The Folks Who Lived on Joly Cote Hill (Part Two)
The auction of William Darby’s various properties in Walsham in 1848, in order to pay off his large debts to Hustler Lowe of Reading, must have been an all absorbing subject of speculation, even in a world where the turmoil of revolution and nationalism in France, Germany and Italy gathered pace and where, in Ireland, this coincided with the potato famine and mass emigration and where, in England, the Chartist Movement failed.
Imagine the late December afternoon, 4.00 pm, when the auctioneers, Biddell and Blencowe called to order all those present in the Boar Inn: a wet day perhaps, the room redolent with damp clothing and smouldering lamps, a blustery wind rattling the windows. But if the weather was sad, so was the auction, for lots 1 and 2 detailed in the particulars of sale overleaf, failed to find a buyer and Hustler Lowe’s loans of £1,100 remained outstanding.
It was not until 28th March 1849 that Henry Drake, a plumber and glazier bought Lot 2, Clive House and Clive Cottage for a mere £130, little more than half William Darby’s purchase price of £220 in 1813. That Mr Drake was most anxious to improve the property, and quickly, is indicated in a note on the back of the auction particulars. “The 1 Feb 1849, I acknowledge that the permission given to me to enter upon and improve and alter the premises purchased by me is not to be in the nature of possession and is to be without prejudice to either party” Henry Drake. An interesting condition was attached, one which would later be challenged, that “The purchaser is, at his own expense, to erect and maintain upon the garden ground so staked out, a good thick-thorn fence or some other efficient fence against Lot 1 of the height of five feet”. But it was another four years before Hustler Lowe had a buyer for Lot 1, The Bake-house and The Bakery, at £213: again it was Henry Drake. If these properties betokend a man of substance, he nevertheless had to borrow, as others had before him. A farmer John Proctor, perhaps of today’s Proctors Barn, lent Henry Drake £200. In the document recording this loan, dated 6th April 1869, Clive House and Clive Cottage are described as having land of “Trustees of Walsham Public Hall to the west”. The Institute as we know it today had been built, in 1858 in fact. The same John Proctor also paid £34 14s 2d (£34.75) to James David Powell, lord of the manor to enfranchise both Clive House and Clive Cottage.
By 1887 Henry Drake’s interest in these Joly Cote Hill properties was at an end, and Joseph Hayhoe now owned Clive House and Clive Cottage. George Pearsons, a farmer, now owned The Bakery and The Bakehouse where, in 1875 John Kenny is recorded as a tenant with a bake-office. Descendants of this John remain in the village to this day.
On 28th July 1882 another auction took place at the Boar Inn. Again, the particulars of the sale are useful, describing “a freehold residence in good repair, comprising keeping room, parlour, back kitchen and other domestic offices, a stable, chaise-house, workshop and other buildings in the large yard in which the proprietor Mr Joseph Hayhoe has carried on a lucrative business as a stone and marble mason”. Certainly windows at the rear of Clive House are clearly indicative of his trade.
James Aldridge, a tailor, was the new owner of Clive House and Clive Cottage, for £290, thanks to the support of his father Robert, a coachman. Almost immediately James Aldridge antagonised his neighbour George Pearsons by cutting down a boundary hedge (the one Henry Drake planted by order in 1849). Mr Pearsons took the matter to the County Court at Bury St. Edmunds and in a document dated 28th March 1883 James Aldridge conceded that “the fence henceforth to be the sole property of George Pearsons”. In consideration of this agreement, Pearsons withdrew his action against Aldridge. But James was more successful with extending his western boundary, purchasing ‘a meadow’ of 166 feet by 54 feet from Albon Butler, physician and surgeon of The Beeches. This meadow was situated behind The Institute, adjacent to Clive Cottage and the boundary between the two is still apparent today in the different soil levels in the garden.
An insurance document drawn up in 1906 by Commercial Union gives some idea of James Aldridge, the man and his business. There was a tailor’s front-shop and showroom with storage for cloth. As well as the usual household goods there were mathematical and philosophical instruments, drawings and sculpture, jewels, plate, wine and liquors. A range of buildings to the rear included a cycle-store, harness room, chaise-house, two stables, hay and straw house while the upper storey, projecting over the access path to Clive Cottage and glazed from floor to ceiling, contained a cutting room, store room and two work shops each with a tortoise stove “for the heating of tailors’ irons” – not for the warmth and comfort of the tailors presumably. When James died in 1927 there was further evidence of his wealth. An auction of his estate by Lacey N Gooding at The Angel Hotel in Bury St. Edmunds on 8th June 1927 comprised The Chestnuts, Crownland House and three properties in Long Thurlow in addition to Clive House and Clive Cottage which his son Arthur purchased for £400 in order to carry on the tailors’ business until 1950. In 1958 Clive Cottage became an independent property again when purchased by Sally Vaisey who, in turn, in 1973 sold part of her garden bordering the stream to the owners of The Bakery in order to pay for the re-thatching of her cottage.
