We are indebted to the research of Alison Bagnall and Linda Hall for the information that the building known as Porch House in Castle Street, Thornbury was a medieval open hall built in the 1400s. English Heritage have confirmed that that building has Fifteenth Century origins.
We have used the photograph from the website of Porch House to illustrate the shape of the house. We recommend that you visit the Images of England website for a detailed description of the building itself which is very old and well preserved and is one of the most interesting buildings in Thornbury. It is now partly the Church Hall of the Christ the King Roman Catholic Church in Thornbury, which is the modern church building adjoining one wing of the house.
Porch House faces Castle Street and the oldest part of the building, including the porch which gives the house its name, follows the line of the street.
The two wings at either end of the house can also be seen in the Tithe Apportionment Map which was drawn up between 1838 and 1840. Please click on the thumbnail image of the Tithe Map on the left to see the details.
The history of who owned and who actually occupied the house in its earliest days is partly a matter of conjecture as those records are still not fully researched.
However the researcher Alison Bagnall believes that the house could have been the property of the Berkeley family and may later have been occupied by the Hilpes. We have not been able to confirm this, but there is evidence that the Hilpes owned land called the Latteridge (a large area of land that included modern day Latteridge Lane and the land to the left of it, including Coppins Well) and the Green House Closes which probably included the property that is now Porch House. John Hilpe also appears to be associated with the Green House itself. Click here to read about the early history of this land.
By 1800 it was occupied and from 1808 owned by the Gwynn family.
From about 1871 to about 1875 it was the home of Arabella Thurston the widow of Henry Neville Thurston.
On 12th June 1880 it was conveyed to Admiral Henry Craven St John who also acquired Latteridge at the same time, thus showing that Latteridge was associated with Porch House continuously from the time of the Attwells family.
From 1879 to 1885 it was the home of John and Charlotte Buckley
From 1889 to 1961 it was the home of Thomas Cox Smith and his family. Thomas Cox Smith eventually bought the house from Admiral St John.
We know that at times the property appeared to have two separate households and this seems to be the case in the 1840 Tithe Map. An abstract of title of John Crowther Gwynn dated 1879 regarding Porch House refers to “a cottage thereto adjoining in the occupation of William Smith.” In 1913 when Thomas Cox Smith raised a mortgage from Thomas Smith of Brimsham Farm there was a reference to the house on plot 35 which was called “the site of house now taken down and garden.” Although this extra property must have existed at the time of the Tithe Map of 1840 the outline of the property on the Tithe Map seems very like that of the modern day building. We are unable to say with any certainty if the building that was “taken down” was actually demolished or merely incorporated into the main building.