Cherice Mayer kindly provided the copy of the pamphlet from which is transcribed below. It belonged to her great grandfather, Benjamin Edward Rawlings. The title is annotated, “The home of my father just before he left for America – 1868". On the first page 'Bath Road' and 'Weymouth Road' are underlined, and another note in Benjamin's handwriting reads, "Where my father live at one time and where my cousin Lilian Hoddinot still lives 1938”. In a later note, Benjamin confuses the chantry chapel of St Catherine with St Katharine's, East Woodlands, where "my grandfather and grandmother John Rawlings and Julia Hoddinott was buried". Written in the margin of the last page is "Mrs Lillian Hoddinott/ 24 Weymouth Road/ Frome/ Somerset"
Personal names mentioned in the text are indexed separately.
A valuable supplement to the interesting lecture on “Frome in the Sixteenth Century,” by the late Rev. W. E. Daniel, which has just been republished in the “Somerset Standard,” is the lecture on “The Street Names of Frome,” which the reverend gentleman delivered at a meeting of the Holy Trinity Young Men’s Institute on the 25th of January, 1897. At that time Mr. Daniel was Vicar of East Pennard. He had not then become Rector of Horsington, nor was he yet a Prebendary of Wells Cathedral. In reproducing a report of the lecture, we are tempted to bring it up-to-date in regard to occupiers of houses mentioned by the lecturer, but it is of interest to many to have a record of what was the state of things when Mr. Daniel spoke; and any newcomers to the town may easily ascertain from old residents what property is referred to. Such newcomers will also, we fear, occasionally need to inquire what is the modern or Urban Council name of some of the thoroughfares known to Mr. Daniel and most of his audience by the names used in the lecture.
Mr. Daniel commenced by quoting from “Rees’ Cyclopaedia,” printed in 1819, a statement that Frome had 38 streets. The population in 1801, which was the first census of the whole country taken after a regular method, was put at 8,748 persons, dwelling in 1,653 houses. But the same writer in “Rees’ Cyclopaedia” considered that for some reason the census of the parish was defective, and that one-third more must be added. This would bring the population up to 11,664, scarcely different from what ‘it is at the present time. If this was true, they had to think of Frome three generations ago with about the same number of people, but occupying space exceedingly small in comparison. How the houses had extended themselves within the last 20 years along the Bath Road, in Christchurch Street, up Weymouth Road, at Cottle’s Oak, and along the Vallis Road! He found that 2,559 was the present number of inhabited houses: he should reckon the streets and lanes at about 53; this would allow 15 more streets and nearly 1,000 more houses for a population of the same size. They at once saw how much more comfortably people were living in these days. Moreover, in 1810 the streets were reported in the wider ways to measure 16 feet 7 inches, the narrower being only 13 feet 10 inches, including both footways. He was informed that 24 feet was the narrowest now allowed by the Urban Council for new streets. Better-built, more roomy houses and more of them; more garden room; better situations on higher ground; freer circulation of air - all combined with well-kept roadways and footways, and a system of drainage which had at least attempted to carry off vicious matter and leave the people to breathe uncontaminated air, while they could drink the pure water pumped from Egford, instead of that oozing from a foul soil, collected in unprotected wells. In 1845 a Parliamentary report spoke of the wells and water supply as utterly polluted and insufficient. If Frome had not grown like some places in multitude, it had spread itself out, cleansed itself, watered itself, and established itself in healthy conditions, which were the best signs of thriving. So if “Nancy Guy and Billy Ball up again the Blue School wall” looked complacently upon the town when they first began their watch under the clock tower, they must be far happier now concerning the well-being of their charge.
