The Building. Number 22 Castle Street in Thornbury is the double fronted house on the right of this photograph. It has a fine floral display on the porch over the door and windows. We have obtained the photograph from Mary Webber and Cynthia Shaw to whom we are very grateful for so much help on this house and the Hall family who lived here in the 1900s.
We have been told by a local history enthusiast that this house is likely to be one of the older properties in the street. According to Linda Hall (the author of “Rural Houses of North Avon and South Gloucestershire, 1400-1720”) the rear wall may be medieval and many of the fittings could date back to around 1600.
Naturally there have been many changes in the property over the years. For example, one of the early owners, John Putley (who died in 1771) had obviously divided the property between two of his three daughters, which may have involved some building work. Moreover the indenture of 1900 clearly says “and since rebuilt” in connection with a later period when part of it was owned by Joseph Longman. Finally when it was bought by George Hall, he took out a loan with the expressed intention of completely modernising the whole property. All this implies that there were a great many alterations, especially in the Victorian and Edwardian era, and presumably many since then, although we have never looked around the building.
Despite this, the house is recognisable as the property described in the indentures of 1900, which describe it in some detail. In these documents it was said to have been divided by a central hallway which ran from the street to the back of the house and the garden. On the south or right hand side was the shop with a buttery adjoining and a chamber over. On the north or left hand side was a messuage with a garden. The present owners had a shop which was used up to the 1980s. It is still recognisably a shop with a rear room. There are said to be buildings at the rear, but we have not seen them.
We are also interested in the idea that the property included a “buttery.” This is of considerable interest as the term “buttery” would also originate from the medieval period. A “buttery” was not concerned with dairy products but with storing butts or barrels and so was associated with beer and wine. It later became a general word for a food store room and in Oxford Colleges it is still where students would buy food and drink. It is noticeable that the term “buttery” and the rear wall are both said to have medieval origins.
WILKINS, PUTLEY and ARTHURS
We have not seen the deeds of this very interesting and old property and are basing much of our information on Land Tax Records, wills and documents that relate to neighbouring properties.
The earliest owner we know much about is Richard Wilkins, a Quaker, who owned a large amount of property in the Castle Street area in the early eighteenth century and may have lived for some years at Wigmore House, 10 Castle Street. The house that is now 22 Castle Street appears to have been part of his property.
Before this period we can only speculate about who owned this property or how big it was originally. The Gloucester Records Office holds an indenture dated 22nd August 1754 between members of the Harwood family and Richard Wilkins junior which appears to give this property as security for a loan. The document is accompanied by an abstract which refers to indentures of 25th March 1712 and 29th and 30th September 1713 between John Mabbott and Richard Wilkins. We believe this could be when Richard Wilkins senior acquired this and the neighbouring properties. Other indentures listed but not detailed suggest that John Mabbott in turn may have acquired the property from Richard Cook in 1688.
Part of this property, including 22 Castle Street, descended from Richard to various members of the Putley family (at which time the building was divided for some time between two members of the family) and then through marriage to the Arthur family.
Richard Wilkins. Richard Wilkins died in 1771 but he made his will as early as 1753. In this will Richard refers to a close of land near to Wigmore House as “adjoining to a house belonging to one John Putley & some time since planted with fruit trees & now called the Orchard.” This seems to indicate that that John Putley had acquired what is now 22 Castle before 1753. We feel it is likely that it was given to Richard’s daughter Hannah and her husband John Putley by Richard Wilkins as part of the settlement for their marriage in 1741. Click here to read more about Richard Wilkins
John Putley and his wife Hannah (nee Wilkins). From the documents that relate to this house we know that the house and a piece of land was owned by John Putley who died in 1771. The records of an assessment for the Relief of the Poor in Thornbury dated 1769 and 1770 seem to indicate that the property owned by John Putley was referred to as “part of Wilkins.”
