Cosgrove Fires

Main Street near the Old Bakery
View of what was left after the fire 1st November 1902

Buckingham Advertiser  November 8th 1902

A fire occurred at Cosgrove on Saturday morning involving the total destruction of two cottages occupied by two widows, Mrs Allen and Mrs. Toombs. The outbreak was first observed on the thatched roof, and spread with alarming rapidity, making its way downstairs. The inhabitants of the village were soon helping in the removal of the furniture, the bedsteads alone being left. Meanwhile the position got serious, and in response to telegrams the Stony Stratford Brigade and the Wolverton Works Brigade were summoned and arrived at 12 and 12.30. With a splendid supply of water available from the canal the fire at once began to get under control. Fortunately it was located to the two cottages concerned, though steps had previously been taken to prevent it spreading. At one o’clock all danger was over, the cottages being completely burnt out. The cottages were owned by Mr. Jonah Brown. The loss is estimated at £150. It is supposed the fire arose through children throwing a match on the roof. See LOT 2 below.

Substantially Brick and Stone-built Freehold
With Yard Stabling, and Outbuildings, Etc.; and
A Valuable Freehold

Adjoining the Above, in the Centre of the Village

The Well-built Brick and Slated Freehold
HOUSE, Being No. 108, in the HIGH STREET,

MONDAY, March 7th, 1904,
At "The Cock Hotel" Stony Stratford, at Four for Five o'clock, subject to conditions which will be produced at the time of the Sale by
direction of the Executors of the late Mr. JONAH BROWN.


LOT 1. The substantially brick-built and slated Freehold DWELLING HOUSE & Shop with BAKEHOUSE
attached, Stabling and Premises, situate at Cosgrove, and now used as the Post and Telegraph Office, General Provision Shop, and Bakery, let to Mr. Frederick Jelley on a quarterly tenancy, expiring on March 25th next, at a

RENTAL OF £16 per annum.

The accommodation comprises Living Room with range, Parlour, 2 Bedrooms, Attic, Shop, Storeroom, and large Cellar, with brick and stone-built Bakehouse and meal-room; also yard with brick and slated Stable, Coach-house, Brewhouse, and outbuildings.
The House has recently been re-roofed, spouted and guttered, and there is a splendid well of water on the Property. Land Tax 15s 0d.

LOT 2 A valuable BUILDING SITE adjoining Lot 1. centrally situated in the Main Street, with a frontage thereto of about 60-ft with brick & tiled Workshop, shed, &c. standing thereon, and a Piece of Garden Ground, the whole forming a most eligible site for the erection of a Cottage property.

A quantity of building stone and about 2,000 Staffordshire Squares now on the premises, will be sold with the above Land Tax 2s 0d

LOT 3 A highly valuable brick and slated FREEHOLD HOUDE, being 108, High Street, Stony Stratford, facing the main road and with back entrance from the side yard, and containing - Hall, Front Sitting Room with bay, Parlour, 4 Bedrooms, Kitchen, & Pantry, also yard at back with brick and slated wash-house, &c., late in the occupation of Mr. Allan Giles, at a

Rental of £15 15s. per annum.

All Landlord's Fixtures will be included. The Town water is laid on.


From 1750 onwards Stony Stratford had a Fire Brigade which also attended fires in the local villages, for which they were charged. In 1833 they obtained a new fire engine, and the subscribers included the parishes of Passenham, Hanslope, Potterspury, Yardley, Calverton, Whaddon, Castlethorpe, Cosgrove, Shenley, Wolverton, Loughton, and Bradwell. These parishes paid £1 each per year up to 1835, then 5s per year to 1840, then 10s per year. By this time they had stopped paying the Fire Brigade for beer.

Northampton Mercury - Saturday 20 April 1805

The steam-engine employed at Cosgrove, near Stony - on the works the Grand Junction Canal, took fire last week, owing, it said, some hot ashes cinders being carelessly thrown out near to the wood-work of the building in which was contained, and was totally consumed.

