51 & 53 High Street

The photograph above was taken in 2012.  It shows the two properties, 51 High Street on the left and 53 High Street on the right.

We were fortunate to have seen some of the deeds of 51 High Street and these show that the two properties were on the site of an inn known by the name of the ‘Tygers Head‘.  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.  Click here to read about the early history of this property

The Tygers Head was owned by the Hawksworth family and by 1699 the inn had ceased trading and had been converted into two properties when they were bought by Hezekiah Hewett.

The Hewetts – Hezekiah Hewlett senior bought the two properties which were formerly the Tygers Head from the Hawkesworths in 1699.  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 on the two properties.  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.

In John’s will dated 17th October 1722 John left 53 High Street (described as ‘the property occupied by William Burton’) to his wife, Martha during her natural life.  After Martha’s death, the property was left to their son, John for his life and then it was left to his daughter, Betty (the grand-daughter of John and Martha).

We know a little about William Burton who was the tenant in 1722.  William Burton was a Quaker and a school master.   In 1691 a Friends’ School for both sexes was recorded in Thornbury and it seems that William Burton became a teacher at this school in 1690/1.  He had a long career in Thornbury.  He married Sarah Weeks of Alveston on 22 January 1690/1 and was buried at Thornbury on 31 January 1731/2 aged 72.

The Mayors Accounts show that from 1723 to 1730 John’s widow, Martha Hewett was sharing with Guy Hewett the payment of the annual rent charge of 4s 4d on the two properties.  We are not sure why, but the 1731 accounts shows that ‘Hester Grove’ was sharing the annual payment of the rent charge in place of Martha.  This is puzzling for two reasons: Martha was not buried until 2nd May 1736 and Hester Grove was the maiden name of the wife of John and Martha’s son, John.  He married Hester Grove in Thornbury on 31st August 1708.  The Mayors Accounts books show that from 1732 the property was in the hands of the Hall family.

The Halls – the Mayors Accounts shows that Mary Hall was paying the rent charge from 1732 to 1741.  From 1742 Benjamin Hall was paying the charge until 1745.

We note that on 6th October 1718 Benjamin Hall married Mary Grove in Thornbury.  It is possible that Mary was a sister to Hester Grove who married John Hewett in 1708 (see above).

We know that Benjamin and Mary has at least one daughter, Mary Hall, baptised on 24th February 1724.  This Mary went on to marry William Clark (see below).  She inherited the property at 53 High Street at some time before the marriage.

Mary was buried on 23rd March 1750.  She was described as being ‘the wife of Benjamin Hall of Bristol’.  The 1746 Mayors Accounts show William Clark as responsible for the payment of the rent charge which had now been divided.  Benjamin was paying 2s 0d for 53 High Street and Guy Hewett paying 2s 4d for 51 High Street.

WILLIAM CLARK Senior –  the Mayors Accounts show that William was paying the rent charge from 1746.  An indenture dated 3rd March 1753 shows that William Clark shoemaker and his wife, Mary (late Mary Hall) were arranging a mortgage of £20 on the property (now 53 High Street) which had been inherited by Mary before her marriage.

Further lists produced in 1769 (for the assessment of poor relief rate) and 1775 Land Tax records show William Clark owning and occupying the property previously occupied by ‘Hewetts’.  Click here to read about William Clark senior

In 1787 William took out a mortgage of £200 on the property.  Documents in 1792 show William had moved away and his son, William Clark junior, was now occupying it.  There were problems in repaying the mortgage and William made an arrangement with Ralph Grove to take over the debt.  The documents appear to indicate that Ralph bought the property but later records sow that the Clarks continued to own it.

By the time of the 1796 Land Tax record the property had been transferred to William’s son, William Clark junior.

WILLIAM CLARK Junior – William was baptised 21st April 1756.  He became a cordwainer like his father.  He married twice, his wives were sisters, Sarah and Elizabeth Latch.

