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No. 84 High Street, and No. 84a (Purdy’s Court)

No. 84 was one of the larger High Street premises, providing spacious living accommodation and versatile buildings suitable for a variety of uses. For seventy years or more, the premises were occupied by a succession of drapers.

In addition to the frontage shop, there was a yard giving access to the house and the buildings at the rear. Between 1896 and 1904, Francis Hampton, a printer was there. For some years the yard was called ‘Purdy’s Court’ and users of the buildings there also used the address of No. 84a in later years.

For a few years between 1751 and 1760 No. 84 was the home of Dr. Charles Burney (07/04/1726 – 12/04/1814), an eminent musician, music historian and composer. He was the father of Frances (Fanny) Burney, and Sarah Burney who were both well-known writers.

Charles Burney was born in Shrewsbury and became a renowned organist. In 1751 he came to Lynn from London for the benefit of his health. He took up the post of organist at St. Margaret’s church at an annual salary of £100. His health improved while he was at Lynn and he returned to London in 1760, where he associated with the literary elite. An illustration ‘A literary party at Sir Joshua Reynolds’ shows him seated at a table with the host, James Boswell  (biographer), Oliver Goldsmith (writer), Dr Samuel Johnson (author), Sir Joshua Reynolds (portrait painter), David Garrick (actor), Edmund Burke (statesman), Thomas Warton (Poet Laureate), Pasqual Paoli (Corsican Independent).

Charles’ daughter Frances (Fanny) was born in Lynn on 13th June, 1752. She was slow to learn to read and write but by the age of ten had begun her ‘scribblings’ as she called them. Her first novel Evelina was published anonymously in 1778. When she was revealed as the author, she found immediate fame. After her death, Fanny’s extensive diaries were published and shone a light on 18th-century life.

c1812 – 1848 (Samuel Phipps snr.) (Samuel Phipps jnr.)

In 1822 (Pigot), Samuel Phipps, a draper, was listed on High Street (no number).

In 1841, Samuel Phipps, a draper aged 20, was living here with three male servants, three female servants, two assistants and an apprentice. It may be that this was the son of the former Samuel and his wife Sarah, who had their son baptised at St. Margaret’s church on 23rd May, 1823. However, the evidence from Robert Household (see below) is that the elder Phipps, who died in 1848, was the proprietor here for 37 years.

(Note: In 1836 White lists a draper Thomas Phipps here but this is most probably an error).

1849 – 1877 (Robert Barrows Household)

On 6th January, 1849, Robert Household announced in the Lynn Advertiser that he had taken the premises occupied by the late Mr. Phipps and that he was selling off the latter’s stock. Three weeks later he placed the following advertisement in the newspaper:-

‘R. B. Household, Draper, Mercer and Undertaker, 84, HIGH STREET, KING’S LYNN.

Having taken possession of the house, and purchased the extensive and valuable Stock of the Executors of Mr. Samuel Phipps, Draper, deceased, begs most respectfully to return his sincere thanks to the Public for the kind and liberal patronage given to his predecessor for 37 years. In soliciting the continued kind support of a discerning and liberal Public, R. B. H. begs to assure them that nothing shall be wanting on his part to merit the same. The Stock is now selling at a Great Reduction in Price. Agent to the Yorkshire Fire and Life Insurance Company, one of the most successful in the Kingdom.’

The family were living at Coronation Square, Lynn, in 1841, when William Household was staying with them. He was Robert’s father, who had been baptised in Hilgay, where he was born, on 7th May, 1765. William’s parents were George and Mary Household.

Robert married Mary Betts (b. c1804 in Yarmouth) in 1832 in Great Yarmouth. They had five children, all born in Lynn:-

1) Sarah (b. c1826). 2) Agnes Anna (b. c1834 – d. 1905 in Norwich, aged 70). 3) Robert Henry – (b. c1836 – m. Elizabeth West in 1868 – d. 17/09/1914, in Bedford, aged 78). 4) Horace (b. c1837 – d. 1867, in Lynn, aged 29). 5) (Eliza) Helen Mary (b. 1844 – m. Henry Knowles, a doctor, in 1869 – d. 1897 in Hackney, aged 53).

