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.
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”.
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.
So many of these things are so normal to so many of us these days that we barely even think about them and, 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.
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 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, the transport was provided 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.
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.
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.
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.
"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...."
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.
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.
https://camra.org.uk/campaign_resources/friends-on-tap-a-report-for-camra/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.
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:
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.
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.
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“.
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.
There are general purpose topographic historical maps: