Hill, Ipswich – the growth of a suburb
by Margaret Hancock
Rose Hill is a fairly typical residential suburb of Ipswich. It
lies at the top of a hill to the east of the town between the
Felixstowe and Foxhall Roads, bordered by Derby Road. This study
attempts to trace the history of ownership of the land; to explain how
and when it changed from farm to building land, and to ‘repopulate’ the
area by reference to Census material, directories and Rate Book.
From part of the Ordnance Survey Map of 1905, we can see that by that
date the area had already been almost completely developed into the
suburb that is still in existence. Rose Hill was then, and is
today, a collection of houses, two churches, a school, a scattering of
small “corner” shops, and a railway station. The majority of the
houses are either in terraces or semi-detached, and are of the type
that an Estate Agent would describe as ‘suitable for first time
buyers’, a description that I think would please members of the
organisation that might be regarded as being responsible for the
building of those houses about 100 years ago – the Ipswich and Suffolk
Freehold Land Society.
In a study of this kind it is difficult to know at which period to
commence, but it seems most logical to start with the man who probably
gave his name to our suburb: Owen Roe.
Farmer, Owen Roe, and Roe's Hill
Owen Roe was, according to a short obituary in the Ipswich Journal of
May 7th 1825, one of the Contractors for the Barracks who died
‘possessed of a very considerable property’. Part of this
property was farm land in the parish of Saint Clement and the Manor of
Wickes Bishop which we now know as Rosehill (Rose Hill), but should
accurately call ‘Roe’s Hill’. Owen Roe had purchased this estate,
a total of 236 acres, in 1812. It seems likely that he had a
quite substantial house built for his own use on the Estate. This
later became known as Rose Hill House, and is still in existence,
although now converted into flats. It stands sedately at the end
of the quiet Sandhurst Avenue which was originally its
carriage-way. The house is very close to the walls that surround
Holywells, which was occupied at that time by the Cobbold family.
In 1815 Roe’s only daughter and heir, Ann, was married to Charles
Cobbold at St Clement Church. It seems from his will that Roe
had no great liking for his son-in-law. His estate was left under
the control of Trustees; the income from it to be paid to his
widow and to Ann, his daughter, but Roe stipulated that his daughter’s
income was “for her sole and separate use” exclusive of her husband,
Charles Cobbold, who should not “intermeddle therewith, neither shall
the same be subject to his disposition, control, debts or engagements”.
From the Tithe Map of 1844, we can see that the area was split into
14 Rose Hill House and 5 acres of grounds.
13 Little Allins Field – just over 14 acres of arable
12 Great Allins Field – 36 acres of arable land with
7 farmworkers’ cottages – 5 at the North-East corner, and 2 at the
The Apportionment that accompanies this Map confirms the owners of the
farm as “The Trustees of Owen Roe”, and indicates that Roe had once
owned a very large part of the land between what is now Fore Hamlet and
Back Hamlet, and stretching out between Felixstowe and Foxhall Roads as
far as the line of the present By-pass. Thus, in his day, Roe had
owned one sixth of the land in St Clement's Parish, and was the third
landowner in that Parish.
The Occupier of Rose Hill House and Farm in 1844 was William Cooper, a
Farmer. Cooper and his family had lived in Rose Hill House since
at least the time of the Census in 1841, and possibly since 1839, when
an advertisement in the Ipswich
Journal shows the House to be let with
260 acres of land. A later advertisement suggests that Cooper had
leased the House unfurnished and the Farm unstocked, as Charles Cobbold
(Roe’s unpopular son-in-law, who evidently did manage to ‘intermeddle’
in the Estate despite Roe’s wishes), had given instructions for the
auction of Household Furniture and Farming Stock from the Estate.
This included ‘Choice dairy cows, sheep and lambs, Carriages,
Agricultural implements, Household Furniture, a superior collection of
old Foreign China, Paintings and prints, about 20 dozen Port Wine of
the vintage of 1812, as well as a beautiful variety of greenhouse
plants and flower stands.
By the end of 1851 a few minor changes had taken place. The House
was now occupied by John King, the Editor of the Suffolk Chronicle, and
the Farm was apparently being managed by a Farm Bailiff. The
ownership of the land was also undergoing changes at this time.
Edward Constable Alston
Roe’s widow had died in 1846 and on the death of his daughter in
November 1851, Roe’s will determined that the Estate be shared amongst
her surviving children. It is sad to think that, of Ann Cobbold’s
five children, only her youngest son outlived her. Alan Brooksby
Cobbold, who was then living in Edinburgh, was only 21 years of age
when he inherited his grandfather’s entire estate. Cobbold owned the
Estate for 12 years, but in April 1864 he sold it to the Reverend
Edward Constable Alston, a Clerk in Holy Orders, of Dennington,
Suffolk, and it was this sale that was to herald really major changes
in the area.
