Aspley Guise in 1835
The following local firms advertised each month: A. Boyes, bootmaker & clothier, Woburn Sands; McKay Bros, Drapers and clothiers, Woburn; A. Roberts, fishmonger and poulterer, Aspley Guise; M. Fleet, builder, Aspley Guise; George Whitman, house and estate agent, Aspely Guise; Charles Sinfield, builder, Aspley Guise; Thgomas Wodhams, miller and corn agent, Woburn Sands; F. H. Day, grocer, Aspley Guise; J. F. Smith, plumber, Aspley Guise; J. McMurtrie, furnishings, Woburn Sands, Gregory, stationer, Woburn Sands; and Charles Minter, coin collector, Aspley Guise. There was also an advert for the newly opened Aspley Guise Parish Hall.
"Aspley Guise, about the years 1835-45, was nearly surrounded by pine woods. The Common and Blackberry Field (Allotments), and the whole of the land between Weathercock Lane and the Millway was covered with pines, and belonged to the Rev. S. Wright. Between Wood Lane and Duke Street was a larch plantation, until about 1840, when the trees were sold by the Rev. J. Vaux Moore to the London and Birmingham Railway, for sleepers. From Duke Street to the Cross Roads were pine woods and from there, and where Woodcote and The Dene now stand, was a plantation of large beech. These were sold to a firm of chair makers at High Wickham, by the Rev. J. Vaux Moore. All the land behind Spinney Cottage, back to Gypsy (or Cut Throat) Lane, from the Woburn Road to Mount Pleasant, was pine woods. The Wheatsheaf Inn and Mr Handscombe’s were the only house on Mount Pleasant.
In the centre of the village, near where Mr. Hervey Smith’s lamp now stands, was a pump, which supplied all the houses thereabouts. The house next to the Mission Room was a farm house occupied by Mr. J. West, with outbuildings, and a large threshing barn; and at the end of the barn were the village stocks. The last man to occupy them was one Ned Crute, for being drunk. Here, too, was a “box” for the night watchman, part of whose duty was to patrol the village, and call “Past four o'clock, and a cloudy morning.” Frank Smith, and then Joseph Jenkins, were the last two watchmen.
The Parish Clerk was W. Hutton. The pews were square. Three large ones had curtains to close them in. The Aspley House ones (Madam Smith's) were blue; Captain Moore's were yellow; and The Manor (Mr. Moody's) were red. In 1855 the tower was found unsafe, and it was underpinned and buttressed. During the excavations, a sheet of copper, about a foot square, with a figure of St. Peter apon it, was dug up. This now forms the ward of the key of the vane on the tower. About 1847 a new roof was placed on the nave; and the south aisle was built by subscriptions, raised by the then Rector, the Rev. John Vaux Moore.
The post town was Woburn; and the charge on a letter from London was seven pence to the receiver. If there were not more than two letters for Aspley, they were kept back till next day. The letters came by mail coaches, some sixty of which passed through Woburn daily - thirty each way. It took six hours to go from Woburn to the Peacock Inn, Islington.
The Inns where the coaches changed horses, and their large stables, are still there, though long deserted. The postmaster at Woburn was Stephen Dodd. He always wore leather breeches, and he always took the night mail bag up to his bedroom, so that he could throw it from the window into the coach. One night, by mistake, he threw his breeches instead.
At Aspleiy House lived Madame Smith, as she was always called, widow of the Rev. E. Orlebar Smith, and daughter of the Rev. E. Hervey. She died in 1844, and was succeeded by her eldest son, Colonel C. Hervey Smith, grandfather of Colonel Downes.
In the White House (Mrs. Unwin's) lived Mrs. Wright and her son, the Rev. S. Wright, sometime Rector of Swanbourne. Later, this house was bought by the Rev. Boteler Chernocke-Smith, second son of Madame Smith. This house formerly belonged to the How family.
The Red House was then used only as a library by Mr. R. How, who himself lived in the White Cottage. It had been a warehouse for linen purchased by the Hows in Ireland, and bleached in the "Canals" below, which were dug for the purpose of their business as linen merchants.
Dr. T. Parker lived where Mr. H. Veasey is now. The Manor Farm, belonging to the Moody family, was tenanted by J. Parker, and afterwards by Mr. W. Warr, who died in 1855. Hayfield Farm, belonging to the Hows, was held by J. Mole, and then by J. Redmond. At the Old Mill and Mill Farm was Lane.
The Common was sold by the Rev. J. Vaux Moore to Mr. W. Warr; and at his death, in 1855, was bought by the Rev. G. Mahon and Dr. Jas. Williams, author of a book on Aspley Guise. A fine avenue of fifty-two oaks stood on the Lovers' Walk, on the north of Powage. These were sold and cut down in 1855, when Mr. Warr's estate was disposed of. The Malting Farm (Mr. E. How's) was occupied by J. West. The Village School was built by subscriptions, raised by the Rev. J. Vaux Moore, about 1847. Mrs. Temperance Arnold kept a small grocer's shop at the end of the Forge. R. Crute was the village blacksmith.
Mr. C. W. Whitman carried on a tailoring business where now is the Co-operative Store, and was tailor to Aspley School (Mr. Wright's School). W. Bird was butcher, and he also farmed part of Berry Lane Farm. Ben. Warr, grocer, lived opposite Aspley House gate, and W. Stapleton, shoemaker, in a house where Mr. Spring's carpenter's shop stood.
The once celebrated Aspley School was founded about 1760, by Mr. James Vaughan. (I have an advertisement card of his, with a plan of the school buildings on the reverse, and the date 1762 written on it.) He was succeeded by Mr. W. W. Wright, whose monument in the Church shows that he died in 1807; then by his widow, and his son, the Rev. S. Wright, sometime Rector of Drayton Parslow; and again, in 1820, by the Rev. R. Pain, who carried on the school till about 1845 or 1846, when it ceased to exist.
The establishment, seventy years ago, consisted of the Rev. R. Pain and family, four masters, five or six maid-servants, a baker, a coachman, and a gardener, and over 100 boys. In earlier days there had been between 200 and 300 boys, and Chain House and The Rookery were masters' houses.
The baker baked and cooked for the whole establishment, in an underground kitchen. The boys were not allowed to go into the village, but a woman named Susan Taylor, who kept a confectionery shop near by, was allowed to take cakes, &c., into the grounds, where she had a small room, fitted with shelves. In this room she used to lock herself up, and then open a small barred hatch, through which she supplied the boys. On the top of the head master's residence, now called Guise House, between the two lofty chimneys, was a large bell, which was rung every morning at seven for school.
The grounds on the west were enclosed next the road by a six foot wall, with a wooden palisade on top. Here were also dormitories - since pulled down - with the "washing school" below. This was fitted with long troughs, divided, not quite to the bottom, into 18 inch squares, so that water pumped in at one end filled them all. The pump, with a large iron ladle chained to it, stood outside this block.
Pupils came from various countries to learn English - one, from Spain, called Figario, kept a pair of ponies and a lad in livery. Some of the parlour boarders kept horses, and hunted occasionally. Amongst the pupils were Barnards (3), of Stratton Park; Wroths, of Edgeborough; and Denisons (3): Carlisle Parker, Platts, &c. Some entries in the Parish Registers, and some initials carved in the old buildings, and on the big beech tree in the Shrubbery garden, are all the remains of this once flourishing establishment."