Our Village – Past & Present

Our Village – Past & Present

This article was first presented to the village at the 2018 Annual parish Meeting by Peter Noakes on behalf of the Local History Group.

Population Growth

1066 Total of free tenants, unfree tenants and slaves was 27
1086 In this year the total had probably increased to 32
1377 The number of inhabitants paying the poll tax was 105
1671 In this year the number of houses in WB parish was 73
1723 In this year the number of families was 60 – 70
1766 In this year it was reported that the number of houses was 50
1801 The population of the village had increased to 552
1851 After 50 years the population had increased by a 300 to 852
1881 Whilst 30 years later the population had nearly doubled to 1,067
1901 The population over this period stabilised and was 1,050
1921 After the First World War there was a slight increase to  1,143
1951 The population crept up slowly in the early 20th century to reach 1,272
1991 In the first 4 decades of the Queen’s reign the population tripled to 3,027
2001 A decade later there was a slight increase to 3,164
2011 The population increased during this decade to 3,234
2017 The Parish Council suggests that the total may be of the order of 3,500

The Physical Development of West Bergholt


1780 map of village
From an Old Map in our club archive – we think about 1780.


OS Map 1805
© Cassini Publishing Ltd www.cassinimaps.com
West Bergholt in 1805 extracted with permission from Cassini Historical Map Old Series Sheet 168 Colchester


OS Map 1898
© Cassini Publishing Ltd www.cassinimaps.com
West Bergholt in 1898 extracted with permission from Cassini Historical Map Old Series Sheet 168 Colchester


Map 1923


OS Map 2015
© Crown Copyright 2015
West Bergholt in 2015 reproduced with permission of Ordnance Survey.

Significant Contributors to Documenting and Presenting the History of West Bergholt

Barbara Skudder

Barbara Skudder was very active in researching the history of West Bergholt through the 1970s & 80s into the 90s before she moved to Somerset.  David Fulford, a senior teacher at Heathlands School worked with Barbara certainly on the walks.  She contributed to the production of the following publications which are still available:

Barbara Skudder publications

Jon Lander

Jon Lander is a former Parliamentary reporter and lived in West Bergholt for a number of years before moving to Bures.  Barbara Skudder introduced him to local history research and he has published a number of publications which record the history of West Bergholt:

Jon Lander publications

West Bergholt – Bergholt Sackville

The Domesday Book

Called ‘Domesday’ because of the association with the Day of Judgement – that terrible verdict against which there was no appeal.   It is the earliest public record and is a detailed statement of the lands held by the King and his tenants and of the resources of the land – the woodland, mills etc.

West Bergholt appears in the Domesday Survey as ‘BERCOLT’ or ‘BERCOLTA’ and 4 entries give details of the previous Anglo-Saxon holders of the land, the types of people working the land and how the land was used.  The entries show the changes that had occurred in the years between 1066 and 1086.

The manor of ‘Bercolts’ was held in 1086 by Roger de Poitou, the grandson of Richard 1 of Normandy.  By 1100 Robert, from a village called SACKVILE in Normandy, was a monk in St John’s Abbey.  He married and had two sons one of whom, Jordan, acquired the manor.  From this time until teh md 16th century, the manor was held by the Sackville family and the village itself took their name.

Cook’s Hall

The earlier names were BEAUMONDS, from John de Beaumond who rented the lands in 1272, and COOKS, from Adam Cook who held lands in the 14th Century.  NETHERHALL seems to come about because it was in the lower part of the parish.  It has been suggested that Cooks Hall is an example of a manor which the owner designated himself Lord of the Manor because of his wealth, usually in association with the wool trade – in fact ‘the Manor of Cookes’ was mentioned as such in 1445.

Living Memory

The Times…

Queen Victoria was on the throne, Kipling was in full song and, in the Sudan, Kitchener was avenging the death of General Gordon.  The people, as a whole, were contented, even though wages were low and amusements few and far between.  It was an orderly and comparatively peaceful existence which had changed little for many hundreds of years.  Each person occupied a clearly defined place in the social order and knew exactly where he stood.

West Bergholt…

… was still isolated enough for much of the old rural culture to survive, although the enclosure of the Heath twenty years earlier had altered the landscape and some intermittent building had taken place.  The population was just over 1,000 and the greater proportion of men were employed on the land.  Sixteen farms were scattered around the parish, ranging in size from West Bergholt Hall farm at 291 acres to Rookery Farm at 28½ acres – some employing up to 23 men, others supporting the tenant and his family.  Many agricultural labourers went from farm to farm as and when work was available.

Walks Around West Bergholt

First produced in 1986 by B Skudder and D Fulford, reprinted in 2002, revised and reprinted in 2012.

Walks around West Bergholt

Picture Archive

We have been donated a large collection of late 19th and early 20th Century postcards of West Bergholt which have been added to those we already have.  In addition we have been donated photographs taken by former Parish Councillor and WBLHG member Bob Gooden.

We are gradually scanning these so we can eventually provide an online archive of pictures.  Members are identifying the location of these pictures.  If you wish to donate any old postcards or pictures of the village please contact the secretary Gill Poole.

Postcards of west Bergholt

Christmas Greetings 1909

Christmas Greetings Posted in West Bergholt on the 24 December 1909 to Small Bridge Hall, Bures St Mary.  Maybe it was posted here at this “Old Post Office” when it was in Colchester Road run by the Claydon Family:

Post Office when run by Claydons

Some of you may remember it as Browns shop and B & B, where you could always buy school plimsolls! More recently it was an estate agents then Blue Owl and currently, it is called Kitty Rose.
Old Post Office today
OP Elmer Family Butcher
Chapel Road at the bottom of New Church Road. Far right is O P Elmer, Family Butcher! The forerunner of the Pharmacy is in the middle with car outside.  Not quite the same angle of view and of course the only original is the roof line of the pharmacy!
Coop & Pharmacy
Looking down Colchester Road towards Brewery, then & now!
Colchester Road towards BrewerySame view as above today
Looking up Colchester Road! Brewery on right Maltings on the left. Looking up Colchester Road! Brewery on right Maltings on the left.
The road to Colchester crossing the St Botolph’s Brook.
Pitts Stores use to publish some West Bergholt Pictures!
Pitts Stores
You can see the original Pitts Stores as part of this shop but it looks a little different now! Notice the house to the left is still there!
Ash's Convenience Express
Do you recognise the Fir Tree in the front garden to the right of the house? Where are we?
Lexden Roda Fir tree when young
Lexden Road! The same tree in 2018 but new houses! It was taller and broader but was pruned a couple of years ago.
Fir Tree in 2018
Houses in “High Road” West Bergholt! But where are they?
High Road
Colchester Road opposite Poors Field! In 2018 they look like this!
Colchester Road opposite Poors Field
Easily recognisable! Not many changes!
White Hart & sheep
Looks a little different now!
Queen's pond
Recognise it – not too different!
Treble Tile under Daniell & Sons livery
The subject of our next presentation!
Old Church looking a tad dilapidated

Closing thanks and appeal for help

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