What you need to know about Prior to Now Trust – Act 1

This note is to let you know what you need to know about some of the changes that are happening at Prior to Now.

Prior to Now has become a charity as a unit of  Combe Down Heritage Societycharity number: 1116550.

ralph allen
Ralph Allen

It is now Prior to Now Trust

I’ll let you know more details about the Trustees etc. in due course. Most will be known to some of you.

All have an abiding interest in Combe Down, its heritage, history and people.

No one wants Prior to Now’s values to change, but some change is inevitable as I won’t be around.

I’ve run it as a hobby (it’s less expensive than golf, football, tennis, shooting etc!) and that, obviously, will change. There are items that Prior to Now can’t run without. Examples are website hosting, subscriptions for research and genealogy etc.

I have promised an endowment – once the wonderful world of banking concede we’re not money launderers or some such.

More about that soon too as well as more about the volunteers we will need.

Meanwhile Prior to Now Trust has affiliated to:

The Society for One Place Studies

Community Archive and Heritage Group

British Association of Local History

That describes the first step into the future and, as I mentioned, I’ll put out more updates as and when the final details fall into place.

I do hope you’ll all continue to support PtN and enjoy the group, website etc to reminisce about Combe Down, Monkton Combe and Midford.

That’s all for now.

Related Images:

The Miner family on Combe Down

Michael Miner has recently given me the story of the Miner family on Combe Down. You can see it here.

michael george gladys ivy arthur james miner with peggy the dog taken outside bramley cottages claverton down
Michael George, Gladys Ivy, Arthur James Miner with Peggy the dog taken outside Bramley Cottages, Claverton Down

The Miner family are a long established Combe Down family and have lived at many addresses, including:

  • 1 Green Cottages, Combe Down
  • 1 Miner’s Cottages, Monkton Combe
  • 2 Quarry Rise, Combe Down
  • 2 Upper House, Combe Down
  • 3 and 4 North Cottages, Combe Down
  • 3 Park Avenue, Monkton Combe
  • 4 Isabella Place, Combe Down
  • 5 Tyning Place, Monkton Combe
  • 8 DeMontalt Place, Combe Down
  • Brunswick Place, Combe Down
  • Byfields Place, Combe Down.
  • Edward Cottage, 5 Tyning, Combe Down
  • Edward Cottage, Belle Vue, Monkton Combe
  • Farrs Lane, Combe Down
  • Pearl Cottage, Monkton Combe
  • Tinsmith Shed, Avenue Road, Monkton Combe
  • Upper House, Laura Place, North Road, Combe Down
  • West Upper House, Monkton Combe

Michael’s research includes information about those members of the family that went to Australia and Canada as well as those that stayed on Combe Down.

He has also included a number of interesting photos.

It’s a good read and I thank Michael for contributing the article.

Related Images:

No longer a secret – more Combe Down cousins

audrey gurney richardson shelford 1886 1979 a daughter of rev alfred richardson 1853 1925 vicar of combe down
Audrey Gurney Richardson (Shelford) (1886 – 1979 a daughter of Rev Alfred Richardson (1853 – 1925), Vicar of Combe Down

Following last month’s movers and shakers post I have discovered more Combe Down cousins that link them to other families who lived in the ‘big houses’.

Those are the AllenAtherton, BennettBryanCruttwellDaubeneyDisneyFalknerForttGabrielGoreHopeHowardMaudeMorleyRichardsonVivian and Wingrove families who are mentioned on this site in numerous places

This post is probably best read with last month’s post open in another tab for easy reference as it’s all pretty complicated!

So, in no particular order let’s take a look at some more Combe Down cousins.

One of the mortgagees for 109 Church Road was Edward Langford (1777 – 1843). His grand daughter Caroline Charlotte Jane Langford (1840 – 1909) married the Ven Albert Basil Orme Wilberforce (1841 – 1916). Their son, Brig Gen Sir Herbert William Wilberforce KBE CB CMG (1866 – 1952) married Eleanor Catherine Micklem (1871 – 1956) and her great aunt Mary Micklem (1786 – 1849) had married Thomas Macaulay Cruttwell (1777 – 1848), whilst their son Thomas Cruttwell (1808 – 1881) had Glenburnie built for him. The Crutwells were linked to Richard Falkner (1796 – 1863), who had been a mortgagee for 115 & 177 Church Road via his brother Francis Henry Falkner (1786 – 1866) who’s son Robert Falkner (1811 – 1851) married  Susanna Eykyn (1811 – 1883) in 1841. Susanna’s brother William Eykyn (1821 – 1884) married Fanny Mary Cruttwell(1839 – 1902) in 1865. It was her second marriage. Fanny was the daughter of Robert Cruttwell (1812 – 1858) whose older brother was Thomas Cruttwell (1808 – 1881) who had had Glenburnie built for him.

