I just love old handbills and maps. Bath Record Office has a small treasure trove of them. Here are some prepared for the Prior Park sale in 1808 before John Thomas bought in in 1809.
The language is wonderful. “A capital mansion, seated on an eminence, erected, in the most substantial manner, about the Year 1738, by RALPH ALLEN, Esq. Planned for the accommodation of A NOBLEMAN, OR FAY OF DISTINCTION”. If one had the wherewithal it would be difficult to resist. It’s a world away from the ‘estate agent speak’ we are so used to; but then, so is the property.
Anyone wondering what A, R, and P are was obviously born more recently! It’s acres, roods and perches.
When Gertrude Stafford Smith (née Tucker, previously Warburton), Ralph Allen’s niece and heir died in 1796, the estate passed to Cornwallis Maude, 1st Viscount Hawarden by reason of his marriage to Mary Allen, another niece of Ralph Allen, even though she had died in 1775, as they had a son Thomas Ralph Maude.
A bit of further research has indicated that he put Prior Park up for sale in 1800 as an advert in the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette on Thursday 4th September 1800 shows. The advert directed interested parties to Benjamin Wingrove. The reference at the foot of the advert shows that the sale of timber, referenced when John Thomas became the next owner in 1809, was actually happening years before and perhaps he just increased the sales to pay for his purchase?
Cornwallis Maude died on 23rd August 1803in Teignmouth, Devon, but he was still trying to sell Prior Park just a few months before he died as the advert from the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette on Thursday 5th May 1803 makes clear.
We know the estate was actually sold to John Thomas in 1809 for £28,000.
According to MeasuringWorth.com in 2011, the relative worth of £28,000 0s 0d from 1809 would be:
£1,670,000.00 using the retail price index £1,880,000.00 using the GDP deflator £21,800,000.00 using average earnings £29,800,000.00 using the per capita GDP £105,000,000.00 using the share of GDP
When I was writing the book there were items that I collected that I didn’t use. So, I’ve started to go back through the rather poorly indexed images and see what I could add via this blog.
The first images I found were not about Combe Down at all, but about Bathampton Manor and they’re rather evocative.
Bathampton Manor, was owned by Bath Abbey until the Dissolution when it passed to the Crown and was then purchased by William Crouch. Subsequent owners were Thomas Popham, Edward Hungerford, the Bassett family and the Holders of Claverton. Ralph Allen married Elizabeth Holder in 1736. By 1743 Elizabeth’s brother, Charles, had become “financially embarrassed” and Ralph paid off his debts and purchased the Manor from him – see History of Bath Research Group.