We know that John Putley was married to the daughter of Richard Wilkins the elder on 21st August 1741 in Bath. We believe that John Putley’s house and some other land came from his father in law.
In Richard’s will, made in 1753, he says
“I give unto my daughter Hannah Putley all that my copyhold close of land commonly called or known by the names of Lanes End Leaze lying and being within the parish and manor of Thornbury aforesaid now in the occupation of (space) Fowler to hold unto my said daughter Hannah for the term of her natural life and from and immediately after her decease I give and devise the same unto Hannah her daughter and the heirs of her body lawfully issuing and for default of such issue I give and devise the said close of land unto the right heirs of my said daughter Hannah forever”
Although the will refers only to a piece of land in connection with Hannah, we believe that it is likely that the house that is now 22 Castle Street was also part of Richard Wilkins’ estate and that it became the property of Richard Wilkins’ daughter Hannah Putley as part of a marriage settlement. We have not seen the deeds or any other clear confirmation of this supposition but we know that Richard Wilkins junior seems to have inherited Wigmore House and most of the surrounding land and after the death of Richard Wilkins the elder, the tax records seem to be in two separate names (one being John Putley) and each says “part Wilkins.”
His memorial inscription shows that John Putley was born in the early 1700s and it is possible that he was the John Putley who was baptised at Stone on December 30th 1705 and who was the son of another John Putley.
We know they had at least three daughters; Elizabeth (1745 to 1800) and Hester (1748 to 1810) and Hannah (baptised 1754? and died 1811).
Scribe’s Alcove website shows the baptisms of children at St Mary’s Church in Thornbury but of the three daughters of John and Hannah Putley it only shows the baptism of “Anna Putley” on 11th October 1754. We believe that Elizabeth may have been baptised as “Betty” on 29th March 1747 at Tortworth. If this is the case, Hester was baptised on the same day, also at Tortworth.
The earliest property record that we have at the present time is 1770. This was a Land Tax record for that year for tax payable by John Putley “for part of Wilkins.” The tax charged was 1/2d. The deeds of the house describe it as the house “wherein John Putley dwelt and then in the occupation of Hester Putley who devised the same to Richard Putley”.
John Putley died 18th of January 1771 aged 64 years and was buried in the churchyard of St Mary’s.
We have land tax records from 1775 to 1784 which show that tax was payable by Hannah Putley. In this instance we believe that “Hannah Putley” was the widow of John Putley. In 1782 the records for Kington also show that Hannah Putley owned a property that was “occupied” by Mr Fewster. This may have just been land rather than a house. Hannah (or Anne as she was called in the memorial inscription) died March 3rd 1794 and was buried in the Quaker Meeting House burial ground in Thornbury. Sadly the meeting house was demolished and the grave yard with it. Many of the graves were moved to the Quaker grave yard in Lower Hazel.
We know that John and Hannah’s property was divided amongst their daughters. In 1800 the land tax records refer to H & E Putley. We believe this was Hester and Elizabeth, a supposition supported by the earlier mentioned deed saying that the house was occupied by Hester Putley. In the same year the Kington records show that Hannah Putley owned a property let to John Fewster. In this instance we believe that Hannah was the daughter Hannah and that the land might be that which was referred to in the will of her grandfather Richard Wilkins as “Lane’s End Leaze”
From later deeds relating to 22 Castle Street we believe that the house was roughly divided in the middle from the central hall. On the right hand or southward part there was “the room or lower room formerly called the shop and the buttery thereto adjoining and the chamber over.” On the north or left hand side was a messuage with a garden.
Hester Putley – Hester was born in 1748, one of the three daughters of John and Hannah Putley. Hester never married, but she did have at least one son, Richard who was born on 30th December 1785 and baptised on 23rd March 1786. The will of James Cullimore a gentleman of Upper Moorton in Thornbury appears to explain Richard’s parentage. His will was proved in London in 1786 and it refers to Hester Putley “who now lives with me” and to “her child Richard Putley (who is my natural or reputed son).”
