Canada Cottage, Queens Road

Latest update re the well found in Canada Cottage in Queens Road

I was invited by the owner of Canada Cottage to come and view the well. I was nearly dark and I expected to go outside into the garden. However, to my surprise it was in what would be described as a large family room towards the far end. Was I very surprised – the work carried out was impressive as it is first set within a cream coloured marble floor in a circle awaiting a re-enforced plate glass top to be fitted over the hole. In addition there are three spot lights illuminating the whole depth of the well to its water level. Stood there amazed.

Its has all being cleaned out and restored to such a very high standard and a major feature for the old cottage built in 1824 as described below.

To many it was considered easier to fill it in, but thank goodness the owner sought to restore it and make it a feature forever and preserve just a little bit more of Penkhulls history. I cannot thank him enough and he must be congratulated on the final result.

Below are a few photographs to show off what was found.

 Well uncovered under the Kitchen floor

Well exposed to its depth

 Right to the bottom in sandstone


Restored with floodlighting awaiting the plate glass cover


An account of the well found at the side of Canada Cottage, Queens Road.

By Dr. Richard Talbot MBE, M.Phil, F.R.Hist.S.

The following is my account of the history of the well recently discovered at the side of Canada Cottage, Queens Road, Penkhull. It is not unusual to find wells in Penkhull. Over the years I have identified at lease six in the immediate village.

The first map of any significance on Penkhull is dated 1775. There are no buildings shown in the vicinity of the current house, so it eliminates a date from that period. Penkhull formed part of the Manor of Newcastle-under-Lyme for which the court records and land transactions dating from the 14th century are located at the National Archives at Kew. I have nearly a full collection of these records transcribed in my archive.

From these records it is known that the first occupier of the house was Michael Baxter, miller and brewer of Penkhull. The plot of land for the cottage formed part of a larger plot of land belonging to Beech Grove a large mansion built by Thomas Harrison a potter from Honeywall situated just around the corner in what is now St. Thomas Place.

At a manorial court held at Penkhull on the 27th May 1824 (DL30/507/34) the plot of land upon which Canada Cottage was built including two further cottages that were attached was sold by Robert Archer, the owner of Beech Grove to one Michael Baxter. The following entry in the court records confirms the transfer of copyhold* land from Archer to Baxter. The land in a further document relates to it as being assessed as waste confirming there was no previous building on the plot.

Homage: John Bloor and John Paulson. To this court comes Robert Archer of Penkhull, yeoman and in consideration of the sum of none pounds, six shillings and six pence paid by Michael Baxter of Penkhull, miller in full purchase of a plot or piece of land All that plot piece of land being a parcel of copyhold land called the Green Croft as the same is now marked out of the south west corner thereof adjoining to certain copyhold buildings belonging to (space) Mary Broad and also adjoins and lies up to a certain other copyhold premises of Michael Baxter on the west and contains by measurement fifty three square yards and three feet of land To the use of Michael Baxter for ever.

Michael Baxter admitted. Fined one half penny                                      signed Robert Archer.

This confirms that Canada Cottage was not built until 1824. At this time Queens Road had not been laid, the group of three cottages were built in a short row off what was Newcastle Street. Queens Road as we know it was not formed until the last 1870s and early 1880s. Before it was developed there was no mains water so in keeping with all old properties they had to become sufficient by the provision of their own water well. In this case until c1880.

These facts fit into the report by City Archaeologist Mr. Jon Godwin who confirms his findings:

The well is 9m deep and is brick-lined in a manner that I’ve seen in other examples of the 18th and 19th centuries. Stylistically, the bricks appear to be no earlier than the late 18th century, but, equally, could be early 19th century in date. The owners pointed out a small number of pottery sherds that had apparently been found above the sandstone slab used to cap the well – most of these pieces were early-mid 19th-century in date but offer somewhat iffy dating evidence as they’re essentially unstratified finds. It is conceivable, however, that the date of the material could fit with an 1820s construction date for the property and may represent production waste within made-ground around the cottage, rather than evidence of occupation. It is quite a nicely built thing, so would have taken some effort (and resources) to construct. If it was sunk to supply the cottage, then it might offer some clues as to the status of the property.

 The conclusions drawn up by Mr Goodwin, fit nicely with the factual evidence provided, that indeed the brick of construction could be dated from the period 1824 and considering the status of Mr Baxter as probably one of the wealthiest in Penkhull would support the comments also by Mr Goodwin.

© Richard Talbot 2018

* Copyhold – land held from the Duchy of Lancaster by a copy of the Court Roll. Hence the word copyhold.