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

A complete shaggy dog story

Shaggy dog, Brunswick Place, Combe Down - Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 11 September 1873
Shaggy dog, Brunswick Place, Combe Down – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 11 September 1873

Things that are new on the site recently are a small section on Combe Road – something of a shaggy dog story given that it, unfortunately, has so little of consequence in it. But one can’t just make things up for a site like this.

There’s also a brief article on Mulberry Park the the 48 acre (19 hectare) Ministry of Defence site started by the Admiralty and purchased by Curo for £50 million in 2013.

It’s probably the third largest project on Combe Down since the Admiralty set up site at Foxhill for World War 2 and since Ralph Allen set up his stone quarrying operations in the 1720s and built Prior Park in the 1730s.

There’s also a great YouTube video on the Combe Down quarries page that is an animation of a quarry crane produced by Mark and Ben Jenkinson to illustrate the Corsham Institute’s Bath Stone exhibition in autumn 2016 at Cranes at Work

Cranes were an essential part of the quarrying process. They were used to lift the blocks of stone cut from the working face onto carts, which were then pulled to the surface by horse or donkey; or later, by small locomotives.

The main structure of the cranes was wooden, with metal gearing and fixings. They could lift blocks of around 5 tonnes.

A crane would be erected in a new working area until all the stone within its reach had been quarried. Then it would be dismantled, moved along to a new area, and re-erected to continue working.

Entry Hill from the Romans to Frank Lloyd Wright

Entry Hill is part of Fosse Way that ran diagonally across England from the Roman cities of Lincoln (Lindum Colonia) to Exeter (Isca Dumnoniorum) in the South West after passing through Bath (Aquae Sulis)
Entry Hill is part of Fosse Way that ran diagonally across England from the Roman cities of Lincoln (Lindum Colonia) to Exeter (Isca Dumnoniorum) in the South West after passing through Bath (Aquae Sulis)

Entry Hill – the name tells you pretty much all you need to know.

For generations this was the main route to and from Bath to the South West, and was a part of the Fosse Way, that ran diagonally across England from the Roman cities of Lincoln (Lindum Colonia) to Exeter (Isca Dumnoniorum) in the South West after passing through Bath (Aquae Sulis).

Although Entry Hill and the road network was important there was little population or housing either on Entry Hill itself or on Combe Down above it.

Even in the 1930s the area from The Forester pub to the old Frome Road Workhouse had little housing.

So, it’s not surprising that there are few listed buildings in the Entry Hill area nor those that are there are mostly revised farm or quarry buildings as that was went on in the area until very recently.

The surprise comes in the form of Valley Spring, the only Grade II listed building in the Bath city area, out of well over 2,500, that is a 20th century building.

Valley Spring early 1970s
Valley Spring early 1970s

The house was built, between 1968 and 1969, for John Basil Womersley (1927 – 1979), managing director of Bath Cabinet Makers and Arkana, which specialised in contemporary and curvilinear tulip furniture.

It was designed by his brother Charles Peter Womersley (1923–1993). Farnley Hey, the first house he had designed for his brother won the RIBA bronze medal in 1958, and has been described as “one of the best demonstrations of the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright (1867 – 1959) in Britain”.

Valley Spring is one of Bath’s (and Combe Down’s) unknown jewels. It tries to follow Frank Lloyd Wright’s philosophy of organic architecture. To my mind it succeeds.

At The Old Vicarage – more tea Vicar?

Cleveland Bridge Bath in 1830 - engraving by FP Hay
Cleveland Bridge Bath in 1830 – engraving by FP Hay

I realised that I haven’t mentioned The Old Vicarage and the clergy of Combe Down in the blog.

That’s an error as  as the house was designed by Henry Edmund Goodridge (1797 – 1864) who designed one of Bath’s iconic monuments: Beckford’s Tower. He also designed one of the world’s earliest retail arcades The Corridor in central Bath.

