Victorians & Edwardians
1837 to 1914
The period between 1837 to 1914 is an era that in many way defined the England of the 20th and 21st centuries.
The Edwardian era spanned the reign of King Edward VII, 1901 to 1910, and is generally expanded to the start of the First World War. The death of Queen Victoria in January 1901 marked the end of the Victorian era. Her son and successor, Edward VII, was already the leader of a fashionable elite that set a style influenced by the art and fashions of continental Europe. Looking back through the prism of two world wars, the 1901-1914 period It is often seen as a lost golden age.
In the Village
Sidney Leveson Lane & Dowager Viscountess Mary Isabel Downe
Dowager Viscountess Mary Isabel Downe & William Henry Dawnay, 7th Viscount Downe
Mary Isabel, Dowager Vicountess Downe
Sidney Leveson Lane, then aged 56, plus his brothers & sisters in 1886. Sidney is at the back standind in front of the doors. Ernald Lane is on the left.
Sidney Leveson Lane, Circa 1910
It is worth remembering that up until this point "Addington House" was relatively modest in size and very little had been done to change the building since it was first built in 1609. Sidney and Mary were therefore clearly seeing an opportunity to convert the 250 year old Jacobean hall, into a contemporary, luxury, Victorian property worthy of their wealth and status.
The scale of their undertaking should not be underestimated. Sidney and Mary commissioned a significant amount of alteration and extension works, at trebling the size of the house, significantly altering the interiors, and introducing "modern" conveniences. Unusually for such works rather than employing local craftsmen an advert was placed in the Northamptonshire Mercury in 1878:
"Sidney Lane and his wife Lady Downe lived in the Manor House, he was more of less the Squire of the village....Squire Lane had a butler who dressed in pin stripes and tails on high days and holidays, there was also a Pantry and Kitchen maid as well as a Scullery maid, in pecking order. The Squire had two pairs of horses and a carriage. Mr. Birchby used to drive the Squire's horses, he lived in the house next to the Hare & Hounds pub...The kitchen garden stretched up to the Ring (Rushwell Close) and I remember ploughing it up and turning it into a kitchen garden. Lady Downe had a soup kitchen where the poor folk were given a hot meal each day to prevent them from starving. Every Saturday everyone went along to the Manor for a dish full of dripping, it was the done thing. Squire Lane owned John Tyler's farm (Manor Farm), Top Lodge at the Poplars (Finedone Poplars) and also Patch Farm in 10 acre field...After Squire Lane died all his farms were sold, he also owned Beeches Farm in Little Addington. I remember sitting on a wall and watching the horses being sold. I helped to cart bricks from the railway station with two horses to build Beeches Farm house".
James Rennie Wilkinson, date unknown.
The last image of James Rennie Wilkinson, circa 1912. The photograph was taken at the home of Charles Wicksteed. James is on the far right of the picture.
Great Addington football team photographed outside Shooters Hill. The image date is somewhere between 1895 and 1904.
Newspaper article from 1913 carrying the report of James's death.
Photograph showing school children at Shooters Hill, circa 1920.
The Great Works & Tragic Death of James Rennie Wilkinson
In contrast the aristocratic background of the Sidney & Mary at the Manor House, James Rennie Wilkinon who built and lived Shooters Hill house - though wealthy - was from a far different background and remained a driven man, with a passionate zeal for social and educational reform until he tragically took his own life whilst suffering from depression.
The Northamptonshire Mercury article regarding his death in March 1913, published just days after his death, reads:
"Northamptonshire loses one of the most remarkable men who have ever moved in the public life of the county....he has been actively engaged in our public affairs for nearly half a century. He was a staunch Liberal and Nonconformist, a life-long advocate of Temperance...it is no exageration to say that, irrespective of (political) party, he was the most trusted man in the county."
James was descended from two separate families that moved from the Dumfries area of Scotland around 1800 and settled in Bradford, Yorkshire. The two families were named Rennie and Milligan. Originally, poor crofters, the two separate families seem to have rapidly established themselves and found success.
James Rennie Wilkinson grandparents – James Rennie and Susan Milligan - were born in Dumfries, Scotland in the 1780’s. They were living in Bradford in the early years of the 19th century and James Rennie was involved in at least two companies; Milligan, Rennie & Co and Rennie, Tetley & Co, trading as linen and woollen drapers and stuff (cloth) merchants. James and Susans’ house in Bradford was a fine early Victorian detached house so clearly the family were prospering.
