Isabella Place 1800 – 1900

Isabella Place, Combe Down

Isabella Place, Combe Down

Isabella Place, like Claremont House, 113 – 117 Church Road and Hopecote (originally 1 – 3 Claremont Buildings) was built about 1805. Claremont House, 113 – 117 Church Road and 1 – 3 Claremont Buildings were all, originally 2 storeys and ‘2up 2down’.

You can find out more about the Building of Isabella Place.

1805 – Mrs Bonner’s initiatory academy

Mrs Bonner’s initiatory academy appears. From Gyes’ directory of 1819 (see below) we know that Mrs. Bonner was, in 1819, at 3 Isabella Place. Where she was in 1805 is not known.

Mrs Bonner's initiatory academy - Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 5 December 1805

Mrs Bonner’s initiatory academy – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 5 December 1805

1817 – Elizabeth Harrold, John Higgins and James Higgins
William Harrold letting or selling 1 & 2 Isabella Place - Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 25 June 1812

William Harrold letting or selling 1 & 2 Isabella Place – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 25 June 1812

William Harrold (1750 – 1817) a carpenter and William Butler (1756 – 1846) a victualler had built Isabella Place between about 1800 and 1805 initially at the behest of Cornwallis Maude 1st Viscount Hawarden and after his death in agreement with Thomas Ralph Maude 2nd Viscount Hawarden his and Mary Allen’s son and with Anne Isabella Monck, Viscountess Hawarden who was Cornwallis Maude 1st Viscount Hawarden’s third wife and after whom Isabella Place is named. It seems that William Harrold and William Butler became the owners of Isabella Place though quite how is unclear.

William Harrold died in 1817 and split his estate between his wife Hannah Weaver (1753 – 1826) and his daughters Elizabeth Harrold (1791 – 1870) and Ann Harrold (b. 1793). 

... All those his Messuages or Tenements and Premises situated in Isabella Place on Comb Down in the said Parish of Monckton Comb with their and each of their rights members and appurtenances ...[10]

His daughter Elizabeth Harrold married a John Higgins (b. 1794) at St Michael in Bath on 8 Jun 1817. John had a brother, James Higgins (1791 – 1868) and on 19 August 1818 there was a conveyance of moiety of 2 messuages in Isabella Place, Combe Down, by John Higgins of Twerton, millwright, and Elizabeth his wife, to James Higgins of Pensford, brightsmith. These were numbers 1 and 2 Isabella Place.

The estate of the late Mr William Harrold

The estate of the late Mr William Harrold

1819 Gye’s Directory
  • Mr Butler, 1 Isabella Place, 1 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath
  • Mrs. Bonner, Preparatory School, 3 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath – died in London, reported in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Thursday 15 May 1828
  • Misses Gales, Ladies Boarding School, 5 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath

About the Gye’s

The London Genuine Tea Company - Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 1 April 1819

The London Genuine Tea Company – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 1 April 1819

Henry Gye’s father, William Gye, (1750 – 1802) and he worked in his father’s printing works, along with his brother Frederick, at 4 Westgate Buildings, Bath, before opening an establishment at 13 Market Place. His father published ‘The New Bath Directory’ in 1792. William Gye’s wife Mary Batchelor, whom he married in 1774 and with whom he had 13 children, inherited his printing and stationery business, which was managed by her and then by Henry, who also had an outlet in Clare Street, Bristol.

Frederick Gye (1780 – 1869) went to London to establish a printing business with Giles Balne (1777 – 1838), a master printer, of 7 Union Court, Broad Street. Frederick had a contract with Thomas Bish, the lottery agent and, later, MP for Leominster, for printing state lottery tickets, some of which “passed into his hands” and won him a prize of £30,000. He used the proceeds to start London Wine Company in 1817 and in 1818, in partnership with Richard Hughes, he founded the London Genuine Tea Company, marketing a high quality and well-packaged product. In 1821, with Bish and Hughes he bought Vauxhall Gardens for £28,000, which re-opened as The Royal Gardens, Vauxhall, with the approval of George IV, on 3 June 1822. In 1826 he became MP for Chippenham until 1830. Gye proposed a plan to increase the number of horse-drawn carriages in London in 1828 and was also the owner of the Portugal Hotel in Fleet Street, but Vauxhall Gardens remained his principle concern. His printing business seems to have been dissolved soon after 1830, his wine company failed in 1836 when he speculated on what turned out to be a bad vintage of port, and a number of wet seasons contributed to the decline of Vauxhall Gardens, which closed for the last time under his management, 5th Sept. 1839. He and his partners were declared bankrupt in May 1840, with debts of about £20,000, and the tea company and gardens were sold. He retired to Brighton, where he died of influenza in February 1869. His son Frederick Gye (1810–1878) ran the Royal Italian Opera which became the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Meanwhile Henry Gye (1786 – 1845) had stayed in Bath. He became an agent for his brother’s businesses. In 1819 Henry published Gyes Bath directory and updated in in 1822 but by 1824 had sold it to Hunt’s directory and the directory became Hunt’s, Late Gye’s, Original Bath Directory. Henry was declared bankrupt on 10th December 1825[1] and this was the end of the Gye family’s printing in Bath. Henry moved to London and is listed in the 1841 census as a printer living in St Bride. He died in 1845.

