Category Archives: Archives

Home Ownership in 1894 (and other ramblings)

Whilst researching various house histories during November and December, I have been noting interesting facts relating to Clarendon Park where they emerge.  For example, whilst looking at the burial records for St Mary Magdalene, Knighton, I discovered lots of Clarendon Park residents – which is obvious really, but somehow I always imagined most of them spending their eternal rest at Welford Road Cemetery.  Amongst the dearly departed were Neville Thomas Hind, son of the Queens Road chemist William Tom Hind (aged just 21 months, in 1897) and William Tom himself in February 1944.  Also his son Frederick Leonard Hind (aged 77, in January 1978).  But now I am getting sidetracked.

What I really wanted to share with you is that I wasted time did some valuable research using the 1894 Electoral Register.  In 1894 suffrage (or the right to vote) was still not universal, and one of the qualifying factors - apart from needing a Y chromosome – was property ownership.  A separate register was kept of property owners.  I looked at the register for Knighton Ward and made a list of all the Clarendon Park residents who both owned a property and lived in it.  The numbers were tiny in relation to the total number of properties in Clarendon Park.  Most people rented their properties, even those living in the posher houses.  It would be very interesting to know what the proportion of owner-occupiers is today.  Much larger, I suspect.

The total number of owner-occupiers in Clarendon Park in 1894 was 55.  Several of these also owned the house next door, or even a row of houses in the same street.  There were a good many more absentee landlords, like George Colborne who owned a fair bit of Clarendon Park Road, yet lived in Havant in Hampshire.  Perhaps he let the properties through an efficient lettings agent and maintained them well.  Or then again he might not have.

If you live in or own a house in Avenue Road Extension, Cecila Road, Central Avenue,  Clarendon Park Road, Cross Road, Edward Road, Fleetwood Road, Montague Road, Queens Road, Springfield Road, St Leonards Road or West Avenue, and would be interested in finding out whether it was owner-occupied in 1894 (and who the owner was), feel free to contact me.  Regards, Elizabeth.

Leicester Aged Pilgrims Homes

Happy new year 2011!  I am delighted to be back in the blogging saddle after a manic December 2010 full of house history research for clients.  As part of the research process I needed to visit The National Archives in Kew, and whilst there I found the time to look up just one or two little Clarendon Park history things.  One of which was an index of trust deeds, containing five references to planned buildings in Clarendon Park.  In case anyone else fancies looking them up, they are listed at the bottom of this article.

The one that particularly took my fancy was an 1893 conveyance of land adjoining Lorne Road and Clarendon Park Road, “together with the messuages thereupon,” to the Trustees of Leicester Aged Pilgrims Homes.   I hadn’t heard of the Aged Pilgrims Homes but a little light googling revealed that it is an undenominational society founded in 1807 by evangelical christians.  There is an Aged Pilgrims Home in Evington, which opened in 1954.  The homes provide sheltered accommodation and home support for elderly christians.  If only I had the time whilst making my last visit, I would have ordered the trust deed.  Bah.  When I get back to the NA in February, I will post here.

So, the 1901 census shows ten Aged Pilgrims Homes from number 115 Clarendon Park Road onwards.  They were lived in by the “inmates of Aged Pilgrims Homes,” and also by one of the people who helped to look after them; a nurse, Ellen Simms.  The inmates were all women except for a gardener, Samuel Mathers, who lived with his wife at number ten.  Their ages ranged from 66 to 88.  Their names were Isabella Coleman, Sarah Ingram, Sarah Woolley (who still lived there in 1911), Sarah Yarrow, Elizabeth Davies, Ellen Holland, Rachel Orton, Mary Pallett and Charlotte Wash.  All but one were widows and most of the women had been born in Leicestershire.  Being an elderly widow in Victorian Leicester was not good in terms of material wealth or status, but living in almshouses like these women suggests that only their faith kept them out of the workhouse.

Not all the elderly people helped by the society lived in almshouses.  Kelly’s 1916 directory for Leicestershire informs us that “Aged Pilgrims’ Friend Society (Leicester Branch) – to give pensions of 5, 7 & 10 guineas a year &c. to aged poor persons of every Evangelical denomination.  During 1915 the 25 pensioners in this district received pensions amounting to £191, inclusive of gifts from the Morton Trustees.  President A S Gimson; Hon Sec Wilfred Tyler.  In 1891 ten almshouses were erected in Clarendon Park Road at the cost of J T Morton, a London merchant, as free homes for the pensioners in Leicester & district.”

The 1911 census tells us that each of these “homes” consisted of just one room, perhaps with a fireplace for heating and cooking.  They were occupied by Samuel Cheney Pebody, Sarah Woolley, Emma Ball and her daughter Sarah Ann who did sewing at home for money; Elizabeth Davis, Sarah Dalston, Jane Brice, Louisa Smallbones, Eliza Clarke and Maria Wills.  Again, all were widows or in Samuel’s case, a widower.  Clarendon Park Road having been built up considerably since 1901, the address had changed to 200 Clarendon Park Road.

All this is really interesting and I promise to report back after I have been to the National Archives in February.  But for now, here are the trust deeds I came across in December.  No doubt they will inspire further research!  Happy new year, Elizabeth.

1895 Trustees for the Wesleyan Methodists to build a chapel (PR84 M36 C54/19999)

1894 Trustees for the Baptists to build a hall or chapel to be called “The Clarendon Hall” (PR22 M27 C54/19835)

1893 Trustees of Leicester Aged Pilgrims Homes, conveyance of land adjoining Clarendon Park Road and Lorne Road (Pt38 M8 C54/19747)

1895 Peterborough Diocesan Trustees, conveyance of school (Pt81 M39 C54/199996)

1904 Trustees of the Clarendon Park Congregational Church, site for a school and outbuildings (Pt83 No 1048 J18/24)

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.