Northampton Mercury - Saturday 06 July 1833


MR. HENRY MANSEL, Mr. FRANKLIN, and their Tenants, who have suffered the Destructive FIRE at on Saturday last, beg to return their sincere thanks to the inhabitants both of Cosgrove the neighbourhood, for their ready and able assistance on that occasion. 'The active help and kind feeling shown by all classes will always be remembered by them with pleasure and gratitude. Cosgrove, July 1st, 1833.

The Northampton Mercury July 13th 1833


THE INHABITANTS of NORTHAMPTON and the COUNTY generally are respectfully and earnestly requested to CONTRIBUTE to the RELIEF of the SUFFERERS by the above Calamity, Particulars of which may be seen at the Banks of Messrs. Percival, and Mr. Whitworth, where Subscriptions are kindly received.

Oxford Journal - Saturday 13 July 1833


An alarming fire broke out at Cosgrove, Northamptonshire, on Saturday morning, at about half past ten o'clock. It originated through the foulness of a chimney in a house occupied by a person named Browning, and the wind blowing almost a hurricane at the time, it set fire to the thatch of the house, which was soon in flames. The two houses adjoining luckily escaped the conflagration; but it very singularly communicated to the third house and two others adjoining, belonging to poor persons, and which were speedily consumed. It then continued its ravages to Mr. Henry Foster’s farm yard, having caught a barn which contained between five and six tons of wood, and the farm-house, together with the hovels and barns, two carts, and upwards of 20 tons of hay were entirely destroyed. Such was the rapidity of the flames that the houses and out-buildings were burnt to the ground in less than an hour; and it was with great difficulty that a man named Hounslow was taken out of one of the houses, as he lay very ill, and, it is supposed, upon his death bed. The engines arrived from Stoney Stratford in about half an hour after the fire broke out; but so rapid were the flames that it was impossible to save all the furniture from the devastating element. It was very distressing to witness the poor people running about in despair for the loss of their homes. It will be a severe loss to the sufferers, particularly to Mr Foster, who is not insured.

Northampton Mercury - Saturday 21 September 1833


IN closing subscriptions for sufferers by the fire at Cosgrove, which occurred on the 29th of June last, the Committee return to the subscribers, in the name of the sufferers relieved, their sincere thanks for the assistance their benevolence has afforded under this calamity.

A statement of the receipt and distribution of the funds is given for the satisfaction the subscribers:—x

Northampton Mercury - Saturday 14 January 1843

Commitments to the County Gaol and House of Correction

William Bignell, of Cosgrove, charged with having, on the 6th inst., maliciously set fire to certain stacks corn, grain, straw, and hay, the property of Jabez Scrivener, and to certain cowhouses, barns, hovels, and other buildings, in the occupation of the said J. Scrivener.

Northampton Mercury - Saturday 04 March 1843

The Arson at Cosgrove.

William Bignell, aged 18, was charged with having, at Cosgrove, maliciously set fire to certain stacks of corn, grain, straw, and hay, the property of Jabez Scrivener, and to certain barns, cowhouses, hovels, and other buildings, the occupation of the said Jabez Scrivener. Mr. Miller appeared for the prosecution, and Mr. Flood for the defence.

John Durham, land surveyor, of Stony Stratford, made the plan produced, and vouched for its accuracy. Jabez Scrivener lives at Cosgrove, and farms some land there. Another portion of the farm is about mile distant. The latter consists of two fields called Upper and Lower Oxhouse. There is cottage there occupied by John Bignell, father of the prisoner. On the 6th of January last he had a stack of hay, a rick of oats, and some straw on the premises. Employed prisoner about four years ago. Refused to employ him about a fortnight ago on the application of his mother. On the evening of the 6th of January last, there was a fire, which burnt part of the hay, all the oats, the straw, and the farm-buildings.

