On the 5th May, 1933, Sydney Thurston Claxton became the legal owner of Fir Cottage, Long Street, Great Ellingham.
Claxton inherited the property from John Thomas Harbour who died in 1931.
Two years earlier, John Harbour had inherited the property from his wife, Elizabeth Harbour, who died in 1929.
John and Elizabeth Harbour did not leave any surviving children. I wondered whether Sydney Claxton was related to the couple.
However, even though John Harbour’s mother’s maiden name was Claxton, I cannot find any close family connection on John Harbour’s mother’s Claxton line.
Nevertheless, I found that the the link is with Sydney’s wife – Maud Emma Adams.
Fir Tree Cottage
The cottage lies to the southern end of Long Street. It was built between 1857 and 1861 on land owned by Robert Utting. The green arrow on the map below shows the location of Fir Cottage.
Extract from O.S. Map c.1945. Courtesy Ray & Maureen Beales
Sydney Claxton & Maud Emma Adams
Although in 1933 Sydney (Sidney) Claxton lived at Hornsey Road, London, Sydney was born in Norwich around 1884.
Claxton Family in 1901
The 1901 census captures 16 year old Sydney T Claxton with his family at 90 Aylsham Road, Catton, Norwich. The household comprises 46 year old butcher, George Claxton, his wife Hannah aged 43 and children Kate 19, Sydney 16, Ida 15, Elsie 11 and 9 year old Ben.
Adams Family in 1901
The census of 1901 finds Sydney Claxton’s wife-to-be, 17 year old Maud E Adams, with her family at the ‘Prince of Wales’, 2 Parchmore Road in Thornton Heath.
Her father, 38 year old Ely born Charles Adams is the licensed victualler. Maud’s 41 year old mother, Emma, was born in Attleborough – a town just 3 miles from Great Ellingham! Maud is one of 5 children in the family. Charles Adams’ 20 year old niece, Kate Adams, is with the household. She is working as a barmaid for her uncle.
Prince of Wales Hotel
According to various newspaper reports, the ‘Prince of Wales’ was a thriving and popular hotel. The Adams family hosted many events at the hotel, including an annual children’s party and concerts.
Many local clubs and associations also held their meetings there. These included the Ancient Order of Foresters, the Tradesmen’s Club, the Hearts of Oak Friendly Society as well as the Thornton Heath Cycling Club.
Another society was the Ancient Order of Druids of which Sydney Claxton was a member. An interesting snippet appeared in the Croydon Express of Saturday February 15th, 1908:
DRUIDS’ GOODWILL – On Wednesday evening about fifty members of the “Prince of Wales” Lodge of the Ancient Order of Druids participated in a very interesting ceremony. A presentation was made to Miss Mabel Adams, daughter of Mr C Adams, licensee of the “Prince of Wales”, in view of her approaching marriage with Bro. Sidney T Claxton, as a token of esteem and regard, and with best wishes for their future happiness.
The gift was a cruet stand, holding six silver cut-glass bottles, and along it went an address, signed by between 30 and 40 members of the lodge.
The presentation was made by Bro. N A Kitching, and the address was read by Bro. Kidman’s, the secretary. Very cordial good wishes were extended to the future Mr and Mrs S T Claxton, who each returned thanks, while Mr C Adams also spoke felicitously. The lodge, it may be added, was thrown “out of order” so that non-members could be present for the occasion. The wedding takes place on Tuesday
In addition to the report telling us that Sydney Claxton and Mabel Adams were highly respected and were held in great regard, it also tell us that Maud used the name Mabel.
As mentioned, having looked at the family histories of both Sydney Thurston Claxton and his wife Mabel (Maud Emma) Adams, I am certain that the connection between the couple and John and Elizabeth Harbour in Great Ellingham is Sydney’s wife, Mabel Adams.
Her grandmother, Emma Bayes (née Hubbard) is the sister of Elizabeth Harbour (née Hubbard)!
The marriage between Sydney Thurston Claxton and Mabel Adams duly took place in the Parish Church of Thornton Heath, Surrey on February 18th, 1908. Mabel was 24 and Sydney 23.
The marriage register records that Sydney’s father, George Claxton, was deceased. It also states that George Claxton was ‘a gentleman’. However, the 1901 census shows George Claxton to be a butcher. Did Sydney chose to provide misguided information at the time of his marriage?
Sydney is described as a licensed victualler on the marriage certificate. Indeed, he became the licensee of the ‘Clifton Arms’ in South Norwood in 1906. However at the time of his marriage, he is said to be living at the ‘Prince of Wales’ Hotel.
Details of the wedding was reported in the Croydon Chronicle and East Surrey Advertiser on Saturday 22nd February, 1908. The report also gives us an insight of what appears to have been a very stylish wedding!
