4 chapel stSince 1986 the former house and shop at 4 Chapel Street in Thornbury has been the home of the Thornbury and District Museum.  The museum is a small one and entirely run by volunteers.  It has a permanent display about the finding in Thornbury in 2004 of the pot containing the hoard of Roman coins.  The other exhibitions largely reflect the life and occupations of the people of Thornbury.

The photograph shown here on the left is 4 Chapel Street after it became the home of Thornbury and District Museum but before the new porch extension that was added in recent years. A more recent photograph is shown at the bottom of the page.

We have been able to trace the history of number 4 Chapel Street largely due to the fact that for many years it was owned by the Feoffees (or Trustees) of the Grammar School and their records tell us the tenants of the property.

Thornbury has a number of ancient charitable trusts which were administered by the Corporation of Thornbury and which were eventually incorporated into a charitable trust, Thornbury Town Trust.  This is now a Registered Charity with seven trustees, three nominated by the Council.  The charity helps organisations, groups and individuals in Thornbury.  One of the original charities helped set up the Free School in Thornbury that eventually became Thornbury Grammar School.  The Feoffees or Trustees collected rents from a number of properties bequeathed by benefactors for this purpose. Click here to read more about these charities

The earliest document relating to this property that we have found so far is an indenture dated 16th December 1702.  At that time the charity had not been consolidated into one charitable trust.  It was still being described as having been set up by Williams Edwards “for the use and benefit of the Free School.”  The feoffees at this time were Lord Stafford, William Raymond, John Tayer, Richard Hawksworth, Richard Attwells, John Parnell, John Thurston, William Tanner, William Skey, Thomas Adams and William Marsh.

In 1702 the street where what is now the museum stood did not have a name.  The property was merely said to be at the top of St Mary Street.  Interestingly, there was some evidence that the area that is now Chapel Street was not always in the Borough of Thornbury.  The house is said to be “within the Borough of Thornbury… OR within the Tything of Kington”, suggesting that earlier documents must have described it as in Kington.

The indenture of 1702 also tells us something about the previous occupants;

All that messuage or tenement and garden thereunto adjoining wherein Arthur Ayler heretofore dwelt and Thomas Powell deceased since inhabited and wherein one Mary Britten widow now dwelleth containing part of a burgage situate lying and being within the Borough of Thornbury aforesaid or within the Tything of Kington adjoining to the said Borough at the upper end of a street there called St Mary Street and lying between a messuage and tenement now of  Joane Page widow wherein Francis Arthurs als Shipley now dwelleth of the one side and the messuage or tenement of one John Hewett wherein one Richard Gayner? now dwelleth on the one other side thereof and now are in the tenure or occupation of the said Anthony Powell his tenants or assigns…

We know very little about the people who this indenture states previously occupied this property.

Arthur Ayler –  may also have been known as Arthur Ayleworth.  An indenture dated 10th February 1674 shows ‘Arthur Ayler alias Ayleworth of Thornbury carpenter’ selling a property in the High Street to Hezekiah Hewett.  We believe that this was 54 High street.

Thomas Powell – we note that there was one Thomas Powell who was buried in Thornbury on 12th January 1695 and another on 7th August 1700.

Mary Britten – she was living in the Chapel Street property in 1702.  On 25th September 1707  a widow called Mary Britten  married William Rendal in Thornbury.


Anthony Powell was the person who was to pay for a lease on this property for “fourscore and nineteen years” (that is for 99 years) under the terms of the indenture of 16th December 1702.  We know a little of Anthony Powell because he was associated with a property that became 59 High Street and which appears to have been called the Mermaid.  Click here to read about Anthony Powell

After the death of Anthony Powell the lease was to pass to Nicholas Powell and Katherine Powell his son and daughter, providing they continued to pay the yearly rent of six shillings and eight pence at each of the four feasts Christmas, the Annunciation, St John the Baptist and St Michael the Archangel.

The last will of Anthony Powell made in 1717 and proved in 1720 says;

“I give and bequeath unto my said son Nicholas Powell all that my messuage and tenement situate and lying in the said borough of Thornbury in a street called the Back Street wherein Mary Powell widow deceased lately dwelt and since erected and altered into a malt house with all outlets profits and appurts to the same belonging to hold and which I hold for a certain term of fourscore and nine years determinable on the lives of myself my said son Nicholas Powell and my daughter Catherine Viner. To hold to my said son Nicholas Powell his executors administrators and assigns during all of the residue of my estate and interest therein.”

This is interesting in that it says that the property was now a malt house.

On 4th February 1720/21 Nicholas Powell as heir of Anthony Powell used this and other properties to raise a mortgage of £50 from William Collins, a yeomen.  The indenture for this transaction refers to this property as a;

MESSUAGE and garden thereunto adjoining wherein Joseph Viner lately dwelt conteyning half a burgage situate in the Borough of Thornbury or within the Tything of Kington at the Upper end of a street there called St Mary Street between a messuage wherein DEBORAH ARTHURS ALIAS SHIPLEY now dwelleth on the one side and to a tenement now of JOHN HEWETT THE ELDER on the other side thereof and now in the tenure or occupation of the said NICHOLAS POWELL his tenants or assigns who holds the same for the remainder of a certain term of four score years and nineteen years determinable on his life and the life of KATHERINE VINER his sister‘.