Cross- examined Mr. Flood. The farm-buildings consisted of barn, stable, and cow-house. George Ratcliffe a labourer at Cosgrove. About a fortnight before the fire saw the prisoner in Mr. Jelly's field. Witness's brother and Joseph Jones were there. Jones had a pipe. Bignell lighted it for him with a lucifer. The pipe went out, and Jones asked Bignell for another light, but he said he could not give it him. On the evening before the fire, went to look for work with Bignell and Perkins to Newton Longville. Did not obtain it, and Bignell and witness slept in Mr. Scrivener's hovel. In the morning they went together to Bignell's cottage and had some breakfast, and then went on to Stony Stratford to see the relieving officer. On their way back, prisoner said he would set some place on fire before long. Witness said should not say such words as that, very likely it would get him into " skirmish." Parted with him at the Green Bridge, Cosgrove, about half-past ten. Saw no more of him that day.

By the Bench. Was himself charged with this fire.

Rd. Anstell is a baker, in the employ of Mr. John Rolfe, baker, of Newport Pagnel. On the 6th January was in the employ of brother of his present master, at Stony Stratford. Took some bread to Bignell's cottage. On his way he passed through Johnson's meadow, the upper Oxhouse ground, the farm-yard, and along the lower Oxhouse ground, and when at the end he saw the prisoner. Went on with the bread; stopped Bignell's house two or three minutes, and set out back again by the same route. Saw prisoner about the same place. He said he had lost his knife, and he would go along with him to see if he could find it. He went up the meadow with witness as far the farm-yard. The footway goes by the lower part of the rick yard. There prisoner went up towards the ricks, saying he must look for his knife. Witness went home. It was a damp evening. It mizzled with rain, and witness ran hard as he could. When he got on the turnpike road he turned towards the bridge, and then he saw some men watering horses. They were about 20 or 40 yards off. Could not see them distinctly as it was getting dark. On getting to the bridge he saw a fire at the rick-yard. [The distance from the rick-yard to the bridge yards, and from Bignell's house to the rick-yards, on lie other side is yards, so that it is nearly midway.] Went in to Stony Stratford, and then returned to the bridge. There was a crowd of persons there, and among them the prisoner. He said he had got in the little meadow near home when he smelt smoke, turned round and saw the fire. Witness saw no men about the rick-yard, nor anywhere till he got to the bridge, and saw the two men with the horses.

Cross examined by Mr. Flood. Went back to the fire; a great many persons were there.

Richard Chibnell is relieving officer of the Potterspury Union. Saw the fire at Mr. Scrivener’s rick-yard. Prisoner had been that morning to ask for work. Witness did not give him a paper as he was going from home. Went to the fire, and saw the prisoner there, near the sheep pens, about 50 yards from the sheep pens. Asked him where he was when the fire first broke out. He said he was at home. Witness said he could not see the fire his father's house, as the windows looked in an opposite direction. He said he was the field.

Cross-examined by Mr. Flood. Prisoner had a pail his hand.

Thos. Hogg, a police officer, was present when prisoner was apprehended on the 9th of January. Asked him if he knew why he was apprehended. He said he guessed about the fire. After wards he said he and Ratcliffe slept in the hovel the night before the fire, breakfasted at his father's, went to Stratford to see the relieving officer, then to Wolverton, and got home about one. He was employed the whole of the afternoon gathering sticks which Mr. Scrivener had given his father. About four o'clock went in, and was never out till about five. He then went out for a few sticks, saw smoke, and heard the cry of fire, and then ran up to Cosgrove, and afterwards to the fire. When he came out of his father's house he saw two or three men standing the pens under the hedge. He thought they were Mr. Scrivener's men spreading manure. Witness searched him, and found some fragments of lucifer matches his waistcoat pocket, said he did not know how they came there.

Mr. Congreve produced the statement of the prisoner before the magistrates. It was to the same effect as his statement to Hogg.

Mr. Scrivener re-called. The prisoner was the first who gave the alarm to Mr. Scrivener. A third person was taken up this charge.

Mr. Flood addressed the jury for the defence in a speech of some length; but the jury found the prisoner Guilty, and the Learned Judge sentenced him to Fifteen Years' Transportation.

