The remarkable enchanting history of our block from 1900 – 1950

Alfred Wicks – 109

alfred wicks fined bath chronicle thursday 8 april 1880
Alfred Wicks fined, Bath Chronicle, Thursday 8 April 1880

Alfred Wicks (1829 – 1906) was born in Colerne and was a hurdle maker who became a farmer out at Marshfield.

He married Martha Vezey (1829 – 1866). They had five children.

By 1880 he was farming 250 acres from Church farm in Monkton Combe, employing 3 men and 2 boys and was still there in 1902[1].

He seems to have moved to Claremont House around 1903 as his son Albert (1856 – 1903) died there on 29 December.[2] He died at Claremont House too.[3]

Quite how good a farmer he was must be questioned as in 1880 he was fined for mistreating a horse.

In 1881:

George Oram (45), gardener, was indicted for stealing one fork, value 5s, the property Alfred Wicks, Monkton Combe, on the 7th February. Seven months hard labour and 3 years police supervision.[4]

There are a number of other articles for similar offences against Alfred Wicks listed in the Bath Chronicle over many years.

He was an owner of Claremont House as it passed to his estate and then to his son Joseph who died in 1917.

Rev Henry and Edith Wisdom – 115

Edith Susan Dibben (1864 – 1936) was married to the Rev Henry John William Cridland Wisdom (1864 – 1937) and was renting 115 from Thomas Jones in 1901 and 1902. They had six children.

He had attended Charterhouse[5] and Cambridge[6] and wrote ‘The Proposed Changes in the Prayer Book of the Church of England by Henry John William Cridland Wisdom’ (1924).

It is likely that her husband was in Australia at the time:

“Notification that the following ministers have been duly registered as officiating ministers for the year 1899:- Church of England - Henry John William Cridland Wisdom, B.A., Hobart. Presbyterian" Church-John S. Bunting, Hobart.”[7]

Exactly how long he was in Australia I have not discovered but in 1909:

Crown Office, May 25, 1909. The KING has been pleased, by Letters Patent under the Great Seal, to present The Reverend Henry John William Cridland Wisdom, B.A., to the Rectory of Hartest cum Boxted, in the county of Suffolk and diocese of Ely, void by the resignation of The Reverend Herbert Forster Morris, M.A., the last Incumbent, and in His Majesty's gift in full right.[8]

He resigned from that living in 1930[9] and seems to have gone to live at Wimborne.

Arthur and Elizabeth Wilkinson – 117

Arthur Wilkinson (1861 – 1924) and Elizabeth – (b.1856) lived at 117 in 1901 and 1902. They had two children. He was a school tutor, but no more has been discovered about them.

William Steart – 115 and 117

William Steart (1837 – 1913) bought 115 and 117 from the estate of Thomas Jones for £585. He did not live in either house but rented them out.

William Steart married Harriett Lawley (1844 – 1938) and had eight children. He had previously been married to Mary Love (1840 – 1879) with whom he also had eight children.

He was the underground manager at Braysdown Colliery, between Shoscombe and Peasedown, in 1886 when an accident occurred in which 4 men were killed. After a coroner’s inquest, with several adjournments, he was cleared of any blame though the pit bailiff was not.[10]

He later became colliery manager and served on Wellow Parish Council, Bath Rural District Council and the Board of Guardians.[11]

Elizabeth Carew Robinson – 115

Elizabeth Carew Robinson (1842 – 1928) lived at 115 from at least 1906 to at least 1911.

Clearly she married a Mr. Robinson and may have been related to Alice Gertrude Robinson (1867 – 1927), who lived at 117, in some way but no proof of that has been discovered and no more has been discovered about her.

John Talbot Stamp and Alice Miller – 109

John Talbot Stamp Miller (1854 – 1934) and Alice Nash (b.1858) were living at 109 in 1911 and he gave his occupation as boarding house keeper. They had 5 children. He was born at Litton Drew and had previously been a gamekeeper but no more has been discovered about them.

Edward Richard Dolling – 113

We have previously met Edward Richard Dolling (1852 – 1928) as he was bank manager to John Cook (1841 – 1903) of 113 and had been given an option in John Cook’s will to buy 113, after Cook’s wife had died, for £250. He exercised this option in 1915.

