Monthly Archives: November 2010

She drank to death at Wistaria Villa, Howard Road

This is the sad tale of Mary Ann Pretty, wife of Clement Pretty, who drank herself to death at Wistaria Villa (now number 65) Howard Road in 1886.

Mary Ann and Clement started their married life in London, with Clement working as a commercial traveller in silks.  Several children were born there: Clement, Henry and John.  By 1877 they had settled in Leicester, and daughter Alice was born.  Perhaps due to an inheritance in 1875 from Clement’s father, formerly the landlord of The Three Crowns licensed hotel in St Martins, following his death in 1875, Clement set up in business as a coal merchant.  The 1877 White’s Directory of Leicestershire shows Clement Pretty, colliery agent, at Stanley Terrace (Humberstone Road), and in 1881 the family lived at 22 London Road.

Things started to go wrong.  In 1883 the RSPCA prosecuted an employee of Clement’s, William Lemon, for cruelty.  The animal was destroyed, being emaciated and having several sores on its back.  Later that year, In 1883 Clement was made bankrupt and his coal merchant business liquidated.  In 1885 Marian sold 5 Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds, to a tobacconist named Ignatius Carter.

Then on the evening of 30th April 1886, Marian got drunk.  She was an habitual  heavy drinker.  She took to her bed, complaining of a pain in her side, but this time she was taken very ill with “apoplexy” (bleeding), perhaps in her liver or her pancreas.  The local doctor was called but Marian died the following afternoon.  Clement moved out of Wistaria Villa shortly afterwards, being replaced in 1887 by Arthur Triggs, a commission agent.

Mary left £1,275 in her will and it seems that Clement decided to spend the money purchasing numbers 1-13 Edward Road, Clarendon Park, which he presumably rented out.  These he owned until at least 1904.  He moved to Holbrook Road with daughter Alice and in 1901 was “living on his own means” (or at least his late wife’s!).  However, when he died at the Infirmary in 1931, he left just £139 9s 6d, so Clement somehow spent it all. 

I wonder why Marian was such a heavy drinker?  Perhaps those years of worry about debt bankruptcy drove her to it.  Clement doesn’t seem to have been very good with money.  Perhaps she visited her in-laws at the Three Crowns too often.  Anyhow, it must have been very sad for her husband and children.  Perhaps she needed the help of the Temperance folk.  Regards, Elizabeth.

Leicester Chronicle, Saturday May 15th, 1886, p6.

Distressing Case of Sudden Death

An inquest was held at Knighton on Monday afternoon, before the coroner, Mr G.F. Harrison, on the body of Mary Ann Pretty, aged 42, the wife of Mr. Clement Pretty, Wistaria Villa, Howard-road, Knighton.  The husband stated that the wife was taken ill through drink on the 30th inst., and did not come down stairs afterwards.  About nine o’clock on Friday morning, he heard a crash in her bedroom, and on going up to see what was the matter found his wife lying on the floor.  He called in Mrs Williams, who lives next door, and she assisted him to get his wife into bed.  Deceased complained of feeling very unwell, and of having hurt her side.  He remained with her for some time, and sent for Dr. Emmerson.  He left her about three o’clock in the afternoon, and on going up to her room at 3.30 with the doctor, found her dead.  She was, he said, a woman of intemperate habits.  Dr Emmerson examined the body of the woman ,and found no suspicious appearances.  He was of the opinion that death had resulted from a natural cause, serious apoplexy, induced by drink.  He had attended her several years, and knew that she was very intemperate.  A verdict in accordance with the medical evidence was returned. 

St John the Baptist War Remembrance Plaques

The remembrance plaques are sitauted near the altar at St John the Baptist church.  They list the 58 men in the parish who lost their lives during World War I and the 14 in World War II.  To the Glory of GOD and in memory of the men of this parish who gave their lives in the War 1914-19

Claude ALEXANDER, Horace J ALEXANDER, Harry ASPDEN, J Thomas BAKER, Charles BARSBY, W Henry BEAMAN, Percy C BECK, Harold S BELLAMY, J Harry BIRD, Edmund G BLAND, Frank BROWN, Tom CHAMBERS, Reginald E CHAMBERS, William G CHAMBERS, David A BALDWIN, Harold CHAPMAN, Joseph CLARKE, Sydney CLARKE, Thomas A CLARKE, H Harry COLE, Arthur EAGLE, Arthur O ELLSON, Frederick FREARSON, J Oliver GAMBLE, H William HIND*, Henry D KNIGHT, Walter E LADKIN, Herbert LAWRENCE, Ernest LEWIS, George V H LINES, Frderick J LUCK, Walter MYATT, Walter H NEALE, Horace V POSTLETHWAITE, Clement A RILETT, A Andrew ROSS, G Walter ROSS, Frank RUSH, Guy E F RUSSELL, Everard R SHAKESPEAR, B Noel SHARP, George M SHERWIN, Robert SIMONS, George SIMPKIN, Samuel SMALLEY, Harold C SMITH, George B STAPLEFORD, Alfred E SWANN, Frank N TARR, Frederick W TAYLOR, William J TILBURY, Walter J TUFFLEY, Alfred WARBURTON, George WESLEY, Arthur WHATLEY, Harry E WILLSON, Albert G YORKE, Frederick W ZANKER

* Horace William, son of William Tom Hind

This tablet was placed here by the congregation of this church to commemorate with affection and gratitude those of this parish who gave their lives in the war of 1939-1945

Gordon BODYCOTE, Cyril Denys BOOTHRIGHT, John Ambrose BUTCHER, Dennis CRAMP, Frank CUER, Anthony Kyle DAWSON, Arthur Kenneth HALL, Frederick Walter KNOTT, Clifford Herbert LILBURN, Gordon MARSH, William Arthur NEWTON, Peter SALMON, Charles Peter Keith SMITH, Kenneth Frank WHITE

These men gave their lives for us and I, for one, am grateful.  Regards, Elizabeth.

