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The Taylor Family Distillery, King’s Road, Chelsea in the 19th and 20th centuries

In 2010 Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson bought the seven-bedroom property now known as Shawfield House, on the corner of Shawfield Street and the King’s Road, Chelsea. Current interest in this building stems from it being the oldest industrial facility at this location, with a long history of prestigious gin and liquor making carried out by members of the Taylor family from around 1770 until the early 20th century. This article focuses on James Taylor, a perfume distiller by trade, and his son Humphrey Taylor and grandson Edward James Taylor, who were additionally distillers and rectifiers.

Two Taylor Family Distilling Businesses by the King’s Road, Chelsea

Fig. 1. Glazed earthenware spirit container, marked H. Taylor & Co. Distillers (probably mid-19th century).

According to the date stamped on their later bottles (Fig. 1) and labels, the Taylor distillery for alcoholic beverages was established in 1770, a date that is also cited by online sources. However, this date is not confirmed by documentary evidence in the public domain. A more plausible conclusion is that it was only the perfume distillery which was founded at that date, not the alcohol rectifying distillery.

From the Post Office Directory of 1817 (Fig. 2) it is clear that the Taylor family had two distinct businesses very close by in the same area – ‘Taylor & Son, Perfumer distillers’, which was probably founded in 1770, and ‘H. Taylor & Co., Distillers and Rectifiers’ which was probably founded by Humphrey Taylor around 1813.

Fig. 2. 1817 Post Office Directory for London shows the dual Taylor interests (H. Taylor & Co., distillers and rectifiers, and Taylor & Son, perfume-distillers). At this date, Shawfield Street had not been built, so the address for the distillery and rectifying business was necessarily given as King’s Road, Chelsea.

Location of the Shawfield Street Distillery, Chelsea

The first Taylor perfume distillery was small, and so may have been in the house and retail premises of the nearby 121 King’s Road, on the west side of the Commercial Tavern in front of Little’s Nursery, rather than in the leased garden land at the rear of 127 King’s Road (where the spirits distillery on the west side of Shawfield Street would be developed later). If so, the two buildings seen in the Greenwood map (Fig. 3) would have been for rectifying and storage, respectively.  

Part of C & J Greenwood's Map of London surveyed 1824, 1825, 1826, showing future Shawfield Street running south from King's Road, Chelsea
Fig. 3. Part of the C. & J. Greenwood map of London surveyed 1824/25/26. To the north, a short cul de sac (coloured yellow the future Shawfield Street) runs south from the King’s Road. Two detached  distillery buildings (marked in red) are shown on the west side. The cul de sac connects to a path through Queen’s Terrace North (which may be formal gardens for the distillery). Overall, much land is still unbuilt at this date.

James Taylor, Perfumer

To date, no information has been found about the birth date and parentage of the first documented perfumer, James Taylor, Sr., who died in 1806. It is also not known whether it was James Taylor, Sr., or an as yet unidentified relative, who first established the Taylor & Son retail perfumery (probably in 1770) at 121 King’s Road, Chelsea and later a perfume distillery and manufactory.  

These perfumery businesses were not capital intensive but would have needed some skills. The founder might have had a background as an apothecary, since perfume distillers were not under the auspices of the Worshipful Company of Distillers.

In his Will of 1805, James Taylor, Sr. described himself only as a ‘perfume distiller’ and made it clear that he was the father of brothers Humphrey Taylor (1792–1847) and James Taylor (1796–1838). The baptism records for these sons, showed their mother (and the wife of James, Sr.) to be a Hannah (surname unknown). She could have been Hannah Walker, who married a James Taylor in September 1792 at St George’s Hanover Square, London; Hannah Ivey, who married a James Taylor at St Mary’s Marylebone in May 1769; or even Hannah Asha, who had banns proclaimed with a James Taylor at Hounslow in 1764.

Crucially, it has not been possible to connect James Taylor Sr. with either the Humphry [sic] Taylor, ‘gentleman of Little Chelsea’ (who died in 1791), or to the latter’s grandson (another Humphrey Taylor). In the older Humphry Taylor’s Will there was no mention of a James Taylor, or of property in the King’s Road, Chelsea.

Fig. 4. The Universal British Directory for Chelsea, 1791 (part 1, p. 755). James Taylor is listed as a ‘perfumer’ and not as a distiller.

Distilling for Perfumes

Fig. 5. Advertisement from the Morning Herald, 15 July 1837.

Though both involve a still, there are significant differences between distilling for perfumes and for rectifying alcoholic spirits. The latter process will be considered below.

The main method used to extract the essential perfume oils from the botanical source would likely have been steam distilling (still a key method in use for making high-quality products). The rose petals, lavender or elder flowers were placed on a tray suspended above the water in a small copper still (perhaps of 10 gallons capacity or less). The water was then heated to create steam, which passed through the flowers, extracting the essential perfume oil.

This steam was then diverted downwards through a condensing coil or ‘worm’ in a container cooled by water. Small drops of the essential oil would appear on the surface of the distillate and would be decanted. The fluid bulk of the residue would then be distilled again to yield rose water (or lavender water). This distillation might take several hours.

In the flowering season, Taylor and Son’s perfume distillation was open to the public and, according to an advertisement from 1837 (Fig. 5), took place on alternate days (Monday, Wednesday and Friday), giving time for the still to be cleaned and more fresh blooms to be picked. At that date they were also advertising themselves as ‘Distillers to the Royal Family’ in respect of their perfume distillery.  

Manufacturing perfume from flowers is an essentially seasonal process. Rose petals are particularly delicate and need to be grown locally so they can be processed quickly.

Fig. 6. Advertisement from the Morning Herald for 22 August 1850. Note that the flower waters have been produced during the last 70 years i.e. since 1780. A pint of rose water at 2s equates in RPI terms to c. £13 in 2021.

A later advertisement suggests Taylor & Son used Provence-type roses (Rosa centifolia). If the whole 1½ acre area of the future Shawfield Street was available for rose growing, then this might have supplied as much as 1,200 kg of rose petals over the month-long harvest. After distilling this could have given about 2,500 litres of rose water (containing c. 0.05% pure rose oil), as well as perhaps 400 ml of essential rose oil.  Lavender flowers are more robust than roses, and it is likely that Taylor’s used English lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia) acquired nearby – perhaps in Surrey.

The water available from the Chelsea Water Company was heavily contaminated before 1829 and was likely to have been unsuitable for perfume distilling. If so, James Taylor Sr. might have sourced barrels of clean water from nearby rural areas or distilled it clean on site.

When James Taylor Sr. died in 1806, he bequeathed his premises in the King’s Road including the perfume distillery, and in the Barbican, to his eldest son and heir, Humphrey Taylor. James’s widow, Hannah, then ran the business until Humphrey came of age in c. 1813.

Humphrey Taylor, Perfume Distiller and Rectifier 1792–1847

Fig. 7. An advertisement from the London Courier, 21 June 1825, when Humphrey Taylor was 33 years old. His son Edward was not born at this date.

According to the Parish Registers for Luke’s, Chelsea, Humphrey Taylor was baptised in 1792 (Fig. 8) and in September 1827 he married Mary Anne Sheppard (or Shepperd) (Fig. 9).

Fig. 8. Extract from the Parish Registers of St Luke’s, Chelsea for 1792, showing Humphry [sic] as one of the baptisms.
Fig. 9. Extract from the Parish Registers of St Luke’s, Chelsea, showing the marriage of Humphrey Taylor and Mary Anne Sheppard in 1827.

Humphrey would have been aged 48 at the time of the 1841 Census, which enumerated seven members of the Taylor family with two servants at the King’s Road distillery. It listed Humphrey and his wife Mary Anne Taylor, (née Sheppard) who claimed an age of 37, but was actually born in 1798 and died in 1877. Also part of the household was Humphrey’s sister-in-law Urania Taylor, aged 30 (also née Sheppard; 1808–1884), widow of Humphrey’s brother, James. The children were Humphrey and Mary Anne’s son Edward, aged 12 (1828–1903) and daughter Mary Anne, aged 10 (1830–1876), and Urania’s children James, aged nine (1831–1870) and Urania Agnes, aged eight (1833–1904).

As noted earlier, the available evidence suggests that only the Taylor perfume distillery business was founded in Chelsea around 1770. It therefore seems very likely that Humphrey Taylor was the founder of the business H. Taylor & Co. Distillers and Rectifiers, but the date cannot be confirmed.

Humphrey himself stated that he was a distiller and rectifier in 1813 (when he was 21 years of age) and the first published mention of rectifying was in the 1817 Post Office directory (see Fig. 2, above). (Despite this, fire insurance documents from as late as 1829 show Humphrey Taylor described solely as a perfume distiller.)

An advert of 1835 (Fig. 10) cited Humphrey Taylor & Co., rectifiers and liqueur and cordial merchants as ‘successors to Mr. de Joachim’, with no mention of 1770.  Louis Rene de Joachim, was listed as a distiller in Paddington Green in an 1810 directory, but he went bankrupt in that year. It supports the date of 1813 for the beginning of Humphrey Taylor’s rectifying business.

Fig. 10. Advertisement from Grace’s Guide Who’s Who in Business 1914.

Rectifying Alcohol in the 19th Century

It is not known whether the equipment needed for Taylor and Co.’s first alcohol distillery was new or second hand (perhaps acquired from the bankrupt de Joachim). A new rectifying distillery for spirits might cost a minimum of £20,000 to equip and require working capital in excess of £60,000.

Repeated distillation is known as rectification. Its primary objective is to concentrate alcohol from weaker aqueous solutions in the still. This relies on the fact that alcohol has a lower boiling point than water. So if the crude starting fluid (wine or beer) had say 10% alcohol by volume (ABV), then the first distillation would yield say 20% ABV, the second say 40% ABV, and so on until the desired strength was achieved (usually so called ‘neat’ spirit with 95.6% ABV but without taste).

Unlike perfume distilling, the rectifying of spirit involved much larger volumes of both the initial and end product. This needed bigger stills, more accessories and more space. By analogy with other rectifiers of the time, Humphrey Taylor might have had three pot stills – perhaps one of 600–1,200 gallons capacity, with two smaller stills say of around 150 and 250 gallons. These required larger amounts of water to cool the distillate. Clean water was also needed to dilute the final spirit for consumption as gin, for example. 

The spirit rectifier would have needed numerous large containers for storing fluids (before, during and after distillation), and one or more pumping engines to move the fluids. There would have been considerable lengths of pipework (colour-coded to assist inspectors from HM Excise) and numerous storage casks and bottles.

Unlike perfumed waters, strong alcohol above 40% ABV is flammable and provided a constant potential for fires. In terms of safety, it would make sense for the business to have a separate building for finished spirits, as indicated in the Greenwood map (Fig. 3).

Spirit rectifiers were subject to considerable, continuing and very burdensome surveillance from the Excise (to ensure payment of the heavy duties on alcohol).

Up until 1829, Humphrey would have faced the same problem as other distillers at that period – the very poor quality of the contaminated water pumped from the River Thames. It is not known whether Humphrey filtered the water on the premises or even distilled it to achieve potable water for diluting his strong spirits.

Two developments in and after 1829 would have had an impact on Humphrey Taylor’s rectifying business. First, it seems likely that he acquired at least one column still (also known as a Coffey still) allowing continuous operation and high yields of neat spirit. Second, the Chelsea Water Company began to supply sand-filtered water. This allowed the production of larger volumes of water-diluted spirits to be produced in the form of the company’s many alcoholic beverages, including dry gin, brandy and liqueurs.

Edward James Taylor 1828–1903

After Humphrey Taylor’s death in 1847, Mary Anne Taylor continued to run the two businesses at 121 King’s Road, Chelsea, until their only son, Edward James Taylor, came of age in 1849 or 1850. She was active in the business, particularly on the perfume side, and maintained the perfumery business. The 1851 and 1861 Censuses showed Edward living with his widowed mother, his aunt, Urania Taylor, his sister, Mary Anne Taylor, and Urania’s two children, James Taylor and Urania Agnes.

In an example of family closeness, in 1857 Mary Anne Taylor married James Christie (1838-1887), while in 1865 her cousin Urania Agnes Taylor married James Christie’s brother Albert Christie (1848-1912).  

The perfume business continued under Edward , whose perfumed soaps products and distilled perfumed waters were exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Class 29. (The jury mentioned Brown-Windsor, almond, Otto of Rose and lavender soaps, as well as rose-water, elderflower water and spirituous perfumes.) 

The liqueur business flourished and became dominant under Edward Taylor’s direction, and the company’s British fruit liqueurs were also exhibited in Class 29 at the 1851 Great Exhibition, receiving a gold medal, and then a gold medal at the International Exhibition of 1862.

The Extension of the Distillery and the Role of 127 King’s Road, Chelsea

The 1865 Ordnance Survey (Fig. 11) shows the distillery premises had been enlarged and extended from the two detached buildings shown earlier in the Greenwood map of 1825 (Fig. 3.) There was now a larger complex of four discrete but mostly contiguous buildings with two small greenhouses (shown hatched in red, below). Immediately south of the distillery buildings was a formal garden with a fountain and paths, then three separate houses (one a pair of semis). Still further south (in the area of the future Redburn Street and Redesdale Street), the large nursery with many greenhouses may have been a local source of tender fruits for the distillery.

There is no evidence in street directories that 127 King’s Road was a retail shopfront for the distillery, though this would have been very convenient. Rather, a retail counter, trade counter and counting house for the distillery seem likely to have existed in buildings immediately behind the shop at 127 King’s Road. Indeed, Fig. 11 shows that in 1865 there was a narrow passage connecting the distillery to 127 King’s Road. This would possibly have provided pedestrian access to the distillery offices.

