We haven’t seen a full set of deeds for the building, but it is fortunate that two very detailed documents are framed and hanging on the walls of the Italian Restaurant that now uses these premises and they kindly allowed us to photograph them. In the mid 1900’s the house became known for a time as Severn View.
The image on the right shows the market held in the street outside 4 High Street at the time that the house was occupied by the Sainsbury family. The house had a low ‘post and chain’ fence on the pavement outside the house to protect it from the cattle. This can clearly be seen in the photograph below.
We are fortunate to have a description of the house written by Shirley Adlem in 2001 who lived in the house for some years and was a frequent visitor to her sister Gladys Reece who lived there for 60 years until 2000. Shirley believes that:
‘the original building seems to have been a two storey property with internal dimensions of 22 ft long by 12 ft wide with a cellar entered by an outside door on the west end of the building, the upper storey being reached by outside stairs, the door (not original) still being in position. The house ran east to west, the roof also being in this direction.
This would indicate that it was a commercial property and not a house, the entrance to the ground floor was a door which was situated between the present southern bay window and front door, this being filled in towards the end of the 1950s.
At a later date, believed to be in the 1700s, living quarters were built on the north side of the old property which entailed fitting a passageway 4 ft 6ins wide from the front to the rear, this necessitated the removal of the stairs to the upper storey and the provision of the present internal staircase of 14 narrow stairs in a U shape which appears to have been an afterthought
The entrance to the living quarters is by a door at the rear of the passageway opening on to a small hall and an attractive staircase, there then being just one room downstairs, i.e , at the front of the building and the upstairs room extending over the passageway. A separate cellar was built under this building, the door to this being also at the rear of the passageway.
The roof to the new building runs north to south, i.e. along the High Street, the southern gable end being built on the wall of the original property, doing this meant that the rafters at the front of the original roof could not be secured and a new roof, also running north/south was built at the front of the old property, this being lower than that on the new building but to the height of the old roof’.
The earliest indenture was dated 13th July 1820 between Samuel Penduck, carpenter and Fanny his wife of the one part and Jonathan Sainsbury, yeoman of Tytherington of the other. It referred to the loan of £300 made by Jonathan Sainsbury to the Penducks and their failure to repay it. As a result the property was surrendered to Jonathan.
The second indenture dated on 31st July 1828 shows that Jonathan Sainsbury had taken out a loan from Charles Gayner. Jonathan appeared in Manor Court to surrender the property to John Lane brazier who paid off £309 11s 5d, the money owning to Charles Gayner and the rest, £110 8s 7d to Jonathan Sainsbury yeoman of Tytherington.
Both indentures provide a similar description of the property. The second one describes it as ‘All that cottage or dwelling house wherein Thomas Richards formerly inhabited and Susanna Ward spinster deceased for many years past dwelt, Obed Pitcher afterwards dwelt and William Alway since inhabited and lately taken down and re-built by Samuel Penduck and wherein he the said Samuel Penduck and John Clark Wilkins lately dwelt and wherein the said John Lane doth now dwell with the curtilage thereto belonging lying and being in the Tything of Kington within the said Manor‘.
Thomas Richards – we suspect that the Thomas Richards was the one who was buried on 26th April 1778 aged 84. The Rent Roll for customary Tenants of Kington in 1754 shows Thomas Richards was paying 1s 8d on Lady Day and Michaelmas. He seems to have been living in the same area of the High Street as his neighbours in the list was Henry Cotten who we believe was living at 10 High Street. We note that there was an Anne Richards buried in Thornbury on 6th October 1776. She was said to be the wife of Thomas Richards and aged 70.
Susannah Ward – we don’t know when or for how long Susannah lived in the house. We also know very little about her although she lived in several other houses around Thornbury including the shop and buttery which became part of 22 Castle Street and an old house in Chapel Street near the corner of Upper Bath Road . She died aged 85 and was buried on 1st December 1818.
Obed Pitcher – listed as living in the house at some time well before 1820. Obed was born in 1777 and became a saddler like his father. Click here to read more
William Alway – listed as the previous occupant of the house before it was rebuilt by Samuel Penduck before 1820.
