Number 17 North Street, the Blew or Blue Anchor, is likely to be one of, if not the, oldest surviving brick building in Bridgwater. It’s distinctive brown bricks seem contemporary with those of the South Gate Almshouses, which were built 1683-5, the remains of which can be seen in Old Taunton Road.
It is a characterful and pretty little cottage, sadly somewhat overwhelmed by the main road it sits on. It is a listed building, the listing notes suggesting the façade at least is late seventeenth or early eighteenth century. It notes a missing door way evident on the large blank part of the wall on the ground floor: this presumably relates to the property’s time as an Inn.
It is not yet possible to trace the house in the town’s medieval records: properties mentioned in North Street are devoid of much context, making it almost impossible to determine where they were. It is possible this is a property described as a Burgage with Curtilagio and a Rekka, which had a two foot wide passage passing through the burgage to the garden, although more work is needed to confirm this.
Number 17 first comes to light in on 4 March 1697. The property was owned by John Rogers, an ironmonger. He had inherited the property from his parents, John Rogers and Temperance Rogers. The house is identified as being popularly called the ‘Blew Anchor’, indicating that it was an alehouse or inn. It had two gardens associated with it, one immediately behind the building, described in size as one burgage (a vague measurement, a rough indication of width), then a second garden, half a burgage in size, which was behind the garden of neighbouring property on the south side, and just abutted the garden directly behind the Blue Anchor.
We also learn from this document that the two neighbouring properties (numbers 15 and 19) were owed by the Crown at this time. Number 15 had a tenant called Robert Baker, while the adjoining land now occupied by Milton House was held by a man called Edward Watkins. (BHG/NS/17/1, below)
The Blew (Blue) Anchor
‘Blew’ here is just an alternative spelling of blue from the days before spelling standardisation, the meaning is exactly the same. The name Blue Anchor is interesting and its meaning obscure; it seems to have been a fairly popular inn name in early modern England; the local seaside resort being named after a Blue Anchor Inn there. The Dictionary of Pub Names (2006) suggests both anchors and the colour blue were symbols of hope. Given how inns would often hang simple objects above the door, an anchor painted blue was an easy means of identifying an inn, especially one in which sailors might be found, even if this spot was some way away from the river. Evidentially the Blue Anchor had been established in this property by the 1690s at least, presumably long pre-dating this.
The Second Garden
The near detached garden is interesting, and can be traced on the 1888 Ordinance Survey Town Plan. Interestingly, elsewhere we learn that in 1644 a William Rogers, a ‘pettychapman’, a travelling peddler, was granted by the Corporation of Bridgwater, a half burgage called ‘the Pesthouse Garden’ in North Street (Somerset Heritage Centre D/B/bw/1295). This William Rogers is likely an antecedent of John Rogers the elder, and would explain how the additional garden became attached to the Blue Anchor. That it was called the Pest House Garden is interesting.
A house in North Street had been set aside as a Pest (plague) House in 1626 by the Borough Corporation, essentially as an infectious disease hospice. The property was leased from a William Hill. The garden attached to this property was then sub-let by the corporation, although a John Baker complained for losses in cabbages and herbs in 1626, then in 1627 he complained that ‘he was hindered by pest folks in his garden’, which suggests this had been a bad idea, as patients were evidently coming outside from the confides of the pest house, and, it seems, helping themselves to food (Lawrence & Lawrence, History of Bridgwater, p.91). The location of the Pest House itself has not been positively identified. If William Rogers’ 1644 garden is the same as John Rogers’ 1697 half burgage, then we might suppose the house was on the plot known as Pest House Garden, and subsequently demolished after the plague had subsided, leaving just garden: unless number 15 North Street was the Pest House.
Robert Baker in number 15 in 1697 could possibly be a descendant of the unhappy John Baker of 1626 – and if John was in number 15 in 1626 it might explain why he was keen to lease the Pest House garden, it adjoining his property.
