The photograph above showing Park House was taken from the rear facing west.
We have a copy of an abstract of title for Park House which shows that the house was built by Thomas Osborne Wetmore around 1821 on the site of an earlier building.
The earlier building
An indenture of lease and release dated 27th and 28th September 1819 between William Rolph of the first part, Hester Romaine, Simon Pritchard, Alexander Pritchard, William Greenslade and Mary his wife as the second part and Thomas Osborne Wetmore of the third part refers to the property as: ‘all that messuage wherein Sarah Hill at the time of her death inhabited and Hester Bagnell and William Llewellyn afterwards successively dwelt but then void with the brewhouse, stable, outhouses buildings court yard garden and orchard and appurts thereto belonging situate in the Tything of Kington in the Parish of Thornbury and near adjoining to the west side of the Fore Street of the Town and Borough of Thornbury and also all that close or leazow of pasture ground then called by the name of The Park containing by estimation 3 acres, 0 roods and 12 perches with the oxhouse thereon situate in the Tything of Kington adjoining to the eastward part thereof to the said messuage or tenement and premises with the appurts‘.
Sarah Hill – we are fortunate that Sarah has a detailed monumental inscription in the Chancel of St Marys Church. This tells us that she was a spinster, a member of the Hill family who for many generations had lived at Brinkmarsh near Thornbury. The inscription also mentions that she had ‘endured much infirmity and pain full sixty years of her life with unexampled patience. Ever ready to relieve the distressed, a great part of her income she constantly applied in acts of charity’. She died aged 84 on 10th November 1782.
According to the IGI, Sarah was baptised on 17th March 1696/7, the daughter of John Hill. Other inscriptions in St Mary’s Church indicate that John Hill married Elizabeth Tayer, the daughter of John Tayer of Kington gentleman and his wife, Sarah (maiden name unknown).
The land tax records and manor rent rolls for Kington list Sarah as owning what may have been in the same property from 1737 through to 1782. The property is referred to in these records as being ‘for Bartons’ from 1737 to 1754 which might indicate the property had been owned previously by one of the Barton family. Interestingly the 1727 Manor Rent Roll for Kington lists Mrs Ann Tayer for Bartons’ so it appears that Sarah may have inherited the property from her mother’s family.
Sarah Hill is mentioned in the Court Roll of 1760 as being one of several householders asked to removed their dung hills from before their doors and put out of the public streets within 14 days under penalty of five shillings.
The land tax record for 1780 indicate that Sarah as owing two adjoining properties. The one in which she was living and another where John Grove seemed to be living which was said to be ‘for Bagnells’ presumably meaning that the property had previously been owned by a member of the Bagnell family. It is interesting to note however that the same property is shown in the 1781 and 1782 listings as being ‘for Gainars’, presumably referring to the property previously being owned by a member of the Gayner family.
In her will dated 15th April 1780, Sarah left her property at Brinkmarsh to her cousin, Betty Tyer and her property at Rockhampton was left to Ursula wife of Samuel Fothergill tinman of Bristol, Mary wife of William Cowley wheelwright of Thornbury and Martha wife of John Hodges paper maker of Bristol. Sarah left her copyhold messuages, tenements and land in the Parish of Thornbury to her cousin, Hugh Parnell. She left £200 to another cousin, Elizabeth wife of John Cooper apothecary of Wotton Under Edge and £10 to her servant, Mary Withers. The rest of her real and personal estate she left to her servant, Hester Bagnell who was also appointed as Sarah’s executor.
From 1783 following Sarah’s death, both of her properties on the site of Park House were owned by Hester Bagnell (see below) with one still being occupied by John Grove. Even as late as 1810 Hester is listed against the two properties and the second one is still shown as being ‘for Gayners’ although at that time John Grove is not listed as tenant. In the 1824 land tax record Thomas Osborne Wetmore (see below) is listed as being the owner of the same two properties, one shown as ‘for Bagnells’, the other being ‘for Gayners’.
Hester Bagnell – Hester was a spinster. She was left the property by Sarah Hill (see above) following her death in 1782. Hester had been Sarah’s servant.
Although Hester was in service, she still appears to have money. We know from other documents that Hester bought the Burnt House Orchard in Crispin Lane in 1773 for £21. She sold this property to James Hodges in 1791 for £75. She was also involved in providing mortgage to William Cowley in respect of the Cock.
Hester Bagnell died in 1808 at the age of 91 and was buried at Tortworth on 26th December 1808. In her last will and testament dated 7th March 1801 she left the property in trust for the use of the Revd William Llewellyn during his lifetime. It was described as being the messuage or tenement in which Mrs Sarah Hill lived for many years until her death and where Hester Bagnell now lived with the brewhouse stable and outhouses courtyard and garden. The house was said to be in the Tything of Kington but also on the west side of the Fore Street in Thornbury with a leazow of three acres of arable or pasture ground called the Park with outbuildings lately erected on them once in the occupation of Thomas Hendy and now in the occupation of William Llewellin himself.
