The 1891 Census

The population count for Ardingly was 1,280, a drop of 284 from the previous census in 1881. The St. Saviour’s College population recorded at 538 was 50 less than in 1881. The branch railway and station are now complete and employed 8 people and their families, so that the 297 railway constructors have gone away. Subtracting the college population of 338 from the total for the parish leaves 942 parishioners. An increase on ten years of 63 or just over 7%. The number of children under the age of 13 is now 338 an increase of 19. 24 families have four or more children, which is 21 less than in 1881.

The main occupation was in agriculture of 122, an increase of 69. ln 1881, 32 are designated as farm workers or labourers, but in this census 83 are so designated. This is where some problems of the enumerators descriptions arise. In 1881, 84 so called labourers are given no other description Some may have worked on the railway as well as on the land. Now that the railway construction was completed they are found designated on the land. The actual farmers so named was now six, with six bailiffs managing for absent landlords. Farm stock hands and cowmen are numbered as 8. There must have been more than this for many of the fields have been laid down to pasture. There must have been plenty of activity as the carters and boys number 12.

Wakehurst Place is recorded as empty again just before it was sold to Sir William and Lady Boord who in their short stay of 10 years did much to the mansion and to establish more gardens and took an interest in the village. Some houses like Hapstead, Knowles and Jordans are employing gardeners, 12 in total. Domestic female servants are 28 with 6 male servants. Unlike many villages Ardingly had only one large house that of Wakehurst Place, with a few smaller ones, so that many domestic servants would not be needed in large numbers. In fact many Ardingly women were in service in other places in Sussex. The village was quite an open one.

The building industry and allied trades increase employing many local men. In particular the prosperous timber works of Box and Turner did a lot of trade with its modern steam engines and saw pits. They were builders too and had a brickyard. This company made a lot of fine Sussex Oak furniture and advertised with a good brochure. Timber from the local wood supplied them and the building industry far and wide. No actual sawyers are recorded in the census, but 19 carpenters are. The other two building firms in the village are now established. Munnions and Holmans between them account for 15 bricklayers, 6 bricklayer’s labourers, a builders clerk and a stone mason. Almost all the village houses still have outside privies and no piped water but there are two plumbers and apprentices. Two gas fitters live in the village who more than likely worked in the Haywards Heath Gas Company. Gas and electricity and water did not arrive in Ardingly until much later. Wakehurst Place had its own electrical generator and water supplies through ram pumps in the grounds.

Hapstead House newly built by Mr. Potter who was an engineer from London had all the modern conveniences. Three electricians originally from London reside in the village. Recreation was now available at four places, the Station Hotel, the Greyhound Inn, the Oak Beer House and the Gardeners Arms. A recreation ground was created, built on land given by Sir William Boord of Wakehurst in honour of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.

Ardingly in the nineteenth century increased its population with larger families, active agricultural employment, the building of St. Saviour’s College and fluctuated with the building of the railways. The early part of the century saw the upgrading of the Turnpike road and the canalisation of the river Ouse. Local markets as well as London and Brighton were now more accessible.

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