Clematis Cottage in Castle Street Thornbury is now a grade two listed building that appears on the National Heritage website “Images of England.” This website indicates that the house was once half of a very old house that shows signs of having been modernised in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and extended in the eighteenth century.
The earliest records that relate to Clematis Cottage describe it as the ‘Green House.’ The house next door (now known as The Priory or Priory Cottage) was once all part of the same house. We have been told by the present owners of Clematis Cottage that in 1983 the two houses were surveyed in detail by Linda Hall for her book “The Rural Houses of North Avon and South Gloucestershire” and that her conclusion was the two houses had once formed one building and was probably fifteenth century in origin but possibly earlier.
We are greatly indebted to the present owners Ann and Geoffrey Hinchliffe for letting us see the deeds, which include a Conveyance of April 4th 1923 that describes the property as
“All that messuage or tenement with the appurtenances (except as hereinafter mentioned) called the Greenhouse situate lying and being in the Borough and Parish of Thornbury aforesaid in the said County of Gloucester wherein one Ann Thurston widow formerly dwelt afterwards in the possession of Jane Bridges since of John Crowther afterwards of Christopher Young since of Richard Gwynn and afterwards of James Ford as tenant thereof together with the garden and yard thereto adjoining.”
The reference to the Greenhouse in this conveyance has enabled us to confirm some of the property’s earlier history. Click here to read about the Green House. From this and other sources we have summarised below the people with connections with Clematis Cottage. Please click on the hyperlinks, when available, to find more information about specific people.
John Jones. The very earliest records are not detailed and we must rely heavily on the use of the term Green House. This obviously presents its own problems. We do not know whether there was more than one ‘Green House’ nor can we be sure whether a person described as “of Green House” is the owner or the occupier. We are aware of numerous mentions of “John Jones of Green House.” For example John Jones of Green House appears in the Rent Roll for the Borough of Thornbury as early as 1602. In 1604 an indenture of June 1st between John Hylpe the elder, John Hylpe of Little Bartholomews of London and others grants a yearly rent charge out of various properties including a house in the High Street in the tenure of John Jones of Green House who has to pay 4/4. Later in 1615 the Borough of Thornbury’s Court dealt with a dispute about the ownership of trees in the area. In this case William Ogborne was to have the elm and John Jones of “Greenehouse” was to have the ash. We still have no information that confirms John Jones was an owner (although this seems very likely) nor can we be certain that this is definitely the same Green House. Click here to read about John Jones.
We have no explanation of why this house was called Green House. Various theories have mentioned the production of glass or pottery as a Green House is often where a material is left to dry out. It is interesting that Green House should be associated by someone connected with timber as in the earlier dispute about trees, perhaps this was a place to dry timber for construction and that gave rise to the origin of this intriguing name. It seems unlikely that this was simply the colour of the house or the name of a previous owner – other properties associated with a person or family were called Jones’s or White’s etc with an apostrophe.
Edward and Ann Thurston. We are able to link Edward Thurston with this particular house with some certainty. The previously mentioned conveyance of 1923 described it as that “wherein one Ann Thurston widow formerly dwelt afterwards in the possession of Jane Bridges.” Ann Thurston was the widow of Edward Thurston and their daughter Jane married Humphrey Bridges. Furthermore the notes of William A Caffall, an historian who wrote “Thornbury a Study in Gloucestershire History,” contain the fragment of a letter which appears to confirm that Edward and Ann Thurston owned the Green House. The entry says “In the year 1628 Nicholas Parnell son of Hugh Parnell sold the Green House and Closes to Edward Thurston.”
Of the previous owners Nicholas, and presumably, Hugh Parnell we know very little. The name of Hugh Parnell appears in several generations of Thornbury history. However it would seem that the record of the Borough of Thornbury Court Leet of 15th October 1618 offers a clue as it notes that “Nicholas Parnell gentleman, son and heir of Hugh Parnell who lately died seised of 7 burgages and ¾ of a burgage within the Borough held of the Lord …gives for a relief 15s 6d and makes fealty.”
