Alan Crosby: Banbury bakery family history mystery

By Jon Bauckham, 26 November 2015 - 6:16pm

Columnist Alan Crosby recently discovered a rather unusual term in a property inventory while researching his Oxfordshire kin. Can you help?

Dr Alan Crosby is the editor of the Local Historian and a columnist for WDYTYA? MagazineThursday 26 November 2015
Alan Crosby
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Getty Images Banbury Cross Oxfordshire

Many of Alan's paternal ancestors hailed from the Oxfordshire market town of Banbury, pictured here towards the end of the 19th century (Photo: Getty Images)

I discovered an advertisement for the sale by auction of the house where my 3x great grandparents lived with their large family, at Banbury in 1842.

It wasn’t their house – they were the tenants – but it was where George Crosby carried on his trade as a baker. The owner, John Haddon, had recently died and his property was being sold by his executors.

The house, which was “eligibly situate in HIGH STREET”, is described in detail. It had a 27-foot, 6-inch frontage and there were four bedrooms, two attics, a sitting room, a front parlour, two kitchens, a cellar and a larder.

Because it was a working bakery it had not only a bakehouse but also two “meal rooms” where flour and oatmeal were stored. A “salt room” above would surely have been used for keeping salted and dried meats and other produce, and the brewhouse is self-explanatory. There was a walled garden, a pump of good water, a stable for two horses, and two pigsties.

It all sounds delightful, and it’s lovely to think of my forebears living in a house of size and spaciousness, ideally located in the middle of what was then a country market town. But there’s one great puzzle!

Listed among the outbuildings is a “large bush hovel”. In all my many years as a local and family historian, I’ve never encountered this dialect term. I assume it means “the conveniences” (or outdoor loo or whatever euphemism we choose) but where does the term come from and is my interpretation correct?

Can any reader shed light on this mysterious phrase? All answers gratefully received!
 

Alan Crosby lives in Lancashire and is editor of The Local Historian. He is an honorary research fellow at Lancashire and Liverpool universities

 

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