Joseph Viner married Katherine Powell the daughter of Anthony Powell.  According to his will dated 14th August 1731 he was a maltster of Thornbury and they had three daughters Sarah, Katherine (baptized in Thornbury on 8th April 1717) and Ann (baptized 9th October 1722).

Ann Gough.  From at least 1798 until about 1806 Ann Gough was paying rent of £2 12s 6 to the Feoffees of the Grammar School for what we believe was this property.  We are not sure who this Ann Gough could have been.  We do have a record of a lady called Ann Gough in Thornbury at this time and indeed living in Chapel Street, at what became number 16.  If Ann was renting the property in her own name she may have been a widow and so her husband could have been John Gough senior who died in 1797. If Ann was the widow of John Gough her maiden name is likely to have been Motley and she would have married John Gough on 17th May 1795, only two years before his death.  Click here to read about her son John Gough, a musical instrument maker

Benjamin Baylis.  From as early as May 1808 the Feoffees of the Grammar School were receiving rent from “Bailises”.  In 1809 the entry was quite clearly for Benjamin Baylis.  Benjamin moved to 15 St Mary Street about 1830.  Click here to read about Benjamin Baylis

Walwin Baylis.  The accounts of the Feoffees of the Grammar School show that Walwin Baylis officially took over the tenancy of 4 Chapel Street from 15th December 1831 when he paid rent for a property “lately occupied by Benjamin Baylis” that had been due to be paid on 24th June 1831.  It seems likely that Walwin had not only been living there prior to that but was acknowledged as the tenant as work had been done on the property in August the previous year and it was Walwin who was repaid on producing a receipt for that work.

According to the 1867 rate book the property was still owned by the Feoffees and still occupied by Walwin Baylis.  The 1871 census shows that Walwin Baylis was aged 71 and “a common carrier employing two men“.  He lived with his daughter Elizabeth aged 30.  Walwin died 4th February 1872   Click here to read about Walwin Baylis

Walter Baylis.   By 1876 the rate book confirms that this house was owned by the the Feoffees and occupied by Walwin’s son, Walter Baylis.

We know from trade directories as early as 1839 that Walter Baylis was a carrier in Thornbury.  The trade directory of 1876 (Morris & Co ) shows Walter Baylis as a carrier, haulier and coal merchant in Chapel Street, Thornbury.  The rate books show that by 1880 Walter had moved to the property on the corner of Chapel Street and Rock Street, later known as 16 Chapel Street.

The 1881 census shows that 2 Chapel Street was empty.

William Clark.  On 22nd September 1888 the Charity Commissioners advertised the sale of a small messuage or dwelling house in Rotten Row now in the occupation of William Clark.  It is possible that an offer was made by the previous tenant, Walter Baylis, because the Governors of the Grammar School met on 21 st November to consider the sale to him.  However no sale was made.

The Rate Books appear to indicate that William Clark “occupied” this building from at least 1885.  However the same rate books also show that William Clark also lived at 53 High Street at this time.  This was his family’s home, a house that William lived in in both the 1881 and 1891 censuses and there is no obvious reason why he would temporarily move to Chapel Street.  It would seem that he only used the building as business premises.  In 1890 the rate books continued to show that the Governors of the Grammar School owned this house and that it was occupied by William Clark.  Click here to read more about William Clark

George Poole. The 1891 census shows that George Poole aged 63 a basket maker and his wife Ann aged 58 lived in this property with their daughter Minnie aged 25 an assistant secondary school teacher and son Isaiah Cullimore aged 19 a printer’s assistant.  He appeared in the rate books at this property up and including 1900.  George had moved to this property after being the landlord of the Wheatsheaf for several years until he was dismissed for allowing prostitutes to drink in the pub.

Francis James Williams – the 1901 census appears to show the property was empty.  In 1901 the property was put up for sale by the trustees of the Grammar School and described as “all that freehold house situate in Chapel Street in the parish of Thornbury bounded on the west by the property of Mr. Francis James Williams and on the east by the Wheatsheaf Inn.”

We have an indenture dated 29th June 1901 in which Francis James Williams purchased this property from the Governors of the Foundation known as the Grammar School.  This was the later title description of what had been the called the “Feoffees” in previous documents.

The 1905 rate book shows that Laura Williams owned this property and the one next door (2 Chapel Street). Laura was Francis’s daughter.  This house (4 Chapel Street) seems to be empty. Click here to read about Francis James Williams and his daughter Laura

Alfred Burrows. The 1907 rate book shows that Laura Williams continued to own this property and the one next door.  This house was said to be occupied by “Burrows”.  The 1911 census shows that this was Alfred Burrows.  Alfred was aged 42 and he was a boot and shoe maker born in Bristol.  He had been married for 20 years to Emma Grace Burrows aged 40 and born in Pucklechurch.  They had had seven children, five of whom had survived.  In their household were a 16 year old daughter Ivy Grace born in Kingswood, Violet May aged 12 who was born in Bristol and Hilda Gladys aged 10 who was born in Street in Somerset.  The two youngest children were born in Thornbury.  They were Florence Selena Maude Burrows aged four and Alfred Arthur Burrows aged two months.

