I call it my Gran’s house, but of course, “Holywell” was my grandparent’s home. They moved there in 1932 when my father was eleven years old and his brothers were aged seventeen and fifteen and the house stayed in the family through the death of my grandfather in 1954 leaving my grandmother to live alone until her passing in September 1975. It’s a large, four bedroomed, semi-detached house sitting on a substantial plot of land which was a bit of an adventure playground for the grand children in the 1950s and 60s. As I lived just five houses away we were regular visitors and the house was a familiar part of my growing up and remembered with much nostalgia.
I have recently had an opportunity to inspect the deeds of the property so thought it might be interesting, to my family at least, to outline the history of the property and its various owners through the last hundred or more years. A lot of the records are written in typical legal jargon and take some interpreting, but after sifting through the documents believe this to be a fairly accurate but very brief history, although one or two details are rather sketchy.
It would seem that the original 99-years lease of the land on which the pair of semi-detached houses was to be built was signed on 29th September 1912, the land owned at the time by a long record of entitlement by Charles Price Davis and Bertrand John Price Roberts. It would appear the house took fifteen months to complete as the next record shows a lease agreement signed on 5th December 1913 when William Samuel Howell purchased the property. At this time the house was on a smaller piece of land than it is at present. Mr Howell kept the house for a very short period and on 2nd March 1914 it passed to Mr Vaughan Bowen and then again on 27th November 1916 to Mrs Margaret Isabella Langdon. It is during her tenure that further land (coloured blue) was added to the lease, the lower garden and land to the side on which was constructed a wooden garage. On 31st March 1924 Annie Morse Evans of Pontypridd purchased the property and on her death on 15th July 1932 the property fell to her trustees Trevor Morse Evans of Winchcombe, Alfred Miles of Avonwick, Devon, and Gwilym Bradford Williams of Pontypridd. It is somewhere around this time in 1932 my grandparents Lilian and Wilfrid Stokes moved into the house, although initially renting and not purchasing.
On 25th May 1948 the house was finally purchased by my grandparents, taking out a mortgage of £1500, at the time my grandfather was 62 years of age and my grandmother was two years younger. A further agreement was signed on 15th July 1948 when my grandfather paid an additional £190 to purchase the freehold of the property. On the death of my grandfather, my grandmother inherited “Holywell”, passing to her ownership on 23rd April 1954. My grandfather died when I was five so don’t really remember him at all, but as a child growing up in that era the house has many happy memories and my cousins, some of whom lived on the other side of the world, also recall many happy times spent at Gran’s.
When my parents were married in 1948 their first home was in “Holywell”, in unused rooms at the rear of the upstairs they had a bedroom and a small general purpose room. When I came along in 1949 it must have been a bit of a squeeze in those two rooms but my parents managed and in 1952 my brother arrived and was actually born in the back bedroom, he has the distinction of being the only member of the family to have been born in that house. I spent almost the first six years of my life in the house and early in 1955 when my brother was 2½ we moved to our own house about a quarter of a mile away.
When my grandmother Lilian passed away on 9th September 1975 it was over two years before the house was sold on 20th October 1977, I’m not really sure why it would have taken so long, but as the Executor, my uncle, lived in Australia perhaps that may have been the reason for a delay in selling. The purchasers, Mr and Mrs E******, lived in the house until 1989 and it was during their ownership some changes were made to the interior, the kitchen and pantry areas were modernised and a fully glazed double-doorway between the front room and the dining room was opened up. The rest of the house remained much as it was when my grandparents lived there.
On the 17th April 1989 the house changed hands once again, this time it was not placed on the open market but sold via a private arrangement to Mr and Mrs A********* who were business people in the town. During their ownership they removed the sectional garage my father and uncle had built in the late 1960s and integrated a new garage and workshop on the side of the house, removing the gated access which had formerly run down the side of the house to the rear garden. They also updated the kitchen and altered the layout of the bathroom. After living in the house for twenty-six years and now wishing to downsize, the house was put on the market a few months ago in 2015.
For some while my niece and her husband have been looking for a larger house, with a young daughter and a largish border collie they have outgrown their current home. After visiting very many properties in the vicinity, and after losing one which was very desirable, “Holywell” came onto the market. Within hours of it appearing on the agent’s web site a viewing had been arranged and I was invited to view the house with them. To cut a long story short, they fell in love with it and moved in on 4th December 2015; “Holywell” is now back in the family, my Gran’s great-granddaughter and husband and great-great-granddaughter now very happy in their gorgeous new home.