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.

1. Worlds End Chapel 2. Worlds End Farmhouse 3. Barn associated with Worlds End Farmhouse 4. Trees 5. Rickyard 6. Mrs Woodley 7. Mr Woodley

1. Worlds End Chapel
2. Worlds End Farmhouse
3. Barn associated with Worlds End Farmhouse
4. Trees
5. Rickyard
6. Mrs Woodley
7. Mr Woodley

Looking at the annotated photograph circa 1896, the article below describes a little bit more about the Garden Cottage, the hives Mr Woodley uses and the Woodley family (see 6 and 7).




[Page 511]

Not having seen Mr. Woodley since the show at the Colonial two or three years ago, I wrote to him informing him I should be pleased to pay him a visit some time this autumn. I received a reply saying that he should be very glad to see me, but that he had no honey to show me. Accordingly I dropped him a line to say that I would be at his place on Monday the 24th of September. We had had nearly a fortnight’s fine weather previously. I started about 7 a.m., and had scarcely got half way to Leamington before it began to rain, and it did come down most of the time I was in the train. However, it cleared off just before I arrived at Hampstead Norris Station, and found friend Woodley waiting there for me. After mutual congratulations we got outside the station, when to my surprise I found he had a trap there. He told me he was going round to Hermitage to fetch some stocks of bees in skeps, and this enabled him to meet me, thereby killing two birds with one stone.


We accordingly went. I noticed that the bees were the old-fashioned English bees, and as the season up there had been nearly as bad as we have had it, the stocks were very light, and would require a deal of feeding. On our way to Worlds End we came up with a young man, who I afterwards found was somewhat of a dealer in bees. He expressed rather strong opinions against bee-keepers’ associations, saying that he, and others had told him the same, did not reap any benefit by them for the half-crown subscribed; he rather seemed to think it was through them that the price of honey was lowered so much last year. He did not seem to realise that so many more people had become bee-keepers, and by this means so much more honey had been obtained. After a little discussion, we proceeded on our way up a road that, Mr. Woodley said, was an old Roman road, leading one way to Winchester. The mile or two that we went up it was very sandy, and I could not help remarking that if the Romans had had cannon in their day they would have made it a better and more solid road. Presently we emerged on to a good road, and not very far up it was Mr. Woodley ‘s cottage, and a little on one side, on a nice little lawn, stood three stocks of bees in bar-frame hives, which Mr. Woodley said were his trade-mark; while from the road, as we went up in the trap, could be seen many of his stocks of bees further back in the garden.


When we arrived, I was introduced to Mrs. Woodley and their daughter: they have a son who is away from home now, and was shown a little hive that he had made, and kept humble bees in when he was at home. I was ushered into a nice cosy room, and having dined, we went out into the garden taking a look all round the apiary, and discussing many points of bee management. The afternoon was very dull, but I noticed a great many bees on the sunflowers and borage, which were flowering about the garden in great profusion. On taking a glance round, the preponderance of the Combination hive is quite marked, though comb honey is Mr W.’s forte. I asked Mr. W. how many stocks he had got, and this is something like it : — Fifty-six in Combination hives, four in make shift hives (all these have frames parallel to the entrance), also twelve stocks in Woodbury chaff hives, part with frames parallel to entrance, and part at right angles to entrance, also six colonies in twin hives, frames at right angles, also twenty colonies in straw skeps.


Mr. W. said he had taken especial notice of something like forty stocks in skeps this season, outside his own apiary, and had found combs built at every conceivable angle to the entrance, proving, to his satisfaction, that bees are not guided by any rule in the matter, and that they are guided by convenience of attachments of comb to domicile to which they build; and as far as he was able to judge by his eye, the stools were level on which the stocks stood.


Speaking of brace combs, and the means of preventing their attachment to the bottom of the sections, we should like something (more particularly myself) that would not hinder the bees, like, as we think, the excluder-zinc does; however, I have got one of the Raynor honey-boards, and hope to be able to test it another season. As regards honey, Mr. W. had a better honey-flow the early part of the season than I had in my locality, some of his stocks not requiring to be fed very much.


After looking all around we went into the house, and Mrs. W. showed me her plan of glazing sections, which I consider very expeditious. We then went up into the room where the crates of sections, extractor, foundation, wax, &c, are stored. Mrs. W. said that it took her four days scraping propolis off the sections and crates, and rearranging them, remarking to me that they will be first-rate to put on hives another season.


On going downstairs again Mr. W. showed me his silver and bronze medals and certificates, of which he has a large and varied number, and last, but not least, a beautiful silver cup, out of which I had some mead or metheglin, which was first-rate. Then, looking at the time, we found that the afternoon had slipped away so fast there was only just time to get tea and be off. So, having wished Mrs. Woodley good-bye, there was an hour’s walk to the station, to which Mr. Woodley accompanied me. We had many matters to discuss by the way, and got to the station just in time; and having bid Mr. W. good-bye, off I went at 6.33 p.m., and got to Leamington about 9.30 p.m., and had a five-mile walk home in the rain (which had commenced again), arriving about 11 p.m., rather tired, but much gratified by my day’s outing. — John Walton, Honey Cott, Weston, Leamington.



  1. Emily Scott · February 5, 2015

    Sounds like a very fine way to spend an afternoon! And I love that John Walton lived at “Honey Cott”. What do you think his comment “I noticed that the bees were the old-fashioned English bees” meant? Perhaps referring to colour, or temperament?

    • Charlton Estate Trust · February 5, 2015

      In previous articles Mr Woodley talks about Ye Olde English Bee, which basically is our native dark coloured honeybee. I think maybe Mr Walton was alluding to the more yellower continental/Italian strain of bees which were being introduced at the time.

      • Emily Scott · February 7, 2015

        That makes sense. Mine are pretty dark and hopefully will stay that way, though as there are lots of Italian drones around that may change.

  2. afrenchgarden · February 6, 2015

    Do you know what he referred to as “a little hive that he had made, and kept humble bees”? This is what bumble bees were called. F.W.L. Sladen kept bees and considered the possibility of obtaining honey from bumble bees. I wonder if Mr. Woodley tried to keep bumble bees for honey? Amelia

    • Charlton Estate Trust · February 6, 2015

      I have no idea what the bumble-bee hive he made for his son looked like, although I don’t think Mr Woodley was interested in producing bumble-bee honey. Here is Mr Woodley’s quote on the honey from Bumble-bees:

      “In my youthful days I rifled many nests of humble-bees, and the honey was always, very strong in flavour.” [NBTW 11 February 1909]

  3. Emma Sarah Tennant · February 8, 2015

    I love the mention of the old fashioned English bees. I’ve seen pictures and heard accounts that they were very gentle. What a great gem to pull from the archives – thank you!

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