Tag Archives: House history

Leonard Norman, a Clarendon Park Photographer

Sometimes I come across something on Ebay that really excites me.  Just a couple of weeks ago I spent the best part of thirty quid on a collection of 66 cartes de visite and cabinet cards barely held together by a falling apart album of very questionable taste – just to get hold of a single image that definitely isn’t worth £30.  But I didn’t care, firstly because the collection belonged to a Leicester family whose tree I have been growing from the tiny acorn of a single named and dated photograph, and secondly because the cabinet card I wanted is perfect.  Here is all about it.

The photographer is L. Norman of Clarendon Studio, Montague Road, Clarendon Park.  The card stock (dark green), the gold bevelled edge, the studio name in gold all point to a picture taken during the early 1890s.  The image is of a little girl in an outfit that almost certainly isn’t hers, and it’s not a very good image either – too much light in the top right hand corner and the little girl’s black- stockinged legs disappear in the gloom behind her.  However that really awful vase and feather are beautifully clear.

A trip to Leicestershire Records Office told me quite a bit about Leonard.  Leonard was born in Knighton village in 1870 and after school began work, as so many did, as a shoe clicker.  He moved to 28 Montague Road in 1893 (shortly after his marriage to Elizabeth Carter) and 30 Montague Road – the most likely premises for “Clarendon Studio” in 1897.  I suspect he occupied both 28 and 30 Montague Road between 1893 and 1907, when he moved to 51 Montague Road.  None of the street directories of the period described Leonard Norman as a photographer, in fact his first entry is in Wright’s Directory of Leicestershire in 1906, at 30 Montague Road, as a “picture framer.”  

30 Montague Road. It is still fairly apparent that this was once a shop premises

The 1901 census described him as “shopkeeper and picture framer.”  Picture framing and photography often went together at this time, for obvious reasons.  Leonard’s last directory entry was in 1912, but by this time he had already returned to his previous work as a shoe clicker so either the entry was out of date or Leonard was only working as a framer in his spare time.  I wonder how seriously Leonard took the photography side of his business, and how successful it was.  Clearly not all that successful – I feel quite sorry for him.

51 Montague Road

I am fairly confident that I will be able to find out the name of the little girl in the picture, as long as she was related to the Hughes family of Thornton Lane, Leicester, whence my album originated – and I think she must have been.  So you can see why I was so excited to get hold of that tatty album.  Regards, Elizabeth.

The Probable Poisoning of George Scott Grainger

I recently read a sad article from the Leicester Chronicle which demonstrates how life has changed over the past 100 years .  George Scott Grainger aged 51 was admitted, unconscious, to the Leicester Royal Infirmary around 6.15pm on Monday 30 September 1890.  He later having never regained consciousness.   George, who was a gardener working at Victoria Park and then living at 17 Oxford Road, Clarendon Park,  had obtained some Corporation Diarrhoea Mixture from the Town Hall (people provided their own bottles) earlier that day.  However the mixture contained in the bottle George was holding when his wife found him contained tincture of opium, not Victorian Immodium.

17 Oxford Road (Oxford Road sits between Howard Road and Montague Road)

At the inquest Jane Grainger, said that on the morning of his death she left before George to go to work and he was not then complaining of diarrhoea.  At 2.30pm she was in Victoria Park and could not see her husband so she asked his colleague James Norwell where he was.  Norwell told her he had obtained medicine, so she “knew he must be very ill as he strongly disliked medicine.”  Jane went to look for George and found him lying in a field on Evington Lane, with the bottle in his hand.  He complained of diarrhoea.  He said he had consumed the entire contents of the bottle and felt quite well, and wanted to stay where he was as he was comfortable, but was moved in Dr Greasley’s carriage to the Highfields Hotel and afterwards to the LRI where he died.

A couple of things struck me about Jane’s story.  Firstly, it was very odd indeed that George’s own bottle should have contained opium, as the Town Hall folk must have dispensed quite a lot of diarrhoea mixture and it would soon have been obvious if their stock had replaced or contaminated with tincture of opium.  So perhaps George found that diarrhoea mixture was not efficacious and bought his own cure – opium – instead (opium was used in some diarrhoea preparations).  Secondly, when Jane found that her husband was not at work as expected, she naturally went to look for him.  But in a field in Evington Lane?  Perhaps all is not exactly as Jane described.  Perhaps she was used to finding him lying intoxicated in a field and knew where to look for him. It’s a good job the powers that be started to tighten the regulation of opium, making it harder for people to accidentally poison themselves, even if it sounds like George had quite a peaceful ending.

