Cooks' Cottage


Cooks' Cottage

Cooks' Cottage is rebuilt in the picturesque Fitzroy Gardens to commemorate the voyages of Captain James Cook, discoverer of Australia.

James Cook was born on the 27th October 1728 in a thatched cottage at Marton-in-Cleveland which was demolished in 1786.

Cook's father who had gone to Great Ayton from Marton to be a bailiff on Thomas Skottowe's farm, Airey Holme, either built, rebuilt or bought it in 1755. Inside the two storey brick cottage, a lintel above a door is engraved with the date (1755) and the initials J.C.G (James and Grace Cook).

James Cook left Great Ayton for Staithes in early 1745 . Captain Cook never lived in this cottage but would have stayed here when visiting his parents.

The Great Ayton family cottage is the only concrete historical link we have with Captain Cook's origins and will give visitors an idea of life in the 1700's.

In 1933, the last owner of the cottage, Mrs. Dixon put the cottage up for sale and it was suggested that it would make an ideal focus piece for Victoria's centenary in 1934. The prominent Melburnian Russell Grimwade agreed to buy the cottage and present it as a gift to the Victorian people. However, a difficulty arose in that the patriotic Mrs. Dixon had stipulated that cottage should remain in Britain. She had rejected offers from wealthy Americans for this reason, but she was persuaded to accede to Victoria's claim on the cottage as Australia was, after all, still "in the Empire".

Cooks' Cottage was purchased in 1933 by Sir Russell Grimwade as a centenary gift to the people and State of Victoria. The cottage was moved, brick by brick from Great Ayrton to Melbourne, shipped in 253 crates complete with a ivy cutting which had grown on the original building. Today the cottage is covered by the ivy.

A site in Fitzroy Gardens was selected to compliment the cottage with its large shady European trees and construction work was completed in six months. The cottage was handed over to the Lord Mayor, H. Gengoult Smith by Russell Grimwade on the 15th October, 1934 during a centenary ceremony.

The cottage has undergone two restorations. The first was undertaken in the late 1950's and the most recent in 1978, when a thorough effort was made to investigate and restore the building, furnish it with material appropriate to the period, and surround it with a garden of eighteenth century character.

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