It seems likely that Edward Thurston was mayor of Thornbury, perhaps as often as four times (1629/30, 1639/40 1646/47 and 1652/53). It also appears that he was married more than once. His first wife was Judith Gwatkins whom he married on 29th July 1619, according to an entry on the IGI. Judith was the daughter of William Gwatkins. Edward Thurston was the executor of the will of William Gwatkins, in which he refers to his daughter “Judith Thurston.”
Edward Thurston made a will in 1652 proved also in 1652. This will refers to “my now wife Ann”. Unfortunately we have no information about Ann at this time.
The will also makes clear that he had at least two sons; Edward Thurston and Thomas Thurston. We also know that he had a daughter Jane who married Humphrey Bridges, another called Ann and a third daughter called Alice who appears to be younger as the will leaves her money to be given to her “at her age of seventeen years or day or marriage which shall first happen.”
It is not clear from Edward’s will what his occupation was. It merely describes him as a gentleman but there is obviously a connection with a trade as he makes a memorandum in his will that specifically leaves Edward £50 “to bind him apprentice.”
Documents held at Christ Church College show that Edward held the lease of the Parsonage (now Glebe Cottage) and of the land and tithes associated with it. These documents show that there were problems with the rents due on the Parsonage during the tenure of Edward Thurston. A letter dated 30th June 1651 shows that “by virtue of a Commission granted to him by the trustees of Parliament for the maintenance of of ministers for receiving rents and other duties” John Cox was authorised to collect from the farmer of the Rectory of Thornbury the sum of 53s 4d in respect of the arrears for 1646-1650 and that due for 1651. On 5th November 1651 John Cox wrote to Edward Thurston a letter which sounded vaguely threatening, saying that “my friend will have to visit Thornbury himself if the money is not paid at once.” Cox asks for £15 to be sent to the White Hart at Tetbury. Edward Thurston’s response was that he had been told that rent heretofore had been paid to the late Kings of England and was now being paid to the Parliament. Thurston said that he had been a tenant for 20 years and did not know of any rent due. He now finds that his barns have been seized and his doors locked against him until he pays this money.
We do not at present know how this issue was resolved.
Edward’s will makes no specific mention of the Green House. It leaves to his son Edward all his messuages, lands and houses that he bought from James Eddis and from Robert (the surname is hard to decipher and could be Neat or Neel). Thomas Thurston was to inherit the residue of the estate.
The Rent Roll of 1670 Rent shows that both Edward and Ann Thurston owned property. We assume that this means the widowed Ann Thurston and her son Edward. We have not yet found a tax record that shows the other son, Thomas, owning property in Thornbury. However there was a Thomas Thurston living in Thornbury at this time. This person was a baker in the High Street (later number 7 High Street) and from the documents available it seems that he was the son of Edward Thurston, a baker. The similarity in both names suggests a family connection, although we have not been able to trace this so far.
Humphrey and Jane Bridges. Humphrey Bridges of Woodchester was born on 1st July 1620. He married Jane Thurston, the daughter of Edward and Ann Thurston. Jane and Humphrey Bridges had two sons and four daughters. Of these, Robert was born about 1652 and Edward was born about 1658. We know that the four daughters were called Elizabeth, Judith, Jane and Ann.
We do not know how Jane Bridges came to own the Green House but the document of 1923 referred to above states that Jane Bridges owned the property after her father Edward Thurston. As it was not specifically mentioned in her father’s will we can only assume that the property came to her from another transaction such an agreement at the time of her wedding or it was inherited from her mother. Under the terms of the will of her father Edward Thurston, Jane was left property such as a featherbed and two of her children Robert and Elizabeth were left sums of money.
Although the family owned property in Thornbury and leased the Rectory (and so were entitled to collect the tithes due to the Rectory) we do not believe that they necessarily ever lived in Thornbury. A letter dated 1651 for example was addressed to Edward Thurston and was to be delivered to Humphrey Bridges house at Woodchester. Humphrey Bridges died in 1658/9. He made his wife Jane the executrix of his will and left her the rest of his household goods not mentioned in the will “during her widowhood” and a quarter of the “yield rents and profits of the tithes lying within the parish of Thornbury that he had lately bought from his brother Thomas Thurston.” We believe that this was the Parsonage.
