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21, High Street.

The frontage shop at No. 21 High Street was one of the smaller ones. However, the yard to the rear (known as ‘Bray’s Yard’) and accessed by an archway to the left of the shop, opened out with extensive premises to the southern side and a range of shallower buildings on the northern side. A passageway led from the back of the yard to Sedgeford Lane. For many years Nos. 21 and 22 were in the same ownership, and this leads to some confusion over which premises were occupied by the businesses and families listed in the directories and censuses. In the yard were three or more dwellings and a long range of commercial premises.

For over fifty years, from about the 1780s until about 1836, the premises were owned by the hatter William Lake and his family.

Following the death of William Lake jnr., in 1836 and for the next 100 years or so, John Bray and his son Edwin ran a music business from the premises. John Bray may have been from as early as 1828 as a tenant of William Lake. The Brays later owned the freehold of the premises but it is not known whether they occupied the frontage shops or whether these were always leased out to other businesses. All those businesses that gave No. 21 as their address (but not those listed at ‘Bray’s Yard’) in one or more trade directories are included in this account, together with any families who appear in the censuses.

 c1784 – c1836 (William Lake) (William Lake & Son).

The earliest record of William Lake’s business is in Bailey’s British Directory or Merchants and Traders’ Useful Companion for 1784.

William Lake was born in 1745 in Congham, Norfolk, and married Mary Smith on 5th April, 1772 in Lynn. William and Mary had at least four children:-

1) Elizabeth (b. 1783 – m. Thomas Platten – d. 1868, aged about 85). 2) William jnr. – succeeded to the business – (b. c1780 – m. Frances Dawson on 29/10/1807 – d. 1836, aged 56). 3) Benjamin (b. 20/03/1785). 4) Eleanor (b. 1786 – m. Richard Webber on 08/10/1804).

William jnr., joined his father in the business which became Lake & Son. His father died on 23rd Maech1823, aged 77. Frances Lake died on 8th March, 1842.

William jnr., took over the business at some date prior to his father’s death and became a prominent citizen of the town. He was churchwarden at St. Margaret’s church, the following item appearing in the Norfolk Chronicle on 5th April, 1823:-

‘On Easter Monday, came on the customary election of Parochial Officers for the ensuing year, on which occasion a small party were determined to oppose Mr. Wm. Lake, who has performed the duties of Churchwarden for several years, in a manner highly creditable to himself and serviceable to the Parishioners in general; he has, as well as his colleague, A. Bowker, Esq., been particularly active during the year, and to their exertions is the town in a great measure for the establishment of the Evening Lectures. Mr. T. Jackson, merchant, was nominated and after the shew of hands, a poll was demanded, at the close of which the numbers were found to be for Mr. Lake 161, for Mr. Jackson 32, exhibiting a majority sufficiently indicative of the sense entertained by the inhabitants of the merits of our worthy Churchwarden.’

William Lake jnr., died in March, 1836, aged 56 and the business may have been acquired by John Keed jnr. (see below). It is believed that John Bray purchased the premises from William Lake’s estate, having previously been a leaseholder of part of them.

Elizabeth Lake married Thomas Platten, who was a cabinet maker and upholsterer who rented part of the premises at No. 21 from his father-in-law, William Lake.

Eleanor Lake married Richard Webber who had a shop at No. 79, High Street, where more details of his family may be found. Richard and Eleanor’s son Benjamin Lake Webber had a tailor’s shop at No. 103a, High Street for two years, from 1844 to 1846.

c1828 – c 1938 (John Bray)

For over 110 years, from about 1828 onwards, the house at No. 21, High Street, which was situated in the yard at the rear of the property, was occupied by the Bray family. John Bray was born in Lynn in about 1812, the son of a publican, also John, and his wife Ann, who ran the Ship Inn, 23, Bridge Street from about 1822 until about 1839.  John Bray was a music teacher and piano tuner and ran a shop selling sheet music and musical instruments. John was not listed in the directory for 1836 but either he or his son Edwin was included in every succeeding one until 1908.

Although the trade directories list Bray’s music business at No. 21 throughout this period, it is not clear whether they ever ran the business from one of the High Street frontage shops. It is certain that the main shop at No. 21 was a drapery establishment in February 1874, when Thomas Green moved part of his business here (see Nos. 21 & 22 below).

It seems likely that Bray’s music business was conducted from premises at the rear of No.21 after that date, but it is possible that it never occupied a frontage shop.

John married Adelaide Hewitt on 10th December, 1844 at St. Margaret’s Church. She was born in Middlesex on 9th December, 1813 in the central London parish of St. Andrew’s Undershaft, the daughter of Thomas Hewitt a stationer, but she later moved to Lynn.