Edward Dolling first worked for ‘The Old Bank’ – Tugwell, Brymer, Clutterbuck & Co. He was involved in the start of the Bath Brewery Company in 1889 when Morford Brewery, Kensington Brewery, Cumberland & Green Brewery, Grey & Co Bathwick Brewery, Holloway Brewery and Robinson & Morgan’s Brewery merged[12] In this transaction he appears to be the seller of the properties, though whether as an individual or on behalf of the bank is not absolutely clear. As he was referred to as a ledger clerk in an 1890 fraud case for Timsbury Colliery[13] the latter seems more likely.

Tugwell, Brymer, Clutterbuck & Co. became part of Prescott Dimsdale, Cave Tugwell & Co. Limited in 1891 when Dimsdale, Fowler, Barnard & Dimsdales of London, Miles, Cave, Baillie & Co of Bristol and Tugwell, Brymer, Clutterbuck & Co of Bath merged. This bank subsequently acquired George Moger & Sons of Bath in 1891; Harwood & Co of Thornbury in 1891; Deane & Co of Winchester in 1891; Bulpett & Hall of Winchester in 1892; Hilton, Rigden & Rigden of Faversham in 1892; Thomas Butcher & Sons of Tring in 1900; and Sanders, Snow & Co of Exeter in 1902. The bank was renamed Prescott’s Bank Ltd. in 1903. In 1903 the bank amalgamated with Union of London & Smiths Bank Ltd. In 1918 Union of London & Smiths Bank Ltd. amalgamated with National Provincial Bank of England to form National Provincial & Union Bank of England which was shortened to National Provincial Bank Ltd. in 1924. In 1968 National Provincial Bank Ltd. announced its merger with Westminster Bank Ltd., but continued to trade under its own name until 1970 when they became of National Westminster Bank. In March 2000 National Westminster Bank was acquired by The Royal Bank of Scotland Group.[14]

Edward Dolling later became a manager for National Provincial & Union Bank at Combe Down and then Thornbury.[15]

He became a parish councillor for Combe Down in 1894, when he was living at 1 De Montalt Place.[16] He was married twice. First, in 1878, to Caroline Mary Davies (1849 – 1893) and in 1896 to Alice Pryor (1864 – 1953). He and his first wife had one child and he and his second wife had three children.

Alice Gertrude Robinson – 117

Alice Gertrude Robinson (1867 – 1927) had married William Lawrence (1862 – 1908) and they are shown on Combe Down in the 1901 census living at 3b Park Place.

Then they rented 117 from William Steart and he died there on 27 July 1908.[17] His father had been a surgeon and he appeared to live on his own means in all census returns.

Alice’s father James owned and ran the Christopher Hotel.

the christopher hotel 1844
The Christopher Hotel 1844

After he died her sisters Mabel Annie (1868 – 1949) and Helen Beatrice (1871 – 1949) took over the running of the hotel gaining their own sub lease in 1907[18]. They sold on their lease in 1930.[19]

james robinson obituary bath chronicle thursday 29 november 1894
James Robinson obituary, Bath Chronicle, Thursday 29 November 1894

In 1923 she bought 115 and 117 from Harriett Lawley (1844 – 1938) the widow of William Steart for £1,250. When she died in 1927 her sisters were her executors and she left effects worth £9,203 0s 8d.

James Ross – 115

James Ross (1855 – 1933) moved to 115 sometime between 1911 and 1914 and lived there until his death.

He married to Mary Sandford (1853 – 1906) and they had 9 children. In the 1901 and 1911 censuses he and his wife were living at 3a Park Place, as the immediate neighbour of William Lawrence and Alice Gertrude Robinson.

He is listed as living off dividends or independent means and as a public company director in censuses.

He was involved in the formation of the Combe Down Athletic Club,[20] with the Avon Rowing Club,[21] and Vice President of the Frome Division Conservative Association.[22]

John Douglas Ross – 115

John Douglas Ross (1896 – 1983) was the son of James Ross and in 1927 he bought 115 only from the executors of Alice Gertrude Robinson for £700. He did not live at the property.

