Merlewood Cottage dates back to around the 1630s and is made up of two original cottages, one of which was extended in the 1700s, plus a modern extension to add a kitchen and third bedroom in the 1980s. The construction is cob and lime mortar, and the entire roof is thatch made of long water reed. Under the roof space however, to respect its Grade II conservation status, early timbers from the original roof are present as well as straw from much earlier thatching.
There are two staircases, one from the sitting room that leads up to a small landing with access to the two main bedrooms and bathroom, and another that leads from a door to the kitchen up to a third bedroom in the more modern part of the building.
On the beam above the fireplace you will notice a daisy wheel (or hexafoil) witch mark which was carved when the cottage was first built to protect the home from witches and evil spirits.
The little study down the steps from the sitting room was built as an extension in the 1700s apparently to accommodate the baker’s assistant, as the cottage that houses the sitting room with end bedroom above is purported to have been a bakery.
Until the late 1970s the only water supply to the cottage was the well in the garden, which is still in working order. The previous residents used this to draw water to supply the house until a water service became available (note that you can peer down the well but it has been closed off with an iron grill for safety).
The cottage is situated in the Cranbourne Chase area of natural beauty which is protected from development. There are no streetlights and only very rare local traffic noise, though occasionally a Chinook helicopter going to the Blandford army base may fly over, quite an impressive sight. At night the cottage can be plunged into pitch black darkness unless there is moonlight, and you may well hear the tawny owls who live in the next door woods. Here there is a lot of other wildlife including many bumblebees and butterflies, and you may see pheasants and quails crossing the garden.