The Elms

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Elms' page

36 Lucas Lane

by Cliff Jenkinson

The Elms is a red brick house, built in 1884.  Its name reminds us of the stately elm trees which used to line the recreation ground opposite until they fell victim to Dutch Elm disease in 1978.

In its earliest years a tailor, Mr Elijah Smith, lived in the house, having previously lived at Partridge Hall.  The 1891 census records Elijah, aged 67, living here with his daughter Caroline Jane, aged 33.  Mrs Smith had died on 3rd January that year, also aged 67.  Elijah did not long survive his wife, dying that same year on 17th September.  Shortly afterwards Caroline married a man called Samuel Cherry.  Caroline Cherry left the house to her daughter on her death in 1916.

During the early years of the twentieth century Mr Charles Moss lived here with his wife, Fanny as tenants of the Cherrys.  Charles Moss came originally from South Collingham, Notts. and had been the station master at Ashwell Station from the late 1870s until after the turn of the century.  Fanny and Charles had four sons.  Charles died in 1909, aged 69.

At some time during the First World War The Elms was bought by Mr Wilfred and Mrs Martha Jane Bryant.  Wilfred was a wheelwright, partner of Mr Silas Worboys.  Their workshop was next to Alice House in the High Street, now part of the garden of The Three Tuns.  The Bryants had two daughters and a son.

Their son, Harvey, enlisted in 1914 and served in France before his promotion to 2nd Lieutenant.  He was then posted to Egypt and Palestine before returning to the Western Front.  He was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry on 26th August 1918 but was killed in action at Havrincourt on 12th September 1918.      

When Wilfred Bryant died in 1931 he left the house jointly to his two daughters, Lillie and Hattie.  Hattie sold her interest in the house to her sister Lillie May in 1934.  Lillie Bryant did not marry and continued to live at The Elms, cycling to work each day as a school mistress at the little school at Odsey.  She was also the organist at the Wesleyan church in the High Street and she hosted the Wesleyan church’s summer garden parties at The Elms.  At some time in the 1950s Lillie had a new house, Bramleys, built for herself next door on land which had been her orchard.  We last find mention of her giving power of attorney to her nephew, Harvey, in 1972.

 The Elms was sold to the Cohen family who modernised the property, removing many original features.  Mr Cohen was a keen amateur cinematographer and he converted part of the outbuilding into a private cinema.

During the 1970s the house was home for seven years to the Higham family.  Richard Higham is from a family of distinguished archaeologists so when part of a Roman pot was discovered here in an archaeological test pit dug in 2011 it was assumed that it was probably something Richard had left behind.  However, subsequent Roman finds from nearby now suggest that there may indeed have been some kind of Roman occupation on this site.  Richard Higham was keen on do-it-yourself work and he made a number of internal alterations to the property.  In the garden he built a two-storey wooden play house, which many people in Ashwell remember playing in as children.

After the Highams left for New Zealand the house was occupied by a series of tenants for the following eight years until it was bought in late 1982 by the present owners, the Rowlands family.  John and Gaye Rowlands have lived here since then, bringing up three sons here: Jonathan, Mark and Matthew.  The Rowlands have extended the house twice and spent 36 years gradually restoring many of the original features and remodelling the garden.  Following the example of Lillie May Bryant, John is the organist at St Mary’s Parish Church.


This page was added on 09/05/2019.

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