Review Number 3 – October 1997

The History of a House

What’s in a Name? – Dages, Pages, Dayes or Sayes but certainly Coggeshalls.

This is a line drawing of ‘Dages’ house viewed from the side
Side view of Dages facing east

The origins of several houses in Walsham would appear, on documentary evidence, to be older than stated in the Suffolk County Council Listed Buildings List. The house known as Dages which lies in The Street, next to the guildhall and opposite the churchyard, is dated 16th/17th century. Timber-framed and rough-cast rendered, it has two storeys and is roofed with clay pantiles. The main part of the house is jettied along the front; the extension to the west is unjettied. There are two internal chimney-stacks with plain red brick shafts. A 16th century rear wing, with the ridge of its roof higher than the front roof, has an end chimney-stack of Tudor brick. There is a good interior with close studding. The main beam on the ground floor has ovolo-moulding and unusual thistle stops. A large open fireplace has a moulded brick surround.

The entry in the Field Book of Walsham le Willows, a survey undertaken in 1577 is as follows – “Fol: 144a Smythe Thomas gentleman. The said customary tenement with one other customary tenement next adjoining with a yard, orchard and croft thereunto appertaining lying at the north end of the same in the tenure of Thomas Smithe gentleman lies between the last said tenement and croft of John Reve toward the east, and towards the west between the Town House of Walsham with the yard thereunto adjoining. The north head abuts upon Hall Greene in part, a customary close of John Parker in part, and Sommer Lane in part, the south head abuts upon Church Streete and contains 2 acres 34 perches (by his copy but one acre)”. He paid rent on one acre according to his copy of the manor court roll when he acquired the property but the surveyor found it to be larger.

Another, unpublished survey of 1581 gives more information and contains a vital clue to tracing the house back to its beginnings – Fol: 70 John Smythe holdeth by copy a cottage built called Cocksalls sometime of John Coggesale Iater Thomas Hewarde then John Page later William Potager lying between the Iast on the east part and the tenement next following on the west part and abuts etc. and contains one rood. Fol: 71 And he holds by copy a tenement built with a curtilage, garden and orchard sometime of John Coggesalle later of Thomas Herewarde formerly Margery Saye later John Taylour lying etc. and contains 3 roods”.

Houses and/or messuages/tenements were once named after the original owner often keeping that name long after the death of that person. John Coggeshall (spellings varied considerably in the past) was a Walsham resident in the late 14th and early 15th centuries. He was first mentioned in a roll of the manor court held on 13th January 1386 when he paid a fine or fee for brewing and selling ale. Three years later, in 1389, he was granted one acre of the lord’s demesne next to the High Road for John to build at his own expense. The rent was to be 16d a year. At the same court John Baxter was granted the site of the now Six Bells opposite the church. John Coggeshall’s name appears in court rolls a further twenty-eight times for failing to make fealty to the lord at court, damage to the lord’s crops with his pigs, cutting down elm trees, breaking a hedge and arguments with his neighbours John Hawys and Robert Lene. The fine for these offences was usually 3d, about a day’s wages, although he was fined 12d for cutting down the trees.

In an account for the manor for the year from September 1402 to September 1403 John paid 9d for leasing 15 perches of underwood at Ladyswood which was on the southern boundary adjoining Badwell Ash. This would have been coppiced hazel, ash and brushwood for use as dead-hedging, fencing, thatching material, firewood etc. He also paid 14d for sowing peas on the lord’s land at High Hall. And he was paid a stipend of 5s for being the lord’s cook and his stacker at harvest. All peasants were required to work in the lord’s fields throughout the year but long hours were necessary to get the harvest in so food was provided. Although the basic fare was bread and herrings (dried or salted), food bought that year for harvest expenses included wheat for baking bread, ale, meat, two hoggets (year old sheep), twenty pigeons, fish, milk, cheese, butter, oat flour, salt and pepper.

In 1426 John surrendered a messuage and one acre of land in Church Street (the description identifies it as the same piece of land) so, in the meantime, John had built himself a house on the land, to Thomas Hereward of Bardwell under the condition that Thomas builds a house for John and his wife Alice. Assuming that John was at least sixteen years old when he was first mentioned on a court roll, he would now have been at least fifty-six and needing a smaller home for his old age. It is tempting to think of the small unjettied part of the house as the later cottage but, in fact, all the evidence points to it being an extension on the other side, the east side of the house. This was the last mention of John in the documents.

Just two years later, in 1428, Thomas Hereward surrendered his house to John Page and his wife Agnes. John Page was a mason and as this was the period when the present church of St. Mary’s was being built, he must have been involved. In 1431 he overstocked the common with his cattle, grazing more than he was allowed and was fined 6d. He was elected as the ale-taster several times, checking the quality and measures sold. Agnes brewed and sold ale – an ale-wife. Ale was the most common drink and appears to have been brewed in two or three properties near the cross-roads. In 1448 they surrendered the cottage with one rood of land to Thomas Berne and his wife Margaret, and in 1455 John’s son Richard and his wife Joanne acquired the house and 3 roods. John had apparently used the whole premises for his masonry business; he was at least fifty-seven years old by this time.

