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Earliest information: 1723
Original estate: Priory of St. John
Common Rights? Yes (3 & 3a): (3a has 12 ft frontage; 1 horse or 2 cows; 3 has 22 ft frontage; 1 horse or 2 cows)
Date of current building: Early 19th century (?1812 see below)
Grade II Listed (3 & 3a)

Thumbnail History:

This property is referred to in many historic documents as "Little Priory House". The property was split into two in 1812.

All the properties on the "island" [1-7 Bridge Street] stand on land that was previously the Priory of St. John the Baptist, which had been established in 1232, and was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1546-47. In 1740 a new road incorporating two bridges was built for easier access to town from Charnham Street, replacing old road in front of Riverside House and through the ford across the River Dun (by Forge Cottage).

Description of Property:

(3a) From Listed Building records: House, now house and shop. Early 19th century. Slate roof, wide eaves and end chimney to right. Grey brick with red rubbed flat arches. 3 storeys. 1 glazing, bar sash on first floor, late 19th century shop window and door to left under flat hood on cut brackets.

(3) From Listed Building records: House and shop. Early 19th century. Slate roof, brick walls grey headers and red dressings with red rubbed flat arches. 3 storeys. 2 plain sashes with, central glazing bar, canted bay window with sashes to right of first floor, 20th century fascia sign over. Fascia and cornice across building at first floor level, 19th century shop front with recessed central door to right and 4 panel house door under rectangular fanlight to left. Included for group value.

Photo Gallery:

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Betts Betts

- 3 (on left) and 3a (on right) Bridge Street Libby Blakey - Jan 2015

- North end of Bridge Street c1910

- W G Taylor, Dispensing and family chemist, c1880. "Leath and Ross's Homeopathic Preparations, Genuine Patent Medicines. All kind of Horse and Cattle Medicines. Leeches, &c. Prescriptions promptly and accurately prepared."

- 3 (on left) and 3a (on right) Bridge Street Jeanne Petitt - Mar 2007

- Emma, Edith and William Gee Taylor, 12 Oct 1894 (Sam Hawkes, High Street)

- Letitia Taylor (Gearings, London)

- Prescription label for W.A.K. Betts, late 1950s.


< 1232: Priory of St. John the Baptist built on the "island".

1546-47: Priory of St. John dissolved by Henry VIII

1723 (DD) Joseph Wells (own), William Clifford (occ)

1740: New road and two bridges built for easier access to town from Charnham Street, replacing the old road in front of the Tannery (stood to rear of Riverside house) and the ford (by Forge Cottage)

1744 (DD) Bequest to Elizabeth Cook on death of J. Wells

1745-61 (DD & QR) John Coxhead, bought for £70, (tanner)

1766 (DD) Richard Gibbs (occ) (staymaker)

1773 (DD) Mortgage for John Coxhead (son of J.C.) (baker)

1774 (QR) Richard Gibbs for house late John Coxhead's, q.r. 4d.
1782-1805 (DD) Richard Gibbs bought for £95, (staymaker)

1791 - sale of stock in trade: The Reading Mercury edition of 18 July 1791 advertised the sale (over five days) of the remaining stock in trade of Richard Gibbs, "Linen and Woollen-Drapery, Haberdashery, Brokery, New and Second-Hand Cloaths, Household furniture and fixtures" who was "retiring from business". The items were "consisting of a large assortment of printed cottons, Irish cloths, muslins, dowlasses [a coarse plain fabric], sheetings, forest cloths, waistcoat pieces, toileners, velverets [an imitation velvet of cotton in twill or plain weaves made with a short close weft pile], corduroys, fustians, fluffs, camblets, wildboars, laces, edgings, ribbons, mens and women hats, cloth great coats, furtouts, close-bodied coats, waistcoats, breeches, gowns, stays, cardinals, &c. bedsteads, furniture, beds, bedding, mattresses, counter-panes, drawers, tables, chairs, carpets, glass, clocks, coppers, pots &c. &c. the whole includes a numerous assortment, both new and second-hand, in the above extensive line of businesses, which will be sold without reserve".

1805-07 (QR) William Marchment for house late J. Coxhead's, q.r. 4d.
1807 (DD) Trustees of Richard Gibbs sold to J.Taylor & R.Sadler

1808 (DD) J. Coxhead bought for £330, (cabinet maker)

1810 (DD) Thomas Dicker (trustee of John Coxhead)

1812 (DD) J. Finch buys at auction, transfers to William Marchment for £370.

Converted into 2 dwellings , single ownership.

1818-47 (QR) William Marchmant for house late J. Coxhead's, q.r 4d.