Fig. 11. From the Ordnance Survey map survey of 1865. Shawfield Street and Radnor Street are longer culs de sac. On the west side of Shawfield Street lies the distillery complex, with two small greenhouses, the distillery gardens, and then three houses (with Shawfield Lodge the most northerly). The east side is fully built up, with a detached house (Shawfield Cottage) and large garden to the north, then a row of 19 terraced houses.

Edward James Taylor –Later Life and Career

By 1867, Edward was a Freemason and a member of the Berkhampstead Lodge, no. 504, consecrated in 1845 and one of the oldest Lodges in the Masonic Province of Hertfordshire. In July 1871, Edward married Eliza Ann Richardson, whose father, Charles Richardson (1817–1890), was a wealthy and successful cement and brick merchant through his firm A. & W. T. Richardson Ltd. Sadly, Edward and Eliza Ann Taylor’s marriage was short – she died in July 1876 when their son Humphrey Richardson Taylor was three years old (perhaps following the birth of a short-lived daughter, Emily). 

By the 1870s, Mary Anne Taylor, Sr. was getting older, and was possibly in poor health, and Edward’s principal interest was in spirit rectification. The land of Shawfield Street was also more valuable for housing  than for plants. Mary Anne died in 1877, and by 1881 Gosnell Bros. & Co. had succeeded Taylor & Son at 121 King’s Road, as wholesale perfumers and perfume distillers by appointment to Queen Victoria.

The 1881 Census showed Edward, aged 52, was living in his imposing double-fronted detached freehold house, at 35 Carlyle Square, Chelsea. Edward was then a widower, with an only son, Humphrey, aged eight. Listed as visitors were his Aunt Urania and his cousin Urania Agnes with her husband, Albert Christie, together with two servants and a nurse. Edward described himself as a rectifier (as in 1871), employing six men.

In later life, Edward Taylor’s advice on distillation was sought world-wide. He was an early director of the prestigious Glenmorangie Distillery Company at Tain, Scotland, and had a potentially very profitable, but contentious, service agreement (which was upheld by the Scottish Court of Session in July 1896). This suggests Edward had sound commercial and investment instincts, as well as skills as a distiller.

Edward James Taylor of 35 Carlyle Square, Chelsea died on 20 September 1903 at St Leonard’s-on-Sea and was buried in Brompton Cemetery, Fulham Road. Probate was granted at London on 16 October to his son, Humphrey Richardson Taylor, distiller; Albert Christie (his cousin Urania’s husband), a corn factor; and to an accountant. His effects (after being re-sworn) were £104,907 9s 6d (equivalent to about £13,084,620 in 2021 money). The Carlyle Square house, the largest in the area, sold for £17.5 million in December 2014.

The Shawfield Street Distillery in the early 20th Century

Fig. 12. Extract from the 1893 Ordnance Survey map. The southern boundary of the distillery is opposite the boundary between 5 and 7 Shawfield Street. The small greenhouses seen in 1865 to the south are now incorporated into an otherwise unbuilt plot – this will become a new house, 2 Shawfield Street. The direct connection between the distillery and the shop at 127 King’s Road has been closed off.

Further consolidation at the distillery is apparent on the 1893 Ordnance Survey Map (Fig. 12). The earlier connection to the shop at 127 King’s Road has been closed off. The distillery now has a continuous east façade, with a gateway that has been retained in the present Shawfield House. At this date, the former distillery gardens have been built over. 

The distillery building in Shawfield Street continued with the Taylor family until September 1908, when they relocated their business to larger premises at the Bloomsbury Distillery, 45 New Oxford Street, with a factory in Ogle Street, Marylebone. Their former distillery in Shawfield Street was then leased to Buckley and Beach, pewterers, gas and electrical engineers.

By 1809, a new detached house with a frontage of 49 ft (the present 2 Shawfield Street) had been built on the site of the old greenhouses and some adjoining land. This was presumably commissioned by Arthur F. Beach, the gas and electrical engineer, with an 80-year lease (from 29 September 1908) from Humphrey Richardson Taylor. Beach and his wife and servant were enumerated at the house in the 1911 Census.


Fig. 13. Descendant chart for James Taylor, Snr. The origins of the earliest James are not known, though he married a Hannah (perhaps Hannah Walker) in 1792. Mary Anne and Urania Sheppard were sisters. Also, James and Albert Christie were brothers.


  1. This is an account of the Taylor family of perfumery and distilling entrepreneurs in 19th– and 20th–century Chelsea – father, son and grandson. Their main dates and connections are shown in a descendant tree chart in Fig. 13, above.
  2. The origins of the earliest member, James Taylor, Sr., are not known as yet. He (or a relation) first established Taylor & Son, as a retail perfumery at 121 King’s Road, Chelsea in 1770.  In his lifetime to 1806, James Taylor was only ever described as a perfumer or as a perfume distiller. It seems likely perfume distillation was carried out within this King’s Road building, and beyond Excise control. By 1825 an advertisement showed Taylor & Son had extensive distillation apparatus for lavender, rose and other perfumed waters. They would only have needed a small still to produce modest volumes of the different perfumed waters.
  3. James’s eldest son, Humphrey, continued the perfume business but then developed an additional initiative nearby, H. Taylor & Co., distillers and rectifiers. The earliest founding date of this distilling business would appear to be 1813 (when Humphrey attained his majority). Presumably, his company structure (though not incorporated) helped in raising capital.
  4. The Greenwood map of around 1825 showed two separate buildings behind 127 King’s Road.  These were probably used both for spirit distilling and for storage (under close supervision by the Excise), rather than for perfume distilling.
  5. Initially, alcohol distilling was unlikely to have been a major activity, not least because adequate and reliable supplies of clean piped water were not available until after 1829, when the supply from the River Thames was sand-filtered. Before 1829, it seems likely that to ensure quality, the water would have needed to be purified, perhaps by distillation, for adding to spirit in the manufacture of gin and strong liquors.
  6. Rectification resulted in concentrated alcohol (a.k.a. spirit) which was then used to make a range of prestigious alcoholic drinks, and which attracted Royal patronage in 1911.
  7. The spirit distillery would have needed more space and equipment than the perfume distillery. This arose from the need to have more and larger stills, to hold large volumes of alcohol source product and finished spirit, and also of the various diluted products for drinking. Large storage tanks and secure storage space would have been necessary. The distillery buildings increased in size over the 19th century. At its final size, the rectifying distillery complex (including the courtyard) occupied a footprint of some 132 ft x 70 ft (9,249 sq ft, or 859 sq metres), according to the 1910 Survey.

The Clarke family of Swainswick, Somerset

New research about George Clarke the younger and George Clarke the elder, the father and grandfather of the Hon. George Clarke (1676–1760), Lieutenant Governor of New York Province.


The Hon. George Clarke (1676–1760) of Swainswick,1 Somerset went to North America in 1793. He went initially as Secretary to the Province of New York and finished up as the Hon. George Clarke, Lieutenant Governor of New York Province from 1736–1743, returning to England in around 1747.2, 3   

This remarkable man continues to be of interest to historians, not only as the founder of the Hyde Clarke dynasty in England and North America, but in his own right as an eminent colonial civil servant with political skills, who was responsible for the development of much of New York Province for over 40 years (with a remarkable record for self-enrichment). Biographer E. B. O’Callaghan2 summarises the Hon. George in the following, not altogether flattering, terms:

sensible, artful, active and cautious; [he] had a perfect Command of his Temper, and was in his Address specious and civil. Nor was any Man better acquainted with the Colony and its Affairs. As a Crown Officer, he was careful not to lose the Favor of any Governor, and still more assiduous to please when he became second in the Council Board. By his Offices of Secretary, Clerk of the Council, Councillor, and Lieutenant Governor, he had many Advantages of inserting his own, or the Name of some other Person in Trust for him, in numerous Grants of Land; and his Estate, when he left New York, by the rise in the Value of his Property and the increased Population of the Colony, was estimated at One hundred thousand Pounds”.

What seems out of character for an embryo civil servant with a “command of his temper”, is the quarrel and alleged assault in 1792 by the young George Clarke on a Dublin merchant, Peter Sabatier.2

Much is known and has been written of the Hon. George Clarke’s life in North America, and his descendants have been well documented.2,3 However, little has been written about his origins in Swainswick, his ancestors and his activities in England (other than in the rebuilding of Hyde Hall, Cheshire). This article attempts to address this deficit. It provides some answers, but also raises many still unanswered questions.

Multiple George Clarkes

In the 17th century, the records cited by Peach3 show only three clearly identified and confirmed people named George Clarke connected with Swainswick. To reduce confusion, they are henceforth referred to as the Hon. George Clarke (1676–1760); his father, George Clarke the younger (1629–1694); and the Hon. George’s grandfather, George Clarke the elder (1602–1670). There are many instances when it is not possible to identify with confidence which George Clarke in Swainswick is referred to in a documentary source. An additional difficulty is that the Oriel College leases show that both the elder and the younger George Clarkes were merchants and presumably resident in London, making it likely that key records would be in London as well as in Somerset. Confounding the London picture is the fact that in the 17th century there are several merchants called George Clarke in London – apart from the clerk of delivery at the Tower, these included a knighted alderman, a grocer, a mercer, a draper and a vintner.

The Hon. George Clarke – his origins and early years

Some Ancestry family trees introduce as the father of the Hon. George, a fourth George Clarke (Swainswick, 1651–1730). However, I have found no documentary evidence for the existence of this George Clarke and no record of his baptism at Swainswick around 1651. The confusion may well stem from the early decease of Elizabeth Bennet, the first wife of George Clarke the younger, and the failure to recognize his subsequent second marriage (to Mary Povey) at the late age of 42. Thus when the Hon. George Clarke was born, his father was already middle-aged.

The Hon. George Clarke’s baptism record is quite specific – when baptised at Swainswick in 1679 (Fig. 1), his mother was recorded as “Mary” (not Christina Jane, as some family trees claim). For reasons unknown, the baptism was three years after the birth year implied by his monumental inscription in Chester, but baptism data is lacking on some of his siblings.

Fig. 1. Extract from the parish register of St Mary, Swainswick, for April 1679.

George had a sister Katherine (baptised 1674), a sister Elizabeth (no BMD information), and a sister Beatrix, whose place and date of baptism are unknown, but who died on 4 July 1690. The probated 1690 will of Beatrix Clarke4 named and left bequests to her parents, and to her siblings Elizabeth, George and Katherine. The latter received a generous £100, which poses the question how and from whom the presumed teenaged Beatrix had inherited the money? Also, sisters Elizabeth and Katherine Clarke were alive at the date of  this 1690 will, but what happened later is not known.

It is very likely that some of the Hon. George Clarke’s childhood years were spent in Swainswick Manor House. Thus, Oriel College records show the Hon. George’s father (George Clarke the younger) as well as his grandfather, leased and occupied the Manor Farm in Swainswick (presumably with the Manor House, Fig. 2) at various times in the 17th century. The Oriel lease of 1678,3 specifically mentions the property being “in the tenure of George Clarke, gent.”, while the 1683 lease describes the premises as “late in the tenure of George Clarke, gent.”. If the Clarkes were actually occupying the Manor House, as well as being lessees of the farm, then the Hon. George will have spent some of his early childhood years around 1678 there.

Fig. 2. Swainswick Manor in the 20th century (Photo: Rick Crowley).

The Hon. George Clarke was 18 years old when his father died, and one assumes he was affected by the early litigation over his father’s estate.5  It is a matter for speculation as to the extent to which this influenced him, initially to pursue a legal career, and subsequently to spend so much time involved in land disposition in New York province.

The Hon. George Clarke’s education

Details of the Hon. George Clarke’s education are unknown as yet. He might have gone to school in nearby Bath, or even in London. If the former, then a search of alumnus records for the independent King Edward’s School, Bath (founded 1552) might be useful. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography6 states that George Clarke read law in Dublin. Though very plausible, I have found no evidence for this as regards the Trinity College admission records between 1687–1702.7 Whatever, the Hon. George must have had a good enough education to function as a lawyer in Dublin in the early 1700s, and then to be suitable for preferment.

Hon. George Clarke and William Blathwayt

It is regularly stated 2, 3  that the Hon. George Clarke got his initial appointment in America (as Secretary of the Province of New York in 1703) through his uncle, the lawyer and distinguished civil servant, William Blathwayt (or Blathwaite, 1649–1717) of St Martin’s, London, who was MP for Bath (1693–1700) and Secretary of War (1685–1704). It is not known whether or how they were related or whether “uncle” was an honorific.

One American guide8 suggested the Hon. George Clarke’s mother was a sister of William Blathwayt of Dyrham. Indeed, several family trees on the Ancestry website claim George’s mother was a Christina Jane Blathwayt (born Woking, Surrey in 1660). However, this Blathwayt connection cannot be confirmed. First, William Blathwayt had only one adult sister, Anne Blathwayt (1691–1717), who married Edward Southwell (not a Clarke); second, William Blathwayt did not have a sister called Christina Jane; and third, there appears to be no record of any Blathwayt-Clarke marriage.

The Hon. George may have been connected with William Blathwayt through their respective mothers – George Clarke’s mother being Mary Povey and William Blathwayt’s mother being Anne Povey. Alternatively, there may have been a connection through Mary Povey, and William Blathwayt’s half-sister Mary (née Vivian, who married John Povey, 1649-1715). Anne Blathwayt née Povey had married a Thomas Vivian after she was widowed. However, lack of information on the parents of Mary Povey and her family makes conclusions about these relationships speculative.

Hon. George Clarke and Lambridge House, Swainswick

This Grade II-listed house lies in the lower part of Swainswick parish beside the main London Road and was built by 1742. Further research in Oriel College archives is required to determine whether the Hon. George Clarke was responsible for building the original Lambridge House (Fig. 3). It seems likely that he bequeathed Lambridge House to his descendants (along with the rest of his Swainswick estate), but his will2 offers no information on this matter. It is not known whether after his return to England in 1747 the Hon. George ever visited or stayed in Lambridge House in his absences from Hyde Hall, Cheshire.

