Pssst, Wanna Buy Some Honey?

The cottager beekeeper of the late nineteenth century was giving-up keeping bees. There were many reasons for this including the fact that making a living as an agricultural labour was becoming a precarious occupation and better prospects lay in the towns and cities working in the factories.

In addition to this, the cottager beekeeper was having difficulties selling their honey.  The Berkshire Beekeepers’ Association was trying to arrest the decline the cottage beekeeper, Mr Woodley describes the situation:-

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Honeybees Perform A “great robbery to the farmer” Says The Newbury Weekly News

This is a piece I stumbled on in the British Bee Journal.  Mr Woodley responds to a misinformed journalist/correspondent at the Newbury Weekly News.  I would be interested to know from my readership, whether the standard and accuracy of journalism at the Newbury Weekly News has improved since 1890?Read More »

Merry Christmas Mr Woodley!

Mr Woodley wrote on 24 December 1890 in the British Bee Journal on the subject of Christmas Cards.

“I have seen many times on Christmas cards the old-fashioned straw skep or beehive figuring amongst the illustrations, but never in a single instance the modern frame hive, loaded with snow.  On more than one occasion I have wished for a ‘Kodak’ so that I could snap a view of my apiary when the row of hives have been laden with with snow, and have taken friends to see the unique vision of a snow laden apiary.  I am sure the view would inspire lovers of the beautiful in Nature with enthusiasm if they could share in the view.”

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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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