We are very grateful to Ian Baker for allowing us to see his deeds of the house. Unfortunately the earliest document in the deeds in dated 1899 so we have had to rely on other sources for the earlier history. We know from the deeds of the adjoining property that there was a house on the site of number 54 in the seventeenth century. The Images of England website suggests that the present house was built (or re-built) in mid 19th century.
There is one source which tells us something about the older house and suggests that it might have been there in the sixteenth century. The last will and testament of Nicholas Rippe written in 1578 refers to Nicholas’s property which we believe to be 56 High Street. It describes this property as being in the High Street ‘between a tenement of one John Hilpe in the north side and a tenement of one Slymbridge on the south side’. We know from the documents relating to 58 High Street that it was occupied by John Slimbridge in 1580 so conclude that Nicholas Rippe owned 56 High Street and John Hilpe (or Hylpe as it was sometimes spelt) owned 54 High Street. There were several generations of John Hilpe in Thornbury and we are not sure which one was associated with this house. The Hilpe family owned a considerable number of properties in the town and became major benefactors of the poor in the Town. Read more Hilpe
In addition to the owners and the other people mentioned on this page who lodged at the property there were several other families who rented the property as tenants. Click here to read about these families
The Hewetts – the early deeds of 50 and 52 High Street show that in 1689, the adjoining property on the south (which we assume to be number 54 High Street) was ‘of one Hezekiah Hewett wherein one Guy Hewett now inhabiteth’. The rent roll of 1670/1688 lists Hezekiah Hewett in connection with a property called ‘late Aylers’, but we don’t know if this is the same property. However we do know that Hezekiah Hewett a shoemaker bought a property from Arthur Ayleworth alias Ayler, a carpenter, for £20 on 10th February 1674. Arthur Ayleworth’s wife was called Edith.
Hezekiah was a yeoman and before his death in 1705 he acquired several other properties in Thornbury. We haven’t seen Hezekiah’s will but some of its contents are referred to in an indenture written in 1757. Click here to read more about Hezekiah and his family
We don’t know the details of what happened to 54 High Street, but it appears to have been passed down through Hezekiah’s son, Guy, and on to his son, also called Guy. In his last will written on 28th February 1761 Guy the younger indicates that at this time he owned and occupied a house on the west side of the Fore Street (which was an old name for the High Street) and adjoining to a house belonging to John Grove on the northward side and likewise adjoining to a house belonging to John Salmon on the south side. This would seem to be the house what we now know as 54 High Street. Guy left the property to ‘his kinsman’, William Hewett. We know from William Hewett’s will dated 2nd January 1764 that he was a cordwainer late of Bristol. He left the property in the High Street to his wife, Bethia.
The 1770 Poor Assessment list shows the house was owned by Bethiah Hewett and occupied by John Niblett. A later indenture for next door dated 25th February 1794 refers to adjoining messuage ‘formerly Hezekiah Hewett since Bethia Hewett, late of George Cossham now James Cossham wherein John Niblett glazier (son of John Niblett deceased) doth now dwell‘.
Bethia’s probate record dated 20th October 1774 shows she was a widow living in Bristol at the time of her will. She left a house to Betty, the wife of Daniel Fowler. The house was described in the same way as in the will of Guy Hewett dated 1764 (see above). Thus, this seems to imply that the Hewetts owned the house from 1674 to 1774 at least.
Daniel Fowler – we know from Bethia Hewett’s probate record dated 20th October 1774 that she left her property in the High Street to Betty, the wife of Daniel Fowler. The record shows that Bethia added the condition that ‘providing she keeps it in good repair and after her death it is to pass to Samuel Richards my kinsman and his heirs forever’.
Thus, Daniel Fowler acquired the property as a result of his marriage to Elizabeth Hewett on 26th January 1741. We note that there was a Daniel Fowler who was licensee at The White Hart on The Plain in 1755, but cannot be sure it is the same person. We also note that Daniel Fowler is mentioned in the records of the Court Leet in 1756. It refers to Daniel being the ‘Hayward of the Borough’ and he had neglected his duties by permitting the pigs of the townsfolk to roam the streets and lanes of the Borough and damaged had been caused. Daniel was fined 10 shillings, but he objected to the fine and he annoyed the Jury by making a disturbance in open Court and was fined another 10 shillings.
In spite of the condition made by Bethia Hewett, Daniel sold the house to George Cossham at some time before 1780. Daniel’s wife, Betty Fowler, died aged 77 and was buried on 3rd February 1793. Daniel died aged 84 and was buried on 23rd February 1800.
