The history of the house on an English village green, continued: Poulshot and its brewers.

our house 1786

If you read my last post you will know where this journey began – in 1840, when our house and land were owned by a Reverend Hopkins.

img_4019The records office in Chippenham found a lot of documents about the property and the 165 acres of land that Rev. Hopkins had owned, and who the property and land had passed through after his death. But as I said last week, I was not interested in recent years I wanted to travel back in time with my house and the land it was built on as far as I could reach.

At the end of my first day searching through old records handing over mortgages, land and property leases, I came to the end of the pile of documents that the records office had identified for me. But in the last and oldest document, an Indenture dated in 1813, I found this…

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A record of the documents that showed who had owned the land and property all the way back to 1671. This document, show in the pictures above, was signed by Charles Tylee, and it names an Edward Gilbert as taking on the lease. An Edward Gilbert was also mentioned as leasing most of the land and one of the two homesteads and orchards in 1840.

At this point it was late on my first day in the records office, and when I spoke to staff they did a quick search for the documents listed in 1813 and could not find anything. It seemed as though my search had hit a dead end because without reading the listed documents I could not be sure that they actually included our house and/or land.

But I was not to be defeated. At home in the evening, I searched the online database for the records office to find the missing documents. I thought there was still a chance they might be somewhere in the records that were held there.

I found the first document, John Tylee’s will, buried in with other documents from his lifetime.

img_4108“Deeds from 1843 of a shop in the Market Place, Devizes (plan in 1877 deed), also relating from 1826 to property in New Park Street (plans in deeds). Marriage settlement of John Tylee of Devizes and Ann Reed of Romsey, Hampshire, relating to the house occupied by Tylee in St, Johns parish, Devizes, and Barley Hill house and land in Poulshot, 1773. Copy will of John Tylee 1809; schedule of deeds 1891; inventory of the contents of a house and work shop probably of Mrs Burt, 1915; Tylee, Crockett, Greenham, Burt, Clark.”

John Tylee’s land in Poulshot was listed as the first part of his holdings in his marriageimg_4120 settlement, but he also owned many inns and land in Devizes and the surrounding areas. All the records talk about tenants, showing that the property in Poulshot was leased, he never lived here himself. He lived in Devizes and his occupation is recorded as a brewer.

He owned even more land than Reverend Hopkins had because John Tylee also owned the land called Barley Hill and Home Close, and the buildings listed as being present in those areas. But for some reason these other areas of land in Poulshot were sold or passed on in 1798 to someone called Simpkins, who was given 1/13th of the holdings in Poulshot. But of course the title Barley Hill and his occupation, makes me wonder – Did he therefore own and lease the land to grow barley for brewing? I am not sure of that yet, although I think I can find out in the future, because the records office have an accounts book for John Tylee’s company that I hope will show the income for the lands and properties in Poulshot.

When John Tylee died, his will passed the land in Poulshot to his eldest son Charles Tylee, whose signature was on the document written in 1813. But, anyway, I am not working forward in time, I am working back.

The account book listed in the records is described “Private account book of J Gent of Gent and Tylee, brewers of Devizes”. It is for the period 1827-1829. Now here is another clue.  Obviously date wise this is later than 1802 that is when I had discovered Tylee’s purchase records. So I did not look at this book at the time, but it immediately told me that Gent and Tylee worked together, and the 1813 document showed that Gent had sold the houses and land in Poulshot to Tylee.

My record searches showed up lots of references to documents from the brewery business that Tylee and Gent ran together. “Gent, James, Common Brewers, Tylee, John, the younger Common Brewers, Tylee, Thomas Common Brewers”. But also the surname Rose appeared, and in the 1813 document it shows Charles Rose owning the land and property before Mr. Gent, and before Charles, his father John Rose. It turns out that they were also brewers. “Rose, Charles brewers and co-partners. Tylee, John brewers and co-partners,” was referenced in 1762.  The document referenced in 1813 shows that Charles Rose died in 1772, and passed the land and property in Poulshot on Mr. Gent.

Charles’s father’s will had left that land to him in 1740.


