Woodborough’s Heritage

Woodborough, a Sherwood Forest Village, recorded in Domesday

Shortly after 1901 Thomas Robert Mellows moved with his wife and son Thomas Gilbert Mellows (born 1895) to Davenport House formerly known as Victoria Villas, next to the 1887 Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, and constructed another bake-house there in the out buildings to the rear of the house. It is thought that the bakery ceased around middle of the 1920’s thus ending almost 80 years of bread baking in Woodborough by the Mellows family.

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Postscript by John Hoyland: This Main Street scene on the right, taken circa 1913, shows the visit from Lambley of Mr P Henshaw’s horse and cart. On the rear of the cart it clearly states ‘Hygienic Bakery - Lambley’ and on the side ‘P Henshaw’. Perhaps this was providing competition for the Mellows bakery which was thought to have ceased in the mid 1920’s.

Those featured outside the Post Office are Mrs Martha Foster, Miss Gertie Foster (Mannie Foster’s mother and sister respectively) with Mr Tommy Burnett RN. The Post Office was run at that time by Charles E Foster and family. The Burnett family lived close by in the Manor House until 1915.

Other buildings featuring in this photograph are, left to right: The Bugle Horn Inn, The Post Office, The butchers, the forge run by Mr Orme, and the Punch Bowl Inn.   

The Mellows family ancestry goes back to at least the early 1800’s, as living in Woodborough, and that they were village bakers for many years.

The first record of a baker in Woodborough was of John Mellows aged 24 who was recorded as living in the village and his occupation was described as ‘baker’ on the 1851 census, but there was no record of the address on the Census where he was living in the village. He was married to Ann Mellows (née Weatherall) who was a dressmaker aged 24, and they raised a family of 8 children.

In the 1861 & 1871 censuses John Mellows and his family were recorded as living at a cottage on Lowdham Lane which is now number 21, and at this cottage a bake-house had been established.

Right: Cottages on Lowdham Lane 1995 and below Davenport House next to the Wesleyan Chapel on Main Street circa 1923.

The Woodborough bake houses - (properties with a bread oven)

The 1881 census shows that one of the son’s, Thomas Weatherall Mellows born 1827, was by then the baker at Lowdham Lane and was living there with his wife Ann Mellows (née Baxter). They also had a son born in 1858 called Thomas Robert Mellows. The 1881 census also shows that John Mellows was still living at Lowdham Lane and by that time he was a widower and eventually died in 1884, both John and his wife Ann are buried in Woodborough Churchyard.

Ten years later records show that Thomas Weatherall Mellows with his wife Ann were still living at Lowdham Lane and that he and his son Thomas Robert Mellows were both bakers. In 1892 Thomas Weatherall Mellows died leaving his son to continue the family tradition of bread baking. This was recorded in the 1901 census and meant that baking had taken place at the Lowdham Lane cottage for 50 Years.

Photos taken in year 2000. Above left: Davenport House from Main Street. Above centre: The rear out-buildings, the bread oven was housed in the far building with the chimney. Above right: The oven just prior to removal by the current owners.

We, [Chris & David Mellows], were born as twins in Woodborough in 1946 and as we grew up in the 1950’s we were told by the aged residents that they knew both our father Thomas Gilbert Mellows and our Grandfather Thomas Robert Mellows. They could remember the Mellows Family baking in Woodborough. It was said that the loaves were 4lb in weight and that it was very good bread. The bread was made with an special recipe which we believe to have had some potato in the dough to prolong it’s freshness, and that at Christmas time some residents would take their meat to be cooked in the ‘Parish Oven’ at Davenport House.

Our Trade Directory records elsewhere on this website make references to bakers as follows;

Unfortunately, apart from the Mellows family, it is not known where the other bakers lived and worked. There are no records of any bakers in Woodborough after 1925.


