This great photo of Flint House was brought to me recently by A & JB, and I am grateful to them for allowing me to use it here. It dates from about 1925 judging by the age of the Polden family standing outside their home. Clement Polden was one half of the old Chitterne firm of Polden & Feltham, carpenters and wheelwrights. AB is a descendant of Florence Polden, Clement Polden’s sister, who married Alfred Burt the blacksmith, another P & F man. Here are the P & F team outside the forge workshop at Flint House in about 1915.
The arrival of the new picture has led me to try and untangle the story of the house. This is my thinking at the moment, it may change of course. Historical research never stands still. The first mention of Flint House I have come across is dated 1826, when it formed part of the Chitterne estate put up for sale by Lord Methuen. At that time the house, garden and orchard were occupied on a 99 year lease by William Abery, a 76 year old wheelwright, who died in 1829. William had been working as a wheelwright in Chitterne since at least 1781, so it seems feasible that Flint House had been home to a forge since then. The Abery’s renewed the lease in 1830 in the name of William Abery junior and in 1851 William junior’s brother, George Abery, carpenter, lived there with his family, including his daugher Ann, a draper. This is the first mention of another business in connection with Flint House. George died in 1860. George was succeeded at Flint House by his son Henry Abery, master carpenter, and his wife Charlotte, dressmaker. By 1871 the Abery family were no longer in Chitterne, Henry Abery died in Bath in 1890.
In 1871 Jacob Smith, master carpenter, and his wife Elizabeth, shopkeeper, were at Flint House. By 1881 Jacob and Elizabeth had built themselves a new grocer’s shop at 17 Townsend.
The 1881 census shows there was definitely a grocer’s shop at Flint House as well as the forge. Thomas Carter a carpenter and his wife Ann a shopkeeper and grocer were living there. Thomas is described as a carpenter who employed two men and one boy, but he died in 1883 and his son Frederick, carpenter and wheelwirght, carried on the business alongside his mother the grocer until at least 1901. Thomas Carter is mentioned in a sale document dated 1880 for a cottage owned by Edward Gibbs of Chitterne Farm. It seems that Edward Gibbs bought Flint House in 1860, when the Aberys were the leaseholders, and sold it in 1880, but who to? Is it possible Abdon Polden bought it for his eldest son Clement and leased it to the Carters?
Some parts of the Abery’s forge at Flint House still existed in 1973. Two bellows dating from c1850 were found in good working order. One set of bellows has recently been renovated by BP and is due to be displayed in the village if a suitable site can be found. There were brands too and the original anvil, but that was sold off by JH. The well at Flint House, at 144 feet, is one of the deepest in the village, it had two leather flanges, one at 60 feet and one at 100 feet. By the Polden’s time the sheds in the yard at Flint House housed a double forge, smithy, carpenter’s shop, paint and plumbing shop and a timber shop with a deep sawing pit. The remains of the original pipework for pumped water to the upper storey of the house could be seen in 1973 and the shop was still there too.
In 1903 Clement and Lydia Polden lived at The Poplars, site of the village smithy. By 1911 the Poldens pictured above were living at Flint House. But their story will have to wait for another time.