Addendum: Bridget Downer’s comments (1994)

Flat 1, Holly House,
Canonbury, Kingsland
Shrewsbury, SY3 7AG

10th Nov 1994

Dear Mrs Straughan,

Congratulations on your History of Kingsland! I was nearly late for our concert last night as I got reading it, and became so absorbed. Can I add a few more interesting bits in case you ever want to revise it.

BEEHIVE LANE was always known by the locals as Madeira Walk as it was such a pleasant sunny trot for convalescents. It was always properly Beehive Lane I suppose, but only got known as such in the 1950s when Burr’s Lane got called Kingsland Road by the Borough, after a lot of opposition by the local residents. As you say, the road names were changed in 1936, before that they were always Upper Rd and Lower Rd, and the new names took some while to be accepted.

Did you know that plots 24, 25 and 26 where the tennis courts now are, were left vacant because there was talk of building a church on them. Kingsland was officially in Meole Parish, but it was felt that it was a long way from the [Meole] church, and St Chad’s did not want to take it over because in those days Meole was in the Hereford diocese while St Chad’s was in the Lichfield diocese.

With regard to Severn Hill (Page 14), the Rev James Craig moved there in 1822 from Pyms House,Wem. His twins Anne Ellen and Robert Wallace were born on 11.4.1821 at Pyms House, and the next child Mary Anne was born on 13.9.1823 at Severn Hill. [Anne Ellen died as an infant hence the second Anne]. All this is recorded by Rev James [Craig] in the family bible.

Incidentally the Rev James [Craig] was born in 1767 not 1867. The [Craigs] were of course Presbyterians, having been brought up and ordained in the Church of Scotland, that is why they were buried in the Chapel graveyard on Swan Hill (which in those days was a Presbyterian church). The younger generation gradually slipped into the C of E during the nineteenth century as they got married. Unfortunately, he does not state if he was the first occupier of Severn Hill, but from my recollection of the house before it was altered it was more “Georgian” than “Victorian”. Pyms House would appear to be even older, I would have thought “Queen Anne”. It is still there, just outside Wem on the road to Loppington.

Page 18. I don’t think there was ever a footbridge on Canonbury, it was always the Stone Bridge over the cutting (which was made when Kingsland Bridge Road [itself] was made. Before that, Canonbury was just an ordinary hill sloping down to Kingsland Bank House/Cann Office.

I wish I knew more about Ferrington’s School, and now anyone who would know is no longer with us.

Holly House must have ceased to be the High School Boarding House during the First World War, because Judge Litt lived there during the latter part of the war years. His widow lived to be 99 and was a neighbour of my sister in Victoria. B.C., Canada. She and Mrs Neave (your predecessor at St Milburgha’s) were for several years the oldest OLD GIRLS of Shrewsbury High School, having been pupils there when it was [still] in Clive House College Hill.

Cyngfeld. After the 14-18 War, the Boarding House moved to Cyngfeld (which was an Auxiliary Hospital during the war, the Peeles having moved to their house on Dogpole (where their offices were). Cyngfeld remained the Boarding House till the late 1940s when the RSI bought it as a Nurses Home for the staff at Copthorne [Hospital] which they had taken over from the American Army (who built the hutted hospital now known as Copthorne South).

The Junior House of the [Girls] High School did not move to Kingsland till the 1960s [I could get the exact date from the school secretary]. Up till then the Cock family had been in continuous residence from the time Ridgebourne was built, three generations.

Page 21. Cholera Burials. These are under what is now the Masters Garden outside the chapel commemorating the masters killed in the 14-18 War.

1853 [When the] Asylum closed, the patients were presumably moved to Shelton which was opened in 1848.

The Schools (Quarry) Ferry continued till the ferry man “Jack” went to do war service. I seem to remember it was still operating while the “Chelts” were evacuated to the Schools (1939-45).

