Tansley Village

Proverb Cottage

"Quaint house in Tansley ... hoped that (carved) stones will be preserved"

Extract from the Derbyshire Times in the late 1930's ...

... Unknown to all but a few, one of the most quaint houses in Derbyshire is situated at “The Knoll”, Tansley, but shortly it is likely to be brought prominently to the notice of the public because the Matlock Urban District Council, on the advice of their medical officer, have decided that the cottage, together with several others in the same row, is unfit for human habitation and, like its neighbours, it has been condemned.

“Proverb Cottage” is the name of this dwelling, and when the time for its demolition arrives, it is to be hoped the Council will take steps to preserve several of the stones and re-erect them in some form or other at a more accessable spot where visitors will be able to read and ponder their quaint inscriptions. The idea is Councillor F.W. Beddington’s, and a very good one it is.

The accompanying photograph shows “Proverb Cottage” with its walls bespattered with proverbs and inscriptions chiselled by one, W.E. Cooke, a local schoolmaster, who did the work round about the year 1775. The second picture is of a cottage in the same row occupied by Mrs Bower, who is seen standing at the door, and here again Mr Cooke appears to have given reign to his skill with mallet and chisel. The face and the designs below it are undoubtedly his work, but the rather crude lettering and figures on the large stone below appear to have been done at an earlier period.
Proverb Cottage

Proverb Cottage

Mrs John Goodall outside Proverb Cottage

Mrs John Goodall, who occupies “Proverb Cottage” and who is seen standing at the door in the picture, was unable to tell our representative much about Mr Cooke, except that he was a schoolmaster and lived in the cottage. Evidently he devoted much of his spare time to carving in gritstone, and the way his handiwork has endured for more than 150 years is proof of its excellence.

There are several other proverbs carved on the walls besides those shown in the picture, and there is a deal of truth in most of his homilies. Was the one over the door inspired by an un-repaid loan? It reads “This world is the best we live in, to lend, to spend, and to give in; but to borrow or beg, or get a man’s own, it is the worst world that ever was known.” The one on the right hand side of the door tells us “A man who is envious in his mind is always sure faults to find, and if he cannot mend the same, he is a fool and more to blame. The inscription on the left of the door is rather faded, but appears to read “Quarrel, strife and lawfully shun; by peace and silence no man is undone.” A latin tag which is added indicates that “death ends the quarrel.” A rather good one not shown in the picture reads “Nothing comes of idleness - yea, poverty and rags.” A pictorial example portraying a woman in the centre with two men smoking on either side is said to indicate “Two’s company; three’s none.