The Thurlows

Village News & Information

Nineteenth century

The nineteenth century brought a change in the fortunes of the Soame family. Their mansion house was burnt down in 1809, successive generations of Soames had not proved themselves as astute in business and the family fortunes began to dwindle. The South Sea Bubble had taken its toll and the family presence was left to spinster sisters. Another replacement mansion house was built in 1847, but the sisters quarrelled about who should inherit it. In the aftermath of their deaths, the house was sold to pay the death duties of another branch of the family and the Soame family connection with the village died.

It was in this period that Great Thurlow benefited from the investment of the Vernon and Smith families and new Georgian and later Victorian houses described earlier appeared. Religion and education made their mark. The Congregational Chapel has been a bakery and is now a private house, but the small graveyard can still be seen near the main road.

The National Schools were built in both villages to replace The Olde School. Little Thurlow School had an average attendance in 1900 of 53. This was replaced in 1967 by the new school that has a current roll of 65 children.

There were many separate farms in the villages at one time and some of the house names indicate their origins. These include Street Farm, Temple End Farm, Church Farm, Goldings, Dowsetts, Over Green Farm and Manor Farm (the agricultural land from which of which is now subsumed into the Vestey estate).

The corner in Great Thurlow by the Rose and Crown was once a hive of industry. An early postcard shows the name of Woottens Brewery on the name plate above the door of the pub. The buildings where the garage now stands housed a saddlery where Frank Haylock the inn keeper made and repaired harness. The backroom of the pub held a wonderful selection of sweets. There was also a slaughterhouse behind the Red House which was a butcher’s shop. The village shop has been there for many years although the merchandise has changed. Drapery goods were once sold there as well as almost everything else! The Hawthorns was once a bakery.

Further down The Street towards Little Thurlow, Larkspur Cottage was home to the shoe mender and Hallside was home to the watch mender. The Limes became three cottages, one of which housed the district nurse. May Cottage was a bakery and sweet shop. Trudgetts (then two houses) was a bakery and post office and had a wheelwright's shop next door. Mungo Lodge had a dance hall and the blacksmith shop on Pound Green has completely disappeared. The two windmills in Little Thurlow can no longer be seen and the only hints left are the names of the houses Mill House and Mill View. The base of the windmill has survived but there is no evidence left of the mill that once stood at the top of Almshouse Hill. Great Thurlow windmill has been restored and stands proudly at the top of Dowsetts Hill. The threshing machine at Manor Farm and many of the farm buildings have vanished and those left have been transformed into luxury barn conversions. The original almshouses were sold and two flint cottages in the middle of the village were given as replacement almshouses, and have just been sold again.

In its heyday the villages boasted an impressive array of tradespeople. There were four pubs: the present Cock Inn, the Rose and Crown, the Queen’s Head and the Red Lion in Little Thurlow Green. Two general stores, the present one in Great Thurlow and what is now known as Corner Cottage in Little Thurlow, two saddleries and post office, a boot maker, a carpenter, a watch mender, several bakeries, sweet shops, a wheelwright, a blacksmith's shop, a police house and three windmills. Milk was obtainable from Manor Farm and in Great Thurlow there was a brewery, a slaughter house and a butcher shop. A carrier passed through the village daily and within living memory it was possible to catch a bus everyday to London! The village was a busy place, with much activity revolving around horses: for example, a thriving blacksmith's shop near Pound Green, and stack yards full of both hay and straw stacks supplying food and bedding for the horses and thatching materials. There was also a milking herd in the village and people purchased their milk from Manor Farm. There was a barber's in Little Thurlow Green and an undertaker's in Church Road. Many of the allotments in the village were regularly tended. Nearly all the cottages were thatched and many of them were homes to much bigger families than is the case now.

Who then actually lived in the villages at different times? White’s Directory in 1844 provides us with the following lists:

Great Thurlow

George Brand Poulterer George Bridgman Maltster
Samuel Bridgeman Blacksmith John Chapman Wheelwright
John Kettle Tailor Robert Malkin Gentleman
Robert Farrow Beerhouse keeper Thomas Gardner Miller/ Maltster
James Daniels Grocer & Draper Thomas Rollinson Saddler
Richard Rose Victualler Crown John Payne Bricklayer
Rev William Selbie Independent Samuel Talbot Baker
William Snazell Joiner, Builder and Farmer
Samuel; Thompson Joiner Rev William Wayman Vicar
Samuel Woolard Shoemaker

Farmers
George |Bridgeman
George Golding
Samual Jonas West End
James Pearl Harlica
Rands Pearl Wadgells
Lucy and Christopher Traylen Sowley Green
Barsham Wakelin West End

Little Thurlow

Benjamin Baker Surgeon Benjamin Betts Wheelwright
Mr Simon Choat Mr Rd Collins
Rev F. Crick Curate James Daniels Grocer and draper
Joseph Dearsley Corn miller Hy Farrow Farrier
John French School master Joshua Lee Turner and shovel maker
Joseph Smith Tailor Ezra Neave Collar and harness maker
George Trudgett Baker John Sergeant Beerhouse keeper
James Wakelin Blacksmith John Webb Butcher
Henry Webb Shoe maker Joseph Fitch Shoe maker
Thomas Sparrow Victualler Cock
Wm Vince Grocer and draper

Farmers
Samuel Bailey Mary Howard Alice Osborne William Osborne
John Goodchild Capt. J. Dench