A cottage constructed circa 1848 in the Chartist settlement of Snigs End, to designs by Feargus O'Connor, the leader of the movement.
Reason for Listing
Stone Cottage is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: as a component of one of only five Chartist colonies set up in the mid-C19, as part of a movement to provide working class people with decent housing and land by which to support themselves, aiming ultimately to gain for them the widespread right to vote, and thereby achieve parliamentary reform;
* Legibility: the building, despite some later alterations, is immediately recognisable as one of the characteristic Chartist cottages by Feargus O'Connor, the leader of the movement;
* Intactness: the cottage has been relatively little altered since its completion, retaining its plan and much of its fabric;
* Group value: with the other listed Chartist cottages scattered across the modern settlement of Staunton.
The Chartist settlement at Snigs End, in the parishes of Staunton and Corse, is one of only five Chartist settlements ever completed. The Chartist movement flourished in England between 1838 and 1848, and out of their activities, the Chartist Land Company arose, which developed purpose-built settlements whose buildings survive into the C21.
The aim of the movement was political reform and social change, and was intended to improve the lot of the working class. In 1838, the movement brought to Parliament its People's Charter, a petition supposedly signed by up to 6 million workers. The Charter set out six main demands by which a democratic parliament would be achieved: vote by secret ballot; abolition of the property qualification for Members of Parliament (MPs); payment of MPs; equal electoral districts; annual elections; and universal male suffrage. The Charter was presented to parliament three times, and rejected on each occasion. The movement became inactive following this setback, together with the imprisonment of a number of its leaders, including the charismatic Feargus O'Connor (1796?-1855), who continued to write articles for the newspaper he had founded, the Northern Star, during his imprisonment. On his release, Chartism underwent something of a revival, and following the failure of the Charter to achieve its aims, O'Connor looked for a new means to improve the political and social welfare of the working class. A new policy of land reform was proposed, and reluctantly accepted by the leaders of the movement in 1843, though it was unpopular, and the dispute signalled the beginning of the end of the movement, which was eventually absorbed into the general move towards social reform in the later C19.
O'Connor's proposal for land reform worked on the basis that, as land ownership was the means by which the right to vote was decided, then the working class must be given the opportunity to buy land. He believed that his plan would result in the creation of a new class of self-supporting smallholders, by settling the working class on the land; each would receive the freehold possession of a cottage and land to support it to the value of 40 shillings a year, and thus would qualify for a vote. By this means, the number of working class voters would increase to the point where they could influence government and bring about reform. This resulted in the setting-up of the Chartist Land Company (later the Chartist Co-operative Land Company and then the National Land Company), though the company experienced problems over its legal status which were never resolved. O'Connor proceeded anyway, becoming the owner of all the land purchased in the name of the Company. He planned villages of 125 families, each with a school, library and hospital, and each cottage on a plot of 2, 3 or 4 acres. Membership of the company was by weekly subscription, and a lottery held on the completion of each village would determine which members were allocated plots in that settlement, and the freehold would be transferred to them. In reality, due to the uncertain legal status of the Chartist Land Company, none of the freeholds were transferred during its life, and disputes arose between the Company and the tenants, who refused to pay rent for plots they believed they owned. Following a parliamentary inquiry, a bill to wind up the Company was granted Royal Assent in 1851, and chancery took over the running of the estates, which were sold into private ownership over more than half a century.
The estate at Snigs End was purchased in 1847; the 280 acres cost about £12,000. The allotments were to be ready in May 1848, and ballots were held in Autumn of 1847. A total of about 81 houses and a schoolhouse were constructed, and are shown on a map of 1853. Two contractors undertook to build the houses: those in the north of the settlement were built using stone, by Griffiths, and the remainder were constructed in brick by Jones and Dowding, among them Stone Cottage, which is named for its location on The Stone Road, rather than in reference to its building material. They were all built to a design by Feargus O'Connor, which is characteristic of all Chartist houses: each is of a single-storey and three-bays, the central bay gabled; three rooms at the front of the house provided the living accommodation; and an outshut and perpendicular ranges to the rear provided service rooms and housing for animals, and formed three sides of a courtyard, which was completed by a wall to the rear. Following the passing of the winding-up act in Parliament, an official manager was sent to Snigs End in September 1853, to set the level of rents and arrange for the sale of the site. Stone Cottage was plot 8 in the settlement, and was evidently one of the earliest to be sold on, as a conveyance exists dated 4 February 1854 between William Goodchap Esq and Mr James Greenwood. The majority of the estate was sold by auction in 1857.
Stone Cottage has remained largely unaltered since its completion, though its eastern rear range has been demolished. It continues to sit within its full original allotment, to which plot 9’s allotment was added sometime in the C20, the original Chartist cottage situated there having been mostly demolished. Stone Cottage is one of very few Chartist cottages that has its main elevation facing onto its allotment, reflecting its original access from a lane running along its southern boundary.
The cottage is constructed from red brick on a stone plinth, with render to the rear sections, under Cornish slate roofs, with corrugated metal to the rear extension, and brick stacks.
The building is orientated east-west, with the main elevation facing south across its substantial plot of land. The three principal rooms are ranged across the front (south) elevation, with the kitchen and ancillary rooms in the outshut which runs across the rear. There is a short range running north from the western end of the outshut.
The building is of three-bays and a single-storey; it is single-depth with an additional outshut to the rear. The three-bay front range is built in red brick laid in Monk bond, set on a stone plinth; the central, gabled bay breaks forward slightly, and has a central entrance doorway under a rubbed-brick flat-arched voussoir; it houses a late-C20 half-glazed door. The doorway is flanked by single-light openings with mid-C20 metal-framed windows under soldier courses, with terracotta tile cills. In the gable is a small dressed-stone breather with a moulded cruciform opening. The flanking bays each have a two-light opening with metal-framed windows, also under soldier courses and with tile cills. The eaves course projects slightly. There are brick stacks to either end of the main range, each slightly corbelled-out. The rear outshut is rendered brick, and has metal windows under timber lintels with tile cills. A tall central stack rises from the rear of the main range at the junction with the outshut. There is a short range extending northwards from the western end, which has a monopitch roof and two door openings in its eastern elevation.
The three principal rooms to the front of the cottage remain largely as built; their fireplaces remain, though the grates have been removed and their surrounds are modern timber examples. The floors are covered in narrow timber boards. The rear outshut has been altered slightly to create a large kitchen from the former dairy and wash-house, together with a study and bathroom, accessed from an inner lobby, which occupy space formerly given over to a privy and accommodation for animals. The kitchen retains its red-tile floor.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.