The history of The Old Stables, Calne

November 12th, 2021

London Road Calne Valentine Postcard registered in 1905. The building to the left of the van is the London Road Inn on the corner of Back Road. Its diagonal window is still clearly visible to this day.

I am currently selling a ground floor flat in Back Road, a little backwater running parallel to London Road in Calne. The lane was in existence from at least 1695. In the 1700s until at least 1854 the lane was called the Quarr (may sometimes have been used to refer to London Road in this area), or occasionally Quarry Street. I found the the name Back Road used for the first time in the papers in November 1880, then in the 1890s until the 1930s it was frequently referred to as Back Row. (There was also a Back Row off Curzon Street, just to confuse matters!) House numbering appears to have remained the same. 6 Back Road is now incorporated into another house, and Nestleton Villa, 12 Back Road, no longer exists, but its name is given to Nestleton Close. Stockfield, now number 14, was once two cottages, 13 and 14. (A will for Walter Angell in 1965 shows his address as Stockfield, 13 Back Road).

The history of the Chapels in Back Road can be a little confusing, due to frequent changes of denomination. The first chapel was built in about 1695, when the Presbyterians opened a nonconformist chapel near the end of the lane on the left, roughly on the site of South Place flats 1 to 15. I will refer to this as Chapel (1). Chapel (1) was a rectangular building of four bays. By 1717 John Melhuish was the pastor, caring for a congregation of 250. The Victoria County History tells us that the chapel became more Unitarian in style after 1770.

The four Grade 2 listed cottages to the left of The Stables (nos. 7-10) date from about 1790 and according to the Victoria County History they are the only buildings in Back Road older than c.1800. No.7 is particularly interesting as it includes original joinery and an open fire to the right gable end.

Andrews’ and Dury’s Maps of Wiltshire of 1773 and 1810 (below) show little more than a small stub of Back Road. At that time there were probably a few more cottages in the lane, but the Old Stables cannot be identified. There is a small black rectangle which is probably Chapel (1). Contemporary newspapers in 1775 show that the lane gave access to some arable land.

Andrews’ and Dury’s Map of Wiltshire 1773

According to the Victoria County History the Methodists met in Calne from about 1808 and built a chapel in Back Road in 1811. I will refer to this chapel as Chapel (2). The chapel was enlarged in 1815 and 1828. I believe this chapel may have become the first Wesleyans Chapel, the front entrance of which was between 53 and 55 London Road. The plot is now 1a and 2a Back Road.

The congregation of the Presbytarian Chapel (1) gradually declined until in 1829 there were only 30 members.

Newspapers show that in about 1831 two new houses were built in the lane.

Chapel (1) had changed fully to a Unitarian Chapel by the 1830s, but it had closed by the end of the decade. The Chapel was taken over by the Primitive Methodists in 1836, at a rental of four pounds per year. This rent proved too steep for the Primitive Methodists and they left for a short time, but they returned in 1846 with a more favourable rent of £2 per annum.

In 1832 the marriage took place of Mr. T L Evans, of Brewood, Staffordshire, and Sarah, youngest daughter of Mr J Button, Quarry Cottage, Wiltshire. The officiant was Rev Satchwell,.

I have seen a reference to a meeting at a Wesleyan Chapel in 1856. In 1857 the Wesleyans were making collections to repay the debt on their Chapel – presumably Chapel (2) after its extension. In September 1858 the Sunday School celebrated its anniversary in the Chapel. The paper gave its location as ‘the Quarr’.

On 4th April 1853 a Mr James Button, aged 37, died suddenly in the property in The Quarr. This was reported in the local paper.

In 1854 a house, brewery, bakehouse and garden in The Quarr was auctioned.

On Feb 1st 1855, the Wiltshire Independent reported that Elizabeth Allen was brought up in custody at the Town Hall for stealing a chemise hung out to dry with other linen in the yard of Henry Stevens, blacksmith of the Quarr. On the assumption that the Old Stables was indeed a stables, I wondered, could this blacksmith have worked there? The case was proved and Elizabeth was committed to trial. At the crown Court was was given a sentence of one week.

Henry Stevens was born in Chippenham in 1822, and married Caroline Swanborough in 1846. They appeared in the 1861 census in The Quarry, with Henry working as a blacksmith, and four of their eight children. There were no other residents in the lane working with horses, so it seemed very likely that the Old Stables were somehow connected with Henry. The Stevens family were still at The Quarry in 1871. That year there were some other possible residents who may have kept horses at the Stables. Alfred Lusty was a coach smith from Gloucester, and John Hayward was a milkman. It is also of note that there were several carpenters in the lane, so it is quite likely that there were carpentry workshops in the lane. By 1881 Henry and Caroline Stevens no longer lived in Back Road, and had moved to Market Hill.