Jane had moved from 17 Oxford Rd by the time of the census in April 1891.  So many people seemed to have passed in and out of Clarendon Park without leaving much trace.  Poor George – in both senses – was buried in a common grave without a headstone at Welford Road cemetery and his wife never joined him.

Five sons in the service: A good way to make three quid

From the Leicester Chronicle Friday, December 29th , 1900 p2

Five Sons in the Service:  Queen’s Gift to a Leicester Man

Mr. Edmund G. Hanham, 19, Edward-road, Clarendon Park, who has five sons in the Service, has received the following letter from Sir Fleetwood Edwards, Keeper of the Privy Purse:-

Privy Purse Office, Buckingham Palace, S.W., 18th December 1900

 Lieut.-Colonel Sir Fleetwood Edwards is commanded to acknowledge the receipt of Mr. Edward G. Hanham’s letter of the 5th ulto., and, in reply, to say that the Queen is very much gratified to learn that Mr. Hanham has five sons at present in the Service, and Sir Fleetwood Edwards is further commanded to forward to Mr. Hanham the enclosed Post Office Order for three pounds from the Queen as a mark of her Majesty’s appreciation of this interesting fact, with the hope that it may be of some temporary assistance.

Clever Mr Hanham, spending ha’penny on a stamp to write to the Queen, and getting a postal order for three quid in return!  Edmund George Hanham (c1849 -1925) married Mary Ann Dawkes (1850 – 1934) in 1874 and together they had at least ten children.  Edmund was a sergeant in the Staffordshire militia, so it makes sense that so many of his children chose a military life.  On his retirement, the family moved to Edward Road in Clarendon Park, where Edmund set up as a boot and shoe maker.

Mary and Edmund’s children were: Edmund George Lawrence (1875-1901), Violette Polly (1876-), Frances May (1878-1878), Hedley Thomas (1878-1962), Archibald Harry (1881), Albert Victor (1883) Thomas (1884-1884), Charles Gordon (1885), Albert Edwin (1887), Christie (1887-1946)

I haven’t been able to find out about the military service of all Edmund’s sons, but here is what I did find:

Edmund George junior was a Sergeant Doctor in the South Staffordshire Regiment.  He died in January 1901 at Winburg, during the second Boer War of 1899-1902 and just a few days after the article in the Chronicle.  How awful for his father, to be recognised by the Queen one month and then the next, to lose one of his sons.

Hedley Thomas joined the 5th Duke of Wellington Regiment and later the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.  He was demobilised and became a warehouseman in Huddersfield.  In 1914 he again enlisted, rejoining the Duke of Wellingtons.  He returned to Huddersfield and died in 1962.

Christie joined the 5th Dragoon Guards in 1902.  he was wounded in South Africa in 1903 and again in 1904.  In 1905 he requested permission to emigrate to Canada – can’t say I blame him – but was refused.  He spent a few years in the Reserves before re-enlisting, then staying in the service until 1915.  His record states that he had a tattoo of a flower and two dots on his right forearm!  He never did make it to Canada: He died in Leicester in 1946.

The Hanhams didn’t stay in Clarendon Park for very long and were living elsewhere in Leicester by 1911.  I don’t suppose they made much of an impact on the area but the letter from Her Majesty must have stirred a lot of interest at the time.  Small stories, but interesting nevertheless.  Regards, Elizabeth.

The Grocer Who Fell Off The Wagon

15 & 17 Edward Road - a single property for over 100 years

Poor William Jennings.  In 1884 he lived in Edward Road and must have been one of the first residents.  He seems to have continually been applying for beer selling licenses – there was something of a scramble for off-licenses in Clarendon Park in the mid to late 1880s as it was being built, and with all that working class housing being hastily built, it could mean very lucrative trade.  William was finally granted his license in October 1886.  The Wright’s Directory of 1888 described him as a beer retailer, cowkeeper and shopkeeper at 15 and 17 Edward Road.  All looked well for prosperity.