Part of Edward White’s map of 1867, shows
the beginnings of those
changes. Rose Hill House and grounds, still occupied by John King and
his family, and Great Allins Field remain largely unaltered, but
development of Little Allins Field is taking place with Alan Road,
Newton Road, and the town end of Rose Hill Road having been
formed. We can see that Alan Road follows approximately the line
between Great Allins and Little Allins Fields from which it undoubtedly
derived its name.***
The Ipswich & Suffolk Freehold Land Society
Freehold Land Allotments
extend along both
sides of Newton Road, and the Land on the east side of Alan Road is
divided into plots, 5 of which have already had houses erected on
them. From Planning Office records and the Census of 1871, we
discover that many of the earliest houses on Alan Road were built for
owner occupation by highly skilled men employed in the Agricultural
Engineering Industry. The major firm in this industry in Ipswich
at the time was Ransomes. Robert Ransome had set up his foundry
in 1799 on St Margaret’s Plain, but soon found that his business had
outgrown his original premises, and by 1859 he had moved out of the
town centre to the Orwell Works, with 800 feet of quay space on the new
Dock. Industry such as this encouraged large numbers of workers
into the town, not only from the surrounding countryside, but also from
further afield. These men and their families needed homes close
to the new factory, but the parish of St Clements was crowded with poor
quality housing, and one imagines the more philanthropic men seeking
accommodation away from the overcrowded town, but within easy walking
distance of their place of employment, as this was long before the days
of public transport. Where better than at the top of Bishops Hill
where the air was clean and they were able to build their own
houses? It was men such as these who may well have been among the
members of the Ipswich and Suffolk Freehold Land
Society which had a
tremendous influence in the subsequent development of Rose Hill and in
the formation of many other suburbs.
The Freehold Land Society movement was started in the late 1840s by
Radicals ['The Rochdale pioneers'] who believed that if more
working-class men were enfranchised
they would return a greater proportion of Liberal candidates to
Parliament who could then repeal the Corn Laws and encourage Free
Trade. Freehold Land Societies enabled their members to gain, by
co-operative methods, the necessary property to take advantage of the
40/- franchise rule which gave the vote to all men owning property with
an annual value of £2.
The Ipswich and Suffolk Freehold Land Society, formed in December 1849,
was one of the first Societies. It was led by many prominent
Ipswich men and in its early days was one of the most successful
Societies in the country.
The Rose Hill Estate
With the changes in franchise brought about by the Reform Act of 1867
the creation of votes became of secondary importance, nevertheless, the
Society continued to flourish under the guidance of its Committees, and
we can see from the I&SFLS map of 1899, that the organisation was
for the development of a large part of Rose Hill between 1869 and
1879. The part marked ‘A’ was purchased from Alston by Robert
Johnson and Joseph Pearce in October 1869; the Society itself was
not legally allowed to purchase land so it was necessary for certain
members of the Committee to enter into the agreement in their own
names, acting purely on trust. The 9 acres purchased for 1,296
pounds 15 shillings became known to the I&SFLS as the ‘Rose Hill
The land was split into 51 plots ranging in size from 20 to 28½ rods,
and these were balloted to the Society’s members at a cost of between
£40 and £60 per plot. The Society was bound by its agreement (via
Johnson and Pearce) with Revd Alston to lay out and make up three
roadways each 30 feet wide and dedicate them for public use.
These roads became sections of York Road, Derby Road and Rose Hill Road.
In July 1873 an auction took place at the Golden Lion [Inn on the
Cornhill] which was to
completely change the remainder of the original Estate. Alston
had died in 1870 and his Trustees put up for sale 16 lots of
‘Accommodation lands and building plots’. This sale evidently
marked the end of the farm and the beginning of the residential suburb,
as one Condition of the Sale was that ‘the purchaser shall pay for the
seed sowing and hoeing the root crop’ of the outgoing tenant.
Other Conditions related to the standard of houses to be built and the
materials to be used in their construction. Building lines were
set, responsibility for the maintenance of roads defined and public
houses banned! Representatives of the I&SFLS purchased 12
land at this auction. (Plot B on the 1899 map).
'Plan of Accomodation Lands, and
BUILDING SITES on the ROSE HILL ESTATE. For sale by Mr B. Rix, July
The Rose Hill Estate No. 2, The Vale Estate, the Derby Road
Rose Hill Estate No. 2, as it was called, was again split into lots and
balloted to Society members as were two other portions of land in this
area that were later purchased by the Society. The Vale Estate
(marked ‘C’) in 1875 and ‘The Derby Road Estate’ (marked ‘D’) in
1879. Some Society members who were lucky enough to be balloted a
plot of land simply sold it, others used it to build one, two or, in
some cases, three houses. One of these became the home of the
member and his family, the remaining one or two were rented out,
providing an income to help with the repayments to the Society.