In 1876 Lord Lansdowne provided a piece of land in Silver Street and a new Wesleyan chapel seating 400 was erected there that year at a cost of £2,200. Calne Primitive Methodist Church also had a new church built just two years later, in 1878.

In November 1880 a larger house (unnamed) was advertised for sale in Back Road: “TO be SOLD, good FREEHOLD DWELLING-HOUSE, situate in Back Road, Caine, containing 3 Sitting-rooms with board floors, 2 good Bedrooms, large Landing, Ac. Also a good dry Cellar and good Pump of Water, Washhouse, Bake-house, Stable, Piggery, and front and side entrance, also good Garden, half acre, partly walled, with choice Fruit Trees.—For particulars apply to Mr. George Archard, Upholsterer, &c., Church St., Calne.”

Another property came to market the following month, December 1880 – although it is possible that it is the same property, and that the owner had failed to sell privately: “CALNE, WILTS. Sale of Valuable Freehold BUSINESS PREMISES, with extensive and most productive walled Garden ; also, Piece of Capital Arable Land adjoining, situate and known as the Back Row, in the Quarry, Caine, containing altogether about Two Roods. MR. CHAS. H. PARRY is instructed by the Vendor, to offer for SALE by AUCTION, TUESDAY, the 21st day of December, 1880, for 6 o’clock punctually, at the Lansdowne Arms Hotel, subject to conditions then to be produced, the above very desirable FREEHOLD PROPERTY, Which consists of a most substantially stone-built Dwellinghouse, extensive underground Cellar, Bakehouse, Brewhouse, and Stable with Lofts over, Large Yard with side-entrance from tho street, excellent supply of water, with a large and most productive Walled Garden and Piece of Arable Land, together about half an acre, stocked with the choicest Fruit Trees in full bearing, and upon which are erected capital Piggeries, large Shed with Liquid Manure Vaults, &c. Gas laid on through the house. Immediate possession may be had upon completion of the purchase. To View apply to Mr. W. Tucker, Church Street, Calne, and for particulars to Mr. Charles H. Parry, Chilvester Hill, or Mr. Edward R. Henly, Solicitor, Calne. Dated, Auction, Land and Estate Agency Offices, Chilvester Hill, Caine, and High Street, Chippenham, Dec. 10th, 1880.”

In April 1881 a meeting of bicycle riders was held at the Progress Iron Works, for the purpose of establishing a Bicycle and Tricycle Club. The attendance was good, and after consultation it was resolved to form a club at once.

In January 1884 the paper reported a meeting of the Local Board: “Drainage in Back Row. The SURVEYOR reported that there were 13 houses in Back Row beyond the prescribed distance from the main sewer, and that the cost of the necessary extension of the sewer would be 53s 14d. The subject was referred to the Drainage Committee.”

The footprint of the Old Stables, extended to the rear, can clearly be seen in the old map below, surveyed in 1885. There is no evidence that the stables were connected with any large house. Just behind the Old Stables you can see a small quarry. Working on the assumption that The Old Stables really were stables, it seemed likely that they were used to accommodate the draft horses working at the quarries.

Just beyond the stables along Back Road is the Progress Iron Works, roughly on the site of Hazelden and South Place flats 16 to 33, opposite Chapel (2).

Map of Back Road Calne surveyed in 1885 and published in 1886

At about this time Chapel (1) was bought by the Primitive Methodists. It was labelled as such in the map above. Chapel (1) was later taken over by the Wesleyans.

The Primitive Methodist Chapel in 1920

The Primitive Methodist Chapel (Chapel 2) fronting London Road, in about 1920

Tragic news was reported in the Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette and then the North Wilts Herald on Friday 08 January 1886. “Attempted Suicide. On Sunday a rumor was current in this town that a young fellow named William Weston, son of Mr. Edwin Weston, of the Back Row, had made a determined attempt on his own life by cutting his throat with a razor. The injury inflicted was, however, slight, and the would-be suicide was brought before the Mayor and Ex-Mayor on Monday last, when after hearing the medical evidence and the statement of Weston, they discharged him with a caution.” The Gazette added the information that William was living with his parents.

