Ogbourne St Andrew Parish History Group

        Ogbourne St Andrew, Maisey & Rockley
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Maizey memories

Villages > Maizey

We are very keen to hear of your recollections and memories (especially photographs) of the parish.  Please use the " contact us" page.

Although included these days in St Andrew,  the houses along the main road upto and including Marphet were always considered to be Maizey, largely because it was owned by the Estate.  Tresco was the start of St Andrew, Riverside not being built until the late 1930’s.  Marphet was so-named because of the family who lived there, at least one of whom was baptised in the Church.

Even in the 1930’s, life in the village was quite hard – no running water or electricity (these were provided in the mid 1950’s).  The farm labourers and stable workers had physically demanding jobs, but they all had gardens and allotments to provide food for the family.  There were allotments on the East side of the Main Road close to the railway siding.

It was also hard work for the women.  Often pregnant and with unremitting house work.  Coppers for washing were very important and often given a nick-name.  Sunday afternoon was spent collecting enough wood to heat the copper for Monday’s washing.  And then there was the problem of drawing water from the well.  Although there were several, some were not very deep and dried out in the hot summers so water had to carried some distance from the Stables, which had a more robust supply.  All day Monday was washing, then the ironing needed doing, with flat irons.

Families were often large, the Sawyers (who lived in what is now “1 Downsway”) were one example, and “Granny Stevens” who lived on the Main Road in what is now “Keepers Cottage” is reputed to have had 22 children.  Sleeping 4 to a bed “top and tailed” was common, as was lodging youngsters with family or next door neighbours – anywhere there was room.  Schoolchildren often had a day off school for farm work or potato picking.  Girls left school at 12 or 13 years old, often going into service and frequently moving to London.

The Chute (“Box Drive”)
Where Box Drive now stands there were semi detached thatched cottages.  A path (“The Chute”, or “Shoot”) ran down the side of what is now nr. 4 Main Road and then over a wooden bridge over the Og (which at this time looped fairly close to the back of the Main Road cottages) and so to the cottages.  These were very prone to flooding, and in the Spring, as soon as there was a puddle on the floor, the whole family and furniture moved upstairs.  One year the river rose so high that it reached the lower rear steps of No. 1 Main Road, and the cottages in the valley behind had water coming in through the back windows and out of the front.  The course of the river was altered in September 1975 when the cottages were pulled down and the loop of the river was straightened, alleviating the flooding.  The cottagers were moved to the Council houses at Wetpit were built.

It took until 1979 for Box Drive to be built, and to keep the planning application “live” in the meantime, the Estate brought a digger in to do a little work each year.  The work was photographed with a current newspaper in view, as a record. (Ernst Villiger, Mr Cooper’s driver).  In addition, Olive Watson (no. 1 Main Road) was asked to sign a confirmation that work had been done.

Main Road:
One cottage along the Main Road (now pulled down) on the east side was a long low cottage with a cat slide roof.  This was pulled down at the same time as those behind the Main Road cottages (Sept 1975).

Nan Simmons was born in one of the two semi-detached cottages (the one at the Marlborough end) which stood between Marphet and “Keepers Cottage”.  This is now part of the latter cottage’s parking area.  Betty Titcombe lived in one of these houses and it is said that her father, who was a painter, died of lead poisoning.

The Village Hut was paid for by Mr & Mrs Sherbrooke, who owned the land on which it stood.  It was erected at about the end of World War One and eventually pulled down in the early 1960’s.

1 to 4 Main Road:
It is claimed that four people died in these cottages in 1918/19 from the Spanish ‘flu outbreak.
In the 1950’s, the occupants were:
#1:  Olive and Sandy Watson    (Olive and Sandy were allowed to move into #1 on the proviso that they took in a stable lad.  Mr & Mrs Birch occupied the Manor at that time.  At one stage #1 had a bedroom with bars on the windows, to stop one of Nan Simmon’s cousins sleepwalking.  In the early 1980’s, the end wall of #1 started to pull away, due to the lack of foundations.  It was subsequently underpinned and rebuilt only when the dire state of the living accommodation was pointed out by Olive Watson’s doctor.)
#2:  Macintyres
#3:  Walkers  (One of the Walkers contracted TB and subsequently died.)
#4:  Richardsons

The "Poor" or "Childrens'" Cottages

The Parish at one stage owned three cottages ( The “Poor” or “Children’s” Cottages) which were eventually sold in 1851 / 52.  They were used to house the poor, waifs and strays and illegitimate children of the Parish.  The “Poor” cottages were detailed in the 1842 Tithe Apportionment as tithe  164 , i.e. what are now known as  Southside, Kelmscott and Keeper’s Cottage.  The deeds of Bramley (Main Road, Maizey) which is next to the Poor Cottages refer to an owner – Anne Lanfear who appears to have been the daughter of Thomas & Isabella (Isabella died Dec 28th 1802, and Thomas on Dec 30th 1819, aged 80.)  Anne was baptised on Nov 13th 1796.  She is confirmed as owner on the Tithe Map of 1842.  The Village Overseer’s Book (Poor Law Payments) detail payments to Anne Lanfear which were considerably greater than any other payments to widows or other people in the Parish.  It thus gives rise to speculation that Anne was acting as “matron” to the poor and /or children.  The proceeds of the sale of the three cottages is still producing income 160 years later!