Fig. 3. Lambridge House, front elevation – this is only part of the original L-shaped building. Note the asymmetric windows in the main building (photo: Donald W. Straughan, 2020).

George Clarke the younger (1629–1694)


The only likely father for the Hon. George Clarke is the George Clarke (the younger) who was baptised at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster on 25 July 1629 (Fig. 4), and who had as father George Clarke the elder and as mother Katharine (Fig. 4). This fits the facts.   

Fig. 4. Extract from the parish register of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London for 1629.

Siblings of George Clarke the younger

George Clarke the younger had at least two identified siblings with the mother Katerine (née Prynne). These were William Clarke (baptised at Swainswick in July 1639), and John Clarke (baptised at Swainswick in February 1640). William Clarke is listed in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.9 The fate of John Clarke is presently unknown.

The marriage record is quite explicit (Fig. 5),10 George Clarke of Swainswick married Mary Povey, spinster, aged “about 23, her parents dead”, at St Paul’s, Covent Garden (or St Clement Danes) on 3 July 1671. He was then a widower, aged about 37, which, apart from his declared age being understated, fits George Clarke the younger of Swainswick. He had married his first wife, Elizabeth Bennet of Somerton (born 1631), in June 1656 at Bath Abbey. She died on 7 June 1670 and was buried under the altar steps of St Mary’s Swainswick (marked by a tablet at the site). O’Callaghan2 also noted this Elizabeth was not the Hon. George Clarke’s mother, and suggested the possibility of a second marriage. (The lack of information on Mary Povey’s parents makes further enquiries impossible.)

Fig. 5. Marriage record for 1671 from St Paul’s, Covent Garden or St Clement Danes.

George Clarke the younger – occupations

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography6 currently describes the Hon. George’s father, George Clarke, as a “government official”. As an occupation this is somewhat misleading. The memorial tablet in Swainswick for Elizabeth Bennet, first wife of George Clarke the younger, records that her husband was a justice of the peace. Also, George Clarke, Esq., JP for Somerset (George Clarke the younger) was a witness in the King’s Bench prosecution in 1682 of Edward Whitaker for speaking seditious and scandalous words.2 The position of county magistrate, though busy, was necessarily a gentleman’s part-time hobby. It had no official pay, allowed only meagre fees and seems very unlikely to have supported a family. In contrast, the Oriel lease for 1651 is unambiguous as to the likely primary source of the family’s income. Despite leasing property in Swainswick, George Clarke the younger, was described as “of London” and a “merchant”. There is at present no information on the nature and precise location of his merchant’s business in London. (Between 1671-1679, George Clarke the younger was a churchwarden at St Mary’s Church, Swainswick, which presumably necessitated regular domicile in Swainswick, and would also have taken up much of his free time.)


The Oriel College leases 3 for “Clarkes” (as Swainswick Manor Farm and the Manor House were described) show that in April 1651 they were in the occupation of George Clarke the younger “of London, merchant, son and heir apparent of George Clarke, Esq., of Westminster”. At that date George Clarke the younger was only 22 years old, and he had not yet married his first wife. There is another Oriel lease for George Clarke the younger, gent. at Swainswick Manor Farm in September 1659.  

The Church Accounts for May 1654 show Mr George Clarke (by inference the younger) held 225 acres, about half of the total assessed, while the next largest holdings were for Henry Clarke (including Derhams) and totalled 75 acres. The  Hearth Tax returns for 1664/6511 show a George Clarke, gen[t], to be by far the largest tax payer in “Swaineswick” [sic], with 10 hearths and paying 20 s. This has to be a large house, very likely the Manor House, and presumably refers to George Clarke the younger (rather than his father who will have been in post at the Tower of London  at that date). The number of hearths shows George Clarke to be gentry. This view of his high social status is also supported by the Poor Rate accounts for Swainswick for 1665, when he was assessed at £2 3s. – much the largest of the 17 ratepayers listed,  the next highest poor rate being 9s. for Mr. Tanner, the Minister.11

There is also an Oriel lease in 1667, possibly for George Clarke the younger. However, as he is described as “of the Tower of London, Esq.”, 3 this could be referring to George Clarke the elder (who was then clerk of the dispatch of ordnance at the Tower of London). At the Hon. George Clarke’s baptism in 1679, his father, George Clarke the younger, was described as a gentleman. 

George Clarke the younger died in 1694 and was buried at Swainswick on 8 May. Despite diligent searches, no will has yet been found (if it existed, it might have been one of the many Taunton probates destroyed in the Second World War). Following George’s death, his tenements and personal estate held of the manor of Swainswick were the subject of litigation.12

It seems likely that the “Madam Clarke”, a widow paying rates in Swainswick in 1712,3   was Mary née Povey, widow of George Clarke the younger. Where she lived in Swainswick is not known, but it is conceivable that she occupied Lambridge House (if it was built by that date). She died in 1715.

George Clarke the elder (1602-1670) 

It seems likely that George Clarke the elder was the same George who was baptised at All-Hallows-the-Less, in the City of London, on 29 August 1602. His father was William Clarke (see Fig. 6). This baptism place is consistent both with the home parish of All Hallows in his probated will and his place of work at the Tower of London.

Fig. 6. Extract from the records of All-Hallows-the-Less, London for 1602.

Early Life of George Clarke the elder

No siblings for George Clarke the elder have yet been identified and nothing is known about his education. Plausibly, he might have attended Bath Grammar School (aka King Edward’s School, Bath), where his near contemporary William Prynne had been a pupil.

George Clarke married Katerine [sic] or Katherine Prin [sic] or Prynne at St Mary, Swainswick, on 27 August 1627.3 She was the daughter of Thomas Prynne of Swainswick, who had occupied Swainswick Manor Farm between 1616 and his death in 1620.

Her brother was William Prynne (1600–1669), the strict Puritan, lawyer, legendary pamphleteer and polemicist. He occupied the Manor house after 1631 and before 1638.


According to the Oriel College lease of January 1638, George Clarke [the elder] of London, Esq., co-leased Manor Farm, Swainswick, and then seems to have occupied the Manor House with his wife Katerine. Also, in 1641 the protestation and lay subsidy rolls11 show for “Swainsesweeke” [sic], that George Clearke [sic], gent. was assessed a significant £2 for goods, though not occupying the farm. By 1651, another Oriel College lease described George Clarke as “of the City of Westminster”, when his son George Clarke the younger was in occupation at the Manor Farm.3  Presumably, both George the elder and George the younger had homes and/or business premises in both the City of London and in the City of Westminster.

Collinson’s The History and Antiquities of the County of Somerset11 noted that two of the five bells hanging in St Mary’s Church, Swainswick bear inscriptions for 1661 naming George Clarke (with others) as churchwardens. At this date, it was probably George the elder, rather than his then 32-year-old son.

Occupations of George Clarke the elder

George Clarke of Swainswick’s name appears in a Yorkshire deed for the marriage settlement of Valentine Clarke, Esq., in 1641.13

Between 1640 and 1643, George Clarke the elder appears to have been a Government employee as joint clerk of delivery of ordnance at the Tower of London [for explanation v.i].  The Civil War (1642–1651) and presumably his personal loyalties, caused him to lose this job in 1643.  How he earned a living between 1643 and 1660 is not known. He may have been involved in merchant activities in Cromwell’s London, or had income from farming and/or rents on the Swainswick estate he leased, or perhaps he relied on inherited wealth. However, on 18 May 1660, George Clarke, clerk of the deliveries in the office of His Majesty’s ordnance, petitioned 15 in the following terms: “Petitioner has His Majesty’s letters patent for the place, but has been for many years dispossessed; prays to be restored thereto.” This petition was successful, and George Clarke resumed his old job the same year, but now as sole clerk at the Tower until his death in 1670. During this time a George Clarke of Swainswick (presumably George the elder) leased the rectorial estate in Somerton, Somerset 16 from 1665 until 1670. Both at the time and after George’s death into 1670, this Somerton estate created legal disputes over the parsonage.16

George Clarke, Esq., of Ye Tower was buried on 22 March 1670 at All Hallows, Barking (see Fig. 7 below).

Fig. 7. Extract from burial records of 1670 for All Hallows, Barking, London.

His will (of 2 March) was probated on 30 March 1670,14 (and see Fig. 8). It is listed as “George Clarke, Clerk of the Delivery of His Majesty’s Ordnance and Artillery in the Tower of London”, with his executor a Richard Clarke (whose relationship to George Clarke is presently unknown). The will named the testator’s wife as Catherine and his son as George, which is compatible with him being George Clarke the elder, of Swainswick.  This will also noted (at lines 2 and 3), his stock of musketry, ordnance and artillery in the Tower of London. This suggests at least part of his merchant’s business was as an armaments dealer.

Fig. 8. Will of George Clarke of All Hallows, PCC, 1670, PROB 11/332/452, probate 30 March 1670 (partly defaced).

At the same date, an exceptionally high payment of £600 was made to the widow of George Clarke by the Government of Charles II (see Fig. 9). This recognized his service “during the late rebellion and usurpation”– i.e. during the Civil War and succeeding years of the Commonwealth.17  The nature of this service is not known. Whatever, this cash award will have been a useful addition to the £200 cash which George’s widow, Katherine Clarke (née Prynne), received through the will of her brother, William Prynne, who died in 1669.

Fig. 9. Footnote from Tomlinson (1975).17

Summary and Conclusions

Some matters have been clarified or amplified, particularly information on the father and paternal grandfather of the Hon. George Clarke, but many questions have still to be answered.

Antecedents of the Hon. George Clarke and the early Clarke family in Swainswick

In the 17th century the Hon. George has only two clearly documented ancestors with a documented connection to Swainswick. First, his father (George Clarke the younger), who was baptised at St Martin-in-the-Fields, married his second wife, Mary Povey, either at St Paul’s, Covent Garden or St Clement Danes on 3 July 1671, but was buried in Swainswick, and is clearly linked by Oriel College leases with Swainswick Manor Farm. Second, his grandfather (George Clarke the elder), who was baptised and buried at All Hallows, Barking, London, married at Swainswick, but is also clearly linked by Oriel College leases with Swainswick Manor Farm. It is inferred that in his younger days the Hon. George Clarke lived with his parents at Swainswick Manor House.

George Clarke the elder held an official post as clerk of delivery of ordnance at the Tower of London in two periods covering 13 years. He was also a merchant, perhaps in the field of armaments. George Clarke the younger, was also a merchant in London, but nothing is known of his trade. As a county JP and churchwarden he had plenty to do in Somerset. Sight of his will is still needed.

There are no records to show that a sister of William Blathwayt married into the Clarke family. Further research on the alleged “uncle” connection between the Hon. George Clarke and William Blathwayt is needed.

The links, if any, between these three George Clarkes and the other Clarkes in Swainswick still need to be determined. In a parish with a population of around 200, one or more of these might be related to this George Clarke line. These other Clarkes include: Samuel Clarke (buried 1638); Henry Clarke, gent. (church accounts 1654, 1662, 1679, 1680; Oriel lease, 1671); Richard Clarke, gent. (church rates, 1684; Oriel College leases, 1686, 1691 and 1697).

References & Notes

1. Swainswick is an elongated parish and small village some 3 miles north-east of Bath. It straddles a steep hill on a broadly north-south axis, the former Gloucester Road or A46. At the west, a stream (the Lam Brook) separates Swainswick from Walcot parish. Swainswick subdivides into two nominal areas – Upper and Lower Swainswick. The latter abuts the A4 road (Fosse Way, Roman Road).

In 1801, the parish had a population of 182 souls, and 845 acres of land. In the 17th century, the main built structures were the 13th-century St Mary’s church (now listed Grade II*) and handful of 17th-century houses including the Manor House, which was also known as Clarke’s. Swainswick is famous as the birthplace of William Prynne in 1600 and the Hon. George Clarke, and for the burials of both John Woods  (the elder and the younger). Since 1529, the manor of Swainswick has been owned by the Fellows and Master of Oriel College, Oxford. There is a sugar plantation in Jamaica of the same name. (Swainswick is also spelled Swanswick, Swainswicke, Sweyneswik and Sweyneswick.)

2. O’Callaghan, E. B. 1867. Voyage of George Clarke, Esq.,  to America. Albany, N.Y: J. Munsell, 82 State Street.

3. Peach, R. E. M. 1890. The Annals of the Parish of Swainswick (near the City of Bath) With Abstracts of the Register, the Church Accounts and the Overseer’s Books.

This book is a must for Swainswick historians. The contents include some 17th-century Oriel College lease records, details of individual houses, and accounts of families including the Clarkes and the Prynnes, transcriptions of the wills of Thomas and William Prynne, and a biography of William Prynne of London and Swainswick (1600-1669).

In the reign of Charles I, and at the instigation of Archbishop Laud, William Prynne was imprisoned in the Tower of London, had both ears cut off and was branded. Rehabilitated by Cromwell, he later fell out with the Commonwealth, and supported the restoration of Charles II. He became MP for Bath in 1660. William Prynne died unmarried in 1669 and his will made bequests to his brother-in-law, George Clarke, Esq., late of All Hallows, i.e. George Clarke, the elder; to George’s wife Katherine Prynne; and to their son George Clarke (b. 1629), i.e George Clarke, the younger. 

4. Probated will of Beatrix Clarke, spinster of Swainswick, 2 August 1690, PROB 11/400/318.

5. Clarke v. Heywood (1694). National Archives, C 6/300/59.

6. Entry for George Clarke (1676-1760). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  OR

7. Trinity College, Dublin. Admission records 1637-1725 MUN23/1.

8. Wold, Barry L. 1977. The George Hyde Clarke Family Papers – A guide to the Collection at Cornell University.

9. Entry for William Clarke (1639-1684). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.,_1885-1900/Clarke,_William_(1640%3F-1684).