William Taylor Alway was born in Thornbury on 28th July 1792 and baptised on 30th September 1792. He was the son of Richard Alway and his wife, Jane (nee Taylor). William became a tinman and brazier. On 26th October 1815 William married Patience Payne at Wotton Under Edge, but they moved to live in Thornbury after the marriage, presumably in 4 High Street. They had four sons, William Taylor Alway born on 7th March 1817 although not baptised in Thornbury until 18th January 1826, John born on 2nd May 1819 and baptised in Thornbury on 18th January 1826, Richard Rodway born about 1822 but baptised on 18th January 1826 and James baptised on 27th April 1825.
Things didn’t go well for their marriage. Local and national newspapers in August 1825 reported a court case between William Alway and John Niblett, a plumber and glazier, in which William was claiming compensation from John as damages for what was referred to as ‘a criminal conversation’ involving William’s wife and John Niblett. The court awarded William £120 in compensation. The case details mentioned that William and Patience had separated, that William had give up his work and ‘become a wanderer from his home’. We are grateful to Lynne Leggett, a descendent of William’s father, for providing us with information about the family. William moved to London where he re-married. His second wife was Elizabeth Hanchett with whom he started a new family, having at least three children between 1827 and 1832.
We understand that William had some financial difficulties. In 1841 it was reported in the London Gazette that William Taylor Alway the elder of 7 Southampton Row, Holloway tinplate worker petitioned for release from Debtor’s Prison. At some point either he or his son, William Taylor Alway, Jr. began a fairly successful business, W. Alway & Sons, which manufactured brass churns and dairy utensils. The company was based in Pentonville and was still operating until the late 1890s. William Taylor Alway, Sr. died in 1861 in London.
Patience Alway was buried on June 17 1832 in Thornbury. It is not known if she was still living with John Niblett at the time.
Samuel Penduck – the indenture dated 13th July 1820 referred to above shows Samuel Penduck had bought the property at 4 High Street and he had recently ‘taken down and re-built’ the property. He also lived there for a time, although he ran into a financial problem, was unable to repay a mortgage he had taken out with Jonathan Sainsbury of Tytherington and he lost the property to Jonathan. Samuel and his wife Fanny had previously lived at the house on the site of 50 and 52 High Street
John Clark Wilkins – listed as living in 4 High Street in the deeds at some time before 1828. John was a land surveyor. He was later living at 37 High Street
John and Eliza Lane – Eliza Croome was born on 30th July 1792. She was the daughter of John Croome a school teacher and his wife, Lydia who had previously married James Gastrell who had died in 1787 aged only 39. The Bristol Times and Mercury of 30th June 1791 announced the marriage of the widowed Mrs Gastrell a governess of a school for young ladies to John Croom schoolmaster at Thornbury. Eliza’s mother died in 1810. Eliza’s father, John Croome died in 1821. Eliza’s parents and her mother’s previous husband were all buried in Thornbury St Mary’s Churchyard.
Eliza married John Lane a plumber in St Paul’s in Bristol on 27th August 1816. Their daughter, Lydia Lane was born in Corsham on 22nd December 1817. Their son, George Archer Lane was also born in Corsham on 6th November 1825 but he baptised in the Congregational Chapel in Thornbury on 26th February 1826. John and Eliza had two other daughters also baptised at the same church, Esther Louiza born 20th February 1830 and baptised on 17th July 1836 and Mary Elizabeth born on 14th November 1836 and baptised on 30th July 1837.
An indenture dated 31st March 1828 shows that John bought the property in which he was already living. John was described as a brazier at that time. He paid £421 for the house now known as 4 High Street. The 1840 Tithe Survey and the 1841 census show that John and the family were living at that house. The 1841 Census shows John Lane a plumber aged 45 and Eliza aged 48. With such parentage it is not a surprise to see that in this census Eliza, then aged 48, was a school mistress as was Lydia their daughter who was aged 20. Their other children were George aged 15, Hester 11 and Mary 4.
