Occupants of Orchard Cottage: Joseph Andrew Pepper and family

Orchard Cottage, 2019
Alan Williams
Joseph Andrew Pepper in his back garden 1960
Daphne Pepper
Conveyancing Map 1949
Photo supplied by Joan Gane

Joan Hilda Pepper remembered leaving Rose Lane in Melbourn and moving into Orchard Cottage with her parents and two brothers Harry and Eric in 1938. Across the road George Palmer’s yard at Sheene Farm was then home to horses and bullocks and farm machinery. Each day Joseph Cooper, the cowman, would drive his herd from their grazing pasture on the riverside water meadows and across Cowslip Corner to be milked. Mr Cooper was Joan’s nearest neighbour living in Sheene Cottage.

Her father Joseph Andrew Pepper, the son of Samuel Pepper and Fanny Hinkins, was born in Meldreth in 1888. Described in the 1939 census as a Jobbing Gardener, Joseph came from a large and long-established family whose recorded origins in Meldreth date back to the 1700s. Individual family members’ stories are well documented across the Meldreth History website with three of Joseph’s brothers – Great War casualties Ernest and Samuel Mark, the enterprising Arthur, and nephew Dennis all have pages dedicated to them. Joseph’s wife Alice Selina Winifred Rule was also born in Meldreth and passed away in 1940 soon after moving into Orchard Cottage.

Married a year later in 1941 Joan, her husband Sidney Walter King, and Joseph continued to live in and rent Orchard Cottage until December 1949 when, for the sum of £600.00, they purchased the freehold to the house orchard and premises known as Orchard Cottage.

A payment of £100.00 was made to Reginald Coningsby and the £500.00 balance was obtained from the Royston and District Permanent Building Society subject to a six-shilling legal search being made by the family‘s solicitor. The conveyancing document describes Joseph as an Engineer, Sidney as a Rubber Worker, and Joan as a Housewife.

The most noticeable change on the map accompanying the conveyancing document is the land and buildings behind and previously in the possession of Sheene Cottage have reverted back to Orchard Cottage.

Once again, when producing the map, the conveyancing solicitor has referred back to the 1886 Ordnance Survey first edition still showing the neighbouring cottages burnt down some forty-four years previously.

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