A History of Seacroft. Lower Sea Lane. Charmouth

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Reginal Pavey, our famous local historian makes a point in his notes that until the 20 th Century there were few buildings in Lower Sea Lane. The ground between the Street and the sea had been Common Land owned by the Abbots of Forde for three centuries until 1539. Early maps and photos show the vestiges of the old mediaeval strip system of farming and the name still survives in Single and Double Common that were one or two acres in size. Anthony Tutchen, a mariner by deed dated 1673 gave a freehold house and field there belonging there containing one acre, in the parish, for the benefit of seamen, seamen's wives and children, originally given in stockings and shoes. A Report in 1837 informs us that:
There is also on the east side of sea lane a field containing an acre, called Shoe and Stocking land, which was let by auction for a term of 21 years to Matthew Lock at the rent of £8.8s per annum, of this term, about three had expired, where in consideration that the tenant had built 2 small tenements on the premises, the following lease was granted here follows lease dated 1823 The rent of £8-8s has always been paid to the ministers and is generally expended on repairing the almshouses”.
A book titled: “The Memorials of Stepney from 1579 to 1662” records that Anthony Tutchen of Poplar and Blackwall (Captain) was an officer in the Commonwealth navy. He was the master of the transport 'Brazil' in May 1650 and in 1653 was pressing seamen for the navy in the eastern counties. He married, Margaret and following her death was preparing to marry Grace Hazle, widow, upon whom he settled property in Poplar known as Oakfield. He died about 1667 and left property to his grandchildren, Margaret Gyles and Sarah, wife of Abraham Read. His father of the same name was also a mariner living in Limehouse and was married in 1607 to Margaret Chapman, of Limehouse, widow. In 1625 he was in command of a ship ' lent to the French.' In the year following he appears as a Master- assistant of the Navy, and later as a Master of Trinity House. He died in 1643 and was buried in Stepney. In Kenneth Andrews Book: “Ships , Money, and Politics: Seafaring and Naval enterprises in the Reign of Charles I” He writes as follows: “ There were of course other eminent masters: Peter Andrews, Thomas Best, the Bushells and Anthony Tutchen for example, the last of whom at the age of 56 in 1638 having lived 20 years in Limehouse boasted that his ship- money rate was among the highest in the district”.
Both father and son were famous in their day and there are a number of records relating to them and their lives. We are fortunate as The Dorset Record Office has a Deed that relates to a later rental on the property which refers to the original Gift as follows: ”Whereas by an Indenture of 26 th February 1673 made between Anthony Tutchen of Limehouse, Middlesex, Mariner and Richard Rose, Benjamin Bird, clerk of Wootton Fitzpaine, William Ellesden, Anthony, his son. Edward Mable, Yeoman and Stephen Limbry, Mariner and Robert Jones the Elder and Robert Jones the younger of Lyme Regis. Anthony Tutchen did grant all his dwelling house, garden, etc with one close of meadow of about 1 acre called the Common in occupation of Richard Wey”. Richard Way is shown on the 1642 Protestation list and a Robert Wey appears on the Hearth Tax for the village paying for 3 chimneys, which may well be the same building.
A later document dated 1735 shows that Anthony Ellesden as the surviving trustee leases it to Elizabeth Richards, daughter of Abraham Richards, Cordswainer ( shoe maker ) for 99 years at £1-15s
I could not find the connection with Charmouth in any of the records relating to Anthony Tutchen, father and son. They did not appear in the parish records or the Protestation List of 1642 for the village. But delving back I was more fortunate and an Anthony Tutchen is seen as paying 8s 4d towards Queen Elizabeth's Ships in 1588. Then again in 1542 A William Tutchen is shown as an able archer in Charmouth`s Muster Roll, with a bow and sheaf of arrows ready to defend his country if there was a War with France.
It would seem that the family had left the village to make their fortune in London in the 17 th Century, which indeed they did. But no doubt still had property here and it is this house and acre of land, which is left by the subsequent beneficiary.
The earliest accurate map dated 1801 produced by the Ordnance Survey shows the field with a house on it. The later 1841 Tithe Map supplies us with more information. It shows that Matthew Lock who as referred to earlier has built an additional 2 small tenements on it is renting it out. He pays £8-8s to the Minister which is spent on repairing the ancient Almshouse at the top of the Street. The map clearly shows the building, which was eventually to be known as “Long Temps Cottage” or “Seacroft” as it is today. The building Mathew Lock built is on the right. Later photographs show it as a thatched group of 3 cottages.
When Tom Hunter left "Sea View" in Lower Sea Lane he lived in one of the cottages facing east-ward and Bill Gordge in another. Behind Tom's was a smaller one inhabited by Bert Stork. On the opposite side of the path was a smaller cottage, now called "The Chalet", where an old lame woman used to live. These cottages were thatched with 'spear" from the river by the old battery. At some period during, or after the 1914-18 war, all these cottages were owned by Charles How and three of them were burnt down in about 1921 after a disastrous fire that destroyed them and “Greenacres” and “Wayalong” were later built on the site.
We are fortunate that the Tutchen`s original house survived set back from the road. With its thick stonewalls and windows it is easy to imagine it with its original mullioned windows with leaded panes. There is still more evidence to find that may well prove this to be one of Charmouths most historic houses.

Seacroft today with Greengates and Wayalong on the right of the photograph
An Aerial Photograph showing Seacroft in Lower Sea Lane, Charmouth today
An Aerial Photograph showing Seacroft in Lower Sea Lane, Charmouth today
An Ordnance Survey Map for 1991
An Ordnance Survey Map for 1971
An Ordnance Survey Map for 1961
An Ordnance Survey Map for 1926
An Aerial view of Seacroft on the bottom left of the photograph in 1927
An Ordnance Survey Map for 1901
A view of the thatched building that was burnt down in 1921in the middle. The chimney of Seacroft can be just seen to the right surrounded by trees
An Ordnance Survey Map for 1889
The Tithe Map for 1841 shows Seacroft set back on the left with the group of thatched cootages to the bottom right.
A page from Reginal Paveys notebooks describing the history of the Almshouses and their relocation.