The war memorials in their setting, next to the high altar

Remembering the Clarendon Park fallen

Lest We Forget

Private Harry Allen, 9th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment (1897-1916)

Harry Allen was born in 1897 in Leicester, the son of Charles Samuel Allen and Kate nee Thacker.  His mother died in 1904, when Harry was just 7, and his father remarried a much younger woman, Edith Lount.  They continued to live at 237 Avenue Road Extension until sometime between 1911 and 1914, when the family moved to 86 Lorne Road.  He had three brothers, John Rose, Walter Edmund and Samuel Purver, and two sisters, Gertrude Emma and Beatrice Violet.  Of these only his sisters survived to see the end of World War I.

In 1911, aged 14, Harry worked as a wool washer in the hosiery trade.  Aged 18, fully grown at 5 ft 4 and 3/4, Harry weighed just 8 stones and 1lb.  He had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair. 

At the beginning of the war he lived 86 Lorne Road with the rest of his family.  His brother Samuel had died earlier that year aged 19.  He enlisted early on, on 8th September 1914, joining the Leicestershire Regiment.  His battalion, the 9th (service), was formed in Leicester in 1914.  Harry was sent with the rest of his comrades, first to Bourley Camp, Aldershot and then to Pernham Down on Salisbury Plain for final training.  In 1915 he embarked for France, landing on 29th July.  He served on the Western Front, where 517 men from his battalion died. 

Harry was wounded on 8th October 1916 – a “severe” shrapnel wound in his back (right scapula), chest and arm.  He was admitted to the field hospital, then transferred to a hospital in Rouen, then on 4th November to the The King George Hospital, in Stamford Street, Waterloo, an emergency facility created in what is now part of King’s College London.  Between 1915 and 1919 over 70,000 soldiers were treated there.  Harry was operated on and found to be in a very serious state internally.  He died on 7th November 1916, of shock and loss of blood. He is buried at Welford Road Cemetery, Leicester, where there is a memorial plaque. 

Harry’s medals, the Star, Victory and British, were sent to his father Charles.  None of Harry’s personal effects survived to send with them.

I will be posting details of the remembrance plaque at St John the Baptist Church on Remembrance Sunday.  Regards, Elizabeth.

Chinese crackers on Howard Road

I meant to post this bonfire night-themed newspaper article from 1900 yesterday, but I was in bed with tonsilitis (woe is me, etc), so here it is a day late instead.  Following on from those Mischievous Lads, here is another example of delinquent Clarendon Park youth, from the Leicester Chronicle Saturday, October 13th, 1900 p6.

THE RISING GENERATION

Leonard Stanton (12), schoolboy, St. Leonard’s Road, and Herbert Wales (15), shoehand, Clarendon Park Road, were summoned for letting off Chinese crackers in Howard-road, on September 26th.  They were fined 2s. 6d.

Leonard Stanton lived at 103 St Leonards Road – and I bet he got a fair amount of stick for it!  Funnily enough I know the people who live there now and they are the nicest, least delinquent folk imaginable.  Leonard’s father was already dead in 1900 and his mother had four children to take care of.  Between October 1900 and April 1901, he left school and started work as a grocer’s errand boy.  By 1911 he was a grocers assistant, working for and living with Frank Claxton in Newark, Nottinghamshire.  I hope that by then he had grown out of his firecracker habit!  Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find anything out about his partner in crime, Herbert Wales.  Let’s hope he didn’t blow himself up!   Regards, Elizabeth.

St John the Baptist Church

Central section of St John's

St John the Baptist Church, on Clarendon Park Road, is the parish church of Clarendon Park.  It is an Anglican Church (Church of England).  There is far too much to say about its history in just one post, but I would like to share with you a few pictures and facts about its earliest days.

St John’s was built in 1884-1885 by architects Goddard and Paget of Leicester, funded largely by a gift of £6,000 from Miss Sarah Barlow (more about her some other time).  It was built as a chapel of ease in the parish of St Mary Magdalene, Knighton, and only became parish church in its own right in 1917.  The parish minute books show how pleased the then vicar and churchwardens were, as it considerably simplified the financial running of the churches.

Joseph Goddard also built Leicester’s clock tower, in 1868.  Here is an excellent site about the Goddard empire.  St John’s was designed in the Victorian gothic style.  I think it is fair to say that it is considerably more imposing on the inside than the outside.  The level of detail is astonishing and the overall impression is of grandeur and awe.  Here is one of Goddard’s original designs for the railings that used to top the front boundary wall (which you can see in the photo above have been removed…probably as part of the war effort).  Luckily the attractive gate still stands.  Leicestershire Records Office holds all the original designs, and they are beautiful in themselves.

As for the interior, here is a postcard showing the interior as it was before the addition of a new reredos in memory of Guy Edward Frank Russell, who died in World War I.  The screen is still in place – this was taken down within living memory of the current congregation. 

St John’s is open 9 – 3pm most days except weekends (services on Sunday are at 8.30am, 9.30am and 11am) and it is well worth a visit even if you are not a practising Christian.  There is a lot more to say about St John’s but some other time!  In the meantime, check the Index page of this site for several more articles about St John’s.  Regards, Elizabeth.