We haven’t yet seen the deeds of the house, but we are lucky that for most of its lifetime it was in ‘public ownership.’ The records of the Mayor and Corporation, and subsequently the Town Trust, have enabled us to build up a pretty good account of the house’s history.
We are able to identify the house in the early records because the 1840 Tithe Survey shows that the house now known as 58 High Street was then owned by the Borough of Thornbury and occupied at that time by George Scarlett.
From this point in time, we have been able to use the Mayors’ Accounts Books from the early 1800’s when the property was occupied by William Trayhurn and then his son, John Trayhurn. This knowledge enabled us to pinpoint when the house was gifted to the Corporation. Gloucester Records Office has a document written in 1815 which summarises the Charity properties then under the management of Thornbury’s Corporation. This shows that the property let to William Trayhurn for four guineas in 1815 had been gifted to the Corporation in 1580 by ‘John Slimbridge’. Other documents show that it was Thomas Slimbridge who had donated the property not John. At the same time Thomas gifted other properties in Thornbury including a piece of ground known in 1815 as ‘Daggs’.
We suspect that this house was indeed the home of Thomas Simbridge as we know from the will of Nicholas Rippe dated 1578 that he was leaving his house on the High Street to his wife, Dorothy. This house was said to be between the tenement of John Hilpe on the north side and that the tenement of one Slimbridge on the south side. We have subsequently seen the Mayors Accounts from 1609 onwards and we are in the process of tracing who lived in the property from that time. So far, we have identified the following people lived in the house:
Henry Clifford – the Mayors Account show that between 1734 and 1740 Henry Clifford was paying the rent of £2 per annum. Henry and Mary Clifford had a son, John, baptised on 24th July 1726. John died and was buried on 23rd April 1736. Mary died and was buried on 12th June 1740 and Henry was buried on 30th August 1742.
Susannah Whitfield – the Accounts Books show that Susannah briefly moved into the live in the house. She had been ‘widowed’ twice. She was a widow, called Susannah White, when she married Robert Whitfield in Thornbury on 18th October 1722. We believe that Robert had also been married and had children from the earlier marriage. Robert died on 31st March 1741 aged 48 and was buried on 1st April 1741 which presumably led to her move to become a tenant of the house in the High Street.
George Hulbert – George took over the house in 1744 paying the £2 per annum rent. He left in 1753. We suspect that this was the same George Hulbert who married Jane Holland on 11th May 1740. He died and was buried on 21st December 1762 whilst living at Kington.
The Notts (or Knotts) – the Mayors Accounts show John Nott moving into the house in 1753. He was paying the £3 per annum rent. We are not sure about the correct spelling of his surname. sometimes it is spelt Nott and other times as Knott.
We suspect that John was the same person who married Hester White in Thornbury on 20th July 1733. John and Hester had several children: Hester baptised on 11th January 1736, John born on 2nd April 1743 and baptised on 24th April 1743, Francis baptised on 10th April 1745, Ann born on 16th March 1747 and baptised on 22nd March 1749, Sarah born on 9th March 1749 and baptised on 22nd March 1749, Hannah born on 9th June 171 and baptised on 20th October 1751, Martha baptised on 23rd January 1754 (who presumably died young) and another Martha born on 25th November 1754 and baptised on 20th December 1754.
John died and was buried on 20th September 1763. The Mayors Accounts show that his wife, Hester took over paying the rent of £2 each year from 1764. In 1768 the rent was increased to £2 10s 0d and in 1783 it was increased again to £3. Her final year paying the rent of the house was 1785. She appears to have moved away from Thornbury. When she died in 1792, she was aged 88 and the parish record notes that her body had to be brought from Tockington.
The Trayhurns – in 1786 William Trayhurn took over the property. He was initially paying an annual rent of £3 10s 0d, but in 1804 this was increased to £4 4s 0d. William was a tailor baptised on 13th July 1737. He married Hester Burrows in 1756 and they had seven children. William died aged 71 and was buried on 2nd March 1809. The Mayors Accounts show that Hester took over the property but she was to die shortly after and was buried on 26th May 1809 aged 72.