INTERESTING WEDDING - Much interest was evinced in a marriage solemnised at St Paul’s, Thornton Heath, on Tuesday afternoon.
The contracting couple were Maud Emma (Mabel), the eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs Charles Adams, of the Prince of Wales Hotel, to Mr Sydney Thurston Claxton, son of Mrs George Claxton, of Norwich.
A large number of friends attended to witness the ceremony. The bride, who was given away by her father, wore an embroidered Ninon robe over silk and chiffon. The gown was caught up on the left side of the skirt, showing flounces of old blond lace and orange blossoms, finished with silver tassels, and the corsage was draped with crystal Ninon, with blond lace sleeves, and finished with an embossed silver belt with trails of orange blossom falling over the skirt. The train, from the shoulders, was of crystal chiffon. This was carried by Master Charley Adams, who was dressed in black silk velvet, and point lace cuffs and collars, and a tiny bridesmaid, Miss Lily Claxton, in white silk, with a blue Ninon bonnet, and carrying a basket of flowers.
There were four bridesmaids, the Misses Edith, Nellie, and Winnie Adams (sisters of the bride) and Miss Ida Claxton (sister of the bridegroom). The dresses of the two younger Miss Adams’ were of pale blue silk chiffon, with lace yokes and fichus of chiffon draped round the shoulders. They wore caps of lace and carried pale blue crooks, with trails of white roses and ribbons. The gowns of the two senior bridesmaids, Miss Edith Adams and Miss Claxton, were composed of pale lilac crystalline with lace sleeves and satin bands round the skirts, with dainty corsages of lace and appliqué and satin belts.
The bride carried a shower bouquet of white flowers, and the bridesmaids also had pretty bouquets.
After the ceremony a large number of guests attended the reception held at the Prince of Wales Hotel. Subsequently Mr and Mrs Claxton left for London, en route for Bournemouth for the honeymoon. The bride’s travelling dress consisted of a brown face cloth coat and skirt, the coat being trimmed with Oriental embroidery, and finished with a smart silk tie and lace ruffles. She wore a hat of brown silk with shaded brown plumes. The bride and bridegroom were the recipients of numerous handsome presents.
The census of 1911 captures newly weds Sydney and Mabel Claxton (aged 26 and 27) at the ‘Clifton Arms’, Clifton Road, South Norwood – just two miles from Mabel’s parents who were still at the ‘Prince of Wales’ in Thornton Heath.
The couple have one child – one year old Winifred Elsie Mabel Claxton. Sydney Claxton employs two servants.
Similarly to Mabel’s parents at the ‘Prince of Wales’ Hotel, Sydney and Mabel hosted various events at the ‘Clifton Arms’, including the Clifton Tradesmen’s Club’s dinner and concert in January 1910.
Transfer of the License
In May 1913, Sydney Claxton transferred the license of the ‘Clifton Arms’ to his brother in law, George H Adams. I assume that it was at this time that Sydney and Mabel Claxton left the ‘Clifton Arms’.
Beer-House at Mile End Old Town
The Eastern Post off the 24th March, 1917, reported that the license for the beer-house premises at 145 Charles Street, Mile End Old Town had been transferred to Sydney Thurston Claxton. I believe that Sydney and Mabel with their children moved into the premises at Charles Street.
Mabel had given birth to Kathleen Irene in 1913 and George Charles in 1914. Both births were registered in the district of Mile End Old Town.
‘British Queen’ Hammersmith
The 1921 census captures 36 year old Sydney Thurston Claxton with his wife and the two younger children, Kathleen 8 and George 6, at 434 Uxbridge Road, Hammersmith. The premises was known as the ‘British Queen’. I think it likely that their 11 year old daughter, Winifred, was away at school in Steyning, West Sussex.
Sydney and Mabel employ 26 year old Lily Ethel Budd as a mother’s help.
The West London Observer of the 13th June 1924, reports that the license for the ‘British Queen’ at 434 Uxbridge Road, Hammersmith was transferred from Sydney Thurston Claxton to William James Knights. Accordingly, the Claxton family moved out of the premises.
‘London Chatham & Dover Railway Tavern’
By 1932, Sydney Claxton was joint licensee of the ‘London Chatham & Dover Railway Tavern’ at 43 Cabul Road, Battersea.
The South Western Star of the 12th February, 1932, reported on the application by Sydney Thurston Claxton and Leslie Leonard Hastings for the transfer to them of the license. Despite Sydney having previously been convicted of permitting drunkenness in 1927, the application was successful.
Assent of Fir Cottage
Sydney and Mabel Claxton lived at 23 Hornsey Rise, London, when Fir Cottage was formally conveyed to Sydney.