Thomas Mellows

Ann Mellows

H 24

W 25




Netherfield Lane  (Lowdham Lane)


John Mellows

Ann Mellows

Elizabeth Mellows

H 57

W 56

D 28

Agricultural labourer


Not given

Netherfield Lane


John Mellows

Ann Mellows

Sarah A Forman

H 67

W 66

Gr D 4

Agricultural Labourer


Netherfield Lane


Thomas Mellows

Ann Mellows

Thomas Mellows

John (father) widower

H 54

W 52

S 21

F 77


Not given

Not given


Netherfield Lane


Thomas Mellows

Ann Mellows

Thomas Mellows

H 64

W 62

S 30


Not given


Netherfield Lane


Thomas Mellows

Emma Mellows

Thomas G

H 41

W 42

S 6

Baker at home

Netherfield Lane

Recollections of Mr Thomas Mellows, baker of Woodborough by Peter Saunders.


On 10th June 2003 I was telephoned to say that Mr & Mrs Gladman at Davenport House on Main Street, Woodborough, when investigating one of their outbuildings, had discovered the entrance to a large baker’s oven. I phoned Mrs Gladman in the evening and arranged to view it the following day. Having known a previous occupant who had lived in the house and been a baker I decided to follow up the story and later addressed the Woodborough Local History Group with my findings gleaned of local knowledge from the censuses. Mr Mellows, aged 41 in the 1901 census had married in his early thirties, and as the census enumerator had inserted “baker at home” it seems that sometime between 1891 and 1901, perhaps even before, Thomas had built a bakehouse as part of his cottage on Lowdham Lane, I was informed that any evidence of the bakehouse has disappeared. Mr Mellows must have moved to Davenport House sometime after 1901, I knew Mr Mellows because every Sunday morning about 1933 when he was aged about 74, he and Arthur Snodin who lived at the cottage (on Lingwood Lane) next to the church which he used as a smallholding, would walk up Lingwood Lane, sit on the seat a little further up the lane from my home in the 1878 school house, and put the world to rights.

My parents allowed me to join them and from their conversation I soon learned that Mr Mellows was highly intelligent and didn’t suffer fools gladly. At that time Mr Mellows brought his grandson, Michael, with him in the pram and as in those days there was virtually no traffic on a Sunday morning, I was allowed to push Michael in the pram for short distances on my own. Mr Mellows was then living with his son Tom and daughter in law Eva (née Cook) at The Yews. He must have left Davenport House in the late 1920’s. I remember as an infant – about 1926 – being in a large pram which had a seat at each end and a ‘well’ in the middle. As we approached The Yews my mother would say ‘where’s N----r?’ We weren’t politically correct in those days, and I would get down in the well of the pram as the owners of The Yews at that time, either the Shipsides or the Blackmores had a large black dog, a Labrador I think, which barked furiously at passers-by. My parent’s father came to Woodborough in 1916 and mother in 1919 remembered Mr Mellows when he was baking at Davenport House, so I assume Mr Mellows retired from baking in the early or mid-1920’s and as far as I can recall there hasn’t been a bakehouse in the village since.

Mr Mellows died in October 1945 aged 86 and my opinions of him were confirmed when I looked in my files and found an entry in the account book of Mr Nurcombe. Mr Nurcombe was the village joiner, carpenter, wheelwright and undertaker who had a workshop at the top of the yard at Forge Cottage, handy for the blacksmiths when putting an iron tyre on one of his cart wheels. Mr Nurcombe made only one personal comment in his account book from 1945-47 on those whose coffins he had made and the funerals that he had organised and the solitary comment concerned Mr Mellows. It read:

Thomas Robert Mellows died October 21st 1945 aged 86.

Kept fairly well until nearly the end.

Asked me about 8 years previously to bury him.

Well-read and an excellent writer.

Elm coffin, oak moulded plinth – best brass fittings.

Bearers – David Spencer, Edward Spencer, William Parker and Fred Musson.

