Banks and Grove Cottages
20-26 The Banks


Banks and Grove Cottages are a pair of neat Victorian semi-detached cottages and carry name and date stones for 1896. All four cottages have been sympathetically extended sideways over recent years, but the original form is still clear. The rear gardens retain one or two old fruit trees which are probably the remains of former orchards, which were prolific around this area. The houses were built by James Walker on land leased from The Earl of Carnarvon and all four were purchased by Frederic Castledine of the Bingham grocery family. He bought the freeholds from the Earl in 1920, and then later sold Grove Cottages. Having originally been purchased to rent, the four cottages came into single owner occupation relatively recently, in the case of number 20 as late as 1960.

Historical Background

Tithe Map or 1841

1835 Map

1883 Map

The 1896 cottages occupy what was plot 327, a close with a single cottage on the tithe map of 1841. Comparison with the 1835 map suggests the land holding configuration changed between the two dates from two long east-west strips to a series of rectangular plots and that the cottage of 1841 was at that time relatively newly built. This may have been to accommodate the building of other nineteenth century estate cottages towards the west. The 1883 map shows the plot (outlined in red) unaltered and with orchard symbols. Bingham was well known in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries for its orchards, particularly Victoria plums (claimed by some to have been first bred here in Bingham); The Banks was a major orchard growing area. There is still an old fruit tree in the garden of number 20.

In the 1980s the Local History Group identified the occupants on the 1841 census return as Mary Ruxby, aged 55, a cottager with son William aged 15. By 1851 they had moved on to Mill Hill with Mary still described still as a cottager and William as a farm labourer. By 1853 (trade directory) she was described as a farmer but as a cottager in the census for 1861. William was still living at home unmarried! In 1869 William was listed in the directory as farmer and in the 1871 census he was listed as a farmer with 11 acres and with a wife ten years older than himself. An interesting sidelight on family arrangements in those days is cast by the fact that his (or his more probably wife’s) nephew, Frederick Shaw is listed as living with them. It was not uncommon for childless couples to accommodate children of other members of the family. His mother was not listed so was presumably dead. In 1881 he was still on Mill Hill, now with 11 acres.

Thus they had changed from being described as cottagers (the Banks plot was very small) to becoming small farmers, although sometimes the difference was in the categorisation from year to year rather than the actual holding. But it could be an example of a family moving up the scale as tenants of the estate and being given a larger holding to rent.

According to the directory of 1889 he was back on the Banks as a cottager. We can’t of course assume he had returned to the original house, but it is possible! He is not listed in the 1891 census either in Mill Hill or The Banks, so one assumes he and his wife had died by then.

Review of deeds documents for 20 The Banks

Number 20 is the western half of Banks Cottages flanked to the east by a second pair, Grove Cottages. The first document in the deeds bundle is a lease dated 11th February 1896 from the Earl of Carnarvon to James Walker for the whole plot. The plot measured one rood and 30 perches (just under half an acre). The plan (image above) attached to the lease shows clearly that the site already contained one building which Walker would have had to demolish. He then built the two pairs of cottages. The annual rental of the land was to be £5-0-0 per annum; there was no initial period of a peppercorn rental, which sometimes featured in other leases where building had not been completed. The lease shows the houses had already been built (‘together with the messuages thereon…’). The term of 99 years was to start from 25th March 1895, which was presumably the date on which the Earl agreed to lease and for Walker to build. This was commonly the legal arrangement - in the case of 9 Newgate Street the agreement to build is with the deeds.

The plan shows that all the surrounding land was owned by the Earl except for a strip opposite noted as ‘Mr Walker’. This was Joseph Walker, who had a butcher’s shop in Union Street (‘Butlers’) and was licensee of the Wheatsheaf on Long Acre, at the other end of a long thin plot stretching from the Banks to Long Acre, as shown outlined in blue on the 1883 map (left). The lack of orchard symbols on this plot but shown on the adjacent plots may indicate an open space suitable for running beasts to supply the butchery. The notation ‘Mr Walker’ suggests the Wheatsheaf was already a freehold property, not by that time part of the Shelford Estate. That plot remained the same size until the early 1970s.

The Earl attached his usual covenants to the lease. The houses had to be painted outside every four years ‘with two coats of good oil colour’ and every seven years inside with two coats of good oil or paper (depending upon what was already there). Walker was also not to use the properties ‘as a factory, workshop, or as a public house, club house, beer house or place for the sale of any alcoholic liquor or for any noisome noxious noisy or offensive trade or business whatsoever’. Walker also had to insure the property for at least £600. These conditions were imposed in all leases from the Earl that we have seen. He was clearly the planning authority of his day! Walker’s signature was witnessed by Lot Louder, a solicitor’s clerk in Bingham whom we have come across several times. He describes himself here as an accountant.