But in October 1890 he received a nasty bump to the head when he fell out of a cart (see newspaper article below) or fell off the wagon – you have my husband to thank for that pun by the way.  Beer retailer, wagon, falling off – geddit?   That wasn’t the only thing going wrong for William at the time – he was seriously in debt and bankruptcy proceedings were brought against him in early February 1891.  By then he was living in lodgings on Clarendon Park Road, and certainly by April the premises were occupied by John Thomas Booton (33), grocer and range fitter, and his family.  John had already run a grocers and beer retailers of his own on the corner of Lorne Road/Clarendon Park Road (in fact he had applied for a beer license the very same day that William Jennings fell out of the cart and hurt his head).

On 25th February William was found to be £925 in debt, with assets of £750, leaving a surplus of £175.  He had sold the freehold on 15 and 17 Edward Road to his stepson on 29th January 1891, transferring the beer license to him shortly afterwards.  However, as the property was mortgaged the Official Receiver insisted the premises be sold at auction by Warner, Sheppard and Wade on 20th October 1891.  The premises are well described in the auction advertisement: “The House contains front shop, covering the whole frontage, several store-rooms, sitting room, kitchen and six bedrooms.  There is also a paved yard, with outbuildings and passage entrance….in addition to the Grocery Business it has an extensive out-door beer trade.”  The sale raised £760.

John Thomas Booton didn’t hang on to 15 and 17 Edward Road, at least as the occupant, because by 1899 the beer retailer (no pretence of groceries selling now) was Hannah Barrows.  It looks like the property hasn’t altered an enormous amount since then – although it is no longer a shop as Edward Road is a pretty quiet back street with no passing trade – and is still double fronted.  These days it is known as 17 Edward Road and number 15 just doesn’t exist.

The cause of William Jennings’ misery, in his own words, was that he had lost two cows in two years and had made many bad debts.  There must be a new year’s resolution in there somewhere.  Note to self:  No bad debts in 2012 (and don’t lose any cows).  Happy New Year everyone and thanks for reading, Elizabeth.

Leicester Chronicle, Saturday October 4th 1890, p6.

ACCIDENT – On Friday evening Mr. Jennings, aged 60, a grocer, living in Edward-road, Clarendon Park, was admitted to the Infirmary, suffering from injuries to his head, sustained by falling out of a cart.  He lies in a somewhat precarious position.

More Clarendon Park Fallen

Last year I published the details of the war memorials at St John the Baptist church.  Because of the way that parish boundaries are and were set, not all of the Clarendon Park fallen are remembered at St John’s.  I would like to remember three brothers who died during the Great War, Harold and Arthur Bree, and their older brother Ernest Harry, who survived.

You might remember their mother, Eliza Bree, from an article I posted right at the beginning of this blogging lark – here.  Mrs Bree lived in Avenue Road Extension and in 1898 got into a bit of bother with her drunken boarder.  Eliza and her husband Harry had a large-ish family – Emma b1878, Ernest Harry b1887, Sydney John (1890-1), Harold b1892, Arthur Edward b1896, Oliver b1898, Doris May (b1904), Ivy Helen (b1907), as well as several others who died in infancy.

At the outbreak of the war, Ernest Harry, a railway goods porter, joined the Leicestershire Regiment as a private (nos 2046, 200223), fought in France and lived to tell the tale.  He died in Coalville in 1965.

Harold Bree enjoyed – if that is the right word – a varied career in the Army Service Corps and the Royal Engineers.  At the time of his death on 2nd May 1918 he was a Sapper in the Royal Engineers (Railway Traffic Establishment), perhaps due to skills picked up from his railway porter father and brother (Harold himself was a butcher before the war).  He died in England and was buried at Welford Rd Cemetery in consecrated ground, alongside fellow casualties Private Vivian Harry Ringrose and Private William George Grewcock.

Grave of Sapper Harold Bree, at Welfrod Road cemetery

Arthur Edward Bree, also a railway porter, joined up as a Private in the 4th bttn  Worcs Regiment and died on 16th Aug 1917, during the 3rd battle of Ypres.  His body was never found and he is remembered at Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium to the missing in Belgian Flanders.

Younger brother Oliver died six days later, as a Private in the Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment), having transferred from the Leicestershire Regiment.  He was just 19.   He is buried in Potijze Chateau Grounds Cemetery, Western Flanders.

