The Coopers of The Old House
In his will of 1760, Robert Hayward instructs his neighbour and Uncle -John Cooper with his sons Robert and George to be guardians to his 14 year old Daughter Betty. By 1765 they have found her a suitor in the shape of William son of the Wealthy Clothiers Humphrey and Elizabeth Tugwell. The first record of the Coopers who originated from Bradford upon Avon is in 1716 when John married the wealthy heiress Susana Dicke at St. Mary's Church . In the same year her father George died, and when her mother Anne died in 1718 she inherited a moiety (half) of their estate with her brother Thomas. The couple had 3 children—Robert, Mary and George, but tragically John lost his wife in 1720. Three years later he married another heiress– Honor Still , whose sisters Elizabeth and Bridgett lived in Freshford. He rented and finally purchased from the Methuen's a fine building called Porch House (the Old House) which he greatly enlarged and created a pleasure garden , parts of which still survive. The family lived here for many years. And it was not until 1964 with the death of Mary Baker that the house finally passed out of the family. It is interesting to note that during all this time the descendants owned a large area of both Freshford and Limpley Stoke and had links with both villages. Both Mary and her husband Humphrey are buried in St. Mary's Churchyard. Both churches contain interesting memorials to both the Coopers and the Bakers. A branch of the family established themselves in Salisbury and St. Thomas's Church has memorials to them. For nearly 140 years they were vicars at nearby Tellisford Church which has a series of brasses and graves detailing their lives as Vicars of the Parish. A sad chapter of the families history is the life of Robert Cooper Esquire who on documents of the time was described as a Lunatic, but was in fact just simple and spent a period of his life in an asylum in London. In 1800 he inherited an estate from his Grandmother which consisted of property in Freshford, Limpley Stoke, South Stoke and Salisbury as well as the considerable sum of £30,000. He appeared as a major landowner in these villages but received only enough for his upkeep . His relations, the Bakers, living at the Old House were the main trustees and eventually inherited his estate when he died.