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Judge Albert Parsons

1865 - 1938
Kings Counsel, Author

Born in 1865 Albert Parsons, the son of a Yorkshireman, rose through the ranks of the judicial system before ultimately taking silk to become Kings Counsel in 1914. He moved to Bath in 1923 whereupon he purchased 14 Raby Place for £1,400. This elegant townhouse designed by John Pinch the elder was built in 1823 by local stonemason Robert Langman (quarry master at Combe Down) and is part of a Georgian terrace on the lower slopes of Bathwick Hill. His purchase made news, under the headline ‘Judge Parsons to live in Bathwick’ (The Western Daily Press, Bristol, 19th March 1923).

Judge Albert Parsons was also an author of several legal textbooks including The Liability of Railway Companies for Negligence Towards Passengers and The Workmen’s Compensation Acts 1897 and 1900. He was additionally an active member of the Bath local community as President of The Bath Golf Club (1932 –1936), select Brother of the Friendly Brothers of St. Patrick, and a member of the Bath Literary Society. He demonstrated his protectiveness towards Raby Place when he argued, in the local paper in May 1936, that the proposed new numbering system to include Raby Place into the Bathwick Hill numbering system (by The Bath Surveying Committee) should not proceed, resulting in the house retaining the numbering of the terrace, not of Bathwick Hill.

He had a reputation as an understanding Judge and in his obituary, he was commended for ‘the care and consideration which he always extended to poor litigants in his court. Always helpful when he could be, and he understood their difficulties not only as litigants but in their personal lives and affairs as well. He extended his wide knowledge of human nature to the decisions he gave’. (The Bath Weekly Chronicle and Herald. April 1938). The Judge died aged 73 at 14 Raby Place in Bath and was buried in Smallcombe Churchyard, which was then called Bathwick Cemetery, on 16th April 1938.

Buried with Judge Parsons is his wife Ada with whom he had four children. It is documented in his will that he left 14 Raby Place for Ada to live in for the remainder of her life. In 1939 the Wartime Register, accounting for people living in England and Wales at the time, lists Ada (by now a widow) living at 14 Raby Place with her unmarried daughter Dulcibel. Both gave their occupations as ‘unpaid domestic duties’. Also listed as residents were Edith Britten, an unmarried cook/housekeeper, Florence Vine, an unmarried Nursing Sister and a lodger called Frederick Shirley who worked as a Civil Engineer with The Admiralty which was then based in the current Empire Building in Bath. The basement was rented out to a married couple John and Prudence MacDonald (gardener and daily cook). Following Ada’s death in 1954 at 14 Raby Place, the house was held in trust for her remaining children.


Also, in this grave rests the son of Albert and Ada - Godfrey Valentine Hope Parsons who was a well- known barrister, with his own law practice in South Wales. He had bravely served in the 29th Division of the Royal Field Artillery from 1916 to 1920, rising to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant within the Cardiganshire Battery Battalion and received the Victory Medal for Courage. According to military records he also served in France and Flanders where he was hospitalised twice due to wounds sustained from mortar attacks in the trenches.

Godfrey later made news with the headline ‘Judge Parsons’ son in crash ‘when he drove his ‘large sports car into a lorry towing a fairground caravan at the Marshfield crossroads near Bath, causing extensive damage’. (The Bath Weekly Chronicle and Herald. 1st August 1936). Godfrey died aged 54 in 1948, a bachelor, who predeceased his mother. Despite living in Wales for most of his life he regarded Raby Place as his family home which became evident when he wrote his will on 13th June 1927 declaring his address as 14 Raby Place.

The youngest of the children, Dulcibel (who went by the name of Paul) is also buried here. After nursing her mother (until Ada died in 1954), Dulcibel continued to live at 14 Raby Place, with a Cook/Housekeeper, a Nursing Sister and various lodgers including Alan John Rawlings renting the basement, until her own death aged 66 in 1962. Being unmarried with no children she left her estate in equal shares to her two remaining sisters, Lorna and Cicely and her live-in nurse Florence Vine.