1841 The first modern census.
The extract pictured here shows the Rev. James Tyley (who recorded so much about the village during his near 60 years of residence here) living in the Rectory The street name given as Back Street is now Cranford Road. The households are listed from the Church heading out of the village. Thomas Colson (farmer) and Sarah Colson lived at Huxloe House, Charles Abbott (carpenter) & Ann Abbott and family lived at Rush Glenn Cottage, and Thomas Sharp (shepherd) and Jane Sharpe lived at Gardeners Cottage.
1841 to 1911 - The Changing Village
The first official census of England and Wales was on 10 March 1801, however information was gathered on the basis of totals - i.e. total number of males, total number of females etc - all we have from that time are simple numerical counts that the Rev. James Tyley recorded in the parish register.
It is the 1841 which is regarded as the first truly modern census. The fact that it broadly coincides with the start of the Victorian period and was then taken every 10 years up until 1911, means it is an invaluable source of information that enables the inhabitants of the village to be understood, and tracked, at the named individual level throughout this period. For the first time, the head of each household was given a form to fill in on behalf of everyone in the household on a certain day. This system has stood the test of time, and it still forms the basis of the method we use today.
The majority of houses did not have names at that point in time and those that did are generally different from the ones we use today. There are only two buildings in the village that have the ame name now as then - Leopard House and the Hare and Hounds. Where relevant I have used the modern house name to help give a context.
The 1841 Census gives the names of every person living in the village. Some 35,000 Census enumerators (all men) armed with pencils delivered a separate form to each household, recording almost 16 million people in England and Wales. People were supposed to complete the forms themselves, though this was a real challenge since at this time many people could not read or write. There is no doubt that in many cases the forms were completed on behalf of those who could not write.
The 1841 census gave the address, the name, the age (grouped by gender) and occupation. They also had to indicate whether they were from born in Northamptonshire or somewhere else; the somewhere else being simply an indication as to:
"whether born in Scotland, Ireland or Foreign Parts"
A quite remarkable fact is that every single person in the census is recorded a being from Northamptonshire. This was clearly a time when people were born, lived and died in the same area.
What is not clear from this census was the relationships between individuals - though we can make reasonable guesses in many cases. Later census asked for explicit relationship information - wife, brother, daughter, neice etc.
Only 13 women are recorded as having an occupation. The abbreviation "F S" is used against 9 of the women and which stood for Female Servant. One woman is given as "Independent" meaning that she were living on their own means and had no profession. The other 3 women are a Lace Maker, a Nurse, and a Publican - Mary Warmsley, aged 50, who is running the Hare & Hounds.
The men of the village are overwhelmingly working on the land. Out of the 70 who give their occupations, 47 (or 67%) work on or are connected to the land. There are a number of craftsmen as you would expect - blacksmith, carpenters, watch maker, and wheelwrights (a maker of carts as well as wheels). A further 10 others with the initials "M S" against their name are Male Servants, mainly teenage boys or young men. Most of those employing servants - female or male - where typically the wealthy land owners, so it is reaonsable to suggest that everyone was dependent upon the agriculture to give direct or indirect employment.
There is only 1 individual who neither works on the land, or as a craftsman, or as a servant. William Mitchell, aged 40, works in a "Paper Mill". This is the only person employed in "industry". What is also notable is that there are no Weavers listed anymore. What had been a major industry in the 18th century in the area, with Kettering as its epicentre, has now moved to East Anglia and Yorkshire. The rapid decline in the woollen industry in the Kettering area was quite devastating for the local economy, so much so, that in an 1817 petition to Parliament it was stated that 1,123 people were in receipt of poor relief. By 1821, the population of Kettering was 3,668 of which 1,805 were declared as paupers; Great Addington and other villages in the area had been linked to the woollen industry and the decline must have had a significant impact. The movement of the industry away from the area and the economic decline in the early 19th century had led to a de-industrialisation and the village population was dependent upon the land, much as it had done during the Medieval period.
Out of 266 people living in the village, 38 were named Abbott - nearly 15% of the entire village!. The Abbott's at this time were 8 separate families - though with shared ancestors. Other common surnames were Beeby (20 people), Harris (19), Ball (15), and Ward (14). Other long standing village names were Hackney, Lovell, and Vorley.