Sadly none of the service records for the Bree brothers survive, being amongst those water damaged and lost during the second world war, which is such a pity as it seems that almost all we know of these young men is that they lived and died.  And what of Harry and Eliza Bree?  How awful for them to have lost three of their four surviving sons to the slaughter.

Thank you to David Roberts for telling me about the Bree brothers some months ago, and to the volunteers at Welford Road Cemetery visitors centre, who were so helpful in showing me where Harold Bree is buried.  It was good to visit his grave and see the poppy placed there by the volunteers.  Elizabeth

The Disappointing Holiday of Hannah Vice

I love this postcard of St Michael’s Mount, Penzance, which was posted to Mrs W J Vice of 222 Clarendon Park Road.  Not because of the picture, but because of the message from Hannah expressing her very English dissatisfaction with her holiday.  Listen to this:

The weather is just as dull as it was at home.  Not much sea and rather a dirty brown.  Did you come here as well as Swansea?  I forget!  There are some nice public gardens but small.  Went to the Baptist Chapel twice yesterday.  Yours with love Hannah.  Penlee Villa, Redinnick,  Penzance.

Poor Hannah!  I’ve been to Penzance once and it was lovely, although the sun was shining and I’ve never been a fan of large public gardens.

Mrs W T Vice was Mary Eliza Vice  (also nee Vice, 1857-1927), wife of William Thomas Vice (1862-1942), originally a corn miller from Blaby but by 1911 manager of flour mills for a biscuit manufacturer.  They had several children: Samuel (1886), Dorothy Martha (1888-1954), Gladys Mary (1890), Hilda Geraldine (1894-1931), and Marjory (1893) who died in infanthood.  All except Dorothy lived at 222 Clarendon Park Road in 1911.  I have no evidence for this, but suspect that the Hannah of rubbish holiday fame was William’s unmarried sister Hannah Eliza Ann Vice (1854-1928).  Virtually all the Vice girls – no pun intended – remained unmarried, and almost the whole Vice family returned to their native Blaby to be buried in the cemetery.

222 Clarendon Park Road - I've often admired this house

It’s a pity Hannah didn’t enjoy her holiday more because it was probably the last one she took for a long time.  The postcard was sent on 1st September 1913, not long before the onset of World War.  My mother in law is off to Penzance in a few weeks – here’s wishing her blue skies and a sparkling sea.  Regards, Elizabeth.

Experienced waiter of Avenue Rd Extension

The Times 25th July 1891, p16

“WAITER, Coffee, Sitting Room, or otherwise.  Thoroughly experienced.  English.  Age 23. – E.L. 241 Avenue-road Extension, Clarendon Park, Leicester.”

This advertisement is so interesting to me.  It typifies us so many things about Victorian Clarendon Park life.

Number 241 Avenue Road Extension was a shop.  In 1891 it was occupied by John and Elizabeth Clayton (and her mother), who also kept boarders.  Census night was 5th April 1891 and E.L., whoever he was, had presumably found a job and moved out.  He was almost certainly a boarder rather than a family member (Elizabeth’s maiden name was Rawlins).  There was a surprising amount of mobility in and out of Clarendon Park, and also within it – a bit like the student population today I suppose.  Boarders were particularly likely to move frequently, in search of better landlords or a more convenient location.

As to  E.L. – well, I have found in 1891 a waiter by the name of Emanuel Leiter, aged 23, in an hotel run by Emily Cunningham at 51 New Bond Street, Mayfair.  He was born in Switzerland, so he may not be the same person.  Then again, he may be – people weren’t always entirely honest about their age and minor details like their nationality in these adverts.  They knew that employers were prejudiced against foreigners and those they felt too old or too young for the job (especially domestic service).  E.L. may not even have been his real initials:  People sometimes changed their names to more ‘suitable’ ones for their profession, again especially in domestic service.  It has to be said that Emanuel isn’t a very Victorian Clarendon Park name – I was expecting something more prosaic like Edward or perhaps Ernest.

I tried to take a photo of 141 Avenue Road Extension but once again I CAN’T FIND IT.  Is the extension some kind of Bermuda Triangle?  If anyone feels like looking for it, or even showing me how the numbering system works on that godforsaken road, I would be only too grateful.  In the meantime, regards Elizabeth.