York House
York House was a substantial property that had already been partitioned into at least 5 self-contained properties by 1875. It was further modified and partition over the years to provided multiple retail units on the High Street and York Road. I do not know how much of the original building remained in the shops that stood there after WW2 and it has been completely rebuilt in more recent times. The building has changed address at least twice. Today it would be 52, 52a and 52b High Street but in the early 19th century records it appears as 46-48 High Street. The location of York House can be seen on this map of 1898. This was a street plan on which only buildings of importance to visitors and tourists were shown. On the map, York House occupies the corner of York Road and the High Street. York Road was not built until 1882 when the Heygate family sold the land for development. The Heygates had bought the land from Daniel Robert Scratton in 1869 and prior to that they had leased it from the same. There are records of Charles Woosnam being involved in indentures (debts similar to mortgages) with both Daniel Robert Scratton and Elizabeth Heygate when he occupied York House. Before 1882, York House stood on the corner of a cul-de-sac, sometimes called York Street. Behind York House was a terrace of cottages called York Cottages which faced another terrace called York Place across the road. The road ended about where Chichester Road is today. The 1851 Census shows that York House was then occupied by Sarah Skinner, a 52 year old widow; her daughter Agnes, a 21 year old governess (child/minder/teacher) and a 19 year old servant called Sarah (surname illegible). Whilst the entry for Agnes is consistent with other records, her mother's record may be incorrect because all other records (including the 1841 Census) indicate that her mother was Mary Skinner (born Cook). Sarah was the name of Agnes' sister who was older than her by 4 years and therefore may or may not have been living at York house at the time. Agnes father, James Skinner was a tailor, born in Ireland, who had died when Agnes was a child and before 1841 when the family were living next door to a Viscount and Lady in Kensington. The 1851 Census describes Agnes mother (Mary) as a 'lodging house keeper' and so York House was being used as a boarding house at that time. At the same time, further down the High Street in Prospect House at the top of Pier Hill, there lived a doctor William R. Warwick, M.R.C.S Eng., S.S.A. Lond., who was a general practitioner. In addition to Dr. Warwick's wife, three daughters, sister, cook and nursemaid, a newly trained Dr. John Huett, aged 26 and originally from Somerset, also lived in the house where he worked as Dr. Warwick's assistant. John Huett's middle name was Hucklebrige and he appears in some records as Dr. John Hucklebridge. John Huett's sister was also working in the Southend area as a governess and that may be how John met Agnes Skinner. Two years later, Mary Skinner had died and her property comprising "a dwellinghouse called York House in High Street; seven brick tenements and York Cottage in York Street, all at Southend in Prittlewell" was by her executors at auction in May 1853. Her daughter had married Dr. John Huett at Rochford in 1852 and the pair emigrated to Tasmania where Agnes died in 1862. When in Tasmania, Agnes had used the name Lady Agnes Skinner although, being married to a doctor, it was unlikely that she had any such entitlement. The idea may have been attractive to agnes after living next door to a Lady as a child. York House was purchased by Charles Woosnam who already owned the Ship Hotel on the seafront at Marine Parade and had business interests elsewhere in the area including Shoebury. The 1861 Census shows that Woosnam was living at York House with his wife Annie, 7 other family members, 2 servants and a governess. With regard to the York house property, Woosnam was described as a wine merchant. It is evident that Woosnam was using York House for his business as a wine merchant because he built stables there in 1877 and built a warehouse with offices on the site in 1886. There appears to have been a change in use and ownership of at least part of the site in the 1890s because an 1893 building plan for new W.C.s at York House is in the name of the 'Aerated Beverage and Buffet Company of London'. That company were still in occupation at York House when additions were made to the building in 1895 although the owner cited on the plans was the land agent and property developer, Fred Ramuz. Even so, 1905 additions to the warehouse and shop at York House were made by F. Woosnam & Sons, wine merchants. Charles Woosnam died the following year (1906) in Southend. Essex Records Office holds a set of Deeds dating from 1900 to 1934 and relating to "shops, offices and houses (including York House) being nos 46, 48 High Street and 1-6 York Arcade, Southend." The documents include an abstract of the title and plans from when Daniel Robert Scratton had sold the land on which York House was sited in 1869. The fact that these documents were being referred is evidence that the property was being re-partitioned into retail units during the early 20th century. This was the period when the High Street area was fully developed as shop.
By Warwick Conway
1898 map showing the location of York House

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