Rogers to Puggsley to Pople
On 4 March 1697 John Rogers the younger let the property to Robert Puggsley, a yeoman (farmer) for a term of 99 years. On 26 January 1698 John went further, turning over full ownership of the property for a full 4,000 years. Due to the nature of the two agreements, Puggsley thus became legal owner and legal tenant at the same time (BHG/NS/17/1).
Only one year later though, in 1699, Puggsley turned over the rest of the 99-year lease to John Pople (Somerset Heritage Centre DD/S/WH/189).
John Pople had a son called Joseph Pople, a butcher. Joseph turned over both 99-year and 4000-year holding on 20 September 1727 to Rice/Reice (Reece) Jones, a stonemason. A further agreement was made on 27 May 1728, which describes John Pople as a tailor (Somerset Heritage Centre DD/Z/WBB/1073)
Records for the property are thin in the mid-eighteenth century, although in 1748 a John Dingley was recorded as landlord of the Blew Anchor in North Street (David Williams, Bridgwater Inns Past & Present, 1997 p.5). At some point after 1727 the second garden was separated from the Blue Anchor property.
Bennett to Boulting to Taylor to Boulting to Dyer
At some time Reece Jones sold the Blue anchor to James Bennett, unsurprisingly referred to as an ‘Innholder’. His daughter Joan Ann then inherited the property, which then passed to her husband, James Boulting, a carpenter, just before 1808. They leased the property in 1808 to a Thomas Taylor, a linen draper.
After the death of Joan Anne, James the elder continued to live in the property. Their son, James the younger, in 1833, leased his own rights to the property (as heir to Joan) back to his father in exchange for a loan. James Boulting the younger is described as an innholder of Wells, although he later returned to Bridgwater and opened a glass warehouse in the High Street.
It seems to be about this time that the property stopped being in Inn.
The 1841 census describes the following in the 17 North Street: James the elder, aged 65, carpenter; his wife, Grace R Boulting, aged 51, laundress; Ann Boulting aged 40; Thomas Boulting, aged 10; and Lucy Charlotte Boulting, aged 5. Ann was the sister of James the elder. Thomas and Lucy Charlotte were the children of James the younger and his wife Elizabeth, evidently being cared for by their grandparents. Thomas would be accidentally drowned in 1854. In the 1851 census we only find James the elder and Lucy Charlotte in the property.
When James the elder died in 1853 he left the property for his sister Mary Ann Lake (wife of James Lake, nurseryman) to sell and divide the remaining money to his daughters Elizabeth Mary Boulting and Lucy Charlotte Boulting. The property was thereafter sold to James Boulting the younger in 1857, who was now working as a painter.
The long Boulting ownership of 17 North Street ended in 1876, when James the younger’s son, George William Boulting, a solicitor, sold it to John Dyer, a dairyman. We find in the 1871 census that John Dyer was already living in the property.
In the 1937 Whitby Light and Lane Directory for the town, the property had three occupants: D. Chilcott, a greengrocer, along with A Macey and H.A.Nowell.
Calendar of Documents relating to 17 North Street
1644 Somerset Heritage Centre D/B/bw/1295: Mayor of Bridgwater to William Rogers, pettychapman, Half a burgage called Pesthouse garden in North Street. 1644 – to investigate and transcribe.