Northampton Mercury 8 December 1849

A GIRL BURNT TO DEATH. On Monday last an inquest was held at the Infirmary, before John Becke, Esq., on the body of Eliza Watkins, aged 14 years. From the evidence, it appeared that deceased was a native of Cosgrove, in this county, and that in October last, while sitting by the fire, a poker, that had been placed between the bars of the grate, fell from the fire against her frock, which instantly ignited. In her fright the poor girl ran into the street, which increased the violence of the flames. The neighbours ran to her assistance, threw water upon her, and succeeded in extinguishing the fire, but not until the poor creature was dreadfully burnt. She was brought to the Infirmary, where she lingered till Sunday last, when death put an end to her sufferings. Verdict- Accidental Death.

Northampton Mercury - Saturday 15 July 1854


The learned Judge took his seat upon the Bench shortly after nine o'clock, when the business of the court was immediately proceeded with.

John Roberts, 20, labourer, charged with wilfully setting fire to a stack of straw, the property of William Warr, at Furtho, on the 10th April last.

Mr. Roberts for the prosecution and Mr. O'Brien for the defence.

Prosecutor occupies a farm at Furtho, and the 10th April had a straw stack on a place called "Hillyer's ground," between Cosgrove and Furtho. The prisoner was in the employ of prosecutor two years ago, and had again applied for work about a month before the occurrence. Prosecutor refused him in a rather peremptory manner. Afterwards heard his stack was burnt, lives about 200 yards from it.

Henry Lambert was at plough in a field near Hillyer's ground. Saw the prisoner coming in direction from Cosgrove to Potterspury, along a footpath which runs within yard or two of the stack. About 10 or 12 minutes after observed smoke issuing from the stack. Prisoner was about hundred yards from the stack when witness saw him.

Thomas Sharp, went to pasture near to Hillyer's ground, saw prisoner within 50 yards of the stack. About five minutes after observed smoke issuing from the stack, which was ultimately consumed.

William Sergeant, policeman, saw the prisoner about half a mile from Potterspury. Had not then heard there was a fire. Subsequently apprehended prisoner, who denied having gone down field towards the straw stack, but along the top hedge towards Shrob Walk, where his father was.

Mr. Richard Scrivener. Shrob Walk is part Whittlebury, where 7 or 8 men were engaged cutting 30 acres of underwood was there all day, sure prisoner was not at that place between two and half-past three. It is possible he might have been there while witness was at dinner. The 30 acres is about two miles from the stack.

Mr. O'Brien for the defence, contended that the prisoner would hardly have chosen two o'clock the day for his purpose, or spoken freely to persons at the spot at the very time of committing the offence. The fact of the hollow dell behind the stack was extremely favourable to prisoner, was by that way no doubt that the person who really committed the crime retreated, whereas prisoner was seen going along the footpath.

The jury after some consultation expressed a wish to retire and a fresh jury was impannelled. The former jury having returned gave a verdict of Guilty, with recommendation mercy. The Court sentenced him to Five Years' Penal Servitude.

Northampton Mercury - Saturday 17 March 1855


On the 6th instant, at the Plough, Cosgrove, on view of the body of Ann Hurst, aged five years, who, the 16th of February, was so injured on her clothes taking fire that death ensued on the evening the 3rd instant. It appeared that the child was left by her sister at Mrs. Jelley's, a neighbour, to be taken care of while she went to Stratford. Mrs. Jelly went into her neighbour Atterbury's on an errand, leaving her two children and the deceased in the house. During her absence a stick fell from the grate and set the child's clothes on fire, whereby her neck, arms, face, and back, were severely burnt. Mr. Back, surgeon, of Stony Stratford, attended the deceased up to the time of her death. A verdict of accidental death was returned.

Northampton Mercury - Saturday 27 August 1859


William Brown and Charles West, charged with having set fire to a hovel, at Cosgrove.

Northampton Mercury - Saturday 03 December 1859


Cosgrove. William Brown (37) and Charles West (18), charged with wilfully setting fire to a hovel, belonging to Richard Scrivener.

