Nos. 50-52 High Street
There are very few photographs of these premises and those that exist are too distant or indistinct to show much detail of their appearance other than to say that Nos. 50 and 51 were rendered and No. 52 was plain brick faced (though it too was rendered towards the end of the 19C). It is also probable that the shop windows had been replaced by around 1880. Given their position close to the fashionable heart of High Street they are rather nonedescript, with No. 50 probably being the grandest of the trio by virtue of the pedimented dormer windows of the fourth floor.
The Ordnance Survey 1861 map provides evidence of the widths of the three buildings which are 14'0", 14'0" and 22'6". Their heights are deduced by comparison to No. 53 whhich is known with some accuracy. This does of course presume that the Charpentier drawing depicts their relative heights correctly.
Hunt's (1852) Directory - Wm. Hy. Charpentier, Bookseller, Stationer and Printer, 50 High Street; Henry Norkett, Hatter, 51 High Street; (Samuel Browning is listed as an optician at 66 High Street);
Post Office (1859) Directory - Richard Wilson, Architect and Surveyor, 50 High Street; Henry Norkett, Hatter, 51 High Street;
Kelly's (1859) Directory - Wilson, Rd., Auctioneer, 50 High Street; Henry Norkett, Hatter, 51 High Street; Browning S.J. & Co., Opticians, 52 High street;
Simpson's (1863) Directory - Thomas Batchelor, Bookseller and Bookbinder, 50 High Street (removed from 98); Mrs. J. Norkett, Hatter, 51 High Street; Spencer Browning & Co., manufacturers of optical and mathematical instruments, 52 High Street & Globe Steam Factory, Penny St.
Harrod's (1865) Directory - Thomas Batchelor, Bookseller and Bookbinder, 50 High Street; Mrs. J. Norkett, Hatter, 51 High Street; Spencer Browning & Co., manufacturers of optical and mathematical instruments, 52 High Street & Globe Steam Factory, Penny St.
Schedule 37 - Henry Norkett (27, Retail Hatter), his sisters Ann (32, Governess), Charlotte (32), Jemimah (22, Governess) and Fanny (14) with Bessie Taylor (12).
Schedule 38 - Leopold De Loisne (40, Perfumer & Hair ....), his wife Adelaide (25), daughter Florence (7) and servant Mary Ann Hay (14)
Schedule 39 - Samuel Browning (37, Master Optician), his wife Sarah (39), daughters Sarah (5) and Elizabeth (2) with Sarah Spencer (63, Fund Holder) and Mary Pipe (17, Servant)
All directories after Hunt's lists William Charpentier at No. 46, indicating that he moved the premises of the shop from No. 50 to No. 46 between 1852 and 1859. There appears to be no census schedule for No. 50, but this might be expected if the census took place at the time the premises were being taken over by Thomas Batchelor, because he is still listed along with his family at No. 98 High Street.
The Hatter's business of the Norketts was long standing in that the name appears over the shop at No. 51 in the Charpentier drawing. As Henry Norkett was only 27 years old in 1861 he must have inherited the business from his father. We don't know if he was married but as the business was taken over by Mrs J. Norkett between 1861 and 1863 we can only assume that if he was, then his wife was not there at the time of the census. The only other explanation would be that Mrs. Norkett was his mother.
There is no record in the Trade Directory for Leopold De Loisne (if that is the correct spelling) so we are unable to suggest whether his accommodation was within No. 51 or 52.
In the return for No. 52 there is no entry under "Condition", ie relationship, for Sarah Spencer, but her age and the fact that she was a Fund Holder might suggest that she had a significant investment in the Spencer Browning company, which was formed from Browning & Co. around 1861. It had originally taken over the optician's business of George Stebbing, probably in 1847 as that is the year that Stebbing died.
The lack of detailed photographic evidence for any of these buildings means that we have little choice but to model them according to their appearance in the Charpentier drawing. The frontage to No. 51 is a mirror image of No. 50 but as they were owned by different businesses we can assume that they were probably painted in different colours. No. 52 is very similar to both but has two bay windows rather than one and is somewhat wider.