For many years, this shop has been known to most people in Thornbury as ‘Riddifords’, one of three long-standing family businesses (the others being Horders and Saverys), each with its own unique character.  Riddifords is an ‘old-fashioned’ grocery and provision shop where people wait in turn to be provided to have their requirements satisfied by helpful counter staff.   The two photos below show the shop in earlier times.  Click on the thumbnails below to see larger images.Man with basket, High St

The deeds of the property show that the present building was erected in the early 1800’s (between 1810 and 1827).  However the deeds say that it ‘was re-built on the site of a ruinous messuage tenement and shop’ and that property had been part of an old inn called the ‘Tyger’s (or Tiger’s) Head’ which had occupied the site of the present two properties, 51 and 53 High Street.  We are fortunate that this property was one of the several properties belonging to the Hylpe charitable gift.  In his last will John Hylpe required all subsequent owners of the property to pay the Mayor a fixed annual rent charge of 4s 4d.  Thus the Mayors Accounts which we have seen from 1609 provide a useful source of information about the owners and occupiers of the property.

The earliest document mentioning the ‘Tygers Head’ is the Mayors Accounts 1622 when ‘Mr Hawksworth’ was behind in paying the 4s 4d rent charge owing under the will of John Hylpe.  We know from the marriage settlement referred to below that Peter Hawkesworth purchased the Tygers Head from William Brewton and the Mayors Accounts show that ‘William Bruton’ was paying the rent charge in that period.

The marriage settlement dated 18th April 1667 was between Peter Hawksworth of Binegar near Melksham clothier and Ann Bayly the daughter of Edward Bayly yeoman of Holt.  Peter was the grandson of Peter Hawksworth living inRH31 High St. Thornbury the property in 1622 and son of John Hawksworth who had moved away from Thornbury.  Several properties were mentioned in the marriage settlement including The Chantry in Castle Street.  The property in the High Street which we believe to be the Tygers Head was described the property as:

All that messuage or tenement barne or outhouse orchard garden and backside thereunto adjoining and belonging conteyning two half burgages with their and every of their appurtenance one halfe burgage whereof was heretofore bought and purchased by one William Brewton deceased of and from John Hilpe late of Thornbury in the County of Gloucestershire Gent also deceased and the other halfe burgage was heretofore bought and purchased by the said William Brewton of one Thomas Collins late of Thornbury aforesaid deceased and also one parcel of land conteyning nyne foot of ground or thereaboute adjoyning to the said messuage or tenement upon which a chymny was erected and built which sometimes did belonge to the said tenement of the said Thomas Collins together with all and singular wayes easements profitts commodities rights and appurtenances to the said messuage or tenement and every parte of the premises beloginge or apperteyning.  

All which said premises are situate and lying and being within the Burrough or Towne of Thornbury aforesaid betweene the Landes sometimes heretofore of Thomas Ockbourne deceased and since in the tenure or occupation of John Parker or of his assigns on or nigh the Northside and the Landes sometimes of Thomas Russell deceased heretofore in the occupation of one Thomas Edmonds on or nigh the South side and the Streete there called St Mary Streete backwards on or nigh the East side and the High Streete of the said Burrough or Town forwards on or nigh the West side which were heretofore in the tenure or occupation of the said William Brewton and Jane his mother”.

We know of a court roll transcription dated 30th October 1617 Peter Hawksworth gave a fine of two shillings giving him the right to purchase two half burgages in Thornbury.  The transcription shows that they were bought from William Brockton but we suspect that they are the same two half burgages Peter’s grandson, also called Peter Hawksworth, sold in 1667 and thus the original owner should have been William Brewton (or William Bruton).

Thus one of the earliest owners of part of the property was John Hylpe (or Hilpe) and this is confirmed by the records of the Town Trust who took over responsibility for managing the charity.  These show that the owners of the two properties which replaced he Tygers Head were responsible for making an annual payment as part of the Hylpe Charitable trust.  They say:

Of William Clark out of a messuage and garden in the Forestreet in the occupation of his son William Clark junior 2s and Of John Wade out of a messuage and garden in his own possession adjoining the last mentioned messuage of William Clark 2s 4d.  These two last mentioned houses were formerly in one and called the Tygers Head‘.

Click here to read about John Hilpe and the trust

We don’t know anything about William Brewton nor Thomas Collins.

