A Brief History Of The Site And The Owners Of The House

The land on which the Victorian-Annexe stands is traditionally within the parish of Weston. The first records of the area show that in 946, Edward, King of the English and grandson of Alfred the Great granted lands to his “faithful minister Aethelare”. The land remained solely agricultural until the late eighteenth century.

The main house was believed to have been constructed in 1772 by Governor John Zephaniah Holwell, survivor of and author of the account of the Black Hole of Calcutta. The Harcourt Masters Turnpike map of 1776 clearly shows the land as belonging to Governor Holwell and, with Turnpike Maps being important legal documents, it is unlikely to be in error. Holwell sold the house to William Tickell, the Bath surgeon. There are alternative theories about the first owner. Some believe it to have been Richard Tickell (1751 – 1793) the English playwright and satirist, friend of Sheridan and husband of Mary Linley, one of the Linley sisters and member of the famous musical Linley family.

Very little evidence exists as to when Holwell sold to William Tickell. The latter was a well known surgeon in Bath. It was he who treated the badly wounded Sheridan after a dual over the affections of Elizabeth Linley, sister of Mary. However, it seems almost certain that Beaulieu remained in the family for some time as the next recorded owner was Theodore Tickell, noted as the owner and occupier in the Rent Charges for 1849.

It is not known when Theodore Tickell sold the property but an indenture is referred to in a contract of 1885 which points to a Charles Lucas having purchased the property in 1869 from William Murray Clapp and Thomas Clapp.

The 1885 contract was made on 3rd November of that year and records that the house, coach house stable, gardeners cottage, and several pieces or parcels of garden ground and pasture land were purchased for the sum of £3,000 by Alexander Hill Gray of East Ferry, Dunkeld.

Gray settled in Bath, it is said, prolonged travels to Africa and the Malay Archipeligo.

In Gray’s book Sixty Years Ago –

Wanderings of a Stoneyhurst Boy in Many Lands, published in 1925 he writes: Repeated visits to England and Irish gardens had convinced me that a more southern climate would prove beneficial to rose-growing in general and to Tea-roses. I decided therefore to exchange the romantic land of my forefathers and the rugged climate of Scotland for that of the southern part of England, preferring the neighbourhood of Bath for this reason.

Selecting a beautiful site with sloping ground with a south-westerly exposure, I employed well on to 100 men to convert the same into terraces, these terraces being supported by high walls which I found to be best adapted for climbing varieties of roses more especially. Experience in the first few years proved to me also that virgin soil was second-to-none and I have never seen, before or since, Marechal Neil more at home than on these walls.

To the Teas of course I gave my very best attention, and with the help of Alfred Young, who has been my faithful gardener for over 40 years, I am indebted…. having carried off the Tea-rose Trophy for Amateurs 14 times in the National Rose Society’s Show in London, previous to the Great War.

An article in the Bath and County Graphic of 1899, with accompanying photographs, shows the terraces filled with, it is said, 10,000 roses.

As you walk along the terraces, the air is laden with the perfumes of Araby and the eye delighted with the endless succession and gradations of colour and tints.

An amateur grower, he nevertheless was a very well known for his skill, as can be gauged from his many prizes, and in 1894 he bred the climbing rose ‘Alister Stella Grey’ still sold today by the country’s foremost rose growers.

It is not wholly clear from the article and his writings whether the terraces were there when he arrived and from the photographs it is not clear. It seems certain, and maps attest to this, that those immediately in front of the house and those supporting the driveway in from the west would have existed. The virgin soil to which Gray refers was brought up to the site up Newbridge Hill, with thousands upon thousands of carts bringing in the costly material.

Gray died on 21st August 1927 but had appointed trustees who, it would appear did not sell the property until 22nd September 1939. The purchaser, Mrs Dorothy Dunn, seems to have paid just £1,020.00, possibly a reflection that war had broken out or of the rising costs associated with large houses. That said, the property was sold off just three years later on 28th October 1942, to John Boucher Milburn, of Victoria Nurseries, Weston Road, Bath for £1,775.00. Boucher Milburn’s address may indicate that he was mostly interested in the property for its terraced grounds, the aspect and the plant growing potential. Certainly the aerial photographs taken by the RAF in 1945 and 1947, show a very well tended and cultivated site with neat rows of plants and trees throughout the grounds. He did not purchase the gardeners cottage and a small amount of ground near it which were sold instead to Cyril Howe. 

This sale to Cyril Howe was the start of the breaking-up of the grounds for on 20th September 1949, Boucher Milburn sold the house, the coach house stables, two acres of ground and a right of way to the house (as it exists today) to James Frederick Weber and Edith Mary Eliza Sargeant. They, in turn, sold the property to Denzil Clarence Lincoln and Claude Joseph Lincoln who held it until 1991.

The gardens once extended as far as the river and therefore pleasure seekers would have been able to walk through terraced gardens, enjoy boating and take refreshments on the terraces or in the house. A number of tracks run down to the river. An illustration dated 1830, clearly shows the house, as seen from the New Bridge, and the tall slender trees which were, no doubt, part of a planting scheme for the garden. From the aerial photograph of 1982, copy attached, it is clear that the land had become severely overgrown. Neither the garden pavilion nor any of the retaining walls to the east are visible.

The current owners are a family of 4 that are gradually trying to halt and revert the inattention that is evident in the garden today. Fortunately, all enjoy spending time outdoors and the war to tame the 1.5 acre garden is being won albeit slowly. Minor successes include raspberries, potatoes, veggies and more recently some rare breed pigs.

Victorian Annexe / Extension

A two storey extension was added to the west end of the property at some time between 1846 and 1884. It is likely that this annexe was used as servant’s quarters. Servants’ quarters are those parts of a building, traditionally in a private house, which contain the staff accommodation. From the late 17th century until the early 20th century they were a common feature in many large houses. Sometimes they are an integral part of a smaller house. However, in the country where there is more space, the more practical solution was to build a specific wing onto the house for the staff. This arrangement for housing servants persisted in the affluent town houses of Britain into the late 19th century.

Victorian households built up their staffs of domestic servants in accordance with a well-understood pattern: this was based on a natural and logical progression from general functions to more specialized ones, heavily reinforced by an outpouring of literature and advice on domestic economy and household management. Domestic help began with a daily girl or charwoman. The first living-in servant would be a ‘general’ maid-of-all-work, almost always a young girl often of only thirteen or fourteen: the next addition a house-maid or a nurse-maid, depending on the more urgent needs at the time. The third servant would be the cook, and these three — either cook, parlour-maid and house-maid, or cook, house-maid and nurse-maid — then formed a group which could minimally minister to all the requirements of gentility. The Victorian Annexe would have been able to accommodate 3 female servants.

It is most likely that the downstairs of the Victorian Annexe, with its own entrance formed the ‘servant’s hall’ The servant’s hall was a common room where the work staff congregated, ate their meals, performed small but essential tasks, like mending, darning, polishing, etc. A long table was its main feature, as well as windows that would let in enough light for the tasks that needed to be accomplished. The servants would regard the hall as their living room, for they ate their meals there and congregated in the hall for the evening.

Originally access to the upstairs would have been through the Kitchen to the staircase that led to the 1st floor of the main property and through to the first floor of the Annexe. There is no visible evidence that the upstairs of the Annexe was partitioned into separate bedrooms.