Item BCA - 2019.1803 - Beam Cottage; the gardens run as an organic market garden by Dor Thomson 1950s

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BCA - 2019.1803


Beam Cottage; the gardens run as an organic market garden by Dor Thomson 1950s


  • 1950s (Creation)

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two photographs, one document

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"Beam Cottage was the site of the medieval chapel of St. Andrew 'of Beme', so called by 1317; an early 12th-century shaft base was found built into the cottage, and burials around it produced radiocarbon dates from the 11th century to the 13th. The 'beam' itself (O.E. béam, 'tree', 'post', or 'pillar') may have been an upstanding ritual landmark, possibly a cross; the name Bampton (tun by the béam) suggests that it was an early and important focus, from which the later, probably mid Anglo-Saxon royal and ecclesiastical centre further west was named. An early alignment of holy sites running from west to east included, besides the church and the Beam chapel, the Lady well in the north-west corner of the castle moat, a medieval (and possibly late 11th-century) chapel in the Deanery west of the church, and a 15th century chantry chapel on Catte (later called Queen) Street. Though not all those sites were necessarily pre-Conquest, the basic arrangement was probably a relic of the Anglo-Saxon minster, and may help to explain the complexity of the town subsequently superimposed on it. Buckland road remained largely unsettled until the 19th century, and until inclosure (1821 for Bampton) the only outlying houses were the former chapel at the Beam, from the 17th century a copyhold cottage, and the farmsteads and cottages along Weald Lane, some of them of 17th-century origin."

from the British History on Line.

Dor Thomson bought Beam Cottage in 1951/52 for £3,000.

"It was originally built as two labourer cottages and made of wattle & daub. The well was still used for storing milk and butter in during the 1950s but was stagnant water. We found clay pipes in the stonework around the fireplace which originally had little shelves inside for squatting on.
"I remember The Beam being surrounded by a ditch which was stagnant lying mud lined with elm trees. I fell in it with about a foot of water in it. By the time the the adults came to get me out it was up to my chest. I was about 5 I think.
" Dor had already lost her family home of Shipton Court in The Wall Street Crash and was homeless after the war working as a gardener in a large house in Sapperton which, ironically, is just 3 miles from where I live now. The corrupt deal to the builders from the farmer broke her."

quote from Julie Rogers, the fostered daughter of Dor Thomson and Kate Wylie.

Janet Westman said to Julie

"I remember when we used to come and play with you and Miss Wylie gave us paper to draw on. This picture (Janet's family of 4) was taken in 1954 in with all the daffodils that Miss Thomson grew. I remember there was a well in the garden, the garden was always so pretty with lavender down the sides of the paths. Lovely lawns and flowers and fruit trees. There was always an abundance of plums and my Granny would be given some to make jam with. Granny used to clean for them, and I think my Auntie Ethel (Sheppard) did too. I think they may have babysat for you as well. My Dad always looked after their cars for them."

Julie's reply to Janet was

"I remember Ethel cleaning. I used to have to clean my room before she came lol. I was pretty scared in the early days and had to feed the chickens which would peck. Made me nervous. One day I found Kate pulling all the feathers from one of the hens and then we ate it. I was mortified. A little while later Ethel didn't come for a week and during that time we had Shepherd's Pie. I refused to it. Never had shepherd's pie before. I was convinced Kate had cooked Ethel."

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