Laural Cottage (Ide Lane)

Laural Cottage is probably most well known for being the residence of Arabella and Eliza Durnford, the 'Alphington Ponies', at some time between 1800 and the very late 1830s.

Arabella and Eliza were twins born on the 30th December 1800 to Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Montague Isaacson Durnford and Barbara Ann (Nancy) Blake Shea. Barbara was the illegitimate daughter of Sir Patrick Blake by Peggy Shea a Mulatto woman on Patrick's plantation in the West Indies. When the family were living at Laural Cottage Andrew ran off with Arabella's and Eliza's governess who was named Harriet. Arabella and Eliza eventually became engaged to two brothers who unfortunately died before the wedding. Arabella and Eliza and their mother moved to Torquay and took with them a pretty pair of ponies and trap. As their allowance was cut they eventually had to sell the ponies and their name passed on to the twins, the 'Alphington Ponies'.

The Alphington Tithe map of the very late 1830s records Laural Cottage and its land as being owned by Catherine Rebecca Truscott and the occupier as Henry Dorville. Some records show Henry Dorville and his wife living at Alphington Place in 1841. Personally, as I tend to trust the Tithe Map information more than anything else I think he was living at Laural Cottage in 1841. Henry married Marianne Catherine Sherson Morton in Bern, Switzerland on the 9th October 1833. Records through the 1850s, 1860s and 1870s show them living at the cottage. In general over the years they employed at least a couple of servants to look after the cottage and garden. Henry was very keen on butterflies and moths, he found a Bunting Feather Moth on an Himalayan Honeysuckle that grew in the garden. His spaniel Flop is thought to have been buried in the garden. Marianne died in 1872 and Henry died at Laural Cottage on the 30th October 1874.

Two sisters, Martha and Caroline Stockham, took over the cottage and records show them living there through the 1880s and into the 1890s. They also employed at least one house servant and a young gardener. The two ladies were thought to be the daughters of John Stockham an officer in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic wars.

In the early 1900s James Hutchings and his family resided in the cottage and employed servants to run the residence and garden. James' wife, Mary Jane, is recorded as head of the family in 1911.

Records for 1946 seem to show their two daughters Mary and Zoe Hutchings living in the cottage.




Copyright © Rowena Kirkpatrick