1826 – Sale of 4 & 5 Isabella Place

Sale of 4 & 5 Isabella Place property of Mrs. Harrold, deceased in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Thursday 1 June 1826. Mrs. Harrold was, presumably, the widow of William Harrold who, along with William Butler was responsible for building Isabella Place in 1804 – 1805.

Sale of 4 & 5 Isabella Place property of Mrs. Harrold, deceased in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 1 June 1826

Sale of 4 & 5 Isabella Place property of Mrs. Harrold, deceased in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 1 June 1826

1830 – Mrs Margaret Smith

Mrs Margaret Smith died at her residence in Isabella Place reported in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Thursday 24 June 1830

1835 – Attempted burglary at Mr. Richards

Attempted burglary at Mr. Richards, Isabella Place, Combe Down.

Attempted burglary at Mr. Richards - Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 18 June 1835

Attempted burglary at Mr. Richards – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 18 June 1835

1837 – Mrs. Jane Mapleson

Mrs. Jane Mapleson, sister to the late J. Mapleson, esq; of Brighton died in faith and hope on Jan 28th at Isabella Place, Coombe Down in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Thursday 02 February 1837

1843 – Robert Enscoe

Robert Enscoe, 3 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath.

Brought before the court at Taunton, in the County of Somerset, on Monday the 31st day of July 1843, at Ten o'Clock in the Forenoon precisely - Robert Enscoe, late of No. 3, Isabella-place, Coombe-down, near Bath, Somersetshire, previously of No. 21, University-street, Tottenham-court-road, Middlesex, previously of No. 32, Bedford-place, Kensington, Middlesex, Retired Custom House Officer, and for a short time Agent to Messrs. William Miller and Company, Wine and Spirit Merchants, No. 7, Saint Martin's-lane, London, and formerly of No. 6, Clarke's-row, Islington, Middlesex, Retired Custom House Officer, and commonly called Captain Enscoe.
THE COURT FOR RELIEF OF INSOLVENT DEBTORS. Wednesday the 5th day of July 1843. ORDERS have been made, vesting in the Provisional Assignee the Estates and Effects of the following Persons: Robert Enscoe, late of No. 3, Isabella-place, Coombe-down, near Bath, Somersetshire, Retired Custom-house Officer. In the Gaol of Wilton.
Messrs. William Miller and Company, Wine and Spirit Merchants, No. 7, Saint Martin's-lane, London

Messrs. William Miller and Company, Wine and Spirit Merchants, No. 7, Saint Martin’s-lane, London

William Miller and Company mentioned above also went bankrupt.

In 1813, the Court for the Relief of Insolvent Debtors was established and registers of petitions to it from imprisoned debtors, from 1813 to 1861 were also published in The London Gazette.

Creditors could petition for a bankruptcy order to be made against an individual debtor. All creditors would have a claim to any assets left, and the court would order how these were to be distributed.

In 1832 the court of bankruptcy was established and creditors could petition the Lord Chancellor for a commission of bankruptcy or a fiat. Commissioners decided if a debtor was eligible to be declared bankrupt and would oversee the distribution of assets.

Official assignees were appointed and were responsible for depositing the proceeds from the sale of a bankrupt’s estates into the Bank of England. When sufficient creditors were satisfied and had signed a request for a Certificate of Conformity – a statement that the bankrupt had satisfied all the legal requirements – the Commissioners could issue the certificate which effectively discharged him, although dividends might continue to be paid.