Although the main part of James Cullimore’s estate went to members of the Cullimore family, Hester Putley was left “the bed on which she usually lyes with the bedstead curtains bed clothes chest and all other the household goods and furniture in the room she sleeps in and also the bed and bedstead bolster and bed clothes thereto belonging in the little room over the passage” as well as a side saddle, and all James Cullimore’s clothing. She was also bequeathed a house in Lower Moorton for her life time. She was also to receive two annuities; one of £16 from the sale of some property and the other of £18 from a property James Cullimore was to inherit in Olveston and Iron Acton. Should Hester die before Richard Putley reached the age of 21 the money was to be paid to him. The will also allowed for £50 to be paid out when Richard Putley reached the age of 14 years so that he could be placed into an apprenticeship. A further five pounds a year was to be paid to Richard during this apprenticeship.
Following the death of her parents it appears that Hester inherited a part of the property in Castle Street Thornbury. The other part was inherited by her sister, Elizabeth (see below).
Hester occupied the part of the property described as “the room or lower room formerly called the shop and the buttery thereto adjoining and the chamber over.”
From 1800 to 1810 the land tax records show one property 1s 6d owned by H Putley and James Arthur and occupied by “selves”. We believe that this confirms that the property known as 22 Castle Street was actually divided between two households. Hester Putley had one and her nephew James Arthur owned the other.
Hester died on 4th June 1810 and was buried on 7th June 1810 aged 63.
The official transcription of Hester Putley’s will proved in 1810 says she left to her natural son ‘Peter Putley’ (we believe that this was in fact Richard Putley and the will was transcribed wrongly) all that my messuage or tenement or part of a messuage or tenement wherein I now dwell with a garden and appurts thereunto belonging situate in Thornbury aforesaid and all other my real estate whatsoever to the said Richard (sic) Putley his heirs and assigns for ever.” Richard Putley was also made her sole executor.
Richard Putley. In accordance with his father’s will, Hester’s son Richard Putley became an apprentice to cordwainers, William Reed (Senior and Junior) in 1800. On 8th May 1806 Richard married Elizabeth Taylor. They had several children: John born on 15th August 1806 and baptised on 10th September 1806, Richard born on 10th October 1808 and baptised on 9th November 1808, Thomas born on 3rd May 1811 and baptised on 19th June 1811, Hester born on 16th June 1812 and baptised on 22nd July 1812 and William baptised on 24th April 1814. The baptism records show Richard was a cordwainer.
Richard was noted as being a land tax assessor in 1810. The land tax records of 1812 and 1814 indicate that Richard was letting the property to Susannah Ward.
Gloucester Record Office has “an indenture of a fine between Joseph Longman (purchaser) and Richard Putley, his wife Elizabeth” and others dated 1814 which seems to indicate that part of 22 Castle Street one third of a messuage, two gardens and 60 acres of land was sold by Richard to Joseph Longman. We have the land tax records for 1819 which show that Joseph Longman owned and occupied a property next to James Arthur (who we believe owned the other part of this property. We believe that this confirms the results of the transaction in 1814, although Richard Putley owned another property in this tax record.
According to the last will and testament of George Rolph dated 1815 shows Richard was living as George’s tenant in 5 St John Street. He was also there in 1818 when Frances Rolph sold the property. The 1819 land tax record shows Richard owning and occupying an unidentified property on the east side of the High Street.
Richard’s wife Elizabeth seems to have died in 1826. On 4th August of that year Richard Putley testified that Betty otherwise Elizabeth Putley late of the parish of Thornbury had lately died intestate and he was the natural and lawful husband.
Joseph and James Longman. Joseph Longman bought part of what is now 22 Castle Street in 1814. He made a will in 1818 in which he left
“the dwellinghouse wherein I now dwell with the garden and all thereto adjoining and belonging in the town of Thornbury … which I bought and purchased of and from Richard Putley to my youngest brother James Longman for and during the time of his natural life and immediately after his decease then I give and devise the same unto Susanna Partridge.”