The Hawksworths (or Hawkesworths) – the Hawksworth family played a major role in Thornbury during the seventeenth century and they were connected with several inns in the Town.  Click here to read about the Hawksworth family

A court roll transcription dated 30th October 1617 shows Peter Hawksworth gave a fine of two shillings giving him the right to purchase two half burgages in Thornbury.  The location of the property is not identified in the document but we know from later documents that this refers to the ‘Tygers Head’.  The 1617 transcription shows that they were bought from William Brockton but we suspect that they are the same two half burgages referred to in a marriage settlement involving Peter’s grandson, in 1667 and thus the original owner should have been William Brewton.

We are not sure when Peter died.  The Mayors Accounts lists Dorothy Hawksworth as responsible for paying the rent charge in 1845, but she was already 4 years in arrears.  Peter’s last will and testament was proved on 29th May 1649 and he left his two properties in the Borough (which now included The Tavern) for the use of his wife, Dorothy and then descend to their son, John.  Peter doesn’t describe his property, but specifically mentions that after the determination of his wife’s estate (inherited from the Harris family) their son, Richard, should benefit from the rents and profits from half of the tenement known as the Tygers Head for the term of 30 years if he should live that long.

The Mayors Accounts show Richard Hawksworth was paying the rent charge on the Tygers Head from 1655 to 1663. Richard was Mayor of Thornbury in 1664/5 and again in 1675/76.

From 1665 Peter Hawksworth is paying the rent charge.  We believe Peter to be the son of Richard Hawksworth and grandson of Peter Hawksworth referred to above.  A marriage settlement was made on 18th April 1667 in anticipation of the intended marriage involving Peter Hawksworth and Ann Bayley (the daughter of Edward Bayley yeoman of Holt in Wiltshire).  Peter was then a clothier living at Binegar near Melksham.  Several properties were mentioned in this document including The Chantry in Castle Street and The Tygers Head in the High Street.  All his property was to be put into a trust for Anne Bayley to provide an income for her should she survive her future husband.

Peter Hawksworth continued to own the Tygers Head even though he carried on living in Wiltshire.  Peter (under the name of Peter Hawksworth the Elder, a yeoman) finally sold his interest in that property on 29th August 1699.  The indenture shows that Peter’s wife, Anne and their son (then referred to as Peter Hawksworth the Younger of Bristol blacksmith) and his wife, Margaret? were parties to the sale to Hezekiah Hewett.  The property was described as being:

All that messuage or tenement with backside and garden and appurtenances thereunto adjoining and belonging containing in the whole by estimation two half burgages situate lying and being within the Borough or Town of Thornbury adjoining to the High Street there on the westward part thereof and formerly was an Inn commonly called or known by the sign of the Tigers Head and is now converted into two tenements wherein William Burton, Anne Thomas and Margaret Marsh do now or late did inhabit‘.

The Mayors Accounts lists several other occupants of the property between 1687 and 1699: Anne Dimory (1687), Francis Shipley (1691 – 1693), Phillip Mansell (1694 – 1696) and Thomas Farr (1697 – 1698) and William Burton (1699).  The Overseers Account books gives a slightly different picture listing John Dimory as being in Tygers Head from 1673 to 1687 and Joseph Smyth in 1688, Samuel White in 1689 and Francis Shipley in 1690.

From the accounts of the Quakers that are held in Gloucester Archives we know that some of these tenants (including Thomas Farr, William Burton and Samuel White) were known to be Quakers. It is possible that they all were.

The HewettsHezekiah Hewlett senior bought the two properties which were formerly the Tygers Head from the Hawkesworths in 1699. There were more than one Hezekiah Hewett around at this time.

We note that the Mayors Accounts books lists Hezekiah and John Hewett as sharing the single payment of the 4s 4d annual rent charge from 1700 to 1703.  We are not sure which Hezekiah Hewett was sharing with John.  We note that it from 1704 to 1722 the accounts show that John and Guy Hewett were sharing the rent charge.  We suspect therefore that it may have been Hezekiah junior, the grandson of Hezekiah senior who died in August 1704 rather than Hezekiah senior who died in 1705.  Click here to read about the Hewett family

We haven’t seen Hezekiah’s will, but we suspect he shared the properties between his two sons, John and Guy.  It appears that Guy Hewett was left the property which became 51 High Street and John was left the property which became 53 High Street.

A later indenture (dated 1757) indicates that Hezekiah had originally left 51 High Street to his wife, Catherine, for her life.  However she pre-deceased him and was buried on 1st May 1701.  Fortunately Hezekiah had specified that in event of Catherine’s death the property would be left for their son, Guy Hewett for his life and then after his death to Guy’s daughter, Mary.  Mary died intestate without issue and the property was left to her brother, Guy Hewett.  An indenture dated March 3rd 1753 relating to the property that is now 53 High St says that the ‘lands’ to the North (that is of 51 High St) are now owned by Guy Hewett.

