The photograph above shows 15 High Street when it was occupied by Charles Olds. It shows a group of people on the pavement. They were part of the annual parade of the Town’s poor people who had been given new shawls and coats by the Mayor.
15 High Street is unusual as it was never converted into a larger property, unlike all the other properties in this part of the High Street. Even when it was finally demolished in the 1970’s the replacement shop retained its modest size and appearance. It is also worth noting that from an early date, (1660 see below) the property occupied only a quarter of the burgage plot. We know from the 1840 Tithe Map that at that time the rear of the property was used as a yard and stabling for the Swan Inn next door.
The Champneys – early records of the property show that the property belonged to the Champneys family (sometimes written as Champnies or Champneis). An extensive record of the family has been prepared and is available on the Internet. This indicates that the family of Champneys had been settled at Orchadley, near Frome-Selwood, in Somerset from the time of the Norman conquest. One branch of the family is known to have owned property in the Elberton area from the 14th Century and by Elizabethan times the family had moved to live in Cowhill near Thornbury. Local records show that they continued to be associated mainly with the areas of Littleton and Oldbury. Edmund Champney died in Littleton on 18th March 1622.
The earliest document showing that the family owned 15 High Street in Thornbury is an entry in a court roll (thought to be around 1660) which shows Richard Champneys was claiming ‘one messuage, tenement and curtilage with the appurtenances within the Borough containing one quarter of one burgage next adjoining to the Inn called The Swan‘. His claim was based on the fact he was ‘the eldest son and heir apparent of Edmund Champneys, the eldest son and next heir apparent of John Champneys deceased and as brother and next heir to Sarah Champneys since deceased, daughter of Edmund Champneys who held the same by the deed and grant of the said Edmund and of William Barton since deceased.
The 1670 Rent Roll shows Richard Champneys was liable for the property next door to The Swan on the north side.
We suspect that this Richard was the one who died on 18th February 1728 aged 82. We know very little about Richard. He might have been the Richard Champneis who was a tiler in Thornbury mentioned in an indenture involving a close of land called Pigscroft in Morton. Richard seems to have been married to Ruth who was a lot younger than Richard. Ruth died on 4th December 1707 aged 38. They had a daughter Sarah who died on 14th August 1706 aged 12. We suspect Richard had a son called Richard whom we assume inherited the property at 15 High Street because one of his sons, Joseph, was known to have owned it and lived there in the late 1700’s.
Richard Champneis Jnr – it appears that Richard’s son took over the property before the death of his father. Richard Champneys who was paying one and a half pence in overseers accounts from 1723 onwards, paying one and half pence per month.
Richard married Winifred French in Thornbury on 29th November 1719. They had several children: Winifred born on 1st September 1720 and baptised on 4th September 1720, Sarah born on 23rd June 1722 and baptised on 25th June 1722, John born on 2nd March 1724 and baptised on 13th March 1724, another John born on 2nd March 1725 and baptised on 13th March 1725, Mary baptised on 2nd March 1728, Ann baptised on 26th August 1731 and Joseph, baptised in Thornbury on 8th October 1737.
Richard was buried on 17th March 1763. Winifred died aged 75 and was buried on 21st January 1770. A note of her burial record indicates that she was the widow of Richard Champneis, clerk. Of their children, we know that John died aged 28 and was buried on 28th October 1754 and that Winifred died a spinster aged 80 and was buried on 8th January 1799.
Joseph Champnies (or Champneys) – the Overseers accounts appear to show Joseph took over the property from his father and he was listed as the owner and occupant of 15 High Street in the land tax records from 1775 to 1800.
Joseph was baptised in Thornbury on 8th October 1737, the son of Richard and Winifred Champneis. Joseph married Dorothy Hicks in Thornbury on 26th May 1790. Dorothy was buried on 8th March 1799 aged 60. Joseph was buried on 16th September 1807 aged 70. The burial record shows Joseph was a tiler.
Robert Ford – the land tax records of 1809 and 1810 show Robert Ford was the owner and occupant of the property. We suspect that Robert was the tinman and brazier who had previously lived at 34 High Street. Robert died aged 32 and was buried on 15th October 1809. Click here to read about Robert
William Ford – the land tax records from 1812 to 1832 show that William owned 15 High Street. During that time, he appeared to rent the property out to his tenant, Aaron Marsh. It is possible that William was the brother of Robert Ford, the previous owner, but we have not been able to confirm that. We note that William Ford married Ann Limbrick on 22nd March 1798.
Aaron Marsh – Aaron was listed as the tenant of William Ford in the land tax records from 1812 to 1832. There is a record showing that Aaron, like most other tradesmen in Thornbury at the time, was charged with having defective weights in his shop. The record shows him as a a tinman. At some time after that he must have bought the property because the 1840 Tithe Survey shows the property was Plot 192, a house and yard owned and occupied by Aaron Marsh. The 1841 census shows Aaron living there. He was a glazier aged 69 living with his wife, Leah aged 53 and their sons, Aaron a glazier aged 27 and John aged 18, both glaziers.