In April 1886 Henry Gale and Charles Matthews appeared at Calne County Court. The Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette reported: “Small Affair — Henry Gale v. Charles Matthews. The claim was 13 shillings 9d for bread. The defendant, who lives in Back Row, the Quarry, Calne, admitted the debt, but pleaded a set-off of 8s, for rent of a bakehouse. It appeared that in May the defendant let a small bakehouse to plaintiff for 8s a month; the rent was settled in account, for bread supplied, up to the last month of the tenancy, when a dispute occurred. The plaintiff’s wife appeared. The set-off was allowed, and judgment given for the plaintiff for the balance, 5s 9d; defendant to pay costs, his Honour telling him he should have paid the balance into Court.”

In 1886 a well in Back Row was closed. The paper reported: “The Water Supply. — The Clerk reported that the assent of four persons, named Whale, Gabriel, Rutherford, and T. Bennett, who were believed to be interested the well in Back Row, had been obtained to its being closed. Some discussion took place as to the desirability or otherwise of the Board closing it, there appeared to be a doubt to whom the well actually belonged. Eventually, on the motion Mr. Harris, it was decided to fill up the well.”

In 1897 Quarry Cottage in Back Road came up for sale. I felt that in all likelihood this was The Old Stables, and sure enough Quarry Cottage was number 11 in a later advertisement. There is no cellar at The Old Stables, but perhaps it was filled in. The advert reads: “For Sale, the house and garden known as Quarry Cottage, situate in Back Row, The Quarry, Calne, Wilts, consisting of three rooms down, two bedrooms, two attics, washhouse, large coal and woodhouse, splendid stone cellar, good loft and pig-styes. Garden measuring 60 lug, well stocked with fruit trees of various kinds, also two good wells. All freehold property.”

In April 1899 Frederick Gunning, a coachbuilder living in Back Row, was brought up before the Borough Sessions for failure to pay the poor rates due in 1898, amounting to 18 shillings. Frederick promised to pay one of the outstanding rates over the next month, and this was agreed to.

In June 1899 Reuben Frederick Gunning, a coachbuilder living in Back Row, was charged with taking and selling on a trap which he was repairing. Frederick pleased not guilty but he was committed to trial at the next Quarter Sessions. The case was written up at length in the Wiltshire Times and Trowbridge Advertiser.

In 1899 Chapel (1) in Back Road was taken over as a Salvation Army barracks and this continued until the Second World War.

On 16th May 1900 Tilley and Parry auctioned a property in Back Row: “A convenient stone built and slated cottage and premises, with garden, situate in Back Row, London Road, Calne, in the occupation of Miss Sarah Bowles as quarterly tenant, at the low rent of £5 10s per annum, the tenant paying the water rate.”

The Ordnance Survey map below, published in 1900, shows a number of cottages and outbuildings which do not exist today. The footprint of the Old Stables is clearly visible to the right of the the letter A in ‘Back Road’. This map also shows clearly Chapels (1) and (2). The words Meth Chap (Prim) refer to Chapel (2) which can be seem to the right of the letter ‘K’ of Back Road. The area where Meth Chap (Prim) is written was the site of former Progress Iron Works and extends roughly over the area where Hazelden and South Place flats 16 to 33 are built today. The S. A. (Salvation Army) Barracks are roughly on the site of South Place flats 1 to 15. The present day Calne Methodist Church on Silver Street is shown as a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel.

Map of Calne showing Back Road in 1900

In January 1905 the Authority approved plans for a shed at Mr Ponting’s house in Back Row.

On 28 July 1906 the Swindon Advertiser published news of the death of John Staunton of 17 Back Row at the age of 72. He was a proninent member of the Wesleyan church, and had been Superintendent of the Sunday School for many years. He died of sudden heart failure in the company of a work colleague, James Hillier, at 5.45am, on a public seat near Mile Elm.

In 1907 Chapel (1) came up for auction by Herbert H Parry. It was described as, “All that freehold chapel, formerly the English Presbytarian or Unitarian Chapel, but now used as a place of worship by the Salvation Army, situate in Back Row, Bollings Lane, Calne, Now in the occupation of General Booth, as yearly tenant, at the annual rent of £5, and adjoining property of the Marquess of Lansdowne and Mr Thomas Rutherford. The premises are well built of stone with tiled roof and are admirably suited and adapted for their present or any similar use, or for the requirements of a factory, stores, or warehouse accommodation. The Company’s gas is laid on.”

The 1911 Census names the residents in Back Row (as it was then). Unfortunately we cannot be sure that this numbering is the same as the current 11 Back Road, but it seems quite likely.

