From the mid 1880s, the rural idyll of Broadway became a popular destination for visitors from across the world. The Broadway Colony of artists, composers and writers, some of whom made Broadway their home, attracted a number of their friends from Europe and America to the village. Local newspapers regularly published lists of people who visited and stayed in the area at the time. The Evesham Journal reported in October 1892 that the following visitors had been staying in Broadway that summer:
Argyle Parade: Miss Murray (from London), Miss Paton (Wales), Mr Clutterbuck (Merioneth)
Cowley House, hosted by Mrs Righton: Mr & Mrs J.T. Morris and family1 (Ballinaboy House, Ireland)
The Green, Mrs Stanley: Mrs Harris and Mr Edward Harris (Windsor)
Ivy House, Mrs Holcroft: Miss Macpherson (Lichfield), Miss Davis (Bilston), Mr & Mrs Norton (Edgbaston)
The Low Farm, Miss Tennant: Major Corbett (Worcester)
The Lygon Arms Hotel, Charles Drury: Mr C Dixon, Mr H.M. Dixon, Miss Dora Dixon (Edgbaston), Mr Fred G. Clarke (Eastbourne), Mr. G.H.M. Morley (Birmingham), Mr J.W. Lill, Mr A. Lill, Mr D. Lill (Solihull), Monsieur Louis Saurin (Rue des Roses, Paris), Mr W.J. Gale2 (Toronto, Canada), Mr James Bettner Ludlow3 (New York), Mr & Mrs James Smith (Moseley, Birmingham), Mr & Mrs Lewis (Gloucester), Mr Joel Wainwright4 (Finchwood, Marple, Derbyshire), Mr & Mrs Schiefflein (New York), Mr J.H. Payne (Birmingham).
The Lygon Cottage, Charles Drury: Mr & Mrs John Baker and family (Pershore)
North Place Mrs John White: Mr & Mrs J.H. Bacon (Highgate)
North Street, Mrs C. Bunn: Mr Dyer (Cambridge)
Russell House Cottage: The Misses Barnard5
The Knapp Farm, Mrs S. Savage: Mr Peach (Straford-upon-Avon), Captain Henry Allfrey6 (Stratford)
The Swan Hotel, Mr J. Brick: Miss Maun (Bridgnorth) and Mr A. Maun (Shrewsbury), Mr F.W. Land (Leamington), Mr H. Jenkins, Mr C. Daniel, Mr W. Perrot (Bordesley)
The Morris family were Irish landed gentry who had inherited part of the estate of the Frenchs of Errislannan and they had a house in Ballinaboy, Co. Galway.
J. W. Gale was a wholesale dealer in staple and fancy dry goods, woollens, tailors’ furnishings, and gents’ furnishings with premises at 24 and 26 Wellington Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Gale was the manufacturer of the celebrated “Gale Shirt Collars and Cuffs”.
James Bettner Ludlow (1859-1921). James Ludlow was an expert on real estate law. Most of his time was employed in the management of the estate owned by himself and his sister, Annie, which embraced most of the water front of South Yonkers in New York.
Joel Wainwright was a naturalist, author of ‘Memories of Marple’ and one of the publishers of The Strines Journal.
Frederick Barnard’s daughters, Dorothy and Polly, served as the models for John Singer Sargent’s painting Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose which was painted in Broadway in the mid 1880s.
Henry Allfrey was born on 9th September 1850. He was educated at Cheltenham College and entered the army in 1868, being gazetted Ensign on 19th May to the 2nd Battalion 60th Rifles. Promoted Lieutenant on 28th October 1871 and Captain on 29th September 1880. He saw service during the Zulu War. Captain Allfrey was the father of Lieutenant General Sir Charles Walter Allfrey, Commanding Officer of V Corps in North Africa and Italy 1942-44.
Broadway History Society has been sent the following biography of Joseph Henry Yarnold (1860-1923) by Yocker Yarnold and Ken Edwards. Joseph served with the police force in Broadway in charge of the village’s police station from 1887 to 1894.
