Draper of London House
Thomas Thorne was born in 1859 at Fremington, Devon (close to Barnstaple), the youngest of seven (at least) children of Drainer & Tile Maker John Thorne (b1801) and his laundress wife Ann née Nankivel (b1814). The 1861 census recorded the family at Fremington but by 1871 12-year old Thomas was living in Barnstaple and working as one of four Draper's Assistants in Thomas Fry's draper's shop in Boutport Street, Barnstaple.
By 1881 Thomas had moved yet again and in the census was recorded working and living in the large draper's shop (photographed below) at 18 High West Street, Dorchester, Dorset, run by Joshua T Soundy.
On 2 March 1886 Thomas married Julia Mary Fudge at Holy Trinity church, Weymouth. They were to have a total of six children but only three survived childhood. Almost immediately they moved to Yeovil where their first son, Thomas, was born the following year. Thomas set up his own draper's business at London House, in the Borough, on the corner of Middle Street and Silver Street.
London House was built around 1838 and, for most of its existence, was a draper's shop occupied in turn by George Wadman, then John Wiltshire. In the 1891 census London house was occupied by 32-year-old draper Thomas with Julia and three young sons all aged under 4. Also resident were four drapers' assistants, a cook, a nurse and a housemaid. Similarly, in the 1901 census 42-year-old draper Thomas Thorne was still in residence with his wife Julia and son Reginald. Additionally, living on the premises, were nine young ladies aged between 17 and 29, including five drapers assistants, two milliners, a cook and a housemaid. Later that year, however, Thomas Thorne and his family moved from London House which was then occupied by linen drapers, Hartree & Son. London House was demolished in 1913 and the present building built for the Midland Bank opened in 1914. It is now occupied by the HSBC.
Thomas, however, had a complete career change. A draper since he was a 12-year old boy, he bought the Bull Hotel in High Street, Sittingbourne, Kent. In the 1911 census he was listed as a Hotel Proprietor and was living at the Bull with Julia and their two sons Harold and Reginald. In addition to his immediate family Thomas' niece was living with them as well as three visitors, a cook, barmaid, waiter, waitress and three domestic servants.
Thomas Thorne died in Sittingbourne in the spring of 1915. He was aged 56.
At centre is the large former draper's premises of Joshua Soundry at 18 High West Street, Dorchester, Dorset, where Thomas Thorne was an assistant in 1881, before getting married.
This photograph of the Borough dates to about 1865. At centre is Middle Street with the Medical Hall to the right and London House, at this time occupied by draper John Wiltshire, to the left.
This photograph is of Middle Street seen from the Borough and dates to about 1885. At left is London House. At right is the side of the Medical Hall which, at this time was occupied by wholesale and retail chemists Gatward & Wright. Next door to the Medical Hall was the International Stores.
This postcard was produced around 1900 from the Borough, looking towards the junction of Silver Street at left and Middle Street at right. The large building on the corner was London House which was built in the 1830s and occupied mostly by a succession of drapers (at this time by Thomas Thorne). Going down Silver Street was Singleton's boot stores, a greengrocer and then the Half Moon Hotel.
A postcard of the Borough dated 1911 showing London House at centre, on the corner of Silver Street and Middle Street. At this time it had just been occupied by linen drapers, Hartree & Son.
The Bull Hotel, High Street, Sittingbourne, Kent - Thomas Thorne had a complete career change when he became its proprietor, probably in late 1901.