Around William Woodley’s Apiary, Worlds End, Beedon

Mr Woodley's apiary
Photocopy of article from British Bee-keepers Journal 1897.

‘Around William Woodley’s Apiary, Worlds End, Beedon’ is an update of a blog post I did in 2014. The purpose of the post was to review the features in the photo (see above) and to discover what remains today.

Back in 2014, I had just discovered the above photo in the British Bee Journal via the website archive.org. This discovery started a grand project to uncover the story of William Woodley’s life.

Back in the day, Mr Woodley’s home was called the ‘The Apiary.’ Today, the house is called ‘Garden Cottage’ and I speculate that the name changed in 1931; this was the year Mr Woodley’s daughter sold the cottage.

The 1892 Photograph

Mr Woodley Photo annotated with numbers
Annotated photo of Mr Woodley’s Apiary, Worlds End, Beedon.

I numbered the features in the photograph with numbers and I refer to the numbers in this blog.

The Road Frontage of the Apiary, Worlds End, Beedon

View of Garden Cottage (white cottage with tiled frontage) this was William Woodley’s home.
View of Garden Cottage (white cottage with tiled frontage) this was William Woodley’s home.

The 1892 photograph was taken at the rear of Mr Woodley’s home, which was a working apiary.  The photo above is the current street-view (the front of his home), and the white house is ‘Garden Cottage’.  

There are dwellings either side of Garden Cottage. These houses sit on land which would have been part of the curtilage of Mr Woodley’s home.

Garden Cottage: this dwelling is so well preserved as if time has stood still since the 19th Century. A credit to the owner :)
Formerly known as the Apiary Worlds End Beedon
Garden Cottage: this dwelling is so well preserved as if time has stood still since the 19th Century. A credit to the owner 🙂

The photo above is a closer view of Garden Cottage. The previous owners of the extended the cottage, and yet it retains its historic charm.

This is the part of the front garden of High House, which is next-door and to the north of Garden Cottage. High House also abuts the access road to Chapel Court.
This is the part of the front garden of High House, which is next-door and to the north of Garden Cottage. High House also abuts the access road to Chapel Court.

Moving northward, the adjacent dwelling is High House.  Interestingly, the sign in the front garden is for honey, and I understand that the honey for sale comes from Compton.

Mr Woodley Photo annotated with numbers

Feature 1 – The Wesleyan Chapel

I struck-up a conversation with the lady in the salmon-coloured coat in the photo above, and me and led me to the Chapel inscription stone.

This inscription stone once belonged to a Chapel. Today, this stone is set into the wall which abuts the access road to Chapel Court. The Chapel was situated on what is now the access road.
This inscription stone once belonged to a Chapel. Today, this stone is set into the wall which abuts the access road to Chapel Court. The Chapel was situated on what is now the access road.
Wesleyan Chaple Worlds End May 1973
Wesleyan Chaple Worlds End May 1973

There is an access road which abuts High House, and serves a group of dwellings called Chapel Court.  There is a wall running along the north-side of this access road and built within this wall is the Chapel’s inscription stone.

Mentioned in an 1897 article from the British Bee Journal:

The portion of a building on the right is a Wesleyan chapel, but Mr. W. and family regularly attend Beedon Church, in the parish of Hampstead Norris, three miles from his own village.

Wesleyan Mission Gospel Car in front of Worlds End Farmhouse
Wesleyan Mission Gospel Car in front of Worlds End Farmhouse

The Wesleyan Church had circuit preachers who would go from Chapel to Chapel, spreading the word of God. One such preacher parked his Gospel Car outside Worlds End Farmhouse.

Beekeeping associations copied this method of spreading the word, and a trained beekeeper would traverse villages and towns, giving talks on modern beekeeping.

The Decline of Worlds End Wesleyan Chapel

During second half of the twentieth century, the story of the chapel is one of decline. The congregation of the Chapel grew smaller and the building was deteriorating.

The Chapel Council discoverd the roof needed a significant repair. In 1978 they decided to suspend services at the Chapel. The cost of repairing the roof would be over £1000 and the small congregation could not fund the repairs to the roof. The Chapel sold for £6000 and demolished several years later.

Victor Pocock rescued the inscription stone and the stone sat in Victor’s garage for two-decades.

The site of the Chapel served as an access track to modern barns (more about this barn and feature 5 below)

In the early 2000’s, redevelopment took place behind the site of the site of the old Chapel, which is feature 5 (hayricks). As part of this redevelopment, the developers built the inscription stone into a retaining wall.

