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South Parade and The Bath Hotel (later Imperial, now Olea)
published by Honey Langcaster-James on Mon, 08/06/2020 - 9:59

Hi everyone, 

I am researching South Parade in Weston-super-Mare at the moment. Several of my ancestors lived and owned property there in the early 1800s. 

I have found this lovely old photograph and thanks to Pat, I have the Tithe map. I don't know much about architecture or historic dating, but I'm trying to establish in what order these buildings were built. Shown on the left is Myrtle Cottage (demolished in around 1860 to make way for the bank). Then Bath Hotel, and then properties on South Parade. The numbering of the properties appears to go from right to left here, with Myrtle Cottage having been at 8 South Parade I believe. 

Does anyone know if that would indicate that the properties on the right were built first? And then the Hotel and then Myrtle Cottage? Or does the architecture and style of these buildings suggest that Myrtle Cottage was built first, then the Hotel added next to that, and then the terraced properties later? I'd be very grateful for anyone's thoughts and ideas on this.

I would also love some help in interpreting the Tithe Map a bit more. Are the darker black lines the outlines of the buildings? If so, it would seem that Myrtle 'Cottage' at 440 on the map was a substantial building? Bigger in square footage than the hotel next door? I have an electoral register which says Richard Fry owned properties at numbers 5 and 8 in South Parade. This would suggest that number 5 was at 436 on this map and number 8 was both Bath Hotel and Myrtle Cottage? Anyone know if this would have been how they'd be organised? 

Finally, I am no botanist, but I note from the photo that the properties Richard Fry owned all seem to have a great deal of greenery, and with the name Myrtle Cottage, does anyone recognise whether these are Myrtle bushes/trees?

Thank you in advance for any thoughts you may have on any of this!

 

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Comments ..


Submitted by gricharduk on Tue, 16/06/2020 - 18:13

Hi,

Page 3 of the Weston-super-Mare Gazette, and General Advertiser, for Saturday 14 June 1845 ("A fortnight in Weston"), has a nice 'walkthrough' of South Parade (and other streets). I am not sure of the ages, however, I would say the ages go from left to right - left (Myrtle) being the oldest for the following reasons:

Myrtle Cottage - "Has a profusion of evergreens and myrtles in front, with vine and pears trees covering their walls". The paper goes on to say it was an old church.

The Hotel is named "Bath Hotel" and looks more modern.

The row of houses look the newest  - The paper calls the first house Weston Bazaar and that it was converted into a business from a residence.

If you cannot find the article - I will download and send you a copy.

Best regards,

Richard

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Submitted by Honey Langcaster-James on Tue, 16/06/2020 - 23:08

Thank you so much for this Richard! This is all wonderful info! I'll see if I can find this article on the Newspaper archives :)

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Submitted by gricharduk on Wed, 17/06/2020 - 8:58

No problem ... although I am about to reverse my opinion :)

It looks like the row of houses were first built in 1813 (in that very report I mentioned before) - There are lots of reports in the newspapers of various people and their lives at that those houses from about 1815 onwards. The hotel looks to have been erected in 1836:

Page 4, Bristol Mercury - Saturday 20 August 1836

"BATH HOTEL, South Parade, Weston-super-Mare, Somersetshire. George Wookey has the honour of announcing to the Residents at the above much-frequented Watering Place, its Visitors, and the Public in general, that, since his recent removal from Reeve’s Hotel, he has established himself in very commodious Premises, recently erected on the South Parade by Mr. Richard Fry; (which have hitherto been Licensed as the Masons' Arms, but which, from, and after the 12 September next, will be known as the BATH HOTEL.) ..."

Page 2, Bristol Mirror - Saturday 19 July 1828)

This is interesting because a Reverend James Lynam has died and his house at No. 7 South Parade is being auctioned - it faces the "Hotel Field" and the auction was held at Reeve's Hotel (close by). I am wondering if this was converted into the Masons' Arms? It would also make sense because the Reverend James Lynam would be living next door to the "former church"

By that logic, the house numbering is 1 to 8 from right to left that photograph - The hotel being no. 7 and Myrtle Cottage being no. 8.

Have a look at https://maps.bristol.gov.uk/kyp/?edition=nsom to sort out land and premises layout - it is an excellent (free) mapping tool where you can compare tithe maps (and older) to all sorts of maps of different dates. You can also see another photograph of the Bath Hotel (and a few others on that street) if you turn on the community layer in information layers.

Apologies if you already know most of this - but you are right - it is very interesting!

Richard

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Submitted by Honey Langcaster-James on Wed, 17/06/2020 - 10:30

Wow this is fascinating and no I didn't know some of this! The announcement about the date The Mason's Arms became The Bath Hotel is brilliantly helpful! I'm intrigued as to how you found these and what search terms you used because I have a current month's subscription to British Newspaper Archives but I didn't find these when I searched. I must be doing something wrong? 