Robert’s first entry in the directories is in 1850 (Slater), when he was listed as:-

‘R. B. Household, Linen & Woollen Draper, and mercer and funeral furnisher, feather purifier by steam, and bed and mattress manufacturer’.

It would appear that when John Keed left No. 85, Robert Household expanded into that shop, being listed at both numbers in White’s Directory for 1854.   However, he is only listed at No. 84 in Harrod’s directory for 1863, and had apparently ceased occupation of No. 85 by that date. The entry that year read:-

‘Wholesale and retail linen and woollen draper, carpet warehouse, furrier, silk mercer, and general undertaker. Agent to the Yorkshire Life and Fire Insurance Co’.

In the 1871 census, Robert was living here with three servants and five ‘shopmen’.  He had a large carpet and rug department and sold feather bedding and feathers.

His business was not listed in Kelly’s Directory for 1875, and he retired in 1877, placing the following notice in the Lynn Advertiser on 14th April:-

‘R. B. Household. Respectfully announces his Retirement from Business, and desires to express his thanks for the continued support he has received during the many years he has been connected with the Drapery trade. He has pleasure in introducing as his successor Mr. John SWANN, and has confidence in recommending him as qualified to maintain the reputation his Establishment has so long enjoyed.’

Mary Household died in 1868 aged 66, and Robert died in 1881, aged 78.

Robert’s son, Robert Henry, was living at 12, Portland Street, Lynn in 1871 and was listed as a linen draper. He does not feature in any of the trade directories and may have been in his father’s business for a short time. He married Elizabeth West, from Newton, Cambridge, in 1868, but she died after the birth of her third child in 1871. Their children were all born in Lynn:-

1) Henry Robert (b. 1868 – died in infancy). 2) Horace West (b. 1869/70 – m. Lucy Beatrice Nolan in 1898 – d. 1954, aged 84, in Kent). 3) Henry Barrows (b. 1871 – d. 1938, aged 67, in Sussex).

Robert Henry Household did not continue in the drapery business but served as a magistrate and was auditor of the Local Government Board in London. By 1881, he had moved into West Bilney Hall. His son Horace graduated from Christchurch College, Oxford and became a teacher, and was Secretary of Education to the Gloucestershire County Council In 1911. His other surviving son, Henry, was a lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion Dorset Regiment at the age of nineteen.

1877 – 1892 (John Swann)

On taking over the business from Robert Household, John Swann placed a notice in the Lynn Advertiser alongside that of his predecessor. He announced that he was retaining all the staff who had been working for Robert Household.

Born in Peterborough in about 1828, he had started out as an apprentice to John Gurney, a draper of Long Buckby, Northamptonshire, where he was in 1841. He later moved to Northampton (c1851), Keighley (c1861), Wakefield (c1863), Leicester (c1868) and Newmarket (c1871), before arriving in Lynn in 1877.

John married Eliza Cawthorne Bird (b. c1834 in Somersham, Cambridgeshire) in 1860. They had eight children:-

1) Elizabeth (b. 1861, in Keighley – d. 1906, aged 44). 2) Annie Frances (b. 1862/3 in Wakefield – d. 1940/1, aged 78). 3) Frederick William (b. 1864, in Wakefield – m. Edith Julia Newitt in 1908). 4) John, a draper in Lambeth in 1911 (b. 1867, in Leicester – d. 1948, aged 80). 5) Alfred, an assistant teacher in 1911 (b. 1872/3 in Newmarket). 6) Gertrude Mary, a high school teacher in 1911 (b. 1874 in Newmarket – d. 1963, aged 88) 7) Agnes Emily (b. 1875 in Newmarket – d. 1951/2, aged 76). 8) Florence Alice, an assistant head mistress in 1911 (b. 1878 in Lynn – d. 1961/2, aged 83).

