THE BCH ARCHIVE

LOCAL HISTORY FOR

BIRTSMORTON

CASTLEMORTON

HOLLYBUSH

And The Surrounding District

Fir Tree Cottage Page 2

In 1911, as Hill Cottage, occupied by Alfred Lissimore, Carpenter (aged 55), his wife Sarah Ann (aged 54) and his children James (aged 32), Alfred (aged 29) William, Farm Labourer (aged 18) and Thomas (aged 10).


In 1921, 19 June, Katherine Eliza Masefield of Ledbury, widow, (her husband, William, had died 29 May 1906) paid off the mortgage.


In about 1925, Ernie and Florrie Baldwin, who had been living at Fir Tree, moved to The Poplars.


In 1934, the thatched roof was over-coverd in tin, presumably because re-thatching was too expensive.


In 1939, not found.


Fir Cottage had belonged to Hereward Weaver's father, George Edward Weaver (in 1891 living at Foxhall) and he passed it on to his daughter Theresa, who married George Cull and lived together at Foxhall.


George Brewer (senior) rented it off them for £45 a year. Frederick Brewer was a tenant at Fir Tree Cottage from 1939 until 1955, after which date it remained empty. A demolition order was issued by Malvern Hills District Council on 24 April 1956, followed by a undertaking not to re-let for human habitation under Section 16 of the housing Act 1957, when a subsequent tenant complained of its condition.


George Brewer (junior) wrote an account of his time at Fir Tree which was published in the Malvern Gazette in 1999. “Mr Brewer grew up at Fir Tree Cottage, Swinyard Hill, Castlemorton, where his family lived from 1939 to 1955. The present owners, Roger Bates and Jo Cameron, have been granted planning consent for an extension to the cottage, despite objections by Malvern Hills Conservators, who said it wood 'unsympathetic development'. Mr Brewer said there was a wash house on the side of the cottage when he lived there. 'I've lit the old boiler in there hundreds of times. We used to bath in there always', he said. His parents, Fred and Dorothy, moved to the cottage in December 1939 with their children, Rosemary and George, who was then a few days old. Two more children, Linda and Fred, were born there. The cottage had no gas, electricity or running water. Spring water was drawn from a well and there was a wooden privy in the garden. Because it was wartime, the hill below the cottage was covered in wheat and potatoes. 'I heard afterwards that Britain was on the brink of starvation during the war years, but we were living well with plenty of fruit and vegetables', said Mr Brewer. 'My father used to do a bit of poaching and we used to have stews of rabbit, pheasant, partridge, woodcock and pigeon. I still can't bear stew', said Mr Brewer, whose other pet hate was the adders his father used to kill and hang in the hawthorn trees. The family kept sheep, chickens, pigs, two goats, two donkeys and a Red Poll cow for milk and butter. Trees in the cottage garden included a Douglas fir, willows around the pond, greengage, apple, damson, cherry and pear trees. 'My mother used to make her own ginger beer and parsnip or damson wine. In fact, she still had some bottles cherries 28 years later and I'm sure they would have been all right, but she wouldn't let me eat them', he said. His mother did all this in the wash house where the clothes were washed, the family had their weekly baths and the salted bacon was hung in the rafter. Mr Brewer recalls her being up at 5am boiling water to wash down the cow ready for milking. He also remembers her cooking breakfast at dawn for his father when he was working an early shift as a stoker at the American camp at St Wulstan's. 'He used to drive up and down there on his motorbike or his old Austin pick-up. We used to walk to school, first at Welland and then at Castlemorton, unless one of the men working at ~Gullet Quarry gave us a lift back', he said. Mr Brewer remembers his mother baking bread and cakes and laying on fantastic teas with trifles and blancmanges, making life at Fir Tree Cottage sound like The Darling Buds of May. But he said the Brewers were never as well off as the Larkin family. 'We were more like Beverly Hillbillies. I used to wash outside in cold water and we were used to walking around in the dark, although we had an Aladdin lamp and candles. In winter we used to read, or listen to the radio or make rag rugs,' he said. 'Mother used to knit and make quilts with the wool from the sheep and we used to send off for seeds for the garden. I looked after the vegetable garden from the age of 9 or 10 years and Rosemary used to shear the sheep.


Left to right: Linda, George and Fred Brewer

Rosemary Brewer with the original wash house on the right.


George, Rosemary, Fred and Linda Brewer feeding the lambs.


Brewers Cottage on 'the other side of the hills', where the Brewers moved to