George Cossham – the land tax records of 1780 to 1784 show George Cossham as owner and Elizabeth Niblett as occupier. In George’s will dated 1785 ‘the property in which Betty Niblett widow doth now dwell in the High Street purchased of Daniel Fowler‘ was given to his son, James Cossham. Click here to read more
James Cossham – James inherited the property as a result of his father’s will dated 1785. An indenture relating to the adjoining property refers to James as being the owner in 1794. The 1796 land tax record shows James Cossham as owner and John Niblett as tenant and the 1797 record shows John Iles had replaced John Niblett as tenant. The 1800 land tax shows James as owner and Grace Mullington as occupier.
James was the seventh child of George Cossham and his wife Elizabeth (nee Witchell). He was baptised on 14th April 1754. On 27th July 1771 James married Rachel Kitson at St Philip and Jacob Church in Bristol. He was a smith living in Unity Street just off Old Market, Bristol. We understand that James and Rachel had one child, William. On 18th December 1803 James married again, his second wife was Hannah Clutterbuck whom he married at Thornbury. James and Hannah had several children: Hester born on 23rd October 1808 and baptised on 27th November 1808, Sarah and James both baptised on 5th June 1814, Amelia baptised on 2nd November 1817, Ann baptised on 21st March 1819 and Mary baptised on 13th February 1823. The baptism records show that they were living at Moreton, Crossways and finally Baden Hill. We do not know any more about James or his family.
Joseph Trayhurn – the land tax records from 1809 to 1832 show that Joseph owned and occupied the property. The most likely baptism of Joseph is the one at Thornbury on 9th January 1763. He was the son of Thomas Trayhurn who lived at Oldbury.
On 13th May 1792 Joseph married Elizabeth Barton in Thornbury. Joseph and Elizabeth had several children: we know that one son, Daniel, died as an infant and was buried on 18th August 1793. Sarah Barton Trayhurn was born on 17th May 1797 and baptised on 25th June 1797. She must have died because there is the birth of another Sarah on 11th May 1800 who was baptised on 13th October 1800.
Joseph’s first wife, Elizabeth, died aged 50 and was buried on 11th December 1814. Joseph married again on 8th April 1822. His second wife was Sarah Trayhurn a spinster from Felton. We don’t know if there was any connection between the two Trayhurns. Joseph died aged 72 and was buried on 25th July 1834. His will dated 2nd May 1834 shows Joseph was a carpenter. He gave his house for the use of his wife, Sarah during her lifetime and after her death it was put in the hands of trustees for the benefit of his daughter, Sarah, who had married William Jones.
The 1840 Tithe Map shows Joseph’s widow, Sarah Trayhurn, owning and occupying the property. In the 1841 census Sarah Trayhurn was described as ‘independent’ aged 65 living with Mary Jones, another independent aged 82, and three other lodgers: Thomas Lewis a carpenter aged 37, Hannah Lewis aged 25 and John Powell a shoemaker aged 36.
We suspect Sarah died in Thornbury in 1848. The property was taken over by her step-daughter, Sarah Jones and her husband, William.
William and Sarah Jones – the 1851 census shows William was an agricultural labourer from Kington aged 51 living with Sarah aged 49 and their daughters, Emily aged 13 and Harriett aged 9. Emily and Harriet were both baptised on 30th November 1855 when Emily was aged 18. The Jones’s appear to be sharing the house with lodgers: Thomas Luce, unmarried hairdresser aged 38 and housekeeper Eliza Bruton aged 29 from Wotton Under Edge.
The 1861 census shows William and Sarah still living there. Their daughter Harriett was also living with them – she was now a straw bonnet maker aged 20. In this census the house was shared by a lodger Elizabeth Scarlett an unmarried fund holder from Berkeley aged 73.
William died aged 68 and was buried on 23rd September 1868. The 1871 census shows Sarah was living there with five lodgers, Elizabeth Scarlett noted as being blind (born afflicted) and William, Elizabeth and Christopher Roberts (noted as having an unspecified ‘affliction’). Sarah was described as ‘living of rent of house’. This confirms that the families sharing the house in earlier censuses were indeed her lodgers.
The 1876 Rate Book shows that Sarah still owned the property but she was living elsewhere. The occupants were Ann Morgan and Eunice Powell. Sarah died aged 80 and was buried on 7th February 1878.
