The Cottage and Garden

A steep narrow staircase led to the bedrooms above, one for mother, father and the latest baby, and one for the other children. It was not unusual for the family to have ten or more children. These bedrooms were furnished with the bare necessities.

One of the activities carried out by mother was the making of rag carpets, created from old fragments of material which she dyed herself. Here, she finds a quiet moment in the bedroom to put the finishing touches to a beautifully patterned rug.

The wash house was a single storey lean-to at the back of the house, with a boiler to heat up the water, a 'ponch' to pound the wet washing in the tub, and a mangle to squeeze out the water after rinsing the clothes. The wash house in our cottage has the full array of original implements.

The cottage where Cornelius Hatton and his family lived from about 1850 until later in the century when they emigrated to the United States. It is very similar to our cottage, with a wash house at the rear, and sited in a small clearing at the edge of the Forest.

All water for the household was drawn from a well, or more commonly, from a nearby spring. A short, dark pathway from the Hatton cottage leads to this natural spring, which has been built up with stones to make collection of the water a little easier. The spring water would remain at a constant temperature and not be frozen in the winter.

Fowls and Ducks
Many types of ducks, chickens and geese were kept by Foresters as table birds, including the Old English Game Fowls, Bantams and the Gloucestershire Khaki Campbell Duck, though many backyard fowls of mixed parentage were kept.

Pigs Cot and Pig
Pigs were commonly fattened up in the backyard of Forest homesteads, housed in cots similar to this, made of local stone with pantile roofs naturally decorated with English stonecrop and houseleeks. Fed on kitchen scraps and swill for most of the year, this 'dustbin' of the household was put out to graze on acorns and beech mast in the autumn before being slaughtered to provide meat through the winter. The ancient right of Pannage still allows people  to turn their pigs out to graze in the Forest in the autumn.

The Gloucester Old Spot is a local rare breed traditionally fed on windfalls and thus nicknamed the 'Orchard Pig'.

Until recently the Forest was an isolated area cut off from England and Wales by two great rivers. The local industries of timber, iron, coal and stone, the low wages, the hilly country and the lack of creature comforts bred a hardy race of self-reliant people. Thus, although most Foresters were industrial workers, they relied on the produce of their encroachment holdings and the surrounding Forest to supplement low wages. Some Foresters, known locally as sheep badgers, continue the ancient custom of grazing sheep in the Forest.

Produce from the cottage garden would have supplemented the Forester's diet. Our garden includes vegetables and herbs that were traditionally grown in the area.

The young fruit trees planted here are local varieties used for cider and perry making. They include the Blakeney Pear and Blaisdon Plum, and the Sugar Pippin and Severn Bank Apple donated by Francis Brain of Edgehills.


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