This one is a bit of a mystery. I was in a friend's car when we drove past it and she screeched to a halt at my exclamation of 'wow, look at that!' She's used to me by now!
I was a bit nonplussed about the name of Knowle Cottage, and initially thought it was just because it's near to Knowle, which is a large house currently used as the offices of East Devon District Council and sitting in it's own extensive grounds. It also has it's own lodge house to the East, called Balfour Cottage. However, there are a few clues to the cottage, plus a little gem of information gleaned from a lot of material whilst researching.
As I've mentioned in some other articles about Sidmouth architecture, many interesting buildings are missing from the British Listing. And this is one of them.
However, the wall it's attached to curves around the corner to, and all along, Knowle Drive. There are lovely semi-circular entrances leading to the individual gardens belonging to houses on that side of Knowle Drive, and I did wonder if the wall was once part of the Knowle estate, possibly enclosing a soft fruit garden or something similar. This enclosure doesn't actually connect with the grounds of Knowle but may have been annexed due to sale of land on this North-West side, leaving this wall partition out on a limb.
The interesting bit of information that I came across is that Knowle had two lodge houses, the second one on the West side...where this cottage also is. So this may have been the second lodge. Please don't quote me on that though, as it's still guesswork at this stage until I can get it confirmed. It's obviously a lodge of some kind though, because of the way it's built into and is part of the wall, which also makes it fairly unusual.
It's such a delightful building in so many ways. Half-hidden by the imposing wall, until you're actually upon it, it's another lovely Cottage Orne, of which there are many in Sidmouth. Handsel and Gretel bargeboards on the gable end of a steeply pitched roof, split level wings, a gloriously fat and tall chimney stack and all done in a lovely soft, weathered red brick.
This wall door, above, echoes the front door of the cottage; a plank door with metal hinge bars and painted in a lovely soft blue. Below can be seen the wall as it curves around into Knowle Drive, and below that you can just about see three or four of the semi-circular gateways with big wooden gates fitted inside them.
The gateways look like they might have belonged to stables, but it's a huge enclosure...even for a garden...so that's still a mystery to solve. As always, I will add more information as soon as I can discover it, and hopefully solve the mystery of the 'secret garden' walls.
Some more photos can be seen in the Photo Gallery album, along with these.