charles howard 1853 1928 and helen gertrude bryan 1860 1917 lived at combe lodge
Charles Howard (1853 – 1928) and Helen Gertrude Bryan (1860 – 1917) lived at Combe Lodge

In 1831 Anne Falkner (1813 – 1886), the sister of  Robert Falkner (1811 – 1851), married Charles Thomas Moule (1800 – 1865). His brother was Frederick Moule (1789 – 1843) who married Mary Gore (1795 – 1845). Her brother was Rev John Gurney Gore (1799 – 1871) who married Mary Eliza Hole (1812 – 1891) and their daughter Caroline Letitia Gore (1843 – 1920) was the third wife of Rev Reginald Guy Bryan (1819 – 1912), the Principal at Monkton Combe College.

Rev Alfred Richardson (1853 – 1925), who was vicar of Combe Down from 1902 – 1914, married Emma Leatham (1853 – 1925). Her great aunt Mary Leatham (1738 – 1820) was married to Thomas Howard (1736 – 1834) whose grandson was Rev Thomas Henry Howard (1804 – 1885) and whose great grandson Rev Richard Nelson Howard (1852 – 1932) was vicar of Combe Down from 1892 – 1897. In addition Rev Thomas Henry Howard (1804 – 1885) had another son Rev Charles Howard (1853 – 1928) who was married to Helen Gertrude Bryan (1860 – 1917) who was a daughter of Rev Reginald Guy Bryan (1819 – 1912), the Principal at Monkton Combe School. Charles and Gertrude started Monkton Combe Junior School at Combe Lodge in May 1888.

Rev John Clark Knott (1818 – 1907) lived at Combe Hill House. His brother William Henry Smith Knott (1804 – 1851) was married to Sabina Judith Bernard (1812 – 1861). Her cousin Sabina Pool Atherton (1828 – 1913) married Charles Henry Gabriel (1821 – 1900). Thus the knotts were related to the Atherton / Gabriel family and all the others.

Someone else who lived at Combe Hill House, as well as at Prior Park, was Edward Candler Brown (1732 – 1807).  His mother was Mary Ryves (1703 – 1768) and her great uncle was Rev Jerome Ryves (d 1705) who was married to Ann Maude (b 1679), the sister of Sir Robert Maude (1677 – 1750) 1st Baronet Maude, the father of Cornwallis Maude, 1st Viscount Hawarden. He, of course was the husband of Mary Allen, Lady Maude (1732  – 1775), the daughter of Ralph Allen’s brother Philip Allen (1695 – 1765). It seems likely that this family connection was how Edward Candler Brown came to reside at Prior Park.

combe grove farmhouse about 1905
Combe Grove farmhouse about 1905

James Ledger Hill (1839 – 1912) lived at Combe Grove Farm. His wife wife Mary Tucker (1849 – 1931) was the daughter of William Henry Tucker (1814 – 1877) and his wife Emily Hannah Hendy (1815 – 1885) who lived at West Brow in the 1870s. James Ledger Hill’s daughter, Grace Hill (1881 – 1959) was married to Dermot Gun O’Mahony (1881 – 1960). His grandfather was Robert Gun Cuninghame (1792 – 1877) and one of his sons was Col Robert George Archibald Hamilton Gun Cuninghame (1818 – 1880) who married Isabella Tottenham (1817 – 1880), the daughter of Rt Rev Lord Robert Ponsonby Tottenham (1773 – 1850) and The Hon Alicia Maude (1782 – 1866), a daughter of Cornwallis Maude 1st Viscount Hawarden and his third wife Anne Isabella Monck Viscountess Hawarden (1759 – 1851) after whom Isabella Place is named.

