History of the Amersham Area

82-92 High St

 

Nos. 82 to 92 – this row of five red brick cottages has an old tile roof and six chimneys.  They are listed grade II and have leaded windows with cambered arches and were probably built in the 18th century.  The houses were re-faced and extended at the front by about 4 feet (there are two rows of roof timbers) in the 18th century.  Four of them were sold in the 1928 auction by the Tyrwhitt-Drake family at prices between £300 and £430 each.

No. 82 – census information from 1841 to 1891 shows that this house was occupied by the Stronnell family:

  • 1841: Abraham Stronnell, Agricultural Labourer, his wife Ann and son Henry aged 10. (Their older son, aged 15 was one of thirteen live-in servants working for the Reverend John Tyrwhitt-Drake at the Rectory up the hill).
  • 1851: Abraham Stronnell 50 was living in the house with his wife Ann (48) and his married son Thomas (24) carpenter, daughter-in-law Mary Jane (25) and grand-daughter Mary Ann aged 11 months.
  • 1861: Abraham Stronnell was living in the house but his wife is not listed – perhaps she was away? Thomas Stronnell (34) and his wife Mary Jane, had added to their family and now had three daughters (Mary Ann 10 scholar, Catherine 3, Agnes 1) and two sons (Charles 9 and Thomas 6). Abraham died in 1869.
  • 1871: Thomas Stronnell (44), wife Mary Jane and four daughters (Catherine 13, Agnes 11, Fanny 9 and Ellen 2) plus Thomas Stronnell’s widowed mother, Ann (68) who was described as a ‘monthly nurse’.
  • 1881: Ann Stronnell (77) formerly laundress was head of the family with Thomas, her son (54) and his wife Mary Jane (55) dressmaker.
  • 1891: Ann Stronnell widow (89) with widowed daughter-in-law Mary Jane (65) upholsterer. Mary Jane Stronnell died in 1895 and Ann Stronnell died in 1897 so ending the Stronnell tenancy.
  • 1901: Alfred Elvis, jobbing gardener born 1855 in Ipswich was living here with his wife Mary Ann b 1851 Amersham.
  • 1911: Alfred Elvis is living alone in the house. He states he is still married but Mary Ann is nowhere to be found.

No. 84  – Census information shows that the house was occupied by:

  • Joseph Coleman, a plumber and glazier in 1841 and 1851; with his wife Sarah and two children: Mary b 1823 dressmaker and Charles b 1829 plumber.
  • By 1861, Thomas King, a 29 year old printer compositor moved in, probably working in the printing business in Market Square.  He had a wife, Mary A who was born in Spitalfields in 1835 and two daughters: Louisa M and Martha M.
  • By 1871, James Alsford, a coachman/domestic servant (almost certainly at Shardeloes) his wife, Rhoda b Stourton (Wiltshire) and his large family lived there until after 1901.
  • In 1901 James and Rhoda were living with their daughter ‘Nellie’ (Emily Ellen) who was a dressmaker.
  • In 1911 census Rhoda, by now a widow was living with her unmarried daughter Ellen (29). She recorded that she had given birth to 14 children, 11 of whom had survived.

No. 86   The house may date from the fifteenth century. It would have comprised a hall at the rear of the current house open to a crown post roof and a solar with a jettied upper storey facing the street. In the late 16th or early 17th century a floor was inserted making the hall two storeys. About the same time fireplaces would have been added in the solar and front bedroom. A small wing, now incorporated into No. 88 appears to have been added.  A second floor in the attic space was clearly occupied at some time. There is a door – but no staircase – leading into the attic space which had no floorboards but had whitewashed timbers and walls and a small window at the back.