If you remember, last week I told you that the drawing at the very top of this post, captured the appearance of our house in 1786, so now I know that in that year the house was owned by the brewer, James Gent and his wife Mary, and would have been lived in by a tenant, as is recorded in John Rose’s will above, and in the Tylee records.

It is still clear even in these early documents, though, that there were two properties on this area of land, with gardens and orchards, as is shown in the 1837 map in my last post. But in 1740 John Rose’s will only speaks of one tenant, John Cook. In 1837 one property is leased with the orchard, separately to the property leased with the rest of the pasture land (that second property is called Manor Farm).  So did John cook lease the house we live in, and then sublet Manor Farm? That is also something I cannot yet explain.

When I finished my research in the records office on the Friday, I had caught the research bug. I came home with a desire to find out even more. I had raised more questions in my head than answers. So I began searching on line for other references that might tell me more. I came across this post on Devizes Brewers in the Devizes online history pages. It mentions Mr. Gent, Charles Rose and says that John Tylee was the nephew of Charles Rose.

There is still far more for me to tell, because this is not where my journey through time ended. But this post is getting a bit long so I will end this chapter by telling you something related to this, that is quite a twist of fate.

If you know Devizes, you will know that even today a brewery has pride of place in the centre of the town. Not only that, it is one of the only breweries that still delivers kegs by horse and cart, in Devizes town. Wadworths influence is so broad in Wiltshire, they call the area Wadworthshire. They took over the Tylee and Gent inns according to the Devizes blog post.

But that is not the twist of fate. The twist of fate is that even though the 165 acres that Rev. David Hopkins owned moved out of the hands of brewers after the last Mr. Tylee and Mr. Gent, a couple of generations later a director of Wadworths made his home in Poulshot.

Major John Bartholomew bought a house that had been built on one of the plots of the 165 acres, later he sold that house and bought the orchard that belonged to the house we live in. He built himself a house on that orchard land.

He also bought the plots of land behind the orchard that had once been part of the 165 acres, and then created a tradition in the village that lasted for years.

Every August, when the brewery shut down for a summer holiday, the shire horses would be brought down to the village from Devizes. They would have a pint at the pub and then they would walk down through the village and be let free to run in the fields behind our house.

I have no idea whether Major John Bartholomew, or as every one knew him ‘The Major’, knew that the land had previously been in the hands of brewers for generations. Sadly, I will never know, because he passed away not so long ago at the age of 95, but I think it is a lovely twist, whether he knew about it or not.

The horses drinking their beer in 2015 🙂 

The horses walking to the fields for the start of their holiday 2015

Additional notes

  1. The horses are actually running off into the field that I think contains some of the remains of the ancient moat that I have found 😉
  2. In further research I discovered that Rev. David Hopkins (owner of the land and property in 1840) came by the 165 acres of land and the two properties because his mother was a Tylee, so he was a nephew of the last brewer in the Tylee family.

Next week, I will take you back to Poulshot in the Civil War.


Perfect Period Drama

from Jane Lark

The rule of the red thread of destiny says that everything that is unresolved will be resolved.


The Thread of Destiny


The Lure of a Poet

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Lord Byron’s influence on the new books

In 2016, I had the pleasure of visiting Newstead Abbey, the property that Lord George Byron inherited from his great uncle in 1978, when George became the sixth Baron Byron.  Byron was a colourful man, and led a life full of intrigue. I had read his work and read letters and stories about his life, but I went to his home to seek more inspiration. He is of course the perfect draw for storytellers, when you are seeking ideas for captivating characters. That is why I went to his home, because I wanted to be able to touch on his life and discover what it was really like rather than just read about him in books. And oh my gosh, I am so glad I went there, because I walked into room after room of inspiration.

As most people know, Byron was a lover of the macabre and Newstead oozes that in a way that made me wonder what came first, the house he inherited or his love of gothic style games. Of course, you can tell from the name, that the property was previously a medieval abbey. What Byron inherited was a tumbled down medieval ruin that had been rebuilt into a Tudor manor. This is probably easier for me to imagine than it is for others to see  because Newstead Abbey has had many later amendments to its layout. But Lacock Abbey, which is just up the road from me, was also converted from an abbey into a stately Tudor home, and that is still very much as it was in the Tudor period.