William and Hester’s son, John, took over the tenancy of this property. In 1822 the Mayor increased John’s rent to £8 per annum which John agreed to. However by 1823 John had fallen in arrears and owed £10. He was served with notice to quit. Read more about William and his family
In 1824 it was reported that ‘in consequence of the dilapidated state of the house late in the occupation of John Trayhurn it was found necessary to rebuild the same and it was accordingly agreed that it should be “re-built by Daniel Burchell at the sum of £197 16s 11d, which has been done.” We can’t be sure what ‘re-building’ meant whether it was a completely new house or an adaption of the old house. We did however notice a structural feature visible in the first floor bedroom that suggests the present height of the house is considerably higher today than at some stage in the past. The evidence suggests that the house was at one time only a single story with the upstairs bedroom located within the roof space. It seems likely that this might have been what was meant by being ‘re-built’ and this means that some of the present house would have existed a lot earlier than 1824, possibly as early as 1580.
The Mayors’ Accounts record that they did not have sufficient funds to pay the builder for the work and that £157 13s 0d remained outstanding. It was resolved that the balance would be ‘raised at interest on the joint and several notes of the said Mayor and Corporation and that the rents of the Charity shall be applied in liquidation of said balance until the whole shall be discharged‘.
The Scarletts – the Mayors Accounts 1824 show that Eli Scarlett was the next tenant at a rent of £16 per annum. Eli was christened in Berkeley on 7th February 1796. He was one of the many children of George Scarlett and his wife, Mary (nee Ricketts). We have confirmation that he was living in this house because the accounts note that Griffiths Hughes (whom we know from other sources was living at 56 High Street) was paying a rent of one shilling per annum for a ‘light against E. Scarlett’s garden’ in 1838 and other years. There was a great concern in those days about people’s privacy and many householders were prevented from having windows in their house which allowed them to overlooked their neighbours’ property. In the cases which were allowed, they were often made the subject of a legal agreement and the owners made to pay an annual payment to reflect that agreement.
Although Eli is listed in the accounts as paying rent to the Borough up to 1843, the 1841 census shows Eli is living with Thomas Elliott near to Eli’s father, George Scarlett. The 1840 Tithe Survey lists George Scarlett as living in the house which later became 58 High Street and we believe that this was Eli’s father.
The 1841 census appears to show that ’58 High Street’ was unoccupied and if the enumerator’s listing of properties in the High Street is in accordance with his route, then this would mean that George and Eli were living on the east side of High Street, somewhere near the top. However it is possible that the enumerator had ‘missed out’ George’s house at the beginning of the route and included the details at the end. The census shows he was aged 78 and living with Elizabeth aged 50, Ann aged 40, Mary aged 30 and Ellen aged 13. George died in 1842 aged 81 and he was buried on 30th March 1842.
Eli was an attorney’s clerk aged 45. Presumably he was working for one of his brothers, Richard or Frederick, both of whom were attorneys in Thornbury. The Mayors’ Accounts from 1841 to 1843 show that Eli was also renting out the close known as Daggs. Eli died on 27th January 1845 aged 49. The Mayors Accounts confirm that Eli’s sister, Mary Scarlett, paid the rent on 58 High Street from 1845 to 1848. Griffith Hughes had taken over the rent of Daggs. Mary Scarlett was born on 1st July 1807 and baptised in Thornbury on 26th July 1807. She was the tenth child of George and Mary Scarlett. The 1841 census shows Mary was living with her father George on the east side of the High Street. She was a milliner aged 30.
In 1851 Mary was living with her married sister, Maria and her husband, Robert Ludham, a victualler at 26 Princess Street, Bristol. The 1881 census shows Mary, an annuitant aged 73 living with her brother, Richard Scarlett at The Villa, Thornbury.