1699 Somerset Heritage Centre DD/S/WH/189 The Blue Anchor, North Street, Bridgwater (Puggsley to Pople) 1699.
1707-1794 Somerset Heritage Centre DD/S/WH/122/45 Messuage in North Street, Bridgwater (Roberts, Evans, Axford). Leases for 99 years or 3 lives. 1707-1794
1727 Heritage Group Collection BHG/NS/17/1
// added to transcript to aid in delineating the boundaries
[Endorsed] 20 September 1727
Joseph Pople & Riece Jones
Assignment of the remainder of the terms of 99 and 4000 years
THIS INDENTURE made the twentieth day of September in the first year of our sovereign lord George the second by the grace of God of Great Britain France & Ireland King, defender of the faith & anno domini one thousand seven hundred and twenty years
BETWEEN Joseph Pope of Bridgwater in the county of Somerset Butcher of the one part and Rice Jones of the same place mason of the other part
WHEREAS John Rogers of Bridgwater aforesaid Ironmonger son and heir apparent John Rogers of Bridgwater aforesaid deceased and Temperance Rogers the widow and relict of the said John Rogers by their Indenture of lease bearing the date the fourth day of March in the year of our Lord One thousand six hundred and ninety seven for the consideration therein expressed did demise lease grant and to for in lett unto Robert Puggsley of Bridgwater aforesaid yeoman
ALL that messuage tenement or dwelling house called or known by the name if the Blew Anchor having and being in the West side of a certain street in Bridgwater aforesaid commonly called or known by the name of the North Street together with two gardens thereunto belonging conteyning in the whole by estimation One burgage and half (be the same more or less) whereof one burgage lyeth on the west side of the said house between the lands now or late of the Kings Majesty on the south and north parts
and the other half burgage lyeth also near the said house // adjoining to the end of half a burgage the land heretofore of the Kings Majesty and formerly in the tenure or occupation of one Robert Baker deceased // and is bounded with the end of the said recited Burgage on the north // and the lands of one Edward Watkins deceased on the south // together also with all ways paths easements profits commodities and advantages whatsoever to the premeses aforesaid belonging or in any wise appertaining
TO BE HAD AND HOLDE unto the said Robert Puggsley his executors administrators and assigns from the day of the date thereof for and during and until the full end and term of fourscore nineteen years from thenceforth next ensuing fully to complete expired and ended if John Pople since deceased Edward Needs and Thomas Davis or any or either of them should fortune so long to live by and under the yearly rent of twelve pence and diverse other covenants reservations conditions and agreements in the mentioned Indenture mentioned and expressed as in and by the same relation being thereunto had may more fully and at large appear
AND WHEREAS in and by one other indenture of lease bearing date the six and twentieth day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and ninety eight and made or mentioned to be made between the said John Rogers (the son) of the one part and the said Robert Puggsley of the other part for the consideration therein mentioned fie the said John Rogers the son did demise lease grant sell and to far in lett unto the said Robert Puggsley
ALL the before recited messuage tenement or dwelling house two gardens and premisses with the apperturances and the reversion and reservations remainder and remainders rents issued and profits thereof
TO HOLD unto the said Robert Puggsley his executors, administrators and assigns immediately from and after the determination of the said recited term of ninety nine years determinable on the deaths of the said John Pople Edward Needs and Thomas Davis for the further term of four thousand years from thenceforth next ensuing fully to be compleat expired and ended without impeachment of or for any manner of Waste spoile or destruction whatsoever by and under the yearly rent of one peppercorn if the same should be lawfully demanded as in and by the said last recited Indenture relation being thereunto had may more fully and at large appear
AND WHEREAS the said Joseph Pople by virtue of the said several recited Indentures and of other good and sufficient conveyances and assurances in the law now is and standeth lawfully possessed of interested in and entitled unto All and singular the said recited premises with the appurtenances for and during the residue and remainder of the said first recited term of four score and nineteen years (determinable as aforesaid) and for the further and other term of four thousand years herein before recited to commence immediately after the determination of the first recited indenture lease and so being
NOW THIS INDENTURE WITNESSETH that the said Joseph Pople for an in consideration of the sume of eighty pounds of good and lawfull money of Great Britaine unto him in hand by the said Rice Jones at and before the en-sealing and delivery of these presents the receipt whereof the said Joseph Pople doth hereby acknowledge and thereof and of every part and parcel thereof doth exonerate acquit and discharge the said Rice Jones his executors and administratos for ever by these presents
HATH granted bargained sold assigned transferred and sett over and by these presents
DOTH fully clearly and absolutely grant bargain sell assign transfer and sett over unto the said Rice Jones
ALL that aforesaid messuage tenement or dwelling house two gardens and all and singular other the before recited premisses in and by the said several recited Indentures or either of them mentioned unto contained and by them or either of them granted and … with their and every of their appurtences AND all the estate right title interests term and terms of years property claime and demand whatsoever either in law or equity of him the said Joseph Pople of in to or out of the same or any and every part and parcel thereof together also with the said several recited indentures of lease and all other deeds and writings whatsoever touching and concerning the said premises now in the power and custody of him the said Joseph Pople or which he can get and come by without suit in law
[Further clauses not transcribed]
Signed and sealed by Joseph Pople
1728 Somerset Heritage Centre DD/Z/WBB/1073
27 May 1728 Joseph Pople of Bridgwater, butcher, and John Pople of Bridgwater, tailor, to Reice [Reece] Jones of Bridgwater, bricklayer, for £80, that Messuage or tenement known as the Blue Anchor in the west side of North Street, with two gardens.