William Clarke was a Commoner at Oriel College, Oxford 1657, BA 14 Nov 1661 and later a Fellow (1663-1666) and not at Merton College as stated in the DNB. He is said to have studied physic, and to have practised medicine at Bath and later at Stepney, Middlesex, where he died on 24 April 1684. He was buried at St Dunstan & All Saints Church, Stepney, where the burial record gives his address as Waping [Wapping] and his occupation as apothecary.

10. George Clarke/Mary Povey marriage (1671). In Foster, Joseph (ed.) 1887. London Marriage Licenses 1521-1869, from excerpts by the late Colonel Chester, D.C.L., LL D. London: Bernard Quaritch, 15 Piccadilly. Column 284.

11. Hearth Tax Returns 1664/1656, Protestation returns and lay subsidy rolls 1641. Cited in Somerset Heritage Centre A/DIF/121/471[online].  (Under this Hearth Tax, each liable householder was to pay one shilling, twice a year, for each fire, hearth and stove in each dwelling or house.); Collinson, John. 1791. The History and Antiquities of the County of Somerset; etc. Bath: Richard Crutwell. Also cited in Somerset Heritage Centre A/DIF/121/471 “Swainswick Miscellaneous Documents”.

12. Clarke v. Heywood (1694). Plaintiffs: John Clarke. Defendants: Francis Heywood, John Reed, Richard Clarke and Thomas Harrall. Subject: tenements, and personal estate of the deceased George Clarke, held of the manor of Swainswick, Somerset. National Archives C 5/399/3 – Yorkshire Deed.

13. Marriage settlement for Valentine Clarke, Esq., of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Middx., and Lucie Goddard of Ogbourne,Wilts (1641). South West Heritage Centre DD\BR\su/25.

14. Will of George Clarke, Clerk of the Delivery of His Majesty’s Ordnance and Artillery in The Tower of London, 30 March 1670. National Archives, PROB 11/332/452.

15. Petition of George Clarke, clerk of the deliveries in the office of His Majesty’s ordnance. 18 May 1660. Parliamentary Archive, HL/PO/JO/10/1/284 – Lords Journals, XI. 32.

16. George Clarke’s lease of rectorial estate, at Somerton in 1665. British History Online. http// (accessed 5 Dec 2020). See also Lease: Wadham Wyndham, knt., justice of the King’s Bench, to George Clarke of Swanswicke, gent; parsonage, etc.; Somerton (1667) Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, 2667/1/37/38.

For litigation re: parsonage of Somerton see Wyndham v. Clarke (1670). National Archives C 7/479/62; Clarke v. Preene (1673) National Archives C 6/58/19; also, Clarke v. Newton (1680). National Archives, C 6/86/17.

17. Tomlinson, H. C. 1975. “Place and Profit: an Examination of the Ordnance Office, 1660–1714, The Alexander Prize Essay”. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Vol. 25, December 1975, footnote p64.


The patience and continuing expert help of the staff in the Bath Record Office is gratefully acknowledged. My sincere thanks also to my family for their patient acceptance of my preoccupation with local history and to Susannah Straughan for commenting on and editing the manuscript.

The Pillars of Larkhall, Bath

What is the origin and purpose of the elegant stone pillars around St Saviour’s Church in Larkhall, Bath? This article describes the pillars in detail and examines their connection to the development and improvement of roads in 19th century Larkhall.

Walking along St Saviour’s Terrace and Road today, one first notices the elegant stone pillars, walls and railings of St Saviour’s Church. Then, particularly on the northerly side, other stone pillars can also be seen bordering the pavements. The pillars are connected by stone wall, showing the stubs of railings that have now been removed.

While walls, railings and paired entrance pillars are common in Bath, ornamental pillars are much less so. This article attempts to answer questions on the pillars (and their associated walls) in Larkhall. Why, when and by whom were they commissioned and built?

The Pillars

The locations of the pillars are marked on the map (Fig. 1) below. The first pillar (abbreviated P1) is located beside the pavement just below Eastville. David Crellin and Alec Wood have told to me that this pillar was originally much taller (perhaps 8 ft or so), until some 20 years ago when the middle section was removed after repeated impacts from commercial vehicles.

The second pillar (P2) is at the corner of 1 Grosvenor Villas, Claremont Road with St Saviour’s Terrace, and is now barely visible under vegetation. This pillar and the next four pillars (P3 to P6) are also located on the north side of the present St Saviour’s Terrace and St Saviour’s Road. As shown in the early photograph (Fig. 2, below), pillars P2 to P5 are in line.

The third pillar (P3) is at the southern corner of Holland Road with St Saviour’s Road and opposite the church. The fourth pillar (P4) is at the northern corner of Wallace Road with St Saviour’s Road. The fifth pillar (P5) is at the northern corner of The Havory with St Saviour’s Road (and obviously predates the post-1950 development of these houses). Finally, the sixth pillar (P6) is just to the west of the newsagent McColl’s. This pillar, P6, was not noted by Melluish (1941).1

There are paired ornamental “entrance” pillars at the west and east corners of St Saviour’s Church (C1 and C2), and other pillars at the rear corners.

Finally, there is the “outlying” pillar (S1) at the eastern junction of Beaufort Mews with the south side of St Saviour’s Road, also not noted previously by Melluish. This pillar is embedded in the garden wall of 1 Victoria Place, somewhat obscured by ivy and recessed from the boundary line in St Saviour’s Road.

Fig. 1. Ordnance Survey Map 1951 – pillars are marked with red dots. (Note path to allotment gardens at P6.)
Fig. 2. St Saviour’s Church, Larkhall from the west, c. 1852, showing P3 and P4. (Photo attributed to Frederick C Bird.)

Photographs of the pillars are shown below. All the pillars are of Bath stone and clearly old, but none are marked on Ordnance Survey Maps.

Features of the pillars

Pillars P1, P2, P3, P4 and P5 are all octagonal, but not fluted, and have a single level of gabled buttresses and octagonal pad-tops. Thus, these five pillars appear to be part of a coherent scheme.

In contrast, P6 (though unfluted with a single level of buttresses and an octagonal pad-top) is four-sided, not octagonal. Possibly, P6 was erected at a different time and by other hands than the other pillars.

Pillar S1 is fluted and taller, and in this respect differs from the scheme for P1 to P5. Also, S1 has two levels of gabled buttresses with a pad-top, and so overall it appears identical with the church pillars. The overtly raised plinth makes the pad-top level (horizontal) with the church pillars on the opposite side of the road. The ugly rubble base (rather than solid stone) raises the possibility that this pillar may originally have been lower. Additionally, S1 is recessed back about 1 m. from the wall and railings in front of Victoria Place (and presumed boundary line on St Saviour’s Road).

The Church pillars are octagonal, with two levels of gabled buttresses with trefoil head panels to each facet and an octagonal slab on top. The listing text2 attributes these pillars to John Pinch, Jnr, who also designed St Saviour’s Church. The pillars of the church are listed, but none of the other pillars (P1 to P6 and S1) are.

The walls are horizontal between P2 and P5. The wall and some pillars (P3 and P4, and probably P5) are evident on the north side of St Saviour’s Road in the photograph of 1852 (Fig. 2, above) – P6 being further away and downhill is not visible. The top of the general wall is not at the same level as the front wall of the church. The wall continues today, but with sections removed later to allow entrances to houses. In many places cement mortar replaces the original (and minimal) lime mortar.

Between P1 and P2, the wall slopes markedly downhill in a southerly direction, and is not horizontal.

The walls comprise three ashlar blocks (each about 35 cm high) and have an average height of around 105 cm. The bottom block is inset in the ground or has a low plinth to offset changes in slope. Between P1 and P6 the wall is made of half thickness ashlar (c. 17.5 cm) with a rounded top and no separate coping stone. This contrasts with the church walls of full thickness ashlar blocks (35 cm) and an elegant coping stone.

On the non-church walls, no original railings remain intact. Overgrown hedges often make observation of the top surface of the wall difficult, and sometimes impossible. Nevertheless, a distinct pattern of railing stubs can still be seen: a) between P1 and P2 only round stubs occur; between P5 and P6, also only round railing stubs occur; but b) between P2 and P5, round stubs alternate with square profile stubs in the walls. It is not known whether the square pillars preceded the round, or vice versa. A possible explanation could be that the original railings of P2 to P5 were square, but were replaced with round profile railings some 10 years later, when the Claremont Road railings were first erected. Whatever, the final railings were removed in 1943 during World War Two.

Fig. 12. Round railing stubs on wall in Claremont Road, Larkhall.
Fig. 13. Alternate round and square stubs on wall in St Saviour’s Terrace, Larkhall.

When were the Larkhall pillars built?

Crucially, there is at present no hard evidence to determine the dates when any of the pillars and their associated walls were built. However, some reasonable speculation is still possible if it is assumed that the building of pillars and boundary walls requires the position, width and level of the associated pavement and road to be firmly established. On this basis, the pillars and walls on St Saviour’s Road and on Claremont Road were completed in two separate stages and some 10 years apart (c. 1848, and September 1858).

St Saviour’s Road

From the photograph of St Saviour’s Road, the pillars P3, P4 (and probably P5) with associated walls were already in position by 1852. Indeed, the location of P3 and P4 at the corners of the roads beside the church, suggests they were built with firm knowledge of the church plans, or after 1832 when the church was finally erected. In June 1848,3 the parishioners of St Saviour’s Church considered a proposal to improve the roadway leading from St Saviour’s Church to the road near Beaufort House (for which purpose ground had been generously offered by Mr. F. Dowding). This need for land (probably opposite Victoria Place) suggests the proposed improvement probably involved widening (and straightening) the existing carriage road. In turn, this would have allowed pillars and walls to then be erected with confidence.

Claremont Road

A newspaper account in 18594 mentions vandalism to the top of a stone pillar in the new road leading from St Saviour’s Church to Beacon Hill, belonging to Messrs Dowding (i.e. the lower part of Claremont Road). If this was pillar P1, rather than P2, then this suggests a build date before 1859.

A plan to widen and level the road from Camden Place to St Saviour’s Church had been mooted in 1836, but little or nothing happened. When the proposed new road was discussed at a parish meeting in April 1845, the existing road was described as “a little dirty crooked lane about 6 feet wide (on and over which Sir Henry Rivers would construct a road 30 ft in width). In June 18485 it was stated at a parish meeting of St Saviour’s that F. Dowding, Esq., had generously offered ground for the purpose (presumably on the east side of Claremont Road), but another 10 years passed before success was achieved. The necessity for constructing a road from St Saviour’s towards Lansdown and Camden Place was raised at a meeting of the Bath City Act Committee in 1858.6. A week later, the Surveyor said the City Act Committee would take on the work, which he thought could be done for £129, but the committee would still have to decide whether the improved road would have a kerbed footpath and pitched gutter on each side. Finally, in September 1858, the Bath Chronicle recorded7 that the road from near St Saviour’s Church to Bay Farm (on the road to Lansdown) was at last completed and was a public road.

The mention of Mr. F. Dowding in this latter newspaper account makes it likely that lower Claremont Road (bordered on the east by P1 and P2) was also widened at that time. Consequently, it would seem to have only been prudent and practical to erect the pillar P1 and the wall down to P2 in 1858.

Attention has been previously drawn to pillars P6 and S1 – on account of their atypical features (and position in the case of S1). Unfortunately, there is no evidence available to determine their actual build-dates. P6 is out of line from P2 to P5, is not on a corner, and is unrelated to the site of the church. Also, P6 does not mark the extreme easterly boundary of the land of Upper Furlong.

S1 is the only pillar on the south side of St Saviour’s Road, and was not identified by Melluish. As noted earlier, its fluted design very closely resembles the fluted (but much less weathered) pillars of St. Saviour’s Church. The plinth is raised on poorly maintained rubble blocks. The original height of this pillar might well have been lower, and it might also be older than the pillars of the northerly side of St Saviour’s Road.

Functions of the pillars and walls

There are several possibilities:

Firstly, the position of many, but not all, of the pillars appears predictable. Thus, P1 was the north-western boundary of Dowding’s substantial holding of land (some 12 acres) in the Upper Furlong, while P2 to P4 marked corners of roads (or embryo roads) on the southerly boundary of much but not all of the Upper Furlong (see Fig. 14, below).

Fig. 14. Thomas Thorpe Map (1740). Upper and Lower Furlongs coloured green. Both parcels were acquired by Charles Gunning and Daniel Tanner in 1792, later by John Tanner (1767-1823), penultimately by his sister Ann Tanner (1775-1837), who finally bequeathed them to Frederick Dowding (1796-1861). Roads in yellow.

Overall, the ornamental nature of the pillars may reflect the important civic status of the landowner, Alderman (later Mayor) Frederick Dowding. The likely date of the erection of many of the pillars along St Saviour’s Road just preceded Dowding’s election as Mayor of Bath.

Walls are used traditionally to mark land boundaries. They also allow soil retention, which has been particularly important in controlling the sloping ground down to St Saviour’s Road, so preventing erosion and land slippage onto the improved new pavement and road. A retaining wall also allows better and safer use of the retained land.

However, this suggestion also requires P5, P6 and S1 to be accounted for:

  • Perhaps P5 (at the later-built Havory) was only ever intended to enhance the view, particularly from Victoria Place opposite. Unusually, the rear elevations of nos. 8 to 17 Beaufort West are all or mostly ashlar, suggesting the aesthetic appearance of St Saviour’s Road was important.
  • P6 might originally have defined the boundary for commercial and non-domestic developments in St Saviour’s Road near the Larkhall crossroads. Indeed, this area for future commercial development is delineated in the Harcourt Masters Map of 1795,8 so P6 could have marked a boundary from an early date. These non-domestic developments were a linear building (perhaps a workshop and the initial parish school), and the shops and pub of Lambridge Buildings. Indeed, No. 1 Lambridge Buildings (aka the White Lion Inn) was built and licensed before 1832.
  • Pillar S1 is the only one on the south side of St Saviour’s Road. As noted earlier, its fluted design very closely resembles the fluted (but less weathered) pillars of St. Saviour’s Church. a) If, as I favour, S1 was built earlier than the church, it would presumably have been by one of the Tanner family. Such a pillar might have had symbolic and/or practical significance c.f. Beaufort House (built c. 1798), where a pair of ceremonial pillars at the rear was erected by the then Commissioners. Also, S1 might have marked a significant stage in the building of Beaufort East and provided a template for the subsequent church pillars. However, while the weathering of S1 is compatible with an earlier date, it could also just reflect poorer quality stone. b) If built after 1832, the fact that S1 is directly opposite the church and matches one of its entrance pillars may have been of aesthetic significance in terms of giving more visual prominence to the church.