However at Lacock some of the ruins have been kept in place underneath the Tudor house, so you can still walk about the nuns’ cloister in the middle of the property and in and out of great arched rooms that were once kitchens, storage rooms and the chapter house with its wallpainting and medieval tiles still in situ. At Newstead some of the outer ruins have been preserved . Below you can see the magnificent arch of an old abbey window, that was kept as nothing else but a piece of artwork in the gardens. The arch is not even the entrance to the garden; that is through a very small door to the left.

cropped-img_3758.jpgIn Byron’s day, the stairs were at the front here, though, and the steps went up to the first floor, so the door opened in to what was once the Abbey’s great hall, where the monks would have dined with any travelling pilgrims as guests. Lacock does still have it’s steps that lead directly to the great hall.

The other abbey that has stuck in my mind, as another property sold off by Henry VIII to his nobility from them to turn into a house, is the home that belonged to Jane Austen’s family – Stoneleigh Abbey. At Stoneleigh the entrance directly to the first floor has also been removed, but it’s Jacobean wing gives another context to help you imagine how Newstead would have looked in Byron’s day. Byron’s house also had a newer wing, which he used for guests.

Byron did not inherit much money to accompany his title, and so he could not repair and redecorate the house to any great extent. But he did choose a few small rooms to make a bit more luxurious. Today the other rooms have been changed and completed by the owners who have lived in the property since Byron’s day, but the rooms Byron had decorated are still very much as they were.

The dining room.


The study. Where he wrote when he was at home.

The library, where the goblet he had made from a skull he had found in the gardens was kept. It is only a replica on the table, though. The wife of the man who bought the property from him had it destroyed.


A cellar in the undercroft of the Abbey, beneath the great hall, where he had a table and chairs put out to host small parties, for his friends and female guests.

Lastly his bedroom, which contains the bed he had brought to the Abbey from Cambridge.

The room Byron decorated for himself was in the medieval area of the house, on the opposite side of the house from the Jacobean wing that his guests used (and am I guessing where his mother lived as she shared the house with him and looked after it when he was not there).

To reach his rooms the passages are narrow, climbing up spiralling stone medieval staircases with leaded, small windows cut through the stone, that leave passages cold and shadowy.

There is one example of what the rooms that Byron was unable to renovate would have looked like at the time, (and felt and smelt like – which is why I like going places because pictures only let you experience one sense). This room was Byron’s dressing room. Image the large hall below in the same state then…

If you have already read The Thread of Destiny I am sure you can now see whose house this is in the book. The great hall had its roof replaced and the room was redecorated by a later resident, but in Byron’s day it was where he used to fence and shoot.


Byron used his house as a playground, but he also used the vast grounds that surrounded the Abbey to play in. He kept a pet bear and entertained the bear (without a leash) in the grounds, even playing blind man’s buff. On one side of the grounds is a large lake, where his Great Uncle (who I think was just as eccentric as Byron) used to have mock naval battles with real boats. Byron loved his dogs, and he swam in the lake everyday when he was at home. One game he used to play in the lake with one of his favourite dogs, was to throw himself into the lake instead of a stick to get the dog to drag him out. (My George’s follies are ideas from elsewhere, though, Byron’s uncle was not much of a folly man).

At the back of the house are beautiful formal gardens.


Many other inspirations for the stories in The Thread of Destiny and The Lure of a Poet come from Newstead Abbey, because there is a fabulous area there that has been set up as a museum of Byron’s possessions. In the pictures below are just a few of things that made me think of elements of the stories that have become the first books in The Wickedly Romantic Poets series.

The story in the first of my new books, The Thread of Destiny,  begins at the home of my George, Bridge, Lord Bridges, The Duke of Stonemoor, and as his home is very much as Byron’s was, his character is also very Byronesque. – and how wonderful to be such an exceptional character during your lifetime that a word is created to describe the essence of the personality shown by your life and your work. 

There will be lots more reality based behaviours from my poets in the rest of the series that will be out in 2019.  

Perfect Period Drama

The rule of the red thread of destiny says that everything that is unresolved will be resolved.


The Thread of Destiny


The Lure of a Poet

Delicious Reading_with poet

Discover all of Jane Lark’s books


Discover hours of period drama (2)