He joined the navy in 1914 and was made a probationary midshipman on 1 July, becoming a Midshipman on 26 July 1916.

john douglas ross mentioned in despatches bath chronicle saturday 10 june 1916
John Douglas Ross mentioned in despatches, Bath Chronicle, Saturday 10 June 1916

On 22nd March 1917 he became a Sub Lieutenant and on 22 February 1919 a Lieutenant. He was made Lieutenant Commander on 22 February 1927 and placed on the retired list due to age but drafted to serve at the rank of Commander on 26 July 1941. He was released on 1 July 1947 but recalled to service on 31 October 1951 finally retiring on 11 May 1953.[23]

In 1928 he married Lucy Jackson Gawthrop (1903 – 1991), who was from New York City, in Bermuda. They had 3 children.

Ralph Davis – 113

Ralph Davis (1857 – 1929) bought 113 from Edward Dolling in 1923 for £900, ensuring Edward Dolling made a profit of £650 on his option from John Cook within about 8 years.

He was a wine merchant married to Kate Elizabeth (b.1861).

He did not live in the property but rented it to Leonard Haxell.

Rev Leonard and Florence Haxell – 113

leonard haxell new chaplain of frome road house bath chronicle saturday 11 november 1922
Leonard Haxell, new chaplain of Frome Road House, Bath Chronicle, Saturday 11 November 1922

Rev Leonard Nelson Haxell (1858 – 1939) was the son of Edward Nelson Haxell (1823 – 1899) and Arabella Nelson (1828 – 1886) and the grandson of James Haxell (1781 – 1854) and Rebecca Nelson (1792 – 1849).

His grandparents had been involved in coaching.[24] His father was an hotel keeper, landlord of the Royal Exeter Hotel (also known as Haxell’s as the two had been merged). [In the 1920’s, J. Lyons and Co. bought Haxell’s Hotel, in order to expand and improve the Strand hotel, which then became the Strand Palace Hotel]. There was also a Haxell’s hotel in Brighton at 13 and 14, Marine Parade

His father also loved the stage and Haxell’s had been prominent in theatrical circles for many years.[25]

He wrote:

"A scramble through London & Brighton: With anecdotes of the stage, past and present by Edward Nelson Haxell 

Vaudeville Theatre. An impromptu epilogue to the school for scandal! Written by E. Nelson Haxell and presented to Messrs. D. James and T. Thorne on the 404th and last night of its being represented, Friday, October 31st, 1873"

He was also a friend of Sir Henry Irving (1838 – 1905), the prominent Victorian actor-manager who presented him with a compilation in 1898 titled “Olde Worlde Memories” by Haxell:

Records of Haymarket Theatre, Haymarket Theatre (London, England), Edward Nelson Haxell. Consists of a manuscript preface on George Colman the elder and George Colman the younger by Edward Nelson Haxell, followed by 23 nightly accounts for Haymarket Theatre on printed blank forms (1805-1829).

Leonard had attended Merchant Taylor’s school, then in the City of London, between 1869 and 1875.[26]

leonard haxell obituary bath chronicle saturday 12 august 1939
Leonard Haxell obituary, Bath Chronicle, Saturday 12 August 1939

In 1892 he had married Florence Lewis (1865 – 1951).

He had, at some time, joined his father in business but, in 1896, they dissolved their partnership. It may be that his father was passing on the baton, for Leonard continued to live in London until at least 1907.

At some time after this he decided to become a priest and was ordained in Truro on May 30 1920.[27]

By 1911 he had come to Bath and was living at 4 Mount Beacon.

By 1923 he was back in Bath appointed to be chaplain for the Frome Road House and in 1923 leased 113 from Ralph Davis for just over 3 years at £36 p.a.

In 1924 he was initiated as a member of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes.[28] The ROAB was started in the Harp Tavern, opposite the Drury Lane Theatre, by the artist Joseph Lisle and comedian William Sinnett, along with other stage hands and theatre technicians in August 1822. It is known as the Buffs to members. It aids members, their families, dependents of former members and other charitable organisations and is not a Freemasonry organization.[29] One assumes that both the charitable nature of the organization and its theatrical link appealed to him.

In 1932 he resigned his chaplaincy at Frome Road House[30] and went to a living at Henton.

In 1933 he conducted the funeral service of his brother in law Col. Egbert Lewis (1858 – 1933) a J.P., town councillor and Director of Wessex Associated News Ltd. as well as Bath Herald deputy chairman.

After he retired it would appear he suffered a double amputation as mentioned in his obituary.