William was a schoolmaster who was boarding with Hester. In her will she imposed very strict conditions on William that he should fully insure the property and maintain it well. He also had to continue to live there. If he failed in meeting these conditions or he died, then the property would be sold by her trustees, George Rolph or his heirs.
Hester made several monetary bequests and the residue of the money after the sale of the property would be paid to the four children of her niece, Betty Pritchard deceased, the late wife of John Pritchard of Bath, upholder. Hester admitted in the will that she could not recall the names of Betty’s four children. She also left money to the children of Hugh Parnell gentleman of Kington (except Hugh Parnell the apothecary). Hester owned some properties which were auctioned off on 14th June 1809 at the Swan Inn.
William Llewellin (or Llewellyn) – William was boarding with Hester Bagnell at the time she wrote her will in 1801. He was a schoolmaster at the Thornbury Grammar School. In Hester’s will she left William the use of the property for his natural life, provided that he occupied the premises and kept them in good order and insured against fire. In the event of his death or in case of his failing to keep the property insured George Rolph was to act as executor and sell the properties and after his expenses to meet the terms of various bequests.
William Llewellin, then described as the Rector of Hill, died in Thornbury after a short illness on 22nd February 1819. According to his burial record shown on Scribes Alcove website William was aged 60 and he was buried on 17th February 1819. We are not sure which of these dates is correct. Click here to read more
Thomas Osborne Wetmore – an indenture of lease and release dated 27th and 28th September 1819 shows that William Rolph acting as executor for the late Hester Bagnell sold the property to Thomas Osborne Wetmore. The other parties of the indenture, namely Hester Romaine, Simon Pritchard, Alexander Pritchard, William Greenslade and Mary his wife were presumably the children of the late Betty Pritchard named in Hester Bagnell’s will and their spouses.
Shortly after the indenture Thomas took down and removed the old messuage and erected a capital messuage in its place and converted part of the close of land into a walled garden.
Thomas also set about expanding his property. An indenture of lease and release dated 24th and 25th March 1820 shows that he acquired an adjoining property which appears to have been located between the Lion and the Toll House. The other parties to the sale were William Ford and his wife, Ann and Joseph Ford and his wife, Sarah, but we are not sure who actually owned it. Thomas took down and removed the messuage, barn, carpenters shop and other buildings which were formerly in the occupation of Joseph Ford and erected a stable and coach-house on some parts and laid open the other part containing about one perch and incorporated it into the garden of The Lion which was also owned by Thomas. We believe that this property is the one shown in the 1840 Tithe Survey as being Plot 55, a house and court owned by Thomas Osborne Wetmore and then void. This property enabled Thomas to create a second access to Park House which is referred to as the ‘Back Lane’ in the deeds.
Another indenture of lease and release dated 7th and 8th April 1820 enabled Thomas to expand his property further. The parties involved were Joseph Laver of the first part, Thomas Osborne Wetmore of the second part and Joseph Parslow of the third part. We are not sure which property is being referred to. It is described as being ‘the messuage where Ursula Cotton formerly dwelt and wherein Charles ???? doth now dwell as tenant to Thomas Osborne Wetmore with the garden thereto adjoining situate in the High Street of the Borough of Thornbury adjoining on the northward part of the said hereditaments and premises of Thomas Osborne Wetmore’. The abstract quoting this indenture adds that Thomas ‘has since fenced off the garden of the last mentioned messuage and has laid the garden open to the hereditaments first mentioned’ We believe that this could refer to The Lion which we know Thomas Osborne came to own and suspect Thomas bought it to enable him to take some of its garden land into the property of Park House.
By the time of the 1840 Tithe Survey and Map (shown below) the property covered Plots 55, 59, 61 and 340. He also owned two other properties, Plot 54 The Lion which was let out to James Prewett and Plot 62.
Park House was advertised for sale on 8th July 1847. The description of the property was similar to that shown below when it was advertised again in 1855, following the death of Thomas’s wife, Margaret except it was it was also said to be ‘adapted in every respect for the residence of a family of respectability’. In 1855, it was described as:
‘A Freehold and Substantial modern built residence called “THE PARK”, the residence of T. O. Wetmore, Esq., and situate at Thornbury, with the Outbuildings, Pleasure Grounds, Garden and Paddock of Land adjoining, containing in the whole – 3a 2r 34p.
The House contains on the Ground Floor, an Octagon Entrance Hall, Vestibule, Geometrical Stone Staircase, Drawing, Breakfast and Dining Rooms, and Study, Servants Hall, Butlers’ and other Pantries, Kitchen and other usual Domestic Offices; on the first Floor are a Drawing Room, seven best Bedrooms, two Dressing Rooms and Water Closet; there are Servants Rooms above.
The Rooms are of good dimensions, and tastefully fitted up in Cedar, &c.; the detached Offices comprise Coach-house, Stabling for 3 Horses, Brew-house and Laundry; the Premises are supplied with spring and soft Water, the Cellarage is extensive.