The Chapel once sat here.  (Access Road to Chapel View, Worlds End, Beedon)
The Chapel once sat here. (Access Road to Chapel View, Worlds End, Beedon)

Feature 2 – Worlds End Farmhouse

Mr Woodley Photo annotated with numbers
Worlds End Farmhouse.
Worlds End Farmhouse.
Worlds End Farmhouse
Worlds End Farmhouse

From Chapel Close, follow the Oxford Road north for 30 metres and you will come to Worlds End Farmhouse.

The rear of Worlds End Farmhouse. Notice the two storey extension on the near side of this dwelling.
The rear of Worlds End Farmhouse. Notice the two storey extension on the near side of this dwelling.

The status of Worlds End Farmhouse as a listed building preserved its original appearance.  Sadly, it is one of the two features from the annotated photograph which remains today, and the other feature being the trees.

Feature 3 – Barn at Worlds End Farm

Mr Woodley Photo annotated with numbers

The barn, feature 3 in the 1892 photograph, which was adjacent to the Farmhouse, is no longer there (see photo below). Strictly speaking, it was a pair of barns, and I should refer to them in the plural. The developer demolished them and housing took in their place. The housing has a suburban character, and feels incongruent with the setting of the nearby Worlds End Farmhouse.

Feature 3 - the Barn. 
Near the Apiary Worlds End Beedon.
Barn at Worlds End Farmhouse 1978

Feature 4 – Trees

Mr Woodley Photo annotated with numbers

There is a footpath to the north of Worlds End Farmhouse which follows the boundary along World End Farmhouse and Chapel Court. The footpath goes to Beedon Common.  Beyond the trees would have been the hayricks (feature 5).

Is this oak tree one of a pair of trees which was in the photo taken of Mr Woodley in his garden with a multitude of beehives?
Is this oak tree one of a pair of trees which was in the photo taken of Mr Woodley in his garden with a multitude of beehives?

I believe the two large trees you can see (one is an oak) were present in the 1892 photograph see 4.  What do you think?  

Feature 5 – Hayricks/Rickyard

Mr Woodley Photo annotated with numbers

Feature 5 is the rickyard and is the place where hayricks were constructed. The rickyard would have been located on what is now Chapel Court.

The local farmer built two modern barns on the site of the hayricks, and I speculate this happened in the early 1980’s. In the photo below, you can glimpse the barn in the background, located between the two houses.

The former site of Wesleyan Chapel and used as access to a modern barn. Photo taken circa 2001.
The former site of Wesleyan Chapel and used as access to a modern barn. Photo taken circa 2001.

The photo below shows the modern barn. The modern barn superceded the hayricks and yet served the same purpose.

Modern Barns At Worlds End Farm, circa 1984.
Modern Barns At Worlds End Farm, circa 1984.

The modern barns burnt down and Chapel View sits in its place.

View of Chapel Close, Worlds End.
View of Chapel Close, Worlds End.
These wild flowers are growing next to the footpath that runs from Worlds End Farm house to Beedon Common.
These wild flowers are growing next to the footpath that runs from Worlds End Farm house to Beedon Common.

These Ox-Eye daisies were some of the wild flowers growing along the footpath. In Mr Woodley’s day, wild flowers were common. We know this because he wrote about the local flowers in his journal.

The cause of the profusion of wild flowers was traditional farming practises. The Ox-Eye daisies were perhaps a small glimpse of the quality and diversity of flora Mr Woodley’s honeybees would have foraged on.

Feature 6 and 7 – Mr and Mrs Woodley

Mr Woodley Photo annotated with numbers

Last but not least, Mr Woodley and his wife Annie. Recently, I wrote an introductory piece about William Woodley and you can read it here. I hope to write about William and Annie in the future.

Conclusion

Sadly, many of the beautiful features in the photo of Mr & Mrs Woodley’s apiary are gone. Change is inevitable, yet I see a loss beauty in this corner of Worlds End. The new buidlings appear joyless and out of character with the nearby traditional rural houses.

As consolation, I give you this website which I hope you enjoy.

You might be interesting in reading the introductionary piece on Mr Woodley <here>.

Flower Frieze. Thank-you and we hope to hear from you soon

3 thoughts on “Around William Woodley’s Apiary, Worlds End, Beedon”

    • I think most of of the hives have bees in them. Mr Woodley was a commercial beekeeper and did produce a significant amount of honey. I also think that in those days the agricultural land was extensively farmed (multitude of crops) as opposed to today where land is intensively farmed (think mono-crops). So the bees would have more, varied and consistent flow during the honey season than today. As such, I would speculate in 1896 you could get away with packing that amount of hives into such a relatively small area.

      • That is my thought too, that there must have been much more forage around them to support all those hives. We’ve lost a lot of wildflower meadows. Nowadays I don’t think so many hives in that small a space would do well.

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