Henry John Chapman – 113 and 115

Henry John Chapman (1877 – 1950) was a lodging house keeper who had been at 4 Gay Street and then at 15 Circus. He married Eleanor Butlin (1875 – 1937) and they had two sons Allen (1899 – 1957) and Graham (1914 – 2006) but no more has been discovered about them.

He bought 113 from the estate of Ralph Davis for £700 in 1932 and bought 115 from John Douglas Ross for £600 in 1933.

He and his family did not live in either house but rented them.

Henry Graham Montagu – 113

Henry Graham Montagu (1862 – 1942) was the son of Henry Grahame Montagu (1829 – 1916) and Louisa Maria Jenkins (1845 – 1890).

He married Isabella Cousins (1867 – 1949). They had no children.

They moved in to 113 in 1932 and Mrs. Montagu was there until she died in 1949.

Their Golden Wedding Anniversary was reported in the Bath Chronicle for Saturday 2 September 1939.

That article also reported that Henry Graham Montagu had seen the Widcombe Bridge accident of 6 June 1877 was reported internationally.

The bridge from Widcombe to the station was made of wood and The New York Times of 7 June reported it thus:



LONDON, June 6. A dispatch from Bath gives the following particulars of the fall of Widcombe Bridge there to-day, during the celebration of the centenary of the Bath and West of England Agricultural Society: "About 10:30 o'clock this morning, on the arrival of a train-load of excursionists on the Weymouth Branch of the Great Western Railway to attend the agricultural show, between 100 and 200 persons, belonging mostly to the well-to-do farmer class, rushed upon the toll-bridge leading from the railway platform. The bridge was wooden, of light construction, narrow, about 30 feet long, between 30 and 40 feet above the River Avon, resting upon posts morticed into stonework at either end, and without a centre support. The bridge snapped in the centre, and the two ends were wrenched clear from the sides. The whole mass, with the people, was plunged into the middle of the stream, which was about seven feet deep. Boats from the shore were immediately at work rescuing the living and searching for the dead.

BATH, June 6. Evening. It is estimated that about 12 persons were killed and 51 injured, some fatally, by the fall of the Widcombe Bridge.

[The Bath and West of England agricultural annual show is, with the exception of the National, the largest held in England, and the average attendance falls little below 100,000 people. The old suspension bridge across the Avon was, on a previous occasion, when the show was held at Bath, pronounced unsafe. It was then strengthened, but the vast crowds which must have traversed it yesterday on their way to the show-grounds seem to have been too much for it. The bridge was from the first considered a frail one, and more elegant than substantial.]

The coroner’s inquest returned a verdict of manslaughter against the proprietors.[31] The proprietors had to pay £4,000 in compensation to victims as well as their legal costs.[32]

the fall of widcombe bridge at bath after the accident from the graphic
The fall of Widcombe Bridge at Bath after the accident, from The Graphic

Gilbert and Florence Westlake – 117

Gilbert Victor Westlake (1878 -1939) bought 117 from the executors of Alice Gertrude Robinson on 21 June 1927. It is not known how much was paid. He does not seem to have lived at the property but rented it. His home was at 7 Kingsleigh Gardens in Bathford.

He was an accountant, owner and publisher of Target Comics, and a builder with offices in Queen Square. He married Florence Edith Packer (1875 – 1945) in 1909. I have not found any children. Both were from Bath and his father was a stonemason whilst hers was a gardener.

Alfred W. Davis – 117

According to directories Alfred W. Davis was living at 113 from 1937 – 1940, but no more has been discovered about him.

Ivor Fale – 115

The directories say that Ivor Fale (b.1923) was living at 115 in 1938, but he would only have been 15. His uncle Ivan Fale (1904 – 1974) seems to be a more likely prospect as the tenant with his name misspelled in the directory.

Ivor was the son of Claude John Fale (1890 – 1974), who ran a coaching and haulage business on Combe Down for many years.

Claude John and his brothers Wilfrid (1896 – 1980) and Carol (1899 – 1918) all fought in the World War One.

Carol died of his wounds and is buried at Pozieres and commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial, Picardie, France on panel 81 to 84 [33] and on the Combe Down war memorial on Firs Field.

fale brothers bath chronicle saturday 13 july 1918
Fale brothers, Bath Chronicle, Saturday 13 July 1918

Miss M. F. Doman – 115

A Miss M F Doman is recorded to be living at 115 in 1938 and 1939. I have been unable to establish her identity with any certainty.