The House is delightfully situated, and commands extensive and varied views of the River Severn, Thornbury Church & Castle and the surrounding Country. The Entrance is by a private Carriage Road from the High Street of the Town of Thornbury; the Pleasure Grounds and Gardens are tastefully laid out, and the whole forms a desirable Family Residence‘.
A newspaper report of 21st October 1865 shows that Thomas ‘is leaving the neighbourhood’ and he tried again to sell off some of his property including his home, Park House. An indenture dated 20th December 1865 Thomas Osborne Wetmore, late of Thornbury but then of Bath, gentleman and widower, conveyed Park House to William Henry Councell grocer of Thornbury for £2200. Read more about Thomas Osborne Wetmore
William Henry Councell – an indenture dated 20th December 1865 shows that William bought the property known Park House from Thomas Osborne Wetmore for £2200. William was a grocer and a member of the Councell family who had several shops in Thornbury. Click here to read more
On 29th September 1879 William sold the property to Dr Edward Mills Grace..
Dr Edward Mills Grace – Edward bought Park House from William Henry Council on 29th September 1879 for £2200. On 30th September 1885 Edward purchased a plot of garden land (of about 5 perches) for £50 from William Yarnold the owner of the property now known as 16 High Street which William Yarnold had recently purchased from William Henry Councell. This garden was incorporated into the garden of Park House. Edward also seems to have had a desire to gain control of the walls surrounding his property. He bought the wall between his own garden and that of William Yarnold (number 16 High Street) and another wall between his garden and that of Thomas Morgan (20 High Street).
Edward Mills Grace was a very important person in Thornbury and his name was well-known throughout the region because of his work as a medical practitioner and coroner and his involvement in local affairs. He was even more well-known as a cricketer and his fame in this context spread throughout the country and the other cricket-playing nations. Click here to read more
Edward Mills Grace died on 20th May 1911. In his will dated 20th September 1909 he left his property to his trustees. His wife Sarah was given choice of furniture and household effects that she might want. At the time of his death, Edward still owed £1400 on a mortgage held against the property. The property was put up for sale at auction on 16th August 1911 and it was bought by Henry Privett Thurston for £1400. Click on the thumbnail on the right to see a plan of the property auctioned in 1911.
Henry Privett Thurston – Henry Privett Thurston was one of the sons of Obed Edward Thurston and his wife, Louisa. ‘H.P.’ was a solicitor and keen sportsman and played a very active life in Thornbury. He bought Park House in 1911 for £1400 and it became his home. Henry died in 1918. Click here to read more
Edgar Mervyn Grace – we haven’t seen the indenture, but we know from the 1925 Valuation List and 1926 Rate Book that Edgar bought the house at some time following the death of Henry Privett Thurston. Edgar was the son of Edward Mills Grace (see above) and Edgar had been brought up with Park House being his family home until they were forced to sell it following his father’s death in 1911. Edgar had followed in his father’s footsteps and become a medical practitioner in Thornbury and also a successful cricketer. Click here to read more
The 1921 electoral register shows Edgar and his wife, Hilda Henrietta living there with his stepmother, Sarah Elizabeth. The three carried on living there until Sarah Elizabeth died in 1932. Edgar and Hilda carried on living there until the late 1950’s when they moved to Hilltop in Alveston. The 1950 electoral registers lists Dr Douglas Henderson and his wife, Cicley, (the daughter of Edgar and Hilda) as living with them at Park House. On 2nd October 1957 Edgar sold Park House to Lyndon Augustus Hawkins of Rudgeway for £4850.
Lyndon Hawkins – Lyndon of one of the three sons of Philip George Hawkins, who founded the firm of Thornbury builders and builders merchants. Click here to read more about the Hawkins family
After buying the property in 1957, Lyndon set about gradually converting many of the outbuildings to residential accommodation. According to an account written by Lyndon’s brother after 19 years living in the main house, Lyndon and Kathleen moved to ‘Park Acres’, presumably one of the new properties built in the garden, and then ten years later they moved into their newly rebuilt ‘Coach House’. According to the electoral register, some of the other properties became known as ‘Treetops’ and ‘The Cottage’.
The 1961 electoral register shows that Park House was occupied by Lyndon and Kathleen Hawkins, Treetops by James and Margaret Hunter and The Cottage by Alexander and Norah Johnstone. We understand that Peter Birkett the dentist also had a surgery here at one time and the main building was later used by the Ordnance Survey.
In 2012 Park House became the European HQ of the firm called ‘Yankee Candle‘. They specialise in the manufacturer of home fragrance products. Their website tells us that the firm was set up in the States when at ‘Christmas 1969 a seventeen-year-old Mike Kittredge, too broke to buy his mother a present, melted some crayons to make her a candle. A neighbour saw it and convinced Mike to sell the candle to her. With that small stake, he bought enough wax to make two candles – one for his mom, and another to sell. That was the birth of Yankee Candle’. We are not sure if they are still located in Thornbury although the firm is still trading in the UK and expanding.