THE CLARKE FAMILY
The Clarke family, Yeomen and churchwardens lived in Crooked Walls in the late seventeenth century, either in the whole or part.
HEARTH TAX FOR 1671 AND 1681, DUTCH WAR TAX 1667, DEATH OF MARY CLARKE 1667:
In the 1980's while Ken Davies was renovating the back bedroom in number one, he discovered a number of pieces of paper dating from the seventeenth century. They were lodged in a crevice near the crook in the end wall. Two were receipts for the Hearth Tax of 1671 & 1681. The Hearth Tax records of most counties still survive but they do not normally name ordinary individual houses. It is very rare to find a survival of a receipt from an individual house and thereby fixing a family to a property, in this case 'Clarke'. They also give the tax collector's name and their survival is of great historical value.
The finding of the papers at the far end of the house suggests that at this time the property were divided into either one or two properties but not four as the papers were lodged in the end of the house in what was to become number one while the hearth is situated in the centre of the house between what was to become numbers two and three. There is also an argument for thinking that it was originally just one property with an entrance on the south side directly opposite the chimney stack, a traditional design in the neighbourhood.
Hearth Tax and one raising of money for the 2nd war with the Dutch 1665-67.
There is also a slip of paper giving the date of death and age of Ann Clarke, presumed wife or relative of either Joseph or John Clarke mentioned as paying the Hearth Tax. The Bishops Transcripts appear to record that she was a widow, in which case she is not the wife of the John Clarke who signed the Hearth Tax in 1681.
Documents relating to the raising of taxes often survive and are usually to be found in the National Archives at Kew. They do not however indicate the particular property. The survival of receipts giving the name of the individual and the tax collector, along with an indication of the property is rare indeed. The Hearth Tax was aimed at occupants of houses which possessed hearths; the more hearths one had there the more one paid.
In the central part of the house is a large chimney stack which is shared by two inglenooks. The inglenook for dwelling 2 has an inset salt box, plus a cupboard set up high. The inglenook for dwelling 3 has an inset salt box with a door, plus an attached bread oven. It is possible that at this time there were only two dwellings; one including dwellings 1 & 2; one including dwellings 3 & 4, since both end chimneys were added later. Both parts may have paid the Hearth Tax.
Item 1: Death of Anne Clarke
Anne Clark deceased
Aprill ye 9th: 1667
Item 2: national raising of money for the war with the Dutch.
July ye 20th: 67.
Rec’d of ye Collectr of Harvington ye sm of
Sixe pounds in yte[?] of ye sd charges uppon
ye Parish By virtue of an act of Parliamt
Intituled an Act for rayseing moneyes
By or poll if otherwise towards ye maynte
nance of ye prsent warr -- --- reeds[?] ye
Recd Harry Greene
Item 3: Hearth Tax
March the 24 1600 & Seventy one
Received of John Clarke
The sum of 10
Shillings in full for one years
duty for one fire Hearths in
his house in Harvington due L J
and ended at Sen Michell last past 2 0
I say received by
John Mole Collector.
Item 4: Hearth Tax.
The 7* 1600 & Eighty one
REceived of Jos[eph] Clarke
The sum of on[e]
Shillings in full for one half years
duty for one Fire hearths in
His House in Harvington due
And ended at March last past
Tho Litwood[?] Collector.
An extract from the Record Office in Worcester and was found by Stephen Price, during his researches into the Hearth Tax records for Worcestershire. It records "the Clarke family tenement in Harvington for 1668 - John Clarke and his 20 year old daughter Anne are holding for their lives one messuage and half a virgate of land with appurtenances in Harvington now in the tenure of John Clarke paying rent to the Dean & Chapter of Worcester Cathedral of 4 shillings and 4 pence".
At this time the property was part of the Manor of Harvington owned by the Diocese of Worcestershire.
During Stephen Price's researches there came to light "a Parliamentary Survey of Harvington for 1649, which records 'John Clarke' as tenant. He is described as a yeoman in some of the court books and served, as one might expect, as churchwarden and overseer of the highways at various points in the 17th century".
Until further research is carried out, it appears from the above that John Clarke married in or before 1648; was a Yeoman from at least 1649; made a payment towards the Dutch War on 20th July 1667; his daughter, also called Anne, he was born circa in 1648 and he is recorded, along with his daughter Anne, as holding tenure in 1668; he paid for the Hearth Tax in 1671 & 1681. His wife was Anne, He was buried in Harvington churchyard on 29th of October 1684.
John Clarke, of Crooked Walls, Yeoman from at least 1649 & a Churcharden. He made a payment to the Dutch War in 1667 & paid Hearth Tax in 1671 & 1681. he was buried in Harvington churchyard 29th October 1684. By his wife Anne, who was buried in Harvington churchyard 13th April 1666 or 7, aged 55. He was buried Harvington 29 Oct 1684. They had issue:-
- Anne, held tenure with her father of Crooked Walls in 1668.
- Margaret, baptized Harvington 12th May 1654.
Henry Clarke, Churchwarden 1706-7, presumably the son of John Clarke, married Elizabeth and had the following:-
Thomas Clarke was churchwarden in 1670. Is Thomas meant to read John?
- Henry, bapt Harvington 19 Mar 1694, buried 3rd October 1695.
- Anne, bapt Harvington 15 Sep 1696.
- Edward, bapt Harvington 28 Oct 1699.
- Mary, bapt Harvington 20 Sep 1701.
- Elizabeth, bapt Havington 22 April 1702.
- Moses, bapt Harvington 5 Sep 1707.
- Martha, bapt Harvington 20 Oct 1709.
- John, bapt Harvington 4 Jun 1713.
It is only assumed that Henry Clarke also lived at Crooked walls. A Sarah Clarke was buried 9th May 1732. Also Mary wife of Edward Clarke was buried 23 Mar 1685.
THE FOUR TENEMENTS:
The above pencil drawing was taken from an unknown publication by the late Steve Cook who gave a copy of it to Joy Davies. This little drawing, the earliest image of the property and its surroundings so far found, reveals a number of interesting points. It must date to before 1855 as it is in this year that the church tower in the background acquired its steeple. Before dealing with Crooked Walls, let us observe the surroundings. The building in the foreground, demolished by the Council in the 1930's, has a tiled roof as it did in future photographs. The two houses now known as James and Apple Tree cottages now have rendering on the front, again, as they did in old photographs. In the picture however one can clearly see that James Cottage was timber framed although now its west end is brick. One can also also see its present dormer window and a very tall chimney.
Two major facts can be gleamed for Crooked Walls. It is assumed that it originally had a timber-framed gable. In the sketch this has been replaced by the present brick construction with its centrally positioned window. There is only one central chimney block with no sign of chimneys on the gable ends.
At some stage prior to 1855, the property went through a major change with the addition of chimney stacks at either end. It is suggested that it was at this stage that it was divided into four tenements, which included individual doorways, separate gardens plus two brick-built toilet blocks strategically placed to cater for the four dwellings. During recent construction work, the foundations of a boundary wall were discovered between the gardens of numbers one and two, which joined up with the division between one of the toilet blocks. The hop kiln and its adjacent building is on the 1837 tithe or estate map, so this change may well have taken place prior to 1837.