Thomas Sharpe is oldest resident, aged 86 (born in 1755) and living in Gardeners Cottage. The youngest is a 2 day old infant child of William & Jane Abbott, who is baptised Mary 4 months later. They have three other children, Hannah (5), Robert (3), and Sarah (aged 1); Mary Abbot (69) is also living in the house with them.
1847 Village Directory
The village directory of 1847 lists the following individuals in the village:
Rector. Rev. James Tyley
Boughton Leigh. Lord of the Manor
Thomas Chapman. Hare & Hounds Public House
Thomas Coleman. Flour Miller (lived at the Mill)
Thomas Colon. Farmer Rectory Farm (belived to live in Huxloe House)
William King Curtis. Farmer.
John Harris. Blacksmith
Lawrence Hudson. Wheelwright & Grocer.
William Mitchell. Leopard Public House (though in 1841 he was working at the paper mill and it was his wife that ran the pub)
Thomas Page. Farmer
Thomas Spencer. Farmer (lived at "Spencers Lodge" which is now called to be Patch Lodge).
Boughton-Leigh, would be John Ward-Boughton-Leigh (1790-1868) the son of William Zouch Lucas-Ward and Mary Lamb. He married Theodosia de Malsburgh Leigh, daughter of Sir Egerton Leigh, 2nd Bt. and Theodosia Anna Maria Boughton, in 1811. He was given the name of John Lucas-Ward at birth, but in 1831 changed it to John Ward-Boughton-Leigh. Though "Lord of the Manor", it is not believed that John Ward-Boughton-Leigh ever lived in Great Addington, preferring Brownsover Hall, Warwickshire instead.
1864 Village Directory
Rector. Rev. Richard Doke
R. P. Ganell. Lord of the Manor*
Charles Bettles. Farm Baliff
Ben Cole. Hare & Hounds and Shopkeeper
Thomas Coleman. Miller
Thomas Colson. Rectory Farm
John Feary. Shopkeeper
John Harris. Backsmith & Parish Clerk
Lawrence Hudson. Wheelwright
Lawrence Hudson (Jnr). Leopard Public House
Thomas Linnell. Farmer
Thomas Walter. Manor House Farm
John Ward. Farmer
*The R. P. Ganell is an unusual name with an Irish origin. This individual is not listed elsewhere and no other records have been found.
Lawrence Hudson, the wheelwright, who is mentioned in the 1847 and 1867 village directories died in 1867, aged 72. His property was put up for sale and the notice of auction appeared in the Northamptonshire Mercury newspaper of Jan 1868. The details given are interresting as they give a detailed decription of the size and quality of a master-craftsmans house. It also shows that he owned a number of other properties that he would have let to tenants, bringing in extra income. The auction was to take place at the Leopard Inn on Thursday 30th January 1868.
Lot 1 - All that desirable... Dwellinghouse...containing parlour, sitting-room, kitchen, back kitchen, scullery, outhouses, together with the workshops, barn, sawpit, large yard, well-stocked orchard....for many years in the occupation of the late Mr. Lawrence Hudson.
Lot 2 - All those two freehold cottages...stone built and thatched...now in the occupation of A. Chapman and Thos. Abbott.
Lot 3 - All that stone-built and thatched House...together with four stone-built and tiled cottages...Gardens in front...in the occupation of E. Hudson, John Abbott, D. Harris and H Lovell.
Lot 4 - All that freehold stone-built five-roomed cottage....Little Addington...with barn, workshop and outhouses...also a large garden...in the occupation of William Hudson.
At the time of his death, Lawrence was married to his second wife, Elizabeth (nee Coston, from Hampshire). The couple had married in 1858, Lawrence already had a number of grown up children from his first marriage, the eldest of which, Henry Hudson, was a wheelwright like his father and was 37 when his father married the 34 year old Elizabeth.
Lace & Shoe Making
Scandal, Divorce and Womens rights at the Rectory 1873
Extract from Anna (Hannah) James's petition for divorce from 1872 where she states that she had to leave the home through fear of severe bodily harm.
Anna & Josephs' wedding certificate from 1864
If we jump forward 40 years from the first census to the one carried out in 1881 we find a number of very significant changes has taken place in the village.
The village is perhaps at its peak in the Victorian period, the population has jumped from 266 in 1841 to 319 and the working male population from 70 to 121. We also get much more information about the residents, including where they were born. All the women now have occupations listed, and the relationship between different members of the same household is also now given - wife, daughter, son, visitor, lodger etc. In the village at this time were 96 children, 11 years or under, making 20% of the village population.