The first Residents of Rose Hill
89-91 York Road
From the Census and Directories of the time it is possible to
quite a clear picture of the people who were among the first ‘Residents
of Rose Hill’. The vast majority of families were perfectly
‘ordinary’ with the head of the house employed as a sailor, carpenter,
bricklayer, in the engineering industries or on the railway. One
example is Benjamin Whymark. Born at Cornard, he was, at the time
of the 1881 Census, aged 47, employed as an engine model maker and
living at the corner of York Road and Rose Hill Road. He was
married and had a son, David, who was an apprentice in his father’s
trade, and two daughters, Kate and Emily. The family moved in the
next few years to another house in York Road called Cyclamen Cottages [nos. 89-91],
and in April 1886 Benjamin Whymark applied for permission to build his
own house, now 83 York Road, but originally called Emmeline Cottage [double-fronted, no
perhaps named after his youngest daughter.
[An interesting mix of sans
serif and serif characters.]
38-40 York Road
Also living in York Road was James Manthorp, an engine
smith born at
Rendlesham. From the Census details it is possible to build up a
touching picture of his family, although it is pure conjecture. His
wife had died, perhaps in childbirth, as his youngest daughter was only
three years old. This left him, in his early thirties, with five
children under the age of 10. One imagines his parents rallying round
in this time of trouble, bringing with them their three unmarried
teenage children. We know, at least, that in 1881 they were all living
together in a small terraced house: 38-40 York Road, named Adela Cottages,
built in 1879 and owned by Charles Last. However, later years
brighter for James Manthorp as, in 1889, he too applied for permission
to build his own house, which he extended in 1897.
103 Newton Road
A rather less typical house in Newton Road proudly bears the
inscription 'Bateman’s Villa AD 1876'
[no. 103]. This was built by Thomas
Hope in the year that his son, whose Christian name was
born. By 1881 Hope, a 33 year old milk seller, had four children
under the age of 8, and was the only person in the area, except Rose
Hill House, that had a resident female servant. Incidentally,
Bateman Hope was not the only son to be given a rather unusual name –
his younger brother was called Lancelot!
[Above: Rose Hill School, which retains the separation of 'Rose'
and 'Hill' in its name.]
It was people such as these that saw the beginnings of the Rose
that we know today. Perhaps they travelled, as we still do, on
the train to Felixstowe from Derby Road Station after it was opened in
May 1877, or used the horse-drawn tram service from the Station yard to
Majors Corner, that was started in the summer of 1883. They may
have been early members of the congregation at Alan Road Methodist
Chapel when it was opened in 1878, or they may have attended
the much more imposing Anglican Church of St Bartholomew when it was
built in 1895. Their children may have been educated at Rose Hill
School [shown above] after its opening in 1885, as our children are
being taught in
its modern counterpart in the 1980s. Although Rose Hill has
changed from Farm to Suburb, and life styles have changed, we still
share a great deal with the families that lived in our houses 100 years
[***See Street name derivations
for an alternative derivation of Alan Road.]
See our Rosehill house names
page for examples of house name plaques.
SUMMARY TIMELINE OF OWNERSHIP, ROSE HILL ESTATE
July 1811. Margaret Holford of
Bath, Widow of Frances Holford of Bath, Spinster sold land to Owen Roe.
The 19th century name Rose Hill derived from this purchase; originally
known as Roe’s Hill.
Margaret Holford apparently inherited a large estate in Ipswich &
elsewhere on the death of her father. Mrs Holford also owned
plantations & slaves in Barbados. Part of the Ipswich land was
owned copyhold from Manor of Wickes Bishop (hence 'Bishop’s Hill').
1812-1825. Owen Roe owned the
Rose Hill Farm Estate and around 1812 probably built himself the
substantial house ['Rose Hill House'] still in existence at the end of
Sandhurst Avenue. This is very close to the Cobbold family’s Holywells
estate and in 1815 Roe’s only child, a daughter Ann was married to
Charles Cobbold – one of the 23 children of John & Elizabeth
1825-1859. Trustees of Owen Roe
Owen Roe died in May 1825 and in his Will & Codicil (dated 5th
& 24th April 1825) he left his estate in the control of Trustees
for the benefit of his daughter, Ann Cobbold. After her death in 1851
and that of her husband, Charles, in 1859 the Estate passed to their
only surviving child, 21 year-old Alan Brooksby Cobbold, then living in
Edinburgh. A formal declaration by his uncle, Revd Richard Cobbold1 of Wortham confirms that the
couple’s other four children had all predeceased them:-
1859-1864. Alan Brooksby
Cobbold (Owen Roe’s grandson).