  1. Walter Henry Angell, a foreman packer at the bacon factory, his wife Rose, and his 1 year old son Raymond
  2. John Rutty, a butcher at the bacon factory, his wife Ellen, his daughter Daisy, and his son Dante
  3. Henry Goodship, a mason’s labourer, his wife Emma and his son Edward
  4. Benjamin Lane, a stone mason, and his wife Ann
  5. Henry James Blackman, a farm labourer, and his wife Ellen
  6. – missing record
  7. Edward Butler, a bacon farm fabourer, and his wife Elizabeth
  8. George Taylor, a house builder’s labourer, his wife Mary, and their three daughters, Dorothy, Hilda and Florence. In 1932 the wedding of his daughter Hilda to Ivor Taylor was reported in the paper. The bride and grom both worked in Harris’s office. At that time the family were still living in Back Row.
  9. – missing record
  10. Vine Cottage. Fred Cainey, a self employed pork butcher, his wife Ellen, and their daughter Isabel
  11. Quarry Cottage. Eli Cainey Senior, a 68 year old self employed pork butcher, and his wife Kate Cainey
  12. Nestleton Villa. Charles Pontin a commercial clerk, his wife Emily, his sisters in law Susan and Ada, his nephew Roland, and four boarders
  13. George Tucker, a painter, carpenter and repair man for the bacon industry, his wife Clara, and their two sons Fred and Arthur
  14. Ann Weston, a widowed laundress and charwoman who was illiterate, and two boarders, both oaps
  15. John Gingell, a wood dealer, and his wife Emma
  16. Henry Robbins, a flour miller, his wife Emma, their three sons and their daughter
  17. Edward Satchell, a carman for Mr Burt a GWR Agent, his wife Hannah, and their two sons
  18. Henry Haddrell, a self employed gardener, his wife Ann and his neice Harriet
  19. (John?) Bromham who was was away in the Navy, his wife Blanche, their daughter May and their son John
  20. William Rutherford, a commercial clerk for a bacon curer, and his wife Mary
  21. Miss Matilda Cleverly, a domestic nurse, and her son Wilfred, an upholsterer
  22. Albert Little, a labourer at the bacon factory, and his wife Florence

I have not yet researched Back Road’s first world war record, but I did find that Private James Edwin Greenland, age 33, fell on 28th August 1918. He was in the Welsh Guards, number 4038, the son of James and Elizabeth Greenland, and the husband of Mrs E E Greenland of Nestleton, Calne. He is buried in Ligny-Sur-Canche British Cemetery. He was living in Newport, South Wales, during the war and is remembered on the Newport Cenotaph.

In 1925 a Mr Aplin living at Nestleton, Calne, sold a car. This may have been 12 Back Road.

In December 1934 the London Road Inn at the entrance to Back Road was marketed for auction. Lot 1 was described as “The Licensed Premises known as the London Road Brewery, being 85 London Road. The Property, which is stone built with tiled roof, has a frontage to the main London-Bath road of 25 feet and a return depth to Back Road of 29 feet. On the ground floor are Bar, Bar Parlour, and Private Saloon, all of which are licensed, and a small Living Room, Scullery and Washhouse, Coal Shed. On the first floor, three large bedrooms, with bathroom and WC. On the top floor two bedrooms and large store room.” Lot 2 was decribed as, “The brewery premises situate in Back Road and having a frontage thereto of 102 feet or thereabouts, adjoins Lot 1 with entrance therefrom, comprising mash floor, hop store with storage cellar under, brew house, store house.” Lot 3 over Shelburne Road included gardens and outbuildings, amongst which were a range of loose boxes and stalls. This seems to confirm that any stables used by this pub and brewery were likely to have been on the opposite side of the road, not in Back Lane.

On 19 December 1936 the Wiltshire Times and Trowbridge Advertiser reported, “After worshipping for many years in their chapel Back Row, the Primitive Methodists have been fortunate in securing more commodious premises by purchasing what was formerly the old Wesleyan Chapel but which has of late been used as iron foundry. The building has a frontage to the main thoroughfare known as the Quarry. Many interior alterations were necessary before could be again used as place worship. The work of carrying out these alterations has been entrusted to Messrs. Beazley Stanley and Gough.”

The 1938 Ordnance Survey map sheds more new and interesting light on number 11 and the outbuildings around it. The main property is now detached from the outbuildings behind it. Just to the north of number 11 there are two long rows comprising tiny units, smaller than cottages. Could these be garages? Perhaps the former stables? There is now a Methodist Chapel clearly marked on the opposite side of Back Road.

Map of Back Road Calne in 1938

The 1939 Register names the residents in Back Row (as it was then).