1808 Heritage Group Collection BHG/NS/17/2
Endorsed 15 September 1808
James Boulting and Wife to Mr Thomas Taylor
Assignment in Trust as witness
THIS INDENTURE made the fifteenth day of September in the forty eight year of the reign of King George the third and in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eight
BETWEEN James Boulting of Bridgwater in the county of Somerset carpenter and Joan Ann his wife late Joan Ann Bennett spinster administratrix of all and singular the goods and chattles rights and credits which were of James Bennett late of Bridgwater Innholder her late father deceased of the one part and Thomas Taylor of Bridgwater aforesaid linendraper of the other part
WHEREAS a marriage hath been lately had and solemnized by and between the said James Boulting and the said Joan Ann his wife
AND WHEREAS the said Joan Ann Boulting by virtue of the administration granted to her of the goods and chattles of the said James Bennett deceased is well and legally entitled unto for the remainder of a certain term of four thousand years which commenced and took place on or about the twenty sixth day of January which was in the year of or Lord one thousand six hundred and ninety eight
ALL that messuage tenement or dwelling house formerly called or known by the name of the Blue Anchor lying and being in the west side of a certain street in Bridgwater aforesaid called North Street together with two gardens thereunto belonging containing in the whole one burgage and a half be the same more or less together with all ways paths passages waters watercourses easements profits commodities advantages and appurtenances whatsoever to the said premises belonging or appertaining under the rent of a peppercorn
THIS INDENTURE therefore witnesseth that in consideration of the said marriage and of the love and affection which the said James Boulting hath and beareth to the said Joan Ann his wife and in consideration of the sum of ten shillings of lawfull money of this realm to the said James Boulting and Joan Ann his wife by the said Thomas Taylor at or before the execution hereof in hand well and truly paid the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged they the said James Boulting and Joan Ann his wife
HAVE and each of them hath granted bargained sold assigned and set over and by these presents do and each of them
DOTH grant bargain sell assign and set over unto the said Thomas Taylor his executors, administrators and assigns
ALL that the said messuage tenement or dwelling house and gardens thereto belonging situate lying and being on the west side of North Street in Bridgwater aforesaid formerly in the possession of John Rogers since that of Joseph Pople since that of Reese Jones late of the said James Bennett in right of Mary his wife and now of the said James Boulting together with all houses outhouses (etc)
[Remaining Clauses not transcribed]
Signed and sealed by James Boulting and Jane Ann Boulting.
[Endorsed] Sealed and delivered in the presence of they the said James Boulting and Joan Ann his wife
Clerk to Wm Boys of Bridgwater.
