Tucking great! I’m a genius but I’m broke!

William Smith (1769-1839), portrait by French painter Hugues Fourau (1803-1873). Painted 1837.
William Smith (1769-1839), portrait by French painter Hugues Fourau (1803-1873). Painted 1837.

Things added recently include:

An ‘upgrade’ to the history of Prior Park. This explains how it was, originally, the deer park for the Priors of Bath Abbey monastery. It was broken up after Henry VIII‘s Dissolution of the Monasteries and brought back together over a 30 year period by Ralph Allen.

A section on the Tucking Mill area, especially Tucking Mill House. This was the home of William ‘Strata’ Smith the father of English geology from 1798 – 1819. Tucking Mill Cottage next door, is still wrongly identified as his home.

Interestingly, William Smith bought Tucking Mill House and its small estate from Edward Candler (later Candler Brown), who also lived at Prior Park and  at Combe Hill Villa on Brassknocker Hill.

Smith was also involved with Charles Conolly who owned Midford Castle in a plan to quarry stone. This was to lead to Smith becoming heavily indebted and eventually led to  being imprisoned for debt and losing his house and estate. Midford Castle was also briefly owned (2007 – 2009) by the actor Nicholas Cage

Other than William Smith, the Tucking Mill area seems to have had no notable inhabitants.

From being a medieval tucking mill that cleaned and thickened cloth then in the 17th and 18th centuries a flour mill, it became a Fuller’s earth works in the 19th century.

The area around became somewhat more ‘industrialised‘ when the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway (S&D) was built, including Tucking Mill Viaduct and the Combe Down Tunnel.

The area also became important to Bath’s water supply as the Combe Down and District Waterworks, to take water from the Midford Springs was set up by Right Reverend Monsignor Dr. Charles Parfitt (1816 – 1886) who had inherited Midford Castle from Mrs. Jane Conolly (1798 – 1871).

In the last 60 years or so the area has been somewhat returned to nature. The S&D line, the viaduct and Combe Down tunnel closed in 1967.

The old mill and Fuller’s earth works were knocked down in 1979 to make room for a larger reservoir. This now provides free coarse fishing to disabled anglers in a lake stocked with roach, rudd, bream, perch, carp, tench and gudgeon.

The railway track, viaduct and combe Down tunnel were also reopened in 2013 as the Two Tunnels walking and cycling route.

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:

Family trees on Prior to Now

I have introduced a Family Trees Centre to Prior to Now to help to sort out who was who and their relationships one to another. 

Some of the more important families and people in the story of Combe Down from 1700 – 1900 have been added so far and a list of the trees and some of the individuals is shown below.

I have used a different link colour and rollover for Family Tree links and introduced some Family Tree links into the text within the pages too.

Something else that comes out of it, if you are interested in history and genealogy as I am, is the ‘shape’ of families – it’s strange how similar patterns seem to repeat in each family, with some branches thriving and others dying out.

What’s also interesting is the way some families have stayed prosperous over many centuries.

Other things also emerge such as the builder of Midford Castle, Henry Woolhouse Disney Roebuck (1733 – 1796) having ancestors that include: Edward I, King of England (1239 – 1307) 13th and 14th great grandfather, Edward II, King of England (1284 – 1327) 13th great grandfather, Edward III, King of England (1312 – 1377) 12th great grandfather.

ZeeThe fact that the Bennet family, of Widcombe Manor, and the D’Isney (Disney) family of Midford Castle came together when Maj Philip Bennet (1837 – 1875 ) married Barbara Sophia Harriet Disney (1838 – 1929) the cousin 3 times removed of Henry Woolhouse Disney Roebuck (1733 – 1796).

Combe Grove Manor

Battell family tree. Owner of Combe Grove Manor, Rev William Batell (abt 1692 – 1750).

Vaughan Jenkins family tree. Owners of Combe Grove Manor and other land, William Davies (abt 1725 – abt 1798), William Vaughan Jenkins (abt 1752 – 1818), William Vaughan Jenkins (1813 – 1876), Frederick Vaughan Jenkins (1817 – 1892).

Prior Park

Prior Park
Prior Park

Allen, Bennet, Maude family tree. Owners and occupiers of Prior ParkRalph Allen (1693 – 1764), Gertrude Tucker (abt 1727 – 1796 ), Rt Rev Dr William Warburton Bishop of Gloucester (1698 – 1779), Ralph Allen Warburton (1756 – 1775), Capt. William Tucker RN (abt 1728 – 1770), Philip Allen (1695 – 1765), Jane Bennet (1704 – 1767), Mary Allen Lady Maude (1732  – 1775), Cornwallis Maude 1st Viscount Hawarden (1729 – 1803), Thomas Ralph Maude 2nd Viscount Hawarden (1767 – 1807), Anne Isabella Monck Viscountess Hawarden (1759 – 1851), Cornwallis Maude 3rd Viscount Hawarden (1780 – 1856), Cornwallis Maude 1st Earl de Montalt (1817 – 1905).

Thomas family tree. Purchasers (and subsequently sellers) of Prior Park and other land from Thomas Maude 2nd Viscount Hawarden (1767 – 1807) and Cornwallis Maude 3rd Viscount Hawarden (1780 – 1856). John Thomas (abt 1752 – 1827), John Ovens Thomas (1778 – 1836).

Midford Castle

Midford Castle
Midford Castle

Disney Roebuck family tree. Builder of Midford Castle, Henry Woolhouse Disney Roebuck (1733 – 1796). [Ancestors include: Edward I, King of England (1239 – 1307) 13th and 14th great grandfather, Edward II, King of England (1284 – 1327) 13th great grandfather, Edward III, King of England (1312 – 1377) 12th great grandfather].

Conolly family tree. Owners of Midford Castle, Charles Conolly (abt 1759 – 1828), Charles Thomas Conolly (1791 – 1850), Charles John Thomas Conolly (1818 – 1871), Louisa Lucy Margaret Catherine Brancaccio Marchesa di Sant’Agata (abt 1823 – 1899).

Combe Down Village

Layton, Hadley family tree. Purchasers of land and buildings from Thomas Maude 2nd Viscount Hawarden (1767 – 1807) and Cornwallis Maude 3rd Viscount Hawarden (1780 – 1856) and owners of the Hadley Estate. Edward Layton (abt 1730 – 1805), Nathaniel Hadley (abt 1760 – 1849), Nathaniel Hadley (1786 – 1864), Nathaniel Layton Hadley (abt 1819 – 1870), Clara Emma Hadley (abt 1813 – 1890), Eliza Stapylton Hadley (abt 1815 – 1899).

Wingrove, Vivian family tree. Attorney to and purchaser of land from Thomas Maude 2nd Viscount Hawarden (1767 – 1807), Cornwallis Maude 3rd Viscount Hawarden (1780 – 1856) and John Thomas (abt 1752 – 1827). Benjamin Belmont Wingrove (1773 – 1840).