Joseph Henry Yarnold was born on the 20th December 1860, in Kingswinford, Staffordshire, the son of Eliza Yarnold. Joseph, known as Henry or Harry, was initially brought up by John and Eliza Bint at Market Street, Kingswinford. Sometime after 1871, Joseph moved to live with his Yarnold relatives1 at Menithwood, Pensax, Worcestershire, where he was brought up alongside his many cousins.
After leaving school Joseph first found employment at the local Hollins Colliery2, however, having received a good education, aged 19, he joined the police service as a Special Constable. By 1883 Joseph was serving as a full time officer and within a few weeks had been promoted to Constable at Evesham.
In March 1887 Joseph transferred to take charge of Broadway Police Station. During his time at Broadway Joseph met and married Eliza Jane Baskett, daughter of George Baskett the Sexton of the parish of Salford Priors, and they married at Salford Priors on the 20th February 1887. In January 1894 Joseph was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and after serving in Broadway for 7 years moved back to Evesham to the new Police Station in the town. Upon his promotion the village held a dinner in Joseph’s honour. The Evesham Standard on Saturday 20th January 1894 reported:
At the Lygon Arms, on Wednesday, a public dinner was given to present a testimonial to PC Yarnold, on the occasion of his departure to Evesham and his promotion to be Sergeant. Ald. Averill presided, and there were also present – Messrs A Drury, G M Cook, K Averill, A Williams, T Bayliss, R Johnston, J Brick, J W Wilson, B Burrows, H Preston, Haines &c. The Chairman read letters from the Vicar and Mr Pemberton, who expressed regret at being unable to attend. He said they had met to make Sergeant Yarnold a presentation, as a small recognition of his services in Broadway for the last seven years. They were all aware that the life of a police officer was by no means an easy one, and PC Yarnold came to Broadway in troublous times3, just after an election, but his conduct throughout was most satisfactory. All classes of people respected him, and would be sorry to lose him. The Chairman asked Sergeant Yarnold to accept the present, which was a beautiful marble clock, as a mark of appreciation from the Broadway people. Ald. Averill then proposed the health of Mr and Mrs Yarnold, which was cordially drunk. Sergt. Yarnold returned thanks for the way the toast had been received, and for the handsome present made to him. He was sure in after life he should never forget their kindness, and he hoped at the end of the next seven years to have proved himself as satisfactory in his new office. Other toasts were drunk, including the health of Mr Johnston, who had promoted the testimonial. Mr Johnston said he was sure he had never collected money with more pleasure. Sergeant Yarnold had been a splendid officer, and all had responded most generously to his appeal. Mr Averill proposed the health of Mr and Mrs Drury, which was very heartily drunk. Songs were given during the evening by Mr S Jarret, Ald. Averill, Messrs Smith, A Hunt, and others, and the proceedings concluded with the toast of “The Chairman”, which was heartily responded to.
Eight years later Joseph was again promoted to the rank of Inspector a position he held until his retirement in 1909. Joseph was held in high esteem by his colleagues, magistrates and solicitors and on his retirement he was presented with a gold watch by the magistrates at Evesham County Sessions. The watch bore the inscription: Presented to Inspector J H Yarnold on his leaving the Worcestershire Police Force by the Magistrates of the Petty Sessional Division and Borough of Eversham and their Clerk, in recognition of long and faithful service, June 1909.
During his police service Joseph received a merit badge for saving the life of a man who had been pulled out of the Avon river and presumed drowned. Joseph performed respiration on the man and he survived. Upon retirement, Joseph and Eliza went to live at Salford Priors. Following a short illness in May 1923 Joseph was admitted to Clent Nursing Home where he died, aged 63, on 23rd May 1923. His funeral took place at Salford Priors Church the following Thursday. Joseph’s wife Eliza outlived him by 24 years dying at Bream in Gloucestershire on the 21st December 1947, aged 83.
Broadway History Society
1. The large Yarnold or Yarnall family had lived in the villages of Menithwood, Lindridge and Pensax for many generations, the men employed as agricultural labourers or coal miners.
2. Hollins Colliery was on the site of a farm of the same name, situated between Pensaz and Clows Top. Samson Yarnold (1860-1937), one of Joseph’s uncles, followed in his father’s footsteps, working at several of the small local Pensax pits. Samson became the owner of the Hollins coalmine in the 1890s and retired from coal mining, aged 70 in 1930.