I have re-read the full "Fortnight in Weston" article you posted previously though and I think the "old church" bit is not actually saying that Myrtle Cottage was itself an old church. I think Richard FRY used some cornices and stone features from the old Weston Parish Church which was demolished in 1824 as features at his own property at Myrtle Cottage. The reason I think this is partly because I found a reference in an old document somewhere (which I can't immediately lay my hands on at the moment) which said that Richard FRY retrieved a load of old stone and carvings from the old church and had them piled up outside Myrtle Cottage for years, and also, his son-in-law Joseph JAMES, a local builder, also used some of these stone features in an external wall of a building he went on to live in called Victoria Cottage. This was the home of Richard FRY's only daughter Elizabeth JAMES (nee FRY). So I think what happened is that Richard FRY (who was a Church Warden at St John's Church in Weston on a number of occasions and therefore involved in the running of it) took some stone features and materials from the old parish church when it was demolished and used them in his own Cottage and gave some to his daughter and son-in-law. I think that must be what the reference to the Old Church means? 

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Submitted by Honey Langcaster-James on Wed, 17/06/2020 - 10:31

Just one other thought, I didn't realise that Mr George Wookey at one time ran Reeve's Hotel too! I don't think I've ever seen him listed as a previous manager of it before and I've done a fair bit of research on The Royal Hotel because Richard FRY ran it for several years and I think, invested in it when it was first built. 

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Submitted by gricharduk on Wed, 17/06/2020 - 10:51

Ah okay! My mistake - that makes complete sense given the author of the article talked about the church features rather than a church itself.

Searching ... to be honest, it was a simple keyword search but I do use "+" (plus) signs in my search so that every word has to appear on the same page to get a hit. So if you perform this search:

+"bath hotel" +"weston" +"south parade" (and also filter by Bristol as a city or region, as in my experience, you get better coverage of Somerset/Weston news for that period)

The only article that appears in that period (1800-1849), using that search, is that one I shared with you.

Best regards,

Richard

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Submitted by gricharduk on Wed, 17/06/2020 - 11:21

There is also an intriguing report on Page 1 of the Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser, Wednesday 10 August 1836, Column 1. Something about John Reeve being restored by law as the rightful owner of Reeve's Hotel. So perhaps George Wookey was kicked-out rather than just him "removing" himself?!! I was wondering if the Gazette or some other law books might report on the case/reasons?

Richard

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Submitted by Honey Langcaster-James on Wed, 17/06/2020 - 12:32

Hmmm This is very interesting! I have wanted to establish for quite some time the exact ownership records for The Royal Hotel (as far as I know originally The Hotel under management of SAWTELL and then becoming Fry's Hotel, then Reeve's Hotel, then later Royal Hotel). There are several books about Weston which state that the original investors who had the place built were PARSLEY, COX, CAPELL and FRY (who I'm assuming was Richard FRY my ancestor, who later took over the running of it). However, in some notes shown to me by other members of the society, completed by Brian Austin I think, there was some doubt as to whether Richard FRY had ever been an owner of a part share in it. I have been unable to find any primary sources of evidence to prove this. Though it seems odd that this is stated as fact by several books about the history of Weston if none exists. I certainly know that he ran it for a while as he kept an original copy of the newspaper in which he announces he took it over from 1818 and he then handed that down to family members. I just don't know whether he was one of the original investors. I suspect he was because I believe he was living in Clifton and running a Lodging House at the time the Hotel was built and as such, he'd have been the only one of the original four men who had any hospitality industry experience, the others being locals. As I live far from Weston I've been limited to research I've been able to do online or through books that I've ordered to be delivered. I do know that somehow, Richard FRY ended up owning both Myrtle Cottage and Bath Hotel, though Bath Hotel was managed by George Wookey and then his wife after he died. And I know that Richard FRY ran Myrtle Cottage as a Lodging House. The local curate FORSYTH stayed with the family at Myrtle Cottage for some time, and I am keen to find out whether any of his original letters have survived, as I know there was a "memoir" biography written about FORSYTH in which extracts of his many letters are quoted, but it's all religiously relevant comments rather than about his lodgings which has been included. There is much still to uncover about how Weston the tourist resort began I think and it all leads back to The Hotel and the properties in South Parade somehow!!

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Submitted by Honey Langcaster-James on Wed, 17/06/2020 - 12:35

P.S. If you look carefully at the photograph I posted above of The Bath Hotel, I believe you can see a pile of stone on the right opposite Myrtle Cottage. I believe this might have been the pile of old stone from the original parish church that I was talking about!

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