The earliest known facts relate to Edward Harper (known locally as Teddy). Born on the 28th September 1856, little is known of his early life except that after leaving school he worked on local farms.  On the 6th November 1880 he married Fanny Lawes (daughter of Stephen of Fyfield) in Ogbourne St. Andrew Church). They then lived for all their married life in a small cottage, number 1 West View (long demolished) alongside the route of the planned railway at Ogbourne St. Andrew  (see photo of Main Road, above - the cottage is on the left).

At the age of 23, Edward took up employment, and continued throughout his working life, with the Swindon, Marlborough and Andover Railway (to become in June 1884, the Midland and South Western Junction Railway Company). He was first involved in the construction of the 11¼ miles of single track from Marlborough to Swindon.  On the 27th July 1881, Edward and Fanny saw the first train run between Marlborough and Swindon.  On completion of that section of track, Edward was appointed as "ganger", responsible for the inspection and routine maintenance for the track between Marlborough and Ogbourne St. George.

In the early 1900's new sections of rail were being laid to accommodate the heavier railway engines coming into service. While Edward was inspecting a new section of rail as a train passed over, a small piece of metal from an engine wheel flew up and entered his eye. The limited local medical facilities at that time were unable to remove the metal, and he suffered considerable pain and discomfort for several years, until arrangements were made for his daughter Anne to take him to a specialist eye hospital in London. Despite treatment, the eye could not be saved, and following its removal, was replaced with a glass eye. Although he continued to work on the railway, his health declined generally, probably as a result of his eye problem, and he had to give up work in 1922.  He continued to live with Fanny in their rail side cottage, tending his garden, and doing odd jobs around the village until his death in August 1924, aged 68.

Fanny had born him three children, Anne born in 1881, Thomas born in 1889 and Rhoda born in 1893. At the time of Edward's death, only Thomas remained at home, the two daughters having married.  Life must have been hard in those days, especially for a widow, but right through her married life, she was the one in the village that others called on to assist at births, deaths and other family needs of life so common in villages in those days.  After Edward's death, and with money tight, she raised and, sold pigs on a small plot beside the garden. In failing health she left her Ogbourne home in 1928, to live with her daughter Anne and her husband in their home in Dorking, Surrey. After a short spell in hospital she passed peacefully away in June 1931, aged 72.

Both Edward, and Fanny rest together in the churchyard of St. Andrew's in the village where they lived a happy married life for many years.

Frank Harper (courtesy of his widow 8 th November 2007).

The Clements family

My Grandparents had an association with Ogbourne Maisey Manor House for a number of years in the early part of the 20th Century.   My Nan, Mary Elizabeth HEAD was born in 1901 in Clench Common.  My Grandad William Arthur BOWER was born in Hanover Square, London in 1894.  Nan Head lived with her parents in Minal during her early years going into service in a large house on the outskirts of Minal after attending Minal School.

Nan Head went on to become a kitchen maid at Ogbourne Maisey Manor House and Grandad Bower, having fought in the Royal Artillery during the 1914/1918 war and then signed up to stay on until 1920 to serve in Iraq, was a Butler/Chauffeur for the Family living at the Manor House which was where they met and later married around 1923.

They lived nearby to the Manor in a house just down from the Ogbourne St Andrew War Memorial and it was in that house in 1925 that my Mum, Gwendoline Anne was born. William and Mary had 6 Children(3 Boys and 3 Girls) and throughout her life Nan would have certain days when she did all the washing (with her copper in the shed) and cleaned all the cutlery and brass possibly a legacy from her years in service.

Nan seldom mentioned her time in service other than once she said to me she had to get up around 6am to light all the fires in the Manor house. Sadly I didn't sit down with her and ask her to recall her days at the Manor. It reached a point at which the Family living at the Manor house were moving away (I believe to Surrey) and wanted Nan and Grandad to go with them. They didn't want to uproot the family so stayed and went to live in Marlborough High Street alongside St Peter's Church.  Granddad worked at Bells garage in Marlborough at first before getting a job in the AA.

There was talk that Grandad knew George Edwardes but from reading the history section on this website that was possibly not the case as I note George was ill for his later years and in 1912 when he moved away Grandad would only have been 16/17. Perhaps it was George's brother Grandad knew?

Another story relayed to me by my aunt, one of William and Mary's daughters was that Mary Pickford visited The Stables at Ogbourne Maisey and asked my Nan to name her daughter Mary after her. My Aunt is called Mary and was born in 1927 and I could see there being some substance in that, as rich and famous people may well have visited to mix in the racing circles. However on contacting the Mary Pickford society they said they were unaware of Mary Pickford being in England in 1927 which cast some doubt on it however it was fascinating researching and I am sure there is some substance in it even if my Aunt was named after Mary Pickford as she liked Mary Pickford. I will never know.

An Aunt of mine used to walk from Minal to work at Ogbourne St Andrew Post Office many years ago so they were built tough in those days.

My uncle John remembered Granddad giving Sir Gordon Richards 2d on one occasion to get some woodbines.

If anyone is able to shed any further light on My Grandparents time at the Manor House I would love to hear from them All Good Wishes and well done in keeping local history alive.....

Mark Clements

January 2021
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