By 1797 the land tax records show that William jnr was now the owner and occupant of 53 High Street, the property previously owned by his father.  William is named as both owner and occupant up to 1825 in the land tax records.  For the period from 1825 onwards the land tax records show William let it out to various tenants (see box below).  William died on 10th February 1837 aged 81.  We have had some difficulty in reading William’s will but he arranged to leave the house where he then lived (in 1821) to his niece, Harriett Pool, daughter of William Pool, an ironmonger of Bristol.  In a codicil to the will dated 4th November 1827 William arranged for certain financial bequests to be made following the death of Elizabeth including £20 to John Pool, ironmonger of Bristol and brother of the above mention Harriett Pool.  We cannot be sure which house he was referring to as his home in 1821.  At the time of the Tithe Survey in 1840 the property at 53 High Street was owned by Elizabeth Clark and occupied by James Vaughan.  There is no mention of Harriett Pool owning any property in Thornbury.

Elizabeth died aged 82 and was buried on 5th July 1852.  The property at 53 High Street was inherited by William Clark, the grandson of William’s sister, Sarah (and the son of Sarah’s illegitimate son, Hugh Clark and his wife, Hannah nee Taylor).

Tenants of William Clark junior and his wife, Elizabeth

  • William Embley – the land tax records of 1826 to 1828 show William as being the tenant of the property.  Click here to read more
  • William Harvey – the land tax records of 1829, 1830 and 1832 list William as being the tenant of the property. 
    We suspect that William was the druggist who was living across the road at 52 High Street in the 1841 census.  Click here to read more
  • James Vaughan – the 1840 Tithe Survey shows James was the tenant of the house.  The 1841 census shows James Vaughan was there – he was a druggist aged 28 living with Hester aged 50, Henry aged 15 and William Latch a labourer aged 60.  Hester was the sister of Elizabeth Clark who was then the owner of the property.  Click here to read more
  • George Phipps – the 1851 census shows the property occupied by George Phipps a shoemaker aged 31 from Hambrook, his wife, Ann aged 26 from Rockhampton, and their children: William aged 10 born in Newport, Monmouth, Sarah aged 5, Harriett aged 3 and Ann aged 1, born in Rockhampton, plus five journeymen cordwainers.  By 1861 the family had moved to Ladywood, Birmingham and by then they had three more children, John, Henry and Mary Ann all born in Birmingham.  They were still in Birmingham in the 1871 census but they moved to Canada where Henry died in Brantford, Ontario on 25th February 1880.  Ann also died there on 21st March 1880.

Note – there is a mention in the 1896 Abstract of Title for the adjoining property (55 High Street) of two other tenants, Harriett Temperance Holmes and then George Walker.  We do not know when either of them were tenants in the property nor any more about them.

ANOTHER WILLIAM CLARK – this William was born 22nd October 1808 and baptised 13th November 1808, the grandson of William Clark Junior’s sister, Sarah (and the son of Sarah’s illegitimate son, Hugh Clark and his wife, Hannah nee Taylor.  He inherited the property in 1852.

The 1841 census shows that William was living with his parents at 23 St Mary Street.  Hugh died in 1844.  The 1851 census shows his widow, Hannah was aged 63 from Thornbury living with her son, William a master cordwainer aged 41 and her daughter Hannah aged 23.  The Trade Directory of 1856 described William as a bootmaker and gave his address as St Mary Street.  In 1859 the apprenticeship records show that William had a new apprentice, William Fredrick Sargent.

The 1861 census shows that William Clark had moved from St Mary Street and now lived at 53 High Street.  In this census he was aged 51 and a cordwainer employing a man and a boy.  He was unmarried and there was what was described as a “visitor” Hannah Clark age 73 a widow, who must have been his mother.

Having stayed a bachelor until his mid 50’s, William finally married in 1864.  His wife was a widow, Harriett Prewett (nee Bevan.  The 1871 census shows William, a boot and shoemaker and Harriett living at 53 High Street.  Harriett died in 1875 aged 66.

The 1881 census shows William was now a retired shoemaker a widower aged 71.  Later that year, on 29th December 1881 William married again.  This time his wife was Elizabeth Daniels Hurd, who was baptised in Thornbury on 11th May 1836, the daughter of John Champion, the schoolmaster and his wife, Anne.  Elizabeth had married William Hurd in Thornbury on 11th May 1836.  William Hurd was a widower and a tailor and he died aged 70 and was buried on 30th September 1880.

The 1885, 1887 and 1890 Rate Books show that William Clark was a tenant of the Governors of Grammar School at 4 Chapel Street as well as the owner and occupier of his home in the High Street.  It is difficult to imagine why William Clark would move into this small house in Chapel Street for a short period and we assume that he must be using it only as business premises.  On 22nd September 1888 the Charity Commissioners who owned 4 Chapel Street advertised the sale of a small messuage or dwelling house in Rotten Row (another name for Chapel Street) “now in the occupation of William Clark.”