He advertised ‘Blankets, Flannels, Calicoes and all kinds of Linen Goods Dresses and Jackets Made to Order’ in the Lynn Advertiser on 3rd January, 1880. At the time of the 1881 census he employed 16 people, making his one of the larger drapery establishments in the town. In his later advertisements, John Swann often included the words ‘Late Household’.

John Swann was still living at No. 84 in 1891, with his wife, five children and four apprentices. Although he was listed here in Kelly’s Directory for 1892, he had moved out by the beginning of August that year.

On the 6th August, 1892, Jermyn & Perry placed an announcement in the Lynn Advertiser advertising the sale of all of John Swann’s stock, amounting to some £2,500 at retail prices. They combined this with their own stock in their summer sale. It would appear that Jermyn & Perry had also acquired the premises at No. 84 because the following notice also appeared in the Lynn Advertiser:-

‘LARGE Business Premises to Let, 84 High Street, King’s Lynn, lately occupied by Mr. J. Swann, draper. – Apply, Jermyn & Perry.’

 John Swann retired to live in Avenue Road, Lynn, describing himself as a retired silk mercer in the 1901 census. He died in 1904/5 aged 77. Eliza died in 1922, aged 88.

1894 – 1903 (Thomas Charles Green)

The shop was taken by Thomas Charles Green, the son of Charles Green (c1830 – 1903) – see Nos. 6, 21/22, & 44), who moved his business from No. 44, High Street into these premises. He advertised the move in the Lynn Advertiser on 17th March, 1894. The business had been listed in Kelly’s Directory for 1892 as ‘Thomas Green & Son, clothiers, hatters etc.’, but in an advertisement in the Lynn Advertiser on 17th March, 1894, the name given was ‘T. C. Green late Green & Son’, indicating that Thomas Green snr. had retired.

Thomas Charles Green had been born in Lynn on 31st December, 1854. He married Maria Durant (b. c1853 in Chelsea) in 1883. They had four children but three died young. Their surviving daughter, Dorothy Durant, born in Lynn in 1889, married Edwin Jarvis in 1913. She died in 1975, aged about 86.

On 7th August, 1903, a notice in the Lynn Advertiser announced Thomas Charles Green’s retirement from business and the sale of his stock.

In 1911 he was living in Chingford Road, Epping, Essex, and was a purveyor of milk. He died in Romford, Essex on 19th October, 1944, aged 89.

1903 – 1905 (William John Girling)

William John Girling, ‘The Clothier, Hatter, Hosier and Little Boys’ Outfitter’, took over the lease of the premises and advertised in the Lynn Advertiser on 25th December, 1903. In Kelly’s Directory for 1904, he was listed as ‘Clothier, hatter, hosier & gentlemen’s complete outfitter’.  He was in business at No. 84 for less than three years and Jermyn & Perry again advertised the premises to let on 13th July, 1906. This time there seem to have been no takers and the premises were advertised for sale or rent during September and October. It may be that the Purdy family acquired the courtyard premises at about this time.

William Girling moved to No. 62, High Street in 1905, and more details of his family may be found at that address.

c1905 – c1930 (Amy Elizabeth Purdy)

The first directory entry for local photographer Amy Purdy at No. 84 is in Kelly’s Directory for 1908. Miss Amy Elizabeth Purdy was the daughter of John Thomas Purdy, a qualified chemist and druggist. In 1891 the family were living at York. Amy’s mother Jane, née Hammond, was born c1844 in Bishop Auckland and married John Purdy in 1868. Jane was the proprietress of a ladies’ boarding school in 1891. Amy was their only daughter.

John had been born in Byers Green, Durham, and was the son of William and Isabella Purdy. William was born in about 1803 in Hayes, Kent, and had moved up to Durham by about 1838. His wife was born in Durham in about 1809. William and Isabella had nine children:-

1) Isabella, a postmistress (b. c1834 in Hayes – d. 1891, aged 57). 2) William (b. c1837 – d. 1859, aged about 22). 3) Amy, housekeeper to her brother Frederick in 1911 (b. c1837 – d. 1919/20, aged 81). 4) James (b. 1839/40 – d. c1861/71). 5) John Thomas (b. 1841/2 – m. Jane Hammond in 1868 – d. 1924/5, aged 82). 6) Henry (b. 1842/3 – d. c1861/71). 7) Dorothy Elizabeth, a grocer (b. 1844/5 – d. 1917/8, aged 73). 8) Richard Smart, an ironmonger (b. 1846/7 – m. Jane Siddle in 1869 – d. 1911/2, aged 66). 9. Frederick, a draper (b. 1848/9 – d. 1931, aged 82).