But before this, The Bakehouse and The Bakery had enjoyed a long period of stability in the Kenny family, James extending John’s tenancy in The Bakehouse by purchasing The Bakery from the executors of George Pearson’s widow in 1916 for £390. The Kenny’s bakery business continued until 1963 defying a fire caused by W J Kenny’s pipe, left in a coat pocket while he snatched a cat nap in the middle of the day and which required the loan of Mr Nunn’s stirrup pump from across the road to ensure the fire was well and truly dowsed.
In 1965, The Bakehouse, like Clive Cottage, became independently owned. While doorways between the two properties have been in-filled, the well worn brick floors show clearly the route taken countless times from the bake-oven to the shop. Sadly, the Kenny’s insurance policy to The Bakehouse and The Bakery, taken out with Norwich Union, is rather less informative than the Commercial Union policy at Clive House. It describes “a brick built and tiled dwelling house, dairy and domestic offices, a range of out-buildings including two stables together with an adjoining building of stud and thatch comprising dwelling house and bakehouse”. Then, anomalously it states “Warranted no sea biscuits baked or candy store therein”.
The last significant documents for these properties are permissions from Thedwastre Rural District Council granting a change of use from shop and commercial use to residential living accommodation only.
No similar documentation has come to light for Avenue House although a property probably existed here in 1695 in the name of John Grocer. What we do know is that in 1864 it was a public house called the ‘Golden Lion’ in the charge of Frederick Colson, later, in 1892 becoming a coffee house under the management of Mr Nunn who, moved by his experiences on a visit to London, returned to found the Temperance Hall, Sunday School and Temperance Band. Later still, in 1912 Joseph Grainger is recorded as running refreshment rooms although in 1922 he is recorded as a shopkeeper only. By 1925 Clarence Clamp has a saddlery and harness makers business here while his wife ran a sweet shop at the front of the house. The single storey building between Avenue House and The Bakery was, for many years, the home of Walsham’s fire engine and the Ordnance Survey Map of 1904 has it labelled as Fire Engine House.
For the rest of Joly Cote Hill, the School House opposite the Congregational Chapel and the Boys School – now Eric Hubbard’s workshop – were built around 1848 followed by one more cottage, now bearing the name of Joly Cote Cottage and providing a home for ‘Uppercuts’ the hairdresser. At the western end, a telephone exchange, a Bowls Club House and a studio have been built. At the eastern end, part of the 19th century school buildings have been demolished.
So, “that little parcel of waste grownde called Joly Cote Hill” of 1577 is now a close packed complex of Tudor, Georgian and Victorian buildings. Whether the present owners are as colourful a bunch as former ones, you must make your own judgement.
Acknowledgements are due to Colin Landymore and Audrey McLaughlin for factual details. Also to Margaret Schooling and to Robin and Jill Newell for the loan of documents.
- Walsham manor court roll 1555 (SRO Bury HA 504/1/26 fol: 1)
- The Field Book of Walsham le Willows 1577 by K. Dodd 1974 (Suffolk Record Society)
- The Hearth Tax Return of 1674 (Suffolk Green Book No. XI Vol. 13) Survey of Walsham 1695 (SRO Bury HA 504/5/13)
- Tithe Map & Schedule for Walsham 1842 (SRO Bury T 115/1,2)
- Parish Registers – baptisms, marriages, burials – for St. Mary’s Church, Walsham
- Kelly’s Directories
- Title deeds, mortgage bonds, wills, inventories, auction particulars, property transfers and insurance schedules relating to Clive House, Clive Cottage, The Bakehouse, The Old Bakery and Fishponds Farm
What the Papers Said
On the 30th March 1803 the Bury and Norwich Post gave notice that an auction would be taking place at the White Horse Inn at Badwell Ash.
- A capital messuage in excellent repair, situated on an eminence, with a lawn in front and commanding a pleasant prospect, comprising a keeping room and two parlours, kitchen and all convenient offices, with four chambers and two sleeping rooms for servants, also a barn, stable and chaise house in good repair. Also yards, gardens planted with choice fruit trees, together with a complete homestall adjoining the house of rich arable, meadow and pasture land in six convenient inclosures that are divided by thriving quick fences, the whole in a high state of cultivation. Late in the occupation of Mrs Ann Langham deceased.
- A good farmhouse with barn, stable and all other necessary buildings in excellent repair, yards, garden and orchards and nine pieces of exceedingly rich arable, meadow and pasture land that lies together and contiguous to the house. Now in the occupation of Mr Nathaniel Gilson under an agreement that expires at Michaelmas.
The above estates which are a small distance from each other and may be occupied conveniently together are situated at Walsham le Willows, a pleasant village ten miles from the market towns of Bury St. Edmunds, Stowmarket and Diss. Moderate land taxes. Apply to Mr John Sparkes at Walsham aforesaid.
On the 21st September 1803 the Post reported an auction of the live and dead stock of Mr Edmund King of Walsham le Willows.
“Fifteen very prime Suffolk cows, a fat beast, a two year old bull, four capital cart horses and mares, a sow and a quantity of shoats, road wagon, harvest carriage, a tumbrill, harrows, ploughs, harness and about twelve tons of exceedingly good hay. A brewing copper for six bushels, leaded and deal milk trays, barrel churn, cheese press, keelers, mash tub and other useful articles. Also feather beds and bedding, chairs, tables, kitchen requisites and other household items”.