Yeovil People

Charles Foan

Glove Manufacturer & Grocer


Charles Foan (also recorded as Fone) was born in Yeovil in 1788, fourth of the seven children of Samuel Foan (1750-1838) and Sarah née Priddy (1760-1832). He was baptised on 29 March 1788 at St John's church. Nothing is known of Charles' early life but on 22 May 1814, at Trent (just east of Yeovil) he married Yeovil-born Mary Flambert (1792-1853).

Initially Charles and Mary lived in Higher Kingston, where their son Daniel was born the year after their wedding. Charles and Mary were to have a dozen children, most of whom died in infancy and consequently the same names keep reappearing; Daniel (1815-1893), Sylvana (1815-1876), Mary Flambert (1818-1821), Charles (1820-1821), Charles (1822-1822), Mary Margaret (b1823), Alfred Charles (1825-1825), Alfred Charles (1826-1857), Edmund (1828-1911), Anna (1830-1891), Frederick (1832-1903) and Emma (1834-1834).

Charles was a glove manufacturer and, by all accounts, was fairly affluent. In 1818 it was recorded that he paid an annual rack rent to Woborn Almshouse of £16 (around £20,000 at today's value) with only three properties with rents being higher, including the Three Choughs at £45. Most rents in the Almshouse accounts were less than £1.

It may be that this property was Sun House since, in the Jury List of 1827, Charles was listed as a Glover of Sun House, London Road.

It is likely that Charles had the large Regency-styled residence built in London Road called Penfield House (today known as Osborne House). Pigot's Directory of 1830 listed "Charles Fone, Glove Manufacturer, Penn House, London Road" and E Watts' map of 1831, shown below, shows Pen Field House for the first time and Watts annotated the property as "Mr C Fone". In the 1832 Poll Book Charles is listed by virtue of owning a freehold house "Pen-field, in this parish".

In the 22 October 1838 edition of the Western Flying Post it was reported that Peter Bartlett received "for stealing twelve dozen of Ladies' gloves, the property of Charles Foan, eight months' imprisonment, four week solitary."

It seems Charles' glove manufacturing business was in Middle Street but was not his only business concern since as early as February 1837 his shop premises were broken into (see Gallery). Robson's Directory of 1839 lists him as a Beerhouse Keeper at 3 Middle Street and the Somerset Gazette Directory of 1840 listed him as a 'Glove Manufacturer of Middle Street'.

In the 1841 census Charles and Mary, together with children Daniel, Mary, Alfred, Edmund, Anna and Frederick, together with a female domestic servant, were listed at "Pen Field House, London Road". Charles gave his occupation as 'Glove M(anufacturer)'.

It appears that Charles owned Flax & Tow Mills at Barwick (see Gallery) and in 1846 Charles was recorded in the Poll Book of Trent, Dorset, as the owner of a freehold house and land. It appears he also owned land which would become the Yeovil Town Station as reported in the 21 November 1846 edition of the Hampshire Chronicle ".... and terminating in certain premises now or late belonging to Mr Charles Foan, and occupied by Mr WM Peniston, near the Pen Style Turnpike Gate ....".

(It should, perhaps, be pointed out that the Charles Fone of this page was not connected with the convict and bankrupt of the same name in a notorious trial of this period.)

Hunt & Co's Directory of 1850 provided two listings for Charles; the first as a 'Glove Manufacturer' and the second as a 'Dealer in Grocery & Sundries' - both of Middle Street. Similarly there were two listings in Slater's Directory of 1852, again one as a 'Glove Manufacturer' and the second as a 'Shopkeeper & Dealer in Sundries' and again both of Middle Street.

The 1851 census listed Charles and Mary, together with children Alfred, Anna and Frederick, living above the shop premises in Middle Street on the corner of Turnstile Lane. 63-year old Charles gave his occupation as 'Glover & Grocer' and his two sons were both Glove Cutters.

Mary died in Yeovil in 1853, aged 61, and Charles Foan died in Yeovil on 15 March 1859, aged 71. His will was proved in August 1859 and his effects were estimated at 'under £200' (around £220,000 at today's value).

As a sidenote, Charles and Mary's son Daniel (1815-1893), photographed at left, was born in Higher Kingston the year following his parent's marriage. He was listed as still living with his parents in the 1841 census.

In 1846, like his father, Daniel was recorded in the Poll Book of Trent, Dorset, as the owner of freehold houses and land.

In 1851 Daniel emigrated to Australia. He sailed aboard 'The Lady McNaghten', paying his own fare and landing at Adelaide, South Australia, on 23 September 1851. Within a couple of weeks, on 7 October 1851 at St John's church, Adelaide, Daniel, a licensed victualler, married Sarah Ann Whitely (1829-1916), originally from Fulham, London.

Daniel and Sarah were to have nine children. Daniel died at Heathcote, Victoria, Australia, on 13 October 1893, aged 78. 




 E Watts' map of 1831 showing the build-up of properties along the southern side of Townsend including Osborne House, albeit not named as such. At this time it was known as Penfield House and, as annotated on the map, was the property of Charles Fone. In 1827 Charles had been listed in the Jury List as a Glover of Sun House - seen here at top right.




Sun House in London Road (Sherborne Road) near its junction with Reckleford, the later Sun House Inn. This is a photograph of an oil painting by SW Good, about 10" by 8". Charles Foan was listed as a glover living here in the 1827 Jury List.


The perfect Regency styling of Osborne House. Originally called Penfield House, it was the home of Charles Fone and his family during the 1830s and early 1840s. Photographed in 2014.


Courtesy of Bill and Audrey Robertson

Originally this building, most likely the premises of Charles Foan from the 1830s to the 1850s, was on the northwest corner of Turnstile Lane. The eastern side of Turnstile Lane was demolished between 1886 and 1901, while this building was replaced by the Co-operative Society's shop and offices building (that survives today and appears in most of the images of the Triangle) by 1910.


Courtesy of Jack Sweet

The buildings that were originally the west side of Turnstile Lane photographed on 23 March 1910. By this time occupied by the Yeovil & District Co-operative Society. The double tractor unit pulling the 17-ton load was owned by Sibley & Co.


A report of the attempted burglary of Charles Foan's grocery shop from the 13 February 1837 edition of the Western Flying Post.


Notice of the letting of Barwick Flax & Tow Mills in the 9 December 1843 edition of the Western Flying Post.