In the Kitchen
Eleven at night was the start of a baker’s day, when he made the dough. He was able to sleep on the job for a couple of hours while the bread rose, then had to do the rest of the physical tasks of preparing rolls and loaves. Kneading was sometimes done with feet, perhaps making for a less-than-clean product. The bakehouse was alarmingly hot as well, up to ninety degrees Fahrenheit. Some bakers had to deliver the bread they made, too. They only had five to ten hours off per day and all but none during the Season. A.N. Wilson says statistics show that London bakers rarely lived past the age of forty-two.
Baking in Victorian England
I don’t have any chefs, or cooks in a stately home as far as I know, but I do have bakers and confectioners in my direct family line. The television programme Victorian Bakers was set in 1837, at the time mine were baking for the residents of Farnham in Surrey and that does a far better job than I could in describing their way of life.
According to the age given on his gravestone in St Andrew’s Churchyard, Farnham in Surrey, Samuel Lewcock, my great (x4) grandfather, was 69 when he died in December 1836. He had outlived all but 3 of his 15 children, at least one of whom was described as a baker in the newspaper announcements of their deaths. One son and two daughters survived him.
Samuel had been born in Odiham where at least of his relations was a miller in the area. He was baptised on 1st April 1772 and his father Richard died in 1783. In 1783 a William Newland, a mealman, a person who deals in meal or flour, took on an apprentice named Samuel Lewcock.
Samuel himself took on an apprentice, a William Blake, on 15 December 1801 in Farnham.
Millers often had a bakehouse attached so it is unsurprising that Samuel became a baker. He had connections with Farnham through his great uncle, Samuel Hare, who had left property in Castle Street.to Samuel’s father Richard. He may well have come to Farnham initially as a miller as there were half a dozen flour mills close to the town as the River Wey passes through the area.
Samuel himself appears in the online records in Farnham when he marries Sarah Taphouse in 1793. Between 1798 and 1800 he was a tenant of William Freeharry at 119 East Street next to “The Unicorn”. He appears in the Jury-Qualified Freeholders and Copyholders listings between 1812 and 1824 and in the Tax records, sometimes as owner and sometimes as tenant although no addresses are given in the listings. According to Pat Heather in “The Town of Farnham. A History of The Borough & Castle Street.”, it was in 1812 that he had bought 32, The Borough and began the bakery, and James later acquired Number 31.
TheGenealogist has the tithe maps for Farnham and there you can see where 31 and 32 The Borough were located – just below the O of Borough. a wander along The Borough today on Street View shows No. 32 as Vodaphone and No. 31 as Dorothy Perkins.
Pat Heather records a quote about the bakery from Mrs Henry Keary, “Locock’s [sic] with its delicious buns and the round seedy biscuits, and wire baskets, painted green, filled with new laid eggs… “
Bakeries were often a family enterprise and so it was with the Lewcocks, albeit only for three generations. When he died in December 1836, Samuel left everything to his wife Sarah. In turn when she died in 1844, the business went to their son James and four years later, it went to James’s wife, Jessamine.
In 1841, Sarah was listed in the Borough with daughters Ann and Jane, a male servant aged 10 and a female servant aged 20 and a journeyman baker, Henry Worsam. In 1841 James and his family were in Castle Street. They moved to The Borough in 1844 after Sarah’s death.
Although James died young aged 38, he died of Scarlatina and not necessarily the respiratory ailments and exhaustion suffered by other bakers at the time. Jessamine was left with the business and 5 surviving children under 11 years old, the youngest daughter had died earlier in the year, also of Scarlatina. Within a year of James’s death, she remarried, to a man seventeen years her junior, Edmund Mason. He was 25 and she was 41. That marriage did not last long as he died of “pulmonary consumption 1 year certified” four years later in 1853. I’m waiting for a certificate as we have never really tracked down who Edmund Mason was and how he ended up in Farnham marrying Jessamine so I will update the article then. We know he came from Buckinghamshire and that there were other Masons in Farnham.
Jessamine gave up the premises and the business in The Borough in 1861, “Jessamine Mason of Farnham, widow, and Charles Andrews of Farnham, gent (her mortgagee), conveyed the premises formerly known as ‘The Swan’ inn, with all associated buildings and land (see plan in -/1), situated in The Borough High Street, Farnham, to William Hazell of Farnham, draper.” exploring surrey’s’ past
In the 1861 census, she was living in Castle Street with Henry, Jessie and Agnes, listed as a house proprietor. Henry was listed as an apprentice, but not as what occupation although he did eventually become a draper, so maybe was apprenticed to William Hazell. She went to live in Kingston-on-Thames with Henry and Agnes. Following her death in 1876, they both married.
None of James and Jessamine’s family went into the baking business – the oldest son, Kenric, went to sea, George became a compositor and did his apprenticeship in Chatham, later settling in Islington. Jessie Ann, the “pianoist” ended up married to an innkeeper in Eccleshill Yorkshire. Henry was a draper and travelling salesman and stayed in the Kingston area and Agnes married a carman and went to live in Battersea. There is no trace (yet) of Lewis the second son after 1851.
The Weald and Downland museum have recently added a new building to their site – the Bakehouse from Newdigate. There were Lewcocks in Newdigate and the surrounding area at the same time as their appearance in Odiham in the late 1600s/early 1700s. As yet, we have found no connection between the two families, but who knows!
Although the family did not eventually carry on the business, one of their work people did. In 1851, Henry Worsam, baker, who was listed in the Lewcock household in 1841 is running his own business round the corner in Downing Street, listed with his wife and a journeyman baker, John Mileham. Pat Heather notes that he had married the owner of the Downing Street bakery in 1846, following the death of her husband.
In 1861, Henry had his nephew William working alongside him and by 1871, William had taken over the business and Henry had gone back to his place of birth, Basingstoke. Worsam’s bakery remained in Downing Street for many years and eventually closed in 1983.
The Rural Centre at Tilford has many implements and a delivery cart from Worsam’s bakery among its exhibits. When I went there about ten years ago, I took pictures of the bakery area, knowing about having a local baker in the family history, but at the time I did not know of the connection with the Worsams.
Wills of Samuel, Sarah and James Lewcock.
Will of Samuel Hare.
Video: Victorian Bakers Episode 1. – set in 1837. (The mill in the programme is at the Weald & Downland Museum.)
The Town of Farnham. A History of The Borough & Castle Street by Pat Heather.
I was very lucky just before Christmas to come across this set of books by Pat Heather during a random google search. Being in lockdown caused us some hiccups but their arrival was very exciting..I had managed to work out a great deal about the Lewcocks in Farnham but her research not only confirmed that I was on the right lines, but I was able to find out more. At the time I had no idea I would be using them to research this article. Now to find out more about my other Farnham Families.
Farnham Buildings and People by Nigel Temple
One piece of paper which Granny had tucked away, which we came across after her death, was an empty black edged envelope. It had been in my grandmother’s writing case with other seemingly insignificant bits of paper, some of which had been her mother’s.
For this year’s favourite photograph, I have chosen the one I used as the heading picture for the blog section last year, but made no comment on it at the time. It features the same families as I described last year.
I had never really worked out how common the names of my direct ancestors actually were, although I was vaguely aware that there were several called George as it is a name I always type incorrectly, as well as some Josephs, also a nightmare for me to type!
As a primary school teacher, I wonder how many times I have reminded my students that any piece of writing needs a beginning, a middle and an end.