John Vinicombe – following the death of Sarah Jones in 1878, the property was put up for auction on 27th February 1878. It was described as ‘All that substantially built dwelling house with good walled garden in the rear, eligibly situated in the High Street of Thornbury, now in the occupation of Mr John Vinicombe. The house contains two front sitting-rooms, kitchen, pantry, four bedrooms, underground cellar, workshops and other offices‘.
The sale seems to have failed and the property passed to the previous owner’s (Sarah Jones) daughter, Emily, and her husband, John Vinicombe who were already living in the house. The 1880 Rate Book and the 1881 census shows John and Emily living there. John was a gardener aged 41 living with Emily aged 41 from Thornbury and their children: William Edward aged 11, Henry James aged 9, and Charles George aged 4 and two lodgers, Frances Salmon, a pauper aged 67 and Eliza Smith a seamstress aged 55.
John was born in Olveston. He was baptised there on 1st September 1839, the son of Edward Vinicombe, an agricultural labourer and his wife, Sarah (nee White). The 1851 census shows that John was one of five children and that his mother was a bonnet maker. John Vinicombe and Emily Jones married in Olveston on 26th September 1867. The marriage was registered in Thornbury District in 1867. In 1871 they were living in Haw Lane, Olveston. At that time they had two children: Sarah Ann aged 2 and William Edward aged 1.
We don’t know what happened to them after the census. However we do know that they went to Australia at some point. John died there in 1914 and Emily in in 1909.
By 1885 the house was owned and occupied by Caroline Parfitt.
Caroline Parfitt – the 1885 Rate Book shows Caroline as owner and occupier of the house. Caroline also owned the Post Office at 28 High Street. The 1887 and 1890 Rate Books show she still owned both properties, but she was renting 54 High Street to William Williams.
Caroline was born about 1810 in St Phillips, Bristol with the full name of Caroline Herapath Cooper. She was the daughter of Thomas Cooper and his wife, Caroline. In the 1841 census the family were living at the Boars Head, Love Street, Bristol where Thomas was a victualler. Caroline married Frederick Parfitt in Bedminster area of Bristol in March quarter 1851. Frederick was a widower – in the 1841 census he was an ironmonger living in Weston Super Mare with his first wife, Mary. They must have moved to Thornbury as Mary died there aged 46 and she was buried on 4th November 1849. From 1849 Frederick is listed in the Thornbury Trade Directories as an ironmonger, tinman and brazier. We also have an apprenticeship record for Tom Lippiatt as an apprentice tinner to Frederick Parfitt in 1851.
The 1851 census shows Frederick and Caroline living in the property which later became 28 High Street. Frederick was an ironmonger employing one tinman and a boy. He was aged 45 born in Clutton. Caroline was aged 50. The 1859 Rate Book shows that Frederick was the owner of the property as well as the occupant. They carried on living there in the 1861 and 1871 censuses. Frederick died on 11th May 1874 aged 69 and was buried on 16th May 1874.
The 1880 Special Drainage Rate Book shows that Caroline Parfitt lived as a tenant at 3 Castle Street. The 1881 census shows Caroline as a 60 year old widow and landed proprietor.
Between 1880 and 1884 Caroline bought 54 High Street and moved there to live. In 1884 Caroline got involved in a boundary dispute with a neighbour, James Williams, who lived next door at 52 High Street. It appears that Caroline accused James of looking into her garden from the roof of his privy and she built a wooden hoarding and raised the level of the wall to prevent James doing this. James objected that she had interrupted the free passage of light and air to the window at the rear of his premises and James’s son and the owner of number 52, George Mansell Williams, wrote to Caroline threatening action if she didn’t remove the obstruction within 14 days. An agreement was reached in which she promised to remove the obstruction as long as James promised not to use the roof of the privy for sitting, standing or walking to overlook into Caroline’s premises.
In 1885 Caroline was living at number 54 and renting out her house at 28 High Street. The 1891 census shows she had moved to live at 78 Oxford Road, Gloucester. She retained ownership of both Thornbury properties and in the census she was described as ‘living on own means’. Caroline Herapath Parfitt died in Gloucester on 5th April 1899 aged 79.
On 30th October 1899 her house in Thornbury was put up for auction as the ‘Estate of Mrs C. H. Parfitt deceased’. It was described as a ‘Convenient dwelling house with good garden situated in the High Street, Thornbury now occupied by Mrs Mark Williams at the yearly rent of £15. The house contains an entrance hall, two front sitting-rooms, kitchen, pantry, back kitchen and coal-house, four bedrooms and good underground cellar. The garden is well stocked with choice fruit trees’.
