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Article taken from The Northamptonshire Advertiser dated 26th February 1971, transcribed by Raylee Burton.

Editor's note:
Despite the lurid headline,which in fact refers to a house in Brigstock,
the bulk of this article refers to Nutcracker Cottage.
The day the builders uncovered a body....

17th Century Nutcracker Cottage
Nutcracker Cottage, dating back to the 17th Century

The last time a local decorator and builder restored an old house they uncovered a vault containing a 12-year old girl in a glass topped coffin. This was discovered in a vault at a house in Brigstock.

Since then they have moved on and started on a 17th century cottage at 14 Meeting Lane, Burton Latimer, where they have found a beam more than 300 years old. Mr. Michael Wilson and Mr. Dave Harrison discovered the old oak beam while restoring an inglenook fireplace. It was only revealed by the removal of a stone shelf and tiled fireplace and taking the wall back to the original wall. The beam forming the mantle of the fireplace bears the date 1669 and what are thought to be the initials of the first owners of the house. Mr. Wilson, of 35 Grosvenor Way, Burton Latimer, said they had been working on the cottage for three weeks and expected to finish in about five.

An original beam with the date 1669 carved into it.The initials may be those of the first owners of the house.
The removal of a tiled fireplace, cutting back to the original wall, revealed this beam
with the date 1669 carved in it. The initials may be those of the first owners of the house.
The fireplace had taken the place of an inglenook fireplace which has now been replaced.


Both he and Mr. Harrison, of Warkton Lodge Cottage, Warkton, expressed admiration for the old craftsmen. “With the materials they had they were better than craftsmen of today,” said Mr. Harrison. “If you gave the old tradesmen the modern tools I think they would be better than today’s craftsmen. You will not get one of today’s houses standing up 300 years after it was built."

“In the corner of the fireplace we found an old stone seat and a window which we have bricked up again so that if they ever want to find it again they can,” added Mr. Harrison, builder in the team. They have used some of the old stones from the floor for the inglenook fireplace.

The owners are Mrs. S. O’Shea and her sister, Mrs J. Cassignol.

Mr. Wilson said that by knocking down a couple of walls they have also created a sizeable sitting room out of the old sitting room, lounge and kitchen. Originally the only way into the house was through the present back door, but someone later knocked a door in the barn next door and in the sitting room wall so making a hall.


The cottage, even with alterations, is to retain its character. “There will be no straight angles,” said Mr. Harrison. “It is going to be just like the original. We are going to put it back as near to the original as we can.”

The cottage is built in ironstone and has old oak beams and floorboards and reed ceilings. The reed ceilings are to be replaced in most rooms.

“You can get the reeds today but they are a heck of a price. The effect will be the same with plaster,” said Mr. Harrison.

Restoration can bring antiques to light. At the cottage they have found old clay pipes, slate pencils – it was once a Sunday school-room – and wooden nails.There is also the chance of finding treasure in the cottage but, said Mr. Wilson: “We have only found a farthing.”

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