We believe that the house at number 15 St John Street was one of three houses built by John Withers Bevan in 1824. It was erected on part of a piece of land which had previously been a garden and orchard known as Brayes or Brays.
Brayes or Brays
‘Brayes’ was first mentioned in 1674 in documents relating to the property acquired for the building of a Quaker Meeting Hall on the opposite side of St John Street. At that time it was owned by ‘late of one Henry Marsh’. ‘Brays’ was listed in the 1696 Tithe Terrier when it was described as being a paddock owned by Henry Marsh of about three quarters of an acre fronting St John Street.
On 10th October 1788 Hester Bagnell sold ‘Brayes’ to James Hodges gardener of Thornbury. It was described as ‘one close of arable or pasture ground planted with fruit trees and then used as a garden containing one acre’. At some stage the garden must have been conveyed from James Hodges to William Rolph. On 3rd May 1817 William Rolph sold the garden to John Croome. John died in 1821 and the garden passed to his daughter Eliza and her husband John Lane. They sold the garden to Anne Gibbons, a widow on 2nd April 1824. At that time it was already in the occupation of John Bevan. Anne must have bought it for her daughter Grace and her husband, John Bevan as it was conveyed to them only a week after Anne bought it. Grace only lived for another month. She was only 23 when she was died and she was buried on 23rd May 1824.
Indentures dated 1827 and 1833 indicate that John Bevan had built three houses on the garden. We assume that these houses became numbers 13, 15 and 17 St John Street.
John Withers Bevan
We found three indentures written in 1824, 1827 and 1833 referring to the houses built by John Bevan on the garden land to the north of St John Street. The first two indentures refer to James Withers carpenter of Thornbury as one of several other parties involved with the transactions. The 1827 indenture appears to show that John Bevan and James Withers were borrowing money from Thomas Smith yeoman of Henbury using the property as security. The 1833 indenture appears to show that Thomas Smith of Henbury is now the owner of the property which is being conveyed to Joseph Hignell of Charlton near Henbury.
We know that John got into financial difficulties. In 1831 he appears to have served time as a debtor in Kings Bench Prison in London. When charged at Gloucester Courthouse on 16th July 1831 he was described as a cooper and dealer in coals and also licensed to let post horses, currently out of business.
We don’t understand what happened to the ownership of the property but we do know that by 1840 the properties in St John Street were owned by James Withers’ son, Luke Withers.
The 1840 Tithe Map shows that Luke Withers owned three properties on the areas numbered 239 and 240 which are now known as 11,13 and 15 St John St, and that he was living in number 15 which is referred to as ‘a house and garden’.
Note – there would appear to be a connection between John Bevan, John Withers Bevan and James Withers. It is possible that James Withers was a brother of John Bevan’s wife Hester but we have not found any evidence to confirm or disprove this. Click here to read about the Withers family
The Rate Books of 1876 to 1899 show that the house and the two houses next to it (numbers 11 and 13 ) were owned by Hester Cullimore. We assume that she was left the property by Luke Withers following his death in 1st April 1868 when she was also left the Crispin. Click here to read more
By 1905 the Rate Books show this house and the two next to it were owned by Luke Cullimore. Luke was Hester Cullimore’s younger son. Luke Cullimore died on 28th April 1917 aged 71. In his last will dated written in 1901 he had given his property in trust for the benefit and use of his wife, Amy Lucy Cullimore and after her death it should be sold by his trustees. Mrs Amy Lucy Cullimore died 21st December 1925. The Trustees were Arthur Daniel Cullimore of 179 Westbourne Grove Bayswater London butcher and Wallace James Cullimore of Exton House, Second Avenue, Hove, Sussex, retired officer of the Merchant Service. Click here to read about Luke Cullimore
William Young Sainsbury
In the censuses of 1871 and 1881 the house was occupied by William Young Sainsbury, a relieving officer and his family. Click here to read more
Frank and Alice Tucker
The Rate Book of 1885 says that Frank Tucker was the tenant of the house and he and his family occupied it in the 1891 census and they were to remain there until their deaths, Frank in 1937 and Alice in 1951. We know from the deeds of number 11 that that property was sold in March 1926 to Frank Tucker, a Thornbury builder. We suspect that Frank also acquired number 15 at the same time. Click here to read more
From 1954 the house was occupied by Mrs Emily Fox. In 1958 the property was advertised for sale for £1650. The ground floor was described as having two front sitting rooms, one with china pantry off, a kitchen with a fitted sink with hot and cold water and an Ideal boiler and a large pantry or back kitchen. The first floor had three bedrooms, one with airing cupboard and a fitted bathroom. There were two bedrooms on the second floor.
Emily was to live there up to April 1978 when she sold the house to Miss Joan Higgins of number 13 Pullins Green. At the time of the sale Emily’s address was given as Woodmans Close, Chipping Sodbury.
Miss Higgins bought the property in April 1978. Click here to read more about Joan Higgins
After 22nd August 1978, the house was divided into two separate maisonettes and let by Miss Higgins to various tenants. The conversion caused some problems as the owner of the neighbouring property (number 17) complained that the building work caused damp on his side of a party wall and a lengthy correspondence ensued. Tenants of 15A St John Street included Eric Newham (1980) and Margaret Harwood (1998).
Miss Higgins died in March 2008.