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016sm.JPG - 6Kb

32 Friarn Street Bridgwater Somerset TA6 3LH

An Ancient House

A Conservation and Restoration Project

Former Occupants

The property formed part of the Ancient Possessions of the Borough of Bridgwater. It is described in the Borough Records from 1836 onwards as "Messuage or dwellinghouse, and garden, containing half a burgage; bounded on the East with town land; on the West with late Crapp's land; on the North with the old vicarage garden, and on the South with Fryern Street; measuring in front 26 feet, at the back 26 feet, and in depth from North to South 112 feet."

It was conveyed out of the Borough ownership on 16 November 1972 to the Dyte family. Mr Colin Dyte conveyed the property to Dr Peter Cattermole on 30 April 1999.

Many of the documents relating to the legal activities of The Mayor, Aldermen & Burgesses of the Borough of Bridgwater from the thirteenth century onwards have survived, and are now housed in the Somerset Record Office. Amongst them is a bundle of leases of their property now known as 32 Friarn Street. The earliest lease is dated 1570, and refers to a former occupant. An abstract of these leases has been made and can be seen here.

Early occupants are described as husbandmen (farmers), but the fact that this is a burgage plot suggests that the occupants or leaseholders were not peasants but of higher status. Thomas Glasse (lessee from 1604 to after 1659) is recorded as contributing the large sum of 8/- to a tything in 1649, after the siege of Bridgwater by Fairfax. He is recorded as living in St Mary Street, and renting Jacobs land for which he was assessed 4s 6d.

All earlier leases were examined at the time Joseph Greenway (Merchant) took his lease (1711). This date is significant in the context of the discovery of panelling and other features of the Georgianisation. Joseph Greenway shares his surname with Thomas, a notable mason who worked in Bath for the Duke of Chandos. Chandos was responsible for much speculative building in Bridgwater. Further research into the possible connexions is proceeding.

The Codrington family, who took the lease in 1733, were clearly rich and influential. They were responsible for the construction of Ivy House on the south side of Friarn Street, and Robert Codrington arranged the building of the first Bridgwater Iron Bridge.

Between circa 1861-81, 32 Friarn Street was occupied by a local photographer, Robert Gillo. At Messrs Tamlyn & Son's Auction in Bridgwater on 23 May 2000, Dr Cattermole bid successfully for an album of Robert Gillo's photographs (Lot 591). This Lot had come into the ownership of Squibbs of Bridgwater in 1916. The Album seems similar to Gillo's Pattern Books in the Somerset Studies Library, and shows pictures of Cheddar Cliffs.

In March 2000, some thin glass pieces were found behind the skirting in the south-west first floor room. Then in January 2002, further discoveries were made. In order to gain access for services and to make a structural examination of joist ends in the first floor north room, it became necessary to remove the overlying cross-placed floor (or plating), as has been completed elsewhere on the first floor. From the nature of the boarding, it was clear that the plating had taken place in late Victorian times or later. However, in this room, the boarding was very worn in parts, and scarfed repairs had been made. This wear had not been found elsewhere. Upon removal, the underlying boards were found in generally good order, though the floor was heavily bowed by up to 3" in the centre from the edge.
Below the top layer of boards in a concentrated area was found much paper debris, without rodent marks. This was carefully examined and found to consist of black cut strips, printed material, and little Trade Mark triangles bearing the letter Y round which was wound a serpent.
The printed slips of paper were readily identified as attributable to York & Son who held a lease on 32 Friarn Street and used the premises as a factory for the making of lantern slides.

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