W T Hind – prescriptions books

I made it to Leicestershire Records Office and had a look at the prescriptions books of W T Hind, chemist and druggist on Queens Road for over 100 years.  I wrote an article about W T Hind here.  The office holds the prescription books from between 1894 (so not long after Mr Hind opened for business in 1888) and 1954.  They are beautiful, card and leather-bound ledgers in a variety of styles.  I looked mostly at the volumes covering 1894-1920.  The handwriting was difficult to decipher and the prescriptions were in note form, using archaic terms for obsolete medicines, so it was quite a task to make sense of them. 

The prescriptions were interesting from two points of view: Firstly, the prescriptions themselves; and secondly the people for whom the prescriptions were intended. These varied from those not important enough to be named – many servants like “The Maid (Rev Forsyth)” who needed an expectorant “when the cough gives trouble.”  She was prescribed Terebene on a piece of sugar.  Also “Baby Baker” (who needed lanolin), “Mrs Rattenbury’s baby” (who turned out to be Grace, daughter of the Wesleyan minister John Ernest Rattenbury, one of the outstanding preachers of his day, then living in North Avenue.  He founded the Belgrave Hall mission and built Clarendon Park Church) and countless others.  Mr Hind seems to have dispensed to quite a clerical crowd as there were lots of Reverend gentlemen amongst his clientele, eg Rev Holmes (could have been the vicar of St Peter’s or the curate of St Nicholas…anyway, he was a bit bunged up and needed oil of eucalyptus in a tumbler of steamy water) and Rev Forsyth (the renowned theologian and first minister of Clarendon Park Congregational Church).

But the prescriptions are fascinating.  W T Hind dispensed the medicine of his day and until well into the 20th century much of it was rough and ready, some of it being quackery and much of it being downright dangerous.  Take Mr T Pochin’s prescription:  Chloroform, strychnine and digitalis three times a day.  It must have been a heart medicine, but it didn’t save the poor chap as he died the same year, aged 58.  Mr Alfred Edwin Dexter – a commercial clerk living at 51 Howard Road – was prescribed magnesium carbonate, magnesium sulphate, chloroform and aqua…I’d love to know what that was for. 

Mr Hind also made up his own “branded” medicines, which all pharmacists offered in the days when medicines were not heavily regulated and when druggists literally made up pills and powders by mixing ingredients.  In 1897 Mr Hind offered “The Sulphonal Powders” (a sleeping medicine) and there were several others mentioned.  I like this:  Hind’s Nursery Hair Lotion.

I couldn’t help buying the label above on ebay last week…Mr W T Hind has really caught my imagination.  I am delighted to report that his great-granddaughter – herself a pharmacist – is willing to let me interview her about The Park pharmacy, and I will be sharing the results as soon as possible.  Regards, Elizabeth.

Clarendon Park 1909 businesses directory

Ok so the title of this article was a bit naughty.  There was no directory of Clarendon Park businesses in 1909 (Nowadays we have The Clarendon Directory, delivered free to our doors).  But there was a selection of directories available for Leicester folk to find their shops, businesses, gentry and postal delivery times, and I thought it would be interesting to list the businesses listed under Clarendon Park addresses.  Actually this is part of a much larger project I am working on, to record all the businesses and in particular the shops of Clarendon Park from its earlier days to the present.  I love the fact that there are and were so many shops here, and there is still a lot of evidence remaining of the shops that have long since been turned into private dwellings.

So here is an edited list of the shops and business of Clarendon Park in the 1909 edition of Wright’s Directory of Leicestershire:

  • Aerated water manufacturers – 2
  • Agents (house, land and estate) – 1
  • Bakers – 4
  • Boot and shoe makers – 11
  • Builders, bricklayers, joiners and contractors – 18
  • Butchers – 7
  • Carters (general) – 3
  • Chemists and druggists – 1
  • Chimney sweepers – 1
  • China, glass and homeware dealers – 1
  • Clock cleaners, makers and repairers – 2
  • Clothes and wardrobe dealers – 1
  • Coal agents,  dealers and merchants - 8
  • Confectioners and pastry cooks – 2
  • Confectioners and sweet dealers – 6
  • Cowkeepers and dairymen – 3
  • Cycle repairers, dealers and makers – 2
  • Drapers and haberdashers – 9
  • Dress makers – 14
  • Fishmongers and poulterers – 4
  • Florists and seed dealers – 1
  • General and hardware dealers – 3
  • Greengrocers and fruiterers – 6
  • Grocers and general provision merchants – 5
  • Hairdressers – 4
  • Horse and trap proprietors – 2
  • Ironmongers – 2
  • Launderers – 5
  • Market gardeners – 3
  • Milk dealers – 3
  • Milliners – 2
  • Newsagents – 1
  • Plumbers, glaziers and fitters – 4
  • Shopkeepers (not otherwise listed) – 21
  • Tailors – 5
  • Wine and spirit merchants – 2

I love the fact that Clarendon Park had not just one, but two aerated water manufacturers (one of which was our friend William Tom Hind).  Also that there were so many butchers, bakers, greengrocers and fishmongers.  All of which still exist in Clarendon Park today, but not in anything like the numbers.  We could blame Sainsbury’s (or Jacksons, as it was until a few years ago), but there has always been a Co-op in Clarendon Park Road and I would guess that people’s changing cooking and eating habits are just as much to blame.  I am just grateful there are still useful shops to be found.  Regards, Elizabeth.