He designed Cleveland Bridge at the site of a Roman ferry crossing, linking the A4 London Road with the A36. It’s a cast iron arch bridge with lodges like miniature Greek temples at each corner and was was built in 1827 by William Hazledine. Oh, and he had also designed Holy Trinity church.

The Old Vicarage was used by the vicars of Combe Down until 1974 when it was sold to Dr John (Jack) Ferens Turner (1930 – 2002) and his wife Dr Anne Curtis Turner (née Pyke) (1939 – 2006).

Rev G W Newnham
Rev G W Newnham

There have been some interesting ministers living at The Old Vicarage, such as Rev George William Newnham (1806 – 1893) who was Vicar from 1842 – 1877. He was married 3 times and had 17 children!

His third wife Harriette Helen White (1820 – 1889) set up what became the Institution for Idiot Children and those of Weak Intellect at Rockhall House on Combe Down. He also started the Combe Down allotments.

There was Rev Carr Glyn Acworth (1842 – 1928) who was Vicar from 1877 – 1890. He was also was married 3 times but he had no children.

Rev Alfred Richardson (1853 – 1925) was vicar from 1902 – 1914. After he retired he wrote: An historical guide to Monkton Combe, Combe Down and Claverton with Rev David Lee Pitcairn (1848 – 1936) who was vicar of Monkton Combe from 1883 – 1914 and also a great grandson of Arthur Guinness (1725 – 1803) – the brewer.

Ven Albert Bushnell Lloyd (1871 – 1946) was vicar from 1930 – 1933. He  was a missionary and Archdeacon of Western Uganda. His written works include: Uganda to Khartoum (1906), In Dwarf Land and Cannibal Country (1907), Dayspring in Uganda (1921) and Apolo of the Pygmy Forest (1923).

Remarkable residents of Combe Grove area and Summer Lane

Thomas Sturge Cotterell
Thomas Sturge Cotterell

Recently I added information about the Combe Grove area and Summer Lane. By the Combe Grove area I mean Shaft Road and Brassknocker Hill.

On Brassknocker Hill that means that Combe Hill House and Combe Grove Lodge are covered and on Shaft Road that means that Lodge Style, Combe Grove Farm, Combe Grange and Ivy Cottages.

In Summer Lane , Quarry Vale and De Montalt House are covered. De Montalt Mill is covered elsewhere with its history before 1850 here and its history after 1850 to modern times here.

The person who most caught my eye was Patrick Young Alexander (1867 – 1943) who lived at De Montalt House. He lived an interesting life – probably helped by the fact that his father left him a very large legacy – but was also an aeronautical pioneer fascinated by the prospect of heavier than air flight, an enthusiastic balloonist and meteorologist.

Another interesting person is Thomas Sturge Cotterell (1865 – 1950).

He commissioned Lodge Style from Charles Francis Annesley Voysey (1857 – 1941) in 1909. Cotterell was General Manager of the Bath Stone Firms and a Bath Councillor, one of the main movers behind the Bath Pageant of 1909, an Alderman and Mayor of Bath in 1930.

He also set up the Bath Corps of Honorary Guides. His uncle was Jacob Henry Cotterell (1817 – 1868) a land surveyor responsible for the 1852 map of Bath that appears regularly on this site.

The most frustrating area when researching the Combe Grove area and Summer Lane was Quarry Vale. 

I knew it would be difficult to find published information about the inhabitants for they were working class people – not middle class or higher and the ‘social medium’ of the day, the newspaper, did not really follow their world unless criminality or scandal was involved.

This gives a distorted image of working people’s lives. So I decided to take a look at the census, give a flavour of the range of occupations, pick out a few that were well represented and give a thumbnail sketch of those, as well as try to find some news clippings.

It’s not what I would have wanted to publish, but, if the information is not there….

Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading more about  the Combe Grove area and Summer Lane.

Extraordinary people – Barrister, Businessmen, Composer, Sailor, Soldiers & Writers

Frederic Edward Weatherly in 1895
Frederic Edward Weatherly in 1895

A while ago I added Belmont to the site and, as usual, I’m doing a quick update about what I found out.