1833 Heritage Group Collection BHG/NS/17/3
Dated 26th day of January 1833
Mr. James Boulting the younger to Mr. James Boulting the elder
Assignment of a messuage or dwelling house garden and premises in North Street in Bridgwater for the residue of a term of 4000 years upon the trusts within mentioned for securing the sum of 200 pounds
[later pencil addition] they said James Boulting the younger was the only issue of the marriage of the said James Boulting the elder with Joan Anne his first wife and was entitled to the property made in the settlement dated 15th September 1808
THIS INDENTURE made the 26th day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty thee
BETWEEN James Boulting the younger late of Bridgwater in the county of Somerset but now in the city of Wells in the said county innholder of the one part and James Boulting the elder of Bridgwater aforesaid Carpenter of the other part
WHEREAS the said James Boulting the younger by virtue of good valid and effectual ways and means in the law now is possessed of stated and interested in or otherwise well and legally entitled to the hereditaments and premises herein after assigned or intended to be full the remainder of a certain term of four thousand years which commenced on or about the 26th day of January one thousand six hundred and ninety eight
AND HEREAS the said James Boulting the younger having an occasion to borrow and take up at interest the sum of two hundred pounds hath applied to and prevailed on the said James Boulting the elder to answer and lend him the same on a mortgage and security of the hereditaments and premises herein after articulated and described
NOW THIS INDENTURE WITNESSETH that in consideration of the sum of two hundred pounds of lawful money of Great Britain to the said James Boulting the younger in hand paid by the said James Boulting the elder here at or before the execution of these presents the payment and receipt whereof the said James Boultng the younger doth hereby own and acknowledge and thereof and of and from every part and parcel thereof thus equipped release and discharge the said James Boulting the elder his as executives and administrators and every of them by these presence he the said James Boulting the younger
HATH bargained sold signed transferred and set over and by these presents
DOTH bargain sell sign transfer and set over until the said James Boulting the elder his executors administrators and assigns
ALL THAT messuage tenement or dwelling house and garden (formerly two gardens) thereunto belonging situate lying and being on the West side of North Street in Bridgwater aforesaid formerly in the possession of John Rogers since that of Joseph Pople since that of Reese Jones late of Francis Bennett and is now in the occupation of the said James Boulting the elder as tenants thereof to the said James Boulting the younger together with all houses outhouses edifices buildings ways paths passages waterways profits commodities
In witness whereof the parties first above named made executives set their hands and seals the day and year first above written James boulting junior
Signed sealed and delivered by the within named James Boulting the younger in the presence of
William manning of Bridgwater
Received the day and year first within written of and from the within named James Boulting the within mentioned sum of 200 pounds the consideration money within expressed to be by him paid to me witnessed
James Boulting junior
1857 Heritage Group Collection BHG/NS/17/4
[Endorsed] Dated 11th day of February 1857
Mr James Lake and others to Mr James Boulting
Assignment of a dwelling house cottage and garden situate in North Street Bridgwater Somerset
THIS INDENTURE made the eleventh day of February one thousand eight hundred and fifty seven
BETWEEN James Lake of Bridgwater in the county of Somerset nurseryman and Mary Ann his wife of the first part Elizabeth Mary Boulting and Lucy Charlotte Boulting both of Bridgwater aforesaid spinsters on the second part and James Boulting of Bridgewater aforesaid painter of the third part
WHEREAS James Boulting late of Bridgwater aforesaid carpenter deceased being seized possessed of or entitled to the hereditaments and premises hereafter described for the residue of a certain term of four thousand years which commenced and took effect there in on or about the twenty sixth day of January one thousand six hundred and ninety eight under the yearly rent of a peppercorn by his last will and testament bearing date the twelfth day of August one thousand eight hundred and fifty two after making certain requests not affecting the set hereditaments and premises hereinafter described gave devised and bequeathed all the rest and residue of his real and personal estate and effects whatsoever and wheresoever unto his sister Mary Ann Boulting and the said Mary Ann Lake upon trust to sell and convert into money and get in the same by such ways and means as they should think proper and after payment of his first debts and funeral and testamentary expenses upon trust to pay and divide the same unto and equally between his two daughters the said Elizabeth Mary Boulting and Lucy Charlotte Boulting share and share alike as tenants in common their executors and administrators and the said testator empowered his said trustees to give receipts for all monies and affects to be paid or delivered to such trustees by virtue of that his will and declared that such receipts should exonerates the persons taking the same from all liability to see to the application or disposition of the monies or affects therein mentioned and the said testator appointed the said Mary Ann Boulting and Mary Ann Lake executrixes and trustees of that his will
