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Littleholme, Eva's cottage at Inglesham.
Over many years I have been aware of the delightful article that Eva Hollyer (1865-1943) published in Woman's Magazine called Our Property Venture describing their conversion of a country cottage called Wayside Cottage, illustrated with drawings by herself and Maud. Several contacts sent me copies of the article. It was always thought that this article described the cottage that Eva and Maud actually lived in, as the article appears to be factual in style. The article can be read in full here. Eva does not give much away about exactly where the property was. Initially, I thought it might be at East Hagbourne, where Maud had painted the village cross. All Eva says was that it was an old thatched cottage 'in a little village by the hillside'.
'Wayside Cottage', after restoration
When the Access to Archives online catalogue became available, I noted a Planning Application made in 1928 to Highworth District Council by Miss Hollyer for the conversion of a cottage at Lechlade Road, Inglesham. I therefore thought that Wayside Cottage must be at Inglesham. Some years later, I visited Inglesham but failed to find a thatched cottage anything like Wayside Cottage. This was a big disappointment.
Eventually, my curiosity caused me to order a copy of the planning application and back came plans, signed by Eva Hollyer, Artist, of Little Coxwell, Faringdon, Berkshire for the conversion of an old cottage in Inglesham. But the cottage in question looked quite different from the drawing in Woman's Magazine.
When an opportunity came to visit Inglesham again, I quickly found the cottage which is called Littleholme. The present occupants had many original documents about the property and so were aware that Eva and Maud Hollyer had lived there. They were also able to provide some pictures of Littleholme down the years.
Littleholme, as Eva and Maud would have known it.
Littleholme in the 1950s, when a Youth Hostel.
Littleholme, Inglesham, 2007
Littleholme was probably built c1760 and was bought by New College Oxford in 1864, perhaps in connection with other property they owned in the village, notably College Farm. In 1928, New College sold it to Maud and Eva Hollyer for £150.
1928 conveyance from New College Oxford to Maud and Eva Hollyer.
In 1931, Maud and Eva mortgaged the property in order to raise £300, but as far we know, they continued to live in the property. But in 1938, they sold Littleholme to the Youth Hostel Trust. The Youth Hostel Association (as it became) did not do anything with it until after the war, but from the 1950s it was used as a Youth Hostel and many original features were covered over or damaged. Ultimately, it fell into disuse and it was sold to the present occupants by the YHA in 1991.
It was only after returning home and studying the documents further that I realised that not only was the cottage quite different from that illustrated in the magazine, but the timing was quite wrong. The article was published in the Volume 49 No 3 issue of Woman's Magazine. The expert on this magazine, Honor Ward, says on her website that Volume 50 started in October 1928 and Eva's article was in Volume 49, so should be the edition for December 1927. However, the planning application is dated 22nd Sept 1928 and was approved 3rd Oct 1928. The conveyance was dated 22nd Oct 1928. Hence the actual conversion of Littleholme might have started in November 1928 at the earliest.
The signatures of Eva, Maud and Verna (by then married to George Eyles) on the 1938 conveyance to the Youth Hotel Trust.
So if the article referred to a real cottage conversion which took place before the cottage at Inglesham was purchased, were Eva and Maud 'serial property developers'?
In late 2011, the answer seems to be 'yes'. The present owner of Wayside Cottage contacted me to say that he had discovered my copy of the 1927 article and recognised the cottage as his own. It is situated in the village of Great Coxwell and is now Grade II listed.
So Wayside Cottage really does exist and is clearly the same property as in the article. The one remaining mystery is that Eva's address when applying for planning permission at Inglesham was Little Coxwell, but Wayside Cottage is at Great Coxwell. So did they have yet another property in between?
Yet further evidence of 'serial property development' came from a current resident of Hid's Copse Road in Oxford. She tells me that their deeds show that Maud Hollyer (spinster) and Eva Hollyer (widow) bought a plot of one acre from the developers of the Hid's Copse estate on 7th May 1930 for the sum of £300. There is no record of when they built the house nor of when they sold it. But this may be the reason they mortgaged Littleholme to raise £300 in 1931. Rather diferent from 'doing up' old cottages. Also interesting to note that Eva describes herself as a widow. As far as I have been able to research, her former husband and cousin Joseph Hollyer was still alive but using the surname D'Olier - a name frequently said to be connected with the Hollyers, but my research suggests that this Huguenot family, who largely settled in Ireland, had no connection with the Hollyers at all.Back to top