The Really Useful Will of Thomas Byngley

 “Chunk 10” of the High Street Project includes numbers 12 and 14 in the lower High Street.                                                        

Number 14, former Hardy's restaurant

Number 12 is occupied at the street level by The Amazing Trick Box.  Number 14 is currently empty but was Hardy’s restaurant. The premises are in fact one building built in the 16th century.  The front of the building has been modified over the centuries.  However at the rear of the building in Cinnamon Lane the timber framed gable can still be clearly seen.

It is amongst one of the oldest buildings in Poole and has been listed by Poole Borough Council.  One architectural feature which is always mentioned in local history books is the fine moulded plaster ceiling in Number 14 which bears the merchant’s mark TB.  This has led historians to believe that the house is associated with Thomas Byngley.

Thomas Byngley was the Mayor of Poole in 1555 and there is a copy of his will in the History Centre archives dated 9 December 1567.  In it Thomas left his son William the house that he had bought in the High Street.  As shown in the quote below from his will, not only did he confirm that he owned the house but who he bought it from and who lived on either side.  

concerning my howse which I browghte of Matthew Havelonde lyense in the Highe Streate between the house that John Rapsone holdeth nowe in the tenure of Bartelimewe Keat and the tenement that Thomas Sheparde dwelleth in I give to my sonne William’

The rear of the Byngley house on Cinnamon Lane reveals its age

His son William Byngley was also a Mayor of Poole in 1563. In 1574 a census was carried out in Poole and there is a transcript copy in the History Centre.  William Byngley was registered in the ‘High Strete’ with his wife and servant.  It is thought that the census may have been undertaken to find out the able bodied men able to assist in the defence of Brownsea Castle.  William is named in the list of those ‘that are to attend to fyte at the castell of brounz’.  So if there was call to arms he was expected to be there.

The census showed that Poole had 1,373 inhabitants of whom 165 were householders.  Rather different from the Poole of today.  In the 2001 census the population of Poole was 138,385 comprised of about 59,000 households. (source Borough of Poole website)

The name of Matthew Havelond, the person Thomas bought the house from, gives another lead in the history of the building.  Havelond is most probably a corruption of the spelling of Havilland.  The copy of the de Havilland Chronicles in the archives gives a wide variety of spelling for the name.  The de Havilland family had been settled in Poole since 1471 when James de Havilland was sent from Guernsey to Poole by his father to become a merchant in the town.  He was very successful and he and his sons were mayors of Poole several times in the period from 1494 to 1569.

It is possible that Matthew Havelond was the rector of St James Church from 1566–70 and a cousin of Christopher Havilland who witnessed Thomas Bingley’s will.  Christopher Havilland also had a son called Matthew who went on to be the Sherriff & Mayor of Bristol but he was born in 1550 so it is not as likely that Thomas Byngley could have bought the house from him.

The search now continues to try and find out a bit more about who may have owned the house during this period or possibly even who built it.

Sylvia Tomkins

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About Poole High Street Project

Contact: Jenny Oliver - j.oliver48@btinternet.com
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