In the grave behind Judge Parsons lies his eldest daughter, Lorna with her own daughter and only child (Judge Parsons’ granddaughter) Audrey. Despite being married to solicitor Edward Hemmingway and living in Worcester during her adult years, Lorna chose to spend the last years of her life being cared for in 14 Raby Place, where she died in 1965.

Lorna’s daughter Audrey lived with her parents in Worcester and was a governess until her marriage to US soldier Alvin Tate de Medicis. The wedding was held at St Mary’s Church, Bathwick on September 1st, 1945. Despite the judge having died eight years previously the local paper announced: ‘Judge’s Granddaughter Miss Audrey Hemingway Wed at Bath’. On the right is a photo of the smiling bride next to her husband, from South Carolina, in US military uniform and her parents. It was reported that the bride ‘wore a dress of embroidered linen over taffeta and a pearl and peridot pendant. Her tuille veil and coronet of orange blossom belonged to her mother’ (The Bath Weekly Chronicle. 1st September 1945). Her uncle Godfrey was best man, and a small wedding reception was held at 14 Raby Place, then home of her Grandmother Ada and her aunts. Seven months after the  honeymoon, which was spent in Malvern and London, Audrey again featured in the local paper this time under the headlines ‘Goodbye to Bath – 6 wives and a baby’ written about remaining G.I. wives from Bath leaving by train for a military camp in Salisbury, before heading on to new lives across the USA. The article reported ‘Mrs A. T de Medicis, whose husband, a sergeant, of Warrenville, South Carolina, is going to be a farmer. Mrs de Medicis was Miss Janet {sic} Hemingway, daughter of Mr and Mrs E.C Hemingway of 14 Raby Place. Her mother was on the platform to bid ‘au revoir’ as she intends to visit her later’. (The Bath
Weekly Chronicle and Herald. 27th April 1946). Lorna was true to her word and visited Audrey in the USA in July 1947 to meet her new granddaughter, also named Lorna, born 2 months previously. Lorna’s visit caused quite a stir in South Carolina. The tea party, which was held in her honour featured a table “overlaid with a handsome lace cloth and centred with gold chrysanthemums and candles” was extensively covered in the local Aiken Newspaper on 19th November 1947. Audrey andAlvin subsequently lived on various military bases in the USA and Germany and had 2 more daughters. Audrey made several trips back to the UK and always gave her UK address as 14 Raby Place, Bath on various ships’ manifests.

In January 1957 Audrey returned home for the final time and died of malignant melanoma at the age of 40 in 14 Raby Place; leaving behind her husband and 3 small daughters aged just ten, seven and four years old in the USA. She requested in her will that her children should be placed in the Florida Methodist Children’s Home and that Army Chaplain Harvester should have full control over her
children ‘to the exclusion of all others including my husband’. To keep them rooted in their British heritage she also divided her beloved Old English books between them along with her British and German porcelain collection.

The Parsons’ family 50-year connection with the house ended when 14 Raby Place was mysteriously sold twice sold in 1971 for £7,300 each time, once incidentally to the owners of Treetop Petrol Station near Bath. From this sale the only remaining Parsons child, Cicely, inherited the majority of the money which was still in trust. Since then, the house has only been sold once more (to the current owners) in 2013.

 

Upon her death in 1981 Cicely Parsons left the remaining proceeds from 14 Raby Place, 60 years after her father Albert had bought it, to her friend Agnes Walker and lifelong domestic helper to the Parsons family, Florence Vine.

Inspired by a TV series in 2020 about the history of a house, the restoration of the Parsons derelict memorial was spearheaded by the occupants of 14 Raby Place. The project was a result of research conducted during the lockdown periods brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. The restoration work was carried out by local Stonemason David Underhill and made entirely possible by funding from Bath and North East Somerset Council, The Friends of Smallcombe Churchyard and the current owners of 14 Raby Place, Bath.

Known for...

Judge and author of legal texts. Long term resident of Raby Place

Author:
Loraine and
Roger Cotterhill


 
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Raby Place House
Raby Place House
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GI Wedding
GI Wedding
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Parsons textbook 1
Parsons textbook 1
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Parsons textbook 2
Parsons textbook 2
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Pre restoration Grave
Pre restoration Grave
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Restoration in progress
Restoration in progress
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Restored grave
Restored grave
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Gallery