Researched and written by Christopher J. Hogger.

Thomas (II) Stovell arrived in Effingham in the 1830s and was for many decades the village’s principal blacksmith, working in the forge in Church Street while occupying the adjacent Blacksmith’s Arms of which he was also the beerhouse keeper. He produced numerous children of whom the best known in Effingham was his son “Archer” (Arthur Archibald) who worked as a shoe maker and repairer as well as forming and leading the village band. Archer was born at the Blacksmith’s Arms and eventually bought it, by which time it had become known as Forge House. He worked all his years in Effingham in a small hut in the Forge House garden, behind the forge.

It is not yet known precisely when the Stovell family first arrived in Effingham, but it was apparently in the early 1830s.

The earliest known Stovell ancestor of this family was James Stovell who, probably about 1780, married a woman named Susannah. Between 1782 and 1794 they produced seven (known) children: Thomas (I), Samuel, Daniel, Stephen, John, Leah and Mark, all baptised at Abinger [IGI: Batch P013371].

Thomas (I) Stovell was baptised at Abinger on January 28th 1782. On May 1st 1805 he married at Capel to Phillis (née) Ireland [IGI: Batch M071472]. They produced three children at Abinger [IGI: Batch P013371] – Jane, Thomas (II) and Abraham – then two at West Horsley [IGI: Batch C040391] – Ann and James  – before leaving Surrey around 1822-27 for London, where they produced at least three more – Phillis, Henry and Joseph.

The 1841 Census finds Thomas (I) in London’s Hammersmith, whilst his son Thomas (II) was in Effingham:

1841 Census
Fulham Road, Hammersmith, Middlesex : PRO Ref: HO107 Piece 690 Book 4 Folio 35 Page 9

Thomas [I] Stovell : 50 [rounded] : blacksmith : no [not born in Middlesex]
Phillis Stovell : 50 : — : no
Ann Stovell : 20 : seamstress : yes
Phillis Stovell : 14 : — : yes
Henry Stovell : 12 : — : yes
Joseph Stovell : 2 : — : yes

1841 Census
[no specific address] Effingham, Surrey : PRO Ref: HO107 Piece 1071 Book 3 Folio 17 Page 5

Thomas [II] Stovell : 30 : blacksmith : yes [born in Surrey]
Elizabeth Stovell : 25 : — : yes
Thomas Stovell : 4 : — : yes

and in a separate household in the same dwelling:
Edward Lewer : 19 : blacksmith : yes

No definite record has yet been found for the marriage of Thomas (II) to Elizabeth, nor is it yet known what Elizabeth’s maiden name was; the couple may have been the Thomas Stovold and Elizabeth Holdaway who married in Guildford in 1834. Thomas (II)’s smithy, the ‘forge’, was in Church Street, next to The Blacksmith’s Arms, and may have been long established there – the Surrey History Centre has a record of a blacksmith Thomas Haynes in Effingham as early as 1776.

The History of Effingham [O’Connor, 1973] notes that the 1843 Tithe Schedule lists Thomas (II) as renting his cottage and garden (plot no. 248) from its owner William Polter. The corresponding Tithe Map confirms the ‘cottage’ as being The Blacksmith’s Arms.

In 1851 Thomas (I) was still in Hammersmith and Thomas (II) was still in Effingham:

1851 Census
Hog Lane, Hammersmith, Middlesex : PRO Ref: HO107 Piece 1469 Folio 473 Page 2

Thomas [I] Stovell : head : mar : 70 : pauper (blacksmith) : Ockley, Surrey
Phillis Stovell : wife : mar : 70 : laundress : Dorking, Surrey