Another change that has occurred is the number of people who were not born the village, 119 (37%) do not come from either Great or Little Addington. Unlike in 1841 when everybody was born in Northamptonshire, by 1881 57 (17%) are also not from the county. This may be in part due to James Rennie Wilkinson and also Sidney Leveson Lane. James and his wife seems to have introduced people from the Huntingdon area to move here (see the section about James Rennie Wilkinson for more information). Sidney and his wife had originally been living in Yorkshire and again seem to have brought people down to work for them. There are others though from Lincolnshire, Cheshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, London, Lancashire, and Suffolk, living in the village through work or family.
Perhaps the most significant change was in the nature of employment for the villagers. In 1841 there was 1 person listed as a shoe maker, by 1861 this had risen to 14, but by 1881 this had dropped to just 3. Agricultural work had also declined with just 37% of the men working the land, as opposed to 67% in 1841. The reason for this change is that iron-ore was "discovered" in the parishes around Great Addington, and agriculture was in a sustained decline. The iron quarries and mines were the dominant employer of the men with 48 working in the sector.
Agriculture was still important but with just 45 men, including the farmers themselves, this reflecting in many ways the continued decline in agriculture that had started at the being of the 19th century. The agricultural economy had worse times to come, with wheat prices falling to their lowest for 150 years in the late 19th century. The price of wheat in Britain declined from 56s 0d a quarter in 1867–71 to 27s 3d in 1894–98. The low point came in 1894–95, when prices reached their lowest level for 150 years, 22s. 10d. In many parts of the country the collapse of the agricultural economy led to depopulation of the rural villages, Great Addington was lucky, the "new" iron-stone quarries were literally on the edge of the parish and the men could walk or cycle to the quarries. Industry became the biggest employer, even in the rural communities.
Of the 91 women in the village, many give their occupation as "wife", usually with a prefix to indicate their husbands occupation i.e. Iron Miners Wife, Boot Makers Wife, and even a Retired Farmer Wife.
However, 45 have distinct occupations. There are 19 Lace Makers, 20% of all the women in the village - compared to just 1 lace maker in 1841. Lace making had become as important an employer for women as the quarries were to the men. Of the remainder, 15 work in service, 7 are dressmakers or seamstresses, and 2 are teachers. Hannah Knight helps run the Hare & Hounds, public house with her husband. Sarah Beeby is listed as Fund Holder(?).
Eliza Tierney is the Housekeeper-in-charge at the Manor House and it is reasonable to assume that she had control of a considerable sum of money to ensure that the Manor House was staffed, supplied, and maintained to the standards expected of Sidney Leveson Lane and the Dowager Viscountess Mary Isabel Downe.
16 people who lived in the village were employed as servants in some form or another, from Eliza Tierney, aged 37, from St Margarets, London who was Housekeeper in Charge of the Manor Hall to 13 year old Ellen Tyler, of Great Addington, listed as Servant Nurse Maid. Only 2 men are listed as working in some form of serving capacity, John Hollis, 38, from Wollaston, who is Groom and Head Gardener, and Samuel Hackney,40, from Great Addington, widowed, Under Gardener.
There were 9 paupers listed in the village, with all but 3 being in their 70's or 80's. One family stands out though, Charles Wilson (54), Mary Wilson (55), and their daughter Mary Anne (28) are all listed as paupers. At a time of booming local industry and a still active agricultural sector in the are, it is unusual to find a whole family reliant upon the parish for charity and we can only assume that there were some additional factors that was affecting the family.
If somebody was a pauper they had to fill out extra paperwork as part of the census in particular a document entitled "Supplemental Schedule 7, for the Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes ".
By 1881 the Acts of Parliament from 1870 and 1880 made it practically compulsory for children to attend a school - though parents still had to pay. The census of 1881 lists two teachers, both of whom were female; Mary Jane Glover, 30, from Worcestershire and Fanny Gumbley, 20, from Birmingham. They were lodging in what is believed to be All Saints Cottage with Harry & Janet Wilson. As educated young women from a big city, Mary & Fanny must have seemed quite different to the parents of the village - especially when we consider that many of those parents could not read or write.
In 1880 the school age was set in law as being between 5 and 10. In Great Addington in 1881 there are 72 children listed as "scholars" with ages ranging from 2 to 13, though the oldest boy was John Chapman, age 11. Boys aged 12 and upwards are all listed as working. For girls, the age of 13 seemed to be the dividing line, of the 8 girls of that age in the village 3 are still at school but 5 have started working.
