The history of Rosedene
The mid-19th century was a period of rural discontent in Britain, from which the Chartist movement was formed. Rosedene remains largely unchanged since it was first occupied by early Chartists and gives a great insight into a time of remarkable British political change. Discover more about the history of Rosedene.
A simple home
Originally Rose Cottage, Rosedene was part of a larger Chartist settlement in Dodford in which around 40 plots, each of four acres, were built in an attempt to resettle people from industrial towns to a life of self-sufficiency in the countryside. Each occupant would have to pay ground rent, but ownership meant entitlement to a vote.
The original building had two bedrooms, a living room, dairy, store, back hall with well and pump, plus an adjoining piggery, coal house and privy.
During the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign, the Chartist movement revolted against the strengthening of England’s industrial and commercial prosperity which they believed was being achieved by the exploitation of the industrial working class.
The Chartists believed that the only hope of improving social conditions was by the representation in parliament of the workers. They drew up ‘The People’s Charter’ demanding six forms:
- A vote for every man regardless of social or property qualifications
- Vote by ballot
- Payment of members of parliament
- Removal of the property qualifications for members
- Equal electoral districts
- Annual parliaments
Influencing the electoral system
This charter was presented to parliament three times between 1839 and 1848 as a petition with thousands of signatures. There was little support for it at the time, but within 50 years the first four policies had been taken up and are now an integral part of our electoral system.
The National Land Company
Fergus O’Connor, the charismatic and extremely popular leader of the Chartists, developed a scheme in 1845 that became known as the National Land Company. He planned to settle ordinary workers on smallholdings of three to four acres, each with a cottage so they could be self-sufficient and would be entitled to vote. This was a well-meaning idea, but one that did not work.
The National Land Company ran into serious financial difficulty, owing to O’Connor’s poor account-keeping. A parliamentary committee enquiry was set up to examine its affairs before the Dodford settlement had even been built and a year before its opening day the National Land Company was declared illegal, as was the lottery system of allocating plots. Therefore, the allotments at Dodford were allocated on a bonus system.
Residents of Rosedene
The first owners
Rosedene was originally purchased in 1849 by an East India Company retiree from Cork called William Hodgkiss. It is generally considered to be the least changed of all the cottages, having been occupied by one family for much of the 20th century.
Hodgkiss took out a mortgage with William Hackett in January 1851 in order to purchase the whole property. However he ended up selling the house to Hackett in August 1851 to pay off his debt. It is likely that Hackett rented out the property for the next 15 years or so until he sold it.
Rosedene's new owners
In 1867 Rosedene was bought by Joseph Woodall of Lower Gornal for £300. Woodall was described variously as a boiler manufacturer and innkeeper and was the owner of several properties, including another property on the Dodford estate, purchased 1869, when he was described as a grocer.
Rosedene was once again sold in 1890, to Alfred Price, a market gardener born in Droitwich. He lived there with his wife, Matilda, and their three children.
The Crisp family
In 1922, Alfred Crisp and his wife Rose purchased Rosdene, now known as Rose Cottage. The Crisp family continued with the tradition of self-sufficiency, growing their own fruit and vegetables. The family had chickens, ducks, geese and two pigs fed on mashed potatoes. A pony called Dolly was also kept and used for ploughing.
The cottage stayed in the Crisp family until 1996, when Alfred’s son, Bill, passed away.
Restoration project begins
The cottage was bought at auction by the National Trust in October 1997 and remains largely unchanged since it was first occupied by early Chartists. A restoration project took place shortly after the National Trust acquired the property in readiness for welcoming visitors.
The cottage restored
Rosedene in 1998 prior to restoration
Discover more about the kitchen garden at Rosedene, carefully restored to reflect the self-sufficient ways of the first Chartist residents.
Volunteer at Rosedene and share its varied history with visitors as a tour guide.