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Number 85 Meeting Street – Fanny Clarke’s Shop

As you walk down Meeting Street, you pass an unassuming house, one of a small terrace, number 85. This - like many Quorn houses - has its own history and tale to tell. The house is currently occupied by Eve and John Phillips (2019).

Remarkably, this house has been owned by the same family since at least 1893. In February 1893, William Farnham from Quorn House was selling a huge amount of his land and property, due to severe financial problems. Fanny Clark from Quorn bought Lot 14 for £220. It seems that this included the house on Meeting Street, later to be number 85, although from the price paid, it must have included considerably more than just this one. It seems probable from the 1881 census, that Fanny Clark was already living there as a tenant. Later in 1899, she went on to buy ‘messuages (cottages/houses), premises and a grocer’s shop’, all on Meeting Street, from James Camm for £600. James Camm had inherited the property on the death of his father Joseph a few years earlier.

1910 Finance Act records (see map) show that the Clarkes owned both (what are now) 85 and 87 Meeting Street, plus five very tiny, almost hovel like cottages, with two next to no 87 and then three at right angles. These were known as Clarke’s Yard. See also Artefact 2242.

Fanny was born as Fanny Markham in Smeeton Westerby near Market Harborough in 1860, and married Charles Clarke in April 1881. They had four daughters, Kate, Lillian, Rose and Ann. Charles was born in Quorn as were his parents before him, he had several jobs including working at Wright’s elastic factory and at the local quarry. Fanny ran a grocery shop from their house on Meeting Street (now no 85). She would sit at her in the back of the house, carrying out clothes alterations on her treadle sewing machine, whilst watching out for customers. It is evident that she was a strong character and a hard worker. It must be significant that it was her, and not her husband, who purchased the properties. This was even more unusual in those days, especially for a family of apparently modest means – and it is still a family mystery as to how she managed to afford them.

Charles died in 1922 aged 67, but Fanny lived to the age of 81, dying in 1941. Charles is buried in (what is now) the closed part of St Bartholomew’s Churchyard together with two of their daughters, Rose (aged 2) and Ann (aged 17). Fanny is buried in the newer part of the Churchyard.

The small notebook shown in the picture, was used by Fanny in the shop, presumably to record orders. Many of her customers are familiar Quorn names, including Dexter, Teagle, Sanders, Lovett, Sharpe, Wesley, Adcocks, Heaps, Disney, Howes, Gamble, North, Woodforth, Wykes, Sutton, White, Needham. For some reason, this book was not used for long. Whilst modern recycling was years away, the book was later reused when Fanny’s daughter Kate needed a notebook for her school cookery class recipes in the early 1900s.

Kate went on to marry Robert Bancroft in 1911 and they had at least five children. Kate and her family continued to live at 85 Meeting Street. Their eldest son Hubert Bancroft married Evangeline Mary Button in 1933. They had two daughters, Evangeline and Cathlyn. Evangeline married John Phillips in 1973 and they continue to live at 85 Meeting Street today (2019).

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 Submitted on: 2011-08-18
 Submitted by: Information and notebook supplied by Eve Phillips
 Artefact ID: 1385
 Print: View artefact in printer-friendly page or just on its own.

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