John Thomas Purdy, who had been born in Durham in about 1842, brought his family to Lynn sometime between 1891 and 1901, when he took the job of manager at the chemists Allen & Neale (see No. 55 High Street). The Purdys were living on the premises there in 1901. Amy’s parents stayed in Lynn for the rest of their lives, Jane dying in 1911/12 at the age of 68 and John in 1924/5, aged 82.

Amy was living with her parents in York in 1891 when, aged 20, she was a student of pharmacy. She was extremely intelligent and already very well educated and gave her occupation as a teacher of botany, chemistry, drawing, languages (ancient and modern), music and painting. However, it was photography that became her passion and she was working as a photographic artist on her own account by 1901. Amy had a reputation as a gifted photographer, principally through her work on buildings and architectural subjects. In the days before the press had their own in-house photographers, it is her name that appears under many of the earliest photographs in the Lynn News and the Lynn Advertiser. Books of her work were produced, including one with splendid illustrations of St. Margaret’s Church. The yard at the rear of No. 84 was for many years known as Purdy’s Court.

In 1925, Amy Purdy is listed at No. 102, High Street. However, her listing at No. 84 continued until 1930/1, when P. M. Goodchild’s name appears in brackets below her’s.

Following her retirement from business, Amy Purdy moved to London. She died on 13th October, 1957, at 24 Hayes Crescent, Golders Green, at the age of 86.

1912 – 1925 (Curry’s Cycle Co.)

Curry’s shop at Lynn was one of their earliest branches. Their main shop and works was in Leicester, and their other branches at this date were at Swadlincote, Louth, Boston and Mansfield.

Henry Curry, the founder of the firm, was born in Leicester in 1850. He married Constance Mitchell in 1870, and they had ten children but only eight reached adulthood. Henry worked for the Cooper Corah hosiery company but did not earn enough to support his large family, so he took on extra work, including the manufacture of the Ordinary Bicycle (Penny Farthing). He moved to Painter Street in the city and became the manager of the Leicester Tricycle Co. In 1884 he branched out by manufacturing his own ‘Curry’ bicycle and started to make the Safety bicycle, which was rapidly becoming much more popular than the Ordinary. In 1887 he moved into larger premises in Painter Street and was soon making 25 bicycles per week. The next step was to acquire retail premises, and he bought a shop at 271, Belgrave Road. Very soon afterwards they moved into a larger shop in the same street.

Henry’s two eldest sons, James and Edwin, joined him in the business, and in 1897 Curry & Sons was formed. The business rapidly expanded over the next few years and new headquarters and a wholesale warehouse were opened in Belvoir Street in 1907.

Henry snr. retired in 1909, leaving his four sons James, Edwin, Henry jnr. (Harry), and Albert to run the company.

Curry’s ceased making their own bicycles in 1932, but continued to sell cycles made by Hercules under their name.

The company was floated on the Stock Exchange in 1927, by which date they were selling a wide variety of goods, including toys, radios and gramophones in addition to bicycles.

In the 1960s the business began to concentrate on electrical goods and cycles were no longer stocked.

