Besides tea and cucumber sandwiches, bulldogs, castles, and royalty, few other things are a major indicator of quintessential Englishness than the chocolate box cottage. Here’s an easy guide to learning more about these gorgeous buildings.
WHY THE NAME CHOCOLATE BOX COTTAGES?
During England’s feudal era, “cottages” were small houses held by villagers on the condition that they provided a service to the Lord of the Manor. Nowadays, the term “cottage” is synonymous with a small and cosy rural idyll.
A “chocolate box cottage” looks just like one of the houses in the charming scenes pictured on the front of Cadbury Milk Tray chocolate boxes throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Thus the name “chocolate box cottage” was born.
WHAT MAKES A CHOCOLATE BOX COTTAGE?
There are a number of distinct qualities that make chocolate box cottages what they are. The most instantly recognizable features are:
The Thatched Roof
A chocolate box cottage has a thatched roof. Thatch roofing is an old roofing method using materials like straw, reed, rushes, etc, producing not only excellent insulation, but also a gorgeously rustic aesthetic.
The design of chocolate box cottages always includes decorative windows, with stylish leadwork and window seats where anyone could get lost in a daydream. Typically, wooden shutters frame the window that are often painted in soft pastel shades.
Brace and Ledge Doors
Made from vertical planks with a central ledge to hold them in place, Brace and Ledge Doors then have black iron braces fixed on them, top and bottom.
Cast iron black handles and door knockers complete the chocolate box look.
Chimney and Inglenook Fireplace
Open inglenook fireplaces are a staple in chocolate box cottage homes. Nothing quite speaks of a rural idyll than a working fireplace. Chimneys are a necessity, not just an aesthetic in such cases.
An English Country Garden
You won’t see a chocolate box cottage that isn’t surrounded by a host of lovely fragrant flowers. Roses are a must have, but you’ll also usually find:
- Wisteria winding up walls: the sweet scent of wisteria is second only to its gorgeous blooms.
- Peonies: similar in looks to the Rose and sometimes even mistaken for it, peonies make for big, fluffy, fragrant blossoms.
- Fruit trees: the most common types of fruit trees that grow in the UK – apples, apricots, peaches, pears, and plums – are essential features of chocolate box cottage gardens.
You’ll also find mixed beds full of colour, height, and texture packed full of these wonderful flowers:
- Rambling Roses
CHOCOLATE BOX VILLAGES
England has been blessed with numerous unspoiled places of outstanding natural beauty in which lie picturesque villages full of houses with the signature thatched roofs, chimneys, and lush flowers that characterise them as chocolate box cottages.
However, villages with mediaeval half-timbered houses and beautiful Norman churches and duckponds have also become synonymous with the phrase “chocolate box village”: therefore, a chocolate box village does not have to contain cottage box cottages to qualify as being “chocolate box”.
Today, these villages are one of the
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