Ockbrook - Part 05 - The Houses On The Hill
w/e 25 April 2004

We retrace our steps back to The Settlement in this part of our exploration of Ockbrook but first a picture from were we left off in Part 4.
Stratford House

Directly opposite the Royal Oak on Green Lane is a seventeenth century building that was also a public house called the Prince of Wales. Standing end on to the road it occupies a plot of land that once would have belonged to one farmer in the mediaeval open field system. More recently it has been called Stratford House but to imagine its appearance in those earlier days, we would have to strip away all the modern day paraphernalia such as telegraph poles, overhead lines, lighting columns, television aerials, tarmac roads , motor vehicles and, of course, even the trees and hedgerows would be different. Heading back up Green Lane, a right turn by the Cross Keys leads us back into The Settlement where a narrow path on the left reveals a row of dwellings known collectively as "The Houses on the Hill".
These were the first houses to be built on The Settlement, the one in the centre of this picture, Hillside, dating from 1752. In order to develop his hosiery business, John Howe moved from Nottingham and occupied his new house in May of that year but his stay was very brief as he died later that same month. Another businessman George Wallis, later rented the house and after his passing in 1800, the Girls' Boarding School moved in until their own premises across the road were completed three years later. Ten years later it was the turn of the Boys' Boarding School to occupy the house and they stayed there until 1822. Another occupant of note was Br. Ignatius Montgomery a former Minister of the Moravian Church. Ignatius, who is buried in the Burial Ground behind the church, was the brother of James Montgomery a hymn writer whose best known work is probably "Angels from the realms of glory".

Next to Hillside is Highfields but this house was not built until nearly three-quarters of a century later in 1826. It was built to house the Provincial Offices of the Moravian Church in England which it did for the next fifty years when expansion required that the responsibilities were transferred to London.
No. 33

This property, No. 33, was built at the same time as Hillside in 1752; Highfields filled the gap between them. The plaque above the door reads "Joseph and Mary Horsley 1752. Bless our going out O God, when we come in also bless us. Amen". There is a very interesting story about a later occupant of this house. After twenty years as missionaries in Jamaica, Br. Jacob Planta, a Swedish surgeon and apothecary, and his wife created a shop for his medicines after their return to Ockbrook in 1780. They moved into this house in 1784 but three years earlier, Br. Planta had inoculated two girls and two Single Sisters following an outbreak of smallpox. Later outbreaks of the disease resulted in no deaths among the congregation of the Moravian Settlement. History now credits Edward Jenner with the discovery of vaccination against smallpox fifteen years later in 1896. The Planta's graves can be found in the Burial Ground in Ockbrook.
The Well

Between Nos. 33 and 35 is the site of one of the many wells that were dug on The Settlement. Being dug near the top of the hill, the search for water was often difficult. Those that found it at a depth of 9 yards (approx 8m) were very fortunate as many wells were two or three times that depth.
No. 35

Beyond the well is No. 35 which like No. 33 was built for Joseph Horsely and his wife and later taken over by the Plantas after being used as a school between 1778 and 1784. In 1992 the semi-derelict cottage was completely renovated and together with Nos. 29 and 33 remains a tenanted property of the estate.

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