So far we have only researched number 56 following an enquiry about the foundation stones. If you have deeds on any of the other properties and you would like us to try and find out more then do please get in touch.
56 FORE STREET, THE CONSTITUTIONAL CLUB
also known as the ‘CONSERVATIVE CLUB’
Frances Billinge 4 May 2020
The Tithe Map of 1841 shows no building on the part of Fore Street where the Constitutional Club was later erected (Fig.1). Most businesses and houses were on the opposite side of the road as in medieval times the land had been the burgage plots for houses on Mary Street.
Figure 1. Tithe Map showing Fore Street Bovey Tracey 1841 by kind permission of Devon Heritage Centre . www.devon.gov.uk
In the 1880s Constitutional Clubs to further Conservative principles were being set up throughout the country with Newton Abbot and District’s being established in 1885 (East and South Devon Advertiser 7 February 1885, p. 8). Prominent people of Bovey Tracey were members such as John Joll the retired proprietor of the Dolphin Hotel (Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 21 November 1887, p. 2). Meetings in Bovey Tracey were held in local hotels and assembly rooms with (East and South Devon Advertiser 18 November 1893, p. 5). At the start of 1894 the Bovey Tracey Constitutional Club decided to look for new premises in Bovey Tracey (Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 11 January 1894, p. 2) The Constitutional Club then purchased land from Richard Ladd in order to build premises. Richard Ladd and his wife ran the Post Office and the land was part of their property. No time was lost and amid much local enthusiasm the foundation stones for a Constitutional Club were laid on 17 January 1895 as shown by the newspaper article of the following day. The local M.P. W.H. Smith together with his wife Lady Esther both laid stones. Lord Clinton, the Lord Lieutenant of Devon, was due to have laid the first foundation stone but he was unable to attend owing to ill health so Lady Esther Smith laid it on his behalf (The Western Daily Mercury 18 January 1895 p.5, and Figs 2 and 3).
Figures 2 and 3. Foundation Stones Constitutional Club, 56 Fore Street Bovey Tracey. Frances Billinge 2020
The club was opened formally on Monday 3rd February 1896 (The Western Times 7 February 1896, p.6) The architects were Messrs J.W. Rowell and Sons of Newton Abbot. John Winsor was the mason; William Aggett the carpenter; and William J. Mardon the plumber- all of Bovey Tracey. The building was erected for £1.050. Mr William Robert Hole of Parke provided the building stone and Candy and Co, provided the facing bricks. The premises boasted meeting, reading and card rooms, as well as a billiard room (East and South Devon Advertiser 8 February 1896, p. 5).
Locally the club was also referred to as the Conservative Club. In more recent times the premises were sold and re-opened as De Tracey’s a private members’ club. It is now Serendipity– a patchwork and quilting shop, which is an Aladdin’s cave for all who love sewing and embroidery (Figure 4).
Figure 4. 56 Fore Street. Frances Billinge 2020.