The first residents after the alterations were the new owner, Mr Reynolds and his family. There is no indication as to whether his widow continued to live there after his death in 1888 but in 1890 it was empty.
- From 1891 to 1902 it was occupied by William Henry Jones, who the census records as being a furniture remover. It also records him as an employer, so presumably he was running the Reynolds & Co. business.
- It is empty in 1903 and 1904 but from 1905 to 1909 a Mrs C. Walter is given as being in residence. Dr Ambrose Deeley and his family moved in in 1910 and lived there until his death in 1919. Dr Deeley’s widow, Edith is listed as resident in 1920, along with a James Murray.
- From 1921 to 1929 Reginald Cottell and his family are living at the Priory. Mr Cottell was the manager of Pickford’s warehouse next door, so the house probably came with the job! They are joined in 1924 to 1926 by an Anne Bone. While she may have been a relative of the Cottells I suspect because of the size of the building the Cottells occupied one part and Annie Bone occupied another part.
- In 1930 Ewart & “Madame” Booth are in residence. Ewart died in 1931 when Madam, or more properly, Dora Booth is joined by Helen Heath.
- In 1936 the Priory became part of the GPO complex. The final people to live at the once exclusive address were Elizabeth Gahon, who is recorded on the electoral rolls for 1934 and 1935, Frank & Winifred Warwick who are recorded in 1933, 34 & 1935, plus Madame Booth who ran her Corset and surgical appliance making business from there.
Although the Priory had been one of the town’s most prestigious residencies, it had been in a slow decline since the Rev. Craig concreted over much of its once beautiful grounds to build his ill-fated ice rink. This decline continued for the next 99 years until in November 1975 Leamington lost another of its historic buildings.
I did visit the Priory as a child as part of a class visit from Clapham Terrace School to the then GPO. Unfortunately, after 50 plus years I have very little memory of the visit. What I do remember from childhood is watching the mailbags on a sort of overhead conveyor belt which took them from one side of the building to the other. If the old warehouse doors were open you could watch as the bags appeared through a trapdoor on one side of the old loading bay hanging from the conveyor before disappearing through another trap door on the other side of the bay.
A view lost
Another thing that was lost following the demolition of the Priory and the building of the new Post Office parcel deport, was what remained of the view of All Saints from the Jephson Gardens. Unfortunately, this means it is no longer possible to fully appreciate the full grandeur of the church’s architecture that took so much of the Reverend Craig’s time and money to create.