Hayes (Kent) History

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Hayes (Kent) History

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Pickhurst Green
Grade II Listed building
Late 16th century to early 17th century

The entry on the Historic England website for the national listing in 1988 suggests that these cottages may be the earliest surviving example in Hayes of a building with a late Tudor connection. 

Weatherboarded timber framing; tiled steeply pitched roof to eaves. Square headed windows; small panes. 2 storey gabled projection to centre of block with casement windows and applied timber. Framing visible inside. Nos 1 and 2 appear originally to have been a single 3-bay cottage.  Nos 1 and 2 have a roof with raking queen struts and straight wind bracing, set on jowel posts.

The structure of the building indicates that parts originally date to the late Tudor or early Stuart period although the first maps on which the cottages are shown are from the middle of the 18th century.  

In the 18th century it became part of the Langley estate. When the lands of Lord Gwydir were put up for sale in 1820 the cottages were bought by Miss Wilhelmina Traill of Hayes Place and later owned by Sir Everard Hambro.  They were purchased by Agg-Large after Hambro’s death and when the properties came up for sale in 1931 they were bought by Miss Vera Gilchrist Thompson, the daughter of the Rector Canon Thompson. Later, according to Pamela Nevard, the cottages were given names as well as numbers. No. 1 was called ‘The Glebe’, No.2 ‘The Glade’ and No.3 ‘The Glen’. In 1982 she and her husband Mick bought White Cottages from Miss Thompson and the cottages were modernised internally. He had lived in one of the cottages as a boy.

Pamela Nevard  researched the history and published “Whites Cottages” in 1999, a very interesting account with many illustrations and memories from the late 19th and 20th centuries.

The original cottages were used by labourers whose families were often crammed into the small rooms. In 1931 the sale catalogue stated that Cottages No 1 and No 2 each consisted of one large room and scullery on the ground floor and two bed rooms above. Cottage No 3 had two rooms and a scullery on the  ground floor and two bedrooms above.

In 1821 there were 23 people living in the cottages including 16 children. Thirty years later the numbers were very similar, a total of 21 people and 13 children. There were no inside toilets, an earth toilet at the bottom of garden, no running water and no adequate heating. Edward White, later to become a Wing Commander, was born in one of the cottages in 1901 and recalled the very deep shared well in the garden of No 2 which he said was 62 feet deep. In summer they would use it as a refrigerator by lowering the pail containing butter, meat or milk to water level.  

The name Whites Cottages is applied to these buildings in the sale catalogue of 1931. Possibly the name was first used during the occupancy of the White family. Edward White senior married Harriet Dunmall in 1898 and moved into cottage No 1 in which her family had lived for over half a century. 

When Miss Thompson bought the properties a condition of the sale was that the purchaser had to comply with a sanitary notice that had been served by the local authority. Miss Thompson had the well water sampled and it was found to be infected. She organised for the cottages to be connected to the mains water supply in 1937 and the well to the cottages was filled in in 1938. Until the 1950s there was still no electricity supply, paraffin lamps were used, and Rodney Cottrell remembered how with his friend John Boylan their Saturday job was to carry the rather heavy accumulator [battery] to Rays in Station Approach so that it could be charged up and they could  listen to the radio.

Comparison of the earliest photographs reveal that probably in the late 1930s a projection was made to the second storey of the middle cottage.

In the Second World War the cottages were damaged by a rocket falling nearby in April 1942. It was feared the cottages might need pulling down but post war they were repaired, the existing roof was replaced and the opportunity taken to install bathrooms, although initially the lavatories remained outside.
In more recent times some of the outbuildings have been demolished and the properties modernised to meet the current requirements.

Although houses have been built to the side and rear of Whites Cottages they still front Pickhurst Green and  wooded surroundings