There are all sorts of cottages in England, but we’ve picked these as distinct and recognisable types which are popular today as a dwelling or holiday house.
Probably the most quintessentially English type of cottage is the thatched variety.
Houses using this ancient method of building roofs with straw (“thatch”) are now much sought after by home owners.
Indeed many new homes are being built with a thatched roof as they are so desirable, which is ironic as thatching was once a sign of poverty. They were the cheapest way of insulating the house without the expense of a ‘proper’ roof. Now they are a distinctive sign of the English countryside and its villages.
Yorkshire Dales Cottages
The Yorkshire Dales (or just “The Dales”) are in the northern county of Yorkshire. They are river valleys containing some of the finest upland scenery in Europe.
Each Dale is named after its river (Swaledale, Wharefedale etc) with the exception of Wensleydale which, confusingly, contains the river Ure.
Although there are many similar areas in England, the Yorkshire Dales are special. Partly this is the combination of sheep fields, rolling hills, dry stone walls and, in particular, the pretty villages nestling in the valleys (or ‘Dales’).
But it’s also due to the distinctive stone cottages that dot the countryside either as farmhouses or converted barns. Often made of local limestone with slate roofs these rather imposing places are gorgeously cozy inside. Many retain their original coal fires and chimney, perfect for the cold of the winter months.
Excellent examples of these cottages can be found in Upper Wharfedale (eg Kettlewell and Buckden), Malham and in the villages of Wensleydale (such as Hawes).
The Cotswold Hills in central England have been popular with visitors for centuries. They’re often the first out of London stop for tourists visiting the UK and with good reason.
They contain many fine thatched cottages but are most famous for the gorgeous villages built from the distinctive honey coloured oolite stone found in the region. This stone gives the many villages a warm, golden feel making the Cotswolds unlike any other English region.
Great examples include the villages of Burford, Bibury and Castle Combe, often voted the prettiest village in England.
Vicarages, Parsonages & Rectories
The Church of England is one of the largest property owners in the country.
Most towns and villages have a church and most of these have a dwelling to house the vicar, parson or rector (the latter terms are uncommon these days but in the past designated slightly different roles within the church).
As the Church has shrunk, and many parishes amalgamated, many of these fine dwellings have become unused with many of them being sold off.
They’re now highly sought after places in which to live, often being the grandest house in a village or suburb of a town.
So called half timbered cottages are timbered supported structures where the supporting beams are exposed on the outer walls. They are often dark coloured forming a criss cross pattern on a whitewashed background.
They are particularly popular in the West Midlands – to the West of the Cotswolds. Indeed the area around Worcestershire and Shropshire plays host to the so called ‘black and white’ villages, full of these houses.
A drive down the English side of the England-Wales border is a great way to see these lovely buildings. In particular the villages of Eardisley, Kingsland and Weobley, on such a route, are great examples of Black & White Villages and contain many lovely examples of half timbered cottages.
As an island nation Great Britain has always had a strong connection to the sea and its industries. In particular its fishing fleet is a source of pride even when, as is now, it is a fraction of its previous size.
But in times gone past, fishing was the main industry for many folk living by the sea and so many seaside villages had fishing as the key employer.
The fishermen’s cottages in which they lived are again a key feature of these seaside villages, and are now very popular with home owners even if most no longer make their living on the waves. Many of these cottages were built in cramped villages where space was at a premium and so are often white-washed or coloured terraced houses in rows rather than the more detached farmhouse or inland village type.
They can best be seen in the many well preserved seaside villages in places such as Devon and Cornwall – places such as Port Isaac and Polperro.
So that’s our list of the main types of cottage. There are many more of course and variations and combinations of all of these. For example, many half timbered houses have thatched roofs.
But that’s the list of the main ones to enjoy should you wish to explore the English countryside…