Addendum to The Parish of Westoning, Bedfordshire Chronicle 2002
Following the publication of the above book in November 2002 the following items are intended as an update to that publication whether they are direct corrections or additional information. The number of Books sold or allocated as at 12 December 2002, which was 6 weeks after the initial launch on 1 November, is as follows:-
Hard Backed Cover - 100 Soft Backed Cover - 300
This means that the original estimate of potential book sales made in January 2002 at 400 has been met. Anyone now requiring a copy of the book should contact:-
The Chairman of Westoning Parish Council, Richard Roberts at the Bell Pub on 01525-712511
The Editor, Henry Jennings on 01525-717517
Jackson, Tim 94 to read 57
Kitchener, Stuart 26,133,165 to read Kitchiner
Rigg, Barry 136 delete...incorrect entry
Colour Photos: -
The editor has been informed that photographs of The Bell and Nags Head local pubs were more likely to have been taken around 1987 and not 2002! But would you really notice on a dark knight?
Explanation of the definition of a £Hide£ and £Hundred.£
One explanation to try and clarify these terms is given in the book £The Pilgrimage of Grace by Geoffrey Moorhouse. He states that a hundred is an area possibly containing a hundred families or a hundred taxable hides of land; a hide being an area that could be ploughed in one year by a team of eight oxen. These definitions might well change depending on the ground conditions and the customs and practices in a particular area of England.
Westone, Weston or Westoning?
The ways in which the name of the parish has altered over the years is stated in the book. An item of interest was clarified in the November 2002, ITV Programme £An Adventure of English£ presented by Melvyn Bragg. He stated that village and town names ending in £ing£, meaning £people of£, could well be of Germanic origin brought over to England by the Saxon/German tribes of the 6th Century.
Further information has been obtained as to the possible family background of John Tregoz.
Enquiries in Wiltshire show there to be a village of Lydiard Tregoze (shades of Weston Tregoz?). Information from a resident, Francis Rummimg, in December 2002 state that the name Tregoze originates from Normandy. She informed the author that people make the mistake of thinking that the name is Cornish, which is understandable as Cornwall and Normandy have strong links anyway. Their local historian has reason to believe that Normans from Troisgots, near the town of Tesst-Sur-Vise between Caen and St. Lo, came across , to what is now Lydiard Tregoze, at the time of the Norman Conquest
Page 56 and 63
Electoral Role and Wards
From 1st May 2003 the Westoning Ward will be extended to include Tingrith and will be known as the Tingrith and Westoning Ward.
The new total electorate will then be approximately 1900.
Tingrith and Westoning will continue to be separate villages and parishes.
Population of the parish/village
It will be seen from the parish population list that there was a gradual increase in the population of the parish up to the 1850£s when it reached 780. There was then a decline to around 500 at the time of World War I when it once again started to increase but did not reached the 780 figure once again until the 1950£s. i.e. over 100 years.
While there is a gap in the figures between 1671 at 302 residents and 1801 at 410 residents a couple of points will be made in order to try to explain the reasons for the ebb and flow of the parish population through the years.
The supply and demand for agricultural workers through the ages in England has been well documented and some explanation, however brief, can then be given for what might have well been going on around Westoning.
The effects of the plague that affected the whole of Europe and known as the Black Death (1340/70) has been estimated at producing mortality rate of between 20 to 50% in various countries. Although the greatest deaths occurred in the towns and cities , mainly due to poor water supply and sanitation practices of the time, such deaths could only result in the supply of agricultural workers being reduced and with it an increase in their bargaining power when negotiating their individual contracts with the landowners of the time.
Around the Westoning area the plague was not unknown as plague victims, believed to be from the 1300£s, are buried in All Saints churchyard at Segenhoe near Ridgmont. In fact, it has been suggested, that this is the reason why the local inhabitants then decided to leave their hamlet and move away to what is now Ridgmont
Records indicate that whole communities, besides those in the larger towns, were completely lost to this plague.
Such epidemics were not uncommon as another similar outbreak took place with the Great Plague of London (1665-6) when an estimated 70.000 people lost there lives. Those who could chose to flee the capital for the countryside.
One of the most well known evacuees was Sir Isaac Newton who had to return to his home in Woolsthorp, Lincs in 1666-67 when his university, Cambridge, was closed because of the plague.
It is, of course, very difficult to speculate just how, with people leaving the larger towns, this affected a very quiet, isolated, community such as Westoning. It is recorded that there was 302 residents in 1671 within Westoning which must have made it quite a large village for its time, certainly not a hamlet, and it would appear to have continued to rise slowly to 410 by 1801.
Just how the Enclosure Acts of 1801, 1836 and 1845 effected the demand for agricultural workers is also not easy to directly assess but one suspects this may well have reduced the ability of the local agricultural workers to get continued access to the use of strip farming, as previously practiced, and with it the ability of the individual to produce their own produce and rear their animals. One suspect that whatever the customs of the time, the land would still be in the hands of the few and the workers would have to pay rent or meet certain obligations in order to farm land.
Once the Corn Laws were repealed in 1846 and cheaper foreign corn became available then it is immediately apparent from the figures in the book to see why the population in Westoning started to decline as the land owners started to dramatically reduce the acreage under the plough and with it the need for the previous workforce employed. It can be said that there is a direct correlation between the drop in the price of corn and the work force now required.
What is particularly interesting when one compares the past with today is that fields up to the enclosure acts of 1800£s were open and strip farming by individuals was employed. One of the reasons why such a popular practice came about could have arisen when areas of land were divided due to inheritance requirements.
With fields becoming hedged and enclosed between 1800 and 2000 then England started to have its typical hedged field system which now attracts such great interest in our foreign visitors.
However since the 1980£s there has been a dramatic changed in our English landscape with hedges being removed and much larger fields being created in the name of efficiency and effectiveness in agricultural husbandry.
The result, certainly in East Anglia , is to be clearly seen with a return to a much more open country side to the point where it could be said to be going back, ironically once more to what it looked like before the Enclosure Acts of the 1800£s.
The Mystery Pianist has been identified by Joyce Moxon, nee Higgs formerly of Westoning now living in Slough. She informed Kerry Goodman recently that it is a Mr. Wadsworth who was headmaster of, what is now, Westoning Lower School in 1916 where she was a pupil. The photo was taken in what is now the present school site main building.
Harlington / Sharpenhoe Tool Factory
The area, where the houses have now been built on the former tool factory site, was requested by the developers to be called Aldbery Green. After representations made by the Westoning Parish Council the area will be now known as Lovett Green after their former Parish Councillor, John Lovett. The intention is that when all the houses are occupied the residents will be asked to decide whether they wish to remain in the parish of Westoning or transfer to Harlington.
Neglect of cottages and poor quality housing
Much of the accommodation of the agriculture worker families would be in cottages, one suspects, in this area of Bedfordshire in the 1700/1800£s, of the wattle and daub construction. This technique goes back to the medieval times. Buildings of brick or sandstone construction were only able to be afforded by the well off. The wattle and daub construction consisted of main supporting upright stakes bound together with withes (strong flexible shoots or twigs, usually of willow) and covered in any convenient filler material e.g. mud, lime, straw etc mixed with water. The cottage would be single story with a thatched roof; again making use of local materials.
Such a home could be built and maintained at minimum cost but would be of dubious long lasting quality.
Judith and Kerry Goodman remembers in the late 1930£s one of their relations living in a cottage where a tree had taken root and had become part of one of the downstairs walls. Many residents will I£m sure still remember many homes where there was an earth or stone floor with no damp course set into the walls.
Page to be headed Appendix 2