The land tax record of 1819 confirms that the property next to James Arthur was now owned by Joseph’s brother James Longman.
By 1822 this part of the property was let by James Longman to Peter Alsop. This continued until at least 1825. After this period the land tax records are in alphabetical rather than geographical order and it is not possible at this stage to determine who owned or occupied the property.
James Longman made a will in 1827 in which he left his properties in the High Street to Edwin and Susannah Partridge. These properties later became 50 and 52 High Street. Click here to read more
Elizabeth Putley – Elizabeth was born in 1745, one of the three daughters of John and Hannah Putley. Elizabeth never married, but she did have one daughter, Elizabeth born on 26th April 1775. Following the death of her parents it appears that Elizabeth (senior) inherited a part of this property (with her sister Hester inheriting the other part (see above). In her will dated 30th January 1798 Elizabeth (senior) left her part to her “natural” daughter who married James Arthur on 22nd July 1798 (see below). This part was described as a “house and garden.”
James and Elizabeth Arthur. Elizabeth Arthur was born the “base child” of Elizabeth Putley 26th April 1775. Elizabeth (junior) married a blacksmith called James Arthur on 22nd July 1798.
They had four daughters (Hester who died aged 8 in October 1807, Elizabeth who was born 30th June 1802, Mary who was born 23rd August 1805 and Hester who was born 23rd April 1810) and one son (James Arthur who was baptised 29th June 1814).
In the 1814 land tax record James Arthur owned and occupied a property that appeared to be the house that Elizabeth Putley had owned. Hester’s son Richard Putley owned the neighbouring property which was occupied by Susannah Ward. James Arthur and Richard Putley were each paying 9d in land tax (exactly half of the 1s 6d due when the property was owned by H. Putley and James Arthur together).
In 1834 James and Elizabeth Arthur raised a mortgage from John York for £75 on the whole property, that is both the messuage and garden which Elizabeth Putley had left to her daughter, now Elizabeth Arthur AND the messuage comprising a lower formerly called the shop and the buttery adjoining with the chamber over, late in the occupation of Susannah Ward and which was said to have been rebuilt. This second property was clearly said to be devised in fee (or left) by Hester Putley to Richard Putley who had then conveyed (or sold) them to Joseph Longman, who in turn left them to his brother James.
We believe that the mortgage James and Elizabeth Arthur raised was to help pay for the other half of the property from the heirs of Joseph Longman. However we have no record of the sale of this second part of the property to James and Elizabeth Arthur. The Tithe Apportionment that accompanies the Tithe Map drawn up between 1838 and 1840 seems to indicate that such a transaction had taken place as it shows that the whole property was numbered 273 and that it was owned by Elizabeth Arthur, her husband James Arthur having died on 19th February 1837.
It seems that Elizabeth Arthur lost both her husband and her son, both called James Arthur, in the same year. Her son James died aged 23 on 30th September 1837. We do not know what happened to the other daughters of James and Elizabeth Arthur but we do know that the property appears to have descended to her daughter, Hester.
Hester Arthur and her son James. Hester Arthur was born on 23rd April 1810, the daughter of James and Elizabeth Arthur (see above). Hester who never married had a son James, who was baptised on 11th October 1840.
In 1847 John York who had a mortgage on what is now 22 Castle Street died and the mortgage passed to Joseph Williams of Alveston. Hester appears to have continued to live in the house and it seems that she had inherited it from her parents.
In the 1851 census Hester Arthur was living in the house in Castle Street with her son James Arthur then aged 10 years. Hester was a laundress. In the 1861 census Hester was 48 and still working as a laundress and her son James aged 20 was formerly a student at TC Exeter. We assume this was a teacher training college.