If we again step forward another 30 years to 1911 we see how much further the village has changed.
Queen Victoria had died in 1901 and the decade that followed was a period that is almost impossible to look back on without considering the war that was to come. It was a period of further technical and social change, though what is perhaps overlooked is the wide gap between the wealthy and the working class. The right to vote for women was driven by the suffragette movement that started to take direct political action after 1903, but was blocked by the Liberal's who were in power from 1906.
In Great Addington it is difficult not to see this period as the lead up to WW1. Much of the Victorian status quo in the village came to an end just before the war. For nearly 50 years this had been epitomised by the liberal politician and social reformer, James Rennie Wilkinson of Shooters Hill, at one end of the village, and the wealthy country squire of Sidney Leveson Lane at the other end of the village in the Manor House. Sidney died suddenly, though of natural causes, in 1910. James committed suicide in March 1913.
With the death of these two highly regarded individuals the village entered a period of change that was to last for nearly 40 year, as between them, the two men had owned most of the land and houses in the village and provided for much of the local employment.
The census of April 1911 added more questions for the householders to answer, including: for married women only, the number of years of their present marriage, the number of children born of that marriage, the number still living, and the number that had died. As well as their occupation, the census asked that each working persons should list what industry they were employed, and if by a government, municipal or other public body, the name of that body.
In 1911, there were 102 men employed in the village. As with the 1841 and 1881 census the numbers working on the land had remained broadly the same at 45. The number working in the quarries and mines had declined significantly from 48 in 1881 to just 19. Just 7 work in the boot and shoe industry. Something new has appeared, with Francis Joseph Ball (age 23), who lived with his parents and two elder brother, listed as Chauffeur.
37 of the 97 working age women are listed as having occupations, though there are no lace makers anymore. Most are employed in service or run the local shops or post office.
The population of the village had declined since the heights of 1881, with 274 people living in the village of which 136 were not born in either Great or Little Addington, and 59 came from outside the county. As with 1881, those from outside the county came from a variety of other areas including Bedfordshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, and Wales.
There are 72 children, 26% of the population, and 22 are 65 or over.
Three people work for Northamptonshire Council Education Committee and one works for Thrapston District Council. Other employers mentioned are: Islip Iron Ore Blast Furnance, Cranford Iron Ore Co., Wellingborough Iron Ore Co., and Irthlingborough Iron Ore Co.
William Boon was born in Irthlingborough in 1902, the son of Henry & Susan Boon (nee Mayes). The family had split up and his mother remarried by 1906 and in 1911 William was living with his father, who worked as an agricultural labourer. William's brother, Charlie, lived in a separate house in the village with his grandmother, Eliza Boon. William died at his home in Great Addington in 1989, aged 87. We have the transcript of an conversation Roseanne Duncan recorded with William in 1983, in which William reminisces about life in the village, and which brings to life many of the people from the Edwardian period.
"There were allotments in the field beyond the brook, to the left of the Woodford Road, and many villages had small holdings and kept pigs. Children used to net sparrows to make sparrow pie. Terrier dogs were used to catch the rates in the hayricks. As kid we used to fight over who would open the field gates when we saw the farmers riding up on their horses as they used to throw pennies to us. We kids in those days used to play in the fields or down in the Spinney, we got hold of an old tin and used to slide down the hill in Springfield.
When I was a lad a man named Allen lived in Brickle's house (Rush Glen Cottage) and he was a cobbler. In that row of cottages (now demolished), beside the church, each one had a living room, a kitchen, a bedroom and a box room, and they were all neatly kept. The woman in the end one used to scrub the pavements once or twice a week.
Ploughboys were lads who walked beside the ploughman's horses and turned them at the end of each furrow. My horse, Blossom, understood without the need for a ploughboy. The blacksmith was called Jim Hudson, the Smithy was in front of Jubilee Cottages which used to be the barn. There were two houses, the blacksmith lived in one and I lived in the other. I was woken in the mornings to the sound of the anvil ringing and the smell of the smithy, the old village sounds and smells. The blacksmith kept three cows, some pigs, and hens. I used to take the cows to graze at Generals Corner, there was no traffic to worry about in those days.
As lads (1920's?) we used to gather at the Hare & Hounds for a drink and a gossip. We used to direct what traffic there was out of Ringstead Road, as there were no white lines then.
