BEECH COTTAGE

 

Beech Cottage is based on foundations four hundred years old. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Caleb Crockett, agricultural labourer married Mary and they had six children. He died of typhoid in 1855 and his wife kept the family on her earnings as one of the lace-makers in Askett. She was then aged fifty one. The eldest son, Amos from 1831 was an agricultural worker and he married Elizabeth. One of the youngest of their eight children, Leonard, had left home to become a butchers assistant in Wood Green, London. There he married Emily Paulplin in 1897

and decided to return to Askett. He earned his living by driving a pair of horses to London, taking hay and straw to town for the carriage horses, and returning with bags of soot for the allotments, which was used as a fertilizer. When he had saved up £98, he was able to buy the cottage in Askett Lane - thus buying a home with 'soot' money! Occasionally there were visitors at the cottage - board and lodging costing two shillings and sixpence a day, which helped to pay for improvements as well as to help the family budget.

They had eleven children, the eldest son, Arthur Amos, named after his grandfather, later in time learned to drive an automobile and eventually started a milk haulage business, which has continued.

Younger brother Ralph Crockett remembers when he was ten years old he earned his pocket money by cleaning at Monks Risborough school for two shillings a month, and collecting horse manure in his box cart. When he was even younger he was caught by the 'keeper' from the Hampden Estates, because he and his friends had been collecting firewood 'without a permit' (which cost a shilling) at Cadsdene. They were very frightened by the big man who carried a double-barrelled shot gun under each arm and who made them unload their wood and go home empty handed.

In the 1914-18 war, it was considered unwise to tell anyone where they were, and Ralph remembers being asked by passing motorists to tell them, and being thought a country bumpkin by answering "ARS-K-T"!

A t thirteen he left school, and eventually became apprenticed as wheelwright to Jack Ayres, whose skill he admired as the craftsman made large cartwheels without seeming to measure anything. Another memory of long ago is of the 'Allsort man' ­first on a bicycle riding down the lanes, and then in an ancient vehicle - selling anything from tops to shoes (and it was said his name was Wainwright).

As the years passed, only sister Phyllis and her mother lived there. In 1940 she married Sam Rutland who had been a 'gentleman's gentleman' at Askett Lodge, until he joined the Air Force.

In 1945 Sam was de-mobbed and he and his wife Phyllis increased the comfort of the cottage. Outside he planted a beech hedge - so the cottage got its name. They lived there until 1970 when the cottage was sold for £7,250 to a young German couple - who re-sold it within a couple of years for £14,000, when it changed hands again and again.

One wonders if they knew why the chimney was not built right inside rather than adjoining the cottage?!

 

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