Spencers Wood – Farms, Pubs and Stores – An Analysis of the 1881 Census
The 1881 census does not really differentiate between the villages – be it Grazeley, Three Mile Cross, Shinfield Village or Spencers Wood. Our group have spent some time as this data becomes freely available this information, and we have highlighted what we know to have been Spencers Wood.
According to the census, there were 184 individuals living in the area. The majority of those individuals held positions in service to two of the largest houses in Spencers Wood – Stanbury House and Highlands. Both had a butler, 2 housemaids and a kitchen maid. Highlands had their own cook, whereas Stanbury had its own footman! Over 20% of the population of Spencers Wood was “in-service” in one way or another.
In total our village had 56 children and 30 wives. This was the fourth highest number in the census. 19% of the children were classified as “scholars” and an additional 11% were under school age (below five years old). Since there was no compulsory state education until the 1880 Education Act, when school boards were first formed, only four of the wives were in employment and the rest remained at home to look after their children.
The 29 farmers and individuals associated with agriculture (e.g. cowmen) are nearing 16% of the total population. The total farmland (excluding market gardens) was 654 acres or 366 football pitches, with Charles Portsmouth holding 290 acres, with 10 men and 4 boys. Much of that farmland has slowly been built on as Spencers Wood population has grown, and the demand for housing and schools has increased.
The census lists the Cricketers Inn, (now the Hop Inn), the Star Inn and The Red Lion (opposite the Post Office).Often the pubs were combined with other activities – e.g. Farriers Arms was a blacksmiths originally; Yew Tree Inn was a farm of 20 acres. Over the years, many of these pubs have changed considerably, either being converted to houses or not generating enough business to stay open. Both the Star Inn and the Red Lion have been converted to residential properties. Some, like Yew Tree Inn, owned by a farmer George Arnott of 20 acres, was nicknamed “The Stump” and is now a nursery.
Slowly the village was growing and the small businesses were growing up. There were six in total- One dressmaker, a laundress, a Wheelwright, a Woodman, a Wood Dealer and a General Shopkeeper. Beesley’s Stores stood next door but two to The Farriers Arms in the house now named Tintern and was set up in 1881 by Henry Beesley who came from Littlewick Green, Maidenhead. Beesley’s could well have been the first store in Spencers Wood (pictures and memories of Beesley’s Stores kindly donated by Lorna Merry). Do you know any different?
We are collating information regarding farms, pubs, small trades on our web site – www.swlhg.co.uk. Please email us if you have more information.