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Copy of Douglas Ashby's article in the Kettering "Evening Telegraph", late 1960s, transcribed by Sally Crane

Thatched Cottages

 The stimulus for the article - the former farmhouse, inhabited for many years by the Eady family.
The former farmhouse whose demolition prompted the article

Burton Latimer will soon be losing one of its few remaining old thatched houses when the dilapidated building at the rear of the shops on the High Street is demolished.

News of this has prompted Mr. Douglas Ashby , Burton ’s local historian, to delve into the past concerning thatched properties in the town, past and present.

At the turn of the century many of the old houses and cottages in Burton Latimer were still thatched, since then only six remain with their original roofing; the others that still stand having had their roofs replaced with tiles, slates or corrugated iron.

The fated 18th century house off the High Street, built of local ironstone, was originally a farmhouse and the building adjoining - now converted into two flats - was a large thatched barn that at one time was used by the British Legion for meetings. The fronts of the shops bordering the High Street were constructed out of the original stone wall enclosing the farm yard, also the large stone building now containing a grocery store, belonged to the farm.  Entrance gates were by the present cake-shop and at the rear of the house from the fields beyond.

Rear view of the house showing the alleyway to the High Street
Rear view of the house from the fields
The rear of the building. The alleyway to the north of the property was known as "Barber's Jitty".
At the far end can be seen the present-day Kushboo Indian Restaurant.
When the photo was taken it was The Radiant Paint Company

Two other thatched houses remain on the High Street.  The one opposite the original site* of the War Memorial was at one time the home of a shoe-maker and this trade was carried on in premises at the rear.

(* Note: this was correct at the time the article was written. The war memorial has since been restored to its original location!)

Thatched cottage at The Cross 1940
Thatched cottage at The Cross 1960s, when the war memorial had been removed
The Thatched house opposite The Cross. Left: in 1940; Right: in the 1960s when the memorial was removed
as part of the realignment of the High Street-Church Street-Meeting Lane junction. The memorial has since
been restored to its original location. This house is and the Manor House are now the only two properties in
town which have been thatched throughtout their entire history.

The other cottage adjoins Mr. W.D. Evan’s farmhouse; this building was originally L-shaped, but the other house which was at right angles with the road was demolished some years ago.

Thatched cottage adjoining Hilly Farm
The cottage adjacent to Hilly Farm in the High Street
shortly before it too was demolished.

Another interesting old stone house, partly thatched, stands at the end of Meeting Lane is now called The Limes.  This was the original Manse to the Baptist chapel erected in 1744, and enlarged by taking in the adjoining cottage a number of years ago.

The shop in Church Street with its high gabled thatched roof, has been an outdoor beer house for a good many years.

Undoubtedly the most attractive of the remaining six thatched houses is the Manor House, which bears the date 1704 on the south gable.  Standing as it does on its mediaeval mound adjacent to the ancient parish church, one has the impression that time has stood still and that this day and age is far removed from the 20th century.  There must have been a residence on this site from as far back as Saxon times, as most certainly a Saxon church preceded the present Norman one.  Many are the legends and tales told too of underground passages from the Manor House to the church and Hall.

Manor House and Church in an aerial view taken in the 1960s
An aerial view taken in the 1960s of the Church
and Manor House

At one time the Manor House belonged to the Duke of Buccleuch and was used as a farm.  In 1840 the land had to be walled off to prevent cattle straying into the churchyard.  In later years it was the home of several curates, and in the 1920’s was extensively altered and restored, the north gable and entrance being added.

The pleasant house near the churchyard gate rebuilt in 1898, was originally thatched, and the old stone was used in the reconstruction.  Also in Church Street two old thatched cottages used to stand at the corner of Church Lane in which lived servants to Miss Ellen and Miss Augusta Harpur of Fernbank.

Andrew or Randalls Yard now taken over by the Council once contained several thatched properties.

The great blizzard of March 1916 played havoc with thatched roofs. What we know as Pearson ’s Row in Station Road and the Home Farm in Kettering Road had to be completely reroofed.  The Home Farm forming part of the Harpur estate was farmed for a number of years by the Gross family, several members living to be over 90.  The Hall cottage was originally thatched and its present tiled roof was taken from another old building some years ago.

The ruin adjoining the Wagon and Horses was originally a farm house, and the large barns to the rear were also at one time thatched.  On the opposite side of the road three old cottages near to the present garage were demolished in the early 1930’s.

Several cottages in Bakehouse Lane were thatched, and stray wisps of thatch can still be seen to protrude from  beneath the present roof of the old stone cottage at the junction with Church Street .

In what was known as School Lane and at the end of the present County Infants school playground, once stood a row of old thatched cottages.  About the year 1910 they became uninhabitable and infested with rats.  Apparently the local Parish Council would not do anything about them so in desperation a number of women in that area took matters into their own hands and set fire to them. Possibly the stone for the walls of the school was taken from the derelict properties.

A self-service store has replaced a row of old thatched cottages at the end of Piggots Lane .

What is still known as Amblers Cottage next to the Britannia Club was, in its day, the last house on that side of the road.  Its thatched roof was replaced with tiles some years ago.

Amblers Cottage in 1910
Ambler's Cottage, next to the Britannia Club, in about 1910

Undoubtedly there were many other thatched properties in the village as it was then, which have long since passed from the scene.  Today there is an air of sadness about a dilapidated old house that for many years played its part in providing a home for generations that have seen good times and bad, but the old order changeth, and as in previous years progress has to replace sentiment, the one consolation being that where it is possible to restore an old house it is being done.

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