So now to the the Allen, Atherton, Bennett, Bryan, Cruttwell, Daubeney, Disney, Falkner, Fortt, Gabriel, Gore, Hope, Howard, Maude, Morley, Richardson, Vivian and Wingrove families we can add the Candler, Hill, Knott, Langford, Tucker families who have been involved in the development of Combe Down or lived here for a reasonable period and show that all are inter-related.

Even more evidence of property, power, position and patronage being the cornerstone of the class system, at least in the 17th 18th and 19th centuries, because it’s “not what you know, but who you know”.

Related Images:

Amazingly it’s only 3 years?

combe lodge late 1800s names of people unknown 300x223
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.

Related Images:

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.

quarry crane
[media-credit name=”Copyright © Mark Jenkinson” link=”http://www.boxpeopleandplaces.co.uk/underground-quarries.html” nofollow=”true” align=”aligncenter” width=”1000″][/media-credit] Quarry crane

Related Images:

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

william smith 1769 1839 portrait by french painter hugues fourau 1803 1873 painted 1837 242x300
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.

Related Images:

Personal memories of Combe Down

I have long wanted to introduce some personal memories of Combe Down into the site. The article written by Jackie Carr, wife of Dr David Carr about the history of Combe Down surgery was a step in this direction.

j c wilcox combe down baker delivering at southstoke early 1900s 300x185
J C Wilcox, Combe Down baker delivering at Southstoke early 1900s

Serendipity has struck with the memories of Frank Sumsion who was born on Combe Down in 1926, meaning he’s now into his 90s.

He published these on Bathonian’s past and present memories on Facebook – a closed group for Bathonians and their families. I loved them and they had a great response from members. Thinking they deserved a wider audience, I contacted Frank and asked whether I could publish them here. Luckily he said yes, so they have been added.

Frank’s personal memories of Combe Down are about his childhood years in the 1930s. You may be interested to know that in his work life he joined Sparrows International Crane Hire in 1957 and became  Managing Director of Sparrows Heavy Crawler Cranes Ltd. He has a personal website about Sparrows.

Frank’s writing  about his personal memories of Combe Down brings out what life was like nearly 100 years ago, here’s just a taste of what he says:

"My first vivid memory as a four or five-year-old child was moving home with my dad, mum, two brothers and sister into an almost derelict cottage in Byfield Place, off Summer Lane, Combe Down. I clearly remember walking into a very dark room with one gas light in a corner, a stone sink and an iron fireplace with a hob and small oven...."

"My memories of Combe Down are still quite clear in my mind, it was all so different then. As children, we wandered everywhere and people seemed to notice you and talk to you more...."

"Another 50 yards or so brought you to Mrs Colmer’s sweet shop, a favourite of ours. Mrs Colmer ran the shop, and Mr Colmer, the local shoe repairer, worked in the cellar below. We wore boots most of the time, the soles covered in studs to make them last, my dad repaired them...."

"Towards the right-hand side of the Firs Field was a ‘light hole’, approximately 20 feet in diameter, it serviced the underground stone mines, it was surrounded by a dry-stone wall three or four feet high. We were told never to climb over the wall...."

"I vividly remember vast numbers of the once-common lapwing (the peewit). Before the Second World War lapwings would flock at Foxhill. There were no houses only fields, owned by Springfield Farm. Part of my evening paper round involved delivering to an old farmhouse, at the outset of war it was taken over by the Admiralty. During what must have been early summer, I would spend an hour or more sitting perfectly still in the fields, surrounded by hundreds of these birds. Also there always seemed to be a skylark, high in the sky, singing clearly..."

"I previously mentioned our return to Combe Down School. My first teacher was Miss Condy, she taught juniors and came from Claverton. She was kind and caring. I soon moved up the general classes and remember most of the teachers names...."

Please do read Frank’s personal memories of Combe Down, I promise you that it’s well worth it.

Related Images:

Memorable, traditional pubs and inns

A while ago I added a page about the pubs, inns, arms and crowns of Combe Down and Monkton Combe.

In our small area there used to be at least fourteen but now there are five.

When I first came to write this blog I thought it might be more about them, but I became side tracked and interested in why so many may have closed and whether things have changed for ever or whether the pendulum might, one day swing back.

an old english pub 1930s 300x186
An old English pub, 1930s

When I was very much younger, in the 1970s, I had a flat in Brunswick Square in Brighton.

So did my maternal grandfather whom I did not know well as he and my grandmother had divorced before I was born.

