Bridge House and Bridge Cottage

The earliest record I found was for Bridge Cottage in 1828 showing Mrs Lane residing there.

Records for 1841 list both Bridge House and Bridge Cottage. Thomas Comer aged about 20 a tanner by trade and his wife Mary also aged about 20 were living in Bridge House, along with Sarah Lake. Residing in Bridge Cottage was Robert Rew aged about 30, he was a farmer. His wife was Elizabeth aged 37 and they had two young children Elizabeth Rew aged two and John Comer Rew aged nine months. John's name indicates that Elizabeth's maiden name was Comer and related to Thomas of Bridge House; most probably she was his sister. Records show Robert Rew renting two large pasture fields in the Marsh Barton area close to Bridge House, the Alphin brook and the part of Clapperbrook Lane that is no longer in existence. The owners of these fields were Mary Wheaton and the executors of Samuel Symons.

A Mrs Mantel is recorded as residing in Bridge Cottage in 1850. In 1851 records we find Robert Rew and his family have moved into Bridge House, they have three more sons, Robert aged eight, Frederick James aged six and William H. aged three. They also have two servants Ann Stoneman and Eliz Head. Robert senior is still a farmer of about eight acres.

From Alphington's burial records Frederick James died on the 5th July 1852 and Robert Senior on the 26th July 1857 aged 48. It seems that Elizabeth was continuing to live in Bridge House in 1861 with her remaining three sons and a house maid, Elizabeth's second son Robert was working as a tanner.

By 1871 Elizabeth Rew and John Comer Rew had moved into Bridge cottage with one servant. John C was now working as a tanner. Thomas Wippell a tanner and his wife Elizabeth nee Rew (Robert and Elizabeth's daughter) and their family had moved into Bridge House. Records and directories dated 1851, 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1902 show they continued to live in the house for many years. Their children were Thomas R born about 1860, Annie E born 22nd June 1861 died 14th October 1940, Edith Fanny born about 1864 died 28th August 1901, Bertha Emily born 6th August 1865 died 14th August 1954 and Walter James born about 1868 died 13th December 1900.

A record from 1889 states: 'Notice is hereby given, that the partnership which has for sometime past been carried out on by us the undersigned Thomas Wippell and John Comer Rew, under the firm of Wippell and Rew, at Alphington and St Thomas the Apostle, in the County of Devon, in the trade or business of Tanners, was this day dissolved by mutual consent – A witness our hands this 30th day of September 1889. Thomas Wippell John Comer Rew'.

A second record shows Walter James Wippell son of T. Wippell Bridge House was a prefect, played in the 1st Eleven Cricket and House Eleven Football. He served with the 27th Company Imperial Yeomanary in the South African War and was killed in action at Nooitgedacht.

Records for 1911 shows Elizabeth Wippell and her daughter Bertha living in Bridge House. Her husband, Thomas, had died on the 21st July 1903. Elizabeth died on the 30th January 1925. These records also show Thomas and Elizabeth had had six children three of whom had died. Bridge House was recorded as having 10 rooms. Through out their time at Bridge House the family had employed at least two servants.

Returning to Bridge Cottage Elizabeth Rew had died on the 3rd October 1877 and in 1881 and 1883 John C. Rew was continuing to reside at the cottage with a house keeper. By 1891 John had moved out and the new residents were Susanna Gibbings a farmer's widow aged 67 and her three children Frances F., Samuel and George H. A directory dated 1902 records the residents of the cottage as Frederick John Knott a mason. Directories dated 1946 and 1949 records Sid Raddon, a coal merchant, at Bridge Cottage.

Meanwhile G. G. F. W. Sellick (Fred) took over Bridge House at some stage and ran it as a hotel until 1932.

The next record dated 1936 shows Bridge House being run as a guest house by Major H. Alder Peters. At the end of June 1936 a flash of lightening during a heavy storm ignited material in the basement of the house. It was smouldering for a while and then broke into flames. The Major woke a couple of times during the very early hours of the morning and smelt burning. Both times he got up and walked around the house but discovered no fire. The second time he returned to bed once more, had a cigarette and went back to sleep. At 3:30am he woke again and on another walk around the house he discovered the fire. The Major, Mrs Alder Peters, a tenant and a maid made their escape from an upstairs window using a ladder. The first fire engine from Exeter Fire Brigade arrived at 3:50am and the second one not long after. There was plenty of water in the Alphin Brook and the engines were able to supply five jets of water but the house was an inferno and even the large Cedar tree in the garden was slightly burnt.

Dr Spencer moved into the house and held his surgery there after it had been renovated.

Later RGB of Marsh Barton used Bridge House and some of the land close by.



Copyright © Rowena Kirkpatrick