'Swastika' terraces

'swastika' terraces

Built by a local New Town grocer

 

Two un-named terraces of houses in Grass Royal feature decorative swastika patterns, as well as embellishing dividing false-pier patterning and string and eaves banding, formed in cream-coloured brickwork contrasting with the local red Yeovil bricks that were almost certainly made just around the corner at the brickworks where the housing development of Kiddles is today or in Brickyard Lane, today's St Michael's Avenue.

Although today the swastika has connotations with Nazi Germany, it is an ancient Indian religious symbol, adopted by many other civilisations throughout history and has a long history in Europe reaching back into antiquity. In late Victorian times - when these terraces were built - there was a brief surge of popularity for the swastika as a good luck symbol in Western culture, hence their use here.

The southwestern terrace was built in 1890 and the northeastern terrace in 1892 by local grocer and speculative builder, Thomas Chant. In 1888 he built his own home cum grocery shop on a greenfield site that would become the corner of Kiddles Lane (today's Eastland Road) and Gordon Road. He also built Agra Place immediately next door in Kiddles Lane in 1888.

In 1890 he built the first of the two 'swastika' terraces in Grass Royal. The Ham stone datestone 'Grass Royal over 1890 over T Chant' is over the door of Alan's hairdressers and partly obscured by his barber's pole sign.

The following year Chant built the second 'swastika' terrace, to the east of the first. An elaborate datestone surmounts the impressive end-of-terrace corner house, now the vet's. Thomas Chant died on 30 October 1894 and, following his death, his widow and her sister lived in the corner house until her death in 1915. 

 

map

 

Map based on the 1901 Ordnance Survey showing the different speculative housing projects built in the early days of Newtown. As well as his own house cum shop on the corner of Gordon Road and Kiddles Lane, photographed below, Thomas Chant was also responsible for building the adjoining Agra Place as well as the two 'Swastika' terraces in Grass Royal at top right.

 

gallery

 

The first of the two swastika-decorated terraces in Grass Royal built by Thomas in 1890. The datestone photographed below is just glimpsed in this photograph by Alan's barber-shop sign above and right of his awning. Photographed in 2014.

 

The 1890 datestone referred to above. Photographed in 2014.

 

The second 'swastika' terrace built in 1892. The large corner house with the impressive 1892 datestone, photographed below, became home to his widow and her sister after Thomas' death in 1894. Photographed in 2014.

 

The large 1892 datestone referred to above. Photographed in 2014.

 

The decorated flank wall of the above terrace. Photographed in 2013.