James Willshen – James was listed as living at 58 High Street in the 1851, 1861 and 1871 censuses. He was an attorney’s clerk and he had moved here with his family from 9 Pullins Green. James was also heavily involved with the church and the Bristol Times and Mercury reported in 1864 that he had been elected as churchwarden for the tenth time. It was in this capacity that James gained notoriety in newspapers throughout the country in 1858 for his actions in trying to resolve a dispute in the church. Click here to read more
John Taylor Chambers – in November 1871 John began renting the house from the Corporation for £20 per annum. On 1st January 1872 he married a cousin, Lucy Chambers, the daughter of George Chambers, grocer and in 1875 they bought ‘Rosemount‘ and this became the family home in Thornbury. Read more about John Taylor Chambers
John D’Arcy – we have a copy of a letter written by John to the Mayor and Corporation dated 29th November 1875. It shows John was an ‘officer of the excise’. He had been living in the house ‘lately vacated by John Chambers’ and he was asking to be considered as a proper tenant. He said he considered the rent at £16 per annum to be sufficient for the accommodation and he complained about the state of the house. In wet weather the rain poured into the kitchen in torrents and made its way into one of the front bedrooms. It doesn’t look like John was successful in his application so he went to 15 Pullins Green.
The 1876 Rate Book shows the property was then void.
Henry William John Carter – from the 25th March 1877 the Borough leased the property to Henry William John Carter, an accountant of Thornbury. It was described as being ‘late in the occupation of John Taylor Chambers as tenant’. The annual rent was set at £20 per annum and the condition was placed that the premises could only be used as a private residence. We have a copy of a very charming letter of complaint written by Henry W J Carter in March 1880. It asks the recipient if he has an opportunity would he ask the mayor about some problems at the house. There was a “bit of walling” needed doing in the garden and another perhaps more pressing problem;
“the wet I am sorry to say still comes through the roof at the back of the house very badly. Perhaps you will kindly have a another look at it when you are passing.”
It seems a very gentle complaint and one can only hope it was attended to. At all events the Carter family continued to live here until about 1885 when they moved to The Court House in St John Street. Click here to read more
Edward James – the 1890 Rate Book shows that Edward James was renting the property from the Town Trust. Edward was born on 17th June 1851 although not baptised until 10th November 1867. He was the son of Richard James, a tailor and his wife, Caroline. Edward and his family lived here around 1905 when he moved to live in 48 High Street, a house he had inherited when his father died in 1891. Click here to read more
Rosetta Champion – the 1910 Rate Book shows that the house was occupied by Rosetta Champion. Rosetta born in Northwick about 1839, the daughter of James Hall, a publican, and his wife, Hannah. She married James Champion in the Bristol area in 1858. Rosetta moved to Thornbury around 1902. The 1905 Rate Book shows Rosetta was renting out 49 High Street from Thomas Exell. The 1911 census shows Rosetta lived at 58 high Street with her grandson, Norman Campbell, an ironmonger’s assistant, aged 16 from Cardiff. Rosetta was still listed as living there in the 1914, 1915 and 1916 Prewett’s Street Directories. She died on 29th December 1916 aged 79 and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery. The report of her death in the South Gloucester Chronicle said that she died after only a short illness. The article also said that she was a native of Northwick and only came to Thornbury fifteen years earlier. Those attending her funeral included W. Champion, her son, Walter Hall , her brother, Messrs F and G H Hall her nephews, her sons in law G F Feather, W Leggatt, and D Williams. Her brother in law, J. M Michael, was unable to attend. Click here to read more
The Workmans – the Town Trust records show that Mrs Workman was the tenant of the house from 1917 to 1925. The electoral registers show that it was Elizabeth Mary Workman, her son Austin and his wife, Lucy who lived in the house during most of this period.
Elizabeth was the widow of Thomas Workman. She was born in Alveston in 1852, the daughter of Henry Pitcher, a carpenter and his wife, Susannah (nee Croome). On 5th October 1874 Elizabeth married Thomas Workman. The marriage took place at Thornbury Baptist Church. Thomas was a butcher living in Knapp Road, Crossways. He was born in 1850, the son of Rowland Workman, a farmer. At the time of the marriage Elizabeth was a dressmaker. They had one child, Austin Thomas, who was born on 28th December 1876. The 1881 census shows that Thomas and the family were living in Siblands. They were later shown to be living in Sibland House but we don’t know if this is the same place as they were living earlier or they had moved. In Sibland House Thomas had six pig sties, two stables and a slaughter-house to support his butcher’s shop. The 1901 census shows Austin was working with his father as butcher. Thomas died on 27th February 1902 aged 50. Elizabeth carried on living at Siblands with her son Austin who continued the butcher’s business.