The Hunters – on 21st December 1899 the house was acquired by Lucy Jane Hunter for £350. She was the wife of Alan Clark Hunter, a farmer of Morton. The 1905 and 1910 Rate Books show Allan Clark Hunter was the occupier and ‘Mrs Hunter’ the owner.
Allan was born on 12th February 1855 in Bellie, Morayshire in Scotland. He was the son of Robert and Mary Hunter (nee Watt) of Huntley Street, Bellie. The 1871 census shows Allan was apprentice watchmaker aged 16 in Main Street, Bellie. His father was a watch and clock maker. Allan married Lucy Jane in the Alton area of Hampshire in March quarter 1889 – the FreeBMD website shows her maiden name as being Dubrometz. Lucy was born as ‘Lucy Jane Ball’ in Alveston about 1855. She had married Francoise Dubrometz in Hastings in 1881, but he died in London in 1886 aged 28.
The 1891 census shows Allan and Lucy living at East Tisted Hampshire. Allan was a gardener and forester and they were living in Gardeners Cottage. Lucy was aged 35 born in Alveston. The 1901 census shows Allan and Lucy had moved to Thornbury and they were living in Upper Morton where Allan was a farmer. Lucy died on 25th January 1919 aged 64. In her will dated 6th February 1911 she left the property to her trustees and directed that they should permit her husband and her sister, Emma Ball, to live in the house during their lifetimes. The 1911 census shows Allan and Lucy living at the house and they had one boarder, Sydney W Turner, a schoolmaster aged 23 from Newcastle Upon Tyne. Emma died on 10th June 1923.
During the First World War Allan is listed as being a member of the 1st Volunteer Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment. The photo on the right is taken from a photo of a group of these volunteers. The name on the rear of this image was marked ‘Hunter’ so we assume that this was Allan.
Allan married again in 1923. His second wife was Frances Elizabeth Griffiths. It appears from the electoral registers that Allan carried on living in the High Street until his death on 12th June 1924 aged 69. His obituary in the Gazette shows that Allan had been Head Gardener for many years at ‘The Cedars’, the residence of J. G. Wicks. It mentions that he died after a long and painful illness. He was buried in Thornbury Cemetery in the same grave as Lucy. On 16th July 1924 the property was put for sale at auction as the estate of Mrs L. J. Hunter deceased. The property was described as a double fronted house containing ‘two front sitting rooms, kitchen, scullery, wood or coal wood house, pantry and underground cellar with four bedrooms on the first floor. There is a capital walled garden at the rear‘.
Thomas Ball – on 30th April 1925 the house was bought by Thomas Ball for £595. We assume that Thomas was related in some way to Lucy Jane and Emma Ball who were connected with the property earlier. We don’t really know anything about him apart from the fact that he was ‘a farmer of Thornbury’. He doesn’t appear to have lived in the house. The deeds suggest it was let out for a short time to ‘R. J. Merriman‘.
The Honourable Mrs Violet Mundy – on 13th January 1926 the house was bought by Mrs Mundy for £650. The 1926 Rate Book shows the house had been bought by the Honourable Mrs Violet Mundy and was occupied by Frederick Day. We understand that Violet bought the house for the use of Frederick who was Mrs Mundy’s groom. We have been told that she eventually gifted the house to him. Click here to read about Violet
Fred Day – Fred had lived in the house ever since it was bought by Mrs Mundy in 1926 and we have been told he was bought for him by Mrs Mundy. We can however find no evidence to support this. The only bequest made to Fred in Mrs Mundy’s will was the ownership of Vilner Farm. The deeds show that Fred bought 54 High Street from Mrs Mundy’s trustees on 25th July 1947 for £800. Fred lived there until he died on 1st March 1978. On his death, the property was passed to his sister, Jane. Jane was in Thornbury Hospital at the time and she sold it to John Stuart Casley Richard, the landlord of the Exchange pub. Read more about Fred
John Stuart Casley Richards – he was born in 1957, the son of John Kenneth Richards, the landlord of the Exchange (now known as the Knot of Rope) and his wife, Margaret (nee Casley). John bought the house on 1st December 1978. It was left unoccupied for a year before he sold it.
The Bakers – Ian Richardson Baker and his wife, Helen Jane Baker bought the house in November 1979.