THE HISTORY OF 1 AND 3 CHESTNUT ROAD YARDLEY GOBION
Written by Mrs D. Warren
The history of Nos. 1 and 3 Chestnut Road, Yardley Gobion, is bound up to some extent with that of the Coffee Pot. The earliest plan of Yardley Gobion, dated 1728, shows a small cottage on the site of the Coffee Pot and a similar sized cottage on the site of No.1 Chestnut Road. Further up the lane about where Nos. 9 and 11 stand was a larger cottage which was burnt down about 1884. It is unknown whether the cottage in Stratford Road was an alehouse in 1728 but the Alehouse Recognizances which exist from 1737 show a William Daniel holding a licence in respect of the property. He was succeeded by a William Weston who in 1781 sold to George Harris who was a stonemason and almost certainly lengthened and improved the alehouse. Very little land was attached and in 1795 he bought the cottage on the site of No.1 and also a larger cottage up the lane which had 3 acres. He took most of the 3 acres and formed and orchard (now the car park) and built No. 3 on the remainder. The cottage on site of No. 1 was demolished and a new one built. The actual date of the buildings was probably soon after 1795.
The cottages were at first let and in 1810 both were sold, No. 1 to Mrs Mary Clarke widow of Fisher Clarke, and No 3 to her daughter Mrs Mary Wood widow of Thomas Wood. Fisher Clarke was tenant of a farm owned by the Duke of Grafton the land of which is now incorporated in Manor Farm ( Keeves). He owned land at Roade and his eventual heir John Pittam Clarke left a considerable estate. The Pittams originated so far as I have traced them from Luffield Abbey Farm (now under Silverstone Race Track). Fisher Clarke’s son William who succeeded his father as tenant married Eunice Pittam from Furtho Manor Farm. They both died young and Mrs Mary Clarke the grandmother brought up their three children, but two of them died young leaving John Pittam Clarke the heir. William, Eunice and the two children were buried at Furtho.
Mary Clarke one of the daughters of Fisher and Mary married Thomas Wood who succeeded his father as tenant of Moor End Manor Farm but died in 1809 leaving two children. The Duke’s Agent refused to allow Mrs Wood to carry on as tenant until her son John was old enough but eventually they took a farm at Shenley, about 3 miles south of Stony Stratford. In 1816 Mrs Clarke married Joseph Gallard who was tenant of what is now called Elms Farm. I presume that his son William lived at the Elms Farmhouse as the tenancy continued in Joseph’s name for some years after 1816. Mrs Gallard died in 1820 but Joseph continued to live at No 1 although ownership passed to John Pittam Clarke. I am uncertain about the tenant of No 3 after the Woods went to Shenley as Mrs Wood was sometimes said to be of Yardley and sometimes of Shenley. She may have returned to Yardley when her son John married, but his wife died young and his mother may have again kept house for him. John Pittam Clarke died unmarried in 1829 and left No. 1 to his aunt Mrs Wood and after her death to his cousins John and Elizabeth as tenants in common. Elizabeth Wood married John Pittam of Ashton who eventually bought John’s half share in both cottages so owning both. After Mrs Wood’s death in 1848 John Franklin became tenant of No. 3. He was probably some connection of Joseph Gallard whose son married a Martha Franklin. Franklin was still there in 1854.
In 1864 Mrs Ann Blunt was listed. She was widow of a farmer of Alderton and previously of a farmer named Druce of Potterspury. She had living with her first husband’s niece Jane Druce and Jane’s son George Claridge Druce who became a pharmacist at Northampton and later at Oxford. He was interested in nature from childhood, founded the Northants Natural History Society, and compiled Flora of Northants, Bucks and Oxon. At the Duke’s sale in 1919 he bought some land adjoining Yardley Church and presented it to the Church to provide an extension to the churchyard in memory of his mother, which gift is commemorated by a brass tablet in the church.
After the death of Mrs Blunt followed by the departure of the Druces in 1877 a man named Gardiner was tenant. He is said to have been eccentric, walked out in a red dressing gown, and composed what he called poetry but my informant termed dreadful doggerel. I do not think he was there very long. In 1884 Emma Taylor kept a shop in the south end of the house which was damaged by fire but to what extent I do not know. She afterwards lived in a cottage belonging to The Poplar.
To return to the owners; after the death of Mrs John Pittam (nee Elizabeth Wood) her husband and son Henry went to Natal where John Pittam died in 1867. Henry sold the cottages to three men partners in a private bank at Northampton which became a joint stock bank known as the Northampton Union Bank Ltd (now incorporated in the National Provincial who use the same premises in the Drapery). In 1884 the Bank put the cottages up for sale by auction when No 1 was bought by John Foddy the tenant and No. 3 by Thomas Chambers Meakins a plumber and glazier, who however sold in 1885 to James D Warren for his own occupation. After his death in 1921 his widow and son J D junior moved next door and No. 3 was bought by a Mr Spalding about whom I know nothing more than his name.