On 4th March 1896 Walker mortgaged the properties for £350 at an interest rate of 4.5%. This was presumably to raise working capital, maybe for his next project - we have seen before that Walker continually borrowed money, usually for short periods, against property he was building or had just completed. He used a variety of sources of finance; in this case the mortgagees were William Richardson retired farmer, Thomas Forrest Enerby joiner and Harry Forrest conveyancing clerk, all of East Bridgford. Walker and Enerby had been partners in building Porchester Terrace about ten years before. Walker borrowed a further £100 from them on 19th August 1996.

The original lease had specified that Walker was to notify the Earl or his agent if he assigned the lease to a third party. This was standard, and the deed bundle includes a notification to the earl’s solicitors the assignment in respect of the mortgagees.

It would seem that Walker rented the cottages out on his own account for a few years, as it was not until 8th September 1900 that he sold the two pairs of cottages to Frederic Castledine, grocer and baker of Bingham (he had a shop in the Market Place), for £700. The mortgage principal of £450 was still outstanding, so the conveyance document records that this sum was paid to the mortgagees and the balance to Walker. The lease had given only a graphical description of the property. The conveyance refers to that plan and also gives a text description:

All that plot of ground…bounded
On or towards the north by a road called the Banks
On or towards the east by another road
And on or towards the south and west by other hereditaments of the Earl
And also those four messuages… thereto erected by the Vendor…

There are two interesting points here. The road to the east is now the access to Toot Hill School, but it was once the lane to Wyverton. The wording seems to imply that perhaps it still was a lane in 1900 rather than just a track to the fields (check big map in library). Secondly, the wording confirms that the cottages were indeed built be James Walker - the actual builder of properties is rarely mentioned in deeds we have seen!

A notification of assignment of the lease - to Frederic Castledine - dated 28th September 1900 is also included with the deeds. This is only the second deed bundle we have seen where the assignment notification documents have been retained.

On 13th April 1920 the Earl of Carnarvon sold the freehold of the four cottages to Castledine for £125-0-0. The Earl sold a good many freeholds in 1920, we think to raise funds for his support of the archaeologist Howard Carter who discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922. As usual the Earl reserved the mineral rights. The document is a pre-printed form with the details completed by hand, similar to one noted in connection with 12 Church Street.

An abstract of title of Mrs Nellie Louisa Castledine recites the history of the Earl’s tenure and makes clear that this plot came to him through his father’s marriage settlement not his mother’s inheritance. The Earl’s father had married the daughter of the fifth Earl of Chesterfield who settled some land on him at that time. Lady Carnarvon’s brother inherited the title but died without issue so the rest of the Shelford Estate came to her on the death of the sixth Earl of Chesterfield.

The abstract also clarifies the history of ownership of the cottages from 1920 to 1960. Frederic had lived at Hawthorn Villa, now number 6 The Banks (one of Walker’s larger detached villas), and Frederic owned the six houses of James Terrace as well as Banks and Grove Cottages.

Frederic died on 4th January 1926 having appointed his son Fred as executor. Various documents, including Walker’s original mortgage document and the abstract carry two endorsements recording sales of Grove Cottages and of the eastern half of Banks Cottage. The first is for Grove Cottages:

By conveyance dated 12th July 1928 between Frederic Castledine and Mary Ayscough of Grove Cottage, widow, of land and two cottages known as Grove Cottages

Fred and his wife Nellie Louisa Castledine continued to live at Hawthorn Villa. Fred died on 20th November 1945 having appointed his wife, Horace Gray (painter of Market Place) and Mabel Broxholme Towers, of Grantham, (possibly daughter?) as executors. On 26th June 1947 the executors transferred ownership of Banks Cottages to Nellie Louisa. A separate memorandum records that ownership of the James Terrace houses and Hawthorn Villa was transferred to Nellie Louisa at the same time.

Nellie Louisa died on 11th September 1960 having made Mabel her executrix - she was now living at Hawthorn Villa. Ownership thus passed to Mabel. On 23rd December 1960 she sold number 20 for £1000 to her sitting tenant Percy Walter Smith - the first time the house had been in owner occupation! He took a mortgage with Bingham Rural District Council for £900 at 6.5%.

The second endorsement on Walker’s original mortgage document and the abstract of title of Mrs Castledine records the sale of the eastern half of Banks Cottages (number 22), presumably again to the sitting tenant:

By conveyance of 22nd December 1960 between Mabel Broxholme Towers and Lewis Squires of one of the messuages mentioned in the document.

Lewis Squires’ father, Albert, built and occupied Ebenezer House on the Banks. Albert’s uncle, Stephen, and cousin, Oliver were monumental masons, with their yard at Stephen’s house, now number 17 Long Acre, Bingham Funeral Services. Oliver lived on The Banks.

On 6th July 1967 Mr Smith sold number 20 for £2550 to Margaret Rutherford Miller of Newcastle on Tyne. She took a mortgage for £600 with Nottingham Building Society. On 30th October 1979 Miss Miller sold the house for £17250 to Ernest James Walker of Rutland Road Bingham.

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