Historic Bunce Street
Bunce Street (previously Bunce Lane) links Grosvenor Street with Castle Street, and narrows to the south so much that scratch-marks are plain on the brickwork to the sides and an iron strap protects the corner from damage. Grosvenor Place heads off it to the east. Originally Bunce Street stretched as far as Cuppin Street, but was curtailed when Grosvenor Street was laid out. Bunce Lane, was named after a family which had land in the area in the 13th century, and which in 1243 produced a sheriff of the city.
The Saddle, now on the corner of Grosvenor Street and Bunce Street, used to occupy a very delapidated building on a site in Bunce Street. The following curious report appeared in the The Chester Courant and Advertiser for North Wales, 30th August 1899:
- THE SADDLE INN. NEW LICENCE GRANTED. IMPORTANT PUBLIC IMPROVEMENT. The Licensing Committee then proceeded to consider the applications for new licences. John Henry sought a provisional licence to sell all intoxicating liquors at a new hotel proposed to be erected by Messrs. Greenall, Whitley and Co., Limited, on the site of the Saddle Inn and land adjoining at the corner of Grosvenor-road and Bunce-street. - Mr. S. Moss, M.P. (instructed by Mr. Saml. Smith) appeared in support of the application. Mr. Moss said his application was rendered necessary partly owing to the antiquity of the Saddle Inn, and partly to the spirit of public improvement which characterised the people of Chester. The Saddle Inn was licensed a great many years ago - how long they could not quite tell, but certainly at the time of the building of the Grosvenor Bridge. It was a house of good character. As far as they knew there had never been a conviction, and he believed there had been no complaint against the conduct of the house or against the people who had occupied it. Its present condition was one that rendered something necessary to be done. A new hotel would have to be built upon the present site, or an application would have to be made at some future time in the matter of the inn itself. In regard to situation, the site was in one of the finest parts of Chester. The opening of the bridge over the Dee in 1832 made the Grosvenor-road the main entrance for the whole of that district across the river. The buildings in the neighbourhood were of considerable beauty. There were the Grosvenor Museum, the Castle, and the memorial statues in close proximity, all of which tended to make that approach to the city a very fine one. But the Saddle Inn in its present condition was unquestionably a great blot on the district, and a great eyesore. Nobody could drive past it without regretting the existence of what appeared to be dilapidated cottages and an inn which was certainly anything but picturesque. One of two things was necessary. Either the licensing committee would perpetuate the existing state of things, with a new house substituted for the present one and the cottages remaining where they stood; or they would grant a provisional order for a licence in respect of a new hotel of a handsome character, intended to meet what the applicants said was a public demand at that end of the town. The new house would occupy an intermediate position between first-class hotels such as the Queen and the Grosvenor, and the ordinary drinking house - a house which would meet the requirements of people' who came to the Chester markets, which would give accommodation for people who went to the Castle during 'times of Assize, Quarter Sessions, county courts, meetings of the County Council, &c., and which would accommodate people who passed along the Grosvenor-road to the Roodee for the purpose of witnessing the Races or other sports held there. They also proposed to effect a great public improvement, which he believed had the sanction of the Improvement Committee of Chester. The hotel was to be erected on the vacant spot which was now the angle formed by the union of Bunce-street with the Grosvenor-road. Everyone who 'had had occasion to walk up it knew the painfully narrow condition of Bunce-street. They were prepared to set back in a line with the Museum buildings in Bunce-street, and to give up without any compensation whatever 88 square yards for the widening of that thoroughfare and the improvement of the street.
The CHAIRMAN asked if the plans now submitted to the committee were the same as those presented last year. Mr. SAM. SMITH replied that the elevations were the same, but not the ground plan. Mr. Moss said they now proposed to take down the cottages behind the inn and throw back the building line. It would then be possible to make arrangements for the widening of the whole length of Bunce-street, from Grosvenor-road to Castle-street, to the full width of 20 feet, which would be a great public improvement.
The CHAIRMAN: Are you going to pull down those two cottages? Mr. Moss: Yes.
The CHAIRMAN: What are you going to do with the two shops next the Museum? Mr. SAM SMITH They have been offered to the Museum, but I believe their committee have not met, and there is nothing definite settled.
The CHAIRMAN: They have been offered to the Museum for the new lavatory? Mr. Moss: I believe they have been intentionally left untouched in these plans in order to accommodate the Museum authorities. I don't think I can go further than that.
The CHAIRMAN The level of elevation to Grosvenor-street is on the same line as the Grosvenor Museum? Mr. Moss: Yes, it follows the same building line exactly. Proceeding, he said the ground floor plan shewed a smoke room at the corner, and, facing Grosvenor-road, a hall, market room, luncheon room, bar, kitchen, &c. In addition they had a separate entrance for vehicles into the stable yard, and he thought there could be no doubt the ground plan shewed that the public requirements had been well catered for. Upstairs there was a dining room over the smoke room, and nine bedrooms. Jno. Henry, the applicant, on being called, said he lived at 21, Raymond-street, Chester, and was agent to Messrs. Greenall, Whitley and Co. He had entered into an agreement of tenancy with his firm in the event of the new I hotel being erected.