On 3rd June 1757, Guy Hewett, who was a tailor of Thornbury sold 51 High Street to James Wade, a blacksmith of Thornbury (and Ann his wife).  At that time the property was occupied by Richard Fowler, a shoemaker.  We note that a Richard Fowler was baptised on 1st January 1722.  He was the son of John Fowler.  A later conveyance dated 5th October 1810 shows that ‘James Fowler’ had lived in the property before James Wade, the next owner.  We don’t know any more about James.

The Wades – the property was bought by James Wade, blacksmith of Thornbury in 1757.

On 24th June 1741 James Wade married Ann Smith in Thornbury.  They had at least one son, John, who was born about 1744 (according to his age at death).  We suspect that they had another son called James who died aged 32 and was buried on 5th April 1785.  Ann died aged 40 and was buried on 23rd July 1758.  James died aged 55 years and was buried on 5th January 1770.  The burial record describes James as a farrier.  An indenture dated 1810 shows us that James Wade died intestate and the property was passed to John Wade, his eldest son and heir at law.

On 8th May 1759 James Wade was charged at the Court Leet and required to remove his muck and rubbish from before his door within 14 days on pain of five shillings.  By the time of the next Court Leet on 17th October 1759 James was said to have continued to make a muck hill and throw his ashes into the street before his door and amerced him five shillings and unless it was removed within 14 days and he would be amerced with a further sum of 10 shillings.

On 25th October 1770 John Wade married Grace Jefferys of Olveston at Thornbury.  John and Grace had several children, some of whom are listed under the surname of Ward or Warde.  John ‘Ward’ was born on 9th May 1775 and baptised on 1st October 1775.  Anne ‘Ward’ was born on 2nd September 1778 and baptised on 1st November 1778.  William ‘Warde’ was born on 21st May 1780 and baptised on 23rd July 1780.  Elizabeth ‘Wade’ born on 27th January 1784 and baptised on 20th July 1784.  John was Mayor of Thornbury in 1788/89 and he died a few years later aged 48.  He was buried on 30th August 1792.  In his will dated 1st July 1792 John left the shop and use of the entry and backside to his son, John Wade, and the rest of the property was left to Grace during her natural life as long as she didn’t marry again.  Following Grace’s death or re-marriage, then the property would all be left for John.

Grace’s son, John Wade, was a blacksmith and by 1810 he had moved to live in Gloucester Lane, Bristol.  John may have been married to a lady called Frances as there is a record in Scribes Alcove of the birth of John Wade, son of John and Frances Wade on 20th April 1800.  It is interesting to note that in 1810, the year that John Wade appears to have disappeared from Thornbury, several newspapers carried a story about a blacksmith called James Wade who was wanted for the shooting and malicious wounding of a butcher from Cromhall called John Reed.  Ten guineas reward was offered for information leading to the apprehension of James Wade.  We do not know if the James Wade in the reports was actually John Wade but it is a possibility and we have a thumbnail image of the article that appeared in the Hampshire Chronicle of 1810 to explain what happened.  Please click on it for a larger image.

Grace who was still living at the shop in the High Street sold the property in 1824.  She owed money to William Rolph as part of various mortgages she and her son, had taken out on the property.  She must have had difficulty in paying back the money owed and she was forced to sell her interest.  She was still living in the property at the time of the sale.  Grace must have moved elsewhere by 1825 when property sold by William Rolph.

She died aged 88 and was buried on 6th September 1832.

William Rolph – on 6th March 1824 the property was conveyed to William Rolph.  William was born on 7th August 1791, the son of George Rolph and his wife, Sarah Delaroche.

We suspect that William’s interest in the property arose from him being owed money by Grace who had taken out a mortgage on the property. William didn’t keep the property long.  On 26th May 1825 he sold it to Samuel Penduck.  Click here to read about William Rolph

Note – the property in the indentures from 1825 onwards describe it as ‘All that messuage or tenement lately erected and built on the site or place of a ruinated messuage or tenement and shop’.  We cannot be sure whether this means the previous building was pulled down and a new one erected or just a major re-building of the old property.