The 1891 census shows William, aged 81 and Elizabeth aged 54 living at 53 High Street.  In 1891 there was a report in the Bristol Times of the death of a widow, Juliette Hannah Poole, aged 64 who died at no 9 Argyle Terrace in Argyle Road in Bristol.  Her late husband had been an ironmonger.  The newspaper said she was an eccentric lady who was found to be possessed of a considerable amount of property but that she lived in one room and shunned everyone especially doctors.  One of the witnesses in the inquest into her death was her brother William Clark a retired bootmaker who lived in Thornbury.

William died on 26th June 1895.  His probate record shows “William Clark of Thornbury a retired boot and shoe maker died 26th June 1895.  Probate proved in Gloucester 31 July to Elizabeth Clark a widow £206 17s 2d.”
Elizabeth died aged 63 and was buried on 9th November 1899.

On 17th February 1900 the property was put up for sale at auction.  It was described as:

‘a well built and convenient Freehold Dwelling House and Business Premises late in the occupation of Mrs E. D. Clark but now void.  On the 1840 Tithe Map it was Plot 158 and contained 12 perches.  The house contains front and back sitting rooms, pantry, back kitchen with loft or small workshop over.  Two good bedrooms and box room and spacious underground cellar.  There is a good garden at the rear with stable and coach house.  The property has a back entrance from St Mary Street which considerably adds to its value, both for business or residential purposes.  A good supply of soft water is on the premises.  The property adjoins property of Messrs J. Taylor and J. M. Michael and the Castle Hotel‘.

Robert Withers – the 1900 Rate Book shows that Robert had bought 53 High Street and presumably the coach-house and stables in the rear fronting St Mary Street.  We know from photographs and trade directories that Robert ran a business as a coach proprietor, hiring traps.

Robert was born on 26th October 1866, the son of Thomas Withers and his wife Isabella.  Initially Robert let the house and shop at 53 High Street out to tenants (see box below).  By 1905 Robert was living at 46 High Street, although he appears to have used the coach-house and stables for his business.  By 1910 he had moved to live in 53 High Street and continued using the coach-house and stables. Click here to read more

Tenants of Robert Withers

  • James Thomas – James was shown as the tenant in 1900 Rate Book.  We assume that this is James Thomas who ran a shoe shop with his brother, Frank under the name of ‘Thomas Brothers’.  The 1901 census shows them running their shop at 53 High Street.  By 1905 they had moved to the shop on the corner of High Street and Soapers Lane (later known as 37 High Street).  Click here to read more
  • Jacksons Refreshment RoomsAnnie Jackson – Annie was listed as the tenant in the 1905 Rate Book.  Click on the thumbnail on the right to see a photograph of the High Street including a shop sign indicating Jacksons Refreshment Rooms.
  • Walter Heniman – Walter was listed as the tenant in the 1907 Rate Book.
Adrienne Dicker

Adrienne Dicker

Adrienne Christine Dicker – the 1926 Rate Book shows that Adrienne was living at the house as a tenant of W. H. Dent.  The electoral registers indicate that she lived in 53 High Street from 1927 to 1938.

Adrienne was born in Camberwell on 29th January 1881 and baptised on 30th March 1881.  She was the daughter of William Dicker and his wife Georgette Ernestine.  In 1891 William Dicker was at the family home at The Chase in Clapham with three of his children Mabel aged 7 William 5 and Madeline three.  Adrienne was a pupil at a boarding school in Margate.  The 1901 census shows the Dickers were still living at 18 The Chase, Clapham. William was a jeweller and his second wife was Kittey.  In 1901 Adrienne was a student governess aged 20 and she went on to become a full teacher of English Language.  We can’t trace Adrienne in the 1911 and assume she might have been in South Africa.   She returned in 1919 sailing from Durban to London on the SS Llanstephan Castle.

She joined the staff of Thornbury Grammar School as the English teacher around 1925 and was well known there for her regular drama productions and apparently for the exacting standards she demanded with regard to grammar and punctuation.  The Thornburian magazine described her as ‘a tall lady of great dignity and integrity, opening up, sometimes to reluctant minds, the aesthetic beauty of the English language, while at the same time instilling a respect for its mechanical application – and how many actors, amateur and some professional, can thank her for an introduction to the world of drama!’  Her students presumably included Tony Britton who attended the Grammar School before going on to achieve fame as an actor in films and TV.