When Ivy Grace Burrows and Violet May Burrows were enrolled in the Council Upper School in 1906 their dates of birth were given as 11th January 1895 and 13th April 1898 respectively.  They were said to have transferred from Frome.

The 1901 census shows that they lived in Street in Somerset, which is 23 miles from Frome.  Their neighbours here were all employed in the shoe making business.  The census is unclear but it seems that Alfred was a foreman “rough stuff cutter”.  He was aged 32 years old. Their daughter Ivy was aged six Violet was two and Hilda nine months.

The records of the Council Upper School show that Ivy and Violet had very different educational prospects.  Violet left the school in 1909 with a scholarship to the Grammar School.  Ivy left the school in 1908 with what was described as a Dunce’s Certificate.  We were initially reluctant to mention this fact as it seemed to imply that Ivy had some kind of learning disability.  However it seems that this was not at all the case.  The rather unpleasant name was a hangover from the Victorian system which allowed children to leave school when they were ten years old if they had a certificate showing that they had attended school at least 250 times.  This was called a Dunce’s certificate as the child was leaving without obtaining an educational certificate.  In 1881 the law was changed and children had to attend school until they were 13 but could leave at that age if they attended school for another year on a part time basis.  They could only do so provided that they had already reached Standard V in the school.  The name Dunce’s certificate seems to have been retained but in fact Ivy had probably done well at school and was most likely leaving early to add to the family income.  Children leaving with this certificate must have found its unofficial name particularly cruel.

The South Gloucestershire Chronicle of June 3rd 1911 carried an advertisement for Burrows the boot and shoemaker of Chapel Street as “two doors from Cossham Hall ” and “the cheapest and best in town.”

The trade directory for 1916 shows that Alfred was a shoemaker in Chapel Street.  In 1925 the Valuation List says that Edmund Cullimore owned this property as well as 2 Chapel Street.  The Gazette of 12th December 1925 reported on the death of Alfred Burrows aged 57.  The Gazette said “Mr Burrows had carried on business in the shoe trade in Castle Street” but we believe that this was an error in the newspaper and it should have referred to Chapel Street.  The funeral was said to be taking place that day.

The 1926 rate book shows that “Mary” Burrows was the tenant of Mrs Bartlett.  We assume that this refers to Mrs Lilian Bartlett, who also owned and lived next door at 2 Chapel Street.  Click here to read about the Bartlett family

The electoral rolls of 1927 and 1931 show that Emma Grace Burrows continued to live in Chapel Street.  The roll of 1935 shows that Alfred Arthur Burrows Emma’s son also lived there.  By 1938 Alfred’s wife Lucy Elizabeth Burrows (nee Pitt) also with Alfred and his mother Emma.

The register compiled in 1939 in preparation for the war lists Alfred A Burrows and Emma G. Burrows living there.  Alfred was described as an ‘Engineer (Viewer)’ born on 10th January 1911.  Emma was born on 17th January 1871.  Also there was Arthur Henry Jarvis who was a butcher born on 1st October 1869.  He had been listed as liing in Chapel Street since the 1935 electoral register.  In 1931 he had been lodging with George Harris in St Mary Street.

They continued to live there in 1946 to 1950, although by 1950 Arthur Jarvis had moved away.  The burial register shows Arthur was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 19th January 1951 aged 81.  He had died in Chipping Sodbury.  Emma Grace Burrows died in Thornbury aged 80 in 1951.  She was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 21st December 1951.  By 1954 there were no members of the Burrows family living in Thornbury.

Raymond John Salisbury. By 1958 the electoral roll shows Raymond J Salisbury lived at 4 Chapel Street and continued to do so until 1961.  Raymond John was born on 4th September 1916. He was the son of William Henry Salisbury and his wife, Nancy who lived at 16 Rock Street.  He appears to have lived there alone. Click here to read more

Mildred Kate Bayntun – the electoralrRegister of 1961 shows that Mildred lived at 4 Chapel Street.  She had moved there from 79 High Street.   Click here to read more

In 1971 the directory shows three names of people who lived in the property; Susan Hoe, Sheila Richards and Margaret Thorpe.  We do not know who these people are.

Thornbury and District Heritage Trust.  We are grateful for the efforts of Vic Hallett, Yvonne Loe and Paul Wildgoose, members of what was then the Thornbury Society, who set up the Thornbury and District Trust.  They and a group of enthusiasts rented two rooms at 4 Chapel Street to store material and do some research in September 1986.  Another member Mary Huby acted as accessions officer.  She organised the sorting and recording of the large bequest of material from the late Mary Bruton that formed the basis of the collection.  The first exhibition in November 1986 lasted only three days, but attracted 400 visitors and much interest.  From this the Thornbury and District Museum was born and it was finally granted full Registered Museum status in 2002. Click here to read about Thornbury Museum.