Apart from being a double fronted house, there are many other differences between 22 Gloucester Road and the rest of the terrace in which it stands. All these features seem to be confirmation that the house is older than the rest of the terrace, which was built by the family of John Hodges and his son George Hodges that owned this house and the land on which the terrace stands.
The Cistern – there is one continuous stretch of guttering along the front of the whole terrace which takes all the rain water down to the house at one end, number 22 Gloucester Road where it is collected in a cistern beneath the front garden. We have been told there was a hand pump fitted to the wall in the backyard of number 22. We do not know whether it drew water from another source or whether this was a means of drawing water from the cistern.
It is interesting that the deeds of other houses in the terrace mention that the purchasers agreed to allow free passage of water down to number 22. This means that the owners of 22 had always had a right to the water, presumably from the time the terrace was built. Water was in comparatively short supply in Thornbury before all houses had mains water and many old houses in Thornbury had cisterns as well as access to a pump or well. This might have been the reason why water was important to the Hodges family.
The agreement in the deeds refers to free and uninterrupted passage and running of rainwater and does not specify the front gutter. There may have been a similar arrangement for collecting water from the backs of the houses which predated the building of two storey extensions to the houses, which nearly all of them now have. We have written more about Water and Cisterns elswhere on the website. Click here to read more
The ‘lack’ of a front garden – as can be seen from this extract from the 1840 Tithe Map (see right), there was no front garden to that property. The road widened right to the front of the house and narrowed immediately after. The remaining houses probably have always had front gardens. We suspect this section of the road must have had some purpose and can only assume it was connected to the fact that there were stables listed in number 22 and immediately opposite.
There has been some speculation that number 22 may have been a toll house for the Thornbury – Gloucester turnpike, but we have found nothing to support this idea.
By 1881, as can be seen below, the two houses at the end of the terrace in Gloucester Road (Collisters Lane) on the right hand side had been given front gardens but they are left with a very thin layer of topsoil, presumably where the road used to be.
The implication of this is that the cistern referred to above was not likely to have been there in 1840 when the Tithe Map was drawn.
The strange shape – remember that number 22 was built as a single unit and there were no plans at the time, as far as we know, to build it as part of a terrace. Most houses built as a single unit in a green field site would have square walls. However the left hand wall of number 22 is at a very sharp angle and this is reflected in the unusual shape in the rooms on that side of the house. The wall follows the old field boundary marked on earlier maps, but we cannot understand why it was necessary to build the house up against this boundary. It is possible that the wall alongside the house may have been the boundary town wall, but this still does not explain why the house is built contiguous to that wall.
Two connecting doors to number 20 – there are signs of two doorways in the party wall adjoining number 20, one in the front room, and one in the back room. These doorways may have led directly into a yard at a time before number 20 was built or may be connecting doors if numbers 20 and 22 were, as we suspect, being used as one property at an early stage in its history.
The stable – the 1840 Tithe Map clearly shows that the property on Plot 249 was a “house, garden and stable”. Property that was used as a dwelling was cross hatched on the 1840 map and other buildings were hatched. The large extension on the back of the house or houses is the only hatched area, so this must have been the stable. Clearly somehow there must have been access to the stable from the road. At the time the map was made there were orchards adjoining the side and back of the house and there is no track or path indicated, so how did the horses get to the stable?
And finally, we must not forget the ‘spite wall’ – see more on this unusual feature of the house