Up till 1720 a free school near the Vicarage house, which the churchwardens from time to time tiled and lime-washed and rebenched, was presided over by a master, who was also employed as curate of the church; this was the one educational establishment of the town until Mr. James Wickham and Mr.John Jenkins, the vicar, set about collecting subscriptions to start a school where the boys should be clad as well as taught, and be brought up in their duty towards God and man. The idea must, he thought, have taken its origin from the stimulus given by Bishop Ken to education in the diocese. The subscription list was liberally supported by Dissenters as well as church people, with the result they all knew so well - the Frome Endowed Blue School, where so many good citizens had been reared, and where so many good men had swayed the ferule - Crocker, Monk, Hearle, Ellis, and for 30 years best known to them, Mr. William Brown. Mr. James Wickham was happily spared long enough to see a scheme authorised by the Court of Chancery for the government and administration of the Blue School. This school, endowed by subscription, being locally attached to the foundation for old women begun 250 years earlier by Leversedge, of Vallis, had given an architectural tone to the Lower Market Place which every Frome man valued. The Bridge had been built some 60 years before, thus doing away with the ford, which was reached by the passage behind Mr. Waters’ shop premises. The Town Bridge was widened by subscription in 1764, though the rates had to supply a certain sum to finish the cost. It was in 1821 that the Bridge was again repaired and the houses built. After crossing the ford the road traversed Bridge Street (though, of course, not under that name), passed a house which stood on the line of the railway near North-end (it was last tenanted by Mr. Miller, surgeon), and struck to the left down the course of the river.
Mills have usually been called by the occupiers’ names, e.g., Carpenter’s, once Howell’s; Treherne’s, now Spring Gardens. So Welch Mill may date from one Weltche, of Lamport, who is recorded in 1580. At Welchmill the road was carried at a much lower level, and turned sharp to the right for Fromefield, up Coffin Spring Lane, so called from an old stone coffin found there about 80 years ago. The other road went over Innox, passing the site of the Workhouse, which stood in Mr. Charles Baily’s gardens, and joined by Welchmill Lane, which crossed the river by a ford, with a wooden bridge for foot passengers. It led to Buckland and Elm, also to Lullington, and was till about 1790 the regular route to Bath. The broad road from Beckington, down Bonnyleigh and up Old Ford Hill, through Fromefield and down North Parade, was to a good extent cut and all enlarged under the Turnpike Acts of 1752 and 1797. They could see how the roadway was lowered in cutting through North Hill grounds by the height of the soil on either side. Previously a narrow way ran down from Berkley Lane and joined the upper end of Bridge Street by what was called Apple Lane. This skirted the topmost house in North Parade, and was enlarged at the making of the Radstock railway. The eastern side of the Lower Market Place was skirted by a series of picturesque gabled houses matching the” Blue Boar.” They made room for Dungarvan Buildings, built in Harry Miller’s time, and so called in honour of the present Lord Cork at the time he came of age during his grandfather’s life. Till 1810 the Lower Market Place was cut off from the Upper by two houses which stood right across from Mrs. Carpenter’s shop, leaving an opening at the Crown Inn. The Upper Market Place only reached as far as Mr. Bellinger’s shop. From Eagle Lane houses stood right across to the front of Allen’s, under one of which was an archway leading into Anchor Yard. There was no Bath Street. The coach ran up Stony Street and along Palmer Street, which it left at a higher level, as might be seen by the steps needed for the “Bath Arms” and by the doorway and windows of the house opposite. At this corner Rook Lane was reached. It only sufficed for one track, and skirted the picturesque houses by the entrance to the Foundry, and so past the Independent Chapel in front of Rook Lane House. The Rookery-meadow still existed behind that house and the chapel, as it did in Mrs. Rowe’s time and when Whitfield preached there. The road from Badcox to Portway was, he imagined, but a narrow lane, till the improvement effected when Christ Church was built in 1818. The old name was still kept - “Behind Town “ - showing that it was only an inferior alley of communication, though it became the coach-road for the “Swiftsure" between Exeter and London. The regular traffic went down Badcox Lane and Katherine Hill. Of course, Bath Street was named after the Marquis whose land it traversed.
To approach the Old Church from the Market Place, people went up Cheap Street, the street of the chapmen or merchants; up the steps or slope, past Mrs. Penny’s ancient house, and at the west door met the stream of worshippers from Gentle Street, the street of the gentle-folk. It showed how tradesfolk lived when they read that in 1500 Walter Twyneho; of Frome-Selwood, a miger, sold to John Taylor, alias Clarke, bocher, of Frome, and Margaret, his wife, an empty spot near the end of “la Chip strete” on condition of building in four years’ time a habitable messuage, viz., hall, parlour, and shop, with cellar, and three chambers above, to be held for 61 years at 5s. per annum. Above Gentle Street came Gorehedge. The cut in front of the Wesleyan Chapel was made to meet Bath Street. Gentle Street was connected with the further east by Twattle Alley, the eastern issue of which might still be noted in the wall of Blind-house Lane. When that thoroughfare was closed, it was necessary to enlarge the path by the Marriage Porch, under the clock to the steps. This was called Between the Church Walls, there being a high wall on either side till 1852 or ‘53.One widening of the path in Mr. Little’s time was noted by an inscription on a tablet at the side. There had, he believed, always been a path through the churchyard, fenced at each end by turnstiles. Hence the churchwardens had to pay frequent bills for repairing the “whirligogs.”
