Silver Street was known by several other names in older records mainly ‘Chipping Street’ but also ‘Market Street’. The word ‘Chipping’ is said to be derived from an old English word ‘ceapen’ meaning ‘market’. We know that in the 19th Century the town’s market was located in the area of the High Street near the junction with Silver Street and there are suggestions that in earlier times the market may have been located in Silver Street itself.
Various references have been found in indentures relating to property in Silver Street indicating that the Corn Market was located there in the 17th and 18th Centuries. The name of Chipping Street is found in indentures relating to properties in this street up to at least 1739. We don’t know when the name changed.
Our earliest reference to the change of name to Silver Street appears in the last will and testament of George Rolph dated 20th May 1815 in which he refers to his property ‘fronting the street there called the Chipping or Silver Street’. The name of Silver Street was used on the 1840 Tithe Map and in the various trade directories and censuses since 1839.
The origin of the name of ‘Silver Street’ in other towns has been ascribed to its association with prostitutes. We can’t say for sure if this was the reason in Thornbury, but we also find no other reason for calling it by that name.
Sadly the street no longer exists, although its name plate can still be seen on the side of the building at the High Street end, opposite the Town Hall. All the buildings on the northern side of the street were demolished and the land incorporated into the St Mary shopping arcade development. The buildings on the south side, the Town Hall and the public house are still there, although both buildings were erected at some around or after 1800.
We are particularly grateful to South Gloucestershire Council who allowed us to copy the deeds and other documents relating to the houses on the north side. Luckily they kept these deeds in packets relating to the house numbers introduced in the early 1950s. This has allowed us to trace the history of some of these houses back to the 1600s.
The documents have shown two important places in the street. One was ‘Cobb Hall’, the other the Corn Market. We have found that Cobb Hall was what later became incorporated as part of 3 Silver Street. We don’t know why it was called by that name. From the early 1700s onwards, it was used as a house, but it is possible that it was previously connected in some way to the Corn Market. The two properties either side of Cobb Hall include a reference that they were ‘near the Corn Market’ in the description of their location. They are the only houses in the street to refer to it.
We will be adding some information about the history of the Barrel, now called The Hawkes House, at some time in the future.