Secondly, Crellin has suggested (personal communication) that the non-church pillars and their associated walls in Larkhall relate essentially to St Saviour’s Gardens (the undeveloped land left when the Worcester Square project was abandoned). Thus, St Saviour’s Gardens began after the church was built in 1832, and continued as an ever decreasing area of land until at least 1946. Indeed, the OS map of 1886 suggests a pillar at the position of P6 would have marked a major entrance to the Gardens from St Saviour’s Road. However, this suggestion does not specifically account for the position of P5, or the position and function of S1.

Thirdly, Melluish originally suggested that the pillars and walls of Larkhall marked the boundaries of the planned but never built Worcester Square scheme. P1 and P2 and their connecting walls are on the line of Claremont Road, and mark the western boundary of both the original Upper Furlong fields and of the intended Worcester Square. However, as a specific purpose, the association with Worcester Square may be a coincidence in view of a) the late build-dates (discussed above); and b) the general impracticality of building pillars and walls before roads and boundaries have been finalised. In particular, erecting P1 and walls in Claremont Road for a building project that never started seems unlikely, impractical and imprudent, as there was initially no road, and later a narrow and dirty lane until 1858. However, P1 is still a general boundary marker both for the extreme north-west corner of the original land of Upper Furlong as shown in Fig. 14, above, and P2 is a natural corner. Also, P3 and P4 which mark the corners of the culs de sac beside St Saviour’s (embryos for the later Wallace and Holland Roads) seem unlikely to have been erected at these sites, decades before St Saviour’s Church was conceived. Melluish had suggested that P3 and P4 marked the proposed entrance to Worcester Square (estimated to be some 28 yards from Harcourt Masters’ map of 1795), but the actual measured distance between P3 and P4 is some 78 yards. This seems too large to have marked an intended but never built grand entrance from St Saviour’s Road. Any connection may be a coincidence. It seems unlikely that any of the pillars and walls of Larkhall were specifically intended to mark the intended, but unbuilt, Worcester Square.

Sources and Notes

  1. J. G. Melluish (1941) Grosvenor might have been different – Worcester Square project. Bath Chronicle, 27 Sept, page 8. The relevant text reads: As originally planned, this block of buildings, known as Worcester Square, was to have had a grand entrance leading up to it from the centre of Grosvenor Place. In that event, the erection of Beaufort Buildings, both east and west, would not have taken place. The boundaries of the proposed ‘Worcester Square’ were outlined, as may be seen to-day. The land its roadway edges was enclosed by walls and railings, and at its corners pillars were erected. These stand at the top corner at Deatsville [P1], the lower corner of Grosvenor Villas [P2] and opposite Beaufort Place [P5] towards the Larkhall end of St Saviour’s Road. The entrance pillars [to Worcester Square] were erected at the end of St. Saviour’s Terrace [P3] and continued on the farther side of the church at the corner of Ellenborough Villa [P4].
    St. Saviour’s Church – – Its situation appears to have been the entrance to the suggested Square, which was to have led up to it from the centre of Grosvenor Place.
  2. Listing details for St Saviour’s Church wall, piers and railings (15 October 2010, Source ID: 1394887, English Heritage Legacy ID: 5102960).
  3. Meeting of St Saviour’s Parish to consider a plan to improve the roadway from St Saviour’s Church to the road near Beaufort House. Bath Chronicle, 29 June 1848. St. Saviour’s Parish.—The text reads: Yesterday evening, a meeting of the parishioners was held at the National School-room, Larkhall, for the purpose of considering a proposal to carry into effect a plan for improving the roadway leading from St. Saviour’s Church to the road near Beaufort House. The Rev. Mr. Campbell, curate of the parish, was in the chair.
    Mr. Sims, – – – stated that F. Dowding, Esq., had generously offered the ground for the purpose. Mr. Sims also said that the Commissioners would contribute the sum of £20 towards the expenses; and that about £40 more, raised by subscription, would probably be sufficient to meet the whole cost of the improvement, which would be a great public accommodation. A committee was accordingly appointed to collect subscriptions, and to see the proposal carried out. On the motion of G. Adams, Esq., a vote of thanks was unanimously passed to Mr. Dowding for the gift of the ground, and other acts of liberality to the parish.
  4. Vandalism of stone pillar in new road (Claremont Road) belonging to Mr. Dowding. Bath Chronicle 28 July 1959.
  5. Improving the road from St Saviour’s Church to the road near Beaufort House, London Road – St Saviour’s Church Parish Meeting, Bath Chronicle. 29 June 1848.
  6. Improving the road from St Saviour’s Church to Camden Place and Lansdown. Bath Chronicle, 22 April 1858. The text reads in part: –BATH CITY ACT COMMITTEE – Mr. Dallaway stated that, at present there was only a dirty lane leading from St. Saviour’s to Lansdown; – – – In the discussion which ensued, it was stated that the Committee had surveyed the road sometime since, and had come to the conclusion that they had no objection to take it as soon as it was put in proper order. — – another amendment was carried on the motion of Mr.Cox to the effect that the services of the Surveyor be allowed to the gentlemen interested in the road, with a view to its being properly constructed.
  7. New Road from near St. Saviour’s Church to Camden Place and Lansdown. Bath Chronicle, 23 September 1858. The text reads – The perseverance and liberality of a few gentlemen at Grosvenor, aided by Sir James Rivers and Mr. F. Dowding, have last completed and thrown open to the public one of the most interesting roads that have been formed in Bath for many years, leading from near St. Saviour’s Church to Bay Farm, on the road to Lansdown, and the Town Council having accepted it on the part of the public, it will be free for ever. We now hope Sir James Rivers will extend his liberality, by continuing what has been done to the extent of his property at Tything Lane, which will open up some of the most charming scenery in the neighbourhood of Bath.
  8. “Plan of the City of Bath” by C. Harcourt Masters (1795).
  9. The land of Upper and Lower Furlong was for many generations owned by the Hayne family, and then inherited by John Bragge, Esq., of Ladborow, Devon (nephew of James Hayne). In February 1791, John Bragge’s son and heir (another John Bragge) sold the land to Charles Gunning, a gentleman of Bath and Daniel Tanner, a master builder of Bath. At that point, development became possible. After Charles Gunning’s death, Daniel Tanner acquired sole title, and after Daniel Tanner’s death in 1802, his son John (1760-1823) acquired Upper and Lower Furlongs. In turn, after John’s death, John’s youngest sister Ann Tanner (1774-1837) inherited the land, and her Will left her land interests to Frederick Dowding (1795-1861). He was a Bath solicitor, J.P., Alderman and Mayor of Bath in 1849 and 1850.After Ann Tanner’s death, Dowding and his Trustees developed the domestic housing on Upper Furlong. However, the commercial development at the easterly tip of Upper Furlong (Lambridge Buildings) started in Ann Tanner’s time and after her death in 1837, was continued by her heir, Frederick Dowding.


The patience and expert help of the staff in the Bath Record Office in providing maps is gratefully acknowledged. My thanks also to Stella for helpful discussion and patient acceptance of my preoccupation with local history; to Susannah Straughan for commenting on and editing the manuscript; and to Chris Straughan for expert help with image editing and illustrations.

The Lost Tan-yard at Lambridge, Bath

Contemporary maps and newspapers provide strong evidence that there was an active tan-yard at Lambridge, Bath in the 18th and early 19th centuries. The tan-yard must have closed by the time the original cottages in Lambridge Street were built (in and after 1817). Today, nothing remains of the tan-yard, and its axes are covered by the 20th-century housing of no. 4 and of nos. 5–27 Lambridge Street.


There is good evidence that in the 18th and early 19th centuries there was an active tan-yard at Lambridge. Part of this tan-yard lay by the turnpiked London Road (the modern A4) about 1½ miles east of Bath, and occupied some 3 acres. Contemporary maps show one axis of the tan-yard was on the east side of the present Lambridge Street (at the rear of the present no. 14 Lambridge). The other, larger, axis would have extended eastward behind no. 15 Lambridge and towards the Lam Brook. The tan-yard must have closed and lost its tan-pits by the time the original cottages in Lambridge Street were built (in and after 1817). Today, nothing remains of the tan-yard. The 20th-century housing of no. 4 and of nos. 5–27 Lambridge Street lies on the axes of the original tan-yard.

Between 1773 and 1858, the Sturge family were currying (leather dressing) on the adjacent land of Lambridge Meads. The Sturges were not tanners per se, and at least latterly the leather they used was prepared in London and elsewhere.

This article presents the evidence and the conjectures.

Evidence of an 18th-century tan-yard at Lambridge

Leather was an important natural product, made from animal hides or skins, and used for harnesses, straps, belts, cases, shoes, workmen’s aprons, etc. Typically, a tannery would not be located within population centres such as large towns, as the noxious smells associated with tanning would cause distress to significant numbers of residents and visitors.

For much of the 18th century Lambridge was an ideal location for a tannery, being in a predominantly agricultural land, but only some 1½ miles from the markets and shops of Bath. There was also a good supply of water available from the nearby Lam Brook. Being adjacent to the well-maintained London Road (turnpiked by 1707), the Lambridge tan-yard was very convenient for the delivery of untreated hides and bark, and the removal of finished products.

Many questions can be asked about this tan-yard: 1) where was it; 2) when did it exist; 3) what buildings and facilities were associated with it; 4) who owned and worked there at particular times; 5) how big was the business; and finally, 6) when did it cease business and why?

Newspaper advertisements from the 18th and 19th centuries

The evidence for the tan-yard at Lambridge comes in part from newspaper advertisements. In the first advertisement1 in August 1794 (Figure 1, below), Lot 2 mentions a tan-yard with bark mill in Bath, together with a dwelling house and small tenement leased to William Ansell, tanner. The Walcot rate books show William Ansell was a ratepayer in Lambridge from 1794–98. The net rent arising out of the tan-yard and bark mill was £168 per year. The commodious dwelling house referred to in Lot 1, occupied by William (and Benjamin) Montague, must be Montague House (or no. 15 Lambridge). Lot 3, the net rent of £20 per annum, was secured on a dwelling house and land (contiguous with lots 1 and 2) and leased to Young Sturge. Thus, Sturge’s land and associated mill buildings were separate from the original tan-yard and bark mill. Being adjacent to no. 15 Lambridge, the original tan-yard can only have been behind the present no. 14 Lambridge.

Figure 1. Advertisement from the Bath Chronicle (1794).

The second advertisement2, from 1814, shown in Figure 2, is more specific and names the occupier as John Naish (described elsewhere as an eminent tanner). It mentions a dwelling house fronting the turnpike road at Lambridge, with facilities including water. It also specifies tan-pits, bark mills (plural), a bark barn, scouring houses, drying sheds, offices and outbuildings.

Figure 2. Advertisement from the Bath Chronicle (1814).

The third advertisement, from the Bristol Times and Mirror for 19 February 18143, is for the sale (or letting) of a tan-yard and bark watermill fronting the London Road at Lambridge, with a 15-year lease expiring in September 1828. (If the original lease was for 90 or 100 years, this would imply it was first dated either 1738 or 1728.) The tan-yard has an ample stream of water, includes a bark watermill, and is capable of tanning about 70 hides a week. At this date, the tan-yard, associated buildings and dwelling house comprise a substantial “about 3 acres”. The last paragraph of the advertisement implies the tan-yard and/or house may not have been in good and substantial repair in 1814.

Figure 3. Advertisement from the Bristol Times and Mirror 19 February 1814.

Map evidence of the Lambridge tan-yard

The best indication of the location of the tan-yard is in the Harcourt Masters Map of 17954 (Figure 4, below). This shows five substantial road-side houses on the London Road – corresponding to nos. 11, 12, 13 and 14 Lambridge (with Lambridge Street separating nos. ). A long building or shed (indicated in red) is evident at the rear of no. 14 Lambridge and parallel with Lambridge Street. The outline of this building suggests it is commercial rather than domestic, and it is compatible with a shed perhaps some 90 ft long and 20 ft wide, probably containing tan- and lime-pits. Three smaller structures are shown nearby, whose function is not known. 

Figure 4. Detail of Lambridge area from Harcourt Masters Map of 1795 – roads coloured yellow, proposed tan-yard in red.

So far, the only clue to the build date of the Lambridge tan-yard comes from Thorpe’s Map of 17425, shown in Figure 5, below. This has a linear structure on the east side of the present Lambridge Street, fronting the London Road. Its position matches the proposed tan-pit shed behind no. 14 Lambridge, depicted later by Harcourt Masters in his maps of 17954 and 1786/76.

Figure 5. Thorpe Map (1742) – roads and structures in Lambridge.

However, an enclosure (marked in red) rather than the putative tan-pit shed is shown in field 214 of Thorpe’s Map of 17407 (Figure 6), so the build date for the tan-yard could have been 1740–42. This Lambridge tan-yard might have been a replacement for an earlier tan-yard in Walcot Street8. Later, the southerly end of this field 214 became the site of a) nos. 14 and 15 Lambridge, and of b) the 14 original cottages of Lambridge Street (of which no. 14 Lambridge Street was the largest and most southerly).

