John Marshall goes in search of more stories about an ancient ash tree in Stoke, situated alongside Binley Road and close to the junction of present day Marlborough Road
In early October the Coventry Society featured an article about Stoke’s most famous tree, Jabet’s Ash, which marked an ancient city boundary and was often a place where important visitors to the city were met, including royalty.
A recent inspection of Blyth’s book The History ofStoke (published in 1897) has unearthed a graphic example: a description of the visit of Princess Elizabeth Stuart in 1603. She later married Frederick of the Palatinate and briefly became Queen of Bohemia.
April 3rd 1603
“On this day the Princess Elizabeth, eldest daughter of James I, came into this City, from Coombe Abbey, with Lord and Lady Harrington, and many other Ladies of distinction. To shew that due deference which the respectability of the party demanded, the Mayor and the Alderman, with the rest of the livery, rode out of the town, in their scarlet gowns, as far as Jabet’s Ash on Stoke Green, where they met the Princess.
“The Mayor alighted from his horse, kissed her hand, and then rode before her into the City, with the Aldermen, etc. Lord Harrington went bare-headed before the coach along the streets (which were lined with the different companies of the City, standing in their gowns and their hoods) from Gosford-gate to the Drapery door, near St Michael’s Church, where having arrived, and heard a sermon, the Princess went from thence to St Mary’s Hall, attended by her train; a chair of state was placed at the upper end of the room, in which her Highness dined; from whence, having finished her repast, she adjourned to the Mayoress’s Parlour, which was fitted up in a most sumptuous manner for her reception. Lord Harrington, the Mayor, with the rest of the Ladies and Gentlemen, then dined.
“The Mayor afterwards presented to the Princess a silver cup, double gilt, which cost the City £29 16s 8d. She then left the Hall, and rode down Cross Cheaping, attended by the Mayor, etc., to Bishop-gate, Spon-end, Spon-street, Gosford-gate and Jabet’s Ash, where the Mayor left her with Lord Harrington and his train, who re-convened her to Coombe.”
Who drowned at Jabet’s Pit?
Coventry Society’s article in October said that a pool once existed opposite Jabet’s Ash. It was called Jabet’s Pit and was drained after an unfortunate man walked into the pit and drowned. An area of hollow ground (pictured above) still exists in what is now called Gosford Park and this is probably the site of the old pool. But who was the man who drowned? The following account of an inquest has been found in Blyth’s book. It does not mention Jabet’s Pit by name but – could this be a reference to the curious incident of the man in the night-time who drowned at Jabet’s Pit?
Oct 14th 1861
“Inquest at the Bull’s Head, Stoke, on the body of Joseph George, 61 years of age, who was found drowned in a pit on Gosford Green, on the previous Sunday morning. It appears that on Oct 5, he had left the Hertford Arms, in a state of intoxication, and was on his way to Stoke. The jury returned a verdict of ‘Accidental Death’, but expressed an opinion that the authorities ought to better fence the pit, which was considered to be very dangerous.”
This report originally appeared in the November newsletter of Stoke Local History Group. John Marshall is chair of the group and a member of Coventry Society.