- Charles was born in 1816 and died on the same day,
- Ann & Georgina died within 2 months of each other in
February/March 1837, aged 12 & 9 respectively,
- Charles Owen also died in September 1837 at the age of 19,
and was buried in Calcutta.
Brooksby Cobbold sold Estate to Revd Edward Constable
Alston of Dennington.
9th October 1869. Revd Alston
sold Great Allen’s Field on the Estate to Robert Johnson (I & S F.L.S.).
Robert Johnson was, in fact, purchasing the 9 acres of land on behalf
of Ipswich & Suffolk Freehold Land Society2 (I & S FLS).
This is confirmed by an entry in the Society’s minute book for 30th
July 1869: 'the Committee are willing to recommend Mr Johnson to
purchase the land on the South side of Rose Hill Road viz between the Rose Hill Road and
the Felixstowe Road at £140 per acre'.
1870. FLS Rose Hill Estate.
Minute book entries record work of a sub-committee to develop Great
Allen’s Field with sub-contractors appointed to construct roads and
fences between the plots. At a special meeting held on 11th January
1870 it was resolved 'that the East Road be called the Derby Road and
the other, the York Road'. There was some concern that by February 1870
only 30 applications had been received for the 51 plots and further
advertising was undertaken to recruit new members promising they
would be eligible for plots of land if they joined before 14th
March. The ballot arranged to take place on 12th April was, on this
occasion, unnecessary. Fifty plots were simply allocated to applicants
as marked on the plan, and an application for the remaining plot was
accepted four days later.
Note: A handwritten list
headed ’Rose Hill Estate – Pay up or Mortgage’ confirms all but one of
the names entered on the Estate plan.
11th October 1873. Trustees of
the Will of Revd E. C. Alston’s Trustees to Robert Cade (I & S FLS).
In July 1873 an auction took place at the Golden Lion (Inn on the
Cornhill] which was to completely change the remainder of the original
Estate. Alston had died in 1870 and his Trustees put up for sale 16
lots of ‘Accommodation lands and building plots’. This sale evidently
marked the end of the farm and the beginning of the residential suburb,
as one Condition of the Sale was that ‘the purchaser shall pay for the
seed-sowing and hoeing the root crop’ of the outgoing tenant. Other
Conditions related to the standard of houses to be built and the
materials to be used in their construction. Building lines were set,
responsibility for the maintenance of roads defined and public houses
banned! Robert Cade, on behalf of the I & SFLS, purchased 12
acres of land at this auction (Lots III & IV) on which its Rose
Hill Estate (No 2) was developed.3
The FLS worked quickly to pass these plots of land on to its members.
An organising sub-committee was appointed on 18th October and, by 31st
October, an Estate plan showing 63 plots was agreed, with '3 feet in
width along the Foxhall Road frontage given up to the public for the
purpose of widening the road there'. Tenders for roads – one of which
was named Alston Road – and fencing were agreed, and circulars about
the Estate sent to every unadvanced Shareholder in the Ipswich
District. As a result 272 applications were received prior to
balloting, which occurred only 6 weeks after the land was purchased.
24th November 1873. FLS Rose
Hill Estate No 2.
The ballot took place at the Public Hall after the Chairman had
explained the process and given a reminder of restrictions on the land
use, e.g. no house for sale of beer, wines & spirits to be erected.4 Successful members were each
required to sign a purchase contract (with Robert Cade), printed with
the terms and conditions. The land was legally conveyed from Cade to
individual purchasers around 30th January 1874.
Some Society members who were lucky enough to be balloted a plot of
land simply sold it, others used it to build one, two or, in some
cases, three houses. One of these became the home of the member and his
family, the remaining one or two were rented out, providing an income
to help with the repayments to the Society.
1 Revd Richard Cobbold is best
remembered as the author of the romanticised account of Margaret
Catchpole & for a series of colourful sketches of his Wortham
parishioners now in the Ipswich branch of Suffolk Record Office.
2At the time it was not legally
possible for the Society to purchase land in its own right.
Transactions were carried out by individual Committee members on trust.
Robert Johnson acted in this capacity for many years but was forced to
resign due to ill health in December 1872.
3 The Society later
purchased part of Lot I for the development of its Derby Road Estate in
4 This was a
restriction imposed by Alston’s trustees from whom FLS purchased
name plaque examples: Alston Road;
Cauldwell Hall Road; Cavendish Street; Marlborough Road; Broom Hill
Road; Rosehill area
Rosehill Library case study;
Ipswich & Suffolk Freehold Land
Society (F.L.S.); California;
Street index; Origins of street names
in Ipswich; Streets named after slavery
Dated buildings list; Dated buildings examples;
Named (& sometimes dated) buildings
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