While delving into the 18th century records and trying to identify who lived where in the High Street, I came across two households who probably lived at Nos. 24 and 26 (now known as Cinnamon House) in 1777. It’s difficult to be sure because I am working from a list of names with only a few fixed points. This inspired me to try to find out more about the history of the building and the site.
In the 18th century, Cinnamon Lane did not extend behind all the houses on lower High Street. Instead it was just a short lane curving round from new Street to Church Street. The first reference to the site of the building that I can find is in H. P. Smith’s History of the Borough and County of the Town of Poole when he is describing the visit of Charles II in 1665. The mayor who welcomed the King was Peter Hall, a wine cooper who ‘lived in an old stone built house on the site now occupied by Nos. 24 and 26 High Street. Indeed the original stone-walled cellar of the house still exists beneath the present premises.’ (I would love to know how H. P. Smith identified this house!) The house was not apparently fine enough to entertain the King but Peter Hall did pay for the royal luncheon in Peter Hiley’s house in the corn market. He also had the honour of handing the King ashore after his trip round Brownsea and leading the procession to William Skutt’s house for the second fine meal of the day.
So sadly it seems that the present Cinnamon House probably does not date from c. 1692 as it says on the plaque, but its cellars might be considerably older than that. According to the Royal Commission volume on Poole’s architecture, the building was constructed in the mid 18th century as a pair of brick built houses with two storeys, cellars and attics. They also mention an original fitted cupboard with partially glazed doors in the front room of No. 24. The mid 1700s was certainly a period when there was a great deal of building and rebuilding in the High Street as the population expanded dramatically.
In 1751 the house on this site may have been the home of Mr Spence Young who had a bakehouse. Later it was occupied by Robert Young and from 1761 a second house or tenement on the site is listed. Was it at this time that the old house was replaced by the present building? Robert Young was a sea captain involved in the Newfoundland trade and may often have been away at sea. In 1766, a shoemaker called Tilsed occupied the second house and by 1768, the tenant was a cooper called Adams Wadham.
Shortly afterwards, the whole building seems to have been bought by Joseph Brassett, stationer and bookseller whose shop was more or less directly opposite. Besides books and stationery he also sold drawing instruments, musical instruments and patent medicines and ran a lending library at 3d per volume per week. Adams Wadham was Joseph Brassett’s son in law and he and his wife Mary occupied one of the houses while the other was let to Samuel Marder, a silversmith. Joseph continued to live over his shop across the road. When he died in 1784, Joseph Brassett left the house to Mary.
Then the trail goes cold (if in fact it’s not been a false trail all along). Benjamin Wadham, cooper is listed in Pigot’s Directory of 1823 and Samuel Marder, merchant’s clerk in the 1841 census. They may be descendents. The next information comes from the census of 1861 when No. 24 was occupied by Mary Ann Whittle, a widow of independent means whose income derived from property. She lived there until at least 1891 with her niece, Mary E Willis. After her death, the younger Mary continued to live there until 1930. Meanwhile No. 26 was not lived in for most of the time (although it might have been a lock-up shop). In 1901, it was the home of William Mizen, basket maker, his wife Fanny and their six children. In 1911, Edward Barker lived there with his wife and family of four. He was described as a ‘jailer’ and must have worked at the Poole prison.
In 1931 Joseph Freeborn set up at No. 24 as a plasterer and later a builder. From 1967, it was a hairdresser’s, run by C. P. Evripidou and today it is Madison’s Hairdressers. The shop at No. 26 was kept by Frederick and later Miss Florence Gritten from the 1920s right through to the 1970s when it became Kernel’s gift shop. Does anyone remember these traders? Today, the building is still one of the most striking properties in the street with its handsome facade and two stepped entrances.