Wangford Village Picture Tour (page 1)
The name of the village is derived from the River Wang, which is a corruption of Wain, the old word for wagon. The tributary was always forded near the location of the present bridge before the London to Yarmouth coach route was diverted from passing in front of Henham Hall to the present A12 road through Henham.
At the same time the river was also re–routed on a straight course to the old iron bridge of 1843, where the present bridge is now. The parish boundary between Henham and Wangford remains along the original river course, which is now only a ditch. The river was dammed in the summer and used as a swimming pool for Henham and Wrentham schools.
The old school can be seen at the end of the long path, fronting the A12. The first school in the village was apparently in Vicarage Lane, before Henham School was built in 1859. The school closed in the mid 1980s.
Walk up the High Street to the first house on the right hand side...
This is Ford House, previously called Abbey Lands. Several Doctors lived here over many years, with a surgery in the house. The Honourable Agnes Eden (believed to be Anthony Eden´s aunt) lived here from about 1908 to about 1935.
1 – 5 The Weavers Cottages. Number 3 was said to have been without a fireplace at one time to create a damp atmosphere for the wool business. The three front porches and casement windows were continually knocked off by passing lorries, so replacements were discontinued.
Here is an attractive Dutch gable end. This was a blacksmith and tinsmith's.
At number 6 was a harness maker, Harry Benstead, until about 1936, then Fred Moss used a small lean-to on the side of the house for the sale of cycles and electrical goods. The small shop was demolished for the building of the present house next to the churchyard.
5a (not shown) was formerly a large wooden barn with a slaughterhouse at the bottom of the plot, which is still there but with a different use.
This was originally a Henham Estate blacksmith´s forge, converted to the British Legion Club and HO premises, with billiard table, when the branch was formed in 1921.
Here, number 11, was once the Post Office, then home of the village policeman Inspector Ginn, then the home of whoever was the gardener at Ford House.
numbers 13 – 25 is a long terrace row with a complicated layout of back gardens and outhouses.
Number 25 on the street was the shoemaker, Mr. Galer. The front window is a shop type design. His business ceased and Mr G. Ellis was moved in on 15th May 1943. His outside toilet was destroyed by a wartime 500lb bomb, dropped at such a low height that it bounced up and exploded on the marsh near the bridge. This air attack also caused much destruction and loss of life in Southwold.
27 [left side] was the Post Office until after 1939. It has a carriage wheel guard stone at the corner of the house. A very narrow door at the side opens to a recess used for storage of shutters to the front bay windows. The hinge pins are still on the window frames. Also inside is a heavy duty cast iron door in the side of a chimney.
29 was originally a bakery and shop. In the 1940s, the shop included a café. The bake house is seen at the rear of the entrance yard.
31 – Swan House – was originally the Swan Inn but Adnams discontinued the licence in the 1920s, for a reason with an unusual and speculative story.
House 33 formerly had an overhead shoemaker´s workshop joined from the house to Swan House, with access to the rear underneath. At one time divided into two with the front part used as a tailor´s shop and later a fish and chip shop. There is a dummy window associated with the ancient window tax.
35. First called the Red Lion Hotel then the White Lion Hotel. There was a petrol pump in the yard [to the left], which was used extensively by the Army during World War 2. Also in the front yard a brick office stood near the roadside because Arthur Hipperson, the landlord, was the road surveyor for the Blyth Rural District Council, among other things and this was his work place. There was a bowling green in the rear garden until the late 1930s.
Between the Lion and the Angel was an access track to the former Vine Cottage located on the edge of the marsh and very damp as a consequence. Demolished in about 1971. The track was also access to Angel Cottage, which was once a separated residence at the side of, but within, the Angel Hotel.
The Angel Inn, one of the oldest buildings in the village. Used as a Court House for the Assizes and also for property auctions. A building in the yard housed the wartime fire engine from 1940–45.
Between the gates and Church Street, where the present lay–by is, stood a row of eleven houses and shops [to the left] , which had a variety of uses over the years. Mixed among private residents were butchers, shoemakers, hardware store, chimney sweep, garage with roadside petrol pump (later converted to an Army Cadet Centre), cycle repair shop, grocer, garage for the doctor´s car (later converted to wartime WVS canteen), harness maker and tailor.
The one remaining building is number 8 [shown], which could not have a demolition order applied because the District Council could not find out who owned it. It was a small grocery shop. These properties had no yards or gardens and the Vicar once complained in the Parish Magazine about rubbish being thrown into the churchyard at the rear.
When the row was demolished, all the large Elm trees on both the Church Street and High Street sides of the churchyard were removed. A new brick wall was erected further back from the road than the former wall.
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