Past Remains

A view of yesterday from today

May Cottage, Sidmouth, Devon

This lovely Grade II listed house, with its iconic Devon thatched roof, comprises two storeys and a projecting bay on the north east end. Stuccoed with a roughcast finish, the main front elevation contains four windows, two each side of the porched entrance, with a further window above the door. That central window plus the two on the right side are blind, presumable having been blocked up at some point. The projecting bay holds a slightly bowed sash window on the first floor.

Apart from the blue plaque information, I had difficulty discovering anything else about this lovely thatched house. However, the book "Life and Times in Sidmouth: A Guide to the Blue Plaques" by Julia Creeke has been very useful, and most of the following historical information has been derived from it. I'd also like to thank the member of staff at Sidmouth Museum who suggested the book.

At one time the home of John and Ann Potbury, (whose son began the well-known local furniture business Potbury & Sons, which is still trading today), it became the first Sidmouth cottage hospital. Benefacted by a Miss Annie Leigh Browne, who offered to pay the rent for the first three years, it opened in 1885. Miss Leigh Browne bought May Cottage after it's use as a hospital, to let as a private residence. It later on became a guest house.

During it's phase as a guesthouse, it was famous for a beautiful passion flower that covered the front of the building. Unfortunately, it died after two very cold winters during the early 1960s. However, there are now two lovely clematis climbing in it's place.

Although the iconic Devon thatched houses are fairly timeless, and difficult to pinpoint a specific era, this one does have a few clues. It can be seen in a print dated 1826, which fits with some Regency features such as the windows and cast iron porch. However, it is thought to have been built some time in the 17th century, and according to the house listing was rehandled in the 19th century, which accounts for the addition of the Regency features at that time.

Above, the lovely bowed window, and below, the enclosed cast iron porch with peaked canopy and fleur de lis finial to the wall.

May Cottage now houses the Sidmouth International School.

A few more photos can be seen in the Photo Gallery album along with these.

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