Nos 1 & 2 Workhouse Lane. Originally, two labourers’ cottages, it is so named because of a bottle-end in the wall at the front of the house.
The cottages were built before the mid 1800s, but we do not know exactly when. At the time of the Tithe Apportionments Map, they were owned by George Pink and the occupants were “John Lovelock and others”. Pink was recorded in the 1851 census as a ‘general practisioner’. He lived in what is now Brooklyn, on the High Street. John Lovelock was an agricultural labourer, as was his wife Hannah. At least two of their neighbours were ‘paupers’ and may have been among the ‘others’ occupying the two cottages. Including the gardens, the total area was 24 perches.
At the time of the 1851 census the lane was named Cross Lane. At the next census, in 1861, it was Little West Street. Although the Workhouse had been established in 1727, opposite Bottle Cottage, the lane was not called by that name until much later. Before 1930 the properties belonged to Portsea Island Mutual Cooperative Society; then they were bought by Stanley Broadway of Longdown Farm.
Today, Elsie lives in the Almshouses, after a long life in which she has contributed considerably to the East Meon community.
In 1930, the Butler family, Roseana and Edward, were the tenants of No. 1; they had ten children of whom seven survived. “Teddy” was a fireman in East Meon’s World War II fire brigade.
Harold Butler was born in No 1 in 1923 and lived there until 1965 when he was nearly 80. Elsie came to East Meon in 1951 when she married Harold, and remembers visiting her in-laws in No. 1. Until the early 1950s there was no mains water; there was a stand pipe at the corner of Chapel Street. Water was collected by bucket and stored in a tin bath and a copper, which was used for clothes washing, in the outhouse. There were wooden outhouses to the rear, the end one being a toilet. This was emptied regularly by the night soil man. It was connected to the mains sewers in 1958.
Jimmy Bray worked all his life as a carpenter. Like his father before him he worked at the Edward Barnsley workshop in Steep. Until the 1950s, the cottages had been the only houses on the south side of Workhouse Lane. In 1953 Jimmy bought the land to the west of them; he planned to build a bungalow for his own family and in order to raise the money, he sold two other plots, on which bungalows were also built. Jimmy remembers he had to pay £2 per foot for the frontage as a tithe to the Church. Jimmy died in December 2012.
The meadow behind these houses was Kews Field on which a fair was held every year until the war years. It had been bought by a Mr Smith who sold two sites for a new Village School and Village Hall; he also built four bungalows along Chidden Close.
Today’s Bottle Cottage
In 1965 the two cottages were condemned, and then bought by Ann and Dick Hutchings for £1,900. A long triangle of land adjacent to Chidden Close was bought from Mr. Smith in 1969 and added to the garden. The Hutchings converted the cottages into one dwelling, and re-roofed it using old tiles in place of the slate. They also built garages and outhouses to the rear using brick and re-claimed old oak beams. Ann was a teacher and Dick an architect who renovated old Austin Seven cars, as well as doing much of the work at Bottle Cottage himself. (They had one child, Kate, who sadly was killed in a motor cycle accident at only 18.)
Susan and David Hull bought Bottle Cottage in December 1982. They transformed the garden into one of the most beautiful in the village today. Susan Hull researched and wrote this history of her house.