The couple had previously lived at 8 Finchley Road, London. Given that Sydney held the license of the ‘London Chatham & Dover Railway Tavern’ with Leslie Hastings, it seems that the Claxtons did not live ‘on the premises’.
However, I think it likely that 8 Finchley Road and 23 Hornsey Rise were also a licensed premises. Indeed, Sydney Claxton’s signature to the Assent Deed was witnessed by barman, Alfred Fox, who lived on the premises at 23 Hornsey Rise.
The Assent Deed describes the property as:
ALL THAT freehold piece of land situate at Great Ellingham in the County of Norfolk containing One acre one rood and three perches more or less adjoining the road leading from Harling to Hingham Together with the Messuage or Dwellinghouse known as Fir Cottage and other buildings and erections thereon ..
This is the very same piece of land which Robert Utting purchased in 1857. By 1861, the land also contained a dwelling and other buildings.
Purchase of Additional Land
On the 1st November, 1933, Sydney Claxton purchased an additional piece of land (comprising two acres one rood and twenty eight perches) from Frank Philip Wigby, of nearby Primrose Farm. This piece of land abutted the western boundary of Fir Cottage.
Claxton paid £60 for:
ALL THAT piece of freehold land situate in the Parish of Great Ellingham in the County of Norfolk now or late in the occupation of the Vendor formerly stated to contain two acres one rood and twenty-five perches but by the Ordnance Survey Map for the said Parish found to contain two acres one rood and twenty-eight perches and being Number 555 thereon …
Plan annexed to a 1944 Abstract of Title relating to land comprised in O.S. map number 555. Courtesy Pat Price
The above plan shows the piece of land purchased by Sydney Claxton in November 1933. The green arrow indicates the position of Fir Cottage which was assented to Claxton in May 1933.
Although Sydney Claxton owned Fir Cottage with the additional land for the next 13 years, I do not believe he and his wife Mabel ever lived in the house.
The 1939 Register finds 54 year old Sydney Claxton in the Royal Northern Hospital in Islington. Sydney is described as a Hotel Proprietor and a patient. At this time, the Claxton’s home was still at 23 Hornsey Road, Islington. Evidently Sydney survived his stay in hospital.
Sydney Claxton Sells Fir Cottage
On the 22nd July, 1946, Sydney Claxton of the ‘Nightingale’, Nightingale Lane, Hornsey, London, sold Fir Cottage together with the additional land. The purchasers, Florence and Bertie Southgate paid £1,300 for the property and land.
I have no doubt that throughout Sydney Claxton’s ownership, Fir Cottage was occupied by tenants. Indeed Kelly’s Directory of 1937 shows Harry Partridge as a poultry farmer at the ‘Firs’.
Deaths of Sydney & Mabel Claxton
Maud Emma Claxton (known as Mabel), the wife of Sydney Thurston Claxton died on the 15th July, 1945, at the Margate Hospital in Margate. Mabel’s home was at 47 Wood Vale, Muswell Hill, Middlesex. She was 61.
Sydney Thurston Claxton died on the 21st December, 1958 at Friern Barnet in London. He had been living at 187 Park Road, Hornsey, London.
Croydon Express 15th February 1908
Croydon Chronicle and East Surrey Advertiser 22nd February 1908
Croydon Times 6th February 1907
Croydon Times 1st May 1907
Croydon Express 4th March 1905
Norwood News 16th December 1905
Croydon Express 11th February 1905
Croydon Times 27th June 1908
Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter 29th January 1910
Norwood News 10th February 1906
Croydon Express 10th May 1913
Eastern Post 24th March 1917
West London Observer 13 June 1924
South Western Star 12th February 1932
[All newspapers viewed via britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk]
Private Collection of Deeds – Many thanks to Pat Price
1901 census RG13/646/67, RG13/1838/140
1911 census RG14/3400/115, RG14/3382/257
1861 census RG9/1237/55
1921 census RG15. 434 Uxbridge Road, Hammersmith. Schedule 389. Viewed via www.findmypast.co.uk
Norwich St Peter Parmentergate Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office. PD 162. Viewed via www.ancestry.co.uk
Surrey History Centre; Woking, Surrey, England; Surrey Church of England Parish Registers; Reference Number: 2955/1/12. Ancestry.com. Surrey, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1937 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.
GRO Index https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro. Also available via FreeBMD website https://www.freebmd.org.uk/
1939 England & Wales Register. The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: Rg 101/270a. Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2018.
Maud Emma Claxton. Probate Date 29 July 1948 & Sydney Thurston Claxton Probate Date 6th May 1959. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995. Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Principal Probate Registry. Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England. London, England
1937 Kelly’s Directory