Friday 15 October 2010

Totnes part II

The main reason for visiting Totnes (apart from it being a lovely place to visit!) was to try and track down where my ancestors lived in the 1800s. The main residence I hoped to find was Rose Cottage, where my grandmother and great aunt (Bow family) were born in the 1890s. The nearest I could get was that Rose Cottage was either a row of 4 single-family occupancy or fewer multiple-occupancy cottages, with Shaftesbury Place a couple of doors away, and near Leechwell Lane and South Street, which are at the back of the High Street - with a lovely view across the town I might add.

I had printed off several useful maps pinpointing where various locations were which I needed to search. We found a very central car park which, I realized only when we got home, was probably exactly where Rose Cottage may well have been . . . There were 4 small car parks intersected by roads, where sub-standard housing has obviously been cleared in recent years. Perhaps when we go back we may find I am wrong, and there is still a Rose Cottage a little further down the hill, but I fear it may be gone forever. ** This time we didn't have time to visit the excellent Museum, with its genealogical research area at the back, but perhaps OH and I can get a couple of days down in Devon and do some more research.

** I've just been doing more on-line research, and the bit I had jotted down "Rose Cottage, Maudlin Street" which I thought totally irrelevant (!) now, upon further checking, would seem to be just where my grandmother was born. There are several rows of 5 terraced cottages, late Victorian (so her parents would have moved into a virtually-new cottage, upon their marriage). These are divided into Garfield Place, ??el Place (blame Google for not focusing properly!), Albert Place and Shaftesbury Place. Rose Cottage was just put down as Rose Cottage, Totnes on the 1891 census, so not a greatt deal to go on - I had to check the neighbours to try and pinpoint the area, and Leechwell Lane went on much further than we explored on foot on Tuesday. THIS is Shaftesbury Place. Rose Cottage(s) are somewhere along here, probably the ??el Place two terraces up . . . Drat - I've just checked the links and they lead to the big map! You will have to zoom in and then click on the little yellow man to go walkabouts . . .

Meanwhile, we got our bearings and after popping in and out of shops in the High Street and Fore Street (including the most wonderful Vintage shop with a very helpful owner - we thought we had lost our eldest daughter there for the entire afternoon as she was in heaven!), we wandered the back streets. Warland, the area where my g.g. grandfather Daniel Brown lived for over 30 years and brought up 14 children (!) is still very much there. Only since returning home have I searched the 1881 census again, looking at Daniel's neighbours, and found out he WAS at end of Warland which we were taking photos of. Apparently his dwelling was a few doors up from a building called Snail Mill, with Jerusalem Cote (cott?) and a row of 6 Jerusalem cottages, and then the posher bit at Moat Hill, so more investigation is needed. Have just discovered that this would be the far end (warehouse end) of Warland. At the end of Warland nearest what are now warehouses fronting the River Dart, I have my Rogers folks in lodgings in 1841. These buildings were obviously long gone and I suspect mere hovels when my folk were living there.

As I mentioned yesterday, the only positive ID of a family home was the Lord Nelson inn in Fore Street. One other building I had a positive number for was 7 New Walk, but this is either flattened and rebuilt over, or could possibly have been what was now the Unemployment office for the town . . .

Still, it was a successful search on the whole, and I can now visualize the town's layout so much better, so as I continue with this area of research, it will make piecing it together easier.

Steps which I longed to explore!

We didn't have time to look inside this shop, but what a fabulous doorway.

One of the little alleyways of the Elizabethan town.

Cottages in Leechwell Lane.

I believe this is the Mill Leat, which held a dark secret when researching the family history.

Warland Villa.

Is THIS Snail Mill??? It's what Google came up with when I did a search. This Medieval building was certainly here when Daniel lived nearby. A good way from the river, so perhaps someone has it wrong.

A much earlier blocked-up window in the same building.

A view of one side of Warland.

Rose Cottage - but sadly not the one I was searching for.


  1. I have enjoyed these posts!
    By the way have you seen
    not just cottages, may be something of interest.

  2. I`m just catching up after a few days away from the computer and I have enjoyed the last few posts BB. Devon has some fascinating old towns and villages and they are even more interesting when you have family connections to research. I`m so glad that you enjoyed your break and that the weather was beautiful.

    Lovely photos of the kittens a few days ago. Strange that your ginger and white boy is the timid one, just like our ginger one.

  3. In doing family research I have often come up with a mental picture of the area where generations of my maternal ancestors lived.
    Many years ago J. and I were taken to the farm where my grandfather was raised--a farm that had come down in his Davis family for several generations. It was disappointing to me to find that the house and barns were gone, the pastures grown up to brush and even tall trees.
    At least finding the right neighborhoods and some of the roads, one can use imagination to recreate. I am blessed to have found reproductions of area maps from the 1800's which pinpoint the locations of country landholders. Before having the maps framed I dotted red ink beside the tiny inscriptions of family names.
    I'm enjoying the explorations for your family ties as you share them here.

  4. Hi BB, my ancestor lived at Snail Mill in the 1800's so it is nice to see a picture. I shall go and see it in the flesh next time I visit my mum and dad in a couple of weeks time :)