Much of the Glen Goyle park lies in the grounds of the former Asherton House; although demolished in the 1960s, most of the remaining gardens were bequeathed to the council, who added it to the woodland walk leading up the brook from Manor Park Road.
The Friends of Glen Goyle have been contacted by the family who resided at Asherton House – and the correspondence and documentation they have so kindly and generously provided is published here with permission.
The following excerpts are full of personal anecdotes from David Bassett (who lives in Canada), which, together with the links, add up to a rich body of work on a corner of the Sid Valley – and a key element to understanding the landscape history of Glen Goyle.
Finally, I have revised the sketch of Asherton’s garden (attached) as we remembered it at children. I am so grateful for our discussions in March especially with Phil and with Ed who identified the trees for me that included the Western Red Cedars and the Weeping Lime tree that are no longer there. As I indicated before I was so pleased to see the Magnolia tree in John McGregor’s garden is still there. The Japanese Maple is still there but has greatly increased in size.
[From Pat Jones, née Bassett, in response to correspondence from FOGG member Phil Lee:
“Here are two photos from a recently published, 2021, book ‘Sidmouth’s Prints’ by Deborah Robertson. You may already be familiar with the book and/or print of Asherton Cottage. The middle paragraph of the text states ‘Asherton Cottage is now listed as a holiday letting’. This refers to the house on the corner of Glen Road and Cotmaton Road. It looks to me (wishful thinking maybe) as if the picture is from Glen Goyle, just inside the northern entrance.”]
The cottage, now called Asherton which is a holiday rent, was actually where our grandfather’s house keeper lived with her family, Mrs Mare. I am still in contact with her daughter and we used to play as children when we were on holiday. Mrs Mare died about 4 years ago in her nineties.
I have to say I felt that the small cottage on the corner should not have been called Asherton as it was misleading. I am not sure when the original house lost the cottage name, maybe our grandfather dropped it. We only knew it as Asherton and by then it was definitely a large house.
I think the picture seems to be viewed from where the new entrance to the garden has been made off Glen Road. Asherton House went back on the western side, (not seen on the photograph that my brother took in the sixties and sent FOGG.)
My sister, Pat Jones (Bassett) recently met with John McGregor [of FOGG] while you were all working on the renovation of Glen Goyle. She suggested that I contact you with some memories and history of Asherton Garden into which the Glen path now passes.
Today I have worked on a draft sketch based on my memories of the many holidays we spent in my Grandfather’s garden – Dr. Bertram Cohen. I got carried away with memories of Sidmouth in general and Asherton in particular. I have enclosed a rather crude sketch as a vehicle for future discussions and a letter from which you and your colleagues might be able to abstract useful material to enrich your excellent website.
I have been going through paperwork left by my aunt and came across this typed document that might be of interest about the history of Asherton. In addition, I found a couple of additional photos that I took in my youth. [photos one, two, three]
Your photographs of the excellent work being done to clear the paths are terrific, bringing back memories of how this path used to be under the Cypress Tree canopy. The rocks on the east side remind me of how we used to climb up them to reach the wall that interestingly had a brick missing that gave us a foot up to look over the wall and tease passers-by. The brick was replaced several times but the hole kept returning. Another mystery of our youth.
Thank you so much for sending the pictures of the concrete structure. I believe it might be the lily pond upside down that used to be between the House and the Rose Arched bridge as marked on my sketch of the gardens. It might be possible to confirm this hypothesis by examining the rim as there used to be a pipe just below the surface of the water, either hooked up to a water supply for topping up or serving as an overflow. The pond used to be full of newts who were caught, transferred to a large jar and then returned to the pond on a regular basis. Perhaps when the builders cleared the site, they rolled it down the slope and across the stream in order to repair some flood damage!
Thank you so much for forwarding the information on John Carslake and Cotmaton Hall.
I really enjoyed reading the material that was very interesting and extremely comprehensive. I now know that Cotmaton House and Hall are the same and that the Hall burnt down in 1935. The mention of Cotlands raises the possibility that the group picture that I mentioned in my letter, not only included Asherton (Cottage) and Cotmaton (Old/Hall), but might also having included etchings of Cottington and Cotlands. I found at the following website, a picture of Cotlands with its Regency Veranda suggesting that it might be the etching of Cotlands and not Cottington that I previously commented on. Of course many of the houses of that era all looked similar.
Again thank you for forwarding this material. I was particularly struck by the Blue Plaque script above Cotmaton Hall’s that was about the Duke of Connaught with whom my grandfather became a close associate, following perhaps the Duke’s first visit to Sidmouth. I believe it was a year when the foreign exchange was so bad that the Royal Family thought it PR prudent to take their summer vacations at home rather than abroad. My grandfather was probably asked to present his credentials to the Duke’s family in case they needed a local physician. Since I live in Canada, I have been particularly interested in the life of the Duke of Connaught as he was Governor General of Canada with a regiment named after his daughter – The Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. I have a letter in reply to my grandfather’s condolences from Princess Patricia’s Equerry on the occasion of the Duke’s death.
I am enclosing the final copy of a summary of our grandfather’s life with some background information about his children that I hope you might find interesting. Since we spent all our school holidays in Sidmouth, we have many stories and memories that included attending: the annual Amateur Dramatic Society musicals at the Manor Pavillion, which was always highlighted by the humour of Messrs. Martin the butcher and Foyle the haberdasher; the flower shows in the Powys garden of Mrs Campbell-Watson; the Good Friday Hot-Cross Bun handout in the Bedford Hotel carpark where one used to pick up the blue “Toast Rack” cars to the tops of Salcombe and Peak Hills; and to stand on the cricket ground above the Esplanade viewing parades and the angry sea.