Next Meeting: Monday 21st February 2022 – 500 Years of Broadway Maps
Our next meeting will take place on Monday 21st February starting at 7pm in the Lifford Memorial Hall. The Society looks forward to welcoming back David Ella as our speaker with his illustrated talk entitled 500 Years of Broadway Maps.
During David’s talk we will be looking at a wide range of maps which include Broadway, created from the 1570s through to 2020. While interesting and attractive in themselves the maps will be used to try and resolve some unanswered historical questions about Broadway and Broadway Hill. We will look at old county maps, and also unpublished estate maps for Middle Hill, Spring Hill, and the Countess of Gainsborough’s estates in Chipping Campden, which ran to the top of Broadway Hill. Amongst other things, we will look at the engineer’s diagram for the 1820’s roadworks on Broadway Hill, alongside an angry letter from Sir Thomas Phillipps who provided the land. We will find out why Broadway is in Worcestershire, why Five Mile Drive is only two miles long, and finally try and resolve how Colonel Lygon displayed the Battle of Waterloo at his Spring Hill estate, just beyond Broadway Tower. Closer to the village we will look at the “Haunted House”, and understand why one of the houses in the High Street lies at 45 degrees to the road – with the help of the Broadway Enclosure Map.
There will be a table display of original 17th and 18th century maps which can be viewed either before or after David’s talk.
Hand sanitiser and masks will be available. The Comittee will set out the chairs prior to the start of the meeting but please feel free to move them if you would prefer to sit in a different location in the hall. In line with current guidance we will leave the doors to the hall open until just before the start of the talk to allow as much fresh air into the hall prior to the start of the meeting. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact a member of the committee.
Isaac Averill, was known as the ‘Gentleman of Broadway’. He was born in Broadway on 21st August 1830, the oldest son of Isaac Blakeman Averill JP (for Worcestershire and Gloucestershire) and Mary (née Osborne) of Broadway. Isaac had 12 siblings. His family were wealthy farmers having farmed several hundred acres in and around Broadway for over 300 years.
Broadway Parish records show that there were Averills (surname also spelt Averell or Avery) in the village from the early 1600s and that Isaac was descended from the marriage of John Averell and Alice Hawkes which took place in Broadway on 2nd November 1602.
Isaac grew up in Broadway at South View House, 46 High Street. The house had been rebuilt in 1804 and was later known as Broad Close. He was educated locally before attending Cheltenham College as a day pupil from 1842 to 1847. After leaving school Isaac gained further farming experience when he spent 15 months working for Mr Roberts in Waterperry, east of Oxford. Following his return to Broadway, Isaac went on to farm at Gorse Hill Farm, Clump Farm, Collin Farm and Home Farm, farming several hundred acres of farmland he had inherited on the death of his father in 1858.
Aged 30, he married his cousin Sarah Averill (born in Broadway c1827), the daughter of his Uncle Stephen Averill JP of Broadway, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. Isaac and Sarah were married on 15th December 1860 at St Andrew’s Church, Holborn, in London.
Isaac was an active member of Broadway’s community and described Broadway as an “old fashioned village, healthy and attractive”. He was a Magistrate (Chairman of the Evesham County Bench), County Councillor and a Parish Councillor from 1855. In 1857 he was appointed Highway Surveyor and he organised the installation of the fence along the bottom of the village green to preserve the green from damage from passing carriages. He was also Chairman of the Gas Company, a Guardian of the Poor and one of the managers of the Samaritan Club.
In 1860 following the death of his Uncle Stephen, Isaac was made a magistrate for Worcestershire and in 1862 he was appointed a JP for Gloucestershire. He regularly attended the sessions at nearby Chipping Campden. He was also appointed Deputy-Lieutenant for Worcestershire and after just losing in the first County Council elections, coming second to Thomas Byrd by 40 votes, the County Council elected him as an Alderman.