The church, standing on the edge of so steep a slope, must always have been skirted on the north and east by a very low-lying roadway. The retaining wall was often repaired by the wardens. In 1799 it fell out, rolling forth numbers of dead bodies. It was a bold schemer who ran the chancel out so near to the end of what he (Mr. Daniel) supposed was rock; and when Mr. Methwin, the vicar, built the new vestry in 1640 he must have felt he was adding to the outward thrust. However, he had the example of the Lady Chapel, which in Norman times had approached yet nearer to the edge of the hill. Merchant’s Barton perpetuated the name of a family trading there about 1557, rated in the Town Tithing in 1668, and into which Mr. Jenkins, the vicar in 1709, married. Blindhouse Lane, formerly Claver’s Barton, was so called, till Mr. Bennett invented Church Lane, after the lock-up or blind-house which stood near the bottom. The lowest house on the eastern side was, he believed, connected with the rectorial buildings lately used as the College, where the tithe-barn yet stood and where the collector of the great tithes had his offices. From the days of Henry II. (1160) on to Henry VIII. (1538) this was the bailiff of Cirencester. Abbey. Frome Church, together with Rode and Milborne Port, belonged to the King’s Chancellor, Regenbald, and he obtained leave to alienate Frome to the Abbey, i.e., the monks had the great tithes for their support, whilst a priest was maintained as vicar on the spot, with the small tithes of wool and lambs and personal offerings as his revenue. The vicar’s lodgings stood near the steps by Blind-house Lane till 1744, when Mr. Lionel Seaman built the new Vicarage on the present site, beyond the Free School, which had since given place to the Infant Schoolroom.
Seven Dials was so named in an Act of Parliament in 1810. Morgan’s Lane, a branch of which counted towards the seven, was named after a Mrs. Morgan, who was murdered in a house not far behind Mr. Gerrett’s bakery. Badcox, which had supplied the title to the rangers of idle fame, was probably the name of an owner, Mr. Badcock. In form it was a diminutive from Bartholomew. Adam Bat paid 2s. to the Exchequer in 1347. Very likely his son would be called Batcock. Weymouth Road, named after their late Member (the present Marquess of Bath), was till it was widened and became so attractive, called Clements’ Lane. Presumably a Mr. Clements once lived or owned property there. Vallis Way was already so called in the 17th century, when the house next to Mrs. Baily’s was built. The date was there (1698), with the motto, “Time trieth troth.” This motto belonged both to the Homers of Mells and the Hungerfords of Farleigh. It was probably one of the latter family that dwelt there. Chinnock’s and Wiltshire’s Buildings were named from long-established families, the former betokening the village (one of three) near Yeovil from whence it came. Chyn nock appeared in the registers in 1563, and Wiltsher in 1598. Union Street got its name in place of “Starve Acre“ through Mr. Bunn, who had a great admiration for Bath, and several of their street names - York Street, Milk Street, North Parade, South Parade - were borrowed direct.
Mr. Abraham Naish, who was rated in 1742, perhaps lived in the old house once occupied by Mr. Ames. Orchard Street had a few apple trees to mark it till recently. The whole property was called Gould’s Ground, the lane in which Trinity Parsonage stood being “Cut-hedges,” or “Between the hedges.” Mr. Horton and Mr. Button were old ratepayers, presumably owners and builders of the houses in the streets called after them. Broadway had lately tried to justify its name by widening out at what in Oxford would be called its gut. But it was probably not a descriptive name, being, like the rest, taken from the owner of the first houses. Broadway appeared in 1765 as a surname, derived doubtless from the village so named near Weymouth. So Cottle appeared in 1744, perhaps leaving the title to his oaks though the name appeared centuries before, EIias de Cotele holding half Nunney of Peter de la Mare in Edward I.’s reign. In the boundaries of the forest of Mendip, Cotel’s Ash appeared as a well-known tree, but far away from Frome.