Samuel Penduck – Samuel was a carpenter who had once lived at 50 High Street.  On 26th May 1825 Samuel purchased 51 High Street with the help of as a mortgage from Mrs Mary Luce.  Samuel didn’t keep it long.  On 18th January 1827 he sold it to Thomas Evans.  Click here to read more

Thomas Evans and the Hignells – Thomas Evans was a baker.  He bought the property on 26th May 1825.  The 1809 Rent Roll shows that Thomas was living somewhere in Castle Street, in a house owned by James Allen.

When Thomas died in 1835 he left the property where he lived, which he bought from Samuel Penduck, to his daughter, Ann.  She had married Stephen Hignell in Bristol on 30th September 1832.   Stephen was a corn dealer and he took over the High Street shop.  Ann died in 1849 and Stephen moved to 50 High Street by 1871, allowing his son, Thomas Evans Hignall to take over the shop at 51 High Street.  By the 1881 census Thomas had moved away to live at Thornbury Farm.  On 13th October 1886 Thomas put up for auction four properties including the High Street shop then being let to Thomas Exell.  It was sold for £950.  The 1887 Rate Book shows the property was bought by John Taylor, although it was still being let to Thomas Exell.  Click here to read about the Evans and Hignell families

The 1890 Rate Book shows the property owned by John Taylor and lying vacant.

Luke Cullimore – the 1881 census shows Luke was living at 51 High Street.  He was a pig dealer and flour merchant aged 34 living with his wife, Amy L aged 40 from Stapleton and their seven children.  They had moved here from The Plough in St Mary Street.  By the 1885 Rate Book he had moved further down the 45 High Street.  Click here to read more

Thomas Exell – the 1885 Rate Book shows that Thomas Exell was renting the shop from Thomas Evans Hignell.  The 1886 sale notice shows he was still the occupant at the time of the sale.  Thomas didn’t stay her long.  By 1890 he had moved to his own property at 45 High Street and the 1891 census shows he had a grocery business there.  Click here to read more

George Henry Baylis – the 1891 census shows George was living in the house.  He was a carrier living with his wife, Louisa and their two children: Robert B and Dora G.  Click here to read more

John Croome Cullimore – the 1899 Rate Book and the 1901 census show the property now occupied by John Croome Cullimore, a coal merchant aged 44.  He was living with his wife, Edith Sarah aged 31 from Tytherington, their son, Dudley John aged 4 and a general domestic servant, Mary E Savery aged 16.  The owner of the house in the 1899 Rate Book was James Taylor.

John Croome Cullimore was born in Alveston in 1855, the son of William and Ann Cullimore.  In the 1861 census the family were living at The Rookery in Alveston.  William was described as a landed proprietor.  In the 1871 census William was described as a land owner living at Cheltenham Villa, Gloucester Road, Horfield in Bristol.  The 1881 census shows that they had returned to The Rookery, where William was a farmer of 123 acres employing 3 men and John was assisting on the farm.

John married Edith Sarah Tyler in 1895.  John and Edith were still at 51 High Street in the 1905 Rate Book, but by the 1907 and 1910 Rate Book they had moved to 49 High Street which he was renting from Thomas Exell.  He was still listed as living in this property in the 1925 Valuation List, but by the 1926 Rate Book they had moved to 34 High Street, a property belonging to the Town Trust.

John died on 28th January 1936 aged 79.  His obituary printed in the Gazette mentions he was the last life member of the Town Trust who had lived in Thornbury for 40 years and he was for many years associated with Thornbury Coal Company.

After John’s death, it appears that ‘Sally’ moved to live with her son, Dudley in Alveston.  She died on 23rd September 1951 and she is buried in the same grave as John in Thornbury Cemetery.

Their son, Dudley John, was born on 5th February 1897 and baptised on 5th March 1897.  He was admitted to the Grammar School on 14th January 1906 after attending a private preparatory school.  He left school on 19th December 1912 to become an insurance clerk.  Dudley served in the Royal Army Medical Corps during the First World War.  In 1926 he married Mildred Laura Wilkins, the daughter of Arthur Hewlett Wilkins, the draper in the High Street.  Dudley and Mildred were living at Church Road in 1926 Rate Book and we understand they had two sons, David and John.  They later moved to live in Alveston.

Eli Butt – Eli was a grocer.  The 1905 Rate Book shows Eli had bought 51 High Street, although at that time he was living at 56 High Street and renting 51 High Street to John Croome Cullimore.  However by the 1907 Rate book Eli had moved into 51 High Street.  He was still living there according to the 1916 Prewett’s directory and 1918  electoral register.  Click here to read more

Dents – the next occupant of the property was Walter Hutton Dent who was also a grocer. 

