History of Longwood
It seemed that the
house had lain empty since the 1930s or early 1940s but conditions must have
been very basic indeed. Although there was evidence of late Victorian
flowery wallpaper in one bedroom and pine cladding on the ceiling, we could
find no trace of any modern conveniences, no sink, bath, taps, not even a
sink plug! I would have expected that, had any plumbing been installed, it
would have remained due to the logistics of removing anything heavy down or
up the track.
There was only a well to which a worn path wound its way. I wanted to make sure I covered every angle regarding the origins of the house because at the back of my mind I still wondered whether we could prove abandonment. We already had Mrs Marlin's letter telling us her parents had earmarked Lower Longwood for her to live and I guess that's why it had been given a corrugated roof. Legislation on abandonment was, like a lot of planning law, open to creative interpretation. We set out for Exeter one day to see if the library could help.
The earliest census enumeration they had was 1841 and then every ten years until 1891. We were delighted to find that Lower Longwood was mentioned in 1841 and that a family had lived there, two of whom were glovers and one a dressmaker. I remembered the pair of dainty scissors we had dug up and it felt as though those ladies had left them there as a clue.
We went next door to the Devon Record Office to see if we could find an early map of the area. We were shown the 1838 tithe award on which our house and all the surrounding ones were owned by landowner, one John Morth Woollcombe.
There were no earlier maps. We took photocopies away with us and it took me ages to plot on the map what land belonged to what tenant. It was quite absorbing to match the modern field system with one from over 150 years before.
Each field had a name, some quite picturesque like Terry's Plot or Billy's Patch and I copied all this onto my map, including drawing in the original field boundaries. Over time fields had been amalgamated and we usually referred to the four areas as the Cottage Field, the Middle Field, the Dewpond and the Lake Field. I was sure such information would help our planning case.
It was difficult to work out who lived in which dwelling as successive census enumerators varied the names of the houses at will. It confirmed that there were three houses on the Lower Longwood holding, Ash Tenement, Chugg or Chuggs Longwood and Shorts Longwood.
The acreages also varied, as did the ages and names. But having made our home down that same muddy track as our predecessors, I became aware that even making returns to the ten-yearly census must have been an ordeal.
Although there was the odd mention in the census of a 'scholar' living in the hamlet (a child of school age), I would imagine the residents were by and large unlearned and possibly ignorant of when they were born or even how their name was spelt. Their knowledge would have had a more practical application, such as how to live off the land, herbal cures and country crafts that would count for little nowadays.
|It was quite fascinating to watch history unfold. The excitement of finding the path down to the well; a single spoon; a potato plough; various harnesses, their leather stiff with age and mud; and (a particular favourite) a delicate pair of Victorian scissors.|
In our first spring I was surprised to see that some wide leaves had
muscled their way through the shillet on the back wall of the house.
They turned out to be Solomon's Seal. This year I was gratified to see a
line of them standing to attention with military precision along the
boundary hedge between the house and the garden.
The delicate white flowers were apparently used to remove spots from the skin and also they 'take many bruises of women's wilfulness in stumbling upon their hasty husbands' fists'.
Had poor Elizabeth Hill, mother of Ann and Elizabeth the glovers, who was my age in 1871, been subject to domestic violence? Or, around the time Queen Victoria first sat on the throne, had Mr Henry Gilbert been prone to a little wife-beating?
It was tantalising to wonder whether they had been planted specially.
INHABITANTS OF LONGWOOD
all lorst now..."
Upper Longwood - Henry Gilbert 45, farmer and wife Cathryn 50, Edward 15. James Tucker 10. Longwood - Rachell Short 20, ind(ependent means), Joseph Sanders 55, Cl(ergy), May Sanders 50, Mary Sanders 25.
Upper Longwood - John Isaac 40, farmer, 86 acres born Zeal Monachorum and employing 1 labourer, wife Grace 50, born Northlew, Betsy 22, John 19, Priscilla 16, William (scholar 13). Lower Longwood - William Pudham 42, farmer, 60 acres born Parkham and employing 1 labourer and wife Ann Pudham 37 born Langtree, Mary Jane 5. One house uninhabited. Chugg Longwood - John Guscott 26, farmer, 80 acres and employing 1 labourer and wife Mary 24.
Lower Longwood - James Hill 44, farmer, 30 acres, born Beaworthy and wife Elizabeth 42, born Beaworthy, Elizabeth 12, Richard 7, Thomas 5, Harriet 3, Rodia 11 mths. John Knight brother in law, unmarried, 23, carter. Ash Tenement - uninhabited. Chugg Longwood - John Smale 35, farmer, 31 acres, born Northlew and wife Elizabeth 26. Upper Longwood - John Isaac farmer, 200 acres employing 1 labourer.
Upper Longwood - William Fisher 34, farmer, 96 acres employing 1 labourer.
Lower Longwood - James Hill 54, farmer, 50 acres and wife Elizabeth 52, Ann 27 (glover), Elizabeth 22 (glover), Richard 17 (carter hand), Thomas 15 (errand boy), all born Beaworthy. Rhoda 10 (glover), William 6 (scholar). Ash Tenement - Robert Hawking 70, unmarried, farmer, 7 acres born Petrockstowe. Chuggs Longwood - Bartholomew Raymond 45, married, farmer, 32 acres born Winkleigh and wife Elizabeth 45, born Iddesleigh, William 9 (scholar), Myriam 7, May 4, Thomas g (sic) 2.
Upper Longwood - James Batten 54, farmer, 92 acres and wife and 4 children. One boarder (Greenwich pensioner). Chuggs Longwood - Bartholomew Hayward? 56, married, farmer, 32 acres born Winkleigh and wife Elizabeth 55, Thomas G 12, Mark 9 (scholar) born Horsford. Ash Tenement - George Hawking 61 or 81(?), unmarried (wheelwright), farmer, 6 acres, brother Richard 69, unmarried (wheelwright), Elizabeth 54, sister in law (general servant), Mary 25, unmarried niece, Ann 22, unmarried niece (dressmaker). Lower Longwood - William Down 45, farmer, 38 acres and wife Mary 53, Mawood F, son 20 unmarried, (waggoner).