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Hidden Cottage was a property in Hungerford Newtown. It was on the east side of the main Hungerford road, about 500 metres south of the crossroads.
The property has now been greatly extended, and is now run as a nursing and elderly care centre.
It is thought that the original house dates from the 17th or early 18th century.
The Pinckney family, c1910-mid 1970s:
The Pinckney family (parents Hugh and Winifred) moved to Hidden Cottage in c1910. Earlier Pinckneys were bankers in the 17th century - and in the 1840s, 119 High Street Hungerford was Pinckneys Bank (now NatWest Bank).
There were six children - Winifred "Joan" (b. 21 Jul 1905, d. from flu 22 Mar 1919 aged 13), Betty (b. 20 Apr 1908, later Betty McCubbin, d. 21 Nov 1999), Anne (b. 30 Jul 1911, later Anne Gresham-Cooke, d. 4 Dec 1988), Philip (b. 7 Apr 1915; d. 7 Sep 1943), Colin (b. 6 Dec 1918; d. 23 Jan 1942), and Diana (later Barr-Hamilton).
Philip joined the SAS Comandos, and Colin became a pilot in the RAF. Both died in the 2nd World War. There are several mentions of Colin in Douglas Bader's book.
Two other close family members were also killed in wartime:
- Christopher Arthur Gresham Cooke (b. 16 Jun 1899) joined the Royal Navy at the outbreak of the 1st World War. He joined the cruiser HMS Aboukir which was sunk by a torpedo on 22 Sep 1914. He was one of the the 50 men who survived, out of a crew of 750. He then joined the battleship HMS Vanguard, but this was destroyes and all the crew were killed when the magazine exploded whenit was achored in Scapa Flow on 9 Jul 1917. Christopher was aged 18 years.
- Nicholas Gresham Cooke (b. 26 Aug 1913) was educated at Marlborough and Trinity College Cambridge.He joined the RAF at the onset of the 2nd World War, initiallyu in 46 sqn flying Mk I Spitfires, but then moved to 264 sqn flying the 2-seater Definat fighters. His was the first Defiant to shoot down an enemy aircriaft, and he was awarded the DFC as a result. He was missing over the North Sea on 31 May 1940 - dying at the age of 26 years.
[With thanks to Vivien Gainsborough Foot who kindly lent, in Mar 2018, a copy of the privately published book "Your Uncles" about the lives of Philip, Colin, Christopher and Nicholas. Thanks also to John Pinckney, compiler of the Pinckney Family History website.]
In 1923, the Pinckneys greatly extended Hidden Cottage. The house (after this extension) had 11 bedrooms which was divided into two (with a swing door on ground floor and a passageway on the first floor). There were about five or six bedrooms in each half.
In 1948 one half was given to Roger and Anne (nee Pinckney) Gresham-Cooke. Gerald Gresham Cooke wrote (Mar 2018): "My parents (Roger and Anne) moved there in 1948 (I was 7) and I left at 19 - 12 happy formative years. My brother Hereward and I roamed the 30 acres of land happily climbing trees, teasing Granny's (Winifred Pinckney's) cook & generally the "sun always shone." There were two lawn tennis courts & one hard. We were spoilt. In the orchard, was a tree that my Aunt Betty McCubbin planted when she was small & she proudly showed it to me when she was 87 - it was of course fully grown then." Gerald adds: "My father Roger Gresham-Cooke CBE was MP for Twickenham from 1955. He died "in office" 22 Feb 1970."
Rosalie Monbiot (nee Gresham Cooke) adds (Mar 2018): "The house also had a wonderful walled kitchen garden, a fabulous rose garden and that the front lawn was mown for a croquet lawn by a pony pulling a mower. The family also planted up a woodland known as Dunkins which I imagine is still there today."
The other half of the house was occupied by Diana (Barr-Hamilton) who lived there with her young family. Winifred Pinckney also lived there with them until she had to move to Edgecomb nursing home.
In c1960 Hugh and Winifred Pinckney gave some adjacent land to John and Betty McCubbin, and they built the house called Putkins.
More about this family and Hungerford Newtown can be heard under Reminiscences. Listen particularly to Betty McCubbin's recordings.
The Barr-Hamiltons sold their end of Hidden Cottage to some Americans called Close in 1968/9. Daphne Barr Hamilton thinks the Gresham-Cookes’ had sold their half to the Winsor some time earlier.
Gerald Gresham Cooke added (Mar 2018): "Betty's end of life was hugely co-incidental. She was born in Hidden Cottage, then slept in the same room over-looking the lawn for the next 40 years until she married John McCubbin, when they built "Putkins" in the grounds. After John died, she returned to Hidden Cottage which was then a Nursing Home and she returned to exactly the same room for the last 10 years of her life as she had occupied for the first 40 years! When I visited her there - a year before she died, I went downstairs to the old Oak Room (which had lovely panelling) and there on the wall were the marks where a Cromwellian Clock had been 30 years earlier - a clock I now look after. I was delighted to see nothing much had changed!"
The Windsors, 1960s/1970s - late 1980s?
In the 1960s-1970s Hidden Cottage was bought by Bobby and Anne Windsor. Anne was a nurse, and she wanted to be able to care for her elderly parents in the best way - so she jolly well bought Hidden Cottage, and converted it into a care home (or ?nursing home). It was a great environment - with wonderful care.
When both her parents died, the Windsors sold it as a going concern - and it has continued as a care/nursing home ever since - under a variety of owners.
Hungerford Care Home:
It is currently Hungerford Care Home (a Brighterkind home).
With thanks to:
- Trevor Gore, Colin McCubbin (Canada), Vivien Gainsborugh Foot, Roger Gresham Cooke and Daphne Barr Hamilton,