Egford - the ford at the aeg or island, made by the two streams from Critchill and from Whatley - was a very old name (John Cox, of Egeford, appeared in 1347) denoting a separate manor, which had its own courts. The ford itself lay probably near Mr. Singer’s farm, the Whatley and Mells roads converging on it and then climbing the hill up Egford Lane, more distinctively called Webb’s Hill. Webb (Weaver) was, of course, a common name in Frome. He had traced it to 1576 in their registers, and Polayn le Webb appeared in 1317 as paying 2s. to the Exchequer. The broader road known as Egford Hill was probably cut in 1757, when an Act was passed to widen the road through Egford, Whatley, and Little Elm to Tattle House and the Beacon, and from Egford Bridge to Murdercombe Bottom and Mells. Already the ford had been supplanted by a bridge. Of Robin’s Lane and Kissing Batch he could give no account.
Vallis, the seat of the Branch family (whence Frome was called in the 13th century Frome Branch) and afterwards of the Leversedges, must always have had a good approach to Frome. Two avenues lead at present from the old mansion (the remains of whose banqueting-hall of the 15th century might still be seen): one towards Murtry toll-gate, whence Coal Lane carried the Leversedges down to the ford at Spring Gardens, and another way led past the head of Jack’s or Hangman’s Lane, across Whatcombe fields, up Dye-house Close Lane, into Milk Street; the other avenue went across the Leaze into Vallis Way. Another approach lay from Egford, a portion of one pillar of the entrance gate still standing in the bushes. Near here took place the murderous assault which brought so much trouble on the family in the days of their decline. Vallis was the same as Falaise, a rocky hill side; so that Vallis Vale was not a reduplication, but was equivalent to the Rocky Vale. Falaise, in Normandy, where the Conqueror was born, exhibited a striking similarity to Vallis on a small scale.
They must descend once more into the centre of town life, the Market Place. He had spoken of Anchor Barton, so called from an inn sign. It was quite a labyrinth of courts and passages till 1810, occupying all the space between Mr. Bellinger’s corner, then Martha Mees’s, and the existing churchyard screen. Entering from the Market Place, one emerged under a gateway just where Palmer Street met Bath Street. A slaughter-house stood across Bath Street towards the church, and other houses occupied the north-west corner of the churchyard, leaving no very large open space at the church doors Eagle Lane existed, though under what name he knew not. King Street ran, as now, from the Lower Market Place to meet, Cheap Street. When or why first so called he could not say, but one would like to connect it with Charles’s Restoration or the coming of the Great Deliverer in 1688, on Nov. 5th, still celebrated (alas! unwittingly) by bonfires by Frome boys. Everywhere King had been a common surname. Between King Street and Cheap Street still ran an alley rightly called Apple Lane. The
main way that led off from the Market Place was by Stony Street to Catherine Hill. Some property in that locality belonged, he believed, to one of the chantries in the Parish Church, but why those odd bits were reckoned to Marston parish he could not explain.