Richard’s wife Joanne died and in about 1463 Richard married Margaret, the daughter of John Oversath of Bury. They then became the tenants of Coggeshalls and Margaret continued the brewing business paying the fee/fine of 3d in court no less than fourteen times between 1463 and 1478. Richard died in 1478. In his will he left Margaret “40s and all expenses which she has on her tenement in the town of Bury and on her keep end that of her children, together with two pairs of the best sheets”. Obviously a wealthy family by now. He also left mattresses, silver dishes, books, wooden vessels, a mustard quern, two horses, a cart, a tumbrell and “a chest which used to stand in my shop”. He was a baker (baking and brewing were often carried out by man and wife on the same premises at this period) but he also held other houses so was probably an early property developer. His apprentice Simon received a doublet. His son John from his first marriage, son John from his second marriage and Thomas who was then still to be born, were left the house in Walsham. They paid a heriot to the lord (death duty) of a horse valued at 6s 8d. The following year the two Johns surrendered the house and 3 roods to John and Margery Saye and disappear from Walsham records, probably joining Margaret in Bury. Thomas, on reaching twenty-one years and living in Bury quit – claimed all his right in the property to John Saye. The cottage was still occupied by Margaret Berne, now widowed She surrendered it to the Sayes in 1498 having been there for fifty years. The Sayes continued with the brewing and baking concern. A rental of 1509 lists Margery as holding the tenement Coggeshalls. In 1523 she surrendered the house and 3 roods to William Cater on condition that she continue living there. She died two years later and left a will. She had no children but made bequests to the Carter family (perhaps related?), including 20s to help to send William’s son to school.

William Carter then surrendered the house and 3 roods to Thomas Smythe, a yeoman, who was probably responsible for the jettied front. In 1527 he also acquired the cottage. He died in 1551 leaving two tenements in Walsham, one called Dayes (Sayes?), and one called Cooks. He also left a tenement in Stanton and considerable land in Walsham, Wattisfield and Thelnetham. His son, Thomas Smythe gentleman was the tenant of 1577 when the survey was made. By 1581 Thomas must have died and his brother John taken the tenancy.

A rental of 1595 states that Thomas Smythe holds four tenements including Sayes in Church Street.

The 1695 survey is the next available source at present. “Fol: 46 – John Hunt gentleman holdeth by copy one cottage built called Cocksalls sometime of Thomas Smythe” etc. “Fol: 47 – And he holdeth by copy one tenement built with a curtilage garden etc. sometime of Thomas Smythe” etc. John Hunt also held other houses and land in the parish.

There is another gap of 100 years before the next piece of information. A parish map of 1817 gives details of owners and occupiers. Dages is listed as a house, offices, wheelwrights, blacksmiths, shop and yard owned by Ann Miller and occupied by H. Mullin, John Seaman and Fairweather. The first detailed census return gives John Seaman, wheelwright aged sixty-five and Elizabeth his wife aged sixty years as the occupiers.

The 1842 Tithe map shows John still occupying the house which was then owned by Hooper John Wilkinson.

A sepia photograph showing five members of the Stevens family outside Dages with their white horse looking on. The 3 men all have beards and, along with the 2 women they are all dressed in old fashioned clothing – all are wearing hats of various sorts all beneath a pan-tiled roof of a out building which contains a horse cart.
The Stevens family at Dages in 1870 from left – Minnie, Ernest, Hannah, John, Peter and Walter (with Whitey) – click to enlarge

By 1855 Thomas Stevens from Hepworth had taken over the wheelwright’s business. He died in 1867 aged fifty-five but his widow and sons carried on. The 1871 census return lists: Hannah Stevens, a widow aged 56 years, wheelwright

employing two apprentices; her three sons: John aged 32, Walter aged 22 and Peter aged 18 (all wheelwrights); and her two daughters Hannah aged 16 and Minnie aged 13 – still a scholar.

The 1881 census shows John still the wheelwright with his mother as house-keeper plus John’s nephew Ernest Stevens aged eleven. The 1891 census gives the same information except that John is now called Louis John and Ernest is an engineer. Ernest is still remembered by local people; he drove a steam-roller for Thedwastre District Council. Hannah died in 1896 aged eighty and John in 1909 aged seventy.

In 1911 the property was bought by Arthur Landymore. He sold the cottage part to John Death for £84. John, and later his son Bertie ran a cycle shop there. Arthur Landymore lived in the jettied part of the house from where he ran a tailor’s business until his death in 1962. His son Marcus Arthur carried on tailoring until his death in 1981.

Marcus’s brother Colin now lives in the smaller house with his wife while their son John is at present renovating the jettied part.

