As part of our Remaking Beamish project, we are planning to re-create the cottage that the famously murdered Joe the Quilter lived in.
Conceivably, if Joe was born in the cottage (a contemporary poem tells us), it must have been built at least by the mid-1700s, and given its appearance could convincingly be older. It’s location on the roadside of Homer’s Lane, approximately mid-way between two Northumberland villages, on land that was claimed from the moorland behind, suggests that it was probably a squatter’s cottage. It was perhaps gradually developed from a small hut or shelter, to a more substantial dwelling, undisturbed by local jurisdiction because of its liminal position. It was a tiny (just 16′ x 25′), stone built, heather thatched, and entirely vernacular dwelling, which built Joe’s family probably built themselves.
Clara has pieced together the initial plans of the cottage using contemporary images and descriptions that were made at following Joe’s murder in 1826, as well as by using comparisons with other regional cottages of roughly the same age. We plan to excavate the site of the cottage in the early Autumn and hope that the dig will reveal further clues about what Joe’s home looked like.