Friday 12 May 2023

Friday roundup and a new-to-me book


Having delved very deeply into the Plymouth of the 1820s onwards last week, I just couldn't resist this book which has great illustrations, and has shown me what it was like for my 3 x g. grandparents etc living there.  At £5.99 including postage, it didn't exactly break the bank either.

This is Pin(s) Lane.  I just adore those two little cottages on the end.  Long ago demolished because they were doubtless barely habitable inside, they just have such character and would have been known to my folks.  Victorian historian Richard Nosworthy Worth wrote, in 1890,  "the most interesting domestic buildings still left in Plymouth are in Pins Lane".  He described these as having the only surviving example in the town of what he called the "ancient arrangement of cellar and solar", 'the cellar here being accessed through the door at street level and the solar being a reference to the upper room.'

'High Street was one of the three principal streets of the mediaeval town of Sutton, as Plymouth was once known.  The Market cross was believed to have stood at the top, and every Thursday market stalls were set up and trading took place.  The cross would have been erected sometime after 27th January 1254, which is when Henry III signed a grant, allowing Sutton to hold a market.'  Some of my relatives were there for a time in the 1800s and very much so in Higher Street, which one one of Plymouth's older thoroughfares.  'It had grand old buildings, and it ran into Lower Street, which was narrower and horribly crowded - at one time over 500 people lived there in fewer than 30 houses!'

Another area where they lived was St Andrews, and this was one of the oldest streets in Old Plymouth.  Almost within living memory there were wonderful examples of Tudor and even more ancient buildings but of course  they were eventually deemed unsanitory and demolished.  Some on the other side of the road survived, including the Merchant's House, which I visited many many years ago on a coach trip.  I can remember, the higher you climbed in the house, the wonkier the  floors were - a game of marbles would have been quite out of the question!!

Most of my folk seemed to have lived in Old Town, when mentioned in censuses and voting lists. At one time the houses were all thatched, but this would have been mid-18th C.  At one time just one long street with no side streets, it began to change early in the 19th C, when a Market was added, and then other side roads.

This lovely building was in Catherine Street and was completed in 1630 and originally was to help house the industrious poor - a sort of workhouse.  "Setting the poore on worke".  It developed over the centuries into a "convenient Almshouse" or "Hospital of Orphans."   It eventually ended up as a "nest of vagabonds"! and is now beneath the New Guildhall and Municipal buildings.

Sadly, the ancient houses which weren't knocked down in the way of progress, were lost to Enemy bombing in WWII. (Southampton city centre suffered similarly - both were important ports).

Anyway, I am almost back to normal now, and hoping that Keith won't be very bad with this.  He is walking a little better today but his medication doesn't work as it should because of the illness and his legs have been in spasm today.  Anyway, at least he has an appetite - I lost mine completely for several days.  I am going to tuck him up in front of the tv and escape for 2 hrs to go to a talk given by the local Heritage Society.  I need to have some "me time".

More work in the garden today, and progress is being made with the weeds.  I've done about 15 feet along the base of the stone wall which is beside the pond and supports the path around it.  Hoiking out grass, moss, lots of dead beech leaves and spent beech mast, broken beech twigs and ivy.  Tomorrow I must plant the plants I have bought recently and carry on with putting the contents of one side of the big wooden compost containers as a base for my first raised bed.

Have a good weekend all.


  1. What great illustrations in that book, and what a great purchase at such an inexpensive price.

    God bless.

  2. That book is perfect for you with your family connections to the city from long ago. I bought some plants today too, that need planting. One is a blueberry bush, that makes 4 that I have.

  3. The book is charmingly illustrated. For most of my childhood we spent two weeks every summer holiday staying with my dad’s naval friends who lived in one of the gate houses to Saltram and so Plymouth in the 60s and 70s was a familiar city. Once we even brought home a kitten who we called Mabel after the Mayflower ship. We have a funeral to attend in Chichester this morning and another next Thursday, that will be three funerals for me this year. Two friends have been widowed this year which reminds me how important it is to make the most of life with our best beloveds. Yesterday we went to Littlehampton, called Little Hampton by sailors and fishermen to distinguish it from the much bigger port at South Hampton. As a Southampton lass you probably already knew that! We visited the town museum housed in the Regency-built Manor House, so much of interest - I love museums like this and afterwards we had a coffee sitting on the beach, visited the Lifeboat station, bought a still warm freshly cooked crab for our supper (had fun picking all the meat out and ate it with salad leaves and asparagus from the garden - it was delicious) and a tin of Slazenger tennis balls from the sports shop so now we have no excuse but to resume playing tennis together again! I dashed into work in the afternoon relieving my friend who spent her afternoon working in the Petworth Cottage Museum which is as it was in 1910 when it was lived in by one of the retired seamstresses of Petworth House. Will be dashing into the bookshop again this afternoon and tomorrow I will be in the garden all day - there are strawberries to straw down, tomatoes and chillies to plant in the greenhouse border, clematis to tie-in, hellebores to deadhead, peonies to stake, potatoes to earth up, meadow and garden paths to mow and lots more no doubt. But I mix the jobs up and never spend more than 30 mins doing any one thing. Hope you have a lovely sunshiney weekend BB. Sarah x

  4. You are not only bringing your ancestors back by digging around to find the stories of their lives, you are digging around and finding the setting they belonged in. Way to flesh out a story!