**NEW THIS MONTH**
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The Cottage, High Street, Brotton
|The Cottage located next door to St Margarets Church is now the home of Local Historian and university Lecturer Tony Nicholson and His wife Gill a school Teacher at the local school.
When Tony moved into 'The Cottage' with his family, little did he know that he was soon going to be lead on an amazing historical journey.
Hidden in the Attic
It all started in 2000, when Tony and his family were renovating their house, they found the attic was full of rubbish mixed in amongst a huge bird's nest. It was whilst clearing this rubbish Tony came across a bundle of photographs, newspaper clippings, fabrics and love letters. Upon this discovery Tony began to look further into the history of the house to try and discover who the previous occupants were.
Tracing the history of The Cottage
After countless searches of Parish Registers, Census Records, Local Authority Records, Registers of Deeds and trawling through the Internet to contact surviving family members Tony began to put together pieces of the Jigsaw.
It started in the 18th century with Will Childs, the local Blacksmith. He was so good curing sick horses that people travelled from miles around to get their animals back on their feet, due to his success he became a very wealthy man.
When he died his son William used his vast inheritance to knock down their family home and in its place he built The Cottage.
About 40 years later, at the height of a depression, Will Childs grandson went bankrupt and was forced to sell the family home.
It was sold to Thomas Hutchinson who lived in Brotton Hall.
It was rented by Ernest H Pace, a former Navy Lieutenant, and soon to be retired Chief of Coastguards.
A few years later the Cottage became the Dower House of Frances Hutchinson, she moved into the house after the death of her husband Thomas.
They had only married a few years earlier when Thomas had met her in London and rescued her from poverty. Her father Thomas Stephenson had made his fortune as a Trader and he lost everything with one bad decision, he died leaving her penniless.
When Frances died about 30 years later the house was passed to Thomas Hutchinson's Nephew, Henry Saville Clark.
Henry was the son of a local Clergyman and became a West End Playwright.
Several more people lived in the house including George Dixon the son of The mine manager D.W Dixon. George was one of the first electrical engineers in the area and the outbuilding acted as his office where people would go to pay their electric bills.
During WW2, one of the downstairs rooms apparently served as the HQ of the local Home Guard.
It then passed to the Pattons, the Cushes and then finally to Tony and his family.
Not Just a Name
Tony did not just stop at naming the people who spent part of their liveds in this house, bit by bit, he has pieced together numerous stories about each of them.
From a Victorian and Edwardian love story of moonlight dances on vicarage lawns, fading love letters, a mysterious 'vile woman' and a feckless husband, the story of a Guisborough playwright who worked with Lewis Carroll staging 'Alice in Wonderland' on the West End stage in 1886, the adventures of a naval lieutenant who fought against the Barbary Coast pirates and The rise and fall of a Russia merchant.
Tony gives many popular talks based on these stories to groups throughout the North East and Yorkshire and is currently writing a book that draws all of them together.
|Tony Nicholson outside his home 'The Cottage'|
The bundle of old letters found in the attic revealed many stories, this is just one of them.
In about 1859 a young curate the Rev Crawford Townsend Bowen was appointed to the Skelton Parish. He was from an aristocratic Norfolk family, and in these times people thought much of their ancestral position. His part of the family had not inherited any land which in those days brought in the wealth, but he enjoyed the patronage of those who had.
He had received a privileged education in the Arts, being ,among other things, the composer of Bowen's Te Deum and a lecturer in the Astronomy of the day. The senior clergyman at Skelton was the Rev John Gardner, who resided in the brand new Parsonage, which had been completed the previous year.
|Rev Crawford Townsend Bowen|
A few years later the population of Skelton increased due to the opening of the ironstone mines. Crawford took lodgings on North Terrace at the house to the right of the Royal George.
This was a small sandstone cottage occupied by John Tate, a labourer and carrier with his wife Mary and family.
The Tates had a beautiful 17 year old daughter, named Hannah, and for Crawford she proved irresistible.
Crawford and Hannah were married at Skelton Church in 1860 even with the pposition of his family and the withdrawal of their patronage.
Their first child was born in Skelton in 1861 and they went on to have five children in all.
Crawford later took up a position in the Guisborough Parish and then moved onto Bolam in Co Durham. He died in 1908 and as he wished was buried in Skelton. Hannah died in 1911 and she too lies in Skelton Churchyard.
The old letters were left by one of Crawford and Hannah's children.
|Hannah Bowen (Nee Tate)|
Special Thanks to Dr Tony Nicholson for all of his infomation and for use of the photographs