John and Adelaide had three children:-

1) Florence Cecilia (b. 1852 – died in infancy). 2) Adelaide Harriet (b. 1850 – m. George William Page on 15/10/1873 – d. 24/11/1913, aged 63). 3) Edwin Alfred – succeeded to the business – see below – (b. 1853 – m. Emma Hall in 1889 – d. 1938, aged 84).

George William Page, who married Adelaide Harriet, was the manager of the National Provincial Bank on the Tuesday Market Place for over 30 years and the family lived on the premises.

John Bray advertised in the Lynn Advertiser on 19th July 1844:-

‘PROFESSOR OF MUSIC – Begs to return his best thanks for the very liberal encouragement he has received during the last 15 years from the different Academies and the Public generally of Lynn and its vicinity, and at the same time he takes this opportunity to announce that he has just returned from London with an extensive assortment of the choicest Music, Musical Instruments, etc., comprising Violins, Violinellos, Piano Fortes, and Accordians, also strings of every description, and which he now offers for Sale on the most reasonable terms. NB – Piano Fortes Tuned and Let on Hire.’                                                                                                                                                                                

In Kelly’s Directory for 1846, John Bray is listed as ‘Professor of music, seller and piano forte tuner, 21, High street’. On 14th February that year he placed the following notice in the Lynn Advertiser:-

‘Mr. J. BRAY, Professor of Music, respectfully informs the Nobility, Gentry, Clergy, and the public generally, he has constantly on Sale and Hire, superior Cottage, Boudoir, Picolo and Square PIANO-FORTES selected by himself, from the most eminent London Makers, from £5 and upwards, comprising 5½, 6, 6½, and 6¾ octaves; also every other Instrument and article connected with the Trade. – Piano-fortes and Accordions Tuned and Repaired – A WEEKLY PARCEL, J. B. begs to announce that his establishment is strictly musical, and not mixed up with any other trade, and from the experience and extensive connection he has formed with the principal Manufacturers in the Metropolis for the past 17 years he is enabled to offer warranted instruments of the best quality, both as to construction, material and workmanship, at lower prices than any other person in this division of the county. Piano-fortes selected from any of the London Makers at their prices, without charge. J.B. also wishes to caution the public against the impositions attempted in this neighbourhood, by parties totally unconnected with the Musical Profession, and utterly unacquainted with Musical Instruments, who are offering for sale Piano-fortes etc., purchased by Advertising Agents from the needy and sold to the affluent, to the great injury of both, as well as to the fair-trader. THE QUADRIL BAND AS USUAL – One Concern.’

In the 1871 census, he is recorded as living on the premises with Adelaide and their children, Adelaide Harriet, 20, and Edwin Alfred, 17. Edwin was working as a piano tuner.

John Bray advertised as a ‘Pianoforte Tuner and Selector.’ He offered ‘Pianofortes & Harmoniums. New and Second-Hand, on Sale or Hire on reasonable terms’.  From at least 1868, he was acting as a concert agent and in 1872 he advertised performances by ‘Matthew Boothers’ Monster Troupe of Christy Minstrels’ at the Athenaeum Music Hall.

Adelaide Bray died in 1877 aged, 63.

John Bray was still living on the premises in 1881, when he is recorded as a professor of music, aged 69.

He died in 1883, aged 71. A window to his memory was installed in St. Margaret’s Church.

He was succeeded in the business by his son, Edwin, who advertised in the Lynn Advertiser on 31st March, 1883:-

‘UNDER ROYAL PATRONAGE, LYNN AND WEST NORFOLK MUSIC REPOSITORY, established A.D. 1828, HIGH STREET, LYNN, EDWIN BRAY, PIANOFORTE TUNER, TONER and MUSIC SELLER. Dealer in every description of Musical Instruments selected by himself. English and Foreign Pianofortes, American Organs and Harmoniums, by the best Makers always on Sale or Hire. Repairing in all its branches by himself. EDWIN BRAY begs to thank the numerous customers and supporters of his father (the late John Bray), and to state that he intends to carry on the business in all its branches, and trusts to secure the same liberal patronage’.

Edwin Bray was one of Lynn’s most distinctive characters during the late nineteenth and early Twentieth Century and was known locally as ‘Major’ Bray. In his youth he had been a keen sportsman and an enthusiastic yachtsman, sailing with the Ouse Yacht Club. He married a Lynn girl, Emma Hall, in 1889 and they had two children:-

1) Edwin John – a butcher – (b. 1890 – m. Emma M. Sharman in 1917 – d. 1961, aged 70). 2) Audrey Hilda (b. 07/12/1894 – m. Charles Albert Hignell in 1917 – d. 1961, aged 66).

