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Prior

Gilbert and Gladys PriorThere is no record of the Prior family in Chewton Mendip until the 20th century so the earlier references to ‘Prior’s Grove’ probably refers to land owned the Carthusian priory that used to owned most of central Chewton Mendip.The picture shows Gilbert Prior from Stratton on the Fosse and the young lady was his second wife, Gladys, who was the daughter of George and Elizabeth Speed. Gilbert and Gladys were married in Litton in 1927.
Gilbert Prior was born 15/12/1877 at Stratton on the Fosse and he started a Mineral Water Manufacturing business at South View Place Midsomer Norton in 1902. The company was called G Prior & Son, Mineral Water Manufacturers.
Gilbert became friendly with the Speeds, probably through rabbit shooting, the acquaintance possibly started through Ossie Speed who farmed at Holcombe. He was the youngest son of George and Elizabeth Speed who lived in Litton at the time.
Gilbert’s first wife died relatively young and he later married Gladys although she was 25 years younger than him, Gladys is shown below before she was married. They were married in Litton because George and Elizabeth Speed were living in what is now called Ford Farmhouse in Litton.
 Gladys May Prior
Gilbert and Gladys moved to Ford House, Chewton Mendip in 1932 which is only about 100 meters from Ford Farmhouse in Litton.
The day to day running of the business was taken over by George Prior, Gilbert’s son by his first wife, but Gilbert continued to play an active part until the end of WW2 when his health deteriorated, and he died on Apr 13th 1948.
Gilbert Prior had played an active part in the Church in Chewton Mendip, and when Earl Waldegrave was away during the War, he was asked by Rev Paul Bush to be Vicars Warden.
Gilbert and Gladys had a son, also called Gilbert, who was born in Midsomer Norton in 1928. He can be seen in the picture of the church choir, the cricket eleven of 1953 and the football team of that period. Gilbert II was also bellringer and a founder member of the football club.
The farm buildings behind Ford House were used by Stanly Dudden who farmed Manor Farm to raise calves. The field was used for calving cows and the Prior family had to put up with the mooing when the calves were taken away.
Gladys Prior purchased a field at the bottom of Watery Coombe in 1950. This was the site of the former Dowling’s Farm but not much remained of the buildings at the time apart from a cow shed that as used as a garage.
The bungalow was built on the site in 1956 which is called ‘Watery Coombe’. A condition of the planning permission was that the building did not interfere with the underground aqueduct that had been built in the Victorian era to take water from Watery Coombe to the storage tanks at Barrow.
Gilbert Prior II provided the picture of his parents and most of the information in this page
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