The Rent Roll of 1670 shows that Jane Bridges was paying tax of 1s 6d for a property described as “Rich Waters Close 1 1/2 burgages.” Usually it is not possible to identify where the property is in such early documents but this entry is the first in a section of the tax form headed “beginning at the lower end of the High Streete and soe upwards on the East side thereof.” This places the property at more or less the right end of what is now Castle Street but on the opposite side of the road from where The Green House would be and it is mentioned before The Chantry and so one would expect it to be very close to St Mary’s Church. We also know from papers held by Christ Church College that Mr and Mrs Bridges are referred to as lessees of the Rectory in 1685. The close of land for which Jane Bridges was due to pay tax in 1670 was presumably then also connected with the Parsonage.
It seems that non payment was not the only problem. A letter dated 22nd March 1685/6 from the vicar Guy Lawrence (vicar of Thornbury 1657 to 1701) to the Bishop of Oxford describes the whole situation of the Rectory in Thornbury in very depressing terms.
It says that
“I suppose your Lordship is not ignorant that the present lessee Mrs Bridges is not in the state that she was heretofore; and it is visible that the house and buildings belonging to the Parsonage of Thornbury are in a far worse condition than ever they were; the outhouse & one barn are quite fallen down, the other barn is in a ruinous condition, the dwelling house is partly dilapidated & what remains is exposed to the rapine of the unruly beggars who as they make it a place of lodging soe they burn & destroy the boards.”
Of their children
- Robert Bridges. Under the terms of his father’s will Robert was left houses, lands and premises in Woodchester and Kingstanley. The Visitation of Gloucestershire in 1682 shows that Robert Bridges the eldest son was of Woodchester and aged about 30. We believe that Robert died in 1721/22 in Woodchester.
- Edward Bridges. Under the terms of his father’s will Edward was left a messuage lands and premises in Hope near Thornbury. According to the Visitation the second son, was single and aged 24.
- Elizabeth Bridges married Stephen Browning of Cole in Gloucestershire. Under the terms of her father’s will she was left £500 to be paid to her when she was 21 provided that she married in accordance with her mother’s wishes or the wishes of three of the overseers of his will. If she did not marry according to their wishes she was to receive £300. She was also left her father’s best bed and furniture.
- Judith Bridges married Thomas Webb of Kingswood then in Wiltshire. Under the terms of her father’s will Judith was left £400 which was to be paid to her at the age of 21 unless she married against the wishes of her mother and/or the overseers in which case she was to receive £200. Judith was also to receive her father’s second best bed and furniture.
- Jane Bridges was also to receive a legacy from her father provided she marry according to the wishes of her mother and/or the overseers of his will. In her case she was to receive £400 from the rents left to her brother Robert or £200 if she marries against the wishes of her mother and/or the overseers of his will. Jane was also to receive her father’s third best bed and furniture.
- Ann Bridges was to receive legacy of £400 from her father’s will on the same terms as Jane. Ann was also to receive her father’s fourth best bed and furniture.
Thomas Thurston. The earlier mentioned notes of William Caffall concerning the purchase of the Green House by Edward Thurston go on to say that in 1687 Mr Attwells purchased the above of the trustees for the benefit of the creditors of Thomas Thurston. From this we can only suppose that “the rest and residue” of the estate that was left to Thomas Thurston by his father may have included the Green House. The deeds of the house refer to the fact that the house was in the possession of Jane Bridges.
Richard Attwells. We believe that in this instance the “Mr Attwells” who bought the property in 1687 is the Richard Attwells who married Jane Ridley. We know from the Tithe Terrier of 1696 that Richard Attwells owned the Green House Closes but the Terrier makes no specific mention of the Green House itself. However, the mention of the purchase of 1687 and our knowledge of the subsequent owners makes it very likely that Richard did own the Green House. Richard Attwells died in 1728. His property then passed to his son John Attwells who himself died in 1729 aged only 40. He was unmarried and with no surviving siblings. In his will of 1729 he left his property in Thornbury to the Crowther family. Thus the property in Thornbury owned by John Attwells was left in the first instance to Samuel Crowther the eldest son of John and Ann’s son John and his wife Elizabeth. Samuel died in infancy and in accordance with John Attwells’ will the property passed to Richard Crowther, the next son. After Richard’s death his brother Nathaniel became the heir. After Nathaniel’s death without issue the property eventually passed to John Crowther, the youngest brother.