It seems that the simplest way to give a flavour of Belmont, since Belmont House was constructed in the 1850s is to list some of the people who have lived in the houses in the road and what they did.

As you can see from the list below it’s, unsurprisingly for such a street with such large Victorian villas, a cross section of the 19th and 20th century British upper middle class: a Barrister, businessmen, composer, sailor, soldiers & writers.

Barrister & Composer

Frederic Edward Weatherly KC (1848 – 1929), St Christopher, Barrister & Composer of Danny Boy

William Henry Tucker 1814 - 1877
William Henry Tucker 1814 – 1877

Business

Charles Richard Osmond (1868 – 1933), Ashlands, Ironmonger
David Owen (1850 – 1933), Belmont House, Accountant
George Cruickshank (1814 – 1896), Belmont House, Hosier
James William Soane (1833 – 1912), West Brow, Music Dealer
Walter John Cook (1857 – 1925), Combe Ridge, Clothier
William Henry Tucker (1814 – 1877), West Brow, Cloth Merchant
William Livingstone Russell (1828 – 1911), Combe Ridge, Draper

Doctor

Dr Robert Lane Walmsley (1909 – 1982), Ashlands, Family Doctor

Gentry

Charles Norris Williamson
Charles Norris Williamson

Sir William Blunt 7th Baronet (1826 – 1902), West Brow, Baronet

Soldier

Col Hugh Augustus Boscawen (1805 – 1881), Combe Ridge, Indian Army and also great great grandson of Arabella Churchill (1648 – 1730)
Lt Col Arthur John Pilcher (1866 – 1960), Ashlands, Soldier & Engineer
Maj Gen Joseph Fletcher Richardson CB (1823 – 1900), West Brow, Indian Army
Maj Harry Edward Meade OBE (1884 – 1952), West Brow, Soldier

Sailor

Admiral Sir Richard Henry Peirse KCB KBE MVO DL JP (1860 – 1940), Belmont House, Royal Navy

Writers

Charles Norris Williamson (1859 – 1920) and Alice Muriel Livingston (1869 – 1933), St Christoper, Novelists
Eliza Margaret Jane Gollan (1850 – 1938), West Brow, Novelist

Luxurious Church Road villas, a Viking and Directories

Wikinger. Danes about to invade England. From Miscellany on the life of St. Edmund from the 12th century.
Wikinger. Danes about to invade England. From Miscellany on the life of St. Edmund from the 12th century.

This month the Church Road Villas, a Viking and Directories are what it’s about.

The Victorian villas on Church Road, Combe Down have, now, been covered:

Directories

I have also added images from some Post Office Directories and some Kelly’s Directories. 

There’s some brief background information about directories and then one link to the following that have been added so far:

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

Now and Then

I’ve just reordered the site somewhat into Now and Then.

The, slightly punning, title of the book was Prior to Now and that became the website title too.

Combe Down Area Directory
Combe Down Area Directory

A thought that I always had, was that the site could include the history of Combe Down (Prior) and what’s going on now (Now).

I have now put all the history (but not the people and family trees) under one section Combe Down Then and what’s going on now under, believe it or not, Combe Down Now.

New section

This section includes:

One area that I’d particularly like to add to is Combe Down photos – especially any historic ones whether they be from your own or family archives or from postcards etc.

If you have any other ideas for what might be useful or relevant on the site then I’m always happy to ‘hear ideas’.

I have, now and then, wondered about a forum that includes the ability to post events etc. but I’m not sure whether it would be used and then there’s the question of moderation. Unfortunately there are always idiots who try to ruin it for the good guys, but it’s reasonably easy to do if there’s any demand.

Other than that I hope the new elements add to the site and that you enjoy them.

Complete listed buildings master list

Dial House, De Montalt Place, Combe Down - one of the listed buildings
Dial House, De Montalt Place, Combe Down – one of the listed buildings

I have just added a page for Listed Buildings on Combe Down and in Midford and Monkton Combe divided into 15 areas which are in a rough circle as follows:

For each building or monument I have tried to give: