‘A hotbed of Emms’ the story of a Bratton House

on Tuesday, 10 March 2015. Posted in Architecture

We were asked to investigate a small cottage in Lower Road, Bratton a little while ago by the descendant of the original builder. It’s not often this happens, and we were rather nervous about reporting on the documentary history when the protagonists are so intimately connected to the client; the odd murder and nefarious activity has not been unknown…

It appears that the cottage built by Benjamin Emm started as two dwellings. His will of 1803 clearly stated that the house was occupied by his son James and also John Balsh which would account for the two front doors, one now blocked. Benjamin was an enterprising individual who made one small cottage pay its way!

Benjamin Emm was born in 1735, the fourth son of Benjamin and Mary Emm. He married Grace Dew at Bratton Church, in 1764. Benjamin had been a copyholder in Broad Chalke but had settled in Bratton by 1792. He and his wife were said to have farmed Redlands Farm, Bratton, as tenants, and built the cottage in Lower Road for their retirement.

Benjamin died when in his sixties and was buried at Bratton Church on April 19th 1803; Grace did not outlive him for long, being buried on December 22nd of the same year. A plaque on the cottage bears Benjamin and Grace Emm’s initials, together with the date when the cottage was built, 1795.

In the 1841 census, Joseph, the younger son of Benjamin was farming Reeves Farm. He was aged 62, and living with his sister Mary, aged 76. His brother James’s widow, also named Mary, was at Emms Farm, while her son Benjamin and his wife Jane were at Horsecroft Farm; her daughter Martha and Benjamin Callaway were at Capps Lane, and the Lower Road cottages were owned by various members of the Emm family. In fact our researcher was again somewhat bogged down by the many Emms all bearing the traditional family names, and sorting out which name went with which house. As the client later commented, ‘The whole area was a hotbed of Emms!’

Despite being sold away from the Emm family in 1901, with a succession of different owners, history turned full circle and in 1995 a descendant of the Emms was resident once more.

Margaret Parrott & Dorothy Treasure

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