This ancient part of the town was, and still is the link between two streets, namely, Silver Street and Market Place. The fold used to link Silver Street with New Street, but like many of our old streets, New Street is no longer with us. It takes its name from Mr John Bower who was an Alderman of Doncaster in the 16th century.
The following extract is taken from Hatfield’s Historical Notices and reads:
“The Bower-fold garden is mentioned in an indenture tripartite (three part contract), made the fifth day of August in the eighth year of the reign of Lady Ann, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain and Ireland, Queen Defender of the faith A.D. 1709, between Kingston Futcher, of Fisherton, Anger, in the county of Wiltshire, and Mary, his wife, and heir of Edward Sansome, late of Doncaster, in the county of York, Coachmaker, deceased, and Kingston Futcher and Edward Futcher, sons of the said Kingston Futcher, by the said Mary, his wife, of the first part; and John Cowley, jun. of Doncaster aforesaid, gent. of the second part; and Edward Holliday of the same place, gent. of the third part, witnesseth that the said Kingston Futcher, and Mary, his said wife, Kingston Futcher, jun. and Edward Futcher for, and in consideration of, the sum of twenty one pounds and ten shillings of current money of Great Britain, to them in hand paid by the said John Cowley before the execution hereof, doth grant, alienate, bargain, sell, enfeoff (land in exchange for a pledge of service), release, and confirm unto the said John Cowley, for ever, all that orchard, or garden,with the appurtenances, lying, and being in Doncaster, near unto a certain place there, called the Bower Fold, now in the possession of the said John Cowley, and late in possession of Francis Earnshaw, containing, by estimation one rood of land (¼ acre), be the same more or less, and was formerly the inheritance of Matthew Snowsell, deceased”.
According to Mr William Sheardown, twice Mayor of Doncaster in the 1830’s, ‘Bower Fold was also referred to as Boar Fold during the late 1700’s, and was never so closed in as it appears today’, in fact, it resembled what we would now call a ‘cul-de-sac’ and was a continuation of Silver Street set in tranquil grounds. Another eye-witness account from 1777 describes it this way: ‘This passage was not narrow or confined, open ground contributed to the health and pleasure of the cottagers. Although gardens faced the opening, and are included in Bower Fold, they formed a part of Silver Street. Mr Ashton’s garden extended to one rood (¼ acre), and another nearly of the same dimensions. Mr John Britain and Mr John Halliday also had one, at the annual rateable value of fifteen shillings each. Besides were small dwelling houses tenanted by John Green, Thomas Morritt, and Thomas Barnes’.
It seems that Bowers Fold was a little part of the countryside right in the centre of a town. The large gardens and the idyllic setting made the Bower Fold a pleasure to live in. Quaint cottages with large sprawling gardens and orchards.
A far cry from what we see today as upwards of 15 shops and 2 public houses are crammed in to the now tiny space. I wouldn’t like to live there and I doubt, if one or two of the former residents from the 1700’s were to pay it a visit, whether they would either.