  1. Walter and Gwendoline Bewley
  2. Wilfred Pegler
  3. Henry Goodship
  4. Sarah Cooper
  5. John, Ada, and Eileen Truckle (later Morris)
  6. Nellie Gray, Kenneth Gray and George Gregory
  7. Victor and Dorothy Angell and one child
  8. Edwin and Mary Taylor, and Betty Taylor (later Butler)
  9. Herbert Robinson, Emily Robinson (later Simpson), and Herbert Simpson junior
  10. Kate Cainey
  11. Frederick Henry Edward Pegler, and Violet Emily Pegler, one child, and Cyril Brumby
  12. Henry and Alice Hill and one child, Ronald Gethin, Frank Branch, Christopher Boot, Roland Teece, Walter Watts, and Violet Hinckley
  13. Hubert, Alice, and Frances Salter
  14. Walter and Rosanna Angell
  15. James and Clara Bowyer
  16. Annie Wheeler, Brian Fowler, and Reginald Jones (later Bielby)
  17. Edwin, Ethel and Michael Lawrence, and Kenneth Hall
  18. William and Margaret Turner and Raymond Jones
  19. Rowland, Elsie, Victor, and Patricia Whale, and two more children
  20. Alfred, Edith, Raymond and Leslie Drew, and two more children
  21. Brynley and Mona Evans, Constance Evans (later Wright), George Evans, and Henry Heslop
  22. Percival and Annie Martin (possibly with some children)

Frederick Henry Edward Pegler at number 11 was born in Horsley, Gloucestershire, in 1900, the son of a farm labourer. Notice that Wilfred Pegler lived at number 2.

In the Wiltshire Times and Trowbridge Advertiser on 21 August 1943 there was a report of an accident. Elizabeth Pottinger of Back Row was crossing the road when she was hit by a car driven by Leading Aircraftman George Graham. George was following his officer down London Road and they were going to turn into Silver Street, but they overshot the junction. They both stopped and the officer told George to reverse into Silver Street. George claimed that although he did look out for a normal sized person, Elizabeth was so small that he did not see her. Suddenly he heard someone shout. He did all he could for her afterwards, while the officer fetched a doctor. He was quoted as saying to Elizabeth, “I am sorry, you are so small Mother, that I did not see you.” George appeared at the Calne Petty Sessions and pleaded not guilty. It was decided that the incident was an accident, and the case was dismissed.

In 1946 I found the first reference to the address 11 Back Road where it was also named as Quarry Cottage. Mr Pegler was still there. The advertisement read: “Sale of the particularly attractive detached cottage residence, known as “QUARRY COTTAGE”, 11 BACK ROAD, CALNE. Situate off London Road and nicely secluded, yet close to the main Shopping Centre, well built in the Cotswold style of stone with part stone tiled and part pantiled roof, and containing : – On the ground floor: Sitting Room 14ft x 12ft 6 ins with tiled tireplace ; Living Room 8ft x 7ft 6 ins, with fireplace and store cupboards ; Lobby with Hat and Coat Rail and Cupboard under stairs : Kitchen with range. 2 good store Cupboards. On the First Floor : Double Bedroom with fireplace, Single Bedroom and Box Room. On the Second Floor : Two good Attic Rooms. The domestic outbuildings comprise: Washhouse with clothes boiler, gas point for cooker and water supply to tap. Fuel store and Closet. Large store shed and workshop. Excellent garden surrounding the house, well stocked with fruit trees and bushes, with ample space for garage. Company’s gas and water connected. The whole let to Mr F E Pegler on a weekly tenancy at a rental of £18 4s per annum. The tenant paying general and water rates.” The auction date was set for November 27th 1946 at the Lansdowne Arms Hotel.

In 1951 the residents of Back Road were:

  1. W L Bewley
  2. F Stratton
  3. H Goodship
  4. Mrs S Cooper
  5. Mrs A F Truckle
  6. C Foster
  7. V C Angell
  8. E A Lucas
  9. H Simpson
  10. G E Honeybone
  11. F Pegler
  12. Nestleton – H Hill
  13. Mrs D Singer
  14. R H Angell
  15. J N F Onslow
  16. P W Wheeler
  17. E T Lawrence
  18. Mrs M L Turner
  19. R G Whale
  20. F Lovelock
  21. Brown
  22. P T Martin

Chapel (1) was finally demolished in about 1960. The sites of the old quarry and the chapel are now covered by Quarrydale Close, and several blocks of flats. On December 19th 1965 the Primitive Methodists joined the Wesleyans in the Silver Street Chapel to become Calne Methodist Church.

Chapel (2) was demolished in the 1980s. The site has been redeveloped and 1a and 2a Back Road have been built there.

Eventually (perhaps in the 1970s?) the Old Stables was purchased by Allan Arthur Greener and used as a dental surgery, before being sold to Andrew and Steven Brindle, trading as A & S builders, on 4 March 1987. They converted it into the two flats in existence today.