Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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One would imagine that the terrace of three Billys at a nice corner location at the junction of Meat Market Lane and Sheep Street would jump out of the records handy enough, but no, no no no, it’s the usual needle in a haystack operation.

For a start, Meat Market Lane seems to have gone under a number of different names in the 18th century, Shambles Lane, Bonifield Lane and possibly also the Main street of the Abbey.

On this 1752 map, Sheep Street clings to the east side of the, still standing, city wall with the former lands of the dissolved St. Francis Abbey [Franciscan friary] occupying the lands outside the walled city and extending to the Abbey River.

Of the several property owners recorded in this vicinity in the 18th century the only one I can find in possession of three houses is a Henry Holland, hardware merchant. By a deed, coincidentally of 1752, Holland leased, or more likely re-leased, a property comprising three houses, two cabins and a garden plot to an Ignatius Coleman of St. Francis Abbey, chandle, the three houses being then in the possession of Coleman, Patrick Mowney and John Hurly respectively. Coleman’s house, or at least the garden to the rear of his house ‘adjoined the town wall’.

I wouldn’t be confident yet that this is a record of the three Meat Market Lane Billys, but the anual rent of £16 that Holland charged suggests that Coleman was leasing three substantial enough houses and the three Billys would fit that description.

The site is now completely absorbed by a major apartment development constructed in 2003-4 and this end of Meat Market Lane no longer exists

There was an archaeological investigation in advance of the development, carried out by a local practice; Aegis Archaeology. What are the chances that the floor plans of these three important and distincrtive houses were recovered in the archaeological investigation enroute to the medieval goodies underneath?

pictures from showing the site and the excavated city wall

No, I don’t think so either.

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