On 24th December 1927 Maria Palmer bought No. 2 Ska View Cottages Sticklepath. The previous owner, her father, Mr James Neill had died in February. Sadly his other daughter Beatrice had died in the interim. (Will dated 7 April 1927, she died on 26 May 1927). Frank Richards, her husband, was the sole Executor and Beatrice left her estate (which included a half share of No 2 Ska View) to her nephew Bernard William Palmer aged 13y, the son of Maria and John Palmer. The conveyance therefore became a little complex legally, with John Palmer representing the ‘infant’ son Bernard in the transaction.
Frank Richards was the headmaster of Sticklepath School and his wife’s death is noted in the school records, just to say that he took a half day because of her death!
No.2 was valued by Mr Arthur John Powlesland of Okehampton, a duly qualified valuer, who fixed the price as £320. The current tenant was a Miss Cann.
I have at this time no evidence to suggest Maria Palmer ever lived in Ska View Cottages. She wrote her Will 12 June 1958. Her son Bernard became a Chartered Accountant, and at the time of Maria’s death lived at 22 Mill Lane Felixstowe, Suffolk. Maria was said to be of the same address and formerly of ‘Kolar’ Okehampton. Maria died at The East Suffolk Hospital, Ipswich on 24th October 1958. She left everything to her son, Probate was granted in Exeter to him 9th January 1959. Assent to the vesting of Number 2 Ska View Cottages from Mrs M Palmer deceased to Bernard William Palmer is dated 22nd April 1959.
At some point Bernard moved to 19 Goyfield Avenue, Felixstowe. 11 December 1959 the cottage was sold again to Mr Charles Bowden, haulage contractor of Cleave House Sticklepath for £550. Witness to the signature was RK Barron of Foundry House Sticklepath, Tool Maker. In March 1965 a further valuation, by Anthony Wonnacott, likely for re-mortgaging purposes shows the property to be valued at £1,500.
A Memorandum appended to the conveyance shows that 26th October 1992 Charles Bowden gave the garden by Deed of Gift to Charles Roger Finch Bowden (his son) in fee simple. Charles died 20 March 1994 and Probate was granted (Bristol) 16 Nov 1995. The property assented to Charles Roger Finch Bowden and his wife Ann Rosalie Lloyd Bowden 28 January 1997. Land Registry Official Copy of Register of Title in 2008 valuation was £140,000 (without the detached garden). The type of joint ownership was amended 12 Dec 2012. Marketing websites show it sold in 2018 for £150,000.
In 1975 plans were submitted to make an interconnecting doorway between No.1 and No.2 Ska View Cottages. At that time Miss Phyllis Finch lived in No. 2 and the doorway and firecheck door enabled her to visit her sister in No.1 without venturing outdoors in the final weeks of her life. Planning was approved 17 October 1975. She died in March 1976. The doorway has since been blocked up.
I have not included much detail of the owners themselves, and even less of other occupiers. Perhaps another time. I am also aware that there may be other connections – I spent many hours in the Ska View Cottages as a child, visiting relatives or with my ‘child-minder’ after school, which is of course not documented. Nor do the papers survive to tell us how the houses were financed, how much mortgage was payable. I do not have any insurance documents for No. 2. ‘Official searches’ in 1959 do not add anything specific. Several documents declare no land tax was payable on these small properties.
It is interesting to see the increasing valuation or sale prices:
1890. £100. Sale
1924. £380 Sale
1927. £320 Valuation/Assent
1959. £550 Sale
1965. £1,500 Valuation
2008. £140,000. Valuation
2018. £150,000 Sale
One might surmise that the assent value in 1927 was on the low side but market fluctuations may mean it was accurate, and there was a tenant in situ.
Perhaps equally interesting is to understand the size and type of housing of a headmaster and mine manager in the 1920s, perhaps some of the better off villagers, with a total floor area of 56.5 sq m . The plan prepared for Stags estate agent Okehampton 2017 shows there were two downstairs rooms and two upstairs.
There was no bathroom in their time. It is not clear when a bathroom was added to No. 2, planning was sought for indoor bathrooms in other cottages in 1972. The outdoor toilet across the yard was certainly in regular use in 1960s. They did not have covered sewerage or electiricity, so no electrical appliances. (Details of how the drains were ‘flushed ‘ see Ladywell).
The detached garden was a small allotment used to grow vegetables, a necessity not a hobby. Compare that to expectations of families today both in terms of space, amenities and services.
Sticklepath has several small terraces of houses running parallel to the road. The cottages are well built of solid masonary. Originally they had a shared roof space – as with many old rural houses this has provided a roost for bats (myotis sp.).
During renovation work in 2017 a small Victorian range was found in No. 2 kitchen. The plaque above suggests it was made or at least sold by an Okehampton firm. It was in a poor state and Okehampton Museum were not interested in preserving the remains. It seems very likely Captain Neill and his family would have benefitted from food cooked in such an oven, on the hob, a fire in the grate and bread from the bread oven. A family with these facilities may have made extra to sell to other villagers.
Times change and No.2 is now a holiday cottage, no longer accomodation for local residents. The railings and matching porches (also seem on Farley Cottage and previously on Effra, opposite the Methodist Chapel) give some character and unity to this row of cottages.
Here endeth my Easter Housing Mini-Project.