John Lane died in 1849. In his will dated 5th December 1849 John was described as a plumber, glazier and house painter. He appointed as his trustees: Richard William Dove of Falfield, Daniel Knapp, Thornbury blacksmith and his eldest son, John Croome Lane. He graciously directed that his wife, Eliza, would be entitled to receive for her own use any income due to her from her business as schoolmistress. He left his business to his son, George Archer Lane, and left his property in trust for the use of his wife during her widowhood and thereafter for the benefit of his children. It is interesting to note that the value of his estate was sworn to be under £1500 which is a considerable sum for that period.
The Trade Directories from at least 1842 show that Eliza Lane continued to work as a school mistress in Thornbury. Her son, George Archer Lane set up his plumbing business at 39 High Street The 1851 Census shows Eliza had moved to live at 4 Castle Street. In the 1851 Census Eliza Lane was a widow aged about 58 from Thornbury and her daughters, Lydia a 33 year old school mistress born in Corsham and 14 year old Mary E. born in Thornbury. They had one servant.
The 1859 Rate Book and the 1861 census show Eliza living in 4 High Street. Eliza Lane was then aged aged 68 and retired. Living with her was her married daughter, Eliza Maria Ashe aged 37 who was a corn factor’s wife and children, daughter Lydia aged 10 and baby John Angele Ashe of 11 months. Another daughter, Mary E Lane who was unmarried and aged 24, worked like her mother as a school mistress. They had two pupils living with them, Mary Ann Barber a scholar aged 14 and Sarah Ann Penduck a scholar aged 8. Maria Poole a servant also lived in the house. Eliza was shown as living and owning this house in the 1867 Rate Book. She must have died in the next year
or so, although unusually we can find no trace of the death. The image on the right dated 7th July 1866 shows Miss Lane (presumably Eliza’s daughter, Mary Elizabeth) was running the school (then referred to as a seminary) on her own.
On a document dated 24h February 1862 referring to a change of his late father’s trustees it was mentioned that John Croome Lane was a schoolmaster in Doncaster.
On 13th March 1869 there was a sale of the property ‘late the residence of Mrs Eliza Lane deceased’.
Eliza’s daughter Lydia Thompson Lane who had been living with her in Castle Street married comparatively late in life for those times. In 1853 she married Jonah Whitfield who was a miller at Morton Mill on the outskirts of Thornbury. They had four children (George, Wesley, Jonah and Lydia). According to a 1856 directory Lydia was running a ladies school in the High Street. We suspect that she was involved with the running of the same school as her mother and sister at 4 High Street and that she was probably still living with her husband and family.
The 1861 census shows them at the mill with Jonah’s father, also Jonah Whitfield aged 75. By 1881 Lydia Whitfield was a widow and her son George had taken over the running of the mill. Lydia Thompson Whitfield died in 1893 aged 75.
On January 5th 1867 the Gazette announced the marriage on January 1st at the Independent Chapel Thornbury of the Rev John Fargrave Joseph Taylor and Mary Elizabeth the youngest daughter of the late John Lane of Thornbury.
A sale notice dated 22nd March 1869 shows that George Lane was ‘yearly tenant’ of the property. It was described as ‘A substantially built and commodious messuage comprising 2 parlours, 2 kitchens, 2 underground cellars, 6 good bedrooms with attic and convenient offices together with garden and premises adjoining situate in the High Street, late the residence of Mrs Eliza Lane, deceased, and now in the occupation of Mr George Lane as yearly tenant. The lot has extensive frontage to the street is well and centrally situated for business and is copyhold of inheritance held in the Manor of Thornbury’. The conditions of sale shows that the title of this property commenced with ‘the admittance of Jonathan Sainsbury dated 13th July 1820‘.
James Clutterbuck – the 1851 census shows that James was living in the house with his family. James was described as a perfumer in this census. In the 1840 Tithe Survey he was living at 14 High Street. The 1841 census describes James as a hairdresser. Click here to read more
Walter Ellis – the 1871 census shows the property occupied by Walter Ellis. Walter was baptised on 18th December 1842, the son of Richard Ellis and his wife, Jane (nee House). Walter was a chemist like his father. In 1861 Walter was an apprentice living with his parents in the High Street.
