The sad death recently (already reported in 'Local Past') reminded people that the Bowen family had. occupied their premises for the best part of a century. However, old buildings have a varied story to tell and Bowen's drapery stores is no exception.
Before 1800 we know nothing of the occupants but we do know that for most of the first half of the 19th century the building served as one of the many inns on the High Street, viz. 'The Apollo'. From the 1850s there lived here Thomas Morrall, one of the well-known Catholic family of Morralls. Thomas had a certain fame, being, so it is said, the first in England to be operated on for cataracts - in 1809 in the presence of King George 111. He learned music, was very popular and local people called him 'Gentleman Morrall'. The house had the name of 'Victoria House. In the 1880s, following various tenancies, William Russon left the 'Turk's Head', where he had been mine host, and turned Victoria House' into the 'Lord Alcester Temperance Hotel'. This was short-lived and the present drapery business was inaugurated by Sam Bowen's father about the time of the Queen's diamond Jubilee in 1897.
Wash Sink, Victorian Style £5-10-0
Summer 1997 Index