Discover more about ‘Our Block’

Ralph Allen bequests, Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 23 August 1764
Ralph Allen bequests, Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 23 August 1764

I have just updated the ‘Our Block‘ page. Ian & Susan Parsons, at 121 Church Road, kindly lent me the deeds that they have in their possession.

Interestingly, most of them were for Claremont House, 109 Church Road. They also encompass Claremont Cottage, 107 Church Road, Claremont Lodge, 119 Church Road as well as Ian & Susan’s property, 121 Church Road, which has been called Rosemere.

Solicitors’ filing systems are a never ending wonder, but I guess that as Claremont House was broken up into flats 121 became the ‘logical’ place to put all it’s history. I’m glad about that as old deeds can be a small mine of information. All the properties aforementioned were traded as one entity for a long time.

As stated, solicitors’ filing systems are a never ending wonder and another interesting inclusion was a deed from 1768.

It seems to be a ‘cuckoo’ as it relates to London Road properties and transactions by Lewis Clutterbuck, who was a lawyer, member of Bath City Council 1753 – 57 and town clerk, 1757 – 76. He was also mentioned in Ralph Allen’s will receiving a £100 bequest. His family owned Newark Park, at Ozleworth near Wotton-under-Edge. Why it’s with the deeds for Claremont….

Delving through the documents shows that Claremont was constructed c 1805 – 1806 along with 113 – 117 and Hopecote (which was, originally 3 properties).

We know that 119 was originally 2 properties. It became clear that at some time between 1878 and 1893, 121 was built as a block of stables.

The current structure is due to substantial alterations. The documents show that permission for ‘provision of a mansard roof’ was granted 4 Dec 1973, the ‘erection of a single storey extension to the rear,’ on 17 Aug 1978, the ‘erection at first and second floor level over existing garage’ on 16 Aug 1979 and the ‘erection of a garage’ on 17 Dec 1981.

Extract from deed of 13 July 1893
Extract from deed of 13 July 1893

More memories from Frank and an 1832 marriage settlement

Butler Davis deed dated the 23rd day of March 1832, Settlement on the Marriage of Mr William Butler with Mrs Jane Davis
Butler Davis deed dated the 23rd day of March 1832, Settlement on the Marriage of Mr William Butler with Mrs Jane Davis

This time I am writing about more memories from Frank and an 1832 marriage settlement

A couple sleeping in a Morrison shelter during the Second World War
By Ministry of Information Photo Division Photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
A couple sleeping in a Morrison shelter during the Second World War

That’s Frank Sumsion who tells us about Senior School and the outbreak of the Second World War.

Those days were certainly interesting with the Bath Blitz in 1942, having to use Morrison shelters to protect oneself from the bombing and with every item of food and drink was rationed.

It’s all very different from today. He also tells us about starting work just after his 15th birthday, working at  Combe Down Waterworks, being in Bath Civil Defence Service, a a succession of different motorbikes, working at a mushroom farm and meeting his future wife Jane.

The Settlement on the Marriage of Mr William Butler with Mrs Jane Davis. William Butler it was who, along with William Harrold built Isabella Place after Thomas Maude, 2nd Viscount Hawarden (1767 – 1807) started to sell the estate of Ralph Allen (1693 – 1764) that he had inherited from his father Cornwallis Maude, 1st Viscount Hawarden to pay his father’s debts. His mother had been Mary Allen, Lady Maude (1732  – 1775), his father’s first wife, and the niece of Ralph Allen who built Prior Park Mansion.

The marriage settlement between William Butler and Jane Davis.

A marriage settlement was very necessary in those days for a wealthy lady like Jane Davis – her assets in the settlement were £808 16s 11d which is now worth about £976,900.00. Once again things were very different from today. At the time an unmarried woman had the right to own property and make contracts in her own name but, upon marriage, a woman’s legal rights and obligations were subsumed by those of her husband. Married women did not have any rights due to the legal fiction, called coverture, that a husband and wife are one person. Once a woman married she had no claim to her property as her husband had full control and could do with it whatever suited him!

This did not start to change until The Married Women’s Property Act of 1870.

I hope you enjoy more memories from Frank and an 1832 marriage settlement

Memorable, official original listing letter 1976

I have just been given the original listing letter 1976 from Bath City Council.

It’s dated 2nd August 1976 and addressed to Mr R Wall making the property a Building of Special Architectural or Historic Interest or listed building from 5th August 1975 under the Town and Country Planning Act 1971.