Incidentally between, or rather from, 1945-47 Mr Nurcombe buried eight Woodborough inhabitants – their average age was 84 years 4 months.

Now to the occupants and the baker’s oven: Sometime after Mr Mellows went to live with Tom and Eva at The Yews, the Partridge family moved into Davenport House. There were three children, Ralph the eldest, Margaret who was about my [Peter Saunders] age and Eric. They left in 1939 and the house stood empty for a while. My friend Mansfield Foster remembered that the Bailey family were there in 1942, I knew Mrs Bailey before she was Edna Swift, living in Swift’s Yard, previously called North’s Yard in some of the censuses. It consisted of 4 cottages, 3 on one side of the yard and one, later used as a store on the other side. Edna Swift lived in one of those cottages with her parents and her brother Herbert. The yard was situated near the telephone kiosk at the west end of the village. On consulting the phone book I found that A Bailey now lived at 15 Main Street on the site of the former Swift’s Yard so I guessed it was Albert the son, a few years my junior. Although I hadn’t seen or spoken to Albert for about 60 years, I phoned him, had a good chat and elicited the following information on Davenport House.

When Davenport House was empty in 1939 after the Partridge family left, Albert’s father, also named Albert approached Tom Mellows with a view to renting it, however Mr Bailey considered the rent asked to be too high and the deal fell through. Unfortunately for Mr Mellows in September war was declared, the Wiltshire Yeomanry plus horses came to Woodborough and Davenport House was commandeered by the Army. The Yeomanry moved on to Palestine in February 1940 and the house again became vacant. Mr Mellows told Mr Bailey he wished he’d let him rent the house as the Yeomanry had left it in an awful state – the winter of 1939-40 was a bad one, so a deal was agreed for the Baileys to rent it. Mr Bailey was a market gardener renting 40 acres at Foxwood and later he purchased 20 acres in the West Field. It was pea-pulling time when the Baileys wished to move into the house and a group of his pea-pulling ladies agreed to scrub the place out. Albert said there was grease everywhere; the orchard was full of empty food tins. The outbuildings consisted of an open fronted cart shed, a stable for 2 horses, a fotheram and a building divided in two by a brick wall, with the baker’s oven at waist height in the middle of the dividing wall and no sign as to what was in the rear half. In about 1951 Mr Bailey decided he needed more space to store his vegetable boxes, crates and baskets for fruit. They would have to knock an entrance into the rear half of the building and this they did at the right hand side of the oven. They decided to dismantle the baker’s oven which had a domed fire brick top. On removing the fire bricks they found that the oven top was covered with about 18 inches of sand. On removing the fire brick base of the oven they found another 3 feet of sand, presumably the sand acted as an insulator and retained the heat in the oven.

There was a well outside back door of the house and as town water(piped water) came to Woodborough in 1933 the well was no longer used so the Baileys filled the well with a good part of the oven rubble. Each time it rained the surface of the rubble sank and more could be put in. After the conversation I phoned Mrs Gladman to say that if they ever thought about removing the concrete in the back yard, be prepared to find a disused well.

Also around 1951 Mr Bailey applied for a drive entrance onto Roe Lane at the rear of the house. This was granted in spite of a certain amount of local opposition. It appears too that a new front had been built onto an older cottage and Mr Mellows had demolished the rear part of the older dwelling. The house had previously been known as Victoria Villas, its name carved into the front porch, by the time the Baileys moved in this had been covered with a Davenport House sign. After the Baileys left in about 1961-2 a Mr Pegg, a builder and his family moved in. They were followed by the Tupmans and then by the present owners Mr & Mrs Gladman. It is difficult to know who the occupants prior to the Mellows were as few addresses were given in the census and house numbers were not in use at that time. There is the added difficulty with the property being at a crossroads, the Wesleyan Chapel being built only in 1887 and the Bugle Horn and the Post Office Yard being demolished which might have changed the order the enumerator.

Year of Census

Names on Census