Capturing Cambridge
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By Andrew Dunn https://commons.wikimedia.org

Fernleigh Cottage (3 Hills Avenue), The Maids House

History of Fernleigh Cottage

This property was built as the coach house and stable block for Fernleigh in Cavendish Avenue. Beyond the stable block was an orchard which ran through to what became Hills Avenue.

1891

(Coachman’s house)

George Frost 36, Coachman, born Yorks. George Frost and his wife in 1881 were living on the Cambridge Road (Cherry Hinton Road).

Mary Ann 36, born Isleham

Florence 12, born Chesterton

Ethel 11, born Cambridge

Arthur 9, born Cherry Hinton

William 3, born Cherry Hinton

George Allington, lodger, 33, groom, born Isleham

Elizabeth Allington, lodger, 26, born Isleham

George Allington, lodger, 8, born Isleham

1901

(The Cottage)

Harry Morley 32, gardener, born Haslingfield

Cora 30, born Harston

Gertrude E 5, born Foxton

Harold W 2, born Foxton

1911

This was the home of Walter King Chown age 31, his wife Alice Maude 28, and son George Walter King Chown just 10 months.

A further son, Stanley was born in November 1911.

Before the First World War, Fernleigh Cottage and the coach-house/stables were rented from the Wallers, who lived at Fernleigh, by a neighbour in Cavendish Avenue (this may have been Arthur Colin Lunn of Grantham, 6 Cavendish Avenue ).  Walter worked for him as coachman.

Around 1990 George Walter Chown visited the current owners of the property. His memory of the interior of the cottage was somewhat hazy; he recalled that a pony called Kitty, of whom he had been very fond, lived in the stables.  However, life changed dramatically with the coming of the First World War and many of the local ponies and horses, including Kitty, had to be taken to Cherry Hinton Hall and handed in for the war effort.  With Kitty gone, Walter’s employer acquired a car and Walter became his chauffeur.  He no longer needed the coach-house/stables and so the Chowns moved to Blinco Grove and the coach-house/stables presumably went back to the Wallers.

Walter had the privilege of driving King George V when he visited Cambridge to inspect the First Eastern General Hospital during WW1.

Stanley Chown MBE served in WW2 and was a POW held in the infamous Sonkari Camp near the Burma railway.  His story was included in ‘My Dad My Hero’, a book written by Michael Bentinck and featured in an article in the Cambridge Evening News published on 6 February 1997.

Fernleigh Cottage, the coach-house/stables and the orchard were sold in 1923 and, some time after that, 1 Hills Avenue was built where the orchard had been.  Access to Fernleigh Cottage was then from Hills Avenue rather than Cavendish Avenue.  Fernleigh Cottage was sold off as a separate house in the 1970s.

It became know as ‘The Maids House’. After the Waller family sold the property it was owned by the Almond family. Their daughter, Annie Gertrude Almond live there until her death in the c.1975.

(Additional information courtesy of RR)

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