Providence Cottage

Providence Cottage

of Preston Road from the 1830s to the 1960s


Originally West Field was one of the great Medieval fields of the Manor of Kingston that covered the area between Larkhill Road in the east, Preston Road in the south, Ilchester Road to the east and Combe Street Lane to the north. However, by the early nineteenth century this great field had been subdivided into a myriad of small fields. One retained the name West Field

By the time of the 1846 Tithe Apportionment this smaller West Field had itself been further divided into several smaller parcels. One of these parcels, a long, thin strip of land on the north side of Preston Lane (today's Preston Road) also called West Field (Parcel 1464) contained a one of the only houses in the area. The 1846 Tithe Apportionment described this parcel of West Field as 'House & Land' and noted that it measured 0a 3r 25p and was arable land. The Apportionment recorded that the owner was Betty Bengefield who lived in the house.

In fact the house that Betty Bengefield owned and lived in was known as Providence Cottage (see Gallery below) which was shown on Madeley's 1831 map of Yeovil and was one of only four houses in Preston Road between Larkhill Road and Ilchester Road (the others being Ivy Cottage on the corner of Larkhill Lane, Grove House just to the west and a small house roughly where the Somerset Inn stood). Perhaps 'cottage' is something of a misnomer since it was actually a substantial stone-built two storey property of three bays under a slate roof, end-on to Preston Road as seen in the photograph below.

At some time in the middle of the nineteenth century a tannery was built on this parcel, complete with tanning pits, consisting of two nearly parallel ranges of buildings on a north-south axis to the immediate north of Providence Cottage. The tannery was operated by John Barber, a fellmonger, glove and gaiter manufacturer. Barber probably operated the tannery in the 1850s but certainly by 1861 when he was living with his large family in the adjacent Providence Cottage. The 1886 Ordnance Survey showed the range of buildings as 'Tannery (Disused)'.

John Barber died on 15 September 1894, aged 80, and certainly by 1897 James Henry Newis, a corn merchant, was living at Providence Cottage. He converted the adjoining former tannery into a flour mill, known as Newis' Mills. 'Newis Mills (Corn)' is marked on the 1928 Ordnance Survey map located within the existing buildings.

The only other resident of Providence Cottage I could trace was Edmund Rutz - a musician of undisclosed nationality whose name and address was published in a list of 'Foreign Nationals' in the London Gazette's edition of 5 November 1926.

At some time after 1901 (but before 1927) a short terrace of three houses was built facing Preston Road to the immediate west of Providence Cottage.

By the 1960s part of Providence Cottage had been converted to a small shop (as seen in the photograph below) which was Wyatt's the butcher's. There was also an adjacent furniture store housed in the older buildings.

The three houses remain but Providence Cottage and the former Newis' Mills were demolished in the late 1960s and replaced with housing on the junction of Preston Road and Willow Road (see Gallery).



A section of the 1842 Tithe Map showing Preston Road running from centre left to bottom right with the Union House at centre and Grove House at right of centre. Providence Cottage is seen as a small red building in the bottom right quadrant, to the left of the words 'West Field'.


Map based on the 1886 Ordnance Survey showing Providence Cottage and Newis' Mills. On this map the mills were marked as 'Tannery (Disused)' indicating that Newis had yet to make the conversion to a flour mill.


Map based on the 1901 Ordnance Survey showing Providence Cottage and Newis' Mills next to Preston Road in the bottom right quadrant.




A report of a burglary at Providence Cottage as reported in the 11 February 1870 edition of the Western Gazette.


Notice of the sale by auction of Providence Cottage and the adjoining tannery after the death of John Barber, placed in the 8 March 1895 edition of the Western Gazette.


The failure of Providence Cottage and the adjoining tannery to sell at auction as reported in the 5 April 1895 edition of the Western Gazette.


From the Cave Collection (colourised), Courtesy of South Somerset Heritage Collection
The original of this photograph features in my book "Lost Yeovil"

This colourised photograph was taken in the 1960s and looks west along Preston Road and the road running off to the right is Willow Road. The three-bay house end-on to Preston Road with a corner shop in its left-hand side is Providence Cottage. The building at right was originally a leather tannery but converted into a flour mill known as Newis' Mills. Both cottage and mills were demolished shortly after this photograph was taken.


From the Cave Collection (colourised), Courtesy of South Somerset Heritage Collection

An enlargement of the previous photograph showing Providence Cottage.


The three houses at left were built after 1901 to the west of Providence Cottage, which itself was replaced by the houses at right on the corner of Preston Road (where the photograph was taken from) and Willow Road off to the right.


Willow Road seen from Preston Road. The houses at the left are built on the site of Providence Cottage. Photographed on 4 November 2021.