Figure 6. Detail of Lambridge from Thorpe Map (1740) – roads are coloured yellow, with the site of tan-yard in red.

The 1841 Tithe map9, shown below in Figure 7, provides more details of Lambridge and the surrounding areas. By this date, the proposed tan-pit shed with its associated structures at the rear of no. 14 Lambridge has gone. However, superimposing the tan-yard structures of the 1795 map onto the 1841 map suggests that the cottages of the original nos. 1–14 Lambridge Street were built over the northerly axis of the previous tan-yard.

Now tan-yards were commonly L-shaped, so the missing part of the yard (and the crucial connections for water supply) can only have been behind no. 15 Lambridge. This area is not shown on the 1795 map, but is shown on the 1841 Tithe map.

This eastward extension of the tan-yard would clearly account for a significant part of the missing acreage, and seems likely to have been the site of other tan-yard structures, particularly a manual bark mill, a bark barn and scouring houses.

Figure 7. Tithe Map 1841 – wider Lambridge area (courtesy of Somerset Heritage Services).

Where was the water supply for the tan-yard?

There is no information on this matter in maps before 1841. Figure 8, below, shows two possibilities in terms of this 1841 map: 

  1. A direct connection by conduit to the Lam Brook some 208 ft away. Indeed, there is a dotted line which might be such a conduit. This appears to run north-eastward from tithe structure 88 (behind no. 15 Lambridge and part of the proposed tan-yard) to an apparent bridge over the Lam Brook. (The possibility of it being a path seems less likely, as it does not continue over the brook.) 
  2. An indirect connection is also suggested by Figure 8, which shows a clear conduit from the mill brook to Larkhall, but with a spur running to the rear of nos. 10/11 Lambridge Street. If this spur was extant when the tan-yard was in business, then it might have provided the main water supply. (The original function of the main conduit may have been to supply the brewery opposite the Larkhall Inn, which would have needed copious supplies of water.)

Marked in red is another structure of interest. This is by the Lam Brook and close to the possible direct conduit referred to in 1). This structure may have been a conduit house controlling the water supply to the now defunct tan-yard, as it is too close to the brook to have been suitable for a dwelling or storage house. Otherwise the build date and function of this structure by the brook are unknown. 

The likely position of the channels for waste water from the tan-yard is not known. 

Figure 8. Tithe Map of 1841 – details of London Road, Lambridge Street and Gloucester Road (roads in yellow, Lam Brook in blue). Tithe structures 135-133 are nos. 11 to 13 Lambridge and 87 and 86 are nos. 14 and 15 Lambridge.

Bark mills

The 1794 reference1 to a bark mill (singular) is likely to have been manual. However, the 1814 Bath Chronicle advertisement2 refers to bark mills (plural) and the Bristol Times and Mirror advertisement from the same year3 specifically cites a bark watermill. A manual mill would have been on the tan-yard land, but where was the bark watermill? Stuart Burroughs, of the Museum of Bath at Work, has pointed out (personal communication) that the bark watermill most likely utilised the watermill and associated gearing located on Sturge’s land (rather than on Naish’s land). Such commercial co-operation between close neighbours with complementary business interests is entirely plausible, and would not have been forbidden by the Leather Act of 1563.  

Tax and Rate book records

The land tax record for 179511 is shown in Figure 9. This shows separate entries for Young Sturge paying 2s 6d (for his leather mill), James Hooper paying 3s 10d (for no. 15 Lambridge), and John Knapp, a tanner, also paying 3s 10d (presumably for both no. 14 Lambridge and the tan-yard). The sequence continues west with Sarah Evill paying 2s (for no. 13 Lambridge). 

Figure 9. Assessed Land Tax (1798), Walcot outpart – a composite of two successive pages for Lambridge.

Similarly, the sequence of names in the rate books for Walcot confirms the position of the tan-yard. This is illustrated by the data for 1801, shown in Figure 10, below. Here, after no. 15 Lambridge (occupied by James Hooper), there is a property (“late Knapp”) paying £1, then follows the tan-yard also “late Knapp” with a rate of £1 10s. The size of this rate, which is significantly greater than that paid by Mrs Evill (for no. 13 Lambridge) is compatible with a property of substantial area.

Other contemporary rate books (not illustrated here) show a similar picture, with the Lambridge tan-yard and Sturge’s house and leather mill as separate entities. The tan-yard regularly co-locates with entries for no. 14 Lambridge.

Figure 10. Walcot Poor rate book for July 1801, page 20.

Who started and owned the tan-yard and who worked there?

If the Lambridge tan-yard was built around 1742, then nothing is known about who started it or who worked there until perhaps 20 December 1770, when the apprentice duty records show one John Naish12 paid duty for an apprentice, Robert Lawson. Naish’s address was given as “Bath”, which might or might not have been in Lambridge. Again, in 1773, John Naish paid duty for apprentice James Stibbs, and in 1778 John and Francis Naish of Walcot paid for their apprentice Jonas Seldon.

In 1784 John Naish and James Stibbs, tanners in Lambridge dissolved their partnership13, with Naish continuing the business. John Naish then went into partnership with Benjamin Mountague (a merchant and though proprietor of the tan-yard probably not an active tanner). By March 179114 this tanning partnership was also dissolved, and Naish’s house and contents were offered for sale around that time (presumably no. 14 Lambridge) perhaps consequent on his move to Bathwick. Benjamin Mountague went bankrupt in September 1792. John Naish (now a horse dealer) died in 181315 aged 66, and was buried at Flax Bourton (his birthplace). A contemporary newspaper in 1813 described him as an “eminent tanner” and formerly proprietor of a tan-yard at Lambridge. His properties in Lambridge were then sold3, 2.

From 1784–98 William Ansell paid rates on the tan-yard, with William Knapp paying the tan-yard rate from 1800. However, from 1803 James Hooper (presumably Snr) was paying rates for the tan-yard and presumably employing a working tanner. Latterly, Nicholas Cross, a tanner (1768–1815), lived nearby at no. 9 Lambridge Place, and may have worked at the tan-yard. It is often not clear in rate books which James Hooper is paying the rate, but for 1805 Jas. Hooper (presumably Snr) was paying rates for “yard” and separately for a house, presumably no. 15 Lambridge, while Jas. Hooper, Jnr is listed as paying rates for presumably no. 14. (The latter may have moved to Richmond House, Walcot after that date.)

As judged by the bequests in his will, James Hooper, Snr, J.P. of Walcot (1739–July 1808) was wealthy. He may have acquired land title to the tan-yard, and to nos. 14 and 15 Lambridge around 1793. Curiously, John Naish re-emerges briefly as the rate-payer for the tan-yard in the Walcot rate book for 1813, the year of his death.

James Hooper, Snr lived at no. 15 Lambridge until his death in 1808, when his wife Rebecca (née Biggs) and children stayed on until her death in 1816. The unmarried children headed by William Hooper then moved to nearby Lambridge House (which James Hooper had also owned).

By his will, James Hooper, Snr left his house no. 15 Lambridge and tan-yard, subject to conditions, to his second son, James Hooper, Jnr (possibly a hatter). Title to the land of Lambridge Street was acquired at an unknown date before 1817 16, 17 by John Hooper (1768–?) (of Hatt Farm, in Box parish, and later of Rudgeside, Corsham), the eldest son of James Hooper, Snr. John Hooper is named in only one year (1811) as paying the poor rate on the tan-yard and dwelling house (no. 14 Lambridge); presumably he moved later to a nearby part of Wiltshire.

Why and when did the Lambridge tan-yard cease operation?

One advertisement3 suggested the tan-yard was not in good condition in 1814 – perhaps from low or non-use, and by 1841 no trace of the tan-yard remained. Instead, the Tithe map now shows some cottages on the east side of Lambridge Street (tithe structures 29 and 30–36 in Figures 7 and 8) lying on the site of the former tan-yard.

The tan-yard will have had high cost overheads – particularly for labour and for bark. Also, the net rent was high, at £168 per annum in 1794 (Figure 1). However, I suggest economic factors were not the principal factor in the closure of the Lambridge tan-yard, as the Twerton tannery continued operating until later in the century. Consequently, the main impetus for closure was probably hostility from nearby inhabitants who found the noxious smells of a tannery and its associated ??? unacceptable.

Finally, in 197218, new houses nos. 5–27 Lambridge Street were built on the sites of the original 1817/1820 cottages of nos. 1–14 Lambridge Street, the neighbouring potato store and the land at the rear. This finally obliterated any traces of both axes of the former tan-yard.

The role of the Sturge family

As noted above, contemporary rate books and land tax records before 1820 confirm the separate identity of the Lambridge tan-yard and Sturge’s leather mill. The latter must date from after 1773 when a Young Sturge (c. 1730–1816) took a 1,000-year lease on the land of Lambridge Meads19.

However, the question arises as to whether the Sturge family also had a formal tannery on their land after 1773. This issue arose from a newspaper article on a fire in 1908 at the Bath flour mill20: “—The mill in olden days was the scene of a thriving tannery, employing 40 hands, carried on by the Sturge family—“.

However, and crucially, until the repeal of the Leather Tax in England, the trades of tanner and currier (or leather dresser) were separately taxed and could not be combined. Thus, before 1830, the Sturge family would not have lawfully undertaken tanning activities in addition to their leather dressing. Further, most descriptions of the Sturge men in the 19th century (e.g. Gye’s Bath Directory for 1819) describe them variously as woolstaplers or fellmongers or leather dressers, but not as tanners. However, Gye’s Bath Directory for 1824 under Gloucester Road, included the incorrect description “Sturge – tanner” , though in a later legal deed of 183521 the brothers Young Sturge and Henry Sturge were again separately (and correctly) described as leather dressers. These brothers were grandsons of the original Young Sturge, Snr, by the latter’s second son, Henry Sturge (1765–1858).

Consequently, I suggest references to tanners or a tannery at Lambridge Mill are misleading, and perhaps reflect a common confusion on the differences between the complementary trades of tanners and curriers.

An account of a council meeting in April 185822 clarifies this matter. There, Mr Mitchell, the City Engineer, said “– At Messrs. Sturge’s mill, the leather was not actually manufactured; the skins were all prepared in London and other places”. Thus, I conclude the Sturge family did not have a formal tannery on their mill site at that time, or indeed earlier. They had a predominantly currying (leather dressing) business in Lambridge, with some of their output sold as finished products at Sturge’s shop in Bath23. Leather dressing at the Sturges’ mill ceased in 1858,22 which was around the time of the death of Young Sturge Snr’s son, Young Sturge, Jnr.

References & notes

  1. Advertisement for the sale of Montague House, rent of tan-yard and bark mill, a tenement leased to William Ansell, tanner, and net rent on a contiguous house leased to Young Sturge, Bath Chronicle, 28 August 1794.
  2. Advertisement for sale or let of valuable tan-yard and premises in Lambridge, Bath Chronicle, 23 June 1814.
  3. Advertisement for sale of lease for 15 years from September 1813 of tan-yard and dwelling house at Lambridge, Bristol Times and Mirror, 5 February 1814.
  4. “Plan of the City of Bath” by C. Harcourt Masters (1795).
  5. An Actual Survey of the City of Bath, in the County of Somerset, and of Five Miles Round” map by Thomas Thorpe (1742). At this time there is a structure in Lambridge Street, and also a house (Lambridge House).
  6. Maps of the Bath turnpike roads” by Charles Harcourt Masters 1786/87.
  7. A Plan of the Parish of Walcot” by Thomas Thorpe (1740), from a later copy at Bath Record Office.
  8. Lease of 2 messuages, a tan-yard & backside in Walcot Street, 21 December 1767, lessee Isaac Parsons, executor in trust of Cornelius Abraham Parsons, Bath Record Office BC/6/2/3/2395.
  9. Tithe Map of Walcot Parish, Somerset” by Cotterells & Cooper (1841) (tithable parts only).
  10. Plan of the City and Borough of the City of Bath” by J. H. Cotterell (1852/3).
  11. Assessed land tax for Somerset – Walcot outpart, pages 119–120.
  12. John Naish was not a unique name in the area. John Naish, the tanner of Lambridge, had a son, also called John Naish, a leather factor in Bristol in the early 1800s and later a tanner, who was declared bankrupt in December 1823 and died in Bristol in 1824. There was another John Naish, a schoolmaster at the time in Bath, who had opened an Academy of Young Gentlemen at 1 Hatfield Place, Wells Road, Bath in 1806.
  13. Dissolution of partnership between John Naish and James Stibbs, tanners in Lambridge, Bath Chronicle, 5 February 1784.
  14. Dissolution of partnership between John Naish and Benjamin Mountague, tanners of Lambridge, Bath Chronicle, 24 March 1791.
  15. Death of Mr John Naish at his house in Bathwick, 12 February 1813, Bath Chronicle, 18 February 1813.
  16. Building lease 22 June 1817 for No. 8 Lambridge Street, Bath. John Hooper, Esq., of Hatt Farm, Box to William Peasey, yeoman of Walcot, BC/6/2/9/2069/1.
  17. Building lease 2 May 1817 for Nos. 10 & 11 Lambridge Street, Bath. John Hooper, Esq., of Hatt Farm, Box to William Deverall, yeoman of Walcot, Bath Record Office BC/6/2/9/2008/1.
  18. Planning application and consent for Nos. 5–27 Lambridge Street (1972), Bath Record Office BC/8/6/8/L/8949-1
  19. 1,000-year lease from 25 March 1771 on R. Y. Sturge’s flour mill, outbuildings, house and pasture, Bath Chronicle 8 June 1871 (lot 38).
  20. Fire at Lambridge mill and past history, Bath Chronicle, 23 January 1908, page 6.
  21. Legal document of 1835 citing Young Sturge, leather dresser and Henry Sturge of Walcot, leather dresser, Bath Record Office 0059/1/3/9.
  22. Report of a Council meeting on sewerage and Sturge’s Mill, Bath Chronicle, 1 April 1858.
  23. Advertisement for Young Sturge’s leather shop in Bath, Bath Chronicle, 29 September 1774.