Northampton Mercury - Saturday 10 December 1859

Cosgrove. WILLIAM BROWN, 37, weaver, and CHARELS WEST, 18, labourer, pleaded guilty to an indictment for setting fire to s hovel, the property of Mr. Richard Scrivener, at Cosgrove, on 16th Aug. last. They were each sentenced to Four Year’s Penal Servitude.

Northampton Mercury - Saturday 05 September 1868

Fire Cosgrove.

On the morning of Thursday, August 27th, the Stony Stratford Fire Brigade was aroused early to a fire on the premises of Mr. Adams, at the Plough Inn, Cosgrove. They were soon on the spot. Happily there was a plentiful supply of water, and after a few hours hard work the fire was extinguished, and all left safe. We hear that the premises were insured, and that the Fire Brigade met with great kindness from the inhabitants, especially from Mr. D. Warren. Unfortunately it was the day appointed for the brigade's annual holiday, which took place in Stowe Park. Although delayed and prevented by the fire in the morning from appearing in uniform with their engine, they played a friendly game of cricket with the Stowe House Fire Brigade, which ended in favour of the Stowe Brigade. Mr. Blackwell, of Buckingham, provided a good substantial dinner, which all appeared to enjoy. By the Duke of Buckingham's permission, the brigade visited His Grace's fire engine and appliances, and found all in first-rate working order. They were then shown through the different gardens, greenhouses, aviary, &c, and took a pleasant walk round the mansion. On returning they found the Duke had ordered coffee for them. They gave three hearty cheers on leaving the mansion. Mr. E. Revill, captain of the brigade, supplied them with postilions, four horses, &c.

Northampton Mercury - Saturday 03 July 1869

Presentation. —After the return of the Stony Stratford Fire Brigade from the fire on Mr. Slade's farm, at Cosgrove, on the 11th ult., the members repaired to the Cock Hotel for the purpose of presenting their Superintendent, Mr. E. Revill, with a handsome gold scarf pin, subscribed for and purchased by the Brigade. Mr. J. C. Bates, the foreman, made the presentation, and in a few appropriate words stated the feelings of the members towards their esteemed superintendent, who received it with the well-wishes of the whole Brigade.

Northampton Mercury - Saturday 15 August 1874


On Tuesday afternoon, about half past one o clock, a fire broke out in the rick yard belonging to Mr Warren, brewer and maltster, which destroyed between 80 and 100 tons of valuable hay. The rick stood in close proximity to some thatched cottages, which were quickly ignited, and would in all probability have been burned down, had it not been for the active and willing help rendered by the villagers, especially the women, before and after the arrival of the Stony Stratford Volunteer Fire Brigade, who arrived in a very short space of time after the alarm was given, and got to work in excellent time.

Although a copious supply of water was close at hand, the firemen were unable to subdue the flames until after midnight, and the debris was still smouldering throughout Wednesday. Police-Sergeant Alexander rendered useful service in keeping order amongst the crowd which collected during the evening witness the conflagration. We understand that Mr. Warren was insured with the Royal Farmers' Insurance Company.

Northampton Mercury - Friday 28 April 1893


About noon on Tuesday a fire broke out in a barn belonging to Mr. J. C. Mansel, Cosgrove. Information was at once conveyed to Stony Stratford, and the fire brigade, with all possible speed, journeyed to the scene of the conflagration. Fortunately it was not found necessary to use the engine. The firemen rendered necessary service in removing portions of the building, and thus prevented the tire from spreading. As there was no wind their efforts in this direction were successful. Had there been a strong, or even a moderate wind, the thatched cottages and other buildings adjacent must have caught fire. The inhabitants of the cottages commenced moving their furniture, but the fire was soon out, in fact, the brigade was back less than an hour.

The date of the fire is unknown, but was probably in the early 1900s. - See following

A report in the Wolverton Express dated March 4th 1904 about a court case against Rev Henry Newington Clark Hewson mentions the following.

