32 – Houndswood

Photo: The brothers Rev. Gresley and Canon Gresley at Houndswood in 1933. Some of William’s wood carving is visble in the background.

Built around 1785, Houndswood (aka The Hermitage and Rockwell Villa) consisted of one and a half storeys and comprised two units with a central staircase. In the earlier 1800s William Britton and his wife Zebra, a seamstress, lived here.  He was known for his carving of wooden friezes and furniture and in 1851 went up to the Crystal Palace exhibition with one of his chairs, accompanied by other people from Butleigh. A frieze of William’s still decorates the walls of the lounge. William was also known as Postman Carver. In 1919 the vicar Roger St John Gresley, who organised the Vimto club for boys, moved here and remained with his brother after he retired. The next vicar, Reverend Beckett, also lived here until a new vicarage was finished in 1923. In 1980, before the culvert was built, owner Margaret King was rescued by boat from her bedroom window when the Wash Brook flooded. Much of the surrounding land was orchard or coppice when owned by Charles Strode in the early 1800s.