The Development of Beaufort Buildings, Bath

The development of the Beaufort Buildings scheme in Larkhall and Lambridge, Bath, from 1789 to the 1850s.

Entering Bath on the London Road today, one sees on the left (south side) a single long block of terraced and substantial buildings, Grosvenor Place, and then opposite that (on the right or north side) two distinct blocks of terraced buildings – firstly Beaufort (Buildings) East, with a large communal lawn in front, then secondly, and separated by St Saviour’s Way, Beaufort (Buildings) West, with individual front gardens. These are shown below on a modern map.1 The whole Beaufort Buildings scheme is located within a triangular wedge of land (the Lower Furlong) comprising 12 acres and 23 poles. This land, which originally belonged to Bath Abbey before the Reformation, had been owned by Thomas Hayne (or Haine) and his heirs since 1639.

Figure 1. Ordnance Survey map (2013, coloured), showing Beaufort Buildings area.

The first serious attempt to build there seems to have been in 1789 (Figure 2) and preceded the actual land sale, when there was a development plan to view (presumably for Beaufort Buildings). The Mr Evill mentioned in this advertisement was presumably William Evill, goldsmith and jeweller in Bath (b. 1732) who lived at Cedar Lodge (13 Lambridge) from 1788 until his death in 1793, and owned the ground of nos. 11, 12 and 13 Lambridge.

Figure 2. Bath Chronicle, 30 July 1789, page 1.

In 1791, Lower Furlong was purchased by two local Bath developers – Charles Gunning (an attorney in the Vineyards, and a local councillor) and Daniel Tanner (a master builder).2 Charles Gunning died in 1796, so Daniel Tanner and later his eldest son, John,3 managed the scheme for the next 25 years. Their stewardship gave us the present-day Beaufort West and Beaufort East (as well as Beaufort Place and nos. 1–10 Lambridge).

When and how did these buildings develop? The original 1792 Indenture 4 and contemporary maps 5, 6 show the Beaufort Buildings complex was originally intended to consist of three discrete sections or piles: 1) a centre pile (which later became Beaufort East); 2) an eastward pile towards Lambridge (never built as part of the Beaufort Buildings complex, but which became various villas in Lambridge); and 3) a westward pile, originally in two parts separated by a road, Worcester Street. With the abandonment of the plans for Worcester Street ca. 1815, the two westward parts could be combined to form Beaufort West.

This original plan is shown on the Harcourt Masters map of 1795 (Figure 3, below).5 In the centre pile of Beaufort Buildings, nos. 1–6 were empty plots, nos. 7–15 were blacked in (as sold or built) and then finally there were seven empty plots. Altogether some 22 dwellings were intended for the centre pile, but only 15 were finally built. In contrast, the westward wing (divided in two by the proposed Worcester Street) showed no buildings erected at the time of this map. The intended Lambridge wing of Beaufort Buildings showed some seven empty plots before Grove Lodge (or no. 11 Lambridge).

Figure 3. Harcourt Masters (1795, coloured). Worcester Street has been edited here to join London Road – in the original it ended abruptly in front of the western wing of Beaufort Buildings.

By 1810 6 much of the westward side of the centre pile had been completed, and the Lambridge wing was still unbuilt. The westward wing continued to be divided by the proposed Worcester Street, but now has three buildings at its City end (corresponding to nos. 3, 4 and 5 Beaufort West). There were two further buildings at the rear of the plots of nos. 1 and 2 Beaufort West. As with the 1795 map, no termination for Worcester Street in the London Road was shown, although it must have been intended.

Figure 4. Godwin (1810, coloured).

In the original plan of 1792, 4 the centre pile would have ashlar-fronted dwellings four-storeys high above ground, with a basement storey for kitchen and offices (i.e. five storeys in all). The centre pile (and also the intended eastward pile towards Lambridge) were to be between 36 and 50 ft deep. However, the dwellings in the two westward piles (Beaufort West) were to be smaller, between 30 and 36 ft deep. A 22-ft wide road with two 5-ft pavements (the future St Saviour’s Way) would separate the westward pile from the centre pile, while a wider 30-ft road plus pavement (broadly corresponding to the present Beaufort Place) would separate the centre pile from the eastern wing towards Lambridge. The architect for the original Beaufort Buildings scheme was John Eveleigh of Bathwick. He was active in the local area in the early 1790s, also designing the schemes for Grosvenor Place and Lambridge Place, but he went bankrupt in 1793 and left Bath. In 1950, Beaufort East and West were listed Grade II. 7

The architecture of Beaufort East

Building work on the centre pile (Beaufort East) started in 1792, and continued after Eveleigh’s departure the following year. Building was incomplete by 1811 but completed by 1827. Beaufort East is broadly uniform architecturally but with a number of significant variations. Thus, nos. 1–5 have doors to the right, no. 6 has a plain architrave (to avoid visual conflict with the adjacent door of no. 5), and nos. 7–15 have front doors to the left. Figure 5 (below) shows a) the houses lead directly onto the pavement at the front; b) the impressive front door cases with Doric columns and triangular arches over the lintels (except for no. 6); c) the first and second floors have tripartite windows; and d) the highly visible mansard roofs and dormer windows on the fourth floor above ground. In this view, some but not all of the first- and second-floor windows have balconettes with decorative iron railings. The central window of no. 7 (which projects forward from the building line) has a curved arch over, also seen on no. 1, but not seen on the first-floor windows of the other houses.

Figure 5. Beaufort East – front elevations from the east (DWS, 2019).

The front elevations of no. 1 Beaufort East (at the right) are contrasted with no. 17 Beaufort West (at the left) in Figure 6, below. Both end terrace houses are treated as a pavilion, and project forward from the building line. However, no. 1 Beaufort East has a tripartite window and arched centre on the first floor, while 17 Beaufort West has two paired windows in a recessed arch. No. 1 Beaufort East has no balconettes in front of the ground and first floor windows, while no. 17 Beaufort West has a single long decorative balconette on the first floor. The ground storey of this Beaufort West house is rusticated horizontally, as indeed are all the houses nos. 8–17 in the block. This image also shows the decorative iron balconettes on the first floor to be a variable feature, and not present in nos. 1, 2 and 7 Beaufort East.

Figure 6. St Saviour’s Way, flanked by no. 17 Beaufort West and no. 1 Beaufort East (DWS, 2019).

Closer examination shows that in Beaufort East, both end houses (nos. 1 and 15) and the three central houses (nos. 7, 8 and 9) project forward as pavilions with similar features. These only have arches on the first-floor windows.

There is considerable variation between houses in the siting, size and style of the balconettes. Figure 7, below, shows nos. 2 and 3 Beaufort East have decorative ironwork balconettes on both ground and first floors.

Figure 7. Nos. 2 and 3 Beaufort East (DWS, 2019).

Figure 8, below, shows another variation: nos. 12 and 13 Beaufort East have decorative balconettes on the first floor but which now project from a lowered sill (like nos. 14 and 15). These are later-built houses and there are no balconettes on the ground floor.

Figure 8. Nos. 12 and 13 Beaufort East (DWS, 2019).

The architecture of Beaufort West

Within itself, Beaufort West is not architecturally uniform in terms of architectural features, though all the houses are three storeys above ground at the front – a tale of two parts! This is acknowledged by separate listing details for the irregular houses of nos. 1–7 Beaufort West, and then for the very regular houses nos. 8–17 Beaufort West. 7

As stated, nos. 1–7 Beaufort West are not coherent architecturally. At the front, no. 1 was probably built around 1850 and tacked onto the end of the pre-existing no. 2. The present shop front of no. 1 dates from 1874. Nos. 2, 3 and 4 Beaufort West were built before 1800, at a time when the five-storey houses in Beaufort East were also being built. No. 2 has windows arranged in pairs; no. 3 has one tripartite window to the second and third floors; no. 4 is double fronted; and nos. 5, 6 and 7 have a curved arch over the front door. The door frames are plain. The front doors of nos. 3, 5, 6 and 7 are to the left, but this is centrally placed in no. 4. Nos. 6 and 7 both project forward from the building line at the front, though this may reflect the geography of their plots, rather than being a deliberate architectural feature. A few of these features are just evident in Figure 9, below.

Figure 9. Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 Beaufort West (DWS, 2019). No. 3 has tripartite windows on first and second floors; no. 4 is double fronted; and no. 6 has a curved door arch, as do nos. 5 and 7 (obscured by the hedge).

In contrast, the other part of Beaufort West, nos. 8–17, is very uniform. This had a delayed start ca. 1818/19 (and some 25 years after Eveleigh’s original scheme). Figure 10, below, shows part of Beaufort West from the east, with a sharp step between the roof lines of the shorter houses, nos. 3–7, and the taller houses, nos. 8–12, though both parts are three storeys above ground at the front.Nos. 8–17 have a string course between the first and second storeys at the front, a feature not seen in the older houses, though no. 5 has a platband. Not shown in this picture is no. 17, which is larger than the other houses to allow the free east wall to be parallel with and facing the west wall of no. 1 Beaufort East (Figure 6, above). Also, the front door of no. 17 is not facing the main London Road, but is on the right return in St Saviour’s Way.

Figure 10. Beaufort West from the east (DWS, 2019).

From the rear, the step between the roof lines of the two parts of Beaufort West is very prominent, as shown in Figure 11, below. This is largely due to no. 7 having three storeys above ground at the rear (like nos 1–6), while no. 8 now has four storeys above ground (like nos. 9–17). Within the rear gardens, inspection shows another difference – nos. 1–7 Beaufort West lack a basement storey, while nos. 8–17 have a basement storey (full depth) and a pair of rear vaults. It is not known whether the original intention in 1792 was for the houses in this part of Beaufort West (now nos. 8–17) to have four or five storeys, as finally transpired.

Figure 11. Part of Beaufort West from the rear (DWS, 2019).

The transition from old-style three-storey houses to the newer four- or five-storey houses seems likely to have required architectural input. If so, the regularity of the execution of nos. 8–17 Beaufort West, and the decorative iron-work balconettes of the front elevations would be compatible with the involvement of John Pinch, Snr. (1769–1827), despite the absence of his trademark “concave ramping”.8 Pinch was working for John Tanner in 1811.10 Also, the front elevation of no. 8 Beaufort West extends forward 6 inches from the general building line, as do nos. 12 and 13, and, again, no. 17 Beaufort West. These pavilion-like features are similar to those in Pinch’s Prior Park Buildings (1826), but are not definitive. Indeed, as noted earlier, similar features occur in Beaufort East, and provide one of the few similarities between Beaufort West and East!

Figure 12, below, shows the pavilion feature of 8 Beaufort West in more detail.

Figure 12. Front elevation of no. 8 Beaufort West and adjoining houses (DWS, 2018).

As noted, nos. 8­–17 Beaufort West have three (not four) floors above ground at the front. In consequence, only the slated mansard roofs are visible from the ground. This emphasises the breadth of stonework, and, I suggest, enhances the overall aesthetic appearance of this part of Beaufort West. It contrasts with the prominent mansard and dormer windows of the fourth floor in the houses of Beaufort East.

Dating – general

The 1815 Abstract of Title 9 recited that Charles Gunning and Daniel Tanner had sold tenbuilding plots in Lower Furlong in 1792 (six on 21/22 May and four on 19/20 October). Then, Frances Gunning (widow of Charles Gunning, who had died in 1796) with Daniel Tanner sold four further plots (one on 29/30 March 1798, two on 8/9 April 1800, and one on 20/21 May 1801).

Where were all these plots? Which dwellings were built on them? There are overall deficiencies in our knowledge particularly for the older buildings. However, I suggest the ten building plots of 1792, and the four further plots of 1798–1801, might equate with a total, say, of 11 plots in Beaufort East, and then three plots in Beaufort West (presumably nos. 2–4). Two additional plots were sold between 1801 and 1815, and these might have been distributed as one in Beaufort East and one in Beaufort West (presumably no. 5). Overall, the documents suggest that by 1815 there were a total of 16 building plots – likely distributed as nos. 1–12 Beaufort East, and nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5 Beaufort West.

Dating houses in Beaufort East

Only a few deeds are available to shed light on firm dates and position. Thus, the deeds for no. 6 Beaufort East 11 show the land was conveyed by Gunning and Tanner to John Miller in October 1792, and the deed also mentions the westward adjacent plot (no. 5 Beaufort East) contracted to be sold and conveyed to Thomas Young, carpenter. For no. 12 Beaufort East, the builder’s contract 10 with Dr Brodbelt 15 is dated 23 April 1811 (despite an earlier rate book entry for 1809). It has not yet been possible to locate the first occurrence before 1803/04 of any of the older dwellings nos. 4­–10 Beaufort East in the rate books (Table 1).

Dating houses in Beaufort West

Again, there are overall deficiencies in our knowledge particularly for the older buildings.

No. 1 Beaufort West provides interesting dating problems – thus, Figure 4, above, shows a small building at the rear of the plot for no. 1, but not in the front building line. Moses Mills, a baker, is recorded at no. 1 Beaufort West in the 1841 Census, but at a property in Dead Mill Road in the 1851 Census. The position of this property and its enumerator sequence (before Worcester Cottage and Victoria Place) makes it very likely to be the same as the rear-lying building of 1841, i.e. at the rear of no. 1 Beaufort West. Similarly, the 1861 rate book has Moses Mills living at a cottage behind 1 Beaufort West, and an 1864 directory similarly describes Moses Mills as living behind 1 Beaufort West. However, Moses Mills’ probate records him as dying at “1 Beaufort West” on 13 December 1866. The Census suggests the present 1 Beaufort West (which is larger and front aligned c.f. the rear cottage) was erected by 1851. Indeed, the Census that year has George Webb, chemist, recorded at 1 Beaufort West, with Moses Mills living behind.