On 22nd July 1902 Austin married Lucy Mary Ovens, daughter of Joseph Samuel Ovens and his wife, Catherine (nee Marshman). They had three daughters: Lucy Margaret born on 27th April 1903 but she died after only two days, Netta Elizabeth born on 17th January 1905 and Gladys Mary born on 30th March 1908.
On 27th September 1915 Austin enlisted in the South Midland Royal Engineers 3rd Field Company. His service records show that he only served for 209 days and was discharged as medically unfit for duty on 24th March 1916. The reason given was that he was suffering from chronic bronchitis and shortness of breath, and he had a weak heart for the previous eight years and was unable to march. It was explained that although Austin had had typhoid fever eight years previously and he had done no regular work for several years. The weather however had been fine when he was medically examined on enlistment and his bronchitis was better. The records described Austin as height 5ft 7.5 inches, chest 34.75 inches when expanded with 2.5 inch range, excellent vision and fair physical development.
The 1918 electoral register shows Austin still living at Siblands. On 21st May 1919 Sibland House was put for sale at auction. It appears that Austin’s health had prevented him from carrying on his father’s successful butchery business and the property had to be put up for sale. However we have found a seaman’s record for Austin Thomas Workman of Thornbury born 28th December 1876. This shows he was an Assistant Butcher serving in the Merchant Navy between 1919 and 1921.
The 1921 electoral register shows Austin, Lucy and Elizabeth all living in the High Street. We know that Elizabeth was at that time at 58 High Street and it seems likely that Austin and Lucy were also there.
In 1925 Elizabeth moved to live with Austin and Lucy in their home at 6 Churchways Avenue, Horfield. Elizabeth died here on 24th August 1927 aged 75. She was buried in Thornbury Baptist Church in the same grave as her husband. Elizabeth had been a staunch member of the Baptist Church and for 40 years she had been personally responsible for decorating a window at the time of the harvest festival.
Austin died on 15th October 1929 aged 52. Lucy carried on living at Churchways Avenue until she died on 16th August 1963 aged 84. Austin and Lucy were both buried back in Thornbury Cemetery and their unmarried daughter, Netta, was buried in the same grave following her death on 3rd May 1983 aged 78.
Both of Austin and Lucy’s girls did well at school. Netta went from Council School to the Thornbury Grammar School in 1917 and she left in 1920 to go to Clarkes College. Gladys also went to the Grammar School and she left in 1924 to become a cashier at a draper’s shop.
We are extremely grateful to Jill Evans, a great grand-daughter of Austin and Lucy Workman for providing us with copies of several photographs of the family and other subjects. The photograph on the right above shows Elizabeth stood outside of the door of 58 High Street in 1921. Other photos which include ones of Sibland House can be viewed by clicking on the link above.
Jill has posted her Workman family tree on the ‘Ancestry’ website and it includes this little story about Gladys – ‘mother decided when she was 14 she wanted to keep up with the latest fashion in hair styles which was to have your long hair cut off into a bob, her older sister still had long hair and her mother refused permission for her to have it cut. Not pleased with the decision she had it cut anyway and the story told in the family is that she was the first girl in Thornbury to have a bob and her friends all called her Bobby after that‘.
Elsie Eunice Taylor – the Town Trust records show that Elsie Eunice Taylor was their tenant living at 58 High Street in 1926 to 1927. She is also listed as living there in the 1925 Valuation List.
Elsie was born in July 1879, the daughter of Richard and Ursula Alway who lived at Kington Green Farm. In 1908 Elsie married Herbert Taylor and they had at least two children: Celia M born in 1917 who died in 1926 aged 9 and Francis H born in 9th October 1918 and died in 1935 aged 16. The records of the Council School show Francis attended the Infants School in 1925 moving there from a Private School. He was transferred to Miss Ann’s school in 1926 because of health reasons. Herbert’s death in 1924 aged 41 must have led to Elsie’s move to the Town Trust property.
The property was advertised to let in the Gazette in December 1927. The advertisement said it was “now in the occupation of Mrs E E Taylor” but would be available as from 25th March 1928.