3 Bridge Street (Southern property)

1841 (CS) William Marchment (60) (glover) [Constable 1838]
1847 (CL) 3 & 3a: Devisees of William Marchment (owner), Samuel Marchment & Thomas Hart (occupants)
1847 (KD) Samuel Marchment (tailor)
1850 (DD) S. Marchment bought for £350
1851 (CS) Samuel Marchment, Master Tailor)
1861 (CS#4) Samuel Marchment (51), Tailor. Mary (25) dressmaker

1871-77 (CS) George Skinner (39) (draper)

1877 (DD) William Gee Taylor (chemist) bought for £290.

1895 (DD) W.G. Taylor bought 3a for £280 – both back in single ownership! No. 3 is occupied by W.G. Taylors (chemist); No. 3a is occupied by Henry Fernley Taylor.

1899 Miss Emma Taylor, daughter of Willam Gee Taylor, successfully qualified as a chemist and druggist. Only 132 out of 449 candidates passed that year, and Emma is said to have occupied a high place.

3a Bridge Street (Northern property)

1847 (KD) Thomas Hart (baker & Town Crier)
1847 (CL) 3 & 3a: Devisees of William Marchment (owner), Samuel Marchment & Thomas Hart (occupants)

1850 (DD) 3a bought by Thomas Hart (Constable in 1851) for £300.
1851 (CS) George & Elizabeth Smith, fishmonger. (Julie, a descendant, contacted the Virtual Museum Aug 2013 saying "It certainly seems right that the Marchment family were in the main half of number 3a Bridge St. and my George Smith and his family lodged next door in 3a in 1851. In 1861 and 1871 they were in Church Street and by then had many more children so perhaps they outgrew number 3a. George was a widower on the 1881 census, still living in Church Street, and still listed as a fishmonger although in 1857 he made the local newspaper as an "insolvent debtor"! I believe his wife, Elizabeth, died in 1874 (aged 55) but I need to check it's the correct death entry and George possibly died in 1882, aged 77 (the age is slightly wrong but that's no surprise).
1861 (CS) Thomas Hart, Landed Proprietor
1871 (CS) Thomas Hart, cattle dealer
1871 (CS) Thomas Hart, retired baker

1886 (DD) Elizabeth J. Matthew bought for £250
1895 (DD) W.G. Taylor bought 3a for £280 – both back in single ownership!

1896 (CL) W.G. Taylor owns both: No. 3a is occupied by Henry Fernley Taylor

Back in joint ownership again:

1902 (T&M Register) William Gee Taylor (owner)
1903 (KD) W. G. Taylor (chemist)
1903 (T&M Register) Henry Fearnley Taylor (occupier until 1967)

1912 (DD) Both owned by Henry F. Taylor (known as "Fern"), dispensing & photographic chemist

1913 (T&M Register) 3: Henry Fearnley Taylor (occupier until 1941)

1941 (DD) William Edward George Wickham - mortgage £1150
1941 (T&M Register) William Edward George Wickham (occupier until 1968)
1950 (DD) Mrs. B.L.Wickham

1952 (CL) 3a Void

1956 (CL) 3 William Alfred Keech Betts (chemist)
(CL) 3a Mrs. Betts (off licence)

1962 (KH) Betts Chemist moved to 125 High Street. [Mr. Betts continued to own 3 & 3a until c1990. He lived at 4a Parsonage Lane and died c1991] (Alan Crook, 1983: "the dispensary at the back of 3 BS was like walking back 100 years! After Betts left, AC found all sorts of curiosities in the old garden shed, including gun-powder!")

1968 (T&M Register) William Alfred Keech Betts (occupier until 1973)

196? (AC) Peter Priest (Hi - Fi shop)

1968? (AC) Ivor & Margaret Moyle (shoe shop)

1974 (T&M Register) Void (no occupier)

197? (AC) Barnes Estate Agent

197? (AC) Margaret Stockland & Jill Benjamin (antiques)

1972 3: Jeanne Petitt (antiques)
3a Pandora's Box (antiques) Mrs. Joan Gleave (tenant)
1983 3 & 3a: Jeanne Petitt (ladies fashion clothes, shoes & leather accessories)
1984 (CL) 2 & 3a: Void
1985 (CL) 3 & 3a: Void
1988 3a: Pandora's Box (Joan Gleave) "Wide variety of Victorian items, both furniture and smaller. Specialists in Staffordshire figures".
2005 (CL) Void
2007 Jeanne Petitt "High-class Ladies Fashions"
2011 (CL) Void
29 Mar 2014 Jeanne Petitt closed.

Jan 2015 Libbey Blakey Designs - Decorative Interiors
Sep 2020 Libbey Blakey Designs relocated to Blanchard Collective, Littlecote Road, Froxfield.

Sep 2020 Property empty.

See also:

- Priory of St. John

- Medical & Pharmaceutical artefacts (inc Taylor's)

- Sale of Poisons Register - Taylor's, 3 Bridge Street, 1931. (from Stewart Hofgartner)