The next owner was L E A Prothero who was there by 1934. He was Chief Inspector of Schools for the county, had been Captain and M C in the Great War. He is standing extreme left front row in the photo of the British Legion in Old Mail March 1984. He was Churchwarden of Yardley Church and collapsed and died on Good Friday 1939 as he was shaving before going to church. His only son John was a master at Truro Grammar School and Mrs Prothero and her sister Miss Seager who had lived with them at No. 3 went to live at Feock, Cornwall. Henry Winkles became the owner in September 1939. He was a retired merchant seaman having been apprenticed at sixteen after education at Northampton Grammar School. After the Great War he joined the Indian Navy but was invalided out. He painted watercolours and black and white drawings and etchings, played the organ and cello, made some violins and model ships, contributed articles and illustrated them for Sea Breezes and The Mariners Mirror, was interested in politics and occasionally wrote to the press but somewhat obscurely. He wrote a book which I understand was about the influence of environment on the various religions of the world and actually found a publisher for it but he went bankrupt and it was never published. Mrs Helen Macintosh bought the house from Mr Winkles’ nephew about 1977. I understand she had been secretary and housekeeper to Mr Ashby, Auctioneer of Northampton and Moulton Grange. Mrs Macintosh went to live at Helensburgh near Glasgow and works on behalf of Help the Aged. When I first started thinking about the two dwellings I assumed they had originally been detached and had been joined together when No. 3 was enlarged, but I now think they were semi-detached from the first; the string course goes across the front of both but was cut thought when No. 3 was raised and the sash windows inserted. Perhaps the end room of No 1 was taken into No. 3; this would account for the end of No. 3 being in the garden of No1. The most likely date for the enlargement of No. 3 seems to me to be when Foddy became tenant of No.1 and Franklin tenant of No. 3 around 1850. According to the 1851 census Foddy was in No 1 and next door was unoccupied. The size of the barn on the end of No.1 is rather puzzling, it seems out of proportion for such a small cottage. Putlog holes in the walls seem to indicate it once had an upper storey or attic. I have thought it might be the original cottage but it does not seem ever to have been plastered.
During the time J D Warren Senior owned No. 3 he made several alterations. Most of the information came from my husband’s eldest sister who had a good memory and was more interested in that sort of thing than my husband was, but I have proved her wrong in some things so there may be some doubt about details which I cannot check. However for what it is worth she told me that the south end now the kitchen had been a shop and a fire did some damage but how much is not known. Mr Warren took out the shop window and used it for the front of a little conservatory. The shop doorway was filled in, but I am not sure this is correct as a door led from kitchen into conservatory. A new doorway was opened in the end of the house, and new back gate and path made. Pigsties stood where the stone wall now is leading to garage: they were removed, wall built and barn built (now garage) also new earth closet, also new pigsty. House was whitened and brass plate ‘The White House’ on front gate. New white palings and front gate. Slate chimney pot made and erected by Mr Winkles himself. Garden was then divided by stone wall from Coffee Pot orchard, doorway was made in it so Warren children could play with Coffee Pot children. Mr Winkles had some very large walnuts given to him. He gave one each to the three eldest children to plant. All grew and as they became too large two were disposed of . The remaining one was moved more than once and finished up in its present position. I estimate its age as about 90 years. Apple trees and fruit bushes were planted. There was no connection upstairs between the lower and new portions and the Warren children used the kitchen end stairs to go up to the bedroom which was their playroom until about 1898 when a doorway was made. The Warrens always referred to the present kitchen as The Shop which was not used as a kitchen but as what would perhaps now be called a utility room, washing and ironing, cleaning shoes, and anything which tended to make a mess. Cooking was done on a coal range in the living room during the winter but probably on an oilstove in the Summer in the Shop. The Gloire de Dijon rose planted on front of end part and pear tree on south end (are they still there?) I think it was Mr Prothero who planted the cypress trees; he had telephone installed but Mr Winkles had it removed and only had it again much later.
Mr Prothero had the well in the front garden covered over and pump removed, with my husband’s consent as he had a right to the use. It was very nice clear water but of course water in the house was so much more convenient. Water was piped from the tower in Moorend Road and came from a spring which had never been known to run dry. Eventually it was tested and found to contain faecal matter and we were connected to the Bucks Water Board supply which comes from Foscott near Buckingham. Electricity came about 1933 and sewerage 1947. Some time later Mr Winkles had trouble with his drains, etc and it was discovered that the house had not been connected to the sewer. He happened to be away at the time the connections were being made. My husband was at home so saw that ours was done and he supposed that Mr Winkles would look after his, not knowing they were away. I cannot remember when street lighting was brought in but think it must have about 1965 or maybe a bit before. I seem to have wandered away from No3 so will conclude by saying that the roof was originally tiled; the front part was slated before 1934 and the back part about 1970. Mr Winkle had the bathroom put in about 1970. Mrs M had the new and taller wooden fence dividing garden from Coffee Pot car-park. I believe she had a dressing-room cut out of her bedroom.
Copyright D Warren