I have now been able to examine the deeds of 78, 80 and 82 and Mr & Mrs. Loe kindly allowed me to look at the deeds of 76. An interesting tale is emerging. The land on the south side of the eastern end of Derngate, although within the old town walls, remained undeveloped until the early nineteenth century, a process only completed in the last few years. Some six acres of land, known as Tower Close, were occupied as gardens. The Tower, a somewhat mysterious building first mentioned in 1218, was destroyed in the great fire of 1675 and now only a trace of it is in the name of 66 Derngate, “Towerfields”. Tower Close passed to the Rev. Nathaniel Whaley, rector of Broughton, and his heirs in about 1700. It was sold in 1773 to one Thomas Taylor. In 1776 he sold two acres at the eastern end (i.e. including the sites of 76-82) to William Gibson, gentleman. In 1808 John Mobbs, a victualler in the town, bought the two acres, giving a plot 113-ft. from east to west by 59ft. 9 inches from north to south to his son William, a plumber and glazier, in March 1815. On this plot William erected three houses – numbers 76-80 – before his death in 1837. Looking at the three houses it is obvious that 76 and 78 were built together, the brickwork tying in, but 80 is an addition, squeezed onto the end of the plot. This was a common way for speculative builders to erect a terrace. The coincidence of the date of the deed of gift (1815) and the name Waterloo Terrace by which this end of Derngate was long known, lead me to think that William Mobbs may have built at least 76 & 78 in or soon after 1815. The other puzzle is that the frontage of 76-80 is not 113 feet. It almost adds up if you include 74, which is built in the same style. Perhaps the mystery will be cleared up if I get sight of the deeds of 74.
Unfortunately the deeds of 82 are not complete, only going back to the middle of twentieth century. However, the deed of gift between John and William Mobbs says that the plot of land was bounded on the east by the plot recently sold to James Chamberlain. If Becket House (no 82) was built c.1800, as has been suggested, then perhaps the plot sold by John Mobbs in 1815 was an extra piece for Mr. Chamberlain to erect the coach house extension, which does seem to be a slightly later addition. Another thing, which is not clear, is what relation, if any, William Mobbs was to Edgar Mobbs (renowned rugby player, for those who do not know). If that connection could be established it would please the Chairman of the Trustees, at least!
First published in July 2002 in The Friends of 78 Derngate Newsletter Issue 19.
Author: Dr Sylvia Pinches
Transcribed 2018: Barbara Floyer