3. In the late 1880s the country was in deep recession and unemployment and poverty, particularly in Broadway and the surrounding area, was high. However, an article aimed at attracting visitors to Broadway published in the local newspapers in August 1887, painted the village as a rural idyll.
The cottages in Broadway that comprise Wells Gardens, Leamington Road, were built and named after Thomas Edmund Wells. Born in Birmingham, England, Thomas emigrated with his father and brother to the United States in 1870. He later returned to England to spend his retirement in Broadway away from Chicago, Illinois, where he made his fortune. Thomas is credited with being one of the prominent businessmen who made Chicago one of the leading cities in the world.
Thomas’s Early Life in Birmingham, England
Thomas was born in Birmingham on 28th January 1855 the son of John Wells, a butcher, and Diana Wells (née Nash). Thomas’s father, John, was from Rowington, near Warwick, Warwickshire, and his mother had been born at Causeway Meadows Farm1, Dodderhill, near Droitwich, Worcestershire, on 31st October 1826. The Nash and Wells were family friends and John and Diana, whose parents were living at Haselor Farm, Cropthorne, Worcestershire, were married at St Michael’s Church, Cropthorne, by Rev. B. Fawcett on 4th February 1852. After their marriage they moved back to Birmingham where Thomas was born the following year.
Thomas was baptised Thomas Edmund Wells on 3rd June 1855 in St George’s Church, Birmingham. Thomas had a younger brother, Samuel John2, who was born in Birmingham in 1857. Aged 41, their mother died during the summer of 1869 and following her death, John, Thomas and Samuel, emigrated to the United States to join family who had already settled there.
Thomas’s Life in Chicago
By June 1870 Thomas, his father and brother were living in Hyde, an affluent area 7 miles south of downtown Chicago in Illinois. Aged 15 and having finished his schooling, Thomas found work as a bank messenger for the American bank house Lunt, Preston, and Kean. Although young, Thomas excelled and quickly moved up in the business. During the Great Chicago Fire3 which raged across the city a few months later from 8th to 10th October 1870, Thomas just managed to escape the flames before the bank’s building succumbed to the fire and collapsed.
Aged 23, Thomas married his cousin, Mary Nash in Chicago on 17th October 1878. Mary had been born at Rush Farm, Inkberrow, Worcestershire. Mary’s father, Richard Preston Nash4 was Thomas’s mother’s oldest brother who had also emigrated to the US in the 1870s and had made Chicago his home. After their marriage, Thomas and Mary moved to 1733 Vincennes Avenue, Chicago. Thomas had a house built on land he had purchased in what was then a quiet, up and coming suburb of the city. Thomas and Mary had 3 daughters and 4 sons all born in Chicago:
Mary Wells, 1879-1969, who married William Hamilton Noyes of Chicago
John Edward Wells, 1881-1945
Anne Diana Wells, 1883-1957, who married Albert Hamilton Noyes
Thomas Edmund Wells Jr, 1885-1940
Richard A. Wells, who died, aged 6, on 23rd January 1895
Preston Albert Wells, 1891-1974
Eleanor May Wells, 1896-1978, who married George Dresser Smith
In 1873 Thomas started work at William Kirkwood at the Chicago Board of Trade and in 1876 was promoted to partner of the firm which was later known as Geddes, Kirkwood & Company. Thomas was amongst traders known as the ‘English crowd’ trading corn and grain on the Exchange floor alongside Alexander Geddes, William Kirkwood and Robert Stuart, who was actually a Scot. Robert Stuart was one of the three founders of the Quaker Oats Company and Thomas was later involved in the company sitting on the board of Quaker Oats.
In the late 1880s, Thomas ended up with some Texas cattle as collateral on a loan that defaulted. To house the cattle, he purchased from the Union Pacific Railroad, 10,000 acres of land at Rush Creek in the Sandhills area of Nebraska and the cattle were moved to the site from Texas. Thomas and his young family spent their summers at the ranch and in the 1890s Thomas set up the Rush Creek Land & Livestock Company. At one time the family were one of the top ten landowners in the panhandle owning 155,864 acres at Rush Creek. His two sons, Thomas Jr and Preston became the most involved in the ranch with Preston, in the 1940s, acquiring his first Arabian horse to add to the number of horses at the ranch. Today the ranch and the Rush Creek Land and Livestock Company, which is still owned by the Wells family, is famous for breeding Arabian horses.