The river used to flood a lot in those days, people used to have skating parties, they took food and drink with them and had great fun. Folk in these days were much more friendly than they are now, everyone used to stop in the street and pass the time of day, its all rush now."
Alfred Gray, born 1865, Oundle, widower - "schoolmaster, Mr. Gray lived in the Spinneys, he was a real tough strict old boy...Every field had a name and the schoolmaster took the children around them in good weather to learn their names". Alfred's daughter, Laura Gray, born 1881, was also a teacher at the school and lived with her father in the Spinneys.
Sidney Leveson Lane & Dowager Viscountess Mary Isabel Downe - "Sidney Lane and his wife Lady Downe lived in the Manor House, he was more of less the Squire of the village....Squire Lane had a butler who dressed in pin stripes and tails on high days and holidays, there was also a Pantry and Kitchen maid as well as a Scullery maid, in pecking order. The Squire had two pairs of horses and a carriage. Mr. Birchby used to drive the Squire's horses, he lived in the house next to the Hare & Hounds pub...The kitchen garden stretched up to the Ring (Rushwell Close) and I remember ploughing it up and turning it into a kitchen garden. Lady Downe had a soup kitchen where the poor folk were given a hot meal each day to prevent them from starving. Every Saturday everyone went along to the Manor for a dish full of dripping, it was the done thing. Squire Lane owned John Tyler's farm (Manor Farm), Top Lodge at the Poplars (Finedone Poplars) and also Patch Farm in 10 acre field...After Squire Lane died all his farms were sold, he also owned Beeches Farm in Little Addington. I remember sitting on a wall and watching the horses being sold. I helped to cart bricks from the railway station with two horses to build Beeches Farm house".
Herbert Howard, born 1883 in Holme, Huntingdonshire - "I was also horse keeper for Mr Howard of Home Farm. He was a very good organ player ad played every Sunday evening. He owned the mill race where corn was ground for the cattle...Where the new bungalows are in Main Street (Lower Street) there used to be a field called HillyField, and belonged to Mr. Howard of Home Farm, we kids used to roll down the mounds."
John Brudenell, born 1862 in Warmington, Northamptonshire - "Mr Brudenell tenanted Patch Farm (Patch Lodge) and he looked after that area. He had a wife (Mary Brudenell, born 1864 in Warmington) and three daughters (Ivy, Mary & Olive) who used to walk the path from the Poplars to Great Addington school." (There was a also a son, Harry Brudenell).
Sarah Childs, born in 1860 in Woodford, Northamptonshire - "Old Sarah" kept the shop opposite the Church, All Saints Cottage (also known as Rectory Cottage). She was dotty and used to walk up and down the street saying prayers out loud. There were 5 houses behind the shop. Mrs Ward lived in one followed by Mrs. Linnell"
Henry Wright, born 1888 in Raunds - "The baker, used to bake bread right up to 7.30 on a Saturday evening"
Sydney Peck, born 1875 in Eaton Socon (Cambridgeshire) - "Where Manor Close is now used to be an old orchard with a thatched cottage in it, where Mr. Peck, the stone mason, lived and brought up his family"
Ralph Abbott, born 1862 in Ringstead - "Ralph Abbott had a field where Manor Close is and in it kept a white pony, he used to live in one of the houses on the high bank (Lower Street). He took folk around in his wagonette to the various feasts and fairs in the nearby towns and villages. The ponies and traps were kept in the stables at the back of the pubs, whilst folks had their refreshments. On the wall outside the Hare & Hounds can still be seen an iron ring where the horses were tethered".
James Rennie Wilkinson, born 1844 in Leeds - "The Chapel used to stand between Manor Farm and the first bungalow, it was built by Mr Rennie Wilkinson about 1860 time. He built and lived in Shooter's Hill, he met a strange end by drowning himself in the river. I was ploughing down there just before 8 o'clock when I saw a man go down to the river, Mr Howard (Home Farm) and another man (Mr Peck) were working beside the railway when this man shouted "Oi" and jumped into the water (March 1913). Mr. Wilkinson had encouraged me to draw and given me a draught board".
