Before writing about the renovation of 18 Pennington Road, Southborough, it only seems right to share what we subsequently discovered about the history of the property first.
Pennington Road owes its name to a Dr Robert Rainey Pennington (b. 1766 d.1849) a surgeon practicing in London who had acquired land in the area.
The terrace was built somewhere between 1820 to 1830. Although the original title deeds were lost somewhere along the way, we have collected a number of documents and photographs which fill in some of the history of the house and the road.
These are some albumen prints of Pennington Road and nearby London Road from about that time. Most of the terrace was shops and small businesses – indeed I have been told that it looked much like this up to the 1970’s.
Our house is the second last house on the terrace towards St Thomas’ Church
The end of Pennington Road where it meets London Road. The Imperial Public House is not much changed. The lake has since disappeared along with the Wesleyan Church that was built in 1871.
In the 1881 census, Philadelphia Hubbard and her spinster daughter, Mary lived at the property, which at that time was actually number 9 Pennington Road. Mary Hubbard was a dressmaker which explains the hundreds of pins we found underneath the floorboards in what later became our bathroom on the first floor.
We know a man named Richard William Dance, a retired harness maker and sadler lived at our property from the 1870’s; he died in 1918, followed by his wife, Jane, in 1925. The property was then bequeathed to their daughter, Mrs Florence Jane Ravilious.
This would explain the brick built outbuilding at the rear of the property, probably used as his workshop; it is the only house in the terrace with an outbuilding that was built at the same time as the house.
A conveyance document dated 31st March, 1930, tells us Mrs Florence Jane Ravilious was married to Thomas William Ravilious, a coach builder of ‘Fairlight’, Portman Park, Tonbridge. It was Mrs Ravilious who then sold the property on to Mr William Edward Sheepwash, a ‘motor-car proprietor’ of number 14 Pennington Road.
Sheepwash’s offices were nearby at number 14 Pennington Road and his carriages and stables were directly behind Pennington Road in what was Castle Street Mews. The carriage works later became a car mechanic’s workshop which were then demolished in 2011 to make way for four terrace houses.
The wall of the old carriage works and stables was our back wall in the garden and despite our objections to the planning authority, it too was demolished. Part of the original wall can be seen still behind the house on the corner of Pennington and Castle Street.
An Edwardian postcard of Pennington Road which would have been taken at the same time Sheepwash was resident on the terrace. Our house is next to ‘Martin’s Bootmakers’.
After doing some digging around I found a few interesting cuttings about Mr Sheepwash including a wedding mishap and a thwarted burglary. I can’t believe anyone would be cheeky enough to not only set alight his barn, break in to his house, steal money, but also take buns and cakes too. They were naughty boys.
Unfortunate Sequel to a Wedding: Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser, 5th December, 1901.
Tonbridge – Naughty Boys: The Courier, 9th of January, 1913.
Sheepwash was also the President of the R.A.O.B. in Southborough. The what? you say. The Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes, a fraternal charitable organisation that was founded in 1822. Their meetings were held at the Imperial Hotel. Here is another cutting from the Kent and Sussex Courier dated 27th February, 1925.
William Edward Sheepwash died in 1945 and the house was bequeathed to his widow Hetty Madge Sheepwash (who later re-married and became Hetty Madge Barnes). It was sold to Charles Frederick Alexander in 1966.
And it was Charles wife, Ivy, who was the last resident before Nick bought the house in 2007.
This is what the house looked like when it was purchased.
That is Nick’s Dad holding his torch, looking up at the roof. Little did he know just how much work he and Nick would be doing over the next year(s)…