Our information on this property has come from a variety of sources. In addition to the census records, rate books, newspaper reports etc, we are particularly grateful to Meg Wise who has a collection of deeds relating to the property and extensive notes made by Tom Crowe when he was shown other deeds some years ago. We also have copies of documents from Gloucester Records Office.
The old photograph above shows clearly that what is now The Knot of Rope was made up of three separate buildings fronting the High Street. This has presented us with some problems when researching the history of the premises.
THE MERMAID and THE WETMORE FAMILY
The deeds show that in the late 17th century and early 18th century the property was the location of an inn known by the name of the Mermaid. In the early 1700’s the Mermaid was run by various members of the Wetmore family. By 1743 the property had ceased being an inn although it continued to be owned and occupied by later generations of the Wetmore family who were maltsters and the deeds do refer to a malthouse being on the premises.
Unfortunately we can’t say for sure which of the three buildings that now form the Knot of Rope was actually the Mermaid. Initially we assumed that the two buildings on the right of the above photograph had been the Mermaid because a marriage settlement dated 1743 referred to the property as ‘heretofore being two messuages and sometime since used as an inn and known by the sign of the Meremaid‘. Furthermore we found a declaration by Stephen Hignell in 1869 who said that Thomas Wetmore (whose father was the subject of the marriage settlement) had lived in the property where James Michael lived which we know from other sources were the two right hand buildings.
However, deeds relating to the adjoining property (number 57 High Street) indicate that the property to the SOUTH of number 57 was formerly the inn and owned by various generations of the Wetmore family. This suggests that it was the gabled building which was possibly the Mermaid. Click here to read about the Mermaid and the Wetmore family
THOMAS MORGAN – the Property Developer
In the late 1820’s the property was sold by Thomas Osborne Wetmore to Thomas Morgan. Thomas also acquired several other properties at the rear and adjacent to the property. He was a plasterer and tiler by trade and he set about developing the properties. He converted a stable building to the rear of the gabled building into three cottages which he let out to tenants. He converted the buildings on Chapel Street on the corner with St Mary Street into three cottages which he also let. He also owned the three properties on the High Street, now known as number 61, 63 and 65 High Street.
It is possible that Thomas also made changes to the properties on the High Street. We are purely speculating that if the gabled building had been the Mermaid and the home of the Wetmores then the two buildings on the right may have been the old malthouse and converted by Thomas Morgan into something more profitable. We know that in the 1840 Tithe Survey the property was treated as two separate plots and from that time onwards the gabled building and the two right hand buildings were run as two separate properties until combined again by Richard Hobbs Smith when he formed The Exchange Hotel in 1896. Click here to read about Thomas Morgan
From about 1842 the two right hand properties were used by James Michael as an off licence. James died in 1871 and the business was continued by his wife and then his son until the 1880’s when the son, James Merrett Michael acquired a full licence to turn the place back into a pub. He called this pub ‘Michaels’. Click here to read about the history of Michaels
‘THE GABLED HOUSE’
Note we’ve adopted the name of ‘The Gabled House’ purely to pinpoint the exact part of the property to which we are referring. Since the 1840’s the gabled house has been occupied by a variety of people with different trades, a wine and spirit merchant, a land and house agent, a grocer and a draper so it is likely to have been a shop for some of the time as well as a private home. Click here to read about the history of this building
THE EXCHANGE AND THE KNOT OF ROPE
In 1892 Richard Hobbs Smith bought the right hand buildings from James Michael and ran the pub as ‘The Royal Exchange‘. In 1896 he decided to expand the business and bought the gabled ended building and incorporated it into his pub. Within a few years the name got shortened to ‘The Exchange’. Richard also set about changing the business and the pub became a hotel which was described in 1918 when it was put up for sale as ‘one of the most popular Country hotels in the West of England’. Click here to read about The Exchange
In 1921 the hotel lost its ‘free house’ status when it was taken over by the Ashton Gate Brewery which was in turn taken over by Georges Brewery in 1931. Georges became part of the Courage Barclays and Simonds group in 1961. The hotel had reverted to becoming a pub, and in 1982 it changed its name to ‘The Knot of Rope‘ after it was bought by the
Wolverhampton and Dudley Brewery. The name was derived from the emblem of the Stafford family who owned Thornbury Castle for over 300 years. We only know know of one of the licensees of the Knot, Keith Long who was the landlord there when he bought Rosemount a large house at the top of the High Street at auction in 1998.
In a period of difficult years for the pub trade, ‘The Knot’ found its own niche in Thornbury catering for sports lovers by providing an impressive array of large flat screens where you can watch football and rugby on TV.
Then in 2017 it changed its name, yet again. The new name was ‘The Malthouse‘.