The abstract of title of James Arthur to this property says that on the 24th December 1869 James Arthur paid the mortgage of £75 that was due to Joseph Williams. The 1859 and 1862 rate books show that Hester Arthur was the owner and occupier of what is now 22 Castle Street but from 1867 to 1894 the rate books show that the house was owned by James and Hester Arthur and that Hester Arthur occupied it.
In the 1871 census Hester was living on her own aged 51 and still working as a laundress. However the house was divided again into two households and Stephen Shill Carpenter aged 27 and a cordwainer from North Nibley was living with his wife Ellen Marten Carpenter aged 28 who was a sempstress from Thornbury. We assume these were lodgers who were helping Hester to supplement her income. James Arthur was a certified schoolmaster working in Stratton in Cornwall.
By the 1881 census Hester was living alone and aged 60. Despite her age she continued to work as a laundress. James was still a certified teacher at a National School in Stratton in Cornwall. He had married Jessie McPherson Heard from Bude in the June quarter of 1871. Jessie acted as his assistant in the school. In 1891 James was still a certificated teacher at Stratton aged 50. He was married but Jessie was not in the household at that time. They had two sons George Duncan Macpherson Arthur aged 18 who was a merchant seaman’s apprentice and James Leonard Macpherson Arthur aged 8 who was still at school.
Despite the fact that he had a job and a home in Cornwall, it seems possible that James Arthur still had property in Thornbury over and above 22 Castle Street.
Hester Elizabeth Arthur died and was buried on 2nd February 1895 aged 84. In 1899 the rate book showed that James Arthur owned what is now 22 Castle Street.
Mary Webber, a descendant of George Hall (see below) has a letter from James Arthur sent from Bude in Cornwall to George Hall dated 30th March 1900. In this letter James agreed to sell the house to George for £185.
By 1901 James aged 60 and Jessie aged 53 were alone in the school house in Stratton. In 1905 James Arthur died in Stratton aged 65. Jessie died in 1920 aged 71.
John and Evelyn Ovens. We have been told that John Ovens and his wife lived in this house in the early 1950s. The electoral register of 1950 shows that John Thomas Ovens lived in Castle Street. We believe that they must have rented the house from George Hall’s widow.
We recommend that for full details of John Ovens you contact Thornbury Museum. There is a booklet on sale there for £5 called “Reflections of World War II Experiences; One man’s reflections of life as a prisoner of was of the Japanese, 1942-1945” by John Ovens of Rangeworthy.
The Free BMD website appears to indicate that John Thomas Ovens was born in Thornbury in 1921. We believe he was the son of Gilbert Ovens who married Bessie Simmonds in the Thornbury District in 1920. The family lived in New Road in Rangeworthy near Thornbury.
John began his career in 1938 as a junior clerk in the Health Department of Thornbury Rural District Council. When the War broke out he volunteered to join the RAF aged 18 in 1940. He embarked for the Far East on 8th December 1941. He was taken prisoner by the Japanese in Java in 1942. He was a prisoner of the Japanese throughout the war and returned home in December 1945. Before he enlisted he weighed 13 stone 5lbs. By 1943 he weighed 6 stone 7lbs. He was presented with a certificate of gratitude from the people of Rangeworthy for the sacrifices he endured during the war.
After a long convalescence John returned to work as an administrative officer for Thornbury Rural District Council. Initially he was based in Oriel House at 8 Castle Street, and then later in the Engineer and Surveyors Department when they moved to Stokefield House. In 1949 John married Evelyn June Shipp who was born in 1920. They had four daughters. Pauline Mary Rosalyn Ovens was born in July 1951 and baptised in January 1951 when the family’s address was still Castle Street. Heather Elizabeth was born in Rangeworthy in May 1953 and baptised in 1954 when the family lived at 48 Gloucester Road. Valerie’s birth was registered in the first quarter of 1956 and Caroline June in 1966.
