A Visit to Ullenhall in 1911

If we went back to 1911, the time of our great grandparents, grandparents and parents, we would look around Ullenhall and see some familiar sights, there would be fewer houses and there would be some houses that are long gone. It would be interesting to be able to travel back 100 years to take a look around and meet the people.

Entering the village from Henley-in-Arden, walking along the pretty tree-fringed roads, you reach the Lodge to Barrells Hall. Perhaps, if you are of the right social standing, you pay a visit to Mr H.G. Newton at Barrells Hall. He has inherited the property on the death of his father four years earlier. Aged 38 he is living here with his wife and three young children. You walk up the long tree-lined drive; a grand house is before you with an octagonal tower reaching to the sky. The door is answered by the Butler, George Beecroft, and you follow him in. As well as a butler, the Newtons have a cook, parlourmaid, two nurses, three housemaids, a kitchenmaid and a scullerymaid – all of whom live at the Hall. Of course more people work on the estate, and many of the farms & houses in the parish are owned by Mr Newton. Many people are reliant on this family for their welfare and there is deference towards them; indeed, when Mrs Newton recently paid a visit to a jumble sale that was being held it was reported that it gave great pleasure to her more humble neighbours.

After visiting Mr Newton you retrace your steps to the Lodge, a small, almost quirky house, nestled by the side of the road creating an entrance to the village as well as to Barrells Hall. It is an interesting contrast to the road signs & traffic calming of today.

Continuing on your journey to the village, it is open fields until, on your right, you see a large old barn next to a more modern brick farm house. Chickens are scratching about the farmyard and you recognise these buildings as Park Barn & Park Farm.

There are no other houses along here, no Village Hall, just fields until Crowleys Cottages & Brook Cottage.

On the other side of the road is the Coffee House. As you approach you see an elderly man working in the garden. He greets you and you learn that he is Mr William Tyler. At the age of 81, he has been the manager of the Coffee House for 23 years and is now assisted by his niece, Elizabeth Bowen. The garden is worthy of admiration, Mr Tyler was a gardener by profession before retiring to the Coffee House.

From the Coffee House you look up the hill and see St Mary’s Church standing alone with Chapel Barn beyond it. Opposite the Coffee House lives John Allcott, baker & confectioner. His wife, Elizabeth, helps him with the business. Living with them are two young men who are employed as baker’s assistants, as well as John’s 68 year old mother and his three young children. Mr Allcott is a fiercely independent man & proud that his house is not owned by the Barrells Estate.

There are indeed many businesses in the village, you pause a moment to watch the blacksmith, Walter Clayton, at his work, sparks flying from the anvil fire, a singeing smell as the new horse shoe is nailed onto the horse’s hoof. His son, Fred, the village shoemaker, walks past and calls to his father.

Standing in the village centre you look around at a familiar site, you recognise the cottages of Church View cottage, Old Turf & Orchard, Walmer & St. Anthony’s; Westfield & Brook House are the larger houses. There is of course no Central Stores at this time, this area is the garden to Church View Cottage. There is no War Memorial, the horrors of the First World War are still to come. Thomas Richmond, being a disengaged gentleman’s servant, is at home at Perry Mill Cottage and Kenneth Pelton is a 13 year old school boy – both will be killed in the war.

The Post Office and Stores is a thriving business run by Mr William Washington Richards, assisted by his 14 year old daughter, Evelyn. She is to work in the Post Office until she retires in 1978. Mr Richards’ name is proudly above the shop and many products are displayed in the bay window. You step inside and buy a penny worth of pear drops which are wrapped in a conical paper bag.

You notice that Hope Cottage is two cottages and that there is a cottage on what is now the pub car park, set back with wrought iron railings around the front garden. The Winged Spur Inn is a brick building, the brickwork has not yet been painted. It is run by Walter Walker, assisted by his son & daughter. You might pay a visit here on your way back to sample a pint of Flowers India Pale Ale or a Bitter Stout.

Opposite the pub is a cottage – just one cottage where now there are six houses. You recognise St Mark’s Cottages next to the pub. St Mark’s Close will not be built for nearly another 40 years.

You would probably meet people as you walked along. Perhaps you are there at the beginning of the school day and can hear the bell calling the children to the care of their teachers, Miss Crookes and Miss Albrighton. Tall & thin Miss Crookes, now in her fourteenth year at the school and buxom, homely Miss Albrighton, both live at the School House.

Passing by the school you reach the drive to the Vicarage. You have been invited to visit Reverend Pelton so you make your way up the gently sloping, winding drive. The drive is shorter than the drive to Barrells Hall but before you is an impressive house, not on the same scale as Barrells Hall, but larger than the cottages you have passed. It is built of red brick with blue & cream brick patterning, the date of 1875 is above the door. The Vicarage is situated amongst immaculate lawns with a view over to the Church. You notice Reverend Pelton walking in the garden. As you talk with the vicar you sense that he and Mr Newton have a difficult relationship.

Returning down the drive the smell of freshly baked bread fills the air, opposite is the home & business of baker, Mr Chattaway, now The Old Stores.

As you make your way up the hill you pass four cottages, two of which you recognise as Yew Tree Cottage & White Gate Cottage, and two that are no longer there. These are the homes of Louisa Holberts, District Nurse; Joseph & Alice Drinkwater (Joseph is a Rough Carpenter on Squire Newton’s estate); Benjamin Charville, cowman on a farm, and his family; and Mr & Mrs Edward Pugh and their five children. Mr Pugh works at Heath Farm, where his father farms. Living at Rose Cottage is Alfred Winkfield. At the age of 73 he is Inspector of Main Roads for the County Council, his son, William, who lives with him, is his assistant. As you pass by Rose Cottage a young lady, Octavia Clayton, opens one of the windows. She is employed by Mr Winkfield as a living-in domestic servant.

There are no cottages on the other side of the road just Crowleys Farm, farmed by Mr Charles Friend, but owned by the Newtons.

You decide to make your way along the lanes and over the fields to Blunts Green. Bluebells, wood anemones, celandines, violets & primroses cover the verges and embankments.

Passing by the Old Chapel you meet Ben Franklin, Parish Clerk, who explains that he lives in one of the four cottages next to the Chapel with his sister, Emma, and Arthur Ashfield, their boarder. The cottage is a three-roomed cottage. As you carry on towards Blunts Green you see men working in the fields, many of the men from the parish are employed as agricultural labourers.

On your arrival at Blunts Green you encounter Mark Reader, farmer of Blunts Green Farm. Mr Reader has 11 children, 9 of whom are still living at home. As you stand talking a steam train passes by on the embankment in front of you. Mr Reader explains to you that this is a new line, he watched as the line was built and saw the first trains go by just three years earlier.

It is time to leave. As you make your way across the fields a woman wearing a trilby type hat comes into view accompanied by a group of children. It is Miss Crookes out for a nature walk with her pupils, collecting as many different types of wildflowers as they can. You stop to talk with her for a while and then you wish her a good day and continue on your way.

Sources: 1911 Census, Recollections, Ordnance Survey Map 1905 edition, Stratford-on-Avon Heralds 1911.