1899 OS map with some of the local iron-ore working areas highlighted
Ironstone has been worked in Northamptonshire from the Iron Age through to the 16th century, but had largely been forgotten until interest was sparked by The Great Exhibition held in Hyde Park, London in 1851 where samples of iron ore from the Woodford estate of Colonel (later General) Charles Arbuthnot, of Woodford House at the end of Cranford Road, were exhibited, which gave rise to the "discovery" of Northamptonshire ironstone. The Arbuthnot's quarry appears to have been short-lived. There was a further experiment in commercial quarrying from about 1860 and again in 1866. The early attempts suffered from a lack of transport facilities and the ore must have been taken away by horse and cart, but in 1866 the Kettering to Thrapston railway opened and a connecting tramway was constructed from close to Woodford House to the railway at Twywell. The quarrying (and some underground mining) lasted from 1866 to 1886, starting near Woodford House and extending north of the road later on. There were also quarries south west of Twywell Station on the north side of the road between 1881 and 1883. There was also a brickworks near there. The main tramway (standard gauge) had steam locomotives from the start but some of the quarries were connected to it by narrow gauge lines and these were worked by hand or by horse until 1883. There were some visible remains of the quarries and buildings at least until 1986.
During the late Victorian period, quarries to extract the iron ore sprang up all over the county adjacent to railways which were used to transport it to smelting furnaces. The area between Kettering and Thrapston was one of the earliest of the major iron ore sites, with quarries as shown on the map. Small railway lines or tramways went from the quarries to the collection points on the railway - either at Cranford, Twywell or Willywatts Mill.
The quarrying adjacent to the Ringstead Road midway between Great Addington and Willywatts Mill, led to the discovery of the 5th century Saxon urn now held by the Birtish Museum. See the Anglo-Saxons & Vikings section for more information.
The map shown is based on the 1899 OS map, by which time many of the quarries shown are already marked as "old quarry". New quarries were being opened throughout this time, including between Ringstead and Raunds, around Burton Latimer, and between Finedon and Wellingborough. Some of the quarries were "open cast" - basically giant trenches, whilst others were more traditional underground "adit" mines.
Iron Ore Mine, near Islip, Northamptonshire
Image source unknown. Photographed in 2010 - about 60 years after the mine closed
Iron Ore Quarry, Finedon, Northamptonshire, circa 1905
Haulage train at Islip Furnaces. Date unknown. Source: B. Duncan collection
Islip Iron quarries and mines, 1930
Islip Mines - 1930 report
In 1930 a field study was undertaken of the working underground mines near Islip by S.R. Beaver during 26th and 27th March, 1930. Though some years after the Victorian & Edwardian period, the notes taken do give an insight into the working of these local mines, which in many ways had not changed greatly in the intervening years.
The Islip Iron Co. workings were based on land lying within the circle of five villages: Islip, Twywell, Slipton, Sudborough and Lowick; except the large area of Drayton Park in the centre of this area. There was both surface quarrying (open-cast) as well as adit mining. These widely scattered mines and quarries necessitate miles of tramways, which converge on the the furnaces which were located to the side of the modern A14, between Junction11 (Cranford) and Junction 12 (Thrapston & Islip). There was a minimum of 5 locomotives in regular use, with a tramway system worked to a timetable, transporting wagons of ore and limestone from the quarries at regular times each day.
At the time of the study in 1930 there were underground 4 mines, though only 3 in active production. The most striking feature of the mines near Slipton was the smallness of the tunnels, which were about 3 meters wide and 3 meters high. Horse transport was used underground to haul the wagons of ore to the entrance, where the ore was tipped into hoppers which were then hauled by locomotives to the furnaces. Men worked in pairs - miner and labourer - each pair could fill 5 wagons of 1.7 tonnes each per day which was low when compared with most of the opencast workings. The men would dill holes, pack them with explosives and blast the rock out. The men paid the mine owners for their own explosives. The ventilation in the mine was entirely natural with no fans used to clear dust and provide fresh air. Only occasionally were props necessary to support the roof - indeed, there was no room for them! - the narrow tunnels for the most part tended to prevent roof falls, but in many places old rails and timber are used to make a roof and occasionally brick pillars were used at junction points.
The rates of pay in the mines varied considerably, being based on the difficulty of mining, so that, for example, two mines close to each other would have different rates; even in the same mine rates would vary dependent upon the area being worked. It was all based on piece-work. A miner earned on average, about 9s per day, though some could earn up to 12s per day. A labourer would earn 7s per day. The daily hours worked were 8 hours underground, from about 7:00am until 3.00pm., but with piece-work these were not necessarily strictly adhered to. The numbers of men employed at the time of the study of the 3 mines were : Willowclose 30, Church South 18, Church North 9, a total of 57.