VALE COTTAGE

The farm cottage in 1784 was owned by Richard Reading, but he and his family moved into one of the old manor cottages. Employees on the farms lived here, and in 1844 John Eggleton left to his daughter Elizabeth East's children, "all these my two Copyhold cottages with their appurtances situate and being in Ascott ... now in the occupation of Francis Eldridge and Thomas Cummings ... etc." It can be suggested that these cottages were next to Askett House. Thomas Cummings is described in the 1841 census as agricultural labourer, his wife Sarah and two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, were lace makers at the ages of eleven and nine. Francis Eldridge was also an agricultural labourer whose wife Ann and daughters made lace. The Eldridges lived here for the next eighty years, on and off,(as sometimes they were moved} until in the 1920's the Eldridge family again moved in, from what is now Haxtead.

At the cottage Tommy Eldridge was heard each evening practising the cornet, which he played with the Monks Risborough Band which he started in 1919.

By day he was a wheelwright for Mr Ayres, but he died tragically one evening under a lorry on the Turnpike Road.

His daughter, Miss Dora Eldridge gave piano lessons while next door Mr Ball the postman lived for a short time, practising his euphonium!

Then Bob Cherry and his family lived there and he worked for Mr Lavington at the House, and the cottage remains as part of the Askett House property.

Vince Freedman is the son of the artist Barnett Freedman. He was an Official War Artist, first with the army in France in 1940, then commissioned as a Captain in the Royal Navy and posted aboard HMS Repulse. He was also sent on Arctic convoys and on submarines. While aboard HMS Repulse he created the painting known as “15 inch Gun Turret on HMS Repulse”. This can now be seen in the Imperial War Museum .

When he left Repulse the ship's captain presented Freedman with a brass decoration used on a gun barrel plug from the 15” guns. This decoration was brought to Askett and hung above the fireplace in Vale Cottage.  Sadly, it is no longer there.

In order to protect his wife and young son from the effects of the Blitz, Freedman rented out a cottage in Askett from 1939 until just before VE Day, when the family moved back to their home in Kensington.

The cottage they lived in was the left hand end (as you look from the road) of what is now Vale Cottage.  It was then known as Askett Cottage. When Barnett Freedman took it on it was derelict. The deal with the farmer who owned it was that if Freedman renovated it he could have it at a rent of 3/6d per week. He duly engaged a local builder to do the work, and the two rooms, one up, one down, were swiftly made habitable for 5 year old Vincent and his mother, Beatrice. Bath time was in a tin bath in front of the fire, and an outside earth closet took care of other sanitary requirements.  The Freedmans subsequently had a lean-to built which became the kitchen. Barnett Freedman was an Official War Artist, first with the army in France in 1940, then commissioned as a Captain in the Royal Navy and posted aboard HMS Repulse. He was also sent on Arctic convoys and on submarines. While aboard HMS Repulse he created the painting known as “15 inch Gun Turret on HMS Repulse”. This can now be seen in the Imperial War Museum .

When he left Repulse the ship's captain presented Freedman with a brass decoration used on a gun barrel plug from the 15” guns. This decoration was brought to Askett and hung above the fireplace in Vale Cottage.  Sadly, it is no longer there.

Barnett Freedman was a British illustrator and designer who produced many posters and book jackets for clients such as LT, Shell, the GPO and Faber & Faber. He was ‘influential in reviving and popularising colour lithogaphy as a medium for book illustration' in the early 1930s. Some of his most successful work was for the Limited Editions Club of New York, including War and Peace (1938), and his classic stamps celebrating George V's jubilee in 1935 ‘were widely acclaimed by philatelists and public alike'. Barnett was a war artist during the Second World War, and designed typographical posters for GPO, including ‘Telegraph Less, Telephone Less'. In 1946 he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), and in 1949, Royal Designer for Industry . Unlike many of his contemporaries, who lived and worked into old age, Freedman's precarious health led to an early death, at work in his studio on 4 Jan 1958.

In order to protect his wife and young son from the effects of the Blitz, Freedman rented out a cottage in Askett from 1939 until just before VE Day, when the family moved back to their home in Kensington.

The cottage they lived in was the left hand end (as you look from the road) of what is now Vale Cottage.  It was then known as Askett Cottage. When Barnett Freedman took it on it was derelict. The deal with the farmer who owned it was that if Freedman renovated it he could have it at a rent of 3/6d per week. He duly engaged a local builder to do the work, and the two rooms, one up, one down, were swiftly made habitable for 5 year old Vincent and his mother, Beatrice. Bath time was in a tin bath in front of the fire, and an outside earth closet took care of other sanitary requirements.  The Freedmans subsequently had a lean-to built which became the kitchen.

In the attached cottage next door lived an old lady who the small children of the village considered was a witch, and her daughter.

 

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