Isaac was elected a member of the Sanitary Authority for Broadway in 1875. In the early 1870s, following several outbreaks of cholera and typhoid, local authorities were required to provide clean public water supplies and Sanitary Authorities were set up across the country. Isaac purchase the rights to a supply of spring water (located at the top of the village) and gifted the rights to the District Council for the village’s use before Evesham Corporation acquired it.
He took a great interest in the Broadway Mutual Aid Club and was a churchwarden of St Michael’s Church for over 30 years, presenting the church with its brass lecturn in 1899. Isaac also took an active role in the restoration of St Eadburgha’s Church.
On 28th April 1895, a dinner was held in his honour in recognition of his services to the village. The dinner was hosted by the George Coventry, 9th Earl of Coventry, and attended by Lord Lifford, Lieut.-General Henry Fanshawe Davies, JP, DL (of Elmley Castle), the Reverend Francis A. Morgan (Vicar of St Michael’s Church), Reverend S. Clarke and Edgar Flower2. Isaac was presented with a silver cup inscribed with the following wording:
Presented to Isaac Averill, Esq., by his numerous friends in the parish of Broadway and neighbourhood as a mark of their esteem and appreciation of his long and untiring service devoted to the interests of Broadway and district.
He retired as Chairman of Evesham Board of Guardians in 1901 after 40 years’ service on the Board. He had been first elected as Guardian of Broadway in 1861 and after 5 years was appointed a member of the Evesham Board. During his time on the Board he was in charge of building a new chapel and a hospital for the Evesham Union Workhouse (in 1870).
Isaac was also a keen sportsman. He hunted with the North Cotswold for many years and was involved in the building of the hunt kennels and stables in the village in the 1860s. He was also a founding father of Broadway Golf Club (1895) and a member of Broadway Cricket Club and Lawn Tennis Club. In 1897 he gave some of the land he owned opposite South View (Broad Close), adjacent to Keyte’s Lane, to Broadway Fire Brigade1 so that a new engine house could be built which was completed the following spring.
During his lifetime Isaac was interested in his family’s history and had records of his family dating back to the early 1500s. His Uncle Stephen, was a good friend of Sir Thomas Phillipps of Middle Hill and in 1899 Stephen Averill enlisted Thomas’s help along with Reverend Morgan, who held the Averill’s family register, to try and trace his ancestors. Isaac was keen to find out whether his family was related to William Averell, a Quaker, from Kent, who had fled England for America and settled in Ipswich, Massachusetts, in early 1637. No direct link was made by Isaac and Stephen Averill at the time, however, some references can be found today that possibly link a distant branch of Isaac’s family to the Society of Friends (Quakers) who settled on the east coast of the United States.
Isaac’s wife, Sarah died in 1901 after a period of ill health and it is reported that Isaac never recovered from her death. He died at home in Broadway four years later on 5th July 1905. He left his effects in his will to his nephews Stephen and George Averill. Isaac and Sarah are buried in St Eadburgha’s Churchyard with Isaac’s parents in the family grave.
When the village allotments off the Leamington Road were built on in the mid 1980s, one of the roads in the new housing development was called ‘Averill Close’ after the Averill family and the Gentleman of Broadway.
Edgar Flower (1833-1905) gifted a supply of spring water from the Middle Hill Estate, Broadway, in 1881, which supplied a reservoir in Childswickham and was piped to Evesham. Further reading: www.badseysociety.uk
Broadway Parish Records
The Worcestershire Archives
The School Registers of Cheltenham College
Earl Coventry Builds a Beacon Tower above Broadway
The site of Broadway Tower was common land until about 1771. The enclosure of Common land granted this to Sir George William, the 6th Earl of Coventry, who owned nearby Spring Hill House as well as Croome Court in Pershore.
