Charles Drake’s premises (cottages with shops) to the right of The Crown Public House
Postcard courtesy Carol Ewin
In this blog, we pick up the story with Drake’s purchase. We then take the history forward another 35 years, when spinster Anna Maria Wilkins purchased the premises in 1920.
Charles Drake’s Purchases from Harry Warren
Conveyance dated 9th December 1895 Harry J W Warren to Charles Drake
Courtesy Sue Simpson
On the 9th December, 1895, Charles Drake, a bricklayer of Great Ellingham, purchased the following property from Harry John Whittred Warren of New York City. Drake paid the sum of £117/10 (one hundred and seventeen pounds and ten shillings) for:
All that Cottage or tenement with the shop outbuildings yard garden land and appurtenances thereto belonging situate lying and being in Great Ellingham in the said County of Norfolk bounded on the North by the Public road leading from Watton to Deopham and Rockland on the South by land formerly belonging to the Executors of Jonathan Rivett deceased on the East by the messuage tenement or Inn commonly called or known by the name of "The Crown” and on the West by the Wesleyan Chapel in Great Ellingham aforesaid which said premises are now in the occupation of William Wilkins…
The Conveyance Deed also referred to a right for Drake and his ‘heirs and assigns’ as well as his tenants to use the well on the adjoining property to the East (The Crown) together with a right of access.
Occupier William Wilkins
The same Deed also refers to the occupier as William Wilkins. I believe Wilkins had occupied part (if not all) of the property since at least 1891.
Drake was born in nearby Rockland St Peter. A son of Thomas and Mary Drake, Charles was baptised in the Parish Church of Rockland St Peter on the 1st February, 1824.
He remained a single man all his life.
The 1881 census finds 56 year old farm servant Charles Drake with 76 year old widow Catherine Watts in Long Street, Great Ellingham.
Catherine Watts died just two years later, on the 15th February, 1883.
Referred to in Catherine’s will as “my faithful servant Charles Drake‘, Drake received a legacy of £200. In addition, he inherited some of Catherine’s household furniture and effects. Charles Drake was also one of Catherine’s four executors and trustees.
Catherine Watts also left a legacy of £20 to another of her servants – local single woman Jane Houchen.
Housekeeper Jane Houchen
The 1891 census captures 67 year old Charles Drake with his 43 year old housekeeper Jane Houchen living in Long Street.
Some four years’ later in 1895, Charles Drake buys the cottage adjoining The Crown. Likely Charles used his inheritance from Catherine Watts to fund the purchase.
However I do not believe that Drake occupied his premises adjoining The Crown.
The 1901 census finds Charles Drake (now 77) with his housekeeper Jane Houchen (now 53) in a four-roomed property in Long Street. A former stone mason and bricklayer, Charles is ‘living on his own means’.
Death of Charles Drake
Charles Drake died on the 24th February 1908. Although he appointed Jane Houchen and John Dye as his executors, it seems that John Dye had died (at Deopham) prior to Charles Drake’s demise. Accordingly, it was left to Jane Houchen to prove the will.
Jane Houchen inherits the Property
Drake left all his real and personal estate (including the cottage and shop adjoining the Crown Public House) to Jane Houchen.
Just a year later, Jane Houchen sells the property.
Occupier Bertie Lewis Wilkins Buys the Premises
Extract from Conveyance 18th February 1909 Houchen to Wilkins
Courtesy Sue Simpson
On the 18th February, 1909, Jane Houchen, spinster of Great Ellingham, sold the following property to shopkeeper, Bertie Lewis Wilkins of Great Ellingham. The purchase price was £100.
ALL THAT Cottage or tenement with the Shop outbuildings yard garden land and appurtenances thereto belonging and situate lying and being in Great Ellingham in the said County of Norfolk bounded on the North by the Public Road leading from Watton to Deopham and Rockland on the South by land formerly belonging to the Executors of Jonathan Rivett deceased on the East by the messuage tenement or Inn commonly called or known by the name of “The Crown” and the West by the Wesleyan Chapel in Great Ellingham aforesaid which said premises are now in the occupation of the said Bertie Lewis Wilkins …”
The description of the property more or less recites ‘word for word’ the description of the premises used in the 1895 Conveyance Deed to Charles Drake. Indeed, the very same description was used in the deed conveying the property to Joseph Warren in 1868!
Son of William Wilkins
Bertie Lewis Wilkins was a son of the previous occupier, William Wilkins.
Given that Bertie Wilkins occupied the cottage and shop when he purchased it in 1909, it follows that his widowed father William Wilkins had then moved out of the property to the present Post Office building at the junction of Long Street, Chequers Lane and Church Street.
Indeed the 1911 census captures 67 year old widowed postmaster William Wikins at the Post Office along with his 26 year old unmarried daughter Anna Maria Wilkins and granddaughter 9 year old Ellen Amelia Wilkins.
The same census lists 25 year old Bertie Lewis Wilkins at ‘The Butchery’ in the Street, Great Ellingham with his wife Florence Selina (nèe Stubbings) and their one year old daughter, Evelyn Florence. Florence’s parents, Charles and Harriet Stubbings, are also with Bertie and his wife as well as Bertie’s 6 year old nephew Harold.
Florence (née Stubbings) and Bertie Wilkins
Courtesy of James Margetts
The census confirms that the Wilkins household occupied a six-roomed property. Bertie is described as a ‘Butcher, Cycle Dealer, Farmer & Postman’. He was also an employer and worked ‘at home’. Florence is helping her husband ‘in the business’ and her father, Charles Stubbings, is employed as a ‘general help and a postman’. Florence’s mother, Harriet, is also said to be employed as a ‘general help’.
However within four years of purchasing the premises adjoining The Crown, Bertie and Florence Wilkins decided to emigrate.
