We are grateful to the present owners who have let us see the deeds. In the earliest document dated 1683, the property is described as a ‘messuage or tenement …. situate in the town or borough of Thornbury neare unto a place called or known by the name of St John’s Crosse or neare unto a place where St John’s Crosse heretofore stood, amounting in the whole to half a burgage.” A burgage was a plot of land in a town on which a dwelling house or houses was usually built, with gardens or lands attached. Usually a rent was paid for this burgage to the Lord of the Manor or the King.
The reference to ‘St John’s Crosse’ is significant in that implies that there was an ancient cross on or near Pullins Green and this was removed. It is not possible to say when this cross would have been removed, although we believe that it was taken down a long time even before this indenture was written. We have seen the will of Katherine Rippe dated 1594 which refers to one of her properties that she left to Elizabeth Eddis as “my house neere the place St John’s Crosse did stande within or neere the Burroughe of Thornebury aforesaid adioyning to Thomas Jones his Barne.” We are not sure where this house was but it is clear from the wording that St John’s Cross had already been removed.
The Crispin House has a particularly interesting and varied history.
The Quakers – our earliest records show that the house was occupied by families of Quakers, one of whom, George Pearce, emigrated to Pennsylvania with his family in 1684 and helped to found Thornbury, Pennsylvania.
Burnt House Orchard – an indenture dated 1743 shows that the property had been destroyed by fire, presumably by the blacksmith John Gayner, and the land had become an orchard called fittingly enough ‘The Burnt House Orchard. At that time it was bought by Sarah Sparkes and Solomon Smith and was eventually acquired by Solomon Smith the younger in 1773.
The New House – in 1791 Hester Bagnell sold the orchard to James Hodges who built a new house on the land. James Hodges died in 1825. His son Job, who was living in the house, bought the shares that were left to his siblings by way of a mortgage from James Withers, whose son Luke Withers eventually became the owner.
The Beerhouse – in 1838 the property was acquired by Luke Withers and made it into a beerhouse called The Crispin or The Jolly Crispin. This was run by James and Hester Cullimore and inherited by their sons, James and William Cullimore from Luke Withers. Hester Cullimore seems to have run it until her death in 1899. It was owned by William and then his wife, Frances Cullimore until the death of Frances in 1917. In 1919 it was sold to John Taylor a butcher.
The Laundry – from 1926 the house was bought by Arthur Thomas and Ethel Higgins and he built a laundry in the grounds. Eventually in the 1950s the house was split off from the laundry and became the private home of Amie Higgins and her husband, William Fisher and later by other families.