AND WHEREAS the Said James Boulting the testatory departed this life on the fifth day of March one thousand eight hundred and fifty three and his said will was on the tenth day of March one thousand eight hundred and fifty five proved by the set Mary Ann Boulting and Mary Ann Lake in the archdeanery court of Taunton
AND WHEREAS the said James Lake and Mary Ann his wife have at the request of the said Elizabeth Mary Boulting and Lucy Charlotte Boulting contracted with the said James Boulting for the sale to him at the price of one hundred and twenty pounds of the said hereditaments and premises hereinafter described for all the residue now to come and unexpired of the set term of four thousand years free from encumbrances and the said Elizabeth Mary Boulting and Lucy Charlotte Boulting have agreed to join in these presents in manner hereinafter appearing
NOW THIS INDENTURE WITNESSETH [following clauses not transcribed]
1876 Heritage Group Collection BHG/NS/17/5
Dated 24th day of June 1876
Mr George Boulting to Mr John Dyer
Assignment of a messuage cottage and premises situate in North Street Bridgwater
This indenture made the 24th day of June 1876
Between George William Boulting of Bridgwater in the county of Somerset gentlemen of the one part and John Dyer or Bridgwater aforesaid dairyman of the other part
WHEREAS the said George William Boulting is possessed or entitled to the premises hereafter described for the residue of a certain term of four thousand years which was created on or about the twenty sixth day of January one thousand six hundred and ninety eight
AND whereas the said George William Boulting hath contracted with the said John Dyer for the sale to him of the said premises for the residue of the said term at the price of two hundred and ten pounds
Now this indenture witnesseth that in pursuance of the premises and in consideration of the sum of two hundred and ten pounds this day paid to the said George William Boulting by the said John Dyer the receipt thereof in full for the consideration on the sale of the said premises as aforesaid he the said George William Boulting doth hereby acknowledge he the said George William Boulting
DOTH HEREBY bargain sell and assign unto the said John Dyer, his executors administrators and assigns
ALL that messuage tenement dwelling house cottage and garden situate on the west side of a certain street in Bridgwater aforesaid called North Street bounded on the east by the said street on the west by a field belonging to the corporation of Bridgwater on the north by dwelling houses and gardens belonging to Kitch and on the south by a dwelling house and garden late in the occupation of Matthew Lintell which said premises hereby assigned were formerly in the possession of James Boulting (now deceased) but are now in the possession of the said John Dyer
AND all out houses buildings lights mains sewers ways easements rights members and appurtenances whatsoever to the said premises belonging or appertaining
AND all the estate term and terms of years property claim and demand whatsoever of this of the said George William Boulting into or out of the said premises with the appurtenances
TO HOLD the said premises with the appurtenances unto the said John Dyer his executors administrators and assigns from henceforth for all the residue now to come and unexpired of the said terms of four thousand years and for all other the estate term an interest of the said George William Boulting therein
AND the said George William Boulting doth hereby for himself his heir executors and administrators covernant with the said John Dyer his executors administrators or assigns that notwithstanding anything by the said George William Boulting made or done or knowingly permitted or suffered to the contrary he the said George William Boulting now has in himself good right and full power by these presents to assign the said premises unto the said John Dyer his executors administrators and assigns for the residue of the said term in manner aforesaid and that the said premises shall at all times hereinafter during the said term be quietly entered into and upon and be held occupied and enjoyed by the said John Dyer is executors administrators and assigns
AND that free from all incumbrances whatsoever had made erected or occasioned by the said George William Boulting or any person claiming by or through him
AND FURTHER that the said George William Boulting his executors and administrators and all other persons lawfully or equitably claiming any estate or interest in the said premises shall and will at all times hence after upon the request and on the cost of the said John Dyer his executors administrators or assigns make do and execute all such acts deeds matters and things for the further better and more perfectly assessing the said premises unto the said John Dyer his executors administrators and assigns for the residue of the said term in manner aforesaid as by the said John Dyer his executors administrators or assigns shall be reasonably required
IN WITNESS whereof the said parties to these presents have hereunto sets their hands and seals the day and year first above written
George William Boulting
Signed and sealed and delivered by the within named George William Boulting in the presence of
E Lilly auctioneer & land agent Bridgwater
Received on the say of the date of the within written indenture from the within named John Dyer the sum of two hundred and ten poinds being the full consideration money within expressed to be paid by him unto me as witness my hand
George William Boulting
Witnessed by E Lilly