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Old Houses - Hartley Hill Cottage

Picture of Hartley Hill Cottage, Church Road, Hartley, Kent

Picture of Hartley Hill Cottage and map showing location of farm

Map of Hartley Hill Cottage, Hartley, Kent

Occupying the corner plot of the junction of Church Road and Hartley Hill, Hartley Hill Cottage is probably the most pictured house in the village - for example on the Church notelets and teatowels (available from the Friends of All Saints' !), and until recently on a very handsome postcard at Longfield Post Office.

It is a timber and brick built cottage, described in 1910 as having 3 bedrooms upstairs and 3 rooms downstairs.  Then as now, the garden was a noted feature of the house.  The English Heritage lister (it has grade II listing) estimated that it was 17th century or earlier, and this is consistent with the documentary evidence.

The first definite reference to Hartley Hill Cottage comes in 1693, when Nicholas Pigott and Jane his wife, sold the cottage to William Knight, together with some land at Stansted.  The eight acres that went with it were devoted to arable and orchards.  On that land the houses of Ship Cottage, The Willows and Applegarth, Church Road now stand; as well as Hillside and Longview in Hartley Hill.  Presumably this too was the house that Henry Piggott paid hearth tax for 4 hearths in 1662.  Nicholas Piggott was mentioned in the will of Thomas Burrowe of New House Farm (1692) as being his kinsman.

In the 18th century the freehold of the house passed to the Crowhurst family, who owned land in Longfield.  Thomas Crowhurst lived here himself from 1748 to 1751.  It was then owned by the Taylor family, before being bought by William Bensted of Hartley Court in the early 19th century.  Tenants included Richard and Mary Johnson (1751-57); Richard and Susannah Wingate (1757-66); and newlyweds William and Mary Johnson (1766-84), who had been married at Hartley Church.

For almost a century, the Pettmans were the tenants of Hartley Hill Cottage, beginning with Henry and Mary Pitman in 1790.  They were followed by Robert Pettman and his wife Jane, Robert is presumably Henry's son, but does not appear on the baptism register for Hartley.  Robert was a shepherd at Hartley Court, but one of their nine children, William (b 1841) rose to become a farm bailiff.  For a while two of their daughters kept a school at the house, one of them, Amy Russell of Ash, was still living in 1927 when Rev Bancks wrote 'Hartley Through the Ages'.  Robert died in 1864, but it was not until 1901 that Jane, now aged 96 and living at New House Farm cottages was reunited with him in Hartley Churchyard.

When the Valuation Office visited in 1911 the tenant was one Alfred Marsh, who paid the princely sum of 4 shillings (20p) per week, and the house was valued at £105.  Smallowners Ltd purchased the freehold in 1913, but by 1918 the owners were Mr Frederick Robertson and Miss Eveline Robertson, who lived here until 1960.  Mr Robertson was well known as a beekeeper and the adverts in the Parish Magazine with some justification called it 'finest Kentish honey'.  For he had won prizes at shows in Cambridge, Bromley and Rochester.  And the Dartford Chronicle of 5 September 1924 had the headline 'Local Successes at National Show' with details of the prizes he had won at the Crystal Palace National Show.  The paper also noted the gift of a plaque to be attached to the War Memorial by Miss Robertson in 1939.  Mr Robertson was also a keen photographer, and it is thanks to him that a fine set of photographs showing the working of Hartley Bottom Farm in the 1930s before mechanisation, still survives.

Peter Mayer, 2007