At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the Lord of the Manor of Monks Risborough leased a parcel of land for four pence, as fee simple, to William Hopcroft, carpenter.

He then built his own cottage on that land and was probably responsible for building many of the cottages of the period as he later acquired the orchards and land round about and across the lane.

He and his wife had numerous children but many died of fevers of various kinds. His eldest surviving son Samuel, born in 1771, carried on the family tradition of carpenter and who, after marrying Mary, also had a large family, some of whom died in the smallpox epidemic between 1808 and 1812.

Younger brother William, born in 1799, joined his brother as carpenter, and his young sons were apprentices, later to become master carpenters themselves. His wife Ann was one of the lacemakers in the village who taught her own daughters and the little girls of her sister-in-law the craft of the pillow lace.

Another of the brothers became a shoemaker for the Lower Green but by the end of the century only Thomas the carpenter lived in the cottage. He then shared it with a Mrs Fox, the widow of the family who had lived at the end for a century, the men of the family having been agricultural labourers and the ladies making lace, but Mrs Elizabeth had been a laundress at the end of her life.

John Langston, the carrier, lived in the middle of the cottages. His family had also been agricultural labourers in the past, and the ladies making lace until the end of the century.

In 1851 John and Maria East lived in part of Haxtead Cottage where his wife and children made lace. Younger brother Joseph lived with them and was an agricultural labourer, but by 1881 they were registered as Poultry Breeders - using the hollow in Kettles yard as their duck pond. As the poultry increased they moved across the new bridge to the end of the lane and developed a flourishing business of 160 acres, employing eight men and three boys - this land is now the Icknield Garden Centre, developed by Mr and Mrs Baldwin who came from High Wycombe, unaware of their name being familiar in the area!

Mrs Julia Crockett lived at the end cottage for a time with her mother, the widow of George Quarrendon and his daughter Ada.

Julia called the cottage 'The View' because she could see the shop from the bedroom window.

In the 1920's Bert Batty bought the cottages and he lived at the end nearest the road, He called it 'Julia's View', because he could see Mrs Julia Crockett in her window up the lane at Lilac Cottage!

He married a Miss Darville, and their daughter was born at 'Julia's View'.

In the middle cottage lived Gertie and David Baker, the postman, who paid £7 a year rent until 1939.

At the far end lived Ada and Fred Foster, who was a well-digger, and they had eleven children.

Leonard Foster remembers when he was very small they all lived at Letter Box Cottage, but moved to Haxtead when he went to school. Crowbrook Road was covered with sharp grey flints, and he remembers spending his summer holidays watching at the forge or playing tricks, as he and his brothers used to tie up a false parcel on a long string, hiding this under the flints, and then hiding in the bushes waiting for passers-by to pause to examine the object, only to whisk it away and into the bushes!

Mr Fred Foster paid one shilling and sevenpence a week rent for their part of the cottage.

In 1936 Mr Batty sold the cottages to Mr Hearn for £350 and moved into a new house down the lane.

In 1946 Mr and Mrs Webb lived in the end cottage until 1958 and then moved to Monks Risborough.

During the war Mr and Mrs Jackson and their daughter came to live at the cottage. Miss Jackson remembers using the fresh clean well water, which is still in her garden.

By 1959 the three cottages were joined together and called 'Haxsted' after where Mr and Mrs Jackson used to live.

Footnote: Haxtead Cottage was named by Peggy and her father. Peggy Jackson and her father moved into one of the cottages in 1940. Peggy's father died in 1958 and Peggy in 1999. The cottages were always a terrace of three separate dwellings.


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