|32 and 33 Bridge Street - a Brief History
|32 Bridge Street.
The history of this property is very poorly documented. No title deeds at all have been located prior to 1900 and the following account is
based on the occurrence of the property in the Rate books, rentals and tax returns and on its description as an abutting property both on 31
It is first mentioned in 1647 as an adjoining property to 33 and is described as the property of a yeoman, John Smith. Thomas Lydyate had
taken his place by the time of the hearth tax returns, and a relation Simon Lydyate by 1697. John Cole, a blacksmith, occupied the premises
from 1710 until his death in 1726, but as his will makes no provision for the disposal of the house, he presumably didn't own it. His successor
was John Jarrett, who died in 1754. He was probably an owner occupier, for in 1734 he had married Ann Stanley of Alveston, and in 1755,
when the first owner can be established from the Land Tax returns, 32 belonged to Edward Stanley, Ann Stanley's great nephew, and it may
be therefore that the property had passed to the Stanleys under Jarrett's will.
By 1755, when Edward Stanley appears in ownership, the property was occupied by Michael Edwards. It then passed to John Edwards,
presumably his son, and then, in 1815, to his widow. She then acquired the freehold from John Stanley (presumably Edward Stanley's son)
and passed it on to Michael Edwards. Again the relationship is not known, but he may be assumed to have been her son. By 1832 the owner
was William Bourton of Hampton Lucy, who had presumably purchased the property from Michael Edwards, and the tenant was William
The house had by now become a tavern, known as the Mulberry Tree, and it remained as such until after 1900, but owned from 1855 by R M
Bird, who in 1878 also bought 33 adjoining.
33 Bridge Street.
The history of number 33 must be considered in conjunction with the whole of the area lying at the East end of Bridge Street, between that
street and Guild Street, for the whole was under one ownership until the early 19th century. This important site, containing the first buildings
that visitors reached on entering Stratford, was naturally suitable, like the opposite corner, for use as an inn. In the late 16th and 17th
centuries it was owned and run by the Dixon family, and is probably the same messuage that Thomas Dixon the elder was recorded as buying
in Bridge Street from Thomas Phillips in 1556, as part of the confiscated property of the dissolved college. Thomas Dixon the younger died in
1604, when a famous inventory of the contents of his inn, then known as The Swan, was compiled.
By 1618 the inn had passed to William Horne, but soon afterwards it was demolished and by 1603 the site was a piece of open land, known
as the wood yard. It was still described as such in 1647 when sold by Edward Wagstaff to Robert Milward, and again in 1663 when conveyed
by Milward to Christopher Wareing. The latter then proceeded to rebuild the property and by his will of 1698 left it to his son John Wareing.
He called his new building The Old Swan, (or Swan and Horsehoe in 1694) and presumably it was used as an inn, although Wareing was a
blacksmith by trade. John Wareing soon got into financial difficulties and in 1700 sold the property to his brother Christopher, who leased it
back to him. Christopher Wareing, however, was also forced to raise a mortgage on the property and gave his brother the opportunity of
regaining the freehold if he paid back the mortgage debt.
In 1704 the tenant was William Sale, a maltster and innkeeper, but he died in that year and the Wareings may well have taken up residence
there again, for Christopher's name occurs in the Manorial Rentals in 1710 and his widow's from 1721-34. In 1739 and 1740, when Thomas
Wareing, Christopher's son, first mortgaged and then sold the property to Michael Evetts, it was still called The Swan and was let to Henry
Leadbeater. Michael Evetts, an innkeeper by trade may well have lived there from that date until his death in 1761. In 1752 he settled it on his
daughter Mary, on her marriage to Richard Smith, subject to an annuity to be paid to him for life. Richard Smith appears as occupier from
1766 and it was in about 1777 that substantial alterations took place which were to transform the appearance of the site.
Two houses were at first erected, facing towards the river, in one of which lived Richard Smith himself, and in the other Susanna Smith,
widow, no doubt his mother. Under his will of 1791 they passed to his widow Sarah Smith and then to Giles Smith, his great nephew.
In 1812 the history of the two houses becomes sub-divided, for Giles Smith sold the one on the corner of Bridge Street (here termed 33a) to
Thomas Smith and the other (33b) to William Paine. Thomas Smith, however, died in the same year, and his trustees, in 1818, sold 33a to
John Gill, a liquor merchant. After complicated mortgage arrangements, the freehold passed to the new occupant, Samuel Taylor and he sold
it to Thomas Hutchings in 1844. By 1844 Richard Bird, liquor merchant, was the new tenant, and he bought the freehold in 1878.
In 1895 the freeholds of both properties were sold by Thomas Hutchings' executors, the southerly to John Greenway and the other to the
Kitchens who held it until after 1900.
My father and mother, William and Vera Gregory, took over as licencees of 32 Bridge Street in about 1939. The pub was simply "R M Birds".
When we first moved there, we lived at number 33, which was known as the "Mulberries" - after the mulberry tree in the grounds. Thus the
name appears to have been transferred from 32 to 33 ! I used to play on the balcony which is still preserved - and my cousin almost dropped
me off it once !! The military took over 33 during the war and we had to move to the first floor flat above number 32 - the second floor was left
empty. 32 was not just a pub but also still a wine merchants at that time, with extensive premises going right through to the lorry access from
Guild Street, and also cellars going right out under Bridge Street ( the George at the top of Bridge Street (now "Next") also had cellars going
out under the street.) When the air-raid sirens went, we used to go down into the cellars, and the neighbours would come in and everyone
would drink until the "all clear" sounded. My father used to drive for R M Birds occasionally and would sometimes take me with him on the
lorry. In 1944 we moved to the Masons Arms at Wilmcote, and I'm not sure what happened to R M Birds after that, although it of course
Pat and Janet have also come up with a list of occupiers of 32 Bridge St - the following may be of interest to some old Stratfordians :-
1850 - William Court 1855-65 Thomas Powers 1870 - Alfred Court 1875-90 - Elizabeth Pratt 1892 - J F Burke 1898 - Edgar
Scriven 1900 - George M Bird
|Postcards of the Past
|A couple of friends, Pat and Janet Hall, have very kindly done some research into my childhood
homes, 32 and 33 Bridge Street. Thanks to them and to the staff at Stratford Records Office.
Their findings are below.
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