Edwards & Deane

Edwards & Deane

Drapers of Church House in the Borough and 25 High Street


During the eighteenth century the building known variously as the Church House, Parish House, the Parish Church House or the Corner House, stood in the Borough on the corner of Middle Street and Silver Street, where the HSBC building stands today. Originally the property of the Chantry of the Name of Jesus in St John's church, by 1815 it was Peter Daniell's shop and warehouse and was the most valuable of the Church properties in town with an annual value of eighty pounds (some £6,000 at today's value). The Church House was sold by 1836 for £699 (approximately £64,000 at today's prices) and was demolished. London House was built on the site.

The premises were occupied "for many years" by the drapers Peter Edwards (1791-1842) and George Deane / Dean (b1801). Pigot's Directory of 1830 recorded Edwards & Dean as linen drapers of Market Place. Also in 1830, the Churchwardens' Accounts of St John's church recorded a payment of £3 14s 11d (around £340 at today's value) to Edwards & Deane, drapers, although the subject of the payment is unrecorded. Indeed, Peter Edwards was to serve as a Churchwarden himself from 1828 until 1830, alongside Edward Granger his neighbour in High Street. Edwards & Deane moved out of the Church House property when their own new premises at 25 High Street opened on Monday, 4 October 1830.

Very little is known of either Edwards or Deane. Peter Edwards was born in Somerset in 1791 and he and his wife, Elizabeth (b1791, Somerset), had at least six children; George (b1816), Edward (b1821), Peter (b1821), James (b1826) and Elizabeth (b1826). All the children, except Elizabeth, were born outside of Somerset, most likely in Winchester, Hampshire. In 1835, Peter Edwards was also recorded as a glove manufacturer. George Deane was born in Langport in 1801, the son of Arthur and Ann Deane. George was baptised at Langport on 12 July 1801. In both 1832 and 1834, George was recorded in the Yeovil poll books as being a resident of Kingston and occupying premises in Middle Street.

In August 1835, the partnership of Peter Edwards and George Deane, linen drapers, was dissolved and reported in the national and local press.

Peter Edwards continued the drapery business at 25 High Street, where the 1841 census recorded him with his wife, five children, two draper's shop assistants, a draper's apprentice and two domestic servants. Both 50-year-old Peter and his 25-year-old son George gave their occupations as drapers. Peter Edwards died in Yeovil the following summer.

Following the partnership split, George Deane moved to Wells. The 1841 census recorded him living in High Street with his wife Martha (b1808) and their children Mary (b1835) and George (b1838). I could fine no further trace of George in the records.

Meanwhile, following the death of his father, George Edwards had taken over his father's business. In the 1851 census, at 25 High Street, Peter's widow Elizabeth was listed as the head of the household and gave her occupation as an annuitant. George, aged 38 and unmarried, gave his occupation as a master draper and tailor employing twelve men. His unmarried siblings, Edward and Elizabeth, aged 32 and 26 respectively, both gave their occupations as draper's assistants.

In 1852, at Melbury Osmond, Dorset, George Edwards married Harriet Swaffield. They were to have two children, both born in Yeovil; George William (b1857) and Harriet Katherine Anne (b1862). The 1861 census recorded George and Harriett, together with their Yeovil-born 3-year-old son George William Edwards at 25 High Street, together with six draper's assistants, a cook, a housemaid and a nursemaid. George gave his occupation as a draper employing sixteen assistants.

By 1866 George Edwards had moved his family to Melcombe Regis, Dorset, and the High Street drapery business had been taken over by drapers William Hurrell and Alfred Berryman. George died in Brighton, Sussex, in 1897, aged 84.




This sketch, made by Madeley to illustrate his map of 1831, shows the Borough seen from High Street - roughly the view seen today from the north end of King George Street. The Shambles is to the left and the Market House is to the right. The Church House is seen in the background between the Shambles and the Market House. The buildings at far left still stand today, that to the left is Clement White's shop, today's 8 High Street, at this time occupied by Benjamin Ryall, a draper, whose name appears above the door.


An advertisement for the sale of the Church House in the 14 December 1835 edition of the Western Flying Press. The Church House was demolished just months afterwards to be replaced by London House.


Edwards & Deane announced the 4 October 1830 opening of their new premises at 25 High Street in the 23 September 1830 edition of the Dorset County Chronicle.


From my collection

This hand-tinted stone lithograph by Henry Burn (1807-1884) entitled 'Market Place - Yeovil' was published by William Porter and Henry Marsh Custard in January 1839.

The lithograph looks down High Street from its junction with Hendford / Princes Street. On the left the Mermaid with its familiar archway and large overhanging sign is clearly seen. On the opposite side of the road, at extreme right, just two bays are shown of the new (built 1830) shop premises of Edwards & Dean - most recently Beales' store.


From my collection

An enlargement of the previous image, showing Edwards & Deane's new premises at 25 High Street.


This photograph features in my book "Yeovil In 50 Buildings"

This view of the former Edwards & Deane premises at 25 High Street was taken between 1887 (when the Sugg lamp was erected in the street outside to celebrate the Jubilee of Queen Victoria) but before 1897 when the Capital and Counties Bank replaced the building on the corner of High Street seen at extreme left. At this time it was the premises of Lindsay Denner.