as researched by a previous owner - Mr R. Lowery
As I began my "research," I quickly discovered that it might take a little longer than the hour and one half that I had allocated. My first disappointment came from the building society. As it turned out, their "archives," contained very little new information and only as far back as 1947.
According to these records, the house was purchased by Steward and Patteson Brewery in 1947 from Augusta de Cock Brogniaux. She was the widow of Charles Gustave Auguste de Cock Brogniaux, who died on 10 Aug 1946. Soon after the sale, Steward and Patteson was acquired by Watney Mann (East Anglia) Ltd. If older property records still exist, I am afraid they are buried somewhere in the archives of these companies.
In 1971 the house was sold to Samuel Henry Payne. In 1973 he in turn sold the property to Earnest and Florence White. The house remained in the White family until 1988, when it was purchased by John Nevins.
But what of its earlier history? Was it ever really a Public House independent from the Oak Hotel (Oak Tree Inn)? According to A.J. Orange, Roseneath was a pub with its own bowls green. But when, does anyone know? Who built the original house? When was it built? When was the rear extension constructed?
In an attempt to answer some of these questions, I have made several visits to the Norfolk Records Office in Norwich. At this point, I can definitely state that I have generated more questions for myself than answers. I now find myself entangled in a web of census data. This information can be invaluable, especially if you take care to trace the footsteps of the census taker. Did he turn right on to Bell Street or did he carry on up the Wilton Road? Oop?
Who has lived at 23 Bell Street? Until my next trip to the Records Office, your guess could be as good as mine. The problem is that Roseneath has been closely associated with the Oak Tree Inn since it was first built. As a result, it is difficult at times to tell who lived where. The primary candidates are:
1837: Mr. William Wells (Landowner: William Henry Roberts)
1844: William Henry Roberts
1861: John and Naome Place
1871: Amy Cracknell and her five children (Walter, Francis, Edward, Jemima, Agnes)
1881: Henry and Susannah Cooper, or John and Sarah Kelland
1891: William and Susan Spencer or William and Isabela Roper
1901 1931 ?
So who built the original house? At this point, my guess is that Dr. William Henry Roberts built the front portion of Roseneath originally to serve as his surgery and apothecary. The Georgian style suggests that the house was built in the early 1800s and this ties in well with the fact that he practiced medicine in Feltwell from 1818 to 1830. I suspect that he purchased the property, which included the Oak Tree Inn site, from Thomas Willett in 1817. According to the 1815 Enclosure Map, the only building on the property was perhaps the portion of the Oak Tree Inn that runs north-south and parallel to Oak Street.
Roseneath, described in 1837 as a house and garden, has a rather distinctive knapped flint fašade, which originally incorporated eight arched windows. (At some point, the lower right window was removed and replaced with a door.) The original rectangular design of the house included two rear entrances, so it is possible that the good Doctor lived and "operated" from home. At the age of 42, Dr. Roberts retired from his medical practice to pursue other interests, but apparently remained active in village life. He certainly owned the property on which the Oak Tree Inn stood, but whether he was responsible for its expansion is unclear. He and his wife Jane, Feltwell born and bred, had two daughters, Lucy Jane, who married Rev. Parrington, a local curate, and Sarah. Henry and his family apparently moved from the village sometime after 1851, but Henry returned to visit in 1861 and stayed at the Oak Tree Inn. Was he still the property owner of Roseneath and the Oak Tree Inn? I simply do not know.
To complete my version of the story, in 1872, John and Sarah Kelland moved to Feltwell from their home in Southampton with their daughter Alice. In the 1881 census, he was described as a veterinary surgeon and innkeeper. Had he purchased both properties from the Roberts? Initially, his family may have lived at Roseneath or at the Oak Tree. However, sometime between their first and seventh child, the pressures for additional living and business space must have led to an extension of one or both of the properties. Roseneath could have been either the family home, used for guests, or rented out. Whatever the case, I am convinced that this is an appropriate timeframe for the construction of the rear extension at Roseneath. When the extension was completed, the weathered rear entrance stone was retained as was an old well currently situated in the cellar.
I am interested in obtaining more information about the house. Can anyone shed some light on this admittedly disjointed attempt to reconstruct history? Do you recognize a name or distant relative? An obvious error or two? I could really use your help.
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