A. McLaughlin

NB: The text in italics refers to the extension built for John Coggeshall for his old age.

  1. Suffolk County Council Listed Buildings – no. 3/68
  2. Field Book of Walsham le Willows – K. Dodd 1974
  3. 1581 survey – Suffolk Record Office (Bury) J 529/3
  4. 1695 survey – Suffolk Record Office (Bury) HA 504/5/13
  5. Walsham Manor Court Rolls SRO (Bury) HA 504/1/ 8 – HA 504/1/18
  6. 1595 Rental SRO (Bury) HA 504/5/8
  7. 1509 Rental British Library Add 14850
  8. 1478 Will of Richard Page SRO (Bury) Hervye 151
  9. 1525 Will of Margery Saye Norfolk Record Off ce (Norwich) Brygges 173
  10. 1551 Will of Thomas Smythe Public Record Office Bucke F32
  11. 1817 Parish Map SRO (Bury) 373/26
  12. 1842 Tithe Map SRO (Bury) T115/1,2
  13. 1841,1871,1881 and 1891 Cencus returns SRO (Bury)
  14. 1844 – 1937 Suffolk Directories

The documents mentioned above can be used to trace the history of other Walsham houses. Some are readily available; some less so.

What the Papers Said

On Thursday, 11th July 1782 a local newspaper “The Bury Post and Universal Advertiser” printed its first issue. It was a four page weekly journal costing 3d.

The earliest mention of Walsham le Willows appeared in the issue dated 9th October 1783 when notice was given that eleven fine poll’d [pollarded ie: horns removed] cows of the Suffolk breed, the property of Mr. John Sparke [possibly the John Sparke who was buried in the chancel of Walsham church after his death in 1814 aged 67] were to be sold at auction at Mr. Thomas Bryants at the Chequers Inn [originally the thatched property at the top of the hill from Badwell Ash].

On the 11th March 1784 it was reported that a property was to be sold by private contract. “A house, very pleasantly situated near the church in Walsham le Willows, now in the occupation of Mrs. Gilson [possibly Hannah Maria Gilson who, after her death in 1803 aged 76 was laid to rest in the north aisle of the church] comprising an excellent hall, a large handsome parlour and a small common parlour, four good sleeping rooms with convenient closets and three exceedingly good ceiled garrets over them. A good kitchen, store-room, pantry, fuelry etc. A kitchen garden planted with fruit trees in which is a lead pump supplied with excellent water, with a range of offices for wood, coals, brewing utensils etc. also a two-stalled stable capable of being enlarged at a trifling expense. The whole is copyhold and in very good repair. The house is very much admired for the neatness of its appearance, conveniences and situation which are very eligible. Walsham is a large pleasant village in Suffolk, the residence of several genteel families and surrounded by a genteel neighbourhood. Enquire further of Mr. Alexander Moss senior of Badwell Ash. N.B. To be sold at the same time a very neat cottage adjoining to the above premises, in good repair with a piece of garden ground belonging to it, in which is a well supplied with good water”. In March 1785 the Bury Post and Universal Advertiser became the Bury Post and Suffolk and Norfolk Advertiser still priced 3d.

In the issue dated 22nd June 1785 a report appeared regarding the sale of a windmill in the village. “A good post windmill with boulting mill, two pairs of stones, troughs, ropes, going gears and appurtenances, all in excellent condition situated in Walsham le Willows lately belonging to Mary Bryant, widow deceased. To be sold as it now stands and removed at the buyer’s expense or such purchaser may be accommodated with two undivided third parts of and in the piece of copyhold land whereon the said mill is erected.” [This must be the mill in Crownland Road as it is shown on Hodskinson’s map of 1783 and the mill in Wattisfield Road is not].

On the 4th January 1786 the paper became the Bury and Norwich Post and Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex Advertiser.

In the issue dated 3rd January 1787 a notice appeared regarding a school in Walsham. “Mr. and Mrs. Rogers think it proper to inform their friends that their school will open again on the l5th instant and that their terms are adapted accordingly to the different ages of the young ladies. [This school was at The Rosary, Four Ashes run by Edmund and Frances Rogers. Their son Arthur was a curate of Sapiston and of Walsham during the period 1813–1840. The family tomb is at the rear of the church].

In December 1787 the Bury Post carried news of a robbery in Walsham. “In the night of Monday some thieves broke into the warehouse of Mr. Walne, shopkeeper of Walsham and stole three firkins of butter and a quantity of candles with which they got clean away. For the discovery of the person or persons who stole the same, a reward of three guineas is offered to be paid on conviction of the offender or offenders, and if anyone of the party will impeach an accomplice he shall be entitled to the same reward. All persons who stand indebted to the late partnership of D. and T. Walne are requested immediately to discharge the same, otherwise proper means will be used to compel payment thereof.”

James Turner
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