Jane       Cable

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'The past is never dead...'


The History

The property which inspired The Cheesemaker’s House has an interesting

history of its own, which I have tried to piece together from the documents

given to me by the previous owners. In early drafts of the novel Alice and

Margaret researched this too, but that was rather self indulgent and added

little to the story. A better place to describe it is here.


The first document I have is the copy of a 1755 conveyance transferring the

property from Henry Cowling, a London cheesemonger, to John Almond of

Fencote for £28. I have to assume that Henry Cowling was the son of the

cheesemaker who had the house built and that his chosen profession came

from his desire to sell his mother’s cheeses. Clearly he liked London and didn’t

want to go back to Yorkshire. The house had been tenanted by a John Cumming and the description includes orchards, gardens, watercourses and outhouses. The mention of watercourses makes me think that perhaps there was more land attached to the property at this time.


John passed the property on to his son Francis who died in 1816. His will was made the year before and describes his occupation as carpenter but he was clearly a wealthy man. He left £20 to both of his daughters Jane and Ann and to a son, Thomas, then everything else to his other sons John and William. William inherited a property occupied by John Stainthorp and the will included instructions that Stainthorp’s tenancy was from 7 years from May 1815 at a rent of £2 10 shillings per annum. John inherited the other property which had been his father’s home and that of his sister Jane and her husband John Watson. Their rent was £2 per annum.


The next document is a note that John Almond died intestate in 1847 so the property passed to his eldest son Francis, a joiner who was living in Chester. At the time it was occupied by another of the Stainthorp clan, George, and later by Christopher. In 1851 John transferred one half of the property to his spinster sister, Jane.


On 8th March 1860 the brother and sister sold the property to a local man, William Walker, for £95 and this is the document which I originally saw on the dining room wall. Christopher Stainthorp was still the tenant and the house is described as having a front and back garden and outbuildings. The very next day Walker raised a mortgage of £70 on the property, effectively transferring its ownership to Ann Strangways of Bedale until the loan, and interest at £5 per annum, was paid off.


The final document in my possession shows the house being gifted from John Walker to Mary Darnborough in October 1910. John Walker was living in Canada and is described as a farmer. His father, also a farmer, had died intestate in 1907 leaving the mortgaged property to his wife Mary and sole surviving son. In 1908 Ann Strangways transferred the mortgage to Edward Fryer and the next year he transferred it to George Darnborough, a brass founder from Dewsbury and Mary’s husband.


When he died William Walker had not only owed the original £70 but £30 in unpaid interest, so his son was transferring the property in settlement of the debt. At the same time he was keeping it in the family as the deed also reveals Mary Darnborough to be his sister. The Stainthorp family had moved on, however, and the tenant was named as J Beach.


In none of the documents is the property given a name so in The Cheesemaker’s House I decided to call it simply New Cottage.


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