Dorset dating

The bank even features in Cooke’s Dorsetshire (1836): ‘The handsome new building erected for the bank of Messrs Williams & Co.

displays great architectural beauty in its design, and great superiority in the execution, and forms one of the most prominent features of the town’.

The newspaper liked it: ‘an imposing stone front and a commodious and ornate shop’ designed by the local architect Mr J Feacey.

This means that it is not even early Victorian; Victoria came to the throne in 1837, so William IV was King when the bank was built.

Williams’s Bank of 1835 is the large building left.

The plain, severely classical Lloyds Bank building on the corner of High West Street and Cornhill was one of these puzzles.

A precise date for the building has always been difficult and, like other people, I have rather vaguely called it ‘earlier Victorian’ in an insecure way.

However, there was to be ‘an extension of Messrs R & R Williams’ old offices in High West Street’ to give ‘handsome and imposing frontages to High West Street and Cornhill’.

The Wilts & Dorset were to close their branch in High East Street.

I have been reading the Dorset County Chronicle, the newspaper published in Dorchester, from its start in 1821.

This is a slow job – as a fellow researcher said, even on microfilm, old newspapers give off a noxious gas which makes one read everything, including advertisements. In 1832 the newspaper was described as ‘being conducted on conservative principles, and in unison with those of the Church of England, enjoying a very numerous and highly respected circulation, which is constantly increasing’ (James Savage).

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