The Bass Family in Great Mongeham

 The village has seen many families come and go. Some long established families have their latest generation still living in or nearby the village. Some, like the Crayfords, are with us for several centuries before disappearing from village records. Some are resident for just a couple of generations and are gone. One such family is the Bass family. John Bass was a victualler who lived in Sholden. In 1817 he Map_of_Bass_holdingsbought Street Meadow from Thomas Stokes for £225. The meadow is shown on the map. By 1820 he had moved into the village for it is recorded in the Vestry minutes that “the Vestry took into their consideration the offer of Mr. S. Lade to take Mr. John Bass into the seat belonging to their house and it was settled that the seat should be the joint concern of both families and that Joseph Hewitt who had for some time used that pew should be placed with Mr. John Hackney”.T  his may give some insight into the village hierarchy. There is norecord of how Joseph Hewitt felt about the move.


John Bass moved into Hillside Farmhouse which remained in the family for two more generations. I have been told that the house shows evidence of originally being sixteenth century but the façade is distinctly Regency. The renovations, which clearly involved an extensive rebuild, are likely to have been undertaken by John Bass.

 His holding extended to include 75 acres in Great Mongeham as well as holdings in Sholden and Upper Deal. As a man of property John became a Vestryman (forerunner of the Parish Council) and in 1822 was appointed Poor law Guardian.

John Bass married Mary and his sons, Edward and John, were born in 1820 and 1823. John died in 1848 and his will divided the farm between his two sons, Edward and John. Three years before his death John had mortgaged the farm for eleven hundred pounds at 4% pa. On his death the sons took over the mortgage.

Oak_CottageOak Cottage as seen from St. Richard's RoadEdward married Susanna Pilcher Allen, the daughter of Shadrack Allen (landlord of the Three Horseshoes), in March 1851. At sometime between 1847 and his marriage Edward (or his father) bought a farm from John Parker, a farmer and local horse doctor The farmhouse is now known as Oak Cottage. The white semi-detached cottages just past the Three Horseshoes, known as the Chalk Cottages or Laundry Cottages are what remains of the farm buildings which originally stood on three sides of the farmyard. Their daughter, Mary Court Bass was born in 1852. She was named after Susannahs mother, Mary Court.

Presumably to rationalize their holdings Edward and his brother John in 1854 exchanged fields, Edward getting Street Meadow and a 6 acre field near Mill Hill (which their father had bought from John Parker 13 years earlier) in exchange for a 9 acre field in Sholden their father had bought in 1805.

the_valeThe ValeEdward Bass, the elder brother, never farmed more than 40 acres, and employed just 3 men. At some time between 1861 and 1871 he built a new farmhouse, ‘The Vale’ on the corner of Street Meadow. Shadrack Allen died in 1879 so Mary Allen senior moved into The Vale with her daughter and son in law. They put a tenant, William Moat, into the Three Horseshoes.

Susanna died in 1887 and her husband died 13 months later. In 1889 Mary sold the Three Valley_FarmhouseValley_FarmhouseHorseshoes to Alfred Radcliffe and leased the farm to Henry Fowler, who had been village bobby between 1878 and 1886. Mary had ‘Valley Farmhouse’ built at the other end of Street Meadow to accommodate Henry so that she could continue to live at ‘The Vale’. An inscription on one of the bricks at one side of the front wall reads ‘M.C.B 1889’.

Henry Fowler later bought Sholden Bank Farm and moved into the farmhouse, leaving Valley Farmhouse. Mary Court Bass let her farm to William Brett in her will, but later changed it in a codicil so that the proceeds of the sale after William’s death could be donated to the Deal and Walmer Memorial Hospital.

Mary died a spinster, and her cousin George was the last Bass to farm at Hillside although his daughters continued to live there until the early sixties. However that is not the end of the story. The family continues to have links with Great Mongeham. The 1881 census records a visitor to Hillside, namely James Solley from Sholden. The following year he married Emma Bass, John’s daughter. James’ younger brother, Charles, and his wife moved to Brewery Farm from Sholden soon after their second son, Frederick, was born. A new episode in Great Mongeham farming history had just begun.

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