Thomas left Geddes, Kirkwood & Company in 1896 to become President of the Continental Packing Company and in 1902 when he set up his own Chicago Board of Trade trading firm, T.E. Wells & Co. Outside work, Thomas was a member and trustee of the Forty-first street Presbyterian Church which opened in 1890 and a member of the Chicago Club, a private members club for prominent Chicago businessmen, politicians and families.
Retirement to Top Farm, Broadway
On his retirement Thomas decided to move back to England and after renting Dr George Haynes Fosbroke’s Georgian house, Rose Place, Claines, near Worcester, for a year or so in 1902 moved to Broadway. Having fallen for the idyllic Cotswold village, Thomas purchased Top Farm from the Capital and Counties Bank, Broadway, in 1904. Along with the fine Tudor house Thomas purchased surrounding grounds of about 11 acres including extensive fruit orchards, a kitchen garden, dairy, arable fields and several outbuildings and cottages.
Thomas spent his retirement updating and extending the main house and outbuildings. Top Farm House was originally designed by the London architect Andrew Noble Prentice and the refurbishment overseen by Thomas in 1905 was carried out by the Evesham builders, Espley & Co. The gardens at the house were redesigned for Thomas and Mary by the garden designer Alfred Parsons, RA, of Luggershill (now Luggers Hall), Broadway.
Both Thomas and Mary became actively involved in village life and Thomas became affectionately known as Tommy. The family were regular worshippers and supporters of St Michael’s Church and every summer the Broadway Council Schools annual tea and sports day was held in the gardens at Top Farm.
In the early 1900s there was a lack of housing in Broadway for the villagers, so Thomas commissioned Espley & Co. to build the Wells Cottages on the Leamington Road which were completed in 1907 and 1908. The cottages became fondly known in the village as “White City”. Some of the cottages were occupied by workers at Top Farm and many of the cottages are still owned by the family today.
The families and workers associated with Top Farm included; Frank Morgan and Hubert Smithin (Bailiffs), Mr and Mrs T.F. Newbury, David William Stanley (Head Gardener), Mr and Mrs H. Brookes, George Frederick Knott5 (who rented one of the cottages at Top Farm), J.W. and Mollie Donovan (Top Farm Cottages), William and Mary Gardner (Top Farm Cottages), George Gazey Andrews and his daughter Bessie (who lived at Wells Gardens).
Thomas died, aged 55, at home at Top Farm, during the early hours of Thursday 4th August 1910 following a bout of appendicitis. The following Saturday a funeral service, conducted by Rev. Francis Morgan, was held at the house. Rev. Morgan who had just retired from Broadway returned to take the service at the family’s request and whilst the service was being held, the minute bell at St Eadburgha’s Church was rung. Amongst the many mourners, which included his widow, Mary, youngest daughter Eleanor, the farm workers and staff were:
Mr & Mrs John Nash6 (uncle and aunt)
Mrs Prudence Nash7 and nieces, Mary Nash, Jane Nash and Jennie Nash
Dr & Mrs Bunting (cousins)
Mr & Mrs Antonio de Navarro of Court Farm, Broadway
Dr G.H. Fosbroke (Claines)
Dr & Mrs Charles T. Standring
Mr Bridge and Mr Seymour (representing Quaker Oats)
Mr & Mrs Frank Morgan
Mr Henry Fowler
Mr G.H. Hunt (Evesham)
A memorial service was also held at St Michael’s Church the day after the funeral service and Thomas’s body was taken to Evesham Mortuary to be embalmed. On 19th August, his coffin was taken by train to Liverpool, accompanied by Henry Fowler. Thomas’s son, Preston, had made the journey over from Chicago and he returned to Chicago with his mother and his father’s body on the SS Baltic on 20th August. Thomas was buried in Winnetka Congregational Church Cemetery, Cook County, Illinois, alongside his son, Richard.