John was a clerk to Thornbury Town Trust for many years. We know they continued to live in Gloucester Road and this is confirmed by the electoral roll of 1970 which showed that John and Evelyn Ovens were living in Gloucester Road. Evelyn died in 1998 and John in 2011.
Albert and Doreen Jenkins. By 1954 this house had become the home of Albert W and Doreen E Jenkins. They appear to have lived there until at least 1961. We know very little about this couple, although there was an Albert W Jenkins born in Thornbury in 1923. We are grateful for the help of Kay Rea, the sister of Ann Riddiford for some more information about this couple. We have been told that Doreen Jenkins was the daughter of Frank and Augusta Smith of 9 St John Street.
Doreen Elizabeth Elsie Smith was born on 21 July 1925 and baptised at St Mary’s Church on 2nd September 1925 at which time the record shows that the family’s address was St Mary Street.
The electoral rolls indicate that Frank Leonard and Augusta Annie Smith (presumably with their daughter Doreen) were living 9 St John Street by 1930.
Doreen became a Post Office worker when she left the Council School and in 1950 she married Albert William Jenkins of the Nook, Rudgeway.They had one daughter called Pamela who attended Thornbury Grammar School. Albert was very musical and as well as being the organist at Thornbury Parish Church, he had a band called the Stardusters. Albert and Doreen moved to Alveston after leaving Castle Street. Albert Jenkins died in 2010 and Doreen in 2011.
Barclay and Ann Riddiford – from about 1964 the house was occupied and then owned by Barclay and Ann Riddiford who ran the well known grocery store in Thornbury High Street.
Barclay was the son of Lionel Riddiford who ran the shop at 51 High Street. Lionel Edmund Riddiford was born about 1898. In 1929 Lionel married Hilda Elizabeth Bartlett. Hilda was born on 28th May 1898. She was the daughter of John Nathaniel Bartlett, a butcher with a shop at 4 The Plain, and his second wife, Elizabeth Celia. Lionel and Hilda had three children: Doreen in 1930, Frances born in 1933 and Barclay Lionel born in 1936.
Lionel and Hilda continued run the shop and to live in the premises above. Lionel died on 6th February 1965 aged 67 and Hilda carried on the responsibility of running the shop. When she died on 25th October 1982 aged 84 the shop was taken over by Barclay.
We were told by Ann’s sister that Barclay Riddiford married Ann Rea in 1961, which is confirmed by the Ancestry website. The marriage was not announced in the Thornburian (Thornbury Grammar School’s magazine) until July 1963. We understand that Barclay Riddiford and his wife Ann moved into 22 Castle Street in 1964 and later purchased the property. Ann was a teacher.
They had two children: John born in 1965 and Jane Elizabeth born in 1967. Both births were registered in Bristol.
Ann helped by her mother (Mrs Marjorie Rea) ran the shop as a card and gift shop from 1968 to 1988. The Thornburian magazine of 1969 described the shop as a gift and antique shop. In more recent years she used it as a teaching room for private tuition.
Ann came from a local family and her interest in the area and its history has led her to produce at least one book; “We Grew Up in Falfield.” She has also helped many people to trace their family history.
While Ann had her own career and interests, Barclay continued in the family business in the High Street. At a time when other family-run grocery shops were being closed as a result of competition from supermarkets, Barclay refused to change the character of his shop. He has built up the business based on personal service, the provision of a vast range of goods displayed in cabinets stretching from floor to ceiling and a home delivery service. This continued even after Barclay’s son, John took over as the front man in the shop, although Barclay was still very much involved, and was still seen restocking the shelves in the late evenings and open for business to the late night revellers coming out of the local pubs.
In June 2012 the property was modernised and it now has solar panels on the roof. On the right we have a photograph of the work in progress.
Barclay Riddiford died on April 13th 2013 and was much mourned not only by his family and close friends but by all of Thornbury.