Curry’s rented the frontage shop at No. 84, and their first advertisements appeared in the local newspapers in 1912 year. Their main selling point was that they made their own cycles, their 1912 model being called the ‘Belvoir’. They offered value for money and a twelve month guarantee. They sold the latest B.S.A models, featuring free wheel, plated rims, roller brakes and tyres that were guaranteed, from £3 12s 6d. Other prices from their 1912 catalogue included: Carbide 3d per pound; Oil from 1d per tin; Tool bags from 4½d; Bells 3d each; Brakes from 6½d; Chains from 1s 5d; Pumps from 7½d; Luggage Carriers 4d; Mudguards 5½d per pair; Saddles from 2s 4½d each; and Spanners from 4½d. Gramophones and records were the other principal lines being advertised by Curry’s at that date, and they advertised their range in the Lynn Advertiser on 15th January, 1915:-

‘FREE To Every Purchaser of One of Our EXCELSIOR GRAMOPHONES at 30/- We are Giving Absolutely Free 6 DOUBLE-SIDED GRAMOPHONE RECORDS. Do not miss this offer, Gramophone alone well worth 35-. RECORDS. Largest and Best Assorted Stock in the District, Thousands to Choose From. List sent on receipt of Post Card. CURRY CYCLE CO., 84 HIGH STREET, and 117, NORFOLK STREET.’

It is not known how long they had premises in Norfolk Street, but they only advertised this once at that address and this branch was not included in Kelly’s directory for 1916.

For Christmas 1921, their advertisement, over the slogan ‘Curry’s The Cycle People’, listed a big range of toys, including electric motors for model-makers, clockwork trains, trams, taxis and cars, steam engines, magic lanterns, humming tops, sewing machines, kiddies’ tea sets, lead soldiers, building bricks and blocks, telescopes, paints, shooting sets, air guns, Meccano, Christmas crackers, dolls, clockwork cats and mice, draughts and games, fretwork sets, flash lamps and torches.

On the afternoon of Friday 17th November, 1922, there was some excitement in High Street when some of the fireworks stored at Curry’s shop caught fire. Amidst the smoke and frequent explosions, the nearby shopkeepers assisted the staff in fighting what could have become a catastrophic fire. Messrs. Rose & Son, at No. 85, the King’s Lynn & County Stores, at No. 82, and Mr. L. E. Taylor, from Norfolk Street all lent ‘Minimax’ fire extinguishers and they managed to douse the flames before the Fire Brigade arrived. Damage was limited to the ceiling of the shop.

In February, 1925, the King’s Lynn & County Stores went into voluntary liquidation and No. 82, High Street was put up for sale. Mr. Henry Curry bought the premises and the shop was moved from No. 84 into the new premises.

The business became a limited company, registered as Curry’s (1927) Ltd.

1919 – (Percival Macdonald Goodchild)

Meanwhile, in 1919, Percival Macdonald Goodchild, a photographer, had come to Lynn from Royal Leamington Spa and had formed a partnership with Amy Purdy. Their business expanded into the vacant shop at No. 84. Percival was born in about 1878 in Leamington.

His father was John Wilson Goodchild (b. 1847/8), the third child of Joseph Goodchild (b. c1819 in Shoreditch) and Sarah Ann Hargreaves (b. c1819 in Leeds).

Joseph was a ham dealer. He and Sarah Ann married in 1841 and had eight children, all born in Middlesex:-

1) William Henry (b. c1844 – d. 1853, aged about nine). 2) Ralph George, Sgt. Royal Engineers in 1881, clerk 1901 (b. 1845 – m. Rachel Howell in 1871/2 – d. 1904/5, aged 57). 3) Mary Ann (b. 1847/8 – one of twins). 4) John Wilson one of twins – see below (b. 1847/8 – m. Jane Isabel Macdonald in 1874 – d. 1921, aged 73). 5) Emily Jane (b. 1850). 6) George Henry (b. 1852). 7)  Arthur Robert (b. 1855). 8) Charles (b. 1857).

Joseph died in 1863, aged 44, and Arthur, a draper, supported his mother, Sarah Ann, for a few years afterwards. She died in 1890/1, aged 68.

John Wilson Goodchild married Jane Isabel Macdonald in 1874. After leaving school, John took a job as a warehouse boy in London before moving to Leamington Priors (later Royal Leamington Spa), where he became a draper’s assistant. John and Jane had two children, both born in Leamington:-

1) Lily Isabel (b. 1875). 2) Percival (Percy) Macdonald – see below (b. 1877 – m. Ethel Maud Foulger in 1901 – d. 1959, aged 82).

