(originally published - March 2009)

Old house deeds tell us the story of the house and the lives of its families. I have recently been unravelling the history of Karibu, from its deeds, kindly lent to me by George and Gwyn Adams.

The earliest deed is a mortgage of 1787 made between William Summerton, and a Compton Wynyates Trust for the Poor. The Summertons were an ancient Oxhill family, and other evidence suggests that they had been in the property (divided now in two, Karibu and the Old Bakehouse), since the 17th century. The family trade was carpentry.

The Trust advanced the sum of £21 to William Summerton, the interest payments to be for the support of two Compton residents, “Thomas Beard the idiot”, - (they spoke bluntly then) and his mother Ann. The document tells how Ann had forgone the outright payment of £10 to her, so that, together with the £11 proposed for Thomas, a larger investment could be made. She would receive the interest on her portion during her lifetime, and thereafter Thomas would benefit from it all. (Am I being sentimental, or does a mother’s concern for the future of her son echo down the centuries?)

In William Summerton’s Will we learn that he also held the lease of the Windmill. He left this to two of his younger sons, George and Thomas, already working as millers. The main property (left to his mother for life) was later sold in 1806 by his children and grandchildren to Richard Hornsby of Oxhill, baker. Where in Oxhill Richard was then baking is not yet clear, but he erected a bakehouse at his new property, and it remained the village bakery for the next hundred and seventy years.

After Richard Hornsby’s death his widow sold up to John Powell Gardner who converted the property (for centuries divided in two) back into a single dwelling, and carried on the bakery business. The next baker was William Gardner, when it became two cottages again. His grandson, William Gardner Summerton, (brought up by his grandfather although his parents also lived in Oxhill), took over both business and property in 1884, re-establishing Summerton ownership after nearly two centuries.

On his retirement in 1921 – many mortgages later -bakery and cottages were sold to Frederick Alfred Valender of Pebworth – apparently for his brother, Oliver T. Valender, who was baker here until his death in 1948, and not long survived by his son and successor Leonard. Bill Heritage remembers “Olly” Valender as “being very good to the village” ready to cook people’s pies, etc, and help out with cooking for village events.

After the closure of the bakery, Miss Hilda Valender continued with the grocery shop also run on the premises - (Heather Bloxham worked there on first leaving school) - but on its own it did not pay. The next owners, Mr and Mrs W.T. Wilkins failed completely, and in 1967 defaulted on their mortgage. Afterwards Mr and Mrs Tom Hale largely rebuilt the premises, and ran the shop for a few years, until its final closure sometime in 1976.

That year, the house took on new life under the Adams as Karibu, the Swahili word for “come near” or “Welcome”, (the Bakehouse being soon sold as a separate property) Many people have “come near” the doors of Karibu over the years - carpenters, bakers and their customers, teachers and their friends. Those who have made it their home in earlier times, linger on as shadowy figures in its deeds.

Ann Hale

March, 2009 (revised 2010, and 2013)