Keynsham in old picture postcards

Keynsham in old picture postcards

:   Barbara J. Lowe and Members of Keynsham and Saltford Local History Society
:   Somerset
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-2534-5
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Keynsham in old picture postcards'

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Keynsham lies south of the River Avon, roughly mid-way between Bath and Bristol, on an outerop of Jurassic limestone abundant with fossils such as ammonites and belemnites, The ammonites, which resem bie coiled up snakes, gave rise to the legend that Saint Keyna, a fifth century Welsh Saint, turned all the snakes to stone when she came to live here. Saint Keyna was said to have given her name to the town but early spellings, Caegineshamme and Cainesham, indicate that the derivation is from a Saxon, Caegine. Keynsharn's position near the confluence of the Rivers Chew and Avon attracted settlers from the earliest times. Middle Acheulean type flint and chert bifacial axes have been found in the River Terrace gravels here, showing human occupation about 200,000 B.C. Evidence has also been found of Neolithic and Beaker Folk, and Roman settlement here appears to have been extensive. Remains of a very large third or fourth century court yard villa, a smaller villa, coins, coffins and other artefacts have been found. Saxons were active in the area during the sixth century and a portion of the Wansdyke dates from this time. Keynsham was an AngloSaxon Royal Estate and a Minster was built here. Excavated Saxon relics (carved masonry, deeorative bronzes and a coin of 1064) eonfirm Saxon occupation during the ninth, tenth and eleventh centuries.

After the Norman Conquest, the Manor of Keynsham was given to Queen Edith, wife of the Conqueror, and subsequently to Robert, first Earl of Gloucester (illegitimate son of King Henry 1). Robert's son, William, the second Earl, built a large and important Abbey in Keynsham at the request of his only son, Robert, as he lay on his deathbed in 1166. This Abbey was built on the hillside overlooking the confluence of the Rivers Chew and Avon (the area now

known as Keynsham Memorial Park), which was probably the site of the old Saxon Minster.

The dedication of the Abbey Chureh was to the Virgin Mary, Saint Peter and Saint Paul, and the foundation given to Regular Canons of the Order of Saint Victor of Paris. Endowments of the Abbey included the Manor and Hundred of Keynsharn, land and property in Bristol, Kent, Oxford, Dorset, Wales and Ireland. The Parish Chureh of Keynsharn, dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, was appropriated to the Abbey in 1292.

The Abbey was rieh, powerful, efficient and important, ex cept during the early fourteenth century when hardship was caused by Irish wars, riots, eattle disease and, of course, the Black Death. Many important people were buried in the Abbey but perhaps the most elaborate funeral was that of Sir Jasper Tudor in 1495.

The dissolution of the Abbey took place on January 23rd 1539. The Abbot, Prior and Canons were pensioned off, the lead ripped from the Church and Cloister roofs and the seven bells sold. Over the years the fabrie was used for all kinds of building purposes until by 1860 nothing was visible above ground. During 1961-1966 a Keynsharn by-pass was cut through the Memorial Park and the site of the Abbey.

No plans of the Abbey have survived but recent excavations on the site (by Bristol Folk House Archaeological Society) prove that the buildings were large and costly, Fallen vaulting and carved stonework from the Chapter House show that it was probably one of the most beautiful Romanesque buildings in Europe. Many of the Church and Chapel floors were paved with deeorated tiles of the thirteenth and fifteen th centuries, and the windows filled with grisaille glass. A fifteenth century carved stone Rood Screen stood across the

Lay Nave and remains of Saintonge (France) wine jugs and a bone musical instrument have been recovered. We hope that continued excavation will expand our knowledge of this wonderful Abbey.

After the dissolution of the Abbey in 1539, Keynsham continued to develop as a small market town, manufacturing woollen cloth and woad. The High Street and Temple Street areas were first developed at this time. The Abbey itself, along with lts land, the best agriculturalland in Keynsham, was sold to Sir Thomas Bridges in 1552. About 1650, the Bridges family built themselves a mansion on the site, due east of the Parish Church, where the by-pass now is. This was demolished in 1775 because a later owner considered it too draughty, The whole Abbey site was then levelled. This accounts for the total disappearance above ground of the Abbey. The estate passed into the hands of the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, and this is the souree of the reputed conneetion between G.F. Handel, the Duke's musician, and the town of Keynsham. The Abbey estate was finally sold in 1854 when the th en Duke went bankrupt.

The Manor of Keynsharn remained in royal hands until James I sold it, in 1614, to Ann Whitmore, a wealthy widow from Shropshire. The Whitmores never lived here, but simply used Keynsham as a souree of income until, in 1768, the estate was braken up and sold. The title of Lord of the Maner, and some of the remaining land, was bought by the Lyne family, who built the present Keynsham Manor House in Manor Road.

'Smokey Cainesham' was a sm all industrial town by the eighteenth century. The woollen and woad industries had died out, and had been replaced by brass, steel, paper and logwood dye making, quarrying, time burning and coal

mining. It was a po or town, without any resident gentry, maintaining outmoded agricultural methods compared with its more prosperous village neighbours. The last vestiges of the old common pastures did not disappear until J.S. Fry and Sons bought and developed the Harns in the 1920's. The town, however, did have fine inns because it was on the Bath Bristol Turn Pike Road.

