The Ranger's Cottage - Hugglescote

The ranger's cottage

The following article is from the Coalville Times in the early 1950s but unfortunately it was not dated; it does however, makes interesting reading.

The old thatched cottage, which has stood at The Green, Hugglescote, for several centuries, is being systematically taken down, under the direction of Leicester Museum.

Already, the thatch has disappeared and the actual structure of the wall is beginning to appear.
Work began on the cottage last week, after museum authorities had been given permission by the executors of the Late Mr. Edward Orton, former owner of the cottage, to take it down.

Mr. T.A.Walden, director of the museum, told “The Times” this week that the whole object of the work was to study and record the construction of this early building.

Although he could not definitely say, until he had examined the complete building, he believed that part of the cottage dated from the early 16th century.

The original cottage had been extended, he said, but a room which had been added as a kitchen and the southern section of the building had already been removed, revealing the older sections of the cottage.
The demolition was being undertaken very gradually and photographs were being taken and drawings made of the various stages of the work.

He did not believe that it was the oldest building in the county but it was an interesting specimen for little was known of the construction of Midlands houses around the time when the cottage was built.
Mr. Walden said that the cottage was a timbered construction with several sections of wattle and daub, but very little brick had been used.

The rooms of the original building he believed to number four and two had been added later. These later additions had been built mostly of brick.

During demolition they had found a note which stated that the cottage had been renovated in 1913 and it was then believed to be 500 years old.

“The most important object of the operation is to find out exactly how old the cottage is,” stated Mr. Walden. He added that it would be taken down to floor level and many of the materials used would be kept for examination. He did not know whether it would be rebuilt on a different site.

Helping with the work is Mr. D. Clarke, Keeper of Antiquities at the Leicester museum, and several of the museum staff. The work will probably last another two or three weeks.

The history of the cottage over the past few years has been a stormy one. It was last inhabited about six or seven years ago but, in May 1950, it was condemned by Coalville Council and a demolition order was made. Following this the Council heard from the Ministry of Town and Country Planning that they intended to put the cottage on the list of buildings of historical or architectural interest. The Council then altered the order to a closing order which, although allowing the building to remain intact, made it impossible for any person to live there.

Soon afterwards, the cottage was offered to the Council by Mr. Edward Orton, on condition that they would maintain and preserve it. The offer was refused as the Council was not able to expend money on such a project. It was offered to Leicester museum authorities but they were not able to accept is at that time.

Last year, fire caused slight damage to the thatching on the roof and complaints were made to the Council about the danger to pedestrians on the footpath running past the southern side of the cottage.

The Council wrote to the executors, asking the present position of the building, and received a reply that the museum authorities were considering taking down the cottage and erecting it on another site.
And now, under the careful supervision of the museum staff the correct history of the old cottage is being slowly unfolded as each section of the building appears from under the plaster and rubble surrounding it. In three more weeks the cottage will have disappeared from The Green.

As a footnote to the above:
The ground behind the cottage was locally known as Duckpaddle Walk, its name coming from the fact that it was quite muddy, often being used by people on their way to and from the Manor House. Quite close to the cottage was something known as the “Beggars Stone”. This was a large granite stone and got its name because tramps often sat on it to rest. It was in front of a row of houses below the Keepers Cottage.


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