Amazingly it’s only 3 years?

Combe Lodge late 1800s, names of people unknown
Combe Lodge late 1800s, names of people unknown

I suddenly realised that it’s 3 years since Prior to Now launched as a website, building on the book.

It happens that in May 2015 I wrote 3 blog articles: Bathampton Manor on May 3rd, Prior Park sale on May 5th and Particulars of Prior Park sale in 1808 on May 8th.

A year later in May 2016 I wrote 2 blog articles: More family trees for Owners & Occupants 1850 to 1900 on May 19th and Original listing letter 1976 on May 21st.

By last year, in May 2017, it was just the one: Personal memories of Combe Down on May 21st.

Quite what all this proves, other than that my blogging frequency has declined, I don’t really know. Having said that it’s interesting to me to see the range of subjects that have been covered.

Also, there are many things that are within the site that have not been covered by the blog.

I find the money troubles that  Cornwallis Maude, 1st Viscount Hawarden seems to have inflicted on himself quite fascinating. I’m not particularly risk averse but the way some of the aristocracy behaved back in the 18th century really does boggle my mind – though, I suppose it shouldn’t given all the financial shenanigans we see today! Even so having mortgages of £18,008 18s 0d in 1799 on land that was doubly mortgaged to different lenders, seemingly without their knowledge and not having the wherewithal to pay the interest does seem slightly risky. 

Looking at the site by date ranges also gives some insights. The Victorian period from 1850 – 1900 saw an ‘explosion of activity’ on Combe Down, with things that were innovative in their time, such as allotments, public lighting, safer water, public transport such as the omnibus and railways, improving healthcare with the Combe Down Convalescent Home, Bath Statutory Hospital and Magdalen Hospital School.

So many of these things are so normal to so many of us these days that we barely even think about them. Sadly, when we do, it’s too often to criticize the ‘patriarchal attitudes’, or similar, of the people who pushed them and who were, in their day seen as progressive. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

A little bit about Bathampton manor

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.

Thomas Robins view of Bathampton, showing the manor centre right, with a prominent cupola and projecting bay windows.  Image Victoria & Albert Museum.
Thomas Robins view of Bathampton, showing the manor centre right, with a prominent cupola and projecting bay windows. Image Victoria & Albert Museum.
Bathampton Manor
Bathampton Manor
Bathampton Manor plan, 1794
Bathampton Manor plan, 1794