Bluebell Cottage 2009
Thanks to Tony and Tricia Patston, and to Jill Whitear for providing much of the following information.
This is a house of two timber-framed bays with an end stack. It was probably built like this, although one cannot be certain that there was not a further bay beyond truss III. However, such a further bay is unlikely because the purlins and sill beams stop at truss III which is weathered on its ‘outer’ face.
The ceiling in the large heated room has an axial spine beam which is stop-chamfered and square-section, transverse joists. The ceiling in the smaller room has been largely replaced but mortices in the central cross-beam show that it had square-section, axial joists. There is no sooting on the rafters or purlins (although some slight staining), so that the differing ceilings cannot indicate a floored-over hall; instead they probably show a difference of status between the rooms.
The trusses have 3 queen posts and slightly curved head-braces. The chimney has 2” bricks and a good chamfered lintel. It is not clear where the original door and stairs were situated.
All these features point to a date somewhere between 1590 and 1630. This is a well-preserved house, probably built for a husbandman.
There is the trunk of a yew tree in the lounge, supporting rafters. Rumour had it that this was a living tree which had grown through the floor, but in fact the tree is the trunk from a tree in the garden put in as a central support when the wall was knocked down between the two rooms during the 1960's renovations
The cottage had a demolition order placed on it in 1962, when it was then renovated and restored to its current condition.
It was re-thatched in November 1991 at a cost of £6,750 (plus VAT!) and won the “Best Thatched House Award 1988-1992” for the local master thatcher Stephen Cleeve.
Occupants of Bluebell Cottage
Arthur Mansbridge lived here from at least 1891 until his death. The 1891 census describes Arthur as a bricklayer. He was living there with his first wife Mary (born in Brown Candover) and daughter Elsie born in Micheldever in 1890.
This is the history of his forebears. In the 1841 census, Arthur's father, John Mansbridge, born in Micheldever in 1830 and then aged 11, was living at Southbrook with his parents, Richard (born in 1800 at Itchen Stoke) and Olive (born in 1800 at Medstead) and siblings, William, Martha and Eliza, all born in Micheldever in 1820, 1825 and 1827 respectively. Both Richard and William were agricultural labourers.
In the 1851 census Arthur's grandparents, Richard & Olive Mansbridge and daughter Eliza (dressmaker) were living at Micheldever. Both sons, William and John, were visitors at Castle Lodge in Portswood, Southampton at the time of this census.
In the 1861 census, John Mansbridge and family were living at Southbrook. He was a labourer. He had married Henrietta in 1852. Their children were: Susan (1853), Charles (1855), Arthur (1859).
In the 1871 census, John Mansbridge's family lived at Southbrook. John was now a gamekeeper. Charles & Arthur were ploughboys. Alfred was born in 1863.
In the 1881 census, John Mansbridge's family lived at Duck Street Cottage. John was now a woodman, Arthur was a bricklayer and Alfred was a bootmaker.
In the 1891 census, Arthur, a bricklayer, lived at Duke Street with his first wife Mary (born in Brown Candover) and daughter Elsie, born in Micheldever in 1890.
In the 1901 census, Arthur and Mary are still living at 108 Duke Street (Bluebell Cottage) and have two further daughters - Hilda Winifred, born 1892 and Margaret Ellen, just one month old. There is no mention of Elsie in this census, so maybe she had died. In the 1911 census, they are all still at 108 Duke Street. Arthur now describes himself as a general builder and Hilda, 18, is an Elementary school monitor. The younger daughter, known as Lizzie Marjorie Ellen, is 10 years old and is at school. Mary Mansbridge died in 1911 and Arthur married Agnes Smith in 1912. They had a son, Arthur Kerr, born in Winchester Oct – Dec 1913 and a daughter, Betty born in 1917. Arthur Kerr Mansbridge died in World War 2 and his name is on the war memorial. Agnes was the local midwife. She later adopted, in 1923, twin boys (Bill & George Trickey) whom she had delivered. Bill had Downs. Arthur Mansbridge died in 1940. Before moving out to a care home, Agnes Mansbridge and Billy were still living in the cottage whilst it was in a very ramshackle state. The thatched roof was in a poor state of repair and a temporary corrugated iron roof had been installed. It must have been very uncomfortable living there. Margaret Bassett remembered Billy Trickey (she refers to him as Billy Mansbridge) at St Mary's Church,filling the organ bellows with air by pumping a lever up and down all the time the organ was playing.. When Agnes died, the house was uninhabited, and in 1962, there was a high hedge blocking the cottage from view from the road. Where the kitchen now is was a smaller, glass lean-to (scullery). There was a path from the road to the right of the house (looking from the road) and the door went into the scullery. There was no front door. It was rumoured that when the cottage was uninhabited, the roof fell in and saplings were growing in the middle. Downstairs was very dark, originally the lounge was 3 rooms.
In 1962 Bluebell Cottage was bought by Frank William Robertson and Winifred Alice Robertson for the sum of £850 (property known as Fernside in those days) in 1962 from Ethel Gwenlillian Boven. Mrs Robertson was a post woman. The Robertsons totally renovated the cottage but had to sell it due to the couple separating. So it was sold on 1st September 1967 to Ralph William Partridge and Joan Eileen Partridge for £6,300.
Joan Partridge lived here for over 40 years till her death in December 2008. Tony & Tricia Patston bought the cottage in May 2009. It had been well maintained but the bathroom and kitchen needed replacing. In 2010, the old garage was demolished to be replaced by a timber clad barn incorporating not only a garage but also a guest suite. The cottage was re-thatched in 2014.
The original appearance
The well at the rear, which has been restored.
Spring flowers in the garden 2021
The original appearance