1847 – Mr. William Butler

Under the will of Mr. William Butler freehold property including 1 & 2 Isabella Place and 3 & 4 De Montalt Place. William Butler (1756 – 1846) who, along with William Harrold (1750 – 1817) had built Isabella Place and lived at 1 Isabella Place had obviously invested in housing after leaving his job as a victualler at the Carriage Inn on The Avenue. His wife Jane (1774 – 1846) died shortly after him and they seem to have had no children. I have been unable to find the will, however, in a touch of serendipity, their marriage settlement deed was sent to me by Cathy Doel, who had ‘bought it on a whim’ in the 1980s. You can see the full settlement deed and some context to it here.

1 & 2 Isabella Place auction - Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 25 March 1847

1 & 2 Isabella Place auction – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 25 March 1847

1858 – Mrs. Monies and Miss Taylor

Mrs. Monies and Miss Taylor arivals at 4 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath reported in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Thursday 23 September 1858

1859 – Mrs. Armytage’s Ladies’ Boarding & Day School

Mrs. Armytage’s Ladies’ Boarding & Day School in Mrs Armytage school.

Mrs Armytage's school - Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 29 September 1859

Mrs Armytage’s school – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 29 September 1859

We have no real idea of what Mrs. Armytage taught at her seminary, but at this time education in England continued to be a ‘haphazard system of parish and private adventure schools’.[2] There were many who didn’t approve of the idea of educating the masses at all. It was the Industrial Revolution which finally spurred the state into providing a national education system, because industry ‘required much more than limited reading skills acquired through moral catechism’.[3]

Peel’s Factory Act of 1802 required an employer to provide instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic during at least the first four years of the seven years of apprenticeship. The Representation of the People Act 1832 gave a million people the right to vote and led to social, political and economic transformation which revealed the inadequacy of educational provision. By 1839 the Committee of the Privy Council on Education had been created for the purpose of promoting Public Education.

Various types of school began to be established:

  • Sunday schools: taught the poor to read the Bible, but not to do writing or arithmetic.
  • Schools of industry: to provide the poor with manual training and elementary instruction teaching taught reading and writing, geography and religion.
  • Monitorial schools: where the teaching was based on the Bible plus reading, writing and arithmetic. They used monitors and standard repetitive exercises so that one master could teach hundreds of children at the same time.
  • Infant schools: where children were admitted at the age of two and cared for while their parents were at work and offer opportunities for their moral and social training and some elementary instruction.
  • Elementary schools: for children over six which emphasised academic study of reading, writing, arithmetic, geography and religion. Owing to the growth of commerce there was a great demand for clerks, and in schools where advanced work for older pupils was attempted it was found that it was much easier to train them for clerical work than for manual occupations.

By 1861 an estimated 2.5m children out of 2.75m received some form of schooling, ‘though still of very mixed quality and with the majority leaving before they were eleven’.[4]

The education of women was scanty, superficial and incoherent. Many girls were instructed by ill-trained private governesses; and the numerous private schools for girls, which were mostly boarding schools where the ordinary course of instruction for girls was characterised as being very narrow and unscientific. A movement for better education for girls and women began in 1843.[5]

1861 – 2 Isabella Place

2 Isabella Place to be let at 25/- per week, the equivalent of about £813.00[6] today, in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Thursday 24 October 1861; It was for let again in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Thursday 24 March 1864 and Thursday 7 April 1864 and then again Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Thursday 28 March 1867

1863 – 1 Isabella Place

At 1 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath died on 21st Jan Mrs. Elizabeth Cassin, aged 75, of bronchitis in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 29 January 1863

1867 – 1901 – Rosa  Robinson
Rose Pyne 1829 - 1901

Rose Pyne 1829 – 1901

George Augustus Robinson (1791 - 1866)

George Augustus Robinson (1791 – 1866)

Rosa  Robinson (née Pyne), 2 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath was the widow of George Augustus Robinson (1791 – 1866) a builder who had emigrated to Tasmania, Australia in 1824. 

Within a year he employed several men and his wife Maria Amelia (née Evans) joined him with their five children in 1826. Robinson was serious and religious and relations between Aboriginals and settlers had reached the stage of open hostility. The government decided in 1829 to advertise for a ‘steady man of good character’ to effect an intercourse with the natives. Robinson believed that conciliation was possible, applied for the position and was appointed.