Page 22. “The Withersage” must be a modern name for the house and I can’t remember what it was previously. Hugh Morgan (son of G.H.) lived there until he became a “country gentleman” and moved out to Pulverbatch in the 1930s. He would not be there in 1918, because he was in France. His sisters both married men called Paton (father and son) and lived up at Mayfield off the London Rd. (Its
grounds are now a rather superior housing estate and the playing fields for the SCAT) “Red Roofs”

Page 24, Kennedy Rd – Rhadley was so called because it was the home of Mrs Jasper More and her daughter, widow of Jasper More of More near Bishops Castle. (Black Rhadley is the name of the hill adjoining the Stiperstones at the More end of the range).

Kennedy House is a horrible pretentious name given by the Machins to number 2. It was Durnovaria when occupied by the Locks (who came from Dorset), and then Branthwaite when occupied by Mr Moser and his sister (who came from the Lake District). The Locks sold it to the Mosers when Mr Moser retired and moved to “Kingsland Court” another “outsider”. The rest of us always still call No
26, “Durnovaria”.

No 10 was always MARY COURT not Merrycourt.

No 11 Abbotsford – I think you are correct that Naughton is a misspelling. Mr Naunton was the proprietor of Adnitt and Nauntons (the printers in the Square), and as a child I remember a Miss Adnitt and a Miss Naunton living at Ivy House [both] elderly spinsters. Mr and Mrs Phillips lived at Abbotsford [he had the grocers business in Mardol].

No 13 Radfield was occupied by one of the masters, Mr Moxon and family, and then by the Hinton family who moved there from Colkirk next door.

No 15 Colkirk was NEVER a nursery school until after 1954. It was the home of the Town Clerk, Mr Prideaux. It only became a nursery school when the Bevans moved there after Mr Prideaux died.

No 17 Whyteways was built for the Rev W. S. Ingrams (note the “S”). He was the grandfather of Richard Ingrams of “Private Eye” fame. The Ingram without an “S” was Major Ingram who has a school boarding house named after him.

No 19 Edgehill was the last house to be built on the estate until the disastrous in-filling at Lauriston and the Burgage (which ought never to have been allowed). The land was left vacant for so long because it was said to [be] unstable and literally too near the edge. Some people called Kitterrmaster lived there first, and then the Bruckshaws. He was the works manager at the Chatwood Safe works in Harlescott Lane.

No 14 The Gables was always occupied by retired masters till the Simpsons moved there in the 1950s.

First Mr Chance, then Freddie Prior and finally one of the Sandfords, (and I think I have left out Canon Sawyer between Chance and Prior)!

Nos. 18 and 19 Chessington and Beech Hill were originally identical, but Grandpa Craig (Robert Alexander, grandson of Rev James) “improved” Beech Hill by having a bay window on the first floor and over the porch. He also had a back kitchen built with an extra bedroom and bathroom at the back of the house. From my recollection, the two houses took in two and a half plots, and that is why Westholme was built right up against our garden and why there is not a No. 24. There was always some discrepancy over the Ground Rent! R.A. Craig bought the house from the Thornes in 1894 when he married, and I think after Mrs Jenkins died he bought Chessington as well. His brother and sister (Col J. Craig and Miss Louisa Craig) lived there from 1916 to 1923. The two gardens were used by both households, as there was a large vegetable garden at the back of Chessington which fed both after Edgehill was built. Before that, Beech Hill had a vegetable patch on the opposite side of the road. I don’t know why the Jenkins are said to be living at Beech Hill in 1899, because my mother was bom in the house in 1896! After Aunt Louie died a family called McCarthy lived there, he was the School Chaplain and later Master of Balliol College in Oxford (McCarthy Willis Bund). Following him, [was] a retired Dr Davies and family. We lived at Beech Hill till my mother died in 1962 when the present owner turned it into flats.

No 31. Ebor House Miss Ebrall lived there till the 1939 war, when some evacuees called Greenwood bought it. Latterly, as you say it became the Chief Constable’s [Fenwick] residence.

No 32. Brereton. This was [previously] known as “Eversley”and had a succession of masters before the war (1939) when a family called Seth Smith lived there (they were “in-laws” of Mr Hill, one of the masters). After him, [the house was occupied by] a family called Rutter, and then the [by] Ravens.

No 23 Brookfield properly “Evergreen” [The name] “Brookfield” is a newcomer.