Adrienne’s mother Georgette Ernestine, by then Georgette Ernestine Morel died on the 26th day of March, 1930 at 13, Denbigh Street, Pimlico in London.  Adrienne and her sister Mabel were executors of her will.

The 1939 rate book shows that Adrienne left the property on 11th April 1939.  After the War she was listed as living in the house called Wellfield on Kington Lane and she was still living there at the time of the 1965 electoral register.  Adrienne Dicker died in 1970 aged 89.

Helena M Hall – the 1939 rate book shows that Mrs Helena M. Hall took over the occupancy of the property on 24th May 1939.  We don’t know any more about her.

The Alpins – the 1946 rate book shows the property was occupied by Mrs Alpin.  The is a note in the margin to suggest they might have been leaving.  Harry Alpin was an electrician and he ran a electrical shop at several places in the High Street around this time.  Ann Hignell, the daughter of the next family to occupy the property, remembers that whilst growing up in the house they ‘dug up various electrical bits and bobs in the garden’.  Click here to read more about the Aplins

Roland Jeffrey and Elizabeth Ann Hignell – the electoral registers from 1946 to 1954 show them living in the house which they called ‘Bay Cottage‘.  The property was rented from H. H. Dent.

Roland married Elizabeth Ann Watson in Thornbury in 1944.  Elizabeth was the daughter of William Richardson Watson, the vet and his wife, Ann, who lived at 40 High Street.  Elizabeth was born on 30th January 1916.  Roland was the son of the late Harold Hignell of Alveston and at the time of the marriage he was a Captain in the Beds and Herts Regiment.  Thus Roland was the grandson of Thomas Evans Hignell who had been a corn dealer and farmer in Thornbury who at one time had traded and lived at 51 High Street  Click here to read more 

Roland and Elizabeth may have had two children: Ann E. born in 1947 and William R born in 1952, both births being registered in Bristol.

Ann has fond memories of growing up in the house.  She recalls how although the house was probably named ‘Bay Cottage’ because of the bay window her father tried for some time to keep a bay tree growing in a pot outside of the front door.  He got fed up having to retrieve it every Sunday morning after it was rolled down the street by the merry-makers coming out of the Exchange or the Queens Head.  Ann also remembered sitting in the garden in the summer listening to the soundtrack of the movie being shown at the cinema two doors up the street and being frustrated that it was the same film every night during the week!

Following her father’s death in 1957, Elizabeth Ann and her brother, William John Barclay Watson shared the estate, but on 22nd September 1961 she sold her share to her brother for £1700. at that time she and Roland were living at The Green, Alveston.  The 1957 rate book shows they had left Bay Cottage on 23rd June 1956.

Howard Trethewen Edgecombe – the 1957 rate book shows H. T. Edgecombe took over the occupancy of the property on 15th September 1956.  The 1958, 1961 and 1965 electoral registers show ‘Howard T Edgecombe’ as occupant of the property.  Tis is Howard Trethewen Edgecombe who was born in South Africa on 19th February 1907.  He arrived in England from Cape Town in March 1914 aged 6 with his mother, Mrs H. N. Edgecombe and his sister, Elwyn.  He attended a school at Bromham in Bedfordshire and Bedford School.  In 1928 Howard was listed in London Gazette as a pilot officer on probation in the RAF.  He relinquished his commission in RAF in 1937 and was appointed to the RAF Reserve in 1938.  In 1939 he lived at the Chestnuts Wick near Abson.

Howard presumably moved to Thornbury when he was employed by Bristol Siddeley.  As an inventor in the late 60’s and early 70’s he was awarded several patents in this country and the United States for equipment associated with drilling boreholes.  After leaving Thornbury he settled to live with his sister in Hillesley near Wotton Under Edge and he died in that area in 2005 aged 98.

In 1972 there was a proposal to demolish the old building and erect a ‘modern building’.  Thanks to objections by the Concern for Thornbury group, the proposal was dropped.  In more modern times, the property has been occupied for commercial use by various companies including Hillhouse Hammond, Coversure Insurance and Santander.