In October 1797, Admiral Duncan, later Earl Camperdown, won a naval victory over the Dutch at Camperdown (north of Haarlem). In celebration a bonfire was lit on Broadway Beacon Hill with fireworks and other events organised by Thomas Coventry, youngest son of Lord Coventry. The Countess of Coventry was so impressed that she persuaded Lord Coventry to erect a tower there. Plans for an ornamental folly were initially discussed with Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (who had designed the parkland surrounding Spring Hill) and the project was completed in 1799 by the architect James Wyatt after Brown’s death. The 65 foot Beacon Tower with its saxon castle design stands at 1024 feet above sea-level, the highest little castle in the Cotswolds.
Sir Thomas Phillipps and the Broadway Printing Press
Following the 6th Earl’s death, John Coventry, his second son, inherited the Tower and surrounding land. In the 1820s it was sold to the eccentric bibliophile Sir Thomas Phillipps who owned the nearby Middle Hill Estate. Thomas used the Tower from 1827 to house his printing press but during his ownership he neglected the building and it fell into disrepair.
In 1837 the vantage point of Broadway Tower was again used as a site for a Beacon Bonfire. On 20th June 1837, Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, an evening procession from the village ended with a bonfire at Broadway Beacon, one of 2,548 bonfires lit across the country to celebrate the Jubilee.
Gloves and Famous Visitors
Thomas Phillipps ceased to use the Tower after his move to Cheltenham in 1863. It is recorded that the Tower was used by glove makers for a while before 1866 when Cormell Price took out a lease on the building as a holiday home for himself and his friends. The location of the Tower with its wonderful views attracted many visitors including the English artist and designer Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris. It is believed that in 1876 William Morris wrote a letter from Broadway Tower which led to the formation of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings by William Morris and Philip Webb in 1877. Cormell Price, known affectionately by his friends as the ‘Knight of Broadway Tower’, and the Stanley family, reluctantly left the Tower after 11 years when Cormell gave up his tenancy in September 1878, after the death of Thomas Phillipps.
The Tower during the Second World War
About 1930, still under the ownership of the Middle Hill Estate, the Hollington family moved in as tenant famers. Mr and Mrs Hollington brought up their family there, cooking on a portable stove and climbing the winding stairs by candlelight as there was no electric light or gas. During the Second World War, whilst tenanted by Mr Hollington (who had joined the Observer Corps), the Tower was used as a look out post to map enemy aircraft.
On 2nd June 1943, a Whitley bomber on a training mission from Honeybourne airfield, crashed next to the tower in poor visibility. The crew: Pilot HG Hagen, Sgt EG Ekins, Flt Sgt DH Kelly, Sgt DA Marriott and Sgt RS Phillips all lost their lives in the crash.
Broadway Tower and the Royal Observation Corps
Broadway Tower remained part of the Middle Hill Estate until 1949 when on the death of Miss Emily Georgina Hingley it was offered to the National Trust as a gift. The Trust declined and the Tower subsequently passed to the Dulverton Batsford Estates when it was rescued by the Hon. Frederick Anthony Wills, 2nd Baron Dulverton of Batsford (1915-1992).
In 1950, following the Second World War, a new above ground concrete slab observation post, known as an Orlit A, was built. It was a very basic structure consisting of two small, separate rooms, equipped with little more than a telephone line that connected the men that manned the post to the regional control centre.
During the ‘Cold War’, a secret Royal Observer Corps nuclear bunker was built in 1961 approximately 180 metres from the Tower. As part of a larger network of 1,653 bunkers around the country, it served as an early warning system – built to study the effects of radioactive fallout from a nuclear attack. It was manned continuously from 1961, up until it’s decommissioning in 1991 at the end of the Cold War. The bunker has since been restored and is open to the public on certain weekends of the year.
Broadway Tower Today
During Lord Dulverton’s ownership the land surrounding the Tower was developed in to a Country Park with its own herd of red deer and the Tower was converted in to a Museum.
The grounds and the Tower, with its wonderful views across up to 16 counties, are now in the ownership of the Will family and are open to the public most days.