Photography featured strongly in Percy’s family. In 1901, Percy, his sister Lily and their mother Jane were all working as professional photographers, and the family was living in the centre of Leamington.

Towards the end of 1901, Percy married Ethel Maud Foulger. Ethel was the daughter of William Foulger, a whitesmith who lived and worked in Rugby but who was born in Thetford in 1843. Ethel was born in Rugby in 1884. She and Percy had six children, three born in Leamington and three in King’s Lynn:-

1) Alec Macdonald (b. 1902 in Leamington – m. Dora E. Allen in 1928 – d. 1974/5, aged 72). 2) Joan Evelyn (b. 1906 in Leamington – m. Derrick W. Brown in 1928/9 – d. 1988, aged about 81). 3) Mary Joyce (b. 1910 in Lynn – David C. H. Gregorie in 1934). 4) Lilian Esme (b. 1912 – m. Harold S. Vawser in 1937/8 – d. 1985, aged 73). 5) John (Jack) Raymond – see below (b. 27/10/1917 – m. Elsie M. Turner in 1942 – d. 1988, aged 70).

Percy Goodchild was a pioneer of cine photography and delighted audiences in Lynn with some of his early films. At one showing in July 1927, arranged by Amy Purdy, he showed films that he had taken during and after the recent Civic Week events, including the parade starting out from the Tuesday Market Place. Percy’s reputation was built on his portrait photography and he frequently entered national competitions and exhibitions. In August 1938, four of his portraits were displayed at the annual exhibition of the Professional Photographers’ Association at Piccadilly. One of his subjects was the well-known local worthy, Sidney W. Miles.

Percy’s photographic business flourished and he was joined by his son Jack, who had been educated at the King Edward VII School in Lynn. During the Second World War, Jack served in the Fleet Air Arm as a photographer, and he married Elsie Turner from Lynn in April 1942. In December, 1940 there was a big fire at John Rose & Son, next to Goodchild’s premises. The Goodchild family were asleep in their wartime shelter bedroom and escaped the fire which spread from the upper floors at No. 85 destroying the rooms above their shop. Their studio was unaffected.

Ethel Goodchild died in 1952/3, aged 68, and Percy died in 1959 at the age of 82.

The business was continued by Percy’s second son, John Raymond – always known as Jack. He was born in 1917 in Leamington. Because of the war, his mother Ethel may have been sent away to her in-laws for her ‘confinement’, returning to Lynn after the armistice.

The business moved to 31, Norfolk Street, between 1954 and 1960, and Jack lived on the premises there.

c1960 – c1969 (Brown Bros. & Taylor Ltd.)

The furnishing company of Brown Bros & Taylor Ltd. had a branch here for some years in the late 1960s. Between 1951 and 1960 they had been at Nos. 98 & 99 and at No. 101, High Street.

1970/1 (Woodhouse Furnishers)

The business had become that of Woodhouse Furnishers by 1970/1 (Yates).

 c1973 (Wade’s Furnishing)

The house furnishers Wade’s Furnishing were here in 1973 (Kelly).

No. 84a / Purdy’s Court

The users of accommodation in Purdy’s Court, otherwise known as 84a, High Street, as listed in Kelly’s Directory for 1930/1, included Harper-Smith, Hayhow & Co., incorporated accountants. Geoffrey Sidney Hayhow, born in Norwich c1890, was the son of William Hayhow, born c1854 in Great Yarmouth. The family were living at Essex Street in Norwich in 1901, when William was employed as clerk to the Official Receiver. They were listed here in Lynn in Kelly’s Directory for 1937.

Another of the uses to which the buildings in Purdy’s Court were put was as a dance studio. For many years, under a succession of dance teachers, the King’s Lynn & District School of Dancing rented a large first floor space here.  Advertising in the Lynn Advertiser on 27th September, 1935, the two principals were Mrs. W. H. Rutter and Miss M. Winlove-Smith. By 1944, Miss Rosemary Middleton, daughter of Lynn architect Ellis Middleton, was running the school.