Last evening I was just preparing the evening meal for the family (if you’re interested: smoked cod and prawns poached in a butter, tarragon, garlic and peperoncino sauce, served with British asparagus, Padrón peppers and Jersey Royals, lovely!) when there was a knock at the door.

A rather lovely lady was there bringing the original listing letter sent in 1976.

As I understand things, it was found in the effects of her husband’s grandmother, Daphne Mildred Bish who died last year.

Very kindly the family decided that the current owners of the house might like it and just brought it along.

It’s a wonderful little surprise gift and I’m only sorry that I didn’t get the chance to ask her for her name and her husband’s name – I was a little flustered as the timer beeper was going off, indicating all the food was ready, just after I opened the door. Anyway, I thank them here.

Original listing letter 1976
Original listing letter 1976

Fascinating and artistic old deeds and indentures

Old deed. Lease and Release.  A911873  1516 Jan. 1805
Old deed. Lease and Release. A911873 1516 Jan. 1805

I love old deeds.

They are works of art.

They were written by quill pen and iron gall ink in court hand, chancery hand or secretary hand on large squares of parchment.

The heading and capital letter of old deeds are often ornamented with scroll work.

So much work went into them as they represented peoples’ wealth and legal title – something that, not so long ago, could only be shown “on paper”.

So, what goes into an old deed?

Parchment

Parchment is most commonly made of calfskin, sheepskin, or goatskin.

It was historically used for writing documents, notes, or the pages of a book.

Parchment making is a slow process and requires the selection of good skins from healthy animals, which are then washed, dried, soaked in lime, scraped, stretched and scraped and stretched again and again and dried under tension until the finished product is ready for use as a writing surface.

Parchment is not tanned like leather, this makes it more suitable for writing, but leaves it reactive to changes in humidity and allows it revert to raw hide if too wet.

Vellum denotes a finer quality material referring to a parchment made from calf skin and comes from the Latin word vitulinum (meaning made from calf) and Old French vélin.

Indentures are a form of deed or legal contract. The Indenture on old deeds was so called from the fact that its upper edge was indented – a method of testing authenticity as each party had a copy.

These duplicates were written on a single strip of parchment cut irregularly afterwards, so that when required to be produced as evidence the two divided portions would fit each other exactly as indisputable evidence of their originality.

By convention in common use after about 1675, the old deeds documents open with the title ‘This Indenture’ in large capital letters.

Hand writing

Court hand was a style of handwriting used in medieval law courts from there into use by professionals such as lawyers and clerks.

Chancery hand could produce beautiful calligraphic writing; in England it became known as the Italian hand to distinguish it from the angular, cramped, black letter or gothic derived English chancery hand which had been developed earlier.

Secretary hand arose out of the need for a hand more legible and universally recognizable and was widely used by scriveners and others whose daily employment comprised hours of writing.

Ink

Another important part of an old deed deed is the iron gall ink.

The main ingredients are oak galls, iron sulphate and gum Arabic and it was permanent and water resistant.

A 1770 recipe suggests two ounces of crushed oak galls soaked overnight in one pint of water to produce tannin, then strained into one ounce of ferrous sulphate. A half ounce of gum Arabic (the hardened sap of the Acacia Senegal tree) is added and the mixture stirred until it is dissolved which might take a week or two.

Iron gall ink is purple black or brown black and coloured inks were seldom employed for legal documents.

It was the standard writing and drawing ink in Europe, from about the 5th to 19th century and remained in use into the 20th.

Quill pen

The writing was done by a quill pen made from a moulted flight feather (preferably a primary wing feather) of a large bird such as a goose or swan.

A quill is hand cut to six or seven inches after being soaked and tempered in hot sand for longer life so that the slit does not widen through wetting and drying with ink and will retain its shape, require infrequent sharpening and be used many times.

The hollow shaft of the feather (the calamus) acts as an ink reservoir and ink flows to the tip by capillary action.

Old deeds. Lease and Release.  A911874  1516 Feb. 1805
Old deeds. Lease and Release. A911874 1516 Feb. 1805

Particulars of Prior Park sale in 1808

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.

Front of sale particulars for Prior Park in 1808
Front of sale particulars for Prior Park in 1808
More details of sale particulars for Prior Park in 1808
More details of sale particulars for Prior Park in 1808
Map details of sale particulars for Prior Park in 1808
Map details of sale particulars for Prior Park in 1808