We don’t know where Elsie went to live after this as she is not listed in Thornbury electoral registers after that date. Her death in 1969 was registered in the Thornbury Registration District.
The Nurses House – on 25th March 1928 the Thornbury Town Trust began letting the house to the Thornbury Nursing Association on the condition that it would only be used a private house for nurses. On 13th April 1949 a further agreement was made because it was necessary to gain the sanction of the Charity Commissioners to extend the lease of thee property for longer than 21 years. At this time the agreement was between the Charity Commissioners, the Town Trust and Gloucester County Council. This document shows the premises was being used as treatment rooms and offices as well as being the private residence of the District Nurse and was being let to the County Council for an annual rent of £40.
The Gazette dated 5th June 1937 contains a report of the Thornbury and District Nursing Association’s annual meeting. This was held in the covered tennis court at Thornbury Castle and presided over by the Hon. Mrs Algar Howard. A new Austin Seven car had been bought for the Nurse. The service was funded by member subscriptions, charges made to members and non-members for services provided and donations from local sources and the income from events and fairs. The Membership subscription was 6/6 and although some services were free to members, they had to pay in maternity cases – £1 without a doctor and 15/- with a doctor. Non members had to pay twice that amount for maternity cases. As a result of the Maternity Act 1936 these charges were increased to: for members 25/- without a doctor and £1 with a doctor, and for non-members 35/- without a doctor and 30/- with a doctor. The number of visits made by the Nurse in the previous 12 months was 3,294.
Gloucester Archives have several interesting documents relating to the use of the property by the District Nurse. An inventory was carried out in 1949 which listed the following as belonging to the Nursing Association: Nurses Car – 1936 Austin 7 saloon, in fair condition, mileage estimated by Nurse 46421 miles, registration number BDE 399. Bicycle – New Hudson, upright ladies, fitted with 3-speed and carrier, good condition. Two enamelled bed pans, two air rings, two emergency kits and one nurses bag containing standard instruments.
The house was described as being of old stone construction, 3 storey, tiled roof, 5 bedrooms, bathroom, two WCs, sitting room, kitchen, larder, wash-house, garden and shelter. A later description of the property when the house was put up for sale in 1971 shows that the 3 bedrooms on the second floor to be ‘Children’s Bedrooms.
We haven’t found many documents showing us the name of the District Nurses before 1946. We have been given the names of Nurse Berbeck and Nurse Baker. The 1931 electoral register shows that Emma Berbeck and Emma Annie Seymour Berbeck were living in the High Street at that time, so presumably one of them was the District Nurse.
The special register compiled in 1939 in preparation for the war shows Marjorie Comer as living there and described as ‘Nurse’. She was born on 25th February 1895. The electoral registers of 1935 and 1938 show it was Marjorie Grace Maud Comer who was there. The 1911 census shows Marjorie was born in Ilfracombe, the daughter of Alfred Comer, a railway carriage cleaner and his wife, Maude. In 1911 they were living in 19 Chancery Barton Hill, Bristol. Marjorie was then working as a bag machinist. By 1929 her name appears on the Midwives Roll. She died in the Bristol area in 1987 aged 92.
The special 1939 register suggests that William and Edith Rugman were sharing part of the house with Marjorie Comer. Click here to read more
The next nurse appears to have been Nurse Lynda May Kent. When she left in 1947 the Western Daily Press reported that she had been presented with a cheque for £67 10s collected from subscribers after being in the post for seven years. She is listed as living at the Nurses House, High Street in the 1946 electoral register. She seems to have been born in Chepstow in 1908.
We have also been told that Nurse Baker was the nurse before Nurse Cotton took over.
Nurse Cotton (shown in photo on left above) was appointed as District Nurse in Thornbury on 1st April 1947. She was born in Sherston in Wiltshire in 1918 with the full name of Edith Mary Sanders. At the age of 17 she enrolled as student nurse at Southmead Hospital. She qualified in 1939 and during the War she worked in numerous Bristol hospitals and had lots of stories about driving ambulances and delivering babies whilst Bristol was being bombed.