In later years Edwin Bray was a familiar figure cycling around the town. Wherever he went he was usually accompanied by his red setter, called Michael. For over 50 years he tuned the pianos at Sandringham House.

Emma Bray died in 1936 at the age of 83.

Edwin continued to live at the rear of No. 21 until his death in March, 1938, at the age of 85.

Edwin John Bray was working as a butcher in 1911 and he married Emma M. Shearman in Lynn in 1917. They did not have any children.

Audrey Hilda Bray married Charles Albert Hignell in 1917 and they had one son, Douglas Alfred, born in 1920. Charles Hignell was the son of Frederick Henry Hignell, who became the secretary to the King’s Lynn Cooperative Society Ltd.

From February, 1874 onwards, the shop at No. 21 was combined with the one next door at No. 22 (see below).

c1841 – 1843 (John Keed)

In the 1841 census, John Keed jnr., aged 30, a hatter and furrier is recorded as living here with his wife, Elizabeth Ann, 30, their daughters Elizabeth Ann, 7, and Maria Jane (wrongly recorded as Jane Marion), 3, and two servants. His father, John Keed snr., (also a hatter), lived over his shop at No. 85, and it may be that John jnr. had recently set up in business on his own, taking over William Lake’s business. John Keed arranged for certain visiting tradesmen to rent one of his rooms while they were visiting the town and the following notice appeared in the Lynn Advertiser on 16th August 1842:-

‘SCISSOGRAPHIC LIKENESS, With Frame & Glass – ONE SHILLING – In Bust or Beautifully Bronzed or Shaded at a trifling additional charge. E. PARKER, conductor of the Hubard Papyrotomic Profile Gallery, so celebrated for the accuracy and beauty of its Paper Sculpted Likenesses, by JUVENILE ARTISTS, in Lynn, Norwich, and all the principal Towns in the United Kingdom. Respectfully announces that his Establishment is now open a THIRD TIME IN LYNN, at MR. KEED jnr’s., 21, HIGH STREET. CHILDREN, of all ages, and however restless; ADULTS, who have often sat for but never obtained, a likeness, THE AGED, who have been wearied with long and repeated sittings, and disgusted with the CARICATURE results of their patience, may, in every instance, have CORRECT and AGREEABLE LIKENESSES at the Hubard Gallery, and at the smallest possible expence of time and money.’

Master Hubard was a young lad who claimed to have pioneered the art of cutting out profile likenesses with scissors (without drawing or machine) in the early 1820s. E. Parker’s stay at John Keed’s establishment was extended into September and he advertised again on 13th of that month. On 25th April 1843 this notice appeared in the Lynn Advertiser:-

‘TO LET: Commodious dwelling house, with excellent & extensive shops, warehouse & premises, being No. 21, High Street, Now in the occupation of Mr. John Keed jnr. hatter. With possession at Michaelmas next.’

He had moved his business to No. 114, High Street by 1842, where he stayed for four years. A further move finds him and his family living at No. 85 in 1851.

More details of the Keed family will be found at No. 85, High Street.

 c1850 – 1861 (Sarah Day)

Slater’s trade directory for 1850 lists three businesses at No. 21: George H. Burrell, boot and shoe maker; Susannah Day, milliner and dress maker; and John Bray. There is no indication as to which of these had the shops fronting High Street. However, it may well be that Burrells had the large shop next to No. 22, that the millinery shop was in the small shop next to No. 20 and that John Bray operated from premises in the yard.

Slater’s listing of Susannah Day may be wrong – there is no trace of her in the census, which has Sarah Day here in 1851 with her widowed mother Dinah, an annuitant aged 73. Born in Weeting, Norfolk c1778, Dinah Day had apparently been widowed prior to 1841when she was living at East Winch. She had two daughters with her at that date, Sarah, born c1811 and Mary, born a year later – both in Stradsett, Norfolk. Also staying with them was Dinah’s granddaughter Sarah, born c1831 in West Bilney, Norfolk, and quite probably the illegitimate daughter of Sarah snr.  The family had all moved to No. 21, High Street by 1851, when the two Sarahs were listed as dressmakers. Sarah’s millinery business is listed here in White’s directory for 1854. Dinah died in about1855 and Sarah died in January 1861, aged 54.

