Mr Woodley and The Westons Well, Beedon

Mr Woodley writes to Lord Wantage’s Estate Manager, Colonel Colebrooke Carter, to find a remedy for the broken well.  Today, we take mains water for granted but back in 1908, most of Beedon took their water from wells.

The Westons Well, Beedon
The Westons Well, Beedon

August 14, 1908 – Letter from William Woodley to Col. Colebrook Carter

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Swarming Fever

I am looking out of the window onto my garden, the rain is pouring down and the clouds are black.  To my mind, the honeybees in this part of southern England will be cooped-up in their respective hives hatching plans about swarming.  By the time a sunny day arrives many the hives in this part of the world will be swarming.  But not to fear, Mr Woodley is at hand offer some advice…Read More »

M.S.Elwes: The Forgotten Artist who Discovered Garden Cottage

My research about William Woodley, the beekeeper who lived at Worlds End-Beedon, has brought me to the discovery of a water-colour painting.  The painting is of Garden Cottage (William Woodley’s home) and it was painted by an obscure female artist by the name of M.S. Elwes or more fully Mary Somerville Elwes. There are several artists with the surname Elwes, and Simon Elwes in particular made his name during the Second World War as a war artist.  But I have found no link with M.S. Elwes to the other artists who share the same surname.Read More »

Mr Woodley’s 114 Year Old Smoker Fuel Recipe Recreated!

[UPDATE JULY 13TH, 2018, I have made a video on how to keep your smoker going which incorporates Mr Woodley’s recipe, please see below]


In 1901 Mr Woodley provided his readership a recipe for a smoker fuel:

Most of us have experienced the failure of our “smoker” to belch forth a volume of smoke when urgently needed, and have endured much pain in consequence.  Now if those who suffer in this way will dissolve 1 oz. of saltpetre in 1 quart of water and immerse the smoker-fuel in this solution, then ring same out and dry the rag, brown paper, or whatever material is used, it will burn continuously until consumed. [NBTW 20 June 1901]

So, this is how I recreated the smoker fuel recipe…

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Mr Woodley: Towards the End

The teen years of the twentieth-century were tough on Mr Woodley as they were on Beekeeping in general.  Mr Woodley’s stance on foul brood legislation made him an easy target for critics when Isle of Wight Disease (believed at the time to be caused by the acarine mite) devastated bee colonies throughout Britain.  Mr Woodley lost respect among the beekeeping profession and entries of his column ‘Notes By The Way’ began to peter out by 1913.  This is his last entry in the British Bee Journal:

I, as a scourged member of the craft, am not chastened by being wiped out, or nearly so, twice.  “When perseverance fails the swan sinks”, I set about repairing the damage at the outset with some success; in fact, by using formalin and Lysol in equal proportions spread on strips of thin board and pushed in at the entrances twice weekly of many of my hives, the first spring of the outbreak of “Isle of Wight” disease I preserved every stock so treated, and I quite thought I had got a remedy, and had a good take of honey from these hives, but the following winter and spring I lost most of them.  Then I bought new swarms, both English and Dutch.  Both strains were hived in disinfected hives, boiled frames, new foundations.  Again using most of the advertised remedies, I had a fair take of honey.  The winter of 1915-16 reduced me to a few stocks, and as the spring advanced these developed symptoms of “Isle of Wight” disease.

[NBTW 1 February 1917]Read More »

John Walton’s visit to Mr Woodley’s Home Apiary (Worlds End)

1882 Map of Worlds End - the red circle shows Mr Woodley's apiary.
1882 Map of Worlds End – the red circle shows Mr Woodley’s apiary.

Here is an article I stumbled on by accident today.  John Walton paid a visit to Mr Woodley on 24 September 1888, using the train from Leamingston Spa.  This article provides a nice description of Mr Woodley’s home apiary at Worlds End, Beedon.  In addition, the article gives some interesting references to Hampstead Norris Railway Station (the village is today spelt Hampstead Norreys) and as well as the Bothampstead Road to Worlds End.Read More »