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Who lived on the West Side of

Church Lane?

Myrtle Cottage


Among the oldest houses in the village, this property appears on a map of 1793.  We think it began as a single dwelling, which was extended in the mid-19th century to provide a pair of cottages.  It appears then that the two houses were later merged to provide an enlarged single dwelling.  This may explain why the layout of each end of the property is not consistent.  The 1841 census was the first national census and it shows that the occupants of the cottages were John Uphill and John Lawes and their families.  Both men were agricultural labourers and lived here in the early 19th century.  John Uphill lost his first wife, Temperance, in 1836.  A few years later their only child, also named John, died at the age of 22.  John then employed Thomas Read, a 20-year-old, as a male servant, something which was almost unheard of for agricultural labourers at that time.  Perhaps John needed a surrogate son to assist him in the absence of a wife.  But John soon remarried, although he also outlived his second wife, Hannah.  Both died at the age of 64.  John Lawes, their neighbour, also outlived his wife but when he was too old to work he had to vacate the property, and he moved to another dwelling in Lower Road where he lived as a pauper.  By 1871 the cottages had merged, and the new occupiers were the Sweatmans.   They named the property Uphills Cottage, in recognition of the earlier occupant John Uphill. Later, the property was renamed Myrtle Cottage, taking its name from a myrtle bush, now long gone, that grew in the garden.  In 2015, new myrtle bushes were planted to re-establish the connection.


In 1901 John Manfield and his brother Robert were living in Rectory Cottages with their parents, where John Manfield senior was butler to the rector.   Later, the father helped each of his sons to buy their own property and John junior, the younger brother, purchased Myrtle Cottage.  His older brother Robert had already bought a new property in St Andrews Road, which he later regarded as inferior to Myrtle Cottage and which led to friction between the brothers’ families for the rest of their lives.   Both sons were cabinet makers by trade, and John lived in Myrtle Cottage with his wife Caroline and two daughters, Gwendoline and Kathleen.  When John’s father died, his widowed mother Priscilla and an elderly boarder, Sarah Blackford, also lived in Myrtle Cottage in their twilight years. 

Gwen Manfield married Robert Rochester (who was killed in WWII) and lived in the house until the 1980s.  Her sister Kathleen married Edward Searle, a laboratory technician in the pathology department of the local hospital, and returned to the house and lived here until the 2000s.


Originally known as Swiss Cottage, Cherbury is a gothic-style Grade II listed building which originates from the mid-19th century.  In 1851 Charlotte Fox and her niece, also called Charlotte Fox, occupied the property with Elizabeth Read, a servant.  In 1920 the cottage was occupied by Major Blackwell.  As a Captain in the First World War, he served in the Suffolk Regiment, which fought at the Battle of Le Cateau in France in 1914.  The 2nd Battalion had been raised from Suffolk men only a few weeks before the battle and, despite the heroic determination of its soldiers to resist the enemy, the unit incurred staggering losses.  Of almost 1000 officers and men, only 114 avoided being killed, wounded or captured.   Captain Blackwell was one of only three officers out of 27 who survived the battle unscathed. 


In 1931, another military man occupied the cottage.  Air Commodore Harry Busteed, OBE, AFC, was an Australian pioneer aviator. Busteed left for England in 1911 and was one of the first to receive a Royal Aero Club Certificate from the Bristol School of Aviation at Larkhill on Salisbury Plain.  He was employed by the Bristol Company initially as an instructor and later as a test pilot and, to a large extent, was responsible for the development of the Bristol Scout aircraft.  Busteed was offered the opportunity to return to Australia to establish an Australian Flying Corps and School but chose to stay in England to pursue his interest in experimental work, for which he was awarded the Air Force Cross. 


In the 1930s Miss Morgan had taken command of Swiss Cottage and renamed the property Cherbury, after Lord Herbert of Cherbury, elder brother of Bemerton’s 16th century Rector and poet George Herbert.  We are not sure which of Chebury’s qualities Miss Morgan admired, given that Chebury was a soldier, diplomat, historian, religious philosopher and poet. 


Miss Vincent, a friend of Miss Morgan, had been living at Cherbury between 1933 and 1938.  Her sudden death after an operation came as a great shock to many of her village friends.  Miss Morgan and her relatives lived at Cherbury for over 35 years until the 2000s.

Myrtle Cottage
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