Mile End Cottage[s]

During a 'Whirlwind' trip to Exeter from the 4th to the 11th March 1839 Charles Dickens found Mile End Cottages in Alphington. He was able to rent the left-hand cottage for his parents, the landlady Mrs Mary Pannell lived in the right-hand cottage. Charles described the cottages as a 'jewel of a place with a splendid garden in the most beautiful, cheerful delicious rural neighbourhood'. The paint and paper were new 'and the place clean as the utmost excess of snowy cleaniness could be'. He described Mrs Pannell as 'the landlady the finest old countrywoman conceivable' and he was certain she would be of great comfort to his mother. He furnished the cottage throughout 'carpets, curtains, tables, beds, chairs, everything down to all the kitchen necessaries, garden tools and such like little things'. He believed his parents 'would hardly miss the bustle of London as the cottage was on the high road to Plymouth and there was as much long-stage and posting life as you would find in Piccadilly'. The rent was £20 a year and the furnishings cost £70. Two maid servants were employed Hester and Eliza Drinkwater.

Records in 1841 show the residents of Mile End Cottages as Mary Pannell aged 70, Sarah West aged 50 a servant, John Dickens aged 55, Augustus Dickens aged 13 and Hester Drinkwater aged 35 a servant. At this time there were 'meadows to the front of the cottages, an orchard running parallel to the garden hedge, richly wooded hills closing in the prospect behind and away to the left a splendid view of the hill on which Exeter is situated, the Cathedral towers rising up to the sky in the most picturesque manner possible'.


Mile End Cottage
Copyright © Rowena Kirkpatrick

Charles often stayed at the cottage and he wrote the opening chapters of Nicholas Nickelby there and used the description of Mile End Cottage in the book. The Dickens family stayed in the cottage until 1842.

From Alphington's burial records: Nathaniel Pannell 4th September 1823 aged 63; Mary Pannell his wife 20th October 1846 aged 79.

From marriage records in Southwark Surrey: Nathaniel Pannell of St Olave married Mary Hooper on the 25th November 1813 at St George the Martyr, Southwark, Surrey.

Records show Nathaniel Pannell was a licensed victualler in 1814, 1817, 1818, 1819 at George, Morgan's Lane, St Olave, Hollingsworth.

From another marriage record John Hipwood was recorded as marrying Mary Pannell, daughter of Nathaniel, on the 14th June 1813 at St George the Martyr, Southwark.

A marriage recorded from Alphington records Philip Pannell marrying Ann Birch/Burch on the 8th October 1820 possibly showing when the Pannell family moved from Southwark to Alphington.

An assignment dated 1845 records 1. James Toule of Brighton, gent, this was the son of Mary Pannell nee Hooper, 2. John Hipwood of London blockmaker and his wife Mary, 3. Henry Searle Innkeeper of Alphington. 'Mile End Cottages Alphington demised by lease of 1811 for remainder of leasehold term. Consideration £260 half to be paid to Hipwood and half to Searle'.

James Tourle was also recorded at the White Horse Inn of Shere Near Guildford.

In 1861 records show John Hussey, an auctioneer and appraiser, as the occupant with his wife, daughter and a general servant.

From an assignment dated 1867 '1. Samuel Searle, of formerly The Strand London now Teignmouth gent. and John Furze of Teignmouth Iron monger executors of Henry Searle, 2. Jane Partridge of Bayswater widow, 3. William Physick of Alphington market gardener. Mile End Cottages Alphington bequested by Will of Henry Searle hotel keeper died 4th February 1850 To Jane Searle his widow who subsequently married Alfred William Partridge auctioneer on 9th January 1855 at East Teignmouth. Consideration £120'.

In 1868 a record records 'William Physick market gardener new lease for 65 years at £10 per annum to Edward Peters of Pinhoe gent. Mile End Cottages'.

A record from 1873 shows Thomas Willis as the resident and from White's Devonshire 1878-1879 Rev. John Edward Collyns.

In 1881 John Jarman, a stock and share broker, is recorded as living in the cottage with his wife Mary and sister in law.

Records from 1891 records the Leach family in residence, William Leach a market gardeneer, his wife Charlotte and three sons. There were also two lodgers.

In 1901 the cottages were recorded separately. In cottage one residents were Henry Sanders, a dairyman, his wife Mary Ann and three children. In the second cottage William Kemp, retired, his wife and daughter were the residents.

In 1911 Henry Sanders and family were the solo occupants.

In 1937 at auction the cottage was described as one residence. It was stuccoed and slated. On the ground floor were two reception rooms 15ft. x 14ft. and 16ft. x 13ft. with Devon grates and modern mantelpieces and casement windows communicating with the garden, a back sitting room 12ft. x 12ft. (fitted radiator) with glazed porch communicating with the back yard, a kitchen with 'Ideal' boiler, scullery with glazed sink (h+c) excellent well fitted with two rotary pumps, back yard and out buildings. On the first floor there were five rooms one 16 ft. x 16ft. other slightly smaller and a fitted bathroom. There were large flower and vegetable gardens with extensive frontage to the Alphington Road, 19p in all. The cottage was in the occupation of Mr H. S. Sanders under an agreement from 1933. Mr Sanders continued to be recorded as the occupant in 1946 and 1949.


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Copyright © Rowena Kirkpatrick