The CHIEF CONSTABLE You have at present 31 licences in this city ? - Applicant: I do not know definitely, but I dare say we have. Can you give the Bench any idea of the present value of the Saddle Inn ? - It is rather a difficult question to answer. Supposing I say to you the Saddle Inn is now worth 91,000, and you are going to put up a building which will cost you 43,000, if the Saddle Inn was put into the market twelve months after it was built, what would you get for it ?-It is rather a difficult question. Supposing I say it would double in its value if the magistrates granted this licence, then what you are asking the justices to-day is practically to make you a present of £ 6,000 - I would not put it in that form. It is very difficult to improve an old house without increasing its value.
The CHAIRMAN: You mean without improving its value more than the cost of the improvement? - Witness: I would not say that.
The CHIEF CONSTABLE: I understand you have a large number of houses in Warrington - Yes. - And there, when you are making an application of this sort, you usually give up other licences - anything from two to five? - It has ben done. You are here to-day, and are asking the magistrates for a present of £4,000 to £5,000, and yet offering to give up nothing ?-No, we make no offer as regards licensed property. You are aware we have in Chester one house to every 160 or 170 inhabitants ? - Yes. Mr. Moss said as a matter of fact he was told no licence had been given up at Warrington by Messrs. Greenall except in the case of a new licence being applied for.
The CHIEF CONSTABLE asked the applicant if they had ever applied in Warrington as they were applying that day. Applicant: Yes, we made an application last year. Did you get what you asked for? - I think so yes. Without giving anything up? - Yes we did. Mr. Moss: That forms an admirable precident if the example of Warrington is to be adopted. (Laughter.) Mr. Owen, the architect, explained and in answer to Mr. Leonard Gilbert, said they were offering to give up a quarter as much again of land as they proposed last year. The cost of the building would be from 2,800 to 3,000.
The CHIEF CONSTABLE said he admitted the improvement would be very acceptable, as the class of hotel proposed to be erected was one that undoubtedly diminished drunkenness, still he contended that this firm, having 31 houses in the city already, should not ask the make them a present of £5,000 without at least offering to give up one of the existing licenses. There was no doubt about it they would have to deal with the question of compensation in a couple of years, and the value of this house, if the application was granted, would then have gone up to about £12,000 in consequence of the improvements. Mr. Moss said he could not accept the Chief Constable's figures.
The justices then retired to consider their decision, and, on their return into court the CHAIRMAN said: The committee have given this their best consideration, and are prepared to grant the licence with the understanding that before the confirmation owners of the property and the mittee put their heads together, and on the arrangement of terms satisfactory to the committee for the transfer of that bit of land. If that not be arranged, it will be a great question the licence will be confirmed at the confirmation day. I am also requested to say - and I say it from my own feelings also - in regard remarks of the Chief Constable, although perhaps we do not go to the extent he goes that the value of this property when built will be trebled, still there is some truth no doubt in the fact that property of this kind, when it gets a licence, is very much improved, a fictitious value put upon it, and that might be taken into consideration by Messrs Greenhall in making those terms with the Museum-people, Mr. Moss enquired whether the Justices meant that the terms for the transfer of the land were to be satisfactory to the Licensing Committee. The CHAIRMAN: No, to the Museum committee. p Mr. Moss: What are satisfactory terms? The CHAIRMAN Take into account the improved value of the property when it is buiit and it be easy. Mr. Moss: I think you may take it for granted we will do all that is reasonable.
This row of four brick collages were originally five.
The "Historic England" record states that they were built in 1874 after the manner of Edward Hodkinson, for B. B. Foulkes of the Golden Eagle Public House, Castle Street. However, on first inspection one might think they were built for the Grosvenors, as they have the usually characteristic "Grosvenor" blue brick diapering and are known collectively as "Grosvenor Cottages". Moreover there is no record of a B. B. Foulkes being the landlord of The Eagle (as it was known at the time) - there was however a William Foulkes.
This row of one small town house and two cottages probably dates from 1850s. Flemish bond brown brick with grey slate hipped roof. 2 storeys; No.1 is double fronted, Nos 3 & 5 are each of one bay. The radial-bar fanlights have roses in the spandrels and leaf-motifs at the hubs.
Grosvenor Place occupies the site of what were the gardens to the rear of Oddfellows Hall, occupied early C18 by John Williams, Attorney General of Denbighshire and Montgomeryshire from 1702 and Cheshire and Flintshire in 1727. The Kyffin Williams mentioned on the Lavaux Map is his son, who died without issue.
Sources and Links
- Wynnstay & the Wynns. A volume of varieties;