The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening tours by J.C. Loudon 1831-1842
Chapter: Middlesex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Wilshire, Dorsetshire, Hampshire, Sussex, and Kent in the Summer of 1832

Journey Reading to Bear Wood

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Aug. 8. - Reading to Bear Wood. We passed Maiden Early, the boundary plantations of which are so thick of trees, that their naked stems are seen through. Opposite, on the Woodley Lodge estate, the proprietor, Mr. Wheeble, has built some comfortable cottages, in the place of some very wretched mud huts which stood there in 1818. These cottages are in pairs; and each consists of three rooms, with a large lean-to pantry, a shed for wood, and a privy. The centre room is a kitchen, 12 ft. by 12 ft., and 8 ft. high; the bed-room to the left is 12 ft. by 10 ft.; and that to the right is 12 ft. by 9 ft. The floor of the kitchen is one step above the exterior surface, and is paved with brick: those of the bed-rooms are one step above the kitchen floor, and are boarded. All the three rooms have plastered walls and ceilings: the door to the pantry is from the kitchen. Some of the cottages have only one fireplace, in the middle room; others have a second, behind the first. The cottagers did not appear to set much value on the second fireplace; and if that in the kitchen had had a cast-iron back (see Encyc. of Cott. Arch., ᄎ 314.), the second would have been quite unnecessary. The walls of the cottages are of brick, 4 in. thick, with 9-in. piers at the doors and windows; and the roofs are thatched on poles formed from young trees, the thinnings of the plantations. The windows are of latticework, and the doors are ledged. The symmetry of the elevation of the two cottages is preserved, notwithstanding the difference of size of the bedrooms, by the two larger of the latter being towards the centre. The chimney stacks, in some of the pairs of cottages, are short and plain; in others, somewhat higher, with the flues placed in separate diagonal shafts: but, in others, the shafts are long and circular, the bricks being formed on purpose, and glazed inside. These circular shafts have a square plinth at bottom, and square tops, and they are much the handsomest. We also found, on enquiry at three of the cottages, that those with the long chimney shafts were much less liable to smoke, than those the shafts of which were shorter. To each cottage is allotted 60 poles of land; and this, with the cottage, is let at the very moderate rent of 4l. a year. We know Mr. Wheeble to be a most benevolent, intelligent, and liberal man; and we must confess that we felt much gratification at seeing this practical illustration of his benevolence. Estimating the cost of each cottage at 40l. (and we do not think they would cost above that sum), the rent charged for the land is not more than would be paid for it by a common farmer.