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Education - Rose Cottage

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About Rose Cottage

Rose Cottage Garden
Rose Cottage from Town Path
Rose Cottage from River


From Town Path

From River

The Trust purchased the charming old listed building was built about 1840. It is beside the River Nadder, just above Harnham Mill and at the end of the Town Path that bisects our meadows. It is, literally, a bridgehead to them. A large part of the meadows is watered from the river through two large hatches and along a wide 'main carriage' (man made irrigation channel) all actually in the cottage garden.


The Trust has developed Rose Cottage to provide education and general public information about floated bedwork irrigation systems, both locally and more widely. We welcome visitors from schools, colleges, universities and community groups. The downstairs area has displays, plans, photos and diagrams, upstairs small groups can meet, or have formal presentations about the history, operation and conservation of watermeadows. We welcome groups that are presently seeking to conserve, restore and manage watermeadow systems elsewhere.

Development of Rose Cottage (started Septmber 2005)

Before and After

Rose Cottage with metal windows and wooden shutters
Rose Cottage, restored by the The Trust
Side of Rose Cottage Before
Side of Rose Cottage After


During Rose Cottage Development
During Rose Cottage Development
During Rose Cottage Development
During Rose Cottage Development
During Rose Cottage Development

The History of Rose Cottage

The Trust's land is remnant of the 'agrarian powerhouse of the water-meadows' (Salisbury, the changing city Purvis 2003), the irrigated (or 'floated') systems prevalent throughout the Wessex chalklands in the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. The irrigation was fundamental to the 'early bite' of grass that sustained enormous flocks of Wiltshire Horn sheep, their manure sustaining the arable land, the grain harvest and the agricultural wealth of the area. We are fortunate that, on its 'island' our 88 acres have been protected, and survive, effectively inside the city of Salisbury.

In 1931 when Fisherton Mill and its estate was sold, Rose Cottage fetched £250 and was described as:

'Brick, built and tiled, and contains 2 BEDROOMS, KITCHEN and range, Pantry and Washhouse and E.C. and water supply from stand pipe in Lot 6

Rose Cottage, built c1842, sold 1931

(Island Cottage, dated somewhat earlier and shown on the Inclosure Map of 1787)'.

The cottage is later recorded by the Royal Commission on Historic Monuments in its Salisbury volume, not named, but as Building 590.

'Cottage of two stories with brick walls, partly tile-hung, and with a tiled roof, was built c1840. The S.W. front is symmetrical and of two bays with a central doorway'.

Rose Cottage was remote from the then tiny hamlet of West Harnham on the very edge of the valley floor. The original purpose was almost certainly to house the drowner, whose job was to operate and maintain the irrigation system. Until her death in 2004 Miss Jane Foster had lived in Rose Cottage for over fifty years and her recollections have been published by the Friends in their Newsletter 23 (Spring 2003) - click here to view pdf copy of this article.

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