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|A farmhouse elevated into a cottage.
Written by Rachel G
(10/5/2011 6:01 p.m.)
The description of Uppercross Cottage as "a farm-house elevated into a cottage" used to puzzle me exceedingly. To me a farmhouse (18th century or earlier) is a plain but relatively substantial building, whereas a cottage is a much humbler affair built to house farm labourers and the like. So how come a farmhouse gets "elevated" into a cottage? Shouldn't it be the other way round?
The answer lies in the further description of Uppercross cottage "with it's veranda, French windows and other prettinesses". Uppercross is no ordinary cottage, but an example of the Regency era fashion for the "Cottage Ornee".
The page linked at the foot of this post shows various examples around Sidmouth on the south Devon coast. Note that 'Cedar Shade', about half way down the page, is a converted farmhouse. Did Uppercross Cottage look like this? Sidmouth is particularly relevant because we know that Kellynch is fifty miles from Bristol, and so must be in the extreme south of Somersetshire, and Sidmouth cannot be more than fifteen or twenty miles away.
In contrast with the classically inspired simplicity and regular proportions of most 18th century Georgian architecture, these 'cottages' are characterised by irregular shapes and an exuberant variety of decorative features. Leaded glass, pointy 'Gothic' windows, curly ironwork, verandas, balconies and even crenellations are all thrown into the mix with rustic features such as thatched roofs and dormer windows.
These were homes for genteel, prosperous people such as Charles and Mary Musgrove, or places for the amusement of the seriously rich.
Houghton Lodge is a particularly splendid example, originally intended as a fishing lodge. It was built c.1798-1800 near Steventon in Hampshire, and JA may have seen this very building. I think Robert Ferrars would have approved of this one!
At the other end of the scale we find cute little buildings like the group of nine cottages at Blaise Hamlet near Bristol. These were built in 1809 as an architectural adornment of the Blaise Estate. They were used to accommodate Estate pensioners, but are a far cry from the sort of cottage which the average farm labourer could call home.
|Cottage Ornee - Examples in Sidmouth.|
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