In early 1862 Walter had married Emma Mary Kingdon in Bristol. The 1861 census shows that Emma was a schoolmistress living at the Priory in Castle Street. The 1862 Rate Book shows that Walter had recently taken over the occupancy of the property at 9 The Plain. Walter and Emma were living in St Nicholas, Bristol when their first son, Frederick Richard, was baptised on 6th August 1865. They had moved to Totterdown in 1867 when their second son, Walter Augustus, was baptised in Thornbury on 27th October 1867.
The 1871 census shows Walter and Emma had moved with their sons to Thornbury. Whilst Walter was being a chemist, his wife, Emma Mary, was running a boarding school for young ladies on the premises. Emma was the schoolmistress aged 33 born in Bristol. The school was attended by nine other children boarding there, most of whom came from far flung places like London, Birmingham, Plymouth, Barnstaple and Nailsea. There were three children from Oldbury: Annis and Louisa Rugman and Maria Young. Walter and Emma had two sons of their own who were scholars, but we are not sure where they received their schooling. There was also a domestic servant, Fanny Clutterbuck aged 17 from Thornbury.
An advert appeared in the Bristol Times and Mercury on 3rd January 1863 saying that the School for Young Ladies was run by ‘Mrs Ellis and Miss Kingdon’. We assume that Miss Kingdon was Emma’s younger sister.
Emma died aged 38 and was buried on 16th July 1876. The 1881 census shows Walter was living with his mother at 43 High Street. He was still working as a chemist. His son Walter was still living him, but there was no sign of Frederick. Little Walter moved to Bristol where he became a railway clerk and raised a family with his wife, Blanche.
Thomas Cox Smith – the 1881 census shows he was a tailor aged 24. Click here to read more
John Williams – the 1890 Rate Book and subsequent rate books show that John Williams had acquired the property. He must have bought the property on 11th November 1885 when it was put up for auction. It was described as ‘all that desirable residence known as Severn House situate in the centre of the High Street together with outbuildings, garden and premises thereto belonging. The house contains three sitting rooms, kitchen, back kitchen, larder and other offices, six bedrooms and large schoolroom also two underground cellars. The premises (which are well bounded) have for many years been used as a ladies school. The property is admirably adapted for a private residence or easily converted into good business premises. The house and a portion of the garden is copyhold of inheritance of the Manor of Thornbury and the remaining portion of the garden is freehold’.
John was a tailor and he had become the owner of a large number of properties in the centre of Thornbury. Click here to read more
Following John’s death in 1897 the property was left to his son, John Hodges Williams. It was still in the Williams family estate in 2012.
Joseph Sainsbury – the 1891 census shows Joseph was a plasterer and china shopkeeper aged 36. Still there in the 1911 census when the house was said to have eight rooms.
Joseph baptised on 2nd July 1854, the son of Frederick Sainsbury and his wife, Ellen. Joseph became a plasterer and tiler. On 31 July 1875 he married Mary Bevan, the daughter of Thomas Bevan, publican at the Seven Stars, Back Street. Mary was eight years older than Joseph and she was born on April 6th 1846. In 1881 Joseph and Mary were living at 4 Horseshoe Lane with their children Harry born in 1876, Charles Albert in 1878, and Ada in 1880, and sister Elizabeth C a dressmaker aged 19.
In 1891 the family had moved to 4 High Street where Joseph was a plasterer and china shopkeeper. (The Trade Directories shows that Joseph was an earthenware dealer). They had two more children by this time: Frederick born in 1883 and Mabel in 1888. Harry was now an outfitter’s apprentice aged 15. The 1901 Census lists their shop between the Register Office and the Wesleyan Chapel, but we believe that it was below the Wesleyan Chapel in the building now known as 4 High Street and occupied by the Italian restaurant. Joseph is described as a house decorator assisted by his son, Frederick. Their daughter Mabel is still at home.
The 1911 Census shows Joseph and Mary still living at 4 High Street. Joseph was a house decorator and Mary was a china shop dealer. Their daughter Mabel was still with her parents, assisting in the shop. Their married daughter, Ada Wilmot, was there as well. She had married Austin Gregory Wilmot in Thornbury in 1908. Austin was the son of Alfred Wilmot of Clapham Common.