John Crowther was born in 1734. He and his wife Mary (nee Mary Hewitt) had no children so that on his death in 1809 the heirs to this property were the sons of Betty Smith, the daughter of his sister Ann who had married Thomas Tombes.
Betty and Benjamin Smith. Betty Tombes, one of John Crowther’s two nieces, married Benjamin Smith. John Crowther did not have any children and so his property was divided between his sister’s daughters, Ann Gwynn and Betty Smith.
The sister of John Crowther, Betty Crowther had married Thomas Tombs in 1741. Their daughter Betty Tombs married Benjamin Smith. They appear to have had at least five sons; Benjamin junior, Thomas, James, Alexander, and John.
Property in Thornbury and Yate was left to Betty and Benjamin Smith only for their life time.
Under the terms of the will, two of the brothers Thomas and Benjamin Smith were then given property in Yate. All four of the brothers who were left some property were each to give 5/- a week to the fifth brother John Smith as long as he lives single and unmarried. We can only assume that this was because John Smith was known to be in poor health. Their brother John died June 16th 1808 aged 30 and was buried in Almondsbury church yard.
The property in Thornbury was to go to Alexander and James Smith. We believe that this property appears in the Land Tax records of 1812 as having a Land Tax of £1 2s. It was owned by Benjamin Smith and occupied by William Knapp. There was a blacksmith called William Knapp who gave up the tenancy of his property in 1810 and who may have been the tenant of Benjamin Smith in 1812.
By 1814 the Land Tax Records show that Benjamin Smith was the owner of two properties at 7s 6d and 6s. These were occupied by Christopher Young and Henry Baker respectively. We believe that this may indicate that the property had now been divided into two properties the Green House (later Clematis Cottage) and what later became The Priory. We know that the deeds of Clematis Cottage indicate that Christopher Young occupied Clematis Cottage. It seems likely that Henry Baker occupied The Priory.
Benjamin Smith died 1st January 1816 aged 72.
His son James Smith and James’s wife Mary had at least three children. Of these a daughter Rachel died aged one month on January 1st 1816 and a son, John, who died April 9th 1819 aged three months.
In a mortgage of 13th February 1817 Betty Smith, James Smith, Mary Smith (James’s wife) and Alexander Smith entered into a mortgage for £350 from Mary Bennett.
The mortgage refers to two properties; the Green House associated with Ann Thurston, Jane Bridges, John Crowther, Christopher Young and Susannah Martin and another property once in the possession of Henry Baker and now of Thomas Smith. There is an inconsistency in this that in this document Henry Baker was said to have been in possession of the house for “many years past.”
We cannot explain this at this time, although Henry Baker could have been the occupant of the whole property before it was divided into two parts. However the Land Tax record of 1819 does show that “Susan” Martin inhabits a house owned by Alexander Smith which has a Land Tax value of 7s 6d (Clematis Cottage) and Thomas Smith inhabits another house which is owned by James Smith at a Land Tax value of 6s and this appears to be consistent with the theory that Thomas Smith lived in The Priory.
Betty Smith died on 5th April 1819 aged 74.
James and Alexander Smith. After the death of Betty Smith, her two sons, James Smith and Alexander Smith inherited the properties. In an indenture of 13th November 1819 James Smith and Alexander Smith, carpenters of Almondsbury, entered into a mortgage with Mary Bennett for a further £150.
The land tax records for 1821 show that a property rated at 7s 6d and owned by Alexander Smith was occupied by Thomas Gwynn. We have assumed that this 7s 6d property is the Green House (Clematis Cottage) which was later bought by Thomas Gwynn.
By an indenture made the 5th day of April 1822 Adrian Stokes of Kington in the parish of Thornbury bought from James Smith of Almondsbury in the County of Gloucester carpenter ;
“All That messuage or tenement with the carpenter’s shop yard and garden and outbuildings thereto adjoining and belonging now in the occupation of Thomas Smith as tenant thereof. And also all that stable adjoining thereto in the occupation of Charles Jones.” This was the property now known as The Priory.
