We are not really sure when the house that became 8 St John Street was built or who lived in that house in the early years. We believe it was built some time in the 1860s as one of a pair of houses.Of the occupants of the property we know of;
George A Hughes – from the 1871 Census, we believe that George may have lived in this house with Susan his wife aged 40 from Diss in Norfolk, and Sarah Ann Hughes an unmarried daughter in law aged 22, a dress and mantle maker, from Thornbury. He appears in this house in the 1876 Rate Book. Click here to read more
Harry Eddington – the 1880 Rate Book shows that the house was void but by 1885 the Rate Book shows that Henry Eddington lived in one of this pair of houses. The 1891 Census shows that he was Harry Eddington a painter, aged 32 and his wife, Sarah aged 40 from Bishops Cleeve, their son, Ernest Harry aged 8 and a lodger Louis Harold Nicholls, a curate of Thornbury Clergy from Bodenham in Herefordshire aged 24. One of Harry’s brothers, Charles, was later to live in 7 Pullins Green – Read more about Charles Eddington
Harry was baptised on 10 November 1858, the son of Thomas Eddington, a painter and Elizabeth. In the 1881 Census Harry was living with his parents in their house in 28 Castle Street. Harry married Sarah Sollis in Bath in December quarter 1881. Their son, Ernest Harry was baptised in Thornbury on 15th April 1882. The Rate Book of 1894 shows that Henry Eddington is still living in the house. By the time of the 1901 Census, Harry and Sarah were living apart. Harry was boarding with Thomas Alsop in St Mary Street. He was still working as a house painter. Sarah was living with her unmarried sister, Mary Sollis in Cleeve Road, Cheltenham. Sarah and Mary were partners in running a lodging house. Ernest was living with them working as an ironmonger’s apprentice.
Harry emigrated to Canada in 1906 on board the Virginian which set sail from Liverpool.
The inscription on his parents’ grave shows that he died in Montreal on 6th October 1908 aged 49 years. The certificate of his “enterrement” from the Anglican Christ Church Cathedral in Montreal shows that he was aged 45 when he died and that he was buried on October 8th.
Their son Ernest Henry Eddington moved to Oxford where he married Ruth Louisa Woodward in 1908. In 1911 they were living at 6 Bedford Street, Oxford with their son, Ernest Harry aged 2. Ernest snr had become an ironmonger’s assistant.
Mary Elizabeth Taylor – in 1901 the house was occupied by Mary Taylor, a married woman aged 64 living on own means. Mary was born in Thornbury about 1837. She was the daughter of John Lane, a plumber and his wife, Eliza, a schoolmistress. In 1841 John and Eliza were living in the High Street with their children Lydia aged 20, George aged 15, Hester aged 11 and Mary aged 4.
John died in December quarter 1849 aged about 53 years. The 1851 Census shows Eliza was living in Castle Street an annuitant aged 58 born in Thornbury, Lydia was a schoolmistress aged 33 born in Corsham and Mary Elizabeth, a scholar aged 14. By 1861 Eliza was living in the High Street. Eliza was now shown as ‘Retired’ and Mary was now a schoolmistress aged 24. With them were Mary’s sister, Eliza Marie Ashe, a corn factor’s wife aged 37 born in Corsham, Lydia Ashe aged 10 and John Angell J. Ashe aged 11 months and two scholars: Mary Ann Barber aged 14 from Berkeley and Sarah Ann Penduck aged 8 from Aust.
On 1st January 1867, Mary married John Hargreaves Joseph Taylor at the Congregational Church in Thornbury. The marriage register shows John came from Newham. In 1871 Mary and John were living in Ivy House, Colne in Lancashire. John was a Minister of the Independent Chapel at Colne aged 29 from Hereford. By 1881 Mary and John were living apart. Mary was living in Bristol – she was the Lady Superintendent of the Indian Bazaar and Y.W.C.A. which was situated at 15 Royal Promenade, Clifton. The census shows Mary as being ‘Married’ in this and later censuses, but we cannot find any record of John in any of these censuses, nor can we find any record of his death or his re-marrying. Perhaps he went overseas?
In 1891 Mary was the Superintendent of the YWCA at 48 Queens Road, Clifton. We don’t know when she came back to Thornbury. The Rate Books of 1899 1905 and 1910 show that she was living in the house and renting it from Emily Weatherhead. The 1911 Census shows her living there on her own. The house then had a name ‘The Haven’.
We are not sure what connection Mary Taylor was (if any) to George Whitfield but we have a newspaper report of 1903 which describes a accident which befell Mrs Taylor of John St who was an aunt of the daughters of George Whitfield who were with her at the time of the accident. Mrs Taylor hurt her head in a collision between two carriages and was rendered unconscious for a short time. Mary died in the town in March quarter 1913.
