Isbury Cottage is a thatched cottage lying between Marsh Lane and the canal, to the east of Marsh Gate cottage.
We understand that in 1932 Isbury Cottage (then two cottages) was purchased from Lambourn Parish Council, and they were belonging to the Isbury Almshouses Charity in Lambourn.
In 1494 John Isbury held land at Charnham Street and he was probably the owner of Charlton manor (Charnham Street or later "Hopgrass") at this date.
- Isbury Cottage, Jun 2010
- Isbury Cottage, Jun 2010
- Isbury Cottage, c1950
More background on the Isbury almshouse chairity:
His father, also John Isbury, of Lambourne, had died in 1485, and had desired in his will to found a chantry in the parish church at Lambourn, in conjunction with a hospital or almshouse. It was left to his son, John Isbury of Hopgrass, to enact his father's wishes. A hospital was built on the north side of the church for ten poor men, six to be nominated by the Warden of New College, Oxford, and four by the founder's heirs. These bedesmen were to use the chapel of the Holy trinity, on the south side of Lambour parish church, for their devotions, kneeling round the tomb (in the centre) of John Isbury, their founder. The original pension was 8d a week, with clothes, and allowance for fuel and corn. The chantry priest was to govern the almshouse and pay the inmates their stipend. The annual value of the almshouse, as separate from the stipend of the chantry priest, was declared at £17 13s 4d. This hospital was technically dissolved in 1 Edward VI (1548) as "superstitious"; but sufficient influence was brought to bear to cause its re-establishment by Act of Parliament in 31 Elizabeth (1589). [Ashmole, Antiq of Berks ii,244; Lysons, Berks. 309-310; Coll. and Chant. Cert. Nos 8,51]
In 1502 (VCH) John Isbury and his wife Elizabeth conveyed Charlton manor to trustees. The estate was settled to John Isbury's brother-in-law (of his first wife, Ann, daughter of Thomas Essex of Wansdown Green) who was Sir William Essex of Lambourn.
In 1538 (VCH) Sir William Essex was holding the manor of Hopgrass, which later passed to his son Sir Thomas, followed by his 4th son, Humphrey Essex of Lambourn who was holding the manor in 1559.
"It shows the house after it was converted from two houses to one (there doesn't seem to be any details on when this was done), but it does still have the second chimney clearly shown. The annex was added in 1976 which resulted in this chimney being removed, which in part, led to house becoming structurally unsound. As an end to the story my parents moved into the annex in October 2010 and the cottage is now being used as a hay store." (By courtesy of Ben Blake)
It is interesting to note that 121-122 High Street Hungerford was also connected to the Isbury Charity. By 1573 the tenement now know as 121-122 High Street had become the freehold property of the Warden and Almsmen of Lambourn and they leased it to widow Elizabeth Hill, together with four acres of land (two in Middlefield and two in Westbrook). For centuries thereafter the rent of this property accrued to the Isbury Almshouse at Lambourn. How or exactly when it came into their possession is not known. 121-122 High Street continued to be owned by the Isbury Charity Trustees until at least 1914.
Records about the various Lambourn charities include the following: "Estbury's or Isbury's Almshouses for ten poor men, founded by John Estbury under Letters Patent dated 8 March 1500-1, are regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners of 24 March 1899. The trust properties consist of real estate as follows: The almshouse buildings and the Estbury Chapel; the Manor Farm of Goldhill in East Garston, containing 245 acres or thereabouts; 136 acres, known as Crane's Farm, also at East Garston; a farm-house and 48 acres at Seven Barrows; a house and garden at Lambourn; a house and two cottages in Hungerford; a house and land known as Wormstalls; a rent-charge of £3 9s. 4d. out of the manor of Eastbury and of 6s. 8d. out of a bake-house at Childrey. The income from real estate amounts to about £325 yearly.
The personal estate consists of £7,978 17s. India 3 per cent. stock and of £6,283 4s. 7d. Metropolitan 3 per cent. stock, held by the official trustees, arising from sales of land from time to time and from investment of surplus income, and producing £427 17s. 4d. yearly. By the scheme the trustees are empowered to give 10s. a week to each almsman, to apply £104 yearly in pensions of 6s. a week, and to provide every third year the customary coat for each almsman, also to pay £52 a year for the support of the inmates of the Place Almshouses."
It seems likely that the house referred to above was what is now 121-122 High Street, and the two cottages were what is now Isbury Cottage.
When Isbury Cottage changed hands in 1985, it was thought that it might date from the mid 16th century. There were suggestions that it might have been even older, perhaps dating from 1492 when John Isbury owned other property nearby (including Charlton Manor (Charnham Street and Hopgrass), and passed property into the Isbury trustees in 1500-01. We know from tree-ring dating that other buildings in the town have survived from an even earlier date of 1449 - see 86 High Street.
However, an expert survey in Oct 2011 (by Thames Valley Archaeological Services) suggested that the earliest part of the building dated from the late 18th or early 19th century. Follow this link for the full report.