Chapter 3: Exeter, and the Salisbury Road, 1824
This chapter has a few architectural refences. I can’t help it. Somewhere in a past life I had an interest in that particular field…
Downe Hall is a magnificently proportioned Georgian manor in Bridport built by William Downe largely on the proceeds of the textile industry of the late 18th century.
Photo Credit: Dorset Life
He left the ten-bedroom edifice to his daughter, Sarah Reid, whose husband William got a bit overextended to none other than Joseph Gundry, and subsequently filed for bankruptcy. He lost the whole kit and caboodle. In “Ananias”, this sets a series of pivotal events into motion. One of those events leads to Elmfield House in Exeter – designed and built by the architect and civil engineer James Green. Not an ostentatious edifice really, but its Palladian portico offers marvelous street presence. Have a look next time you’re there.
I had to be restrained from writing too much architectural nonsense in this novel lest I bore you half to death – as I have done with my loving wife throughout our many sojourns in Europe. But I can talk about whatever I want in this blog!
A business trip by the novel’s protagonist leads him to Yeovil and Shaftesbury. Two outstanding football club towns incidentally. I inherited no such athletic prowess but am addicted to watching the beautiful game.
I have DAZN.
These towns represent stopovers for the night on the coach ride to Salisbury. At Yeovil, Ananias stays at an inn on Reckleford Hill called the Nag’s Head.
Photo Credit (1963): www.yeovilhistory.info
Unfortunately, the Nag's Head was demolished in 1963 to make way for an ultra tasteful dual lane highway or carriageway as they say in the olde country. For all you urban planning zealots, I give you the site today:
Back in Shaftesbury, Ananias overnights with his aunt and uncle who are employed in the button industry. “Button industry” you say? Well yes. This was, at the time, the biggest craft industry in Dorset. I refer you to https://dorset-ancestors.com/?p=694. It's as interesting a read you will find on the topic of buttons.
My ancestors were into buttons in a big way. Me? I generally prefer zippers unless I am making an important fashion statement – which I am not typically prone to do.
Shaftesbury remains a gorgeous little town in Dorset. Well worth a visit.
Photo Credit: Visit Dorset