Joseph was a deacon of what became known as the United Reformed Church. On the right we have a photograph of Joseph Sainsbury that we found in the office of the United Reformed Church.
On 10th December 1913 Joseph bought Epworth House for £450 at an auction.
Mary Sainsbury died October 12th 1915 and on 23rd October 1915 there was a newspaper report of her funeral which was conducted by a Wesleyan minister. Joseph and Mary’s sons; Charley, Fred and Harry attended the funeral with Mr Austin Wilmot his son in law. Another newspaper article explained that Mrs Sainsbury was 69 when she died. It also said that before they came to live at Epworth House, Mary Sainsbury had carried on a business of a china dealer.
On 19th April 1921 Joseph married a spinster, Ellen Barber whose address was given as ‘The Castle’. Ellen was the daughter of Daniel Barber, a butcher. She was born 31st October 1870. The Electoral Rolls of 1925 to 1927 show that Joseph and Ellen Sainsbury continued to live at Epworth House.
Joseph Sainsbury died in 1931 aged 76. His obituary in the Gazette that year said that he was the best known of Thornbury tradesmen and referred to his long service and devotion to the church. He had been a deacon of Thornbury Congregational Church for 20 years. It also mentioned that he was a rugby player in his youth and that his team reached the final of the Davis Canning Cup Competition.
The Electoral Rolls of 1931 to 1946 show only Ellen Sainsbury’s name as a resident of Epworth House. The register that was compiled in 1939 in the advent of war shows that Clifford Wall was lodging in the house. He was serving in the mercantile marine. His name was struck though as at the time of the register Clifford was at sea.
We also know that in later years it was also the home of Miss Mabel Sainsbury because a newspaper article of this period shows that Mabel Sainsbury’s pupils had gained success in the music exams and described her address as Epworth House. We also have a postcard written by Mabel Sainsbury about Ellen at this time, which makes clear that she was the primary carer.
The postcard reads; “Ma wishes me to write and send you our house also wish you many happy returns, she is very sorry not to be able to write, she is much better and able to go out in the wheelchair sometimes and is hoping soon to go to chapel but I am afraid to think of that.”
Ellen died at 97 North Road Midsomer Norton aged 78, although her home address was given as Epworth House. She was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 19th March 1949. Probate was granted to Alice Maria Hunt the wife of Ernest Hunt. On 26th April 1949 the sale was announced of Epworth House and its contents. The house failed to reach its reserve price at auction and an announcement appeared in the paper that it would have to be sold by private treaty.
Read about Joseph’s son, Frederick
Ernest Augustus Pitcher – we know by the 1918 electoral register Ernest and Annie Pitcher were living at 4 High Street. Annie ran the sweet shop across the road at 3 High Street. Ernest and Annie continued living here until about 1937 they bought a house at 3 Castle Street. Click here to read more about the Pitchers
Rosina Hutchins – we have been told that Rosina Hutchins moved in to work for the Pitchers in the 1930’s and that Rosina had a daughter, Nancy. The 1927 electoral register shows Rosina was there at that time sharing the house with the Pitchers. We know that Rosina ran a hairdresser’s salon in the right hand front room of the house and washed her customers hair in the small kitchen at the rear. Rosina also ran dancing lessons in the Assembly Rooms, a small dance hall in the rear of The Exchange pub (now the Knot of Rope).
Rosina White was born on 9th February 1891. We suspect she was the daughter of Peter White, a fishmonger from Dublin and his wife, Rosina, who were living at 11 High Street, Shirehampton in the 1891 census. She married Arthur F Hutchins in the Bristol area in 1914 and their daughter, Nancy Josephine was born on 8th June 1914. The electoral register lists Rosina in the High Street from 1927, but there is no sign of Arthur living here. He died in the Bristol area in 1932. We understand that Rosina bought a house at the top end of the town, 44 High Street, which she named ‘Nancy Cottage’ after her daughter. Rosina let this out to tenants.
The special register compiled in 1939 in preparation for the war lists Rosina and Nancy as living in the house. Both of them were described as hairdressers. Alice Cullimore was also living them as housekeeper. She was an unmarried lady born on 6th August 1856.