A chantry chapel, dedicated to (St. Catherine, with its own chaplain and endowment, quite separate from the church stood at the top of Catherine Hill, and was rated as St. Catherine's as late as the end of the 17th century. Some of the under-structure probably still remained beneath the premises occupied by Messrs. Green and Soul, as well as a window looking up Badcox Lane (or Catherine Street) over the shop occupied in turns by Mr. Gough and Mr. Legg. Sheppard’s steps and barton perpetuated the memory of one of the Sheppards having his dwelling-house there. In 1688, after the passing of the Toleration Act, the house of John and Benjamin Shepherd was licensed as a meeting house. In 1707 a chapel was built in Sheppard’s Barton, and later gave place to the existing Baptist Chapel. He knew no reason for Wine Street being so called; but he might observe that in one of the houses between the head of that and South Parade Wesley’s Methodists had their earliest class meetings, near the Pack Horse Inn. From St. Catherine’s northward ran Whittox Lane. The name of Whittock appeared in the families of Frome in 1595. Cork Street was until lately no thoroughfare. It was named in honour of the owner of the property on one side; but was formerly known as Hill Lane, being so called from the residence people now wrote as Hall House, the ancient home of the Bulls and Framptons. A brass of the latter lay in the middle alley of the Parish Church, and on the north wall near the west end was an interesting monument of the former family. The old way of spelling the name of the house was “Heall,” in reality the same word as “Hell,” and a name applied in many places to a house at the bottom of a steep declivity. In 1696 the place belonged to the Marchant family, and was also licensed as a meeting-house. This did not mean that it had ceased to be a dwelling-house, but that the occupier invited a preacher and gathered his neighbours for worship in a conventicle. About that date they found building going on over what was called Oatground or Oadground. He thought this was the origin of the name Wode Hill, which was the title of West Hill House until the late Mr. Cruttwell altered it. Portway meant a Roman road leading to a town. Porta, property a gate, came to be applied by the Saxons to a fortress or fenced town. It was quite distinct from portus = haven, contained in Portsmouth, Devonport, etc. In his young days he frequently took his “constitutional “along the “Coal Ash.” The walk was so called in an Act of Parliament of 1797. Ashes and name had alike vanished, the former having given place to asphalt. Wallbridge might be the bridge fenced by a wall. The existing bridge bad its date on a stone looking down stream - 1634. Some expense was incurred in making a causeway across the lowlands called Wallmarsh. This suggests that some old dyke, or wall of boundary, ran past here. Stile’s Hill took its name from a Mr. Stile, of Wallbridge, in 1577, mentioned in the churchwardens’ accounts. Lock’s Lane perpetuated a name much connected with their charities: the last, Susannah Lock, had a long tablet to her memory in the Baptistry of St. John’s, which was vulgarly called Lock’s aisle. The family had it by purchase after the plundering of the chantries in Edward VI‘s reign. This was the chantry of St. Nicholas, which had only been founded in 1419 by the Twinyhos. The family of Twiniho occupied the Manor House at Lower Keyford, often incorrectly called the Nunnery. There never were nuns there. The family originated apparently in the parish of Wellow, where the name marked a locality still. Master Twinnow occurred in the Frome registers in 1578. This had brought him to the manor of Keyford, more properly Cayford. If one did not know the locality one might guess this would be on a stream which was deep enough for barges and had a quay, but could also be crossed close at hand by a ford. But there was no stream, except the water which ran from Mr. Chester’s dye-tanks, and certainly no quay could ever be approached by boats, nor would the crossing of such a stream merit the title of a ford. In Domesday the place was called “Chaivert.” Dropping tbe final t or d, which often got tacked on to the end of words without adequate reason, they got Cayfor =Cafer, which was an old English word appearing in cafertun =enclosure, court. Besides the settlement on the Frome effected by St. Aldhelm, there was an ancient court over the hill to the south-east, which got the name of Cafer. It was a separate manor, and had perhaps its own market, certainly its own cross (for this was only removed when the Asylum was built). It stood in the open space where Grove Lane came down into Lower Keyford. Grove Lane was the approach to the home of the Cabells, whose house was demolished by Lord Cork only a few years back. Their ingenious rebus still existed in the Lock Aisle window - a K and a bell enclosed within a cable rope. The Cables were joint founders with their close neighbours, the Twynhoes, of the chapel of St. Nicholas.
The Butts, he conjectured, explained its meaning, as being where the young men of Frome exercised themselves with bow and arrow in the good old clothyard shaft days, before people relied so much on lead. Water Lane, connecting the two, had its name from the excellent spring, now covered up, from which water used to be obtained by all the brewers of Frome. Another manor again embraced the ground on which Trinity Church stood. St. Katherine’s stile was a name in one of the fields. The manor house was now occupied by Mr. S. Harding, though the rights of toll were exercised by the owner of the King’s head Inn till they were extinguished when the Market Company bought the right of market from Lord Cork. Formerly stalls were set up in Cross Street, and toll was payable through Whittocks Lane as far as St. Catherine ‘s chantry. No record remained of any cross there, but he supposed the street name was sufficient warrant for saying there was one once. Mr. Nail, Mr. Blunt and Mr. Naish extended their houses to the south, and it might be supposed that one of them milked his cows where York Street stood, the old name being Milking Barton.
