 1901 census return shows Henry Huskinson, age 40, lamp lighter and gas worker in Fisher Lane, although in the directories he is shown as a billposter and town crier. Clearly Charles Swanwick did not stay long at Fisher Lane. Perhaps Huskinson was the first tenant of the Swanwicks.

The property stayed in the ownership but not the occupation of the Swanwick family, passing in about 1909 from uncle to nephew (both named George Swanwick; he nephew would be the son of his brother Thomas), until 1950 – 66 years! A sworn declaration dated 29 June 1950 by Cecil George Swanwick of Nuthall, Notts stated:

For some years past I have been assisting my late mother Eliza Swanwick in the conduct of her affairs and was negotiating the sale of ‘Hill View’ Fisher Lane Bingham during 1949 when it was discovered that the deeds of the property were lost. After diligent searches they have not been found.

The property Hill View consists of a cottage and garden now in occupation of Mr L Goddard who pays a weekly rent of nine shillings. My father George Swanwick [Thomas’ son] inherited the property from his uncle George Swanwick [the shoemaker] who died in or about 1909. [To name one’s son for one’s (childless) brother was not unusual perhaps.] My father was for upwards of 33 years in receipt of rents and profits.

The father died 29 April 1943. Cecil goes on to swear to best of his knowledge neither father or mother sold or incurred legal charge on the property. His mother died 24 May 1943.

Following Eliza’s death Cecil George Swanwick sold the property on 19 July 1950 for £200 (only £54 more than was paid in 1884) to George William Martin of Radcliffe on Trent, described as a Boarding House proprietor. The house was in the occupation of Mr L Goddard, Eliza Swanwick’s tenant.

It may not always have been called Hill View. The electoral rolls for the first half of the 20th century refer to this and number 23 as Swanwick’s Cottages, which suggests both 21 and 23 were owned by the Swanwick family. The change to ‘Hill View’ must have come later and it is not clear to which hill the name might allude, since the view south to the banks is obscured by other old houses.

In the following 21 years the house changed hands ten times! It was renamed Jasmine Cottage some time between 1957 and 1960. Up until 1954 it continued to house tenants, but from then has been owner occupied again.

Ownership of Jasmine Cottage from 1951

The table summarises this later history of ownership.

Year

1950
1951
1953
1954
1957
1960
1962
1966
1969
1971
Purchaser

George William Martin
Rev & Mrs John Reay
Mr & Mrs L G Sladen
Mr M G Hutchinson
Mr A V Savage
John Brian Wootton
Peter and Maureen Wright
John Arthur Gordon Wadsworth
Adrian Louis Gicquel
Mr and Mrs David Taylor
Occupation

Boarding House Proprietor
Rector of Bingham
Electrician

Commercial Traveller
Manufacturer’s Agent
Textiles Controller

School Teacher (Toothill)
Bank Managers
Purchase Price

£200
Not known
£850
£875
£1475
£1700
£2250
£2550
£2850
£4050

For Martin and Reay the house was an investment property and was rented out as it had been since 1901. Sladens are described as ‘of Hill View’ so for first time for many years the owners occupied the property. Mr Savage renamed the house Jasmine Cottage sometime between 1957 and 1960

The House and its neighbours

The walls of Jasmine Cottage are rendered which makes it difficult to date from exterior evidence. The bricks forming the chimney are machine made with fairly thick mortar and the dog tooth dentillation is similar to other Bingham houses thought to be from the early 1800’s. The bricks are too thick to be 18th century although there is always the possibility of refronting having occurred. There is no evidence internally of narrow bricks. The main central beams in both lounge and dining room, the reed and plaster floor and the rough hewn main beam were common enough in the early nineteenth century but could date from the late 18th.

Number 23 Fisher Lane looks to be of the same design and construction. Even the wooden porches are similar. It is not rendered and the main brickwork matches the chimney of Jasmine Cottage. Some internal walls have been bared of plaster and are of narrow brick. The beams have also been taken back to original, so inspection here may help. Local ‘personality’ George Draper, a Bingham postman, lived here until about 1970 (when he went to the Royal Chelsea Hospital). Born in 1912, he is said to have come to Bingham after serving with the Sherwood Foresters from 1933 to 1949. Census returns suggest he returned to the home of his forebear William, (possibly grandfather) who had lived here since at least 1871. In that census he was described as a rural letter messenger, and appeared in all census returns until 1901 (when he was 62) variously described as letter carrier, and postman. In the census returns his name always appears adjacent to Swanwick, adding weight to the notion he lived next door, i.e. at number 23.

The two houses may well have been built at the same time as tied farm labourers’ cottages for Brewster’s employees. They occupy similar sized plots, and are built at right angles to each other so would not have been in each other’s sight. Old maps and censuses help a little here but of course demolition and rebuilding on the same plot are always a possibility, so representation on a map is not proof of age of the current building! The original small scale of the 1835 (Sanderson) map (on left) makes interpretation difficult. The cottages are shown distinctly on the 1841 tithe map (on right)(red and green). The Bingham Local History Society managed to make some connections between this map and the census for that year. Their research suggests that in 1841 the occupants of 21 and 23 Fisher Lane were both Agricultural Labourers – Richard Rowe (aged 80) and Thomas Clark (aged 55) respectively. This lends credence to the notion that both houses may have been cottages tied to Brewster’s farm.

The pair of cottages to the south (15 and 17 The Banks) looks to be of a later date than Jasmine Cottage but are shown on the tithe map (yellow). When built they would have obscured any view of the hill (Toot Hill) to which the house name might refer. In fact, the two were clearly built at different times. Although the brickwork of the two is bonded well, there is a distinctive ‘seam’ in the chimney, where one has simply been joined to the other. Careful inspection at the rear shows the brickwork of the two houses is of different colours. At the front the cottages are pierced by an arched entry, which would have been needed to give the second cottage access to the rear. A similar feature can be seen in 4/6 Station Street. The originals may well have been two pairs of two houses, as the 1901 map clearly shows the cottages as divided internally into four, suggesting a 20th century conversion to the two we see today. However the exterior today shows no signs of blocked doorways etc that might indicate such a change. The 1841 tithe map is less clear; the outlines could be of four houses with garden plots. The Local History Society only managed one connection here to the census, Josiah Barnes, another agricultural labourer. In 1841 14 of the 23 householders in Fisher Lane were agricultural labourers, suggesting that many of the houses might have been tied cottages owned by large farmers such as Robert Brewster.

Also of interest in this group of properties are Lushai Cottage (purple) to the north of Jasmine Cottage and number 19 The Banks (light yellow), next door to the pair.

Lushai Cottage was the home briefly of James Prior Kirk the writer. He was not in Fisher Lane in 1891 and by 1901 was living in the Banks (at Banks Cottage according to directories). His daughter Dorothy continued to live at Banks Cottage and died in 1978 aged 87. Lushai Cottage is difficult to date precisely; it seems not to be on the 1841 map but is on the 1883 map. It shares the chequerboard brickwork effect of the Temperance Chapel and numbers 13-15 Market Square and several other buildings from the mid 1800s. Previously called Brusty Cottage, it was owned in the 1940s by Col. Johnson (brother of the watchmaker of Cherry Steet) who had served in India. He may have named it after the Lushai Hills District of North East India (now called Mizoram).

Number 19 The Banks is a curious Victorian Gothic/Italianate design with much stone work embellishment. It may have been architect designed for a professional person but we know nothing about it! Best guesses have suggested a date of around 1850 – if only because Bingham’s other examples in a similar style are of that date – The Wesleyan School, The Old Courthouse and the Railway Station. Again it is not on the 1841 map but is on the 1883 map.


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