1851 Census
Effingham Street, Effingham, Surrey : PRO Ref: HO107 Piece 1598 Folio 367 Page 16

Thomas (II) Stovell : head : mar : 43 : blacksmith employing one man : Ockley, Surrey
Elizabeth Stovell : wife : mar : 37 : — : Wootten [sic – Wotton], Surrey
Thomas Stovell : son : 14 : son at home : Effingham, Surrey
Catharine [sic] Stovell : dau : 9 : scholar : Effingham, Surrey
Henry Stovell : son : 8 : scholar : Effingham, Surrey
Jane Stovell : dau : 7 : scholar : Effingham, Surrey
Frederic [sic] Stovell : son : 4 : at home : Effingham, Surrey
Alfred Stovell : son : 1 : at home : Effingham, Surrey
George Stovell : son : 3 weeks : at home : Effingham, Surrey
and 1 servant

Thomas (II) had been baptised at Abinger on November 25th 1807 [IGI: Batch P013371] and had probably stayed in his father’s household until at least 1828 when he became 21. His first child was born in Effingham about 1836-37, hence the inference that he came to the village probably around the early 1830s.

In 1856 Thomas (I)’s wife Phillis died [GRO Ref: Kensington 1a 71, 1856 (Q4)]. Thomas (I) then returned to Surrey to live in Great Bookham with his sister Leah who on May 19th 1818 had married at Thames Ditton to a labourer James Lucas [IGI: Batch M040591]. Meanwhile, in Effingham, Thomas (II) was combining his occupation as blacksmith with that of ‘beerhouse keeper’ at The Blacksmith’s Arms:

1861 Census
Gasten [sic – Gaston] Farm House, Little Bookham Street, Great Bookham, Surrey: PRO Ref: RG9 Piece 420 Folio 153 Page 9

James Lucas : head : mar : 71 : agricultural labourer : Effingham, Surrey
Leah Lucas : wife : mar : 67 : laundress : Ockly [sic – Ockley], Surrey
and 2 children and 1 grandchild together with:
Thomas (I) Stovell : brother-in-law : widower : 79 : supported by daughter : Ockly [sic], Surrey

1861 Census
Church Street, Effingham, Surrey: PRO Ref: RG9 Piece 441 Folio 72 Page 11

Thomas [II] Stovell : head : mar : 53 : blacksmith (emp. 1 man) [&] beerhouse keeper : Ockley, Surrey
Elizabeth Stovell : wife : mar : 47 : — : Wooten [sic – Wotton], Surrey
Thomas Stovell : son : unm : 23 : blacksmith : Effingham, Surrey
Eliza Stovell : dau : unm : 16 : — : Effingham, Surrey
Frederick Stovell : son : unm : 14 : scholar : Effingham, Surrey
Mary Stovell : dau : unm : 13 : scholar : Effingham, Surrey
George Stovell : son : unm : 10 : scholar : Effingham, Surrey
Philis [sic] Stovell : dau : unm : 3 : scholar : Effingham, Surrey

Thomas (II)’s wife Elizabeth died later in 1861 [GRO Ref: Dorking 2a 74, 1861 (Q3)], aged around 48. Producing and raising at least ten children in a single cottage had clearly taken its toll.

Thomas (I) most probably died in Bookham in 1862 [GRO Ref: Epsom 2a 1, 1862 (Q2)], but alternatively returned to Hammersmith and died there [GRO Ref: Kensington 1a 96, 1863 (Q2)].

In 1867 Thomas (II) remarried, to Mary Ann (née) Charlwood [GRO Ref: Croydon 2a 312, 1867 (Q4)]. She had been born in Upper Tooting on October 3rd 1843 to parents Timothy and Lydia, and baptised at St. Leonard’s, Streatham on November 5th [IGI: Batch C055191]. No convincing birth registration has been found for her in the GRO index. At the time of the 1861 Census she had been working as a domestic servant for a public accountant in The Parade, Epsom [PRO Ref: RG9 Piece 419 Folio 95 Page 30]. She was about 36 years younger than Thomas (II) and perhaps sensitivity about this motivated them to marry in the Croydon district, unseen by the other Effingham villagers.

In the 1871 Census the address of Thomas (II)’s family ls not given explicitly, but the schedule’s order makes clear that it was still The Blacksmith’s Arms.