In 1940 daughter, Nancy, married Samuel R Stone and we understand they moved in to live with Rosina. Rosina died aged 51 and she was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 19th November 1941. The 1946 electoral register shows Nancy carried on living at 4 High Street, but there is no sign of Samuel. It appears that Nancy and Samuel divorced in 1946 and then Nancy re-married the same year. There is a record of a marriage of Nancy J Stone in Thornbury in 1946 to Albert W. C. Bevan. Albert was listed as living in Nancy Cottage 44 High Street in the 1946 electoral register with Thomas O. Bevan. We don’t know who Thomas was. By the 1950 electoral register there is no sign of Nancy, Albert or Thomas in Thornbury.
Kenneth and Gladys Reece – the Reeces first moved into the house in 1940 when their house in Filton was ‘bombed out’. They stayed here for a long time, Gladys finally moving out in November 2000.
Gladys May born on 11th May 1914. She was the daughter of John and Annie King, who lived in Gloucester Road North, Filton. In June 1938 Gladys married Kenneth Randolph Reece. He was born on 23rd February 1907, the second son of Arthur Reece of Hinton, Sharpness.
We understand Kenneth and Gladys’s first home was Greyhurst, Everlands, Cam, but they moved to live in Filton. In 1940 when they were ‘bombed out’ they moved to Thornbury where Glady’s sister, Peggy, was already living. They took rooms over the hairdressing salon at 4 High Street, but when the salon closed, presumably in 1941 when Rosina Hutchins died, they were able to take over the whole of the right hand side of the house. When Nancy moved out of the left hand side of the house, the Reeces moved to that part. Gladys’s father, Jack King, and her sister, Shirley, were also living there for a while following the death of Gladys’s mother in 1947. Jack died on 1st March 1955 aged 67 and Shirley moved away following her marriage to Roy Adlem in Thornbury in 1956.
Kenneth and Gladys left the house in November 2000 and Kenneth died June 2001 in the Stroud area.
From the time when the Pitchers occupied the house in the 1920’s and 30’s, the house had been shared by more than one family group. During the War, we understand that the house was shared by several families. One of these families was Wilson and Ethel Dent.
The Dents – Wilson Exworth Dent was born in Bristol in 1903. He was the son of Herbert Austin Dent and his wife, Eliza Jane (nee Hewlett). Wilson married Ethel Ruby Fey in Bristol area in 1935. Ethel (shown in the photo on the right) was born on 9th November 1903, the daughter of Frederick Fey and his wife Blanche (nee Webley). The 1946 electoral register shows that they had moved to Thornbury by that time and they were living in the house, then described as Severn View, The Plain. They continued living there until around 1954. The 1958 register shows they had left Thornbury but they must have continued living in the area as Wilson died whilst living at 23 Quarry Mead, Alveston on 8th April 1963. Ethel’s funeral was arranged by the Thornbury undertakers, Pitchers, when she was buried on 30th January 1977 aged 73.
In 1954 the owner of the property (thought still to be the Williams family) finally changed to the building into two separate premises with two front doors.
Dennis and Joan Hiscock – the 1959 electoral register shows that Dennis and Joan were then living in the house, presumably in the right hand part. Joan was born on 16th September 1932, the daughter of Arthur and Winifred Hill. When Joan was admitted to the Council School in 1937 the family were living in Crossways, but they were living in St Mary Street in the 1946 electoral register. The record of Joan’s marriage to Dennis Arthur William Hiscock on 2nd September 1954 shows that Joan’s address was 39 St Mary Street. At that time, Dennis was a lorry driver from Old Down. Dennis and Joan moved to live at 4 High Street. They were still there in 1961 and 1965 electoral registers.
David and Barbara Ward – by 1970 David and Barbara had moved to live alongside the Reeces and became great friends of them and Gladys’ siblings and their families. Dave had married Barbara in Bristol in 1967. For many years Dave worked as a postman and became extremely popular and well known for his friendly manner. When he retired he worked for a few years in Thornbury Hospital where his personable character was also well appreciated.
Since 2000 the building was converted back to one property and became a popular Italian restaurant trading under various names including La Bruschetta and La Piazza.