[Extract from “History of Some of the Old Buildings in Rode” by Dawna Pine, second edition]:

25 Lower Street (Brook House) is an early 19th century house. Paul Stacey said it has been modernised by Edward Silcocks. It has at least one Silcocks window (he sometimes would use little partial windows) and the canopy over the door is probably also by Silcocks. North of the house is the mid-18th century stable and coach house with “A” frame roof. In the 1930s there were stone steps up to a small door. There is an early 19th century shop front on the left side of the house. There was a baker’s shop here in 1839, owned by George Osborne and run by James Morgan. Morgan was also a parish constable and first on the scene of the murder at Langham House. By the early 1900s Morgan’s great nephew-in-law, William Towsey, ran the shop as well as lived here. Paul Stacey remembered Mr. Towsey saying that he slept with his head in Wiltshire and his feet in Somerset, because at that time the county border ran through the middle of his house. According to Brian Foyston, in the 1890s Mr. Towsey sailed before the mast round Cape Horn; he was successively a sailor, farmer, builder and grocer. It is also said that when he was nearly 91 years old, Mr. Towsey cut the hedge above the chapel wall next to the P.O. from a ladder. Notice on the map in figure 33 the extensive buildings which are not here today.

Above: Towsey’s shop (Mr. Towsey next to the wagon outside his shop in 1903)

Transcript (by P. J. Harris) of a letter found enclosed behind the above photograph.

21, Newberry, Horningsham, Warminster. 18/11/(19)53

Dear Sir,

My father (Mr Towsey of Rode) brought your letter today. I am very pleased I am able to send you on the photo in question, to see, and make a copy of it, if you so wish. It must have been taken about 50 years ago.

I well remember Mr Whickam coming round each month, also Mr Giddings and I may add that upon my marriage, your firm kindly sent me a most useful present, a carving knife, and fork, which has been in use for over 30 years, and still in good condition.

Yours Truly, Celia L. Garratt

P.S. Next to the wagon, my father, myself, my mother and a cousin standing in the doorway. Village children by the window

Emails from Gill Thompson 15th and 17th March 2011

15th March: I was looking through the Rode local history website and found the photograph of Towsey’s shop and I wondered if any of the people in the photograph are named. Ellen Towsey was my great-grandmother’s sister. The 1911 census shows her living there with her husband William, her two children, her mother Celia Clement and Celia’s brother James Morgan, who at that time owned the shop and is listed as a baker and grocer. I think James took over the shop after his father, also James Morgan, died in 1887. I see that you also have a letter relating to the shop and wondered whether you would be willing to share the contents with me. Also, is it possible to buy a copy print of the photograph?

Thanks for your help, Gill Thompson

17th March: Hi Peter. Thank you for your emails.

In answer to your question about Celia Garatt, she was the daughter of William and Ellen Towsey. The 1911 census has her as Celia Towsey aged 18 grandniece of James Morgan, who was head of the household. He is listed as a farmer and grocer, so perhaps the Towseys inherited when he died in 1920. He appears never to have married. His father was also James Morgan, a baker, and later a baker and grocer. He died in 1887 and was born in Trowbridge (and may have been the parish constable who was first on the scene at the Rode Hill House murder.) There is a headstone for both James Morgans in the chapel graveyard in Rode.

I note that Kelly’s Directory does not start listing William Towser (sic) as a grocer until 1915. Previous directories, from 1906 to 1919 list James Morgan as grocer and from 1861 to 1902 they list James Morgan as baker and grocer.

As to your first email I don’t think that I will now buy a copy of the photograph, as I’m seriously beginning to doubt that my great-grandmother was anything to do with this family! She had been identified as such many years ago, before it was so easy to cross-reference things, but since I contacted you I have done some more checking and to me it doesn’t make sense.

I hope the above information will be useful for your village history (it’s all from the census and headstone but not verified anywhere else) and I’ll make a start on finding the correct Sarah Clement!

Best wishes, Gill

Morgan/Towsey Family Tree

  1. James MORGAN, b 1805, d 1887
  • (1) Celia MORRIS, b 1805, m c1823, d 1835

2. James MORGAN, b 1833, d1920

2. Thomas MORGAN, b 1826, d 1830

2. Celia MORGAN, b 1829, d1915 + Alfred CLEMENT, b 1825, d 1907

3. Ellen CLEMENT, b1855, + William James TOWSEY, m c1892

4. Celia TOWSEY, b c1893 + GARATT

3. Lydia CLEMENT, b 1858

  • (2) Mary ?, b 1795, d 1872
23 December 2023
Last Updated
24 March 2024