At first Robinson concentrated on establishing friendly relations with Aboriginals, but soon began persuading them to come into captivity, promising them a place where they could live unmolested by the settlers and be fed and clothed. Robinson had begun his work from motives of compassion, but as his plans succeeded, he became less patient and more interested in financial rewards. With natural vanity he came to think that he alone had worthwhile ideas on the treatment of Aboriginals, had their welfare at heart, had been responsible for their capture. Though largely true, his views did not win him friends.

in 1836 Robinson was offered appointment as Protector of Aboriginals in South Australia; he refused it because the salary was less than he thought he deserved. In 1838 he was offered the chief protectorship at Port Phillip, and, considering the salary adequate, he accepted. He spent nearly eleven years at Port Phillip, but, apparently, his work there was not impressive though Robinson was paid a total of £8,000 in his role as Protector of Aboriginals, which is about £5,931,000 in today’s money.[7]

The Port Phillip protectorate was abolished at the end of 1849 leaving Robinson free to do as he wished. He was well off and had a pension. His wife had died in 1848; except for his daughter Cecelia his family was grown up. He could afford to live in comfort. In May 1852 he sailed in the Medway for London.

On 4 June 1853 he married Rose, who was 24 to his 62, daughter of Thomas Pyne, an accountant; five children of this marriage survived. The Robinsons lived on the Continent, mostly in Rome and Paris, until about June 1858, when they returned to England and next year settled in Bath. The sojourn in Europe and particularly at Bath, brought to Robinson much of what he wanted: comfortable living and social acceptance, as well as a place among the followers of the arts and sciences. He died in Bath on 18 October 1866 and is buried in Bath Abbey Cemetery. Rose moved to 2 Isabella Place in 1867 and lived there until 1901. Her son Arthur P. Robinson (1856 – 1938) continued to live there until until he died.

A book George Robinson: Black Robinson: Protector of Aborigines has been written by Vivienne Rae-Ellis and suggests that he was “a greedy, vain and unscrupulous man bent on self-aggrandisement…a monster of deceit and a betrayer of those it was his role to protect—a man who made perhaps the most repellent contribution of all…”

1871 – Miss Holbook’s school

Miss Holbook’s school at 5 Isabella Place – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Thursday 13 April 1871, Thursday 17 August 1871, Thursday 31 August 1871, Thursday 14 September 1871

Miss Holbook's school at 5 Isabella Place - Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 13 April 1871

Miss Holbook’s school at 5 Isabella Place – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 13 April 1871

1877 – Mrs. Battely’s preparatory school

Mrs. Battely’s preparatory school for young Gentlemen at 3 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Thursday 4 January 1877, Thursday 11 January 1877, Thursday 29 March 1877, Thursday 12 April 1877, Thursday 26 April 1877, Thursday 3 May 1877, Thursday 10 May 1877, Thursday 17 May 1877, Thursday 24 May 1877, Thursday 31 May 1877, Thursday 14 June 1877, Thursday 21 June 1877

Mrs. Battely's preparatory school for young Gentlemen in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 4 January 1877

Mrs. Battely’s preparatory school for young Gentlemen in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 4 January 1877

1881 – 4 Isabella Place

4 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath to be let or sold in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Thursday 12 May 1881

4 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath to be let or sold in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 12 May 1881

4 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath to be let or sold in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 12 May 1881

Then apartments to be let at 4 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath by Mrs. Miner in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Thursday 3 November 1881, Thursday 16 March 1882

Apartments to be let at 4 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath by Mrs. Miner in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 3 November 1881

Apartments to be let at 4 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath by Mrs. Miner in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 3 November 1881

1883 Kelly’s Directory
Combe Down, Kelly's Directory 1883

Combe Down, Kelly’s Directory 1883

  • Thomas Towill Treffry, 1 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath
  • Mrs Robinson, 2 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath
  • Frederick Daniel Riddle, Lodging House, 3 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath
  • James Miner, Lodging House, 4 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath

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, whose ancestor Thomas Le Moyne had married a daughter of Boniface of Pyworthy.

The Treffry’s are an ancient Cornish family who came originally from Treffry in the parish of Lanhydrock. The manor of Fowey was acquired by marriage; lands formerly owned by Robert de Cardinham passed from his family to that of Boniface of Pyworthy, Devon, whose heiress Elizabeth married Thomas Treffry of Treffry. After this marriage the family moved to Fowey, where they already held the manor of Langurthow.