However, he was now retired and frequented the Star of Brunswick pub in Brunswick Street West just behind the square. It has long since converted to a private home.

We spent many convivial evenings in the pub over a pint or two while he smoked his pipe. There I got to know him and there were also many regulars, much banter and laughter.

The pub has long been a social venue, a social centre for a local community, a place to meet friends and a place to foster community spirit – pubs are good for social cohesion.

A report by the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford for CAMRA called ‘Friends on Tap‘ suggests that local community pubs have unseen social benefits such as  a venue in which we can serendipitously meet new, in many cases like-minded, people but also  broaden our network of acquaintances and widen our experience by bringing us into contact with people from other walks of life, become more engaged with our local community and that this is likely to have significant health and wellbeing benefits.

Another study by Newcastle Business School, ‘The Importance of Pubs in Shaping Community Cohesion and Social Wellbeing in Rural Areas of England‘, of 2,800 rural parishes across the country over a 10-year period found that those areas which had a pub enjoyed a greater sense of community. There were more likely to be local football or cricket teams, charity fundraising events and branches of the Scouts and Brownies.

It seems that 40% of people in the UK typically socialise with friends in someone’s home and 30% prefer to do so in pubs and feel it important to have a pub nearby, but only 20% say pubs are a regular part of their life. 72% of people go to the pub to eat. 

I believe that great British pub is where the personality of the pub is created by the personality of the landlord, but a recent survey showed that it was second most important to the price and quality of the beer which is clearly dichotomous with the number of people who go there to eat.

  • Price and quality of the beer     33.6%
  • Personality of the landlord        24.6%
  • No music or TV screens          20.6%

But, cheaper alcohol from supermarkets, increases in rents and rates, the rise in duty and VAT, the smoking ban and a rise in the health conscious consumer have affected the British pub.

In 2003, the average adult drank 218 pints of beer but by 2011 they consumed just 152 pints with sales in pubs down 54% whereas sales from off licenses were down only 10%.

Around 40% of pubs are owned by ‘pubcos‘ but 60% are independent. The number of pubs in the UK has almost halved since 1905:

  • 1905     99,000
  • 1935     77,500
  • 1951     73,400
  • 1971     64,000
  • 2006     58,200
  • 2016     52,750

However, The Society of Independent Brewers report ‘British Beer‘ says that 532 million pints were brewed by its 835 members in 2015 which is an increase of 15% over 2013 and 176% over 2009. They say that well over 75% of their members’ beer is served in pubs, restaurants and hotels.

A report commissioned by Greene King in 2008, ‘The enduring appeal of the local‘ from The Social Issues Research Centre also provides more hope that the pendulum may swing back. 

The pub is considered to be neutral territory compared with entertaining at home which makes some people feel pressured whereas the pub allows them to relax and be a less intense way of meeting people.

A pub is a hub for sociability and the bringing together of people from different walks of life in a way that no other social institution or public space can match.

We go to the pub ‘for a drink’, but ‘having a drink’ is a social act surrounded by tacit rules — a hidden etiquettes that gives us a sense of inclusion and belonging that is independent of our status in the mainstream world.

Related Images:

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 300x132
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.

Related Images:

Accessible historical maps treasure trove

I’ve found an historical maps treasure trove. There’s a lovely page at:

A Vision of Britain through Time

History of Combe Down in Bath and North East Somerset.

which tells us that in 1870 – 72, John Marius Wilson’s Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Combe Down like this:

“COMBE-DOWN, a chapelry in Combe-Monckton parish, Somerset; near the Great Western railway and the river Avon, 2 miles S of Bath. It has a post office‡ under Bath. Pop., 940. A hill, giving name to the place, is 550 feet high; commands an extensive prospect; yields Bath stone in large quarries; is pierced and cut with caverns and passages; and bears on its slope a pleasant little town, with villas, an inn, and the church. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Bath and Wells. Value, not reported.* Patron, the Vicar of South Stoke.

Historical maps

There’s also a link to historical maps that you can see, often, as a seamless map overlaying the modern equivalent and/or download the original free.

historical map of combe down
Historical map of Combe Down

There are general purpose topographic historical maps:

as well as boundary historical maps showing administrative boundaries, for counties, districts, parishes etc.:

as well as land use historical maps recording what each plot of land was being used for on the day it was surveyed, in the 1930s:

historical land utilization map
Historical land utilization map

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