One of Grahamstown's most admired landmarks, 10 Market Street has had many illustrious owners. Declared a National Monument shortly after the restoration by Peter and Belinda Tudge, this gracious Settler house dates back to 1826 when British Settler Benjamin Norden acquired the original erf, then bordered by Market, Wilcox, Retief and George Streets.
Among the paintings in the hall is one by Francis Dashwood in 1876 showing Gradwell’s Mill with a portion of The Cock House on the left. To quote from ‘Grahamstown: From Cottage to Villa’ by Rex & Barbara Reynolds, published in 1974 (and text by Dr Eily Gledhill, great, great granddaughter of William Cock): “the history of the old gabled house shown on the extreme left of Dashwood’s picture gives an interesting insight into the times when different architectural styles came into fashion in Grahamstown.
“Norden sold it in 1835 to Dr John Atherstone, ‘with the premises thereon’ for £850.00, a very good price in those days, and one indicating that the building was substantial, because the plot itself was not more than a quarter of the original erf. It seems likely therefore that Norden built the house, which is in the typical gabled style of the first twenty years of the settlement. Inside, the house is noted for its large rooms, particularly the long and gracious room on the left of the main entrance hall” (today Norden’s Restaurant).
“In Cory’s centenary ‘Souvenir’, it is illustrated as the residence of the late Hon William Cock and today the house is frequently referred to as The Cock House. William Cock was the leader of a settler party and in 1847 was appointed a member of the first Legislative Assembly, when the Governor was seeking to sooth the settlers’ agitation for representative government. At that time Cock was playing a major role in the development of the Kowie Harbour at Port Frances and in the expansion of coastal shipping. He was apparently living in this house with his widowed daughter, Mrs Edward Irving, at the time of his death in 1876, the year in which Dashwood’s painting was done.
“The extensive alterations to this house were most probably carried out before the turn of the 20th century. They involved replacement of the gables by overhanging eaves, and the substitution of larger and more elegant chimneys of a style that was still being built in Grahamstown in 1904. The fitting of the fine teak and trellis work veranda made possible the use of French doors in place of the upstairs windows and an enlarged doorway, to take a late-Victorian door surrounded by patterned side-windows, completed a very clever piece of transformation.
“When the house was taken over by the present owner*, the veranda was in a sad state of repair and the question of whether to restore it or remove it was seriously debated. Very wisely it was decided to retain it.”