The Story of Joe the Quilter and His Lost Cottage

(Where Joe was Brutally Murdered in 1826)

This is the story of a quiet, unassuming, working man who lived in a little stone cottage in Homer Lane, near Warden in Northumberland over 200 years ago. We would probably know little about him if it hadn’t been for the way in which he tragically died, as he was murdered in his home on Tuesday 3rd January 1826.

The story has come to unfold as a team led by Beamish Museum have found the remains of his old cottage and are in the process replicating it back at the museum as part of the remaking of Beamish. It is hoped that by 2018 the cottage will be ready for visitors to step into and stand on the very same flag stones as Joe once did!

Aged is his 70’s when he died, he had been a tailor in his early in life, but had taken to making quilts somewhere along the way. So skilled was he at making quilts, he was often commissioned to make them and some were even sent off to Ireland and America. One white, whole cloth quilt was commissioned by a couple for Joe to make as a wedding present for their granddaughter Ann English. This quilt can be currently found in Beamish Museum, County Durham. The museum had the quilt painstakingly  replicated (by hand), so it can be used for educational purposes and it shows just how skillful he was, as well as bringing up questions as to how Joe managed to produce such work, considering he lived in such a very small cottage.

A Close up of Stitching done by Joe on a quilt made for Ann English

His cottage only consisted of 2 small rooms and Joe resided mainly in the living room, while his hens lived in the other! This living room was not only his home but his work room too and considering the size of some of the quilts he made, it makes you wonder how he managed to produce them given the space and the fact that there would be very little light entering the cottage from only one window.

Joe had lived with his wife and nursed her through a long illness until she died, but as a kind and probably lonely man he had been known to welcome travellers and passersby into his home. This could have been his downfall as on the fateful night of his death some person or persons unknown, brutally attacked Joe stabbing him repeatedly. He died trying to fight off his attacker as evidence could be seen of a struggle around his cottage. He was found a few days later by concerned neighbours who hadn’t seen him for a while.

The nation was shocked by the news of this death and even King George IV offered a reward for any information leading to the capture of those concerned, but unfortunately the murderer was never caught!


The cottage was later demolished and it is fortunate maybe due to the location and isolation of the cottage, that nothing had been built there since, so partial foundations were found by John Castling and his team from the museum. They used old records and maps to work out where it must have been located and you can here the full account about finding the cottage here. Youtube story 

As mentioned earlier the cottage is due to be open to the public sometime in 2018 so you can stand in his little house and get the feel for how life must have been for him 200 years ago.



With thanks to Beamish Museum and Gerladine Straker for the information and kind permission to tell Joe’s story.

Further Reading

Joe the Quilter’s murder cottage found



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