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Homedene

HomedeneThe building on the left of the photograph is now called Homedene. It is in the High Street  between Tudor Cottage and The Old Vicarage and shares a common history with those two properties before the Victorian era. The site was Kingsmills land so it is not shown in the 1794 map and the land is also blank in the 1859 map. It is not clear what was on the site previously but there is little doubt that Homedene was build in the  Victorian era.
 A newspaper cutting from the Wells Journal dated Saturday 26th December 1863 describes that an urn containing Saxon coins dated as early as the reign of Hardicanute was found when digging the foundations for a house for Cornelius  Curtis. This is of interest in a number of ways.
 Firstly, it is further evidence of significant settlement in the Saxon era which supports the recent discoveries made by a number of people.
 Secondly, it confirms that the Saxon layer was still present in the 19th century. Building and gardening work done in Homedene, Tudor Cottage and The Old Vicarage show that a flat  building plot was dug out of the hillside which would have destroyed any archeology on the site.
Thirdly, it gives an accurate date for the construction of Homedene. The newspaper cutting makes an inaccurately spelt reference to a ‘Mr Blenins’  land which adjoined the site which referred to William Blanning who had bought most of the former vicarage site in 1859. No records have ben found so far to determine if Cornelius Curtis purchased the land from William Blanning or William Kingsmill. Cornelius Curtis was the tenant of Manor Farm at the time and described as a poultry keeper in the newspaper cutting. He probably bought the land and built the house as an investment property with his retirement in mind.
The 1881 census describes a building next to Manor Farm called ‘Butter Villa’ occupied by a Theodore Mayo which could apply to Homedene or the building that was on the site of Tudor Cottage. Homedene is more likely because the 1863 article makes reference to Mrs Betsy Curtis, butter dealer.
A William Stallard was  probably living at Homedene in 1891 but the records do not make it not clear if he was the owner or tenant. He was a contributor to the churchtower restoration fund in 1890.  Homedene is recorded as being empty in 1901 so he had probably died. It is also not clear what the precise name of William Stallard’s home was which is significant because his residence predates the assumed construction date of 1897.
 Cornelius Curtis retired from Manor Farm in the early 1900s and members of the Curtis family lived in Homedene for many years after that. It is probable that Cornelius, or a subsequent owner, made some additions to the original Victorian building before the recent additions.
William Reasey Curtis (b. 1863) never married. He worked as a farmer for his uncle Cornelius at Manor Farm. He was also a newspaper reporter, carrying a notebook with him wherever he went. A 1904 picture shows he was also a hand bell ringer, another picture from roughly the same time also shows that he played cricket he may have been a member of he Ancient Order of Foresters but hat has not been confirmed.
 Reasey, as he was known, inherited Homedene following the death of his Aunt Emily in 1921 and spent his retirement there. One story is that he was the owner of the first radio set in Chewton Mendip because there are quotes from people who listened to the radio in the coach house of Homedene in 1922. He died in Chewton Mendip on 10th October 1932 and is buried in the new churchyard.
 His sister, Margaret Bithiah Curtis also never married and had Tudor Cottage built for her own retirement.
Mr & Mrs Helliwell  and Mrs and Mrs Marshall were involved in the sale of part of Homedene’s garden to the Vicarage in 1965. Lionel Helliwell was described a s chartered accountant whilst Stanley Marshall was a retired railwayman.
Building work done in 2012 identified a large brick water cistern underneath the coach house of Homedene. This may have been a private supply for Homedene or part of the Waldegrave water supply system that as in use until the 1990s.
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