Fancott’s Bakery – Then & Now

Fancott's Bakery
Fancott’s Bakery

Harry Sunley tells us in A Kenilworth Chronology (Odiborne Press, 1989) that DS Fancott established Fancott’s Bakery in the high street in 1825. It remained in the Fancott family until 1979.

The D.S. in question was David Soden Fancott, who became a master baker and a well-established figure in the town. Robin Leach’s excellent book Victorian Kenilworth and its People (Rookfield Publications, 2006) records some episode’s from his life including an application to become one of the town’s constables, providing the use of his field to the town fire brigade to test their new equipment and an unfortunate incident when his horse became started by a marching band causing it to plough into the band breaking several limbs and damaging instruments! He was sued for “wilful, careless or neglectful driving” and paid a fine of 26 shillings.

In 1969 Joan Fancott went onto be the founder president of Soroptimist International, Kenilworth & District, the local chapter of a worldwide volunteer service organization for business and professional women who work to improve the lives of women and girls.

The Grade-II listed building is nowadays trading as The Old Bakery, a 14-room hotel with a bar on the ground floor. It was recognised by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) as being one of the best pubs in Coventry and Warwickshire in 2016. The Fancott name lives on in the shape of nearby Fancott Drive, which was named as such in 1987.

Thanks to Robin Leach for additional details provided in this article.

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High Street / Castle Hill Cottage – Then & Now

High St Thatched Cottage
Cottage at the junction of Malthouse Lane, with High Street in the distance and Castle Hill behind the camera

A timber framed cottage at the junction of Malthouse Lane, with High Street in the distance and Castle Hill behind the camera.

As Rob Steward explains in Kenilworth History 2001 – 2002, this cottage is “…probably early 17th century and of ‘cruck’ construction. Cruck construction consists of two purpose-grown curved tree branches cut longways down the middle and then the two halves placed together to form an ‘A’ frame and a cross beam fixed at ground floor ceiling level. Two frames are made, one for each of the gables, with a ridge beam joining the two apexes. They were ‘purpose-grown’ many years before, with future generations in mind, especially for the ribs in shipbuilding. Very often these ‘crucks’ were second-hand from old ships”.

Very little has changed between the 1960s and 2015 scene except the model of car parked beyond the cottage and the appearance of double yellow lines.

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The Priory, The High Street – Then & Now

The Priory, High Street
The Priory, High Street

The High Street, Kenilworth, looking largely unchanged with the exception of the house on the extreme right hand side. This house, known as The Priory, was the subject of the book ‘A House in the High Street’ by Joyce Powell (Odibourne Press, 1987).

The Priory was built in 1770, replacing some older ‘messuages’ of about 1700.

By 1855 the house had become unfashionable to the sort of owner who could afford such a property and in too poor a state of repair to be let. It was bought by the Leamington Priors Bank who pulled its frontage down, along with number 11, to build a grand Jacobean style combined bank and post office.

It remained in similar usage up until the 1980s, where it finished up being a Midland Bank. Finally, it was broken up into small commercial units known as the Bank Gallery, which it remains today.

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Widow’s Charity Houses – Then & Now

Widow’s Charity Houses, High Street
Widow’s Charity Houses, High Street

Widow’s Charity Houses, High Street, founded in 1644, rebuilt 1840s.
To the right of the ‘then’ photo can be seen a single storey, windowless brick building which was demolished much later providing an alleyway through to the 1960s Elmbank Road, as well as the entry to the slaughterhouse behind the butchers owned by John Bausor.
Since the closure of the butchers, the slaughterhouse outbuildings were demolished to make way for the modern Monmouth Close development, built sympathetically in a Victorian style.

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