Malt House is one of the earlier stone built houses in the parish,
though there is no documentary evidence of its date. Architectural
evidence suggests that it was built during the 17th century. Later, in
the 18th or 19th century, the house was considerably altered, the roof
was raised, the gables removed and, probably, the kitchen (SW) block
added. The outbuilding which forms the NE end was raised and given
dormer gables in the 17th century, to match the rest of the house at
that time. It is difficult to interpret the development of the building
in any detail or with any accuracy. But it is tempting to speculate that
the outbuilding was built originally as a malthouse, and that in the
middle of the 17th century a new malthouse was built immediately behind
the main house. (This is the building now in use as three cottages. A
lintel bears the date 1662.) At the same time, the original malthouse
was altered and put to some different use.
One of the first occupants
of the house was John Hobbs, and he was followed by Thomas Prigg,
yeoman, who had roots in Westerleigh. In 1672, Prigg paid the Hearth Tax
on five hearths, which would accord with three in the house and two in
the malthouse. Mill Farm was the only other five-hearth house in the
parish. Thomas Prigg was followed by his son and by his grandchildren,
two of whom, Elizabeth (spinster) and her brother William (`Gent!),
bought the property when the Verney family disposed of Tytherington
Manor in 1728. They paid £145. Elizabeth's will is dated 1769 (she died
in 1773) and she left Malt Farm in trust for seven young beneficiaries,
three nephews and the four children of a fourth nephew, living at
Westerleigh or Iron Acton. Inevitably over the years these seventh
parts were sold, the first as soon as 1777. By 1783 John Smith, yeoman
at Bishop's Farm, had bought three of the sevenths for £63. He acquired
another seventh in 1785 (L20), another in 1786 (£18-10s.); Smith's death
intervened in 1788 (he was only 42) but his widow Martha bought the last
two sevenths in 1797.
Meanwhile, the house was occupied by John Ovens, who had married Ann
Hobbs of the Newhouse family, only to be widowed within a few years.
Ovens and then his son lived in Malt Farm up to the end of the century,
until Martha Smith, who now owned all the property, let it to her
brother Thomas (married to Sarah Parker). Thomas and Sarah's first two
sons died young; their daughter Sarah married Robert Alway and emigrated
to Canada; and their last child John married Ann Hobbs of Charfield in
1825 and lived at Malt Farm until his death in 1873.
In both Itchington and Tytherington, the Smiths were prominent farmers.
Back in 1789, the glebe was rented by Smiths, 55 acres at a yearly rent
of £44-2s. Fifty years later, John at Malt Farm was still farming the
glebe as well as his own 14 acres. He rented the earlier limekiln under
the hill, bought land where he could, and by the middle of the century
he was farming 100 acres. He acquired Pendick's from the patron of the
church living, Rev. George Taswell; but he had pulled out a little
before his death and was farming only 80 acres.
When he died in 1873, he left the Malt Farmhouse, with four or five
fields, to his eldest son John; they were valued at £1230. John seems to
have sold the property quite soon and then spent the next twenty-five
years as tenant of Tower Hill Farm; he sold to William Grove Salmon of
Thornbury who probably bought it as a speculation, for in 1887 he sold
it to the young Squire Hardwicke, in whose family it remained until it
became vacant in 1955. Donald Gibbon at Boyts Farm then bought the
property for the sake of the land, which surrounded his garden, selling
the somewhat dilapidated house to William Brundrett in 1956.
During the period from 1880 when it was tenanted, the list of tenants
includes Thomas Plaisted (from 1881) and Henry Phipps who came from
Oldbury before 1900 and returned there at the time of the 1914-18 War.
Squire Hardwicke then put his head groom and coachman, Alsey Curtis, a
widower, into Malt Farm with his sister Charlotte. They lived there on a
life tenancy, 'Aunt Lott' to the left as you went in the front door, Alsey on the right. She died in 1954, he in 1955.
Through the 19th century, the premises included a cider mill as well
as a malthouse. The last record of malting was in 1868; perhaps beer
from the big town brewers was ousting that made in the village, although
farmhouse beer was still being made in the parish well into this
century. Cider orchards, however, were everywhere in the parish, though
the agricultural depression of the late 19th century reduced the demand
for cider and the orchards began to suffer the neglect which has
continued to the present. Nevertheless, cider was a customary drink and
the mill at Malt Farm was in regular use until Alsey Curtis died. The
circular trough and vertical crushing mill wheel were for many years
worked by horse; but eventually a rotary crusher worked by a Lister
engine was installed. The pulp then was transferred to the presses to
extract the juice. When the mill was demolished, parts were incorporated
into a mill at Brook Farm.
Between the wars, Alsey's son,
Alsey was helped by the Squire to set up a
car repair garage in the old malthouse, with a petrol pump near the
road; but the enterprise did not survive the depression, with many
customers failing to pay their bills.
The photo above shows the pump on Duck Street opposite Malt Cottages.
The cottages, converted some 100 years ago, have had numerous
tenants. At the time of the sale of the Hardwicke estate in 1936, C H
King, in charge of the quarry office and married to the stationmaster's
daughter, lived in No 1 and bought the three cottages in one lot for
£400. The Kings were followed by Beatrice Rose Kingscott (from Edwards
Farm), while in No 2 for about 40 years were George and Lily Livall. No
3 was occupied for many years by Alsey Curtis' sister 'Nan', the
Squire's cook at, first The Grange and then The Manor, who married
Click on the thumbnails to view the photographs
|Malt House 2013 viewed across
||Stables at Malt House 2013
which between the wars Alsey Curtis set up as a garage with
petrol pumps on Duck Street. In 2015 the building was converted
into a house.
||Malt House Cottages 2013
|OS Map 1959 revised 1989
showing Malt House and Malt Cottages on Duck Street
Sketch of the Malt Farm Cider House (now
demolished) by David Niblett. Cider apples would be poured through
the small upper window directly into the press inside the building.
A trolley on rails was used to move apples etc around the building.
There were two presses one of which is now at