Bell Lane was named from the foundry long existing at the upper end, whence the Messrs. Cockey turned out so many church bells. Lewis Cockey came from Warminster about 1680, and the family, so to say, died in harness, after two centuries of founding. Broad Street was rightly named in comparison with its parallel neighbour. Paradise usually betokened the former existence of a garden belonging to friars. There were never any of the latter in Frome, so perhaps it was a fancy name. Duke Street probably witnessed to the triumphs of the Duke of Marlborough. On either side were the pleasant-sounding titles of Rosemary and Mint, as though herb gardens abounded; while below was Skittle Alley, perhaps the scene of much bowling of skittles by the old inhabitants of St. Catherine’s manor. Jubilee Terrace had nothing to do with George III’s jubilee, as the date shows.. The initials J.B. refer to some commemoration of the Baily family. The dye-house which gave its name to Dyehouse Close Lane still existed by the riverside at Low Water. Limerick might possibly be so named from the three weeks’ siege of Limerick by William III after the battle of the Boyne in 1690. Some of the houses in the Mint probably went back as far as that date, some of the woodwork and the chimney-pieces telling of better days. To those same wars, or perhaps Marlborough’s, they must carry back the story of the Frome Trooper who, winning much plunder, returned to his native town and settled down to rehearse to admiring pot-lovers his deeds of bravery and bloodshed. His inn stood on the south side of Trinity Street, between the “Bell” and No. 4. Its bow window was only removed a few years back, though the sign of the Trooper had not waved there for many years. The street had perhaps hardly yet lost its name, derived therefrom, of Trooper Street. The Bell Inn had its original home in the churchyard in front of Argyle House - it was quite a recent intruder into St. Catherine’s Manor. The King’s Head Inn seemed to bespeak an exultation in the sad memories of Jan. 30th. Frome certainly sided with the Parliament in its general view of politics, though the vicar, Mr. Humfry, was one who grew tired of the Commonwealth, and before the Restoration made bold to preach from Ezek. xxi. 27. Mr. Daniel concluded by quoting the following lines concerning his own intimate acquaintance with Trinity:-
In Trinity first drew I breath;
In Trinity first tasted death;
In Trinity knew nuptial bliss
And revelled in my children’s kiss.
To Trinity with fondness turn,
For Trinity with love must burn.
The Chairman at the lecture (the late Rev. N. A. Wells) having remarked that he had heard it stated that Duke Street, the Mint, etc., derived their names from the Duke of Monmouth’s visit to Frome, Mr. Daniel added to the reprint of his lecture a note in which he said: “It may be replied that the Duke’s adherents in Frome would hardly wish to call attention to their being of his party. Coins and, later, trade tokens (Marchant, Paine, Whitchurch) of Frome, exist; but did the Duke ever issue any?”
On the 15th of February, 1897 (less than a month after Mr. Daniel had given his lecture), Miss E. Margaret Thompson sent to the Somerset Standard a letter, in which she said: “Considering the story related in Frome that Gore Hedge derives its name from the fact that the heads of certain adherents of the Duke of Monmouth in his rebellion of A.D.1685 were set upon that spot, it may be of interest to some of your readers to know that the place was so-called long before. In A.D. 1487 Henry Vincent, of Keyford, left in his will 6s. 8d. ‘for the repair of the way which lies by a hedge called Gore Hegge.’ Before Bath Street was in existence, perhaps before Rook Lane was in being, the way along Gore Hedge was probably well worn by Keyford folk on their way to and from the market, and on all other occasions of intercourse between them and Frome town. Besides which it would be a chief way to the Church of St. John the Baptist, then the only church in the whole of Frome-Selwood, which was perhaps why Henry Vincent, evidently a pious parishioner, happened to mention it in the midst of his enumeration of bequests to the Parish Church. I need hardly add that the sum mentioned would be represented by far higher figures in our present coinage.’’
Henry Vincent’s will is printed in full (in translation) in Volume 16 of the Somerset Record Society’s publications, “Somerset Medieval Wills,” where also may be found the wills of other Frome residents of the pre-Reformation period.
 This is not in fact the origin of the name. Gentle Street, formerly Hunger Street, was so called after a landholder (DS).