Property focus: How you could own one of Kenilworth’s oldest cottages which dates back to the Tudor era

Having stood on the top of the hill overlooking the Abbey Fields for more than 500 years, the cottage at 81 High Street has many stories to tell

Having stood on the top of the hill overlooking the Abbey Fields for more than 500 years, the cottage at 81 High Street has many stories to tell. Photo supplied

One of Kenilworth’s oldest cottages has gone on the market.

Having stood on the top of the hill overlooking the Abbey Fields for more than 500 years, the cottage at 81 High Street has many stories to tell.

On the market for £425,000, the cottage today - with its electric car charger and USB charger ports - is very different to the farmhouse built on the back wall of the Monastery boundary in the mid-16th Century.

Inside the cottage at 81 High Street in Kenilworth. Photo supplied

“Its story really starts with Henry VIII in 1538,” says Peter James, neighbour and local historian. “When he dissolved the Monasteries, the (Abbey) fields that the monks had cultivated came into the ownership of Andrew Flammock of Balsall Common, a Knight and Courtier related to Jane Seymour.

“The house stayed in the family for two more generations, until the whole Abbey site was sold to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and it became part of the Castle Estate.”

“Local specialists date the beams at around 1650 but no one knows precisely when the farmhouse was built on the back of the Abbey wall, when it was divided into cottages or who lived there.

"Being owned by the Castle, that information is not in the public records.”

The squirrel on the roof of the cottage. Photo supplied

“We do know that when the Castle Estate was put up for sale in 1884, the Town Council was keen to retain the fields as a public recreation ground but couldn’t afford it.

"It was only when a group of six men agreed to finance the short-fall – in return for the right to create building sites on the northern perimeter – that the Abbey Fields, as we know them, were saved for public use.”

The cottage, however, was not saved. It was within three of the building sites the six men put up for auction.

A ‘building line’ ran through the sites and it was assumed the cottage would be demolished when the sites were developed.

Paul Miller's painting of 81 High Street. Image supplied

“It was a wealthy woman that came to the rescue,” explains Peter. “Gertrude Evans lived opposite the cottage at Clinton House and she bought it to preserve her view of the park.

"She used the cottage for charitable purposes. When she died it was taken over by The Charity Commission.”

The cottages were passed onto the Town Council who turned them into council houses. It was the ‘Right to Buy’ Act that saw them come into private ownership.

Today it offers a large modern kitchen, an office, a living room, two bedrooms, a bathroom and off-street parking for two cars.

Inside the cottage at 81 High Street in Kenilworth. Photo supplied

“We’ve loved living here,” says Natalie Reed, the current owner. “Every bit of the house has a story to tell. The straw squirrel on the roof, for example, was inspired by the cheeky critter that sat and watched the thatcher replace the roof in 2016.

“It’s a beautiful spot,” she continues. “With the park literally on your doorstep and the castle a stone’s throw away, plus the brilliant cafes, pubs and restaurants within strolling distance, weekends are filled with stunning walks, good food and a drink or two.”

“It’s practical too. The post office, supermarkets, doctors and dentists are all within a 10 minute walk. There are good road and public transport links which make going to Royal Leamington Spa, Birmingham, Coventry or even a day out in London, easy.”

The house catches the eye of many visiting Kenilworth. Local artist, Paul Miller, recently painted the cottage.

“Originally, I intended to paint the Wantage, a large house next door, but when we stopped to chat to some friends in the park, the light on the back of the cottages caught my eye and I just had to capture it,” he said.

The painting was the inspiration for the recent ‘Secret views of Kenilworth’ exhibition.

Inside the cottage at 81 High Street in Kenilworth. Photo supplied

81 High Street is on the market with Sheldon Bosley Knight.

Inside the cottage at 81 High Street in Kenilworth. Photo supplied