Sir John Treffry of Fowey fought under the Black Prince at the Battle of Crécy in 1346, and captured the Royal Banner of France, for which he was awarded the honour of Knight Banneret on the battlefield, by the Black Prince and his coat of arms charged with the fleur-de-lis of France. In 1457 French marauders besieged the family seat, Place House, but are said to have been defeated by Dame Elizabeth Treffry, as she gathered men together and fortified Place and poured melted lead, stripped from the roof, upon the invaders. It is not known exactly when Place was built; John Leland, the king’s antiquary, was impressed by the house, where he stayed when he visited Fowey in the early sixteenth-century. Later, Thomas Treffry built a tower to protect the mansion from French attack. Earlier, other stems of the family branched to locations in Cornwall, the house proceeded down to John Treffry of Place (1595 – 1658). A younger branch settled at Rooke, in the parish of St. Kew.

The Treffrys never owned extensive estates but during the middle ages gained considerable wealth through their activities as merchants in handling exports of tin, fish and wool. 

The family fortunes increased steadily; John Treffry who actively supported the cause of Henry Tudor against Richard III, fought at the Battle of Bosworth and was rewarded with a knighthood, and died a comparatively wealthy man. He owned lands in and around Fowey, and had considerable investments in shipping.

For five generations, from the fifteenth to the mid-seventeenth century, the Treffry estates descended by direct male inheritance (three Thomas Treffrys, John, William and John). By the seventeenth century they had become a well-established family, serving their county as lawyers and justices of the peace, and their country in the army. Their marriages were often with sons and daughters of local merchants, which, although not bringing to the Treffrys the landed estates which more socially ambitious matches might have done, nevertheless consolidated and united a number of leading Fowey families.[8]

Thomas Towill Treffry had been a tea merchant in Exeter and had previously lived in Lyncombe at 16 Alexandra Road and had been an Assessor of Property Tax. He married Lydia Norman (1805 – 1875) on 19th July 1833 and had 3 children Mary (1834 – 1892), Benjamin Henry (1837 – 1837) and Anna Lydia (b. 1846). After his first wife died he married again to Ann Gibson (b. 1808). His father Samuel (1773 – 1850) was a Quaker minister.

Treffry partnership dissolved 15 April 1859

Treffry partnership dissolved 15 April 1859

Thomas Towill Treffry, Assessor of Property Tax - Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 23 December 1875

Thomas Towill Treffry, Assessor of Property Tax – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 23 December 1875

Polluted well - Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 22 February 1883

Polluted well – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 22 February 1883

1884 – Death of William James Miner

Death of William James Miner at 4 Isabella Place, Combe Down, on 23rd March, aged 5 months in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Thursday 27 March 1884

1889 Kelly’s
Funeral Thomas Bernard  Annely - Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Saturday 19 April 1930

Funeral Thomas Bernard Annely – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Saturday 19 April 1930

  • Mrs Robinson, 2 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath
  • Frederick Daniel Riddle, Lodging House, 3 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath
  • T. B. Annely, 5 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath

Thomas Bernard Annely (1851 – 1930) of 5 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath worked for Hayward and Wooster, builders who had started in 1853 at 34 Belvedere, but by 1881 were based at 108 Walcot Street, which, for a time, had been the home of Robert Southey (1774 – 1843), Poet Laureate for 30 years from 1813 to his death in 1843.

Hayward and Wooster were responsible for expanding the Guildhall and adding new municipal buildings. 

As his obituary makes clear he was the son of the Rev. Thomas Annely, pastor at Union Chapel. Thomas Annely was appointed in 1850 as the first pastor and remained as pastor until 1888.

Thomas Bernard Annely married Ada Bending (1861 – 1895) in 1885 and Helen Souter Yeats (1861 – 1954) in 1896.

Kelly’s directories between 1914 and 1923 have him letting apartments at 5 Isabella Place.

Proposed new municipal buildings - Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 6 August 1891

Proposed new municipal buildings – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 6 August 1891

Hayward and Wooster new municipal buildings - Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 22 September 1892

Hayward and Wooster new municipal buildings – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 22 September 1892

Municipal Buildings, Bath

Municipal Buildings, Bath

1896 – 1 Isabella Place

1 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath for sale by auction as Miss Tyler is leaving the neighbourhood.

1 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath for sale by auction as Miss Tyler is leaving the neighbourhood in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 10 September 1896

1 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath for sale by auction as Miss Tyler is leaving the neighbourhood in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 10 September 1896

1898 – Fire Hydrants to be installed

Fire Hydrants to be installed including Isabella Place.

