View of small white cottage with thatched roof and yellow doors in a field with no path or road leading to it.

About this image

Canary Cottage, Knarr Farm near Thorney, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire © Historic England. DP247860. Photographed August 2019

Rare 18th Century Cottage in Peterborough Listed Grade II

Canary Cottage at Knarr Farm near Thorney, Peterborough, has been listed at Grade II by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the advice of Historic England.

A reminder of life in the Fens in times gone by

Built around 1750, Canary Cottage is a rare surviving example of a mid-18th century fenland cottage and is thought to have been built shortly after the drainage of the local fens.

A characterful local landmark, the cottage’s distinctive yellow door and windows were painted in the early 20th century by the Dixon-Spain family who owned a number of different farms in the area. They used a colour coding scheme to identify their buildings and machinery.

Small white cottage with yellow door and window frames and a thatched roof set in a field with no path or road leading to it.
The distinctive yellow door and windows were part of an identification scheme used by a family who owned a number of different farms © Historic England. DP247862 Photographed August 2019

Simple home to farm workers

The cottage has been home to many generations of farm workers and has witnessed more than 250 years of agricultural development. It offered basic living conditions with a sitting room and kitchen on the ground floor, two bedrooms upstairs and an outbuilding housing a storeroom and toilet. Amenities consisted of an open fireplace, gas lighting, mains water and a gas-powered water heater connected to the only tap in the cottage.

Interior of Canary Cottage showing the yellow painted window and cupboard door and the hearth. Cobwebs, dust and flaking wallpaper are very evident.
The cottage has been home to many generations of farm workers. It has stood empty since 1965 © Historic England. DP247866. Photographed August 2019

Last occupied in 1965

Canary Cottage was renovated and re-thatched around 1960 but has stood empty since 1965, when it was vacated by Ken and Thelma Wright, who met as workers at Knarr Farm in the late 1950s and lived in the cottage for the first five years of their married life.

Interior of Canary Cottage showing sink, draining board, boiler and window. Peeling paint, areas of damp, cobwebs and dust cover every surface except the ceiling.
Amenities consisted of an open fireplace, gas lighting, mains water and a gas-powered water heater connected to the only tap in the cottage. © Historic England. DP247868. Photographed August 2019

I am pleased that the Secretary of State has agreed with our recommendation to list Canary Cottage, a rare surviving example of a mid-18th century Fenland cottage. By protecting it we are helping to ensure it can be enjoyed by future generations, helping them to understand life in the Fens in times gone by. Tony Calladine, Regional Director for Historic England in the East of England

Was this page helpful?