In Indentures of 4 Feb 1828 and 14th and 15th May 1830 Alexander and James Smith sold to Thomas Gwynn for £840 —
“All that messuage or tenement called Green House (where Ann Thurston lived, afterwards in the possession of Jane Bridges since John Crowther, afterwards Christopher Young since Richard Gwynn and late of James Ford as tenant) with the garden, orchard thereto adjoining 3 roods and 15 perches. Also all that close of meadow known as Lower Orchard (1 acre 2 roods 21 perches) behind and adjoining said garden orchard.”
This property was Clematis Cottage. This means that in 1830 properties now known as Porch House and Clematis Cottage were all owned by one family again, now the Gwynn family.
This indenture of 1830 also refers to a messuage erected and built by James and Alexander Smith on property once in the occupation of James Bevan and now occupied by James Morgan. This is an indication of the fact that James and Alexander Smith built what is now 13 Castle Street.
The indenture of 15th May 1830 quoted above makes it clear that money raised from Mary Bennett by way of a mortgage on the property had not all been paid off. James and Alexander Smith had agreed to partition or divide their joint inheritance. Alexander Smith effectively sold his share (including Clematis Cottage and 13 Castle Street) to Thomas Gwynne and whereas James Gwynn had sold his share ( The Priory) to Adrian Stokes.
Mary the daughter of James and Mary Smith died July 2nd 1835 aged 21 years. Alexander Smith of this parish died in December 1850 aged 69 years. James Smith died at Wickwar on March 31st 1858 aged 72.
Christopher Young. At this stage we know nothing more about Christopher Young other than the fact that he is referred to in the deeds of the property and that he appears in the land tax records for 1814 as a tenant of Benjamin Smith.
Susannah Martin. Before her death in a mortgage of 13th February 1817 Betty Smith and her sons Alexander and James Smith to whom the property was then left entered into a series of mortgages with Mary Bennett. At this time the property was said to be “wherein one Ann Thurston widow formerly dwelt, afterwards in the possession of Jane Bridges, since of the said John Crowther, then of Christopher Young and now of Susannah Martin.” Click here to read more
Edward Higgs. We cannot at this stage explain why it was occupied then by Thomas Higgs according to land tax records of 1824 and 1825.
However on 13th October 1825 it was reported in the London Gazette that Edward Higgs of Thornbury a wine and spirits dealer was declared bankrupt. In November of the same year debtors of Edward Higgs were invited to a meeting at the Exchange Buildings in Bristol to agree to the sale of furniture, stock in trade and other effects to be used to to raise funds to help pay off these debts.
Thomas Gwynn. It is difficult to make the information from the 1820 indenture fit the land tax records. In the 1830 land tax records Alexander Smith owned this property but it was let to Richard Gwynn. It would seem that by 1830 Richard Gwynn should have been replaced as tenant by James Ford. The land tax records of 1828 show that James Ford rented Clematis Cottage.
Thomas Gwynn was the son of Richard and Ann Gwynn. This family lived at the nearby Porch House for many years and is described on The Porch House pages in more detail. Thomas Gwynn bought this property in 1830.