The coming of the Great Western Railway in 1840 brought great changes. It provided better paid work. It changed the character of the town. Residential development began in areas like Bristol Road and Station Road, for commuters from Bath and Bristo1. At the other end of the town, the building of the Poor Union (now Keynsham Hospital) for the Keynsharn area in 1838, meant that about a quarter of the population was officlally pauper. The population of Keynsham only increased gradually in the nineteenth century and was 3,152 in 1901.

Keynsham remained legally a village until 1938 when the Keynsham Urban District Council was created. The development of Keynsham was especially rapid in the two decades following the Second World War. This expansion, the creation of large housing estates, the alterations to the Town Centre, especially following the disastrous floods of J uly 1968, destroyed many of the long established landmarks portrayed in these photographs.

Keynsham is now a town of 20,443 population (1981 figures), and, superficially, shows little evidence of a town with a long and interesting past.

Barbara J. Lowe Elizabeth White

1. This is the earliest aerial photograph which we have of Keynsham, taken in 1921-1922. The Parish Church and Church Square are clearly shown, with the old Vicarage to the 1eft of the tower. All the area at the centre top of the photograph has been redeveloped and is now covered with modern flats and 'town houses'. Much of the area top left has also been redeveloped and small 'town houses' and flats stream down the hill, Right of the Church tower is the row of old houses containing the ancient cottage shown in number 20.

2. This 1927 view of Keynsham was taken from above Keynsham Memorial Park (forrnerly the Precinct of Keynsharn Abbey) looking north. On the left, the High Street curves away westerly from the Church towards Bristol. The Great Western Railway line from Bristol to London may be seen running north-west to south-east across the picture. Beyend the north-east corner, the chocolate factory of J .S. Fry and Sons Limited, is th en under construction, the gatehouse museum and the reconstructed ground plan of the Roman Villa found under the factory site having already been completed. Fry's private railway siding curves to meet the main line at the right. The special 'chocolate train' ceased to run in 1979 and the track is now derelict. During 1963-1966, a by-pass was dug diagorrally through the area between the Church and the main railway line. A number of good Victorian houses were demolished to make way for this road and the foundations of some of the Abbey buildings were revealed during roadworks.

3. This portion of tesselated pavement came from Keynsharn's large Roman Villa, which was discovered when graves were dug in the cemetery just outside the town. The villa is one of the largest yet found in England, the central court yard being over 200 feet square. This portion of pavement depiets Europa and the bull. The villa bas never been completely excavated because of burials, but trial work was carried out during the 1920's.

4. During excavations on the site of Keynsham Abbey, members of Bristol Folk House Archaeological Society discovered this part of the shaft of a Saxon Cross built into the foundations of the internal west wall of the South Transept of the Abbey Church, It is probably of tenth century date and may have come from the oid Saxon Minster.

5. These photographs show a carved boss and floor tiles which came from Keynsham Abbey.

(a) Shows a Romanesque ceiling boss discovered during work on Keynsharn by-pass. It is exquisitely executed and depiets Samson and the Lion.

(b) This shows a portion of late thirteenth century tiled pavement which formed the floor of the Lay Chancelof Keynsharn Abbey Church. The three tiles at the top are of later date and probably commemorate the early Kings, Edward the Confessor, Edgar, Edred and Edward the Martyr, and their connections with Westminster and Glastonbury Abbeys,

6. This shows the Almshouses in Bristol Road, founded by Sir Thomas Bridges in 1686. Successive building up and widening of the road has taken the front gardens, and the doors are now below road level. The Coats of Arms on the building are those of Sir Thomas and of his wife, Lady Anna Rodney. They have ceased to be Almshouses and are now restored as one private house.

7. This picture shows the old Wingrove Hotel on the right, and, on the left, the turret of the Manor House is a landmark. The Wingrove Hotel derived its name from William Wingrove, a surgeon, who inherited the house and site from his father-in-law, Thomas Rich, in 1824. William died in 1832, and by 1855, his widow, Eliza, was financially embarassed and the property was sold. An Eliza Wingrove, who died in 1855, was buried under the floor of the Nave of the Parish Church, in a brass-studded, leather-covered coffin. Another, older coffin, was below hers. Dr. Evan's Surgery was on the left-hand side of the High Street.

8. This is another view of the Wingrove Hotel and adjacent houses. The earliest Deeds of the Wingrove are dated 1732, but a later Abstract refers to earlier ones. The land originally belonged to Keynsham Abbey, and in 1695 and 1700, to Sir Thomas Whitmore. The house is first mentioned in 1824, and in 1881 it was first described as a public house. In 1873, it was listed (in Wright's Brtstol Directory) as 'Wingrove House, Wines and Spirits Vaults'. lt was re-named an hotel in 1888. In 1890, the interior was drastically altered because a neighbour complained of noise from the bar. In 1954, it was purchased by Keynsham Urban District Council, and, with the adjacent houses, was finally demolished to make way for the '├╝ld Vicarage Green' development of flats and 'town houses'. The pillared porch belonged to 'Uplands House' which was built in the early eighteenth century by an hostier of the 'Crown Inn' (further down Bristol Hill) who made a fortune.

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