Via Crucis - historical background of the site

The Via Crucis, or 'Way of the Cross', is a unique feature at St John's. This processional entrance route to the church was formed during the mid-C19 restoration of the church by Revd W J E Bennett. A number of small properties had occupied this corner of the churchyard - their leases were bought out and the church took possession of the land and demolished them to make space for an impressive entrance route with statuary carved by Forsyth depicting the journey of Jesus to the Cross.
We know a little of the history of the properties which once stood here:
  • The plot of land is described as being 'waste ground' within the manor of West Woodlands (the Rectorial Manor of Frome which passed from Cirencester Abbey to Longleat following the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII. The plot is measured at 48 feet by 20 (or 28?) feet.
  • The tenement built on the site was held by Hugh EVANS and then William CHIVERS
  • In 1785 a Lease dated July 6th from the 1st Marquess of Bath gave tenure to Elizabeth CHIVERS of Frome Selwood, widow.on the lives of John STILES (son of William STILES, butcher) and Jane ALLWOOD (nee STILES), brother of John STILES and wife of James ALLWOOD, slay maker.
  • In 1793 on December 31st a new Lease was granted from the 1st Marquess to John ALLWOOD of Frome, card maker.
  • On 1st May 1795 May 1 the 2nd Marquess granted a further Lease to John ALLWOOD of Frome Selwood, card maker.
1813 - location of property on plan drawn for making of Bath Street
  • 1827 - Frome Parish rates show Stephen TUCK as occupier and John ALLWOOD as proprietor of this property on Church Slope.
  • 1830 - Pigot's Directory of 1830 lists Stephen TUCK as a Printer on Church Slope.
  • On 23rd January 1834 a further Lease from the 2nd Marquess to Stephen TUCK of Frome Selwood, stationer, and Mary his wife (late Mary ALLWOOD) and Lydia ALLWOOD of Frome Selwood, spinster, notes that Mary TUCK and Lydia ALLWOOD are the executixes of their father John ALLWOOD of Frome Selwood, card maker, deceased. .
  • In the 1851 Census the property, described as being on Church Slope, is occupied by:
    • Stephen TUCK aged 58, a Stationer, born at Frome 
    • Mary TUCK aged 62, born at Frome 
    • Caroline TUCK aged 27 a Governess, born at Frome 
  • On the 18th September 1858 Stephen TUCK surrendered all his right and interest in the lease to the Marquess of Bath.
  • A week later on the 25th September 1858 agreement was reached for transfer of title in the property between the 4th Marquess and the Vicar and Churchwardens of Frome Selwood, for the purpose of enlarging the burial ground and widening the approach to the New Mechanics Institution. The inhabitants of Frome Selwood had subscribed £150 for the purpose of purchasing the leasehold interest of the premises.
  • "164 persons including dissenters subscribed to the purchase of a shop which stood in the way of churchyard improvements, and presented the deeds to him [W J E BENNETT]" (from short biography of BENNETT by G T DAY 1986, p16)
ca 1860 - Photographs of site after demolition of properties (composite from two original photographs in Frome Museum)
C20 - Via Crucis images
More images
Link to Via Crucis home page