In 1742 the earliest surviving map of Amersham shows that this house, along with Nos. 88, 90 and 92 belonged to Stephen Squier (Squire?).  Stephen Squier was a master carpenter who employed a number of men and did much work on houses and inns belonging to the Tyrwhitt-Drake family in the town. His will dated 1744 leaves to son Stephen Squire “four several messuages cottages or tenements situate and being in Amersham aforesaid and now in the several tenures or occupations of Thomas Rayment, William Cooper, Thomas Hentin and Henry Woodbridge”.   In 1759 he was buried and in 1773 his son was buried.  In 1783 the house was sold to William Weller by “Thomas Squire late of Cupids Bridge Lambeth now Cornet of HM Troop of Horse Guards only brother & heir of Stephen Squire of Amersham, a minor, deceased and also one of the sons of Stephen Squire the younger who was eldest son of Stephen Squire the elder who was the only son and heir of Stephen Squire of Amersham carpenter”.

In 1804 the range of houses from Nos. 84 to 92 were acquired by the Tyrwhitt-Drakes (they already owned Nos. 80 and 82). The brick frontage was built to give the original assortment of houses a uniform terrace appearance to conform with the taste of the period. The roof line of No. 86 was turned through 90 degrees to enable this to be achieved. The sawn off rafters can still be seen in the roof space. The brick-facing on the rear gable includes a stone tablet inscribed ‘TDTD 1807’.

The Census returns show that the house had a quick turnover of occupants in the nineteenth century:-
1841      John Bailey (aged 25) Carpenter, wife (aged 35); 3 children and a 20 year old chairmaker
1851      Mr Toms, Brazier working in Watford, and wife (aged 33) and five children aged 12 years to 6 weeks and George Scott (aged 21) Butcher, wife (aged 23) and baby son
1861      George Whitfield (aged 39) Solicitor, wife (aged 40) and daughter
1871      John Tapping (aged 34) Wheelwright, wife (aged 29) and son
1881      Henry Pratt (aged 44) Wheelwright and wife (aged 50).Henry, with a new wife, was still occupying the house in 1911.

In 1928 the house was sold at auction for £430. At that time the tenant was recorded as the Chief Constable for Buckinghamshire. Was it a police house?

PHO2888

(PHO2888)

No. 88 (it was no 87 before renumbering) has  an old door number on the inside of the door (see above).  It is said that Thomas Tyrwhitt-Drake was infuriated when his tenants were told to put house numbers on all the doors, so put them on the insides instead!  A similar number plaque is on the inside of no 45A.  [Another possible but more prosaic explanation is provided in Eustace Alliott’s notes.]

(PHO3633)

(PHO3633)

This house and no. 90 are probably seventeenth century in-fill between numbers 86 and 92 which were originally detached houses. No. 86 had a small wing, the frame of which can be seen in the roof space of no. 88. They would have been black and white half-timbered houses.

It belonged to three successive generations of the Squire family, all called Stephen between 1742 and 1783 when the range of four houses (86-92) was sold to William Weller. The houses were brought into the Tyrwhitt-Drake estate in 1804 and in 1807 Thomas Drake Tyrwhitt-Drake had the front and back bricked.

Census information for no. 88 shows that:

  • In 1841 the house was occupied by Thomas Shrimpton born 1804 and his sister Hannah born 1802. Plus Charles parsons a 20 year old silk weaver and his sister Dinah (13).
  • In 1851 and 1861 Hannah Shrimpton was living in the house alone.
  • By 1871 Hannah had probably died and the house was occupied again by her brother Thomas who in 1851 and 1861 had been living in the Rectory as a farm labourer and servant.
  • In the 1881 census George Black, a butler born 1831 in Scotland had moved in with his wife Caroline born 1840 in Somerset. Their daughter Florence, aged 3 had been born in Exeter. Catherine Rose Black, George’s elder sister born 1819 in Pembroke was a retired school teacher.
  • By 1891, widow, Emma Orchard, a dress maker who had been living at no. 92 had moved in with her two daughters; Alice 14 and Ellen 11.
  • In 1901 Emma was still in the house with her daughter Ellen who was described as a school teacher.
  • In the 1911 census the house was occupied by Mary Ann Hoare a 71 year old widow.

