Saturday, April 25, 2015

Kinver Edge & The Rock Cottage

Tucked away in the hillside at Kinver Edge, you will find an unusual little cave cottage. The area boasts plenty of walks and places for you to explore with the kids, this is a lovely little place to spend a sunny day. Shaded by woodland areas hold delightful picnic places with the chance to also explore the history surrounding Kinver Edge & the little cottages hidden away within the rocks. 

Have you ever thought, what it would be like to live in a cave, well Kniver Rock house certainly offers you the chance to get to know what it may have been like. These little cottages have been refurbished  to how they would have looked like in the days they where lived in. You would be surprised to know that wasn't that long ago.
Life in the rock houses has been described as warm in the winter, cool in the summer. The last family  lived in the cottage called Holy Austin up to the late 1950`s. After they left the site became lost overgrown and derelict, it was declared unsafe. Local people along with the National Trust took over the site in the 1990`s many volunteers helped to restore the land and heritage of the surrounding area. The crumbling rock was saved from crumbling away completely. In 1997 the site was opened to receive its first visitors. 

It was believed a hermit initially lived in the rock cottage during the 16th Century hence the name ,Holy Austin, which was believed to have been the hermits name. The first recorded record of life at Rock Houses is in the year 1777 when J Heely describes a clean and descent family and commodious room cut into the rocks.
Census entries in gaps of ten years also show life and families raised at this unique little place. Many types of people have lived in the cottages from farm labours, industry workers and self employed artisans all lived lives here a various times over the years.
A deed of sale was also found which refers to a hairdresser buying the rock dwelling. In the forthcoming years after the hairdresser a besom maker and a mole catcher where also listing along with a woman whom used to take in laundry.
The houses where good solid home, they where quite specious and a healthy place to live in. As families grew the dwellings where passed down and extended to accommodate the growing numbers living in them. In 1861 as industry grew in the area it was recorded eleven families lived at Holy Austin.
Over the years reaching the 1880`s the families declined as did the iron industry. Some dwellings were abandoned these evolved in with the ones that where occupied. The rock houses changed to accommodate. Not much was written down back in the olden days as there wasn't a need to read or write only a few children had the chance to go to the local school to try to better themselves. 
As the 20th century approached Kinver became a sort after tourist area, its pretty village, winding river and Kniver edge was a ideal get away for those seeking a breath of fresh air. Teas rooms sprung to life within the cottages. These cottages have seen and hold a mass of history within there walls. 
Of course there was no main water within these lands two wells were found one on the upper level which is claimed to be the deepest private well in England at 180 ft. There was a second well on the lower level. The upper well now lyes capped under the tea room garden. 
So how did they go to the loo? Well earth closets where built or excavated from the rock. The one at the lower level was in a small cave off the path leading up from the what today is the car park on Compton Road. The product of these loos ( night soil ) was valuable fertiliser for the gardens. Talk about recycle!
Each of the houses had a good sized garden which would provide fresh vegetables. wives back in them days had plenty a skill to preserve vegetables for the winter months, it is said there was more than enough to earn a penny or two also from the excess. Gas pipes where installed in the houses as time progressed providing heating and cooking. There is certainly a lot to be learned about Kinver Edge and cottages. Its a pretty place to visit. When you look around it shows just how hard life must have been in the centuries prior to today. It makes you think how lucky we are to live in a world with mod cons. You certainly would have had to be fit and healthy to live in Kinver Cottages at the height of there existence.  
Well worth a visit a great place to explore. There are quite steep drops for the little ones so please be aware of this when visiting.

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