Alfred Gill (Junior) – the 1914, 1915 and 1916 Prewett’s Directories show that Alfred was living in ‘John Street’. Alfred Gill (junior) and his wife, Emily lived there until at least 1927 when they are still listed in the electoral register, but they may have moved to Gillingstool as an ‘A. Gill’ is listed in the 1927 Street Directory.
Alfred was baptised in Thornbury’s Congregational Church on 22nd January 1890, the son of Alfred Gill, the railway engine driver and his wife, Sarah A. In 1901 they were living at Jubilee House in Gillingstool Hill. In June quarter 1911, Alfred married Emily Jane Higgins. Emily was born in Thornbury in the March quarter of 1891. She was the daughter of Frank Higgins, a farmer, and his wife, Mary Ann. They both came from Baltonsboro in Somerset, but in 1901 they were living with Emily and other children in Churnmead, Kington. Alfred and Emily had one daughter, Berenice M. born on 18th October 1914.
In the Gazette of July 21st 1928 it was reported that Mr. and Mrs. Gill were receiving gifts from the Baptist Church on their departure from the area. Mr Gill had been a church deacon and treasurer of the Sunday School and both had been actively involved in the choir for many years. It was hoped they would be able to take up similar roles “in their new sphere”. In 1935 when his parents’ home was sold Alfred was described as a builder living at Broncksea Road, Filton.
Samuel and Ada Phipps – the house was occupied by the Phipps family from about 1930 to at least 1946. Samuel Phipps was born in Thornbury on 10th October 1878. He was the son of George Phipps, blacksmith and beerhouse keeper and his wife, Hannah. In 1881 they were running the Royal George Inn on The Plain in Thornbury. In 1882, Samuel’s father, George, died aged 49. Hannah had married again by March quarter 1883, this time to William Cullimore from Cromhall. William took over as beerhouse keeper at the Royal George, and Samuel and his sister were living with them in 1891. The 1901 census shows Samuel had become an engineer (fitter). He was living with his brother, Henry G. and his wife in Chippenham.
In 1906 Samuel married in Chippenham. His wife was Ada Constance Perkins who was born in Chippenham on 8th December 1873. Ada was the daughter of James Perkins, a coachman and his wife, Mary Ann who were living at The Bulls, Chippenham in 1881. By 1891 the Perkins family had moved to London Road, Chippenham where Ada had become a pupil teacher. In 1901 the family had moved again, this time to the Spirit Vaults, interestingly one of three adjoining public houses in the Market Place where her father was a licensed victualler and Ada was a school mistress.
By the 1911 census the family had moved to Thornbury where Samuel took over the running of the Royal George following the death of his step-father, William Cullimore, probably in 1907. The Trade Directories show Samuel as a beer retailer from 1914 onwards, although from 1923 he is shown as also running a carrier business offering a daily service to Bristol.
We believe Samuel and Ada may have had one child – Constance Millicent was born in December quarter 1903 – her birth was registered at Stow in the Wold. Samuel is given as the name of her parent/guardian when she started at the Council Upper School in 1912 having transferred from a school in Chippenham. However she left shortly after to return to Chippenham. She married in Chippenham in 1926 – so perhaps she was a niece who was only visiting Samuel.
Samuel gave up running the Royal George in May 1923 when Harry Clark took over. The 1927 Electoral Register shows Samuel and Ada living in Castle Street although the 1927 and 1931 Trade Directories list Samuel as a carrier in Church Lane. The Electoral Registers from 1930 onwards show Samuel and Ada living in St John Street. The Phipps lived in 8 St John Street throughout the 1930s. The registers show that Bertha Phipps was living with them from 1935 to 1939 – we are not sure who this person is. The Gazette newspaper of June 12th 1937 reported that Samuel Phipps was in court about a road fund licence. This article refers to Samuel as a haulage contractor who had been driving since 1918. It says that the offence occurred while he was driving a load of general goods into Bristol. The article also mentions that Samuel had used the road fund Licence from the Thornbury fire engine instead of one for his own vehicle which implies that Samuel was also a volunteer fireman.
Ada died aged 66 and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 9th December 1940. The 1946 Electoral Register shows Samuel living in the house alone. There is no sign of Bertha. He appears to sharing the house with Gray family whom we were told lived there after the Phipps. Samuel died aged 67 and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 21st August 1946. His burial record describes him as a retired carrier living in John Street.
Modern times – in 1946, the house was shared by Samuel Phipps and Joseph and Sybil C Gray, by 1950 Samuel had gone and the Grays lived there on their own until the mid 1950s. From that time, several families came and went: the electoral registers show in 1957 John and Gertrude O. McLeod, in 1961 Jean C Newstead, in 1964 Alan J and Eileen P. Cave and in 1970 John B. and Linda A. Smailes living there.
The house was demolished about 1970 as part of the town’s re-development. It has been replaced by a new section of road linking St John Street to Rock Street.