Walter was born in Lambeth area of London in 1872.  He was the son of William Dent, a grocer and cheesemonger and his wife, Eliza.  In 1881 they were living in Kennington Road, Lambeth and by 1891 Walter was assisting in his father’s business.  In 1894 Walter married Louisa Whales in Lambeth.  The 1901 census shows Walter and Louisa living at 14 Bisham Court Road, Streatham.  Walter had become a grocer and cheesemonger.

The 1911 census shows Walter and Louisa living in the Thanet area of Kent.  We don’t know how many children they had.  There was one called Walter Thomas who became a chartered accountant and another Ronald who was born in Bromley area in 1911 and became an electrician.

We think he moved to Thornbury a year or so before 1921 as he appears in the electoral register of that year.  The 1926 Rate Book shows Walter was renting 51 High Street from the previous occupant, Eli Butt.  Walter is listed in the 1927 electoral register, but around 1929 he moved away, allowing Lionel Riddiford to take over the shop and premises.  The 1934 rate shows Walter still owned 53 High Street which is renting out to Adrienne Dicker.  At that time his address was Dingle Dell, Teignmouth.  He died in Teignmouth Hospital on 30th June 1954.  After Walter’s death according to the rate books the property was owned by ‘H.H. Dent’.

Riddifords – we understand that Lionel Edmund Riddiford acquired the shop about 1929 at the time he got married.  It has been run by members of Lionel’s family ever since.

Lionel Edmund was born on 28th May 1897.  He was the son of Thomas Sidney Riddiford, an agricultural labourer and Mary Ann (nee Mouser) of who were living at Duckhole in the 1901 census.  It would appear that Lionel started work as an apprentice grocer working for Eli Butt but when the War started he joined up and served with the Worcester Regiment.  Afterwards, he returned to work as a grocer, moving to work for Walter Dent when he took over from Eli Butt.  In 1929 Lionel took over the shop and premises from Walter Dent when he moved away.

During the early 1920s Lionel is listed as living in Duckhole with his siblings.  In April 1929 Lionel married Hilda Elizabeth Bartlett at the Congregational Church.  Hilda was born on 28th May 1898.  She was the daughter of John Nathaniel Bartlett, a butcher with a shop at 4 The Plain, and his second wife, Elizabeth Celia.  Lionel and Hilda had three children: Doreen A in 1930, Frances H born in 1933 and Barclay Lionel born in 1936.

Lionel and Hilda continued run the shop and to live in the premises above.  The special register compiled in 1939 in preparation for the war shows that Hilda’s father was living with them at the shop.

We have one story about getting into trouble during the war.  The Western Daily Press of 12th July 1941 says that he was fined £5 at Thornbury Police Court.  Apparently Lionel had had a bonfire in his garden of nesting hay, poultry manure and other refuse.  He said that some of his employees must have left wood lying about as that night the neighbours reported a big bonfire of at least four feet square and flames shooting high into the night.  The fire brigade turned up and extinguished the blaze.  Interestingly Lionel was not fined for his inadvertent arson attempt or wasting the fire brigade’s time.  His offence was to have a light burning at night which was in contravention of war time regulations.

Lionel died on 6th February 1965 aged 67 and Hilda carried on the responsibility of running the shop.  When she died on 25th October 1982 aged 84 the shop was taken over by Barclay.

Barclay had married Ann Rea in 1961 and they chose to live in their home 22 Castle Street rather than at the shop.  They had two children: John B born in 1965 and Jane Elizabeth born in 1967.  Both births were registered in Bristol.   Click here to read more about Barclay and his family

At a time when other family-run grocery shops were being closed as a result of competition from supermarkets, Barclay refused to change the character of his shop.  He had built up the business based on personal service, the provision of a vast range of goods displayed in cabinets stretching from floor to ceiling and a home delivery service.  This continued even when Barclay’s son, John took over as the front man in the shop, although Barclay was still very much involved, and was still seen restocking the stock in the late evenings and open for business to the late night revellers coming out of the local pubs.

Barclay Riddiford died on April 13th 2013 and was much mourned not only by his family and close friends but by all of Thornbury.  There is a seat in memory of him in the Munday playing field.  Click here to read the report of the death of a much loved man

Click on the thumbnails below to see a few photos of the shop taken in 2009.  The first of these shows John Riddiford and his son, Oliver who have taken over from Barclay.

Riddifords2    Riddifords3