Fire Hydrants to be installed including Isabella Place in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Wednesday 2 February 1898

Fire Hydrants to be installed including Isabella Place in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Wednesday 2 February 1898

1899 – Frederick James Head

Frederick James Head of 1 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath summoned for ill treating a cat.

Frederick James Head of 1 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath summoned for ill treating a cat in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 17 August 1899

Frederick James Head of 1 Isabella Place, Combe Down, Bath summoned for ill treating a cat in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 17 August 1899

The Old Post Office, 78 Church Road

The Old Post Office, 78 Church Road, Combe Down

The Old Post Office, 78 Church Road, Combe Down

Although not part of Isabella Place, 78 Church Road is very close, almost opposite. Thus I have included it here.

Kelly 1902 Combe Down postal service information

Kelly 1902 Combe Down postal service information

This first appears in the 1871 census when from then to the 1891 census the premises were occupied Henry Biggs Wren (1838 – 1907) and his wife Emma Joslin (1829 – 1923) as postmaster and grocer. He was the son of Thomas Jay Wren (1801 – 1868) and his first wife Mary Wansbrough (1810 – 1859).

By the 1901 census his son William James Wren (1867 – 1966) and his wife Catherine Ontario Long (1875 – 1958) had taken over as sub postmaster, grocer & cabinet maker.

The Victorian post

In January 1840 Sir Rowland Hill, KCB, FRS (1795 – 27 August) established a uniform postal system by which a letter could be posted any distance for a standard price: The Uniform Penny Post. The cost was 1d for letters or 2d if the letter was collected from the writer and delivered. In May the first adhesive postage stamp, the Penny Black, was introduced.

In 1839 about 76 million letters were sent; in 1840 it more than doubled to 169 million. By the end of the Victorian era, 1901, 2.3 billion letters and 419 million postcards were being sent annually.

In the post offices the day would start early when mail was received and had to be sorted and delivered. By the late 19th century six or more deliveries a day, starting at 07.30 and ending at 19.30 were common in large towns, though not on Combe Down. People would come in to the post office and pay for letters or buy stamps. Pensions would also be paid from to retired sailors and soldiers. The postmaster was responsible for ensuring proper accounts of the money received and salaries paid were entered in ledgers. Pillar boxes were introduced in 1853 so that you did not have to go to the local office to post a letter. In subsequent years the post office expanded its interests to sell Money Orders, Savings Bonds, Annuities and Insurances as well as being a Telegraph Office from 1870. 

As people became literate and mail delivery became more reliable, letter writing became more commonplace. By the middle of the Victorian period, writing and receiving letters had become an essential part of everyday urban life. But it came with its own set of rules such as:

  • Men should use plain paper.
  • Women should scent their letter with perfume.
  • Paper should never be lined.
  • Those in mourning should use paper bordered with black lines.
  • Envelopes were sealed with wax. Men used red but women could use any color. Black wax was used while in mourning.
  • Black ink was de rigeur.
  • Nothing could be crossed out. One had to start again if a mistake was made.

There were complete letter writing guides.

Grocers

Groceries sold eggs, cheese and butter – that came in blocks or rounds and had to be cut – flour, dried fruit, spices, coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar, all sorts of processed food including biscuits in decorated tins, bottled condiments and tinned fruit, meat and fish as well as fresh foodstuffs such as vegetables and fruit.

As it was very difficult to keep perishable food fresh, most people would go shopping every day to buy small amounts of what they needed. Customers queued up to be served but everyone was treated as though their custom mattered. The shopkeeper, or his assistants, would weigh or measure each item and then wrap it up in paper. Shoppers would take these packages home in baskets. Larger shops offered home delivery to their customers; the customer would bring in a list and then a delivery man or boy would deliver the items. Many also had accounts at the shop and did not pay in cash but were sent a bill each week.

In the 1911 census Walter Frederick Janes (1861 – 1924) was sub postmaster and lived at the old post office with his wife Alice Buckland (1867 – 1933) and their daughter Alice Florence (1904 – 1994).

In the 1911 Kelly’s Miss Martha Ann Ponting (1874 – 1949) was at 78 Church Road as a stationer and remained there until at least 1935.

By 1919 Ernest G Simmonds was the sub postmaster.

In the 1960s the premises were a sweet shop and toy shop.

Saunders and The Little Shop

Saunders and The Little Shop


References