The following premises was offered for sale in the Eastern Daily Press on the 7th June, 1913:
"A well situated Butcher's Shop, Cycle Shop and Dwellinghouse (a large proportion of which is new) containing two good living rooms, scullery, pantry and four bedrooms - to the rear a slaughterhouse pound and a carpenter's shop, two sheds and large yard"
It is clear from the advertisement that recent work had been carried out to Bertie Wilkins’ property.
Watton High Street before 1908
A report of an auction held in the Club Room of the Old George Hotel in Watton on the 18th June was published in the Downham Market Gazette on the 21st June, 1913. The report included reference to Bertie Wilkins’ property in Great Ellingham:
"..the freehold business premises situated in Great Ellingham comprising butcher’s shop, cycle shop, and dwellinghouse, slaughter house, and pound (being favoured with instructions from Mr B.L. Wilkins, who is leaving for Australia). Bidding started at £100, and the property was withdrawn at £200.."
No Sale at Auction
The property did not sell at the auction. It was withdrawn at £200.
I assume that it was because the property did not sell that Bertie Wilkins borrowed against the property. He probably needed the funds for his imminent emigration.
Wilkins Mortgages the Premises
On the 22nd November, 1913, Bertie Wilkins completed a Statutory Mortgage Deed in favour of solicitor’s clerk, Samuel Robert Lewis, of Attleborough. Wilkins borrowed £80 with interest payable at 6 per cent.
The Wilkins’ Household leaves for Australia
Less than two weeks’ later, on the 3rd December, 1913, Bertie with his wife, children and an extended household, left London bound for Australia.
Following the Wilkins’ family’s departure, I am unsure who occupied the shop and cottage adjacent to The Crown. The property was, of course, still owned by Bertie Wilkins but subject to the mortgage in favour of Samuel Lewis.
Settlement of Mortgage Debt
By 1920, Bertie Wilkins had repaid the mortgage on the property. On the 27th September, 1920, Samuel Robert Lewis ‘re-conveys’ the property to Bertie Wilkins.
The Deed of Re-conveyance gives Bertie Wilkins’ address as Ness Road, Casterton, Victoria, Australia, and his occupation as a market gardener.
Bertie sells to his sister Anna Maria Wilkins
The day after the property was formally released from the mortgage, Bertie Lewis Wilkins sells his Great Ellingham property to his unmarried sister, Ann Maria Wilkins.
Extract from the Conveyance dated 28th September 1920 between Bertie Lewis Wilkins & Ann Maria Wilkins
Courtesy Sue Simpson
The Conveyance Deed dated 28th September, 1920, confirms that Ann Maria paid £160 for the property. The Deed also confirms that Robert Dixon occupied the premises.
Occupier Robert Dixon
Robert Dixon was born in Great Ellingham on the 15th December, 1888.
The 1891 census captures two year old Robert with his parents, James and Anna Maria Dixon, and his older brothers James 9 and Jonathan 8, in Low Common, Great Ellingham.
Ten years later, the Dixon family are in Swamp Lane where the family is again in 1911.
Robert married Margaret Sewell. Their marriage was registered between January and March 1920.
The 1921 census finds 32 year old Robert Dixon with his 32 year old wife Margaret (born Hingham) and their one month old son Frank in Church Street, Great Ellingham.
I have no doubt that after their marriage, Robert and Margaret Dixon lived in the house adjoining The Crown. Robert is working as a foreman for William Gaymer & Son at The Cider Works in Attleborough.
However given that the 1920 Conveyance Deed states that the property was occupied by Robert Dixon, I think Robert may have been living there prior to his marriage to Margaret Sewell.
Cottage and Shop
The 1920 Conveyance Deed also describes the property as a cottage with shop etc. However, I am unclear whether Robert Dixon rented only the cottage from Anna Maria Wilkins. Having said that, I would expect the Deed to have specifically mentioned the name of any tenant of the shop.
It may be that the shop premises were unoccupied when Anna Maria Wilkins purchased the property. She may well have let the shop to a separate tenant after the purchase was completed.
The Dixons move to Attleborough
Nevertheless, I do not believe that Robert and Margaret Dixon lived in the cottage for any length of time. Their names are not listed on the 1923 Electoral Register for Great Ellingham. Indeed the 1939 Register for England & Wales finds the Dixon family living in New North Road, Attleborough.
The History of the Cottage & Shop Continues
Anna Maria Wilkins continued to live at The Post Office, Great Ellingham with her father, Postmaster William Wilkins.
We carry on with the history of the cottage and shop adjoining The Crown in Part V.
Rockland St Peter. Bishop’s Transcripts. Norfolk Record Office PD 336. Viewed via www.ancestry.co.uk
Probate Catherine Watts. 28th April 1883. Will dated 4th February 1883.
Probate Charles Drake. 22 December 1908. Will dated 17th July 1890
Copies available https://www.gov.uk/search-will-probate (Thanks to Pauline Bezant)
1881 census RG11/1974/91
1891 census RG12/1549/79, RG12/1549/81
1901 census RG13/1867/78
1911 census RG14/11473 /114, RG14/11473/130, RG14/11473/149
1921 census RG15. Registration District 231. Great Ellingham Schedule 135
7th June 1913 Eastern Daily Press
21st June 1913 Downham Market Gazette
Newspapers viewed via The British Newspaper Archive
GRO Index. Marriages Robert C Dixon Sowell Wayland 4b 497 https://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/information.pl?cite=Yprg%2BJmkHrGhtUV%2FRGKDaA&scan=1
Autumn Register 1923. Southern Parliamentary Division of the County of Norfolk.Polling District of Great Ellingham. Parish of Great Ellingham.
1939 England & Wales Register. The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: Rg 101/6590e. Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2018.