The History of ST Johns

The one thing about doing your own renovations is you really get to learn and understand the history of the building. The discovery of hundreds of oysters shells in the garden when excavating for drains suggests that the property was probably once an inn as oysters were the food of commoners and eaten in large quantities in public houses.

This is backed up by the mention of the Bear Inn in the Birmingham Gazette in 1751 which ran one of the three Lichfield stage coach services. This one was from Anglesey (in North Wales) to London. Giles Tottingham ran the stage coach service known as the Lichfield Flying Wagon from the Bear. It is believed that part or all of the Bear Inn is St Johns House. The Bear Inn first appears in local records in 1698.
In approximately 1815 the house was extensively renovated in the regency style. The portico (the columns and pillared cover), the decorative stucco façade with pedimented first floor windows and the majority of the decorative cornicing and plaster work were all done at this time.

The house was renovated again in Victorian times – the south wing (dining room and Rickety Towers) was added as were the Stables and some upstairs fireplaces were replaced with Victorian ones. In 1849 a William East Holmes owned St Johns House, we believe he built the Stables and have named one of the rooms in the Stables after him.

Local records show that in 1860 the house was owned by Frederick Simmonds an iron merchant. In 1884 it was occupied by the Arch Deacon John Allen who was the master at St Johns (on the corner by the traffic lights). In 1888 it was occupied by a Mrs Susan Coyney and in 1895 by a Mrs Young. In 1898 it was occupied by a Major Matthews and in 1900 by Mrs Louisa Dawson a haberdasher.

In 1902 it is known that a local colliery owner owned St Johns his name was Peake and the house was once called Peake House. The Peake family lived in the property for over fifty years.

In or around 1958 St Johns Preparatory school operated from the building and finally moved to Longdon Green a year before the Popps purchased the house.

Research using late 19th century census available on line has been difficult as the house was always empty in the summer presumably because the occupants were staying in their summer residence!

Research continues – watch this page!

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