THE STORY OF BIRCH COTTAGE

 

 

 Birch Cottage was originally built in the early 1800s in the traditional Lakeland style of solid cobble stone with 0.6 metre thick walls under a slate pitch roof with slate sills and timber lintels.  It was 8th in a row of ten bobbin makers’ homes. The area where they are built and which is now called Edinboro was then called Broadmire Head.

 

Originally the terrace had only two storeys but the third was added when it became common to have indoor bathrooms.  Before that residents used the outdoor toilets at the back of the terrace [brrr!!].  The outbuilding at the end of the private road was the communal wash-house.  This was quite a luxury as it saved people going down into Ambleside with their washing.

 

Later in the 1800s  numbers 2,3,4,8,9 and 10 came into the hands of Agnes Backhouse, a very forward thinking lady.  When she died in 1914 she left her estate first in trust to her sister and then upon her sister’s death had the residuary estate invested  so that her trust fund might ‘pay annuities or make yearly donations not exceeding £20 […] to such woman as they might select upwards of the age of 50 years who should be unmarried and of thoroughly respectable character but in needy though not necessarily indigent circumstances preference being given to those residing in the Parish of Ambleside’.  It would appear that the properties remained in this trust until 1984 when they were auctioned by the Charity Commission. Something strange seems to have happened with the adjoining land.  You will have noticed that our cottage garden is the further one from the house.  Some cottage gardens are much further away and others have no land at all!

 

No. 8 was purchased at that time by Bill Birkett, who at first lived in the property himself.  You may recognize the name as he is well-known in the Lake District as a climber and author of many outdoor books.  Indeed, you will find a copy of several of his works in the cottage.  An avid climber, he used to practice on the front walls of the cottage which was somewhat disconcerting for the neighbours! You may have wondered why next door [no.7] has covered the lovely stonework – apparently it was because the old lady who lived there was frightened by Bill’s face appearing at her bedroom window before she got up!  Later Bill married and at first let the cottage to students from the local college at the bottom of the hill and then let it via the Tourist Board.

 

I bought Birch Cottage in 1998.  It was love at first sight! I continued to let it as I wanted to share its welcoming atmosphere with others who enjoy the beauty of the Lake District as I do.  Whenever I can, I upgrade it so we can all be even more comfortable.  I know many of my visitors feel at home here and I hope you will too!!

 

CONTACT  cln@gmx.co.uk

 
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