William Powell. The deeds held by the present owners confirm that Clematis Cottage was numbered 30 on the Tithe Apportionment map which was drawn up between 1837 and 1840. These show that the property was a house and garden with an adjoining paddock, all owned by Thomas Gwynne and occupied by William Powell. The 1841 census shows that William Powell who occupied the house at that time was then about 50 years old and that he was married to Ann who was 53. We believe that Ann was Ann Thurston and that they were married in Thornbury on 29th March 1812. William was born on 23rd May 1789 and was the son of John and Betty Powell. William Powell died in 1866 aged 67. Read more about William Powell
Charles Morgan. An Indenture dated 30th March 1860 is held in the deeds of Stokefield House by South Gloucestershire Council. It shows that Thomas Gwynn Gentleman of Thornbury leased to Charles Morgan omnibus proprietor:- ‘The messuage or tenement with the outbuildings, yard, garden, orchard, and close of land situate in Castle Street‘. Reserved out of this was the well of water situate between the premises and the adjoining premises in the occupation of William Liddiatt, leased for seven years at a rent of £32 per annum to be paid quarterly on the 24th June. The rate book of 1867 confirms that Charles Morgan was now living in Clematis Cottage with William Liddiatt occupying what is now 13 Castle Street. Charles Morgan died in 1878. Read about Charles Morgan
Henry Craven St John. Indentures held by South Gloucestershire Council and dated 29th January and 26th March 1869 show that Thomas Gwynn sold to commander Henry Craven St John:- “Freehold dwelling, outbuildings, yard, orchard and close of land in the late occupation of William Powell and now in the occupation of Charles Morgan (Whose lease expires on the 25th March 1871) for £1,101 and five shillings.” Read about Henry Craven St John
John James. The rate book of 1878 shows us that the veterinary surgeon John James became the tenant at Clematis Cottage. John and Elizabeth James later moved to what is now the Lion House in Castle Street.
The house appears to have been left empty for some time as the 1885 rate book shows the property to be “void” but owned by Henry Craven St John. The 1890 rate book shows Henry Craven St John was the owner of the house but that it was now occupied by John Hodges. Read about John James
John Hodges. The deeds held by the present owners of Clematis Cottage show that around 31st October 1891 John Hodges borrowed £500 from Amelia Harcombe and that he used this money to buy Clematis Cottage and another property which is now known as 13 Castle Street. The Hodges family was a well known family in Thornbury and John’s grandfather, also called John Hodges, and his father George Hodges built and owned many properties in Thornbury. Although John Hodges died in 1892 Clematis Cottage was the home of his wife Elizabeth and son Jack Hodges for many years.
Rachel Mary Lloyd. John Hodges died on 11th February 1961 and the house was bought on 22nd November 1961 by Rachel Mary Lloyd from his executor, National Provincial Bank, for £2,100.00. Rachel had lived in the house for some time before she bought it. We cannot be exactly sure when she moved in but her name appears in the electoral register for 1938 with the address of Clematis Cottage, Castle Street. Her name appears in earlier registers with Castle Street as the address but it seems likely that she was living in the family home at Fairfield House. It is our interpretation that Miss Lloyd moved into the house when the house became vacant after the death of Elizabeth Hodges in 1937. The register that was compiled in 1939 in the advent of war shows that Rachel lived with Jessie Davis who was born 28th February 1908. We assume that Jessie was a housekeeper for Miss Lloyd.
Rachel Mary Lloyd was born on 27th March 1894 and baptised on 6th May 1894 in Thornbury. She was the daughter of a solicitor Henry Hume Lloyd and his wife Alice nee Alice Commeline (sister of Grace and Edith Commeline who also lived in Castle Street). She was brought up in Fairfield House. In the 1901 Census Rachel was aged 9 like her sister Geraldine. Rachel had two other sisters at home: Dorothy then aged 23 and Alice aged 11. Their father Henry was comparatively old at 67 and was still working as a solicitor. His wife Alice was 44 at this time.
It appears that for part of this time, possibly from before 1946 to 1950 Alice Magdalene Hodgson, Rachel’s widowed sister, lived in Clematis Cottage with Rachel. However we know that by 1950 she had move into Bank Cottage (20 Castle Street).
It appears that Rachel Lloyd lived the rest of her life in Castle Street as her name continued to appear in Electoral Registers up to the time of her death with the address of either Clematis Cottage or 15 Castle Street. We have also been told that she had a companion and the name Mabel Williams appeared from the Electoral Register of 1946 C/O Clematis Cottage. Doris Williams also appears to have lived there from about 1950. We have been told that Doris Williams was the housekeeper.
Rachel Lloyd died on 13th August 1973, having appointed Hugh Edward Griffith Wells and Stephen Francis Hodsman as her executors. Her will was proved by them at Oxford on 11th October 1973.
Geoffrey Hinchliffe and Ann Hinchliffe. On 8th April 1974 Clematis Cottage was conveyed by the representatives of Rachel Lloyd to Geoffrey Hinchliffe and Ann Hinchliffe.