The stones were principally old building stones carted from the site of some cottages which were destroyed by fire, with a few “odds and ends and bits of bricks”.

Northampton Mercury - Friday 17 September 1909


A distressing fatality happened in Cosgrove on Tuesday, when a child, named Brown, aged two years, was burnt in bed so severely that he died. The mother had left two little boys in bed, and the eldest, aged three, found a candle and matches, with which he managed to set the bed on fire. The mother is deaf, and consequently could not hear the child screaming. The little chap was left helpless in torment till some neighbours came on the scene. When the doctor was fetched the child was beyond human aid.

Northampton Mercury - Friday 17 September 1909

THE INQUEST. Mr T M Percival inquired into the circumstances of the sad affair at the Barley Mow on Thursday. Charlotte Brown, wife of Albert Brown, of Cosgrove, drayman, said that Tuesday she left her house go to the barn at about a quarter to seven in the morning. She was going to do some washing, and left her two children, William, aged three years, and the deceased, Frederick Albert, aged one year and seven months upstairs fast asleep. When witnesses left her husband was at work. A lodger was in the house reading the paper. He said he heard nothing of the children, and when he left everything was quiet. Witness went back to the house about 7.30 staying a few minutes and writing a note. She listened, but all was quiet, and she assumed the boys were still asleep, and she went back the barn. Later a Mrs. Key, who lived next door, said the children seemed quiet. Witness then told her she was going back. They got to the door she said, “They are screaming.” Witness rushed upstairs, and found the deceased in flames. She picked him up, took him into the yard, and put him into some water. The other boy followed downstairs. He was not burned at all. She added that the bedclothes were fire, and she threw them out of the window. There was a candle alight in the lodger's room where the children were. Continuing, she said William had that morning told witness that he struck the matches and lighted the candle. He told her how Fred stood, and that he got frightened and hid under the bed. Witness sent for the doctor at once, but her child died the same day. Dr. Powell said the child was terribly burnt all over the body and more particular on the front of the abdomen. The child was absolutely hopeless from a curative point of view. The cause of death was shock arising from extensive burns. The jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony.

Northampton Mercury - Friday 15 May 1936


When the chimney of a house in New Buildings, Cosgrove, tenanted by Mr. George Ray, caught fire the Wolverton Works Fire Brigade turned out promptly and had to remove the top of the chimney to get the fire. After an hour’s work the Brigade returned. Little damage was done.

Wolverton Express 2nd June 1972

Cosgrove Mill fire

The 400 years old mill at Cosgrove Priory was badly damaged by fire on Monday. Only a quarter of the huge thatched roof was saved and 50 per cent of the structure was destroyed. The large mill wheel was badly damaged by falling debris which set it alight. Antique carts housed on the ground floor were dragged clear by firemen before the first floor collapsed and the well preserved mill machinery crashed to the ground and was badly damaged. A strong wind hampered the work of firemen. Thatched roofs on two adjoining sheds were also badly damaged in the blaze. The late owner of the mill, Captain Philip Y. Atkinson, died a few weeks ago and his wife, Grace, was staying with relatives at the time of the fire. Cosgrove mill is thought to have been mentioned in the Domesday Book but since the 11th century it has almost certainly been rebuilt several times. The present building is thought to date back 400 years. See Mill

Wolverton Express 22nd June 1973

Farm is badly hit by blaze

FIREMEN spent seven hours, using water from the nearby canal, to put out blazing farm buildings at Castlethorpe Wharf Farm, Cosgrove, on Friday. Luckily, the farmer, Mr. Robert Alderman and his wife Gloria managed to rescue all the animals from the buildings with no injuries and also got out several farm implements.

But the couple, who have built up a cattle rearing business at the farm over the past seven years, lost all the calf breeding boxes and will now have to start from scratch again. Mr. and Mrs. Alderman who are tenants at the farm, returned from a fortnight's holiday abroad only the night before. The fire started in straw in one of the wooden buildings on Friday afternoon, and destroyed half of the outbuildings. The farmhouse and dutch barn were not damaged.