Prior to her move to Thornbury Edith had been a Matron at the Hambrook Maternity Hospital. In June 1945 she married Eric Charles Cotton (shown in the photo on the right below) in Wapley Church near Chipping Sodbury. Eric was born in Bedminster in 1919 and became an aero-engine fitter after an apprenticeship with Bristol Aeroplane Company. In the Second World War, Eric was attached to the RAF based at Manston where he worked on Spitfires. Eric and Edith had one daughter, Suzanne, born towards the end of 1946. Shortly after this the family moved to Thornbury where Edith became a health visitor and school nurse in Oldbury as well as performing midwifery duties which became her career focus. Eric became a long distance lorry driver carry aero engines and parts all over the UK and France. He ended up being a chauffeur for the directors of Rolls Royce at Filton.
The electoral registers of 1946 and 1950 show that Alice and Frederick J. Fairman were also living in the house. We understand that Alice was Nurse Cotton’s housekeeper and Fred worked as a window cleaner and that they (and their daughter Sheila) shared the house with the Cottons. By 1954 the Fairmans had moved to 46 Gloucester Road and Edith, Eric and Suzanne Cotton were living in the Nurses House alone. More than 30 years later, Alice and her daughter returned to the house and had a look around. Alice was born Alice O’Donoghue in Ormskirk in 1910. She married Fred Fairman in Bristol in 1936. After Fred died in 1974 aged 73, Alice moved to Shifnal in Shropshire and she died there aged 100.
By 1955 arrangements between the Nursing Association and the Town Trust came to an end when a new house was built for them at 1 Park View Avenue in Eastlands. They stayed there until 1961 when they moved to 2 Tilting Road. Edith retired on 31st March 1978 and Eric died a week later. Edith moved to live with her daughter, now married, in Bedfordshire. She died in 2009 aged 90. We have a copied a profile of Nurse Cotton written about 1969 by Mary Neathey and printed in the Outlook Magazine produced by the Thornbury and District Community Association. Click here to read a transcription of that profile
Raymond Henry Pratt – on 29th August 1955 there was an agreement between the Town Trust and Raymond Henry Pratt, of Holmlea, Crossways, Thornbury to rent the premises for 7 years at annual rent of £40.
Raymond was born in Gloucester in 1923, the son of Wallace Pratt. In 1949 Raymond married Kathleen D. E. Sterry in Gloucester. Kathleen was born in Gloucester in 1927, the daughter of Frederick J Sterry and his wife, Clara D (nee Pensom).
Raymond came to Thornbury in 1954 when he became a teacher at St Marys School. From the booklet ‘150 Years of St Mary School’ we have found that Raymond ‘made his mark on the school in many ways: his chair went through the floor, under his bulk’ and he managed to achieve an increase in the number of pupils participating in the savings scheme from 16% of pupils to 100%. In 1965 Raymond was Vice-Chairman of the Parish Council and he was Chairman of the Council in 1966 and 1967 and had been Chairman of the committee which ran the Thornbury Festival each October.
The electoral registers show he continued living there until about 1970 with his wife, Kathleen D. E. Pratt and son, Martin R. Raymond left St Marys School in 1970 to take up a post as Headmaster of St Michael’s C of E School, Bartley Green, Birmingham.
In 1971 the Auctioneers advised that the building required general repair and modernisation before it could be re-let and that it should be put up for auction. The Town Trust needed to raise capital and chose to sell 58 High Street.
Peter Rowland Ticehurst – on 26th May 1971 the house was bought by Peter Rowland Ticehurst of 30 Hamble Close, Thornbury for £4300. Peter was a general medical practitioner and was a member of the practise owned by Drs Prowse, Causton and Whallett based at Thornbury Health Centre. Peter and his wife, Alison Dorothy, lived there until 1974 when they moved to Old Down and they sold the house to Jerry and Jenny Dicker. In 1981 the Ticehursts moved to Ampleforth in Yorkshire.
Jerry & Jenny Dicker – they took over the house in 1974 and have lived there ever since. Jerry was a former headmaster at Oldbury School. He is well known now for his expertise in aboriculture and his business offers practical tree work, surveys, inspections and reports on trees and he runs a variety of tree identification courses. Click here to go to Jerry’s website