“The Fields” opposite the Beehive was occupied by Mrs Little and Miss Cooper (proprietors of the shoe shop in Market Street).

Page 25 mis-spelling – Mr HAYDON (not Hayden) lived at Ivy House and I think his [forename] was William, not Walter. [Walter Dodworth HAYDON in Census] He was always known as “Billy” Haydon.

Page 47 Edward Oliver I think lived in the house by the bypass on Porthill. There is a lovely photo of him with Rev Alington and Rev Sawyer called the Three Headmasters. He was the Clerk of Works at the Schools (reproduced in Basil Oldhams book “History of Shrewsbury School”). The house is now 99 Port Hill. When I was a child there was a field path across to the Montgomery Road where the bypass is now, from the end of Kingsland Lane (Roman Road) There was also a field path from the end of Kennedy Road (where Ridgebourne Road now is) which came out in the dip by the Radbrook a bit lower than the present end of Ridgebourne Road.

[Incidentally] – on your front plan of Kingsland it says “gate leading to Bank Farm” but it didn’t, because of the brook!

There was yet another Craig at “Lauriston”, [thus], Mrs Edward CORSER was [born] Elizabeth [Dixon] Craig, sister of my grandfather. [Great Aunt Elizabeth married Edward George Sandford CORSER, solicitor, in 1881].

Anyway a great piece of work which I shall keep with much pleasure.

Bridget C Downer



Miss Bridget Craig DOWNER (b. Atcham, 1924-d. Shrewsbury, 2013), was the eldest daughter of Reginald L. E. DOWNER (1884-1937) & Eileen M. CRAIG (1895-d. Shrewsbury 1962). Through her family connections over many generations, and through herself living on Kingsland for many years (latterly in Holly House), Bridget DOWNER had an extensive knowledge of Kingsland history and its residents. Her maternal grandparents were Robert Alexander CRAIG (1852-1920), a Shrewsbury solicitor, and Amy Maud DIXON (1866-1945) who were living at Beech Hill, Kingsland in 1911, and she was still there when she died in 1945). They apparently also owned Beech House and Chessington on Kingsland. R. A. Craig’s Probate showed effects of £31,251 9s 5d.

Bridget Downer’s maternal great-grandparents were Alexander Samuel CRAIG (1820-1884) of 25, The Crescent (another Shrewsbury solicitor) & his first wife, Sarah DIXON (ca. 1782-1830). Miss Downer’s maternal great-great-grandparents were the Rev James CRAIG (1761 or 1767 – 1845) [initially of Dalserf, Lanarkshire, later of Wem, Shropshire, and later of Severn Hill House, Kingsland] and his first wife Sarah DIXON of Atcham Grange, Shropshire.

The exact birth year of the Rev. James CRAIG is uncertain. Thus, while the usual belief was that he was born in 1767, the Non-Conformist record for his burial in November 1845 shows his then age as 84 [i.e. born 1761]. More recent research on Probate Records shows the Rev James to be the son of an Alexander CRAIG and brother to James, John and Jannette.

The Rev James Craig was appointed to his living at Dalserf, Lanarkshire, Scotland in 1805. He resigned in 1816 and 2 years later in 1818, he received a generous legacy of £5,000 legacy following the death of his uncle James Craig, Esq of Claremont Hill, Shrewsbury. The Rev James CRAIG’s may have inherited even more wealth in 1823 when his brother John CRAIG (1781-1823) died, and the Rev James became residuary legatee of half of the real and personal estate of their deceased Uncle.

Pigot’s Directory of 1827 shows the Rev James at Severn Hill House, but the exact date at which he moved there from Wem is not known. Presumably, it was this inherited wealth that allowed the Rev James to provide mortgages for land in Ryton, Condover and in Abbey Foregate. The 1844 Tithe Map for Kingsland (Meole Parish) shows him as owner & occupier of a House and gardens (446) & the adjacent fields (445 & 447).

When the Rev James CRAIG died in 1846, his Probate showed he also owned 14⅟2 acres of land in Swan Hill, as well as property in Dumfries.

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