No. 90 – the house probably dates from the seventeenth century and, with no. 88 was in-fill between two larger detached houses at nos. 86 and 92. It was a black and white half-timbered house. It belonged to three successive generations of the Squire family, all called Stephen between 1742 and 1783 when the four houses (86-92) were sold to William Weller.

In 1804 the range of houses from Nos. 84 to 92 were acquired by the Tyrwhitt-Drakes (they already owned Nos. 80 and 82). The brick frontage was built in 1807 to give the original assortment of houses a uniform terrace appearance to conform with the taste of the period. The County Record Office in Aylesbury has many records of the Tyrwhitt-Drake estate including two bills from John Maycock for bricklayers ‘to new houses by armes houses’ between June 29th and July 11 1807; total cost: £10 9s 7d.

Census information shows that this house was occupied by:

  • Hannah Woodbridge (born 1805) with three children (John b 1832, Ann b 1835 and Jane b 1839) in 1841. In the next census (1851) she was described as a widow and charwoman. John and Ann had left home but Sarah Jane (aged 12) was at school. Thomas Adams (aged 55), her widowed son-in-law (a labourer) and his four year old daughter, Eliza Adams were also living in the house.  Thomas was still living in the house with his mother-in-law in 1861 (by now as a lodger) and Eliza was a servant in 22 Campden Grove, Kensington. Hannah Woodbridge moved out of 90 High Street and appears in the 1871 census living across the road.
  • The occupants of 90 High Street in 1871 were John J Gray b 1844 carpenter and joiner born in Dorset, with his wife Emma b 1841 in Dorset. They had a boarder aged 17 who was a British subject but had been born in Pennsylvania, USA.
  • In 1881, Elizabeth Payne widow born 1810 in Southampton was living here with a lodger, Kate Mullins, scholar born 1876 in Dorset. In 1891 Elizabeth Payne was still living in the house but this time with a companion Clara Morton aged 22 from Chesham.
  • In 1901 the house was occupied by James Fortnam, cattleman on a farm born 1866 in Chinnor and his wife Alice born 1861 in Crowell and their 2 year old son born in Chinnor. In 1911 the family were still living in the house and James now described himself as ‘Farm Bailiff’.

No. 92 – census information shows that this house was occupied by:

  • 1841: James Rackley born 1799 carrier and his wife Mary b 1800 and son James b 1826.
  • 1851: The Rackley family continued to live there but their son, James by now a chair turner had moved out (having married Louisa Wilson b 1832 and gone to live with her family (John and Elizabeth Wilson and their six other children in a house that was later incorporated into the Kings Arms); and a relative, William Baldwin (31) a widowed chairmaker had moved in.
  • 1861: Mary Bailey widow born 1796 in Barnet and mother of Thomas Bailey in no. 80 living with her grand-daughter Anne Lime b 1849.
  • 1871: Eppraim Orchard valet born 1840 in Exeter with his wife Emma born 1838 in Norfolk with son Henry b 1869 in Pimlico and daughter Agnes born 1870 in Amersham.
  • 1881: The Orchard family had expanded with addition of Edward G b 1872, Arthur W b 1874, Alice b 1878, Ellen E b 1880 and a housekeeper Mary Lock born in Reading. Eppraim Orchard must have died some time before 1891 because his widow moved to no. 88.
  • 1891: Thomas Williams, tinman born 1851, his wife Mary b 1851 and their four children: Thomas b1884, Agnes b 1886, Joseph b 1888 and James b 1890. All members of the family were born in Amersham.
  • 1901: The family were unchanged – but 10 years older. Thomas Williams was described as a Foreman Farmer and the younger Thomas was a plumber’s apprentice. Sometime after 1901 Thomas Williams died.
  • 1911: His widow, Mary was living in the house with her mother, Unity Stevens b 1829 and her sister Louisa Cheshire b 1853 and her two sons, Joseph by now 24 and a carpenter, and James 20 a milkman.