Isabella Place

Isabella Place, Combe Down

Isabella Place, Combe Down

As well as tidying up some issues with navigation I have spent some time finding out more about Isabella Place. About building Isabella Place and its builders William Harrold (1750 – 1817), a carpenter, and William Butler (1756 – 1846), a victualler.

Isabella Place, like Claremont House, 113 – 117 Church Road and Hopecote (originally 1 – 3 Claremont Buildings) was built about 1805. What is not clear is whether there was anything there before. If one looks at the rear of the houses in Isabella Place it is fairly clear that the present buildings are not the original buildings. The original buildings appear to be a terrace of five 2 up, 2 down cottages that were extended and re-fronted. Peter Addison says in Around Combe Down (ISBN: 9780948975486) that “it is quite likely that they were originally built in the 1770s…” but is clear there is no evidence of this. Indeed there is the opposite, possible evidence that they did not exist then.

Collinson’s History of Somerset, published in 1791 says:

"On the summit of Combe Down....is a neat range of buildings belonging to this parish. It consists of 11 houses built of wrought stone raised on the spot, each of which has a small garden in front. They were originally built for the workmen employed in the quarries but are now chiefly let to invalids from Bath, who retire hither for the sake of a very fine air (probably rendered more salubrious by the plantation of firs), from which many have secured essential benefit."
Part of interview with 'Old John' Greenway - Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 19 March 1896

Part of interview with ‘Old John’ Greenway – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 19 March 1896

We can also read an interview with ‘Old John’ Greenway, a stonemason, published in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette on Thursday 19 March 1896. ‘Old John’ was 94 at the time and had lived on Combe Down since he was an infant and in the same house (in Rock Cottages on Rock Lane) on Combe Down for 67 years since 1829. He states clearly that that by the early 1800s there were “only 13 cottages besides the houses in the Old Rank” (De Montalt Place).

We know that Cornwallis Maude 1st Viscount Hawarden had agreed on 23rd April 1800 with Messrs. Harrold and Butler to build Isabella Place but he died in August 1803. We also know that he had real money troubles. It’s just possible that the original design was for a terrace of five 2 up, 2 down cottages but that, after he died and his heirs had to deal with his debts and sold Isabella Place to William Harrold and William Butler, the design was changed to appeal more to the middle classes. Perhaps we will never know.

Two things stand out. The relatively large houses in Isabella Place were used as schools and boarding or lodging houses for much of the 19th century.

For example there was Mrs. Armytage’s Ladies’ Boarding & Day School as well as Miss Holbook’s school and Mrs. Battely’s preparatory school. In 1883 Frederick Daniel Riddle at 3 Isabella Place and James Miner at 4 Isabella Place were both running lodging houses according to Kelly’s Directory.

There are some interesting people. Rosa Robinson (née Pyne) (1829 – 1901) the widow of George Augustus Robinson (1791 – 1866) George Robinson was known better as Black Robinson, Protector of Aboriginals. Thomas Towill Treffry (1809 – 1886) may be related to the Treffry family of Fowey. If this is so he was related to Charles Stanley Monck, Baron Monck of Ballytramon, an executor of the will of Cornwallis Maude 1st Viscount Hawarden. Ellen Julia Hambridge (1853 – 1932) and Mary Hambridge (1855 – 1940) were the daughters of Francis Henry Hambridge (b. 1826) who was a brewer. When Mary Hambridge died she left £85,000 which is equal to about £11,750,000.00 today. Then there are the Wood family who had 3 sons Peter C Wood (b. 1920), David James Wood (1923 – 2009), Michael George Wood (1923 – 1944) involved in the 2nd World War.