As to the other early houses, a deed of 1798 9 gave the frontages of three adjoining “lately — built messuages” in Beaufort West. The “hithermost” of these had a frontage of 41 ft (and so can only correspond to no. 4 Beaufort West). The “furthermost” with a frontage of 25 ft 6 inches was presumably no. 3 Beaufort West. The reference to the third building is ambiguous, referring to it not as “intervening” but as “adjoining the last mentioned [i.e. no. 3] on the West side”, thus it can only be no. 2 Beaufort West (which the maps show as a smaller, rear-placed building at that time). The apparent absence of no. 1 Beaufort West in these early references is consistent with a later building date (see above).

The Abstract of Title of 1815 9 mentions three buildings “already erected, built or in the occupation of, or belonging to named persons”. These cannot be identical with the three buildings of 1798, and so presumably refers to nos. 3, 4 and 5 Beaufort West. (A deed of 1818 12 shows Thomas Hobbs was linked to no. 3, John Tanner with no. 4 and John Tyler with no. 5 Beaufort West.) Indeed, there is evidence in the rate books for the Hobbs family owning no. 3, and other evidence for John Tanner’s ownership and occupation of no. 4, while the Bath Preservation Trust links John Tyler with no. 5 Beaufort West.

From the above, the most likely building dates for nos. 2, 3 and 4 Beaufort West are between 1795 and 1799, which is compatible with the Harcourt Masters Map of 1795 showing no houses then in Beaufort West. No. 5 Beaufort West appears to have been built in or after 1800, but in or before Godwin’s map of 1810.6 Nos. 2–5 Beaufort West would then correspond to the four plots sold between those dates by Frances Gunning and Daniel Tanner, cited in a deed of 1804.

Other people who subsequently purchased land from John Tanner to build houses were Richard Harris for no. 7 Beaufort West (and conceivably also for no. 6, with which it is paired); John Misson for nos. 8 and 9 Beaufort West; and James F. Keeling for the adjacent no. 10 Beaufort West.A lease dated 28 February 1820 showed James Keeling was also the first owner of no. 15 Beaufort West (which he sold in 1833 to Richard Bennet, Gent.). At the time of her death in 1837, Ann Tanner (sister and heir of John Tanner) owned no. 17 Beaufort West and the adjacent Worcester Cottage (now no. 18 Beaufort West). 13 After an annuity to her servant, Ann Tanner left all her property and land interests (real estate) and hereditaments to her solicitor, Frederick Dowding (1796–1861) of Bath.14 This was a generous act, as Dowding and his heirs thereby inherited the significant annual fee farm dues on developed land in Lower Furlong (Balustrade, Beaufort West, Beaufort East, nos. 1–10 Lambridge, Beaufort Place, etc.), as well as on all the future development of Upper Furlong and its buildings (Lambridge Buildings), and also on some properties in Bath city.14

Rate Books for Walcot Parish

Information on first occupation (and hence likely construction dates) might in theory be inferred from the Poor Rate Books for Walcot Parish, but only when the ratepayer and the house can be identified unequivocally. Between 1798 and 1800, all the dwellings in what we know as Beaufort West were included with Beaufort East and Lambridge under the generic “North East side of London Road” (Lambridge Place and Davards Buildings were separately identified). By 1801, the generic “Lambridge – Beaufort Buildings” was used, and by August 1802 the more specific generic “Beaufort Buildings”. The various properties in Beaufort West were not numbered until 1813, but can be broadly distinguished from what became Beaufort East (numbered in 1806) (see Table 2). The phrase “Beaufort Buildings West” was first used in a deed of 1818, but the rate books did not use this term until October 1820. The rate books suggest that by 1818/1819, nos. 3–5 Beaufort West had been completed and were occupied. The rate books also suggest the three-storey houses nos. 6 and 7 Beaufort West were built and occupied by late 1818, only just ahead of the neighbouring five-storey houses nos. 8 and 9 Beaufort West in 1819.

Tithe liability in Walcot parish

The Tithe map for Walcot and accompanying assessment table16 showed some of the buildings on the north side of the London Road (i.e. Beaufort Buildings West and East, and Beaufort Place) were unnumbered and tithe exempt, in contrast to Grosvenor Place on the south side. Similarly, nos. 1–10 Lambridge were also tithe exempt, unlike the more eastward properties (tithe no. 135 or 11 Lambridge or Grove Lodge) and nos. 12–14 Lambridge. The more westward properties from no. 7 St Saviour’s Road and Victoria Place were also tithe exempt, but Lambridge Place was not.

Figure 13. Tithe Map (1841), showing part of Walcot parish.

The tithe-exempt properties correspond to Lower Furlong, and their junction with tithe-liable areas was the boundary of Tanner’s property holding. (The tithe exemption may stem from the fact that both Lower and Upper Furlong were originally held by Bath Abbey).

Overview of the architecture of Beaufort Buildings

Originally, Beaufort Buildings was an architect-inspired scheme. Thus, one might have expected some common features and themes between Beaufort East, the presumed “centre piece”, and the two parts of the western wing (Beaufort West).

However, from the above account, no overall conformity is evident between Beaufort East and Beaufort West:

  • In Beaufort East, all the houses share a common lawn in front, while nos. 3–17 Beaufort West have separate front gardens.
  • Beaufort East has a wide pavement in front, overlying the vaults, while Beaufort West nos. 8–17 do not have a front pavement next to the house (and their vaults are at the rear).
  • In Beaufort East nearly all the door cases are of stone with elegant Doric pediments, while those in Beaufort West are plain and unornamented. Three of the older houses, nos. 5, 6 and 7 Beaufort West, have a curved arch rather than a straight lintel over the front door.
  • In Beaufort East, the windows are tripartite, while in most of the Beaufort West houses (except no. 3) the windows are in pairs, albeit with different spacing.
  • The Beaufort East houses are very inconsistent in their possession of ornamental iron balconettes before the ground- and first-floor front windows. In contrast, nos. 8–17 Beaufort West are highly consistent.
  • In Beaufort East, there is no rustication on the front elevations, while in nos. 8–17 Beaufort West, the fronts of the ground storey are rusticated.

The simplest explanation for these differences is that all three groups – Beaufort East, nos. 3–7 Beaufort West, and nos. 8–17 Beaufort West – were probably designed by different hands.

  • For Beaufort East, broad conformity with Eveleigh’s plan seems to have been maintained by the developer after 1793. However, one can speculate whether Eveleigh’s departure from Bath led to the stylistic differences noted above.
  • The older houses of Beaufort West, built between 1795 and 1800 (nos. 2, 3 and 4 Beaufort West, and then no. 5) show little uniformity, each house appearing to be essentially builder-designed. With the building of no. 5 Beaufort West and then the abandonment of Worcester Street, the two parts of the western wing could be joined to form Beaufort West, but this required an aesthetic solution if larger and taller houses were to be built.
  • The later houses in Beaufort West (nos. 8–17) are very uniform.

References and additional notes

1 Map of Bath. Along the front, Beaufort East has 15 dwellings and nos. 2–17 Beaufort West comprise 16 more. Beaufort East runs parallel to the main London Road. Beaufort West runs parallel to the former Dead Mill Road to Larkhall Square (now called St Saviour’s Terrace & Road), but is at an angle to the London Road (so the front gardens get longer going north-eastward.

2 Lease and Release (23 & 24 February 1791) for sale of Upper and Lower Furlong, by John Bragge of Sadborow to Charles Gunning of Bath, gent., and Daniel Tanner of Bath, master builder, &c. [Acc 28/421].Charles Gunning, gentleman, lived from 1737 to 1796. His wife was Frances, née Purlewent.

3 Daniel Tanner (1734–1802), master builder and his wife Mary had four children (John (1767–1823), Elizabeth (Eliza) (1770–1807), Daniel (1772–1839), and Ann (1775–1837). By his death in 1802, Daniel Tanner bequeathed the freehold of the adjoining house (probably no. 7 Beaufort East) to his daughter Elizabeth (who had married George Hulbert, plumber, in 1794) and her heirs. It is not known presently when the property returned to John Tanner, and how (by purchase or on her death without issue). John Tanner was baptised at Walcot St Swithin’s on 1 November 1767. Daniel Tanner, Jnr., was baptised at Walcot St Swithin’s on 12 September 1772, and declared insane in 1811. Ann Tanner was baptised at Walcot St Swithin’s on 11 April 1775.

4 Indenture of Four Parts made 20th October 1792 between Charles Gunning & Daniel Tanner of the First part; William Purlewent of the Second part; John Bragge of the Third Part & John Miller of the Fourth part. [Somerset Archive Catalogue A\DUI\1 cc 2013/414].

5 “Plan of the City of Bath” by C. Harcourt Masters (1795).

6 “A New and Correct Plan of the City of Bath”, from a recent survey by B. Donne, published by H. Godwin, bookseller ca. 1810 – also known as “Godwin’s Map”.

7 Listing texts – a) Nos. 1–15 (Consec), Beaufort East, Listing date 12 June 1950, Listing NGR ST76071663; b) 8–17 Beaufort West, Listing date 12 June 1950, Source ID 1394432, English Heritage Legacy ID: 509832; c) 1–7, Beaufort West, Listing Date 11 August 1972, Source ID: 1394395, English Heritage Legacy ID: 509804.

8 Bennett, R., “The last of the Georgian Architects of Bath, etc”, Bath History IX, 2002, page 87.

9 Abstract of the Title of Mr John Tanner to Two Closes of Ground – Upper and Lower Furlong – (1815). [Bath Record Office 0570/1]. In a cited Lease & Release of 4 parts between i) Frances Gunning; ii) William Purlewent; iii) Daniel Tanner; and iv) John Fielder [dated 25 & 26 May 1801], it mentions the sale of ten building plots in 1792 and a further two in 1798. A recited Release and Extinguishment of 20 April 1815 mentions 16 dwelling houses as erected since 1791. Frances Gunning was the widow of Charles Gunning.

10 Contract for purchase of House in Beaufort Buildings near Bath, 23 April 1811 between 1) John Park of Walcot, builder and 2) Francis Rigby Brodbelt of Batheaston Villa, Doctor of Physick [Bath Record Office, 0851/2/25]. Page 6 reads “… in case of differences between the said John Park [builder] and the said Francis Rigby Brodbelt – the same shall be referred to John Pinch of Bath, architect (whose determination shall be final) –”. Page 7 has an attached Schedule with particulars for finishing no. 12 centre pile, Beaufort Buildings. It has unusually good details of the interior finishes for this Regency house. The latter included use of proper glazed wallpaper at 9d per yard in the drawing room storey, and at 6d per yard in the attic storey; and two marble chimney pieces in the drawing room storey to the value of £20 each. The difference between a proper water closet with a force pump, etc, and a common water closet was £40.

11 Deed of 20 October 1792, whereby Charles Gunning of Bath, gentleman, and Daniel Tanner of Bath, master builder & others, conveyed to John Miller of Bath, carpenter, a plot of land and messuage at Beaufort Buildings [this was actually 6 centre pile Beaufort Buildings or Beaufort East], with a perpetual rent charge. Somerset Archive Catalogue A|DUI/1.

12 Copy Deed of Covenant 25th May 1818 between John Tanner of the First part, Thomas Hobbs & John Tyler of the Second part; and Richard Harris & others of the Third part [B&NES Record Office 0570/2],

13 Miss Tanner was named for no. 6 Beaufort East in an 1812 Deed. John Tanner lived there prior to moving to no. 4 Beaufort West in 1806. Ann Tanner moved to no. 4 Beaufort West after her brother John’s death in 1823, and she lived there until her death in 1837. She was also buried at Weston, and her will showed, inter alia, ownership of both no. 17 Beaufort West and the nearby Worcester Cottage (now no. 18 Beaufort West). After an annuity to her servant, Ann Tanner left all her property and land interests (real estate) and hereditaments to her solicitor, Frederick Dowding of Bath. (1796–1861).

14 A decade after his death, Frederick Dowding’s effects were revalued at £45,000 (some £5.2 million today). A not inconsiderable sum, to which Miss Tanner’s legacy would appear to have contributed significantly. An advertisement in the Bath Chronicle (6 March 1879) showed Dowding (or his Trustees) offering for sale, inter alia, nos. 4, 17 and 18 Beaufort West, and also nos. 6 and 7 Beaufort East. In the poor rate book for Walcot of 1880, all these properties were owned by Dowding’s trustees, and so were probably acquired via Ann Tanner. The two properties in Beaufort East probably came to Ann Tanner on the death of her brother John in 1823. Originally, no. 7 Beaufort East had been left by Daniel Tanner to his married daughter Elizabeth Hulbert.

15 Dr Francis Rigby Brodbelt MD (Edin.) MRCS (1771–1827) came to Bath from Jamaica via Edinburgh. He lived at Batheaston Villa, but purchased no. 12 Beaufort East for his widowed mother Anne née Penoyre (1751–1827). As a condition for a very substantial inheritance from his godfather Thomas Stallard Penoyre, Dr Brodbelt took the additional surnames of Stallard Penoyre in 1824, and moved to an estate The Moor, Hardwick, Hereford. He left landed property and personalty valued at £120,000 in England (about £12 million today), as well as land and personalty in Jamaica.

16 J. H. Cotterell and Cooper, (1841) Tithe Map of Walcot Parish (Somerset). National Record Office IR 30/30/435.

Table 1. The apparent first dates for named occupants paying rates in Beaufort East:

Table 2. The apparent first dates for named occupants paying rates in Beaufort West:


The expert help and patience of the staff in the Bath Record Office in providing access to historic maps of Bath, and to other records, is gratefully acknowledged. The help of the Bath Preservation Trust in providing access to their records is also acknowledged. Sincere thank to my wife, Stella, for helpful discussions and for accepting my preoccupation with local history. The help and expertise of Susannah Straughan in editing, and of Chris Straughan for illustrations, is also gratefully acknowledged.