Interior shot of William Trowbridge House take in 1930. At the time it was an antique store.
Thomas Trowbridge House, now a Nero Coffee Shop. Situated on a cobblestone pedestrian street in the center of Taunton. Thomas was the Mayor of Taunton, a Tailor, Son was a wool merchant next store. This area of England was the center of the wool trade in 1600.
Plaque below the 3rd story window of the Tudor Tavern
Purchased the Tudor Tavern at 15 Fore Street in Taunton, the oldest surviving domestic dwelling in the city.
"Thomas Trowbridge Sr. was a leading citizen and charitable founder, a mercer, with a Tudor mansion on the high street.....had served as constable and portreve of the caste manor." [TroB6]
SOMERSET RECORD OFFICE, DD/SAS, TN/15: "Mr Thomas Trowbridge the elder of Taunton, merchant tailor, founded his charity by deed of 4 December 11 James I (1613)."
The house now known as the Tudor Tavern, no. 15 Fore Street (the Thomas Trowbridge house in Taunton) is acknowledged to be the oldest surviving domestic dwelling in Taunton. Its main structure has been dated to the 14th century.
Beneath the front window on the second floor of no. 15 is a board inscribed "T.T. 1578 I.T.", these initials can be identified as those of Thomas Trowbridge, described variously as a mercer or merchant tailor, and his wife Joan. Trowbridge stated in 1610 that he had held the premises for nearly thirty years. (Note, on Thomas wife, was her name Joan or Johanna? Somerset Record Office, DD/PM, box 7, makes mention of the facade panel erected by Thomas Trowbridge, this reads: T.T. 1578 I.T. Thomas and Johanna or Johane Trowbridge - the letters I and J being interchangeable at that time).
Thomas Trowbridge or Strobridge was buying up a number of properties within Taunton Deane manor from 1572 onwards. The remodelling of the Fore Street property was evidently carried out at the commencement of Trowbridge's lease, and his involvment in the commercial life of the town is indicated by his purchasing five successive licences to prosecute for debe beyond Taunton Deane manor court between 1579 and 1584, and taking a lease for six years in 1585 of the right to prosecute any tenant for debts over 40s.
Thomas Trowbridge used the shop at 15 Fore Street for the trade of selling "Mercerye wares" and evidently lived with his family behind and above his business. Thomas only son, John Trowbridge, baptized at St. Mary Magdalene on March 25, 1570, became a wool merchant and took a shop next to his father, probably that on the west (no. 16). The two shops was beneficial to both father and son, "by reason that such as come to the one shoppe to buye cloth wilbe and are incited to buie the mercery and silk wares and other requisites of convertinge the same cloth into apparrell, and those that came to Thomas's shop to buye the mercery comodityes of apparell would be and have ben incited the sooner to buye their woollen clothes at John's shop". Thomas Trowbridge retired from his shop at 15 Fore Street around 1606, and sub-let it to Benjamin Cosyns, another Taunton mercer.
From the will of Thomas Trowbridge (dated July 6, 1619, proved May 6, 1620; he was buried at St. Mary Magdalene February 20, 1619/20). The will refers to the furnishings and fittings of his Fore Street house. To his nephew, Thomas Trowbridge, he left the three great chestes in the shoppe, sixe greate ringed boxes, one case of small boxes, one fayre glasse boxe, with all the shelfes in the shoppe, the great spruse chest in the hall, one tableborde and forme in the hall with all the seilinge and benchinge, and boards underfeete in the hall, twelve platters in the buttery, with sixe candelstickes, one bason and ewer, the chayre in the hall, and all other things belonginge to the hall. To his kinswoman Joan, wife of Stephen Parrye, he bequeathed the square wroughte tableboarde and frame standinge in the dyninge chamber, and the carpett wroughte with copper, and cruell belonginge to it, the cypers cheste in the Rayne chamber, the bedsteade wherein I lye in the Rayne chamber, performed with feather bed, boulster, pillowes, the second best coverlette, and curtaynes and sheetes, my best guilt salte, the eleaven silver spoones with rounde knobbes and the newest wharminge panne. (Note, his station in life is indicated by bequests to Richard Mercer, schoolmaster of the castle schoole in Taunton, to Richard Davies, vicar of St. James, Taunton, to his overseer and good friend, the Rev. John Clarke, D.D., and to three servants.)
Thomas Trowbridge's principal legacy to his town had been arranged before his death, in 1614, when he assigned six acres of land in West Monkton for the benefit of the poor of the parishes of St. Mary of Magdalene and St. James.