The Old Bakery - Egham Hill
The Bakery in Middle Hill – Boyce & Douglas families with Donaldson Children
The first I know of a family baker’s in Egham is when George Boyce is mentioned in his father’s will, written in 1819 as George Boyce, baker of Egham Hill. (His father was Rev George Boyce, who was curate of Winkfield for 49 years). However all the later children from George Boyce in 1805 were born in Egham, so a bakery could have been in operation this early.
In 1842, it was reported that prices for bread was too high. In the Windsor and Eton Advertiser, 22nd October 1842: -
We understand that in consequence of the bakers of Egham and the villages adjacent keeping up the price of bread per loaf to the enormous sum of 8d the best and 7 1/2d for seconds, some gentlemen have had a private meeting to consider the best means to be adopted to supply the poor during the approaching winter with the "staff of life" at a fair price, and it was agreed to establish a "cheap bread association" upon the same plan as that which had just commenced at Woolwich, the poor will thus be enabled to purchase their bread at 6 1/2d the best and 5 1/2d for the seconds, per loaf. The rich as well as the poor will be allowed to have their bread at the same price by being subscribers of £1 to the association. We hope to see such an association in every large town; it is only by such means that the bakers and "rogues in grain" can be brought to their senses.
George Boyce and family are certainly in Middle Hill from 1841, when they are listed in the Census. George is aged 60, also present is Martha (spelled Marther on the Census), his children Sarah 30, Elizabeth 30, George senior’s brother William Boyce 60, and Albert Douglas apprentice Baker, aged 15 (ages are only approximate on 1841 Census). Also present is George Giles, son of William Giles and Martha Boyce (George’s daughter). William Giles had died when George was only two, and Martha died three years later. Their grave is still in good condition near the entrance to St John’s Church. Martha Boyce (sen) died in 1851, and George 1854. They too are buried in St John’s , along with George Martin Boyce, a son, but the stone is no longer legible. A P.O. directory records the bakery in Middle Road (should be Hill) in 1855 run by Misses S P and E Boyce. In 1859 Sarah Pierce Boyce and Albert Douglas marry. Sarah is already 51 by this stage but Albert is 38 so they do not have children of their own. In the 1861 Census uncle William Boyce is by now 80 and described as an annuitant, and their niece Sarah Boyce Donaldson aged only 2 is staying (her parents and siblings are in Buttolphs Sussex). Elizabeth Boyce has left to marry John Simmons.
The events which really changed their lives happen in 1867 and 68. Albert’s niece Elizabeth Boyce Donaldson died on 18th Sep 1867 aged only 32 (this is from family records, no actual death registration or burial record has been found, so the cause and place are unknown). Her husband John Donaldson died aged only 37 leaving six children without parents. He died of illness rather than a sudden accident (Rupia, Ulcer of the Scalp and brain haemorrhage). John was a farm bailiff, working at the time of his death at the Uppark Estate for the Fetherstonehaugh family. A letter written by an employee of Lady Fetherstonhaugh refers to the poor orphan children. The six children are dispersed, three staying with relatives on each side of the family. Sarah Boyce Donaldson and Mary Boyce Donaldson come to the bakery. John Donaldson (jun) goes to Albert‘s brother James Douglas, the watchmaker of Egham High Street. James’s wife Martha Ann (who is also Sarah Boyce’s sister!) fetches the two girls, who are referred to in family correspondence as Tiddie and Pattie and mentions a lot of extra work. John must also be a lot of work and is often referred to as delicate in letters. Another sister, Martha was living with John Donaldson’s brother George at Thorpe as a nurse. However , she contracted TB, and went to a TB hospital, Eversfield Hospital in St Leonard’s.
By the time of the 1871 Census, William Boyce is still going strong at 90, and the family has been joined by Frederick Douglas, Albert’s nephew and son of James. In 1881 Frederick has left and founded his own shop at 77 Egham High St., which is at first a tobacconists, but is shortly after a baker’s and remains a baker’s until the death the death of Frederick’s unmarried daughter Ethel in 1973. Frederick now has John Donaldson jun working for him, and is married and has a child of his own. Back at Middle Hill William had died in 1873. Albert is now 59 and Sarah 72. Sarah died on 30th May 1883, and Albert died in 6th September 1888, having been living with his sister Mary at Nelson Villas, King’s Road, Egham
The bakery was continued in operation, initially by the Aldridge family, it continued in operation until the 1930’s, and is still in existence as a private house. Some of this later history is describe in the local history book about Englefield Green.
Sarah Boyce Donaldson married William Simmonds, they lived in Egham and had at least 5 children.
Mary Donaldson may have married it is not yet known. John Donaldson jun married Emily Pond, they lived in Staines and had two daughters. However John died in Mar quarter 1900 in Staines, Emily remarried Ernest Gardener in 1907. More about the Donaldsons here.
Frederick Douglas died in 1901, he left the (High Street) bakery to his wife Clara, who left it, not to her son Frederick, but her unmarried children Ethel and Percy. After Ethel’s death (March 1973), this building was demolished and a more modern building houses an insurance company, I believe.
Egham museum has documents details refurbishment done to the bakery and domestic parts of the house in 1870 and 1881 by Oades builders.
Sarah Pierce Douglas née Boyce