Thomas’s estate was valued around $1,000,000 and amongst his bequests was money for the building of 10 cottages for married old people in Chicago to be known as the “Richard Arthur Wells Memorial”. His widow, Mary, inherited the household, furniture, jewellery, cars and carriages and the rest of his estate was put into trust with his six children receiving $200,000 each a year after his death. Various other family members and workers and servants employed at Top Farm were also beneficiaries.
After his death his widow continued to spend the summer at Top Farm8. Mary died on 6th August 1941, aged 90 at her home 835 Hill Road, Winnetka, a village north of Chicago, Illinois which the family had built in 1926. Mary’s estate was valued at $2,000,000 and Top Farm was inherited by her daughters.
In 1945, nearly 9 acres of arable fields and orchards owned by Top Farm were compulsory purchased under the Housing Acts 1936 to 1944 to provide extra houses for the village. Adjoining land owned by Collett’s trustees was also compulsory purchased at the same time and several council houses were built along Collett’s Fields in the village.
Top Farm remained in the Wells/Noyes family until 1953 when it was purchased by Professor and Mrs Goiten. The house has since been split into two separate houses and the barns and outbuildings along Bibsworth Lane have also been converted into houses.
Broadway History Society
1. William Hill acquired Causeway Meadows Farm (Corsey Meadow Farm) in 1563 when it was rented from the Lord of the Manor, Thomas Carewe. The farm remained in the Nash family until 1880.
2. Samuel John Wells also emigrated to Chicago and married his cousin Helen “Nellie” Nash.
3. The Great Chicago Fire killed approximately 300 people, destroyed roughly 3.3 square miles of the city and left more than 100,000 residents homeless.
4. Richard Preston Nash was born Causeway Meadows Farm, Dodderhill, in 1818. By the mid 1870s he had moved with his wife, Prudence (née Arthars) and family to Chicago. He died in Chicago 29th August 1892 and is buried Winnetka Congregational Church Cemetery, Chicago.
5. George Frederick Knott was a teacher at Broadway Council School and one of the founders of Broadway Athletic Football Club. He died, aged 29 in 1936.
6. John Nash, born 11th October 1837 at Dodderhill, died 10th November 1910 in Cleveland, Ohio, and his wife Winifred (née Fowler) born 1841, died 1917, married Bengeworth, Evesham, Worcestershire on 7th August 1862.
7. Prudence Nash (née Arthars), wife of Richard Preston Nash (married 1851, died 1885 see note 3).
8. Top Farm was put up for auction in London by John D. Wood after Thomas’s death on 14th July 1914, however, it was still occupied by Mary Wells and her daughters until 1953 so was probably withdrawn from the sale.
Since 1848, the post office in Broadway had been housed in an office adjoining Mr Foss’s shop on the opposite side of the street. Following the opening of the new premises the Evesham Standard & West Midland Observer reported:
Broadway like other small Worcestershire towns has prospered and the business at the post office has considerably increased. It is the post town for many villages around, and has become a quite important office. Up to last week the Post Master, clerks, and all the messengers were obliged to do their work in the one small office and little room remained for the public. The new building which has been erected nearly opposite the old office affords good accommodation. There is a general office for the public to transact their business and another well-fitted room for the messengers and sorting. There is a separate entrance from the street for the messengers. The Post Master, Mr A.G. Moulden3, will reside on the premises.
The Old Post Office, as it is now known, is currently occupied by Rikki Tikki Toy Shop with a private apartment above the shop.
Debbie Williamson Broadway History Society
1. Sir Edward Guy Dawber, RA (King’s Lynn, 3rd August 1861 – London, 24th April 1938) was an English architect working in the late Arts and Crafts style, whose work is particularly associated with the Cotswolds. He was knighted in 1936. Dawber also designed Bibsworth House, Broadway.
2. Charles Edmund Steward of Broadway, an employee of Espley and Co., worked on the building of the Post Office in 1899. His granddaughter, Mary Smith, and great grandson Nigel Smith, will be giving a talk entitled A Builder in Broadway, Charles Edmund Steward, on Monday 17th February 2020 in the Lifford Memorial Hall, Lower Green, Broadway from 7pm.
3. Albert George Moulden was born in Reading, 1868. He was a keen cricketer and played for Reading Post Office Cricket Club. He was elected to the Committee to Broadway Cricket Club in February 1900.