Oxford Terrace

Neighbours of the "Iron Church"

by Allan Palmer

Having identified that there were houses in Oxford Terrace (the street that was next to All Saints’ Church), I have looked closer at the records for these properties in the 1901 Census – the year before Rev Cooper-Smith erected the original “Iron Church” on the site of the present-day All Saints’.

In that Census, there are 57 people listed as residents of the 9 houses that made up the east side of Oxford Terrace. Of these 57 individuals, 22 were under the age of 13. As can be imagined from these numbers, there were several large families – e.g. Edwin and Eliza Westbrook shared a house with their 9 children, while James and Mary Mills had 8 children living with them. [At this time, Basingstoke’s total population was 9,510.]

Of the 27 residents for whom an occupation is recorded, there are 3 tailors and 7 tailoresses. This Census does not provide information on employers, but it is probable that most of these tailors/tailoresses worked for Thomas Burberry. Burberry had come to Basingstoke in 1856 and opened his first draper’s shop in Winchester Street. Further retail and workshop premises were built in London Street in 1892. Gaberdine, the breathable, weatherproof and tear-proof material was Burberry’s invention that transformed his company into a major retailer with stores being opened across the UK and overseas.

As well as the tailors/tailoresses mentioned above, there were also 2 “clothier’s assistants” and a “clothier packer”, a dressmaker’s apprentice and 3 bootmakers. The other notable occupation is that of Henry W Smith - he was a “Sergeant of police”.

Moving on ten years to the 1911 Census, the west side of Oxford Terrace has been built upon with the newer 11 properties recorded as “Victoria Park Terrace”. (A brief scan through Electoral Registers for the period suggests that addresses in Victoria Park Terrace first appeared around 1905.)  The accompanying map extract from 1910 shows buildings on both sides of the street and the position of the “Iron Church” before it was moved to its current position as the Church Hall. The original 9 houses now only contain 33 people (including 9 children) with no household larger than 5. The newer houses, however, are home to 39 people of working age plus 26 children, resulting in All Saints’ then having 98 immediate neighbours in the street. While there are still several residents employed in the tailoring industry, there is now a wider range of occupations including a baker &confectioner, a butcher, a “Civil Service registered boy clerk”, a Cricket groundsman, a pianoforte teacher, and a tinsmith among others. 

In this Census more than half of these All Saints’ neighbours have a birthplace outside of Basingstoke – elsewhere in Hampshire, in Berkshire, Kent, Somerset, Devon, Cornwall, and Jersey as examples. The widowed Elizabeth Jennings lived at number 14 Oxford Terrace - her birthplace is recorded as Ghazipur, India and that of her eldest daughter as Subathu, India. From the brief research I have been able to undertake, Edward Jennings (Elizabeth’s husband) was born in Sherborne St John and enlisted in the British Army in 1834, spending most of the next 23 years stationed in India until his discharge and his return to Basingstoke. Edward married Elizabeth Molt in 1843 at Allahabad, Bengal, India. Elizabeth was aged 14, and I believe her father was a regimental surgeon.

Debbie Reavell of the Basingstoke Heritage Society has noted about the Oxford/Victoria Park Terrace houses: “Like all cottages in the town they are rental properties with local businessmen, or their unmarried daughters owning them – it seemed the only way to provide a bit of income for single women was to own a bit of rental property.”

I wonder how many of the residents of Oxford Terrace attended services in the “Iron Church”?

Oxford Terrace on extract from 1910 OS map (from NLS Archive) showing 

See these pages for more information:

📍 Neighbours of the "new" All Saints' (1921)

📍 Neighbours on the Eve of War (1939)