John and Lucy Cruse – 115

John Stanley Mildenhall Cruse (1910 – 1991) and his wife Lucy Agnes Aileen Condie (1904 – 1989) lived at 115 from 1939 to 1949. She was a teacher at Combe Down School[34] and he was the unfortunate discoverer of his neighbour, Francis William Henry Webb who was living at 117 in 1949, who was to die as shown below.

Francis William Henry Webb – 117

Francis William Henry Webb (1887 – 1949) died in mysterious circumstances as the article from The Bath Chronicle, Saturday 4 June 1949 shows. He was related to royalty. His 23rd great grandfather was King John, King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Duke of Aquitaine.

burned body bath chronicle saturday 4 june 1949
Burned body, Bath Chronicle, Saturday 4 June 1949

Philip Richards – 109

Philip Richards (1908 – 1993) was living at Claremont House in 1938. He married Joyce Dorothy Barter (1916 – 1993) in 1936 and they had 3 children.

He is mentioned as making donations to the Labour party whist drive in 1933[35] and taking part in 1935.[36] In the same year he also helped out at the Church Army Fete.[37]

Hew was also active in the Combe Down Old Scholars Dramatic Society.[38]

Herbert J. Jordan, Frederick Cross, Mrs. Brian, Harry Bland and Christopher Humphries – 109

Herbert J. Jordan, Frederick Cross, Mrs. Brian, Harry Bland and Christopher Humphries are all mentioned as living at Claremont House in 1939 – 1940.

Herbert James Jordan (1912 – 1993) married Queenie Kathleen Lambern (1913 – 1993) in 1937. He seems to have been a keen cyclist but had an accident in 1925 whilst cycling down Midford Hill and had severe head injuries.[39] He was fined 2s 6d in 1935 for riding without a rear light in Bradford on Avon.[40] He was also a member of the Combe Down Old Scholars Dramatic Society.[41]

I have been unable to identify the others with any certainty.

[1] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Thursday 1 May 1902

[2] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Thursday 31 December 1903

[3] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Thursday 14 June 1906

[4] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Thursday 14 April 1881

[5] List of Carthusians, 1800 to 1879 Charterhouse School Farncombe and Company, 1879

[6] The Cambridge University Calendar, University of Cambridge, 1897

[7] Hobart Gazette, Tasmania, Tuesday 26 December 1899 and also see The Wisdom Case, The Mercury, Hobart, Tas. 29 Dec 1900

[8] The London Gazette, May 28, 1909

[9] Western Daily Press, Tuesday 9 September 1930

[10] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Thursday 7 October 1886

[11] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Thursday 31 March 1904, Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Saturday 22 February 1913 & Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Saturday 1 March 1913

[12] Western Daily Press, Monday 24 June 1889

[13] Bristol Mercury, Saturday 15 November 1890

[14] RBS Heritage Hub

[15] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Saturday 7 July 1928

[16] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Wednesday 5 December 1894

[17] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Thursday 6 August 1908

[18] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Saturday 3 January 1931

[19] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Saturday 29 November 1930

[20] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Thursday 22 September 1904

[21] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Saturday 21 December 1912

[22] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Saturday 29 April 1933

[23] Records of the Admiralty, Naval Forces, Royal Marines, Coastguard, and related bodies, 1880 – 1960, ADM 340/119/43,

ADM 196/146/455 and ADM 196/96/115

[24] The diary of a Suffolk farmer’s wife, 1854-69: a woman of her time, Sheila M. Hardy, Elizabeth Cotton (1992)

[25] London of to-day: an illustrated handbook (1774) page 237

[26] Merchant Taylors’ School register, 1561-1934, Volume 1. Printed for the Merchant’s Taylors’ Co. by the Eastern Press, 1936

[27] Cornishman, Wednesday 2 June 1920

[28] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Saturday 18 October 1924

[29] See

[30] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Saturday 12 March 1932

[31] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Thursday 19 July 1877

[32] Pall Mall Gazette, Wednesday 26 March 1879

[33] See and

[34] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Saturday 30 August 1941

[35] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Saturday 23 December 1933

[36] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Saturday 05 January 1935

[37] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Saturday 7 September 1935

[38] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Saturday 5 December 1936 and Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Saturday 06 May 1939

[39] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Saturday 2 May 1925

[40] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Saturday 30 November 1935

[41] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Saturday 9 May 1931

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