1871 Census
[no specific address] Effingham, Surrey : PRO Ref: RG10 Piece 829 Folio 105 Page 13

Thomas [II] Stovell : head : mar : 63 : smith & beer house [keeper] : Ockley, Surrey
Mary Ann Stovell : wife : mar : 30 [sic – 27!] : — : Tooting, Surrey
Phillis Stovell : dau : unm : 13 : — : Effingham, Surrey
George Stovell : son : unm : 20 : smith : Effingham, Surrey
[Ernest] William Stovell : son : unm : 2 : — : Paddington [sic – Hammersmith?], Middlesex
John Phillips : journeyman : unm : 21 : smith : Bournemouth, Hampshire
James Freeman : visitor : unm : 31 : smith : Washington, Sussex

The above son Ernest William may have been born at the London home of Thomas (II)’s aunt Leah (née Stovell) Lucas [GRO Ref: Kensington 1a 74, 1868 (Q4)].

In 1879 Leah died aged “’86” [GRO Ref: Epsom 2a 23, 1879 (Q4)].

Now in his early 70s, having already produced at least 14 children by his two wives, Thomas (II) now fathered a fifteenth – in 1880 his penultimate son Arthur Archibald Stovell was born [GRO Ref: Dorking 2a 147, 1880 (Q2)]. Arthur, according to his daughter, was born at The Blacksmith’s Arms. Here he is, aged “1”, in the 1881 Census:

1881 Census
‘Beer House’, Effingham, Surrey  : PRO Ref: RG11 Piece 796 Folio 117 Page 7

Thomas [II] Stovell : head : mar : 74 : blacksmith employing 1 man : Ockley, Surrey
Mary A. Stovell : wife : mar : 36 : — : Tooting, Surrey
Ernest W. Stovell : son : unm : 12 : scholar : London
Agnes L. Stovell : dau : unm : 8 : scholar : Effingham, Surrey
Charles Stovell : son : unm : 6 : scholar : Effingham, Surrey
Ada E. Stovell : dau : unm : 2 : — : Effingham, Surrey
Arthur A. Stovell : son : unm : 1 : — : Effingham, Surrey
and 2 servants

Later that year Thomas (II) fathered yet another child (and his last one), Walter Stovell [GRO Ref: Dorking 2a 149, 1881 (Q3)]. He must have been the most virile blacksmith in Surrey.

In 1887 he died aged 80 [GRO Ref: Dorking 2a 88, 1887 (Q4)]. His widow Mary Ann then became the partner of a widowed labourer Thomas (Jnr.) Dench. By 1891 she was living with him together with her two youngest children, Arthur and Walter:

1891 Census
The Village, Effingham, Surrey : PRO Ref: RG12 Piece 576 Folio 91 Page 10

Thomas [Jnr.] Dench : head : mar [actually widower] : 46 [sic] : agricultural labourer : West Horsley, Surrey
Mary A. [formerly Stovell] Dench : wife [sic] : mar [actually widow] : 45 : — : Tooting, Surrey
James Dench : son : unm : 23 : Coldstream Guards on reserve : Effingham, Surrey
Arthur Dench : son : unm : 15 : general labourer : Effingham, Surrey 
Bruce Dench : son : unm : 13 : general labourer : Effingham, Surrey
Minnie Dench : dau : unm : 10 : scholar : Effingham, Surrey
[Arthur] Archibald Stovell : [step]son : unm : 11 : scholar : Effingham, Surrey
Walter Stovell : [step]son : unm : 9 : scholar : Effingham, Surrey
William Dench : son : unm : 18 : agricultural labourer : Effingham, Surrey

Thomas (Jnr.) Dench became the grandfather of Charles Thomas Dench, one of the Effingham servicemen who died in WW2. Meanwhile, the other surviving children of Thomas (II) were scattered elsewhere. Ada, for instance, aged just 12, was in service in a shop in East Molesley whilst Charles, aged 16, was serving as a groom for Admiral Frederick