Sarah Day jnr. married Nathaniel Lees Fysh in Lynn in 1856. Nathaniel was a Free Methodist Minister and had been born in Lynn in about 1836. He was the son of Samuel Fysh (b. 1800), a grocer and brush maker who for many years lived in Chapel Street, and who died in Lynn in 1879, aged 79. Nathaniel and Sarah moved about the country and they had two children, the first born in Lowestoft and the second in St. Ives, Cornwall:-

1) Sarah Day (b. 23/05/1858 – m. Alfred George Machin in 1881 and William Richardson on 10/09/1903 – d. 1941, aged 82). 2) Nathaniel Lees (b. 1859 – m. Maria Louisa Howard in 1889 – d. 1926, aged 67).

In 1861 Sarah and Nathaniel Fysh were living in Louth, Lincolnshire. From there they moved to Bedminster, Bristol, and then to Monkwearmouth, Sunderland. Another spell at Bedminster followed before Sarah died in Nottinghamshire in 1899, aged 68.

Nathaniel married Alice Augusta Gore in Birmingham in 1902. He died in Worcestershire in 1917 aged 82, and Alice died in 1935, aged 82.

 c1850 – c1866 (George Henry Burrell)

The boot and shoe maker George Henry Burrell was listed at No. 28, High Street between 1836 (White) and 1846 (Kelly’s Nine Counties Directory). He had earlier been at 4, Norfolk Street (Pigot).

Between 1850 (Slater) and 1865 (Kelly’s Post Office Directory) he was listed here at No. 21. Harrod in 1863 lists him at No. 21 & No. 22, but this may have been the yard address. His business was fairly big when he employed six lads and ten men in 1851 but it is unlikely that he ever occupied both premises. Apparently Nos. 21 and 22 were not joined into one until about 1874 when Thomas Green owned them both.

In the 1850 directory, George Burrell was also included as a currier and leather seller.

George Henry Burrell was born in Flitcham, Norfolk in about 1809. His wife Anna Brown was born in Lynn in about 1811, and they married at St. Margaret’s church on 14th September, 1831. They did not have any children.

By 1864, George Burrell’s business had run into financial difficulties, and on 21st May that year the following notice appeared in the Lynn Advertiser:-

‘KING’S LYNN. HIGH STREET. To Leather Cutters, Boot & Shoemakers, Shopkeepers, and the Heads of Families. TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION, BY Mr. WILLIAM MILES. On Wednesday and Thursday, May 25th and 26th, 1864, (under an Execution from the High Sheriff of Norfolk), the extensive STOCK-IN-TRADE, HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE, and other effects, the property of Mr. G. H. Burrell, Currier, Boot and Shoemaker, High Street, consisting of A LARGE number of BOOTS and SHOES of all descriptions. A small quantity of Leather Skins, etc. Also the Household Furniture etc. For inventory and full particulars see handbills. Sale to commence each day at Eleven o’clock in the forenoon. Boots and Shoes first day. Leather and Furniture second day.’

It is not clear whether that sale went ahead and it may be that two other Lynn curriers bailed him out. In any event, his business continued for another two years, and then on 24th March, 1866 the following notice appeared in the Lynn Advertiser:-

‘Re GEORGE HENRY BURRELL. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, that George Henry Burrell, of King’s Lynn, Currier and Shoemaker, has, by deed bearing the date 19th day of March, 1866, conveyed all his Estate and Effects to Luke Webster (currier) and John Gower Saunders (currier), both of King’s Lynn aforesaid, absolutely to be applied and administered for the equal benefit of the Creditors of the said George Henry Burrell, in like manner as if he had been at the date thereof duly adjudged Bankrupt.

And notice is hereby also given that the Creditors of the said George Henry Burrell are hereby required to signify their assent or dissent from such deed, by notice in writing, addressed to the Trustees thereof, on or before Monday, the 9th day of April, 1866.

And Notice is hereby also given that the said Deed now lies in my office for execution thereof by the Creditors of the said George Henry Burrell.

And Notice is further given that all Persons indebted to the said George Henry Burrell are requested to pay the amount of their respective debts to the said Trustees, or to me, on their behalf, forthwith.

JAMES NURSE, Solicitor to the Trustees, 7, Saint James’s Street, King’s Lynn. 22nd March, 1866.’

George Burrell continued in business after this event and was at No. 122, Norfolk Street in 1868 (Harrod).

Anna Burrell died in 1861/1862, aged about 51, and George died in 1875/1876, aged 67.

c1874 – Present day.

The two premises at No. 21 and No. 22 were combined into one trading unit in about 1874. More details may be found at Nos. 21 & 22, High Street.