Aaron was baptised in Hullavington in Wiltshire on 17th March 1771. He was the son of Aaron Marsh and his wife, Rhoda. In 1798 Aaron Marsh was paying land tax for two properties in Hullavington, one of which he occupied himself. We do not know at this stage whether this refers to the father or the son. According to Pallot’s Marriage Index Aaron married Leah Burchell in Colerne in 1810. Leah was born in Dauntsey, Wiltshire about 1789.
We don’t know why Aaron and Leah moved to the Thornbury area. We note that Leah’s brother, Daniel Burchell, also moved there around the same time. Aaron and Leah had at least four children: Aaron Burchell Marsh was born in Tockington about 1813, Edgar Watts was born on 10th March 1814 and baptised in Thornbury Independent Chapel on 26th February 1815, Jane Florella Marsh was baptised in Thornbury Independent Chapel on 10th May 1818 (she was born on 4th January 1818) and John Burchell Marsh was born in Thornbury about 1823.
It appears as if Aaron and Leah didn’t stay in Thornbury too long after the 1840 census and that they returned to Hullavington. Aaron senior died in 1849 aged 78 and was buried in Hullavington on 15th September 1849. The 1851 census shows Leah, was now living in Hullavington with her children Jane and John who was described as a master tinplate worker. The 1861 census shows Leah was a grocer still living in Hullavington with unmarried children, Jane and John. John was also now working as a grocer. Leah died in 1870 aged 84.
Aaron Marsh junior – Aaron junior and ‘Emily’ had taken over his parent’s place at 15 High Street. On 30th October 1845 Aaron jnr had married Amelia Robertson in Thornbury. Amelia was the daughter of Edward Oakley Robertson, a yeoman. Aaron was a plumber and glazier and she was a schoolmistress aged 36. By the 1861 census they were living at 20 High Street. Click here to read more
Henry James Dodd – the 1859 Rate Book shows that Henry owned the property, but he was renting it out to Charles Olds. The 1861 census shows Henry was trading as a grocer, draper and outfitter at 9 High Street, but he later moved to 22 High Street which he bought in 1869. Click here to read more
Charles Olds – the 1859 Rate Book shows Charles had taken over the property. He was renting it from Henry James Dodd. The 1861 census shows Charles was a boot and shoe maker. He was aged 30 born in Hanham. He was living with his wife, Charlotte aged 28 born in Alveston and Edward J aged 4 and William H aged 2.
By the time of the 1862 Rate Book Charles had become the owner as well as occupant of the shop. The 1867 Rate Book shows Charles still living at 15 High Street, but by the 1871 Census shows that the family lived at Morton and the shop at 15 High Street was being used by a tailor, George Morgan.
We are not sure what further use Charles made of the shop at 15 High Street. The 1876 and 1880 Rate Books show Charles as owning and occupying that property, but the Rate Books of 1876, 1877 and 1879 show Charles was also now occupying 4 Castle Street in Thornbury, a house owned by Richard Scarlett. It is not clear why he rented this property. The 1877 trade directory also refer to Castle Street as his address and describes Charles as ‘a private resident’.
The property at 15 High Street was unoccupied at the time of the 1881 census. The Rate Books indicate that Charles carried on as owner of 15 High Street and photographs show his name continued to be displayed above the shop although Charles is listed as living elsewhere in the 1891 and 1901 census records. We suspect that Charles only used 15 High Street as his business premises during this period. Charles Olds died on August 16th 1904 aged 73 years. The 1910 Rate Book show that ‘Mrs Olds’ had taken over the ownership and she was renting out the shop to John Allen. Charlotte died November 23rd 1915 aged 84 years. Read more about the Olds family
John Allen – the 1907 and 1910 Rate Books show John Allen as renting the property at 15 High Street from Mrs Olds. John was a bootmaker and he appears to have carried on living at 14 The Plain whilst using 15 High Street as his business premises. He died in 1911. Click here to read more
The Balls – the 1915 Prewetts directory and 1918 electoral register shows Laura Evelyn Balls moved to 15 High Street and she was still there in 1921. She had previously been living with her husband, Percy Balls, a hairdresser at 2 The Plain. Click here to read more
A 1923 trade directory lists Laura as a tobacconist in the High Street. The 1925 Valuation List shows Laura’s shop was at 15 High Street. Laura died on 5th December 1925 aged 56. The Gazette reported that ‘Evelyn’ had suffered from an illness for the previous nine years. The 1926 Rate Book shows Laura’s daughter, Gladys, had taken over the shop.
Gladys Balls ran a sweet shop and hairdressers at 15 High Street up until 1965 or later. Apparently she was known by some people as “hairy balls” because, when she served bull’s eyes and other boiled sweets, the hairs from her customers in the hairdressing department on her hands could find their way on to the sweets! We have also been told that Gladys was a football referee although we have not had this confirmed yet. She also had a fancy open topped sports car. Gladys died on 31st August 1969 aged 69.
As with a lot of properties, we only have a vague idea of its recent history. We know that it was demolished about 1970 and if you click on the thumbnail photo on the right you see a larger image of the demolition in progress. We have been told that ‘Dorinas’ who had previously run a hairdressing salon on the corner of Silver Street and St Mary Street had her business at 15 High Street about 1971. The advert above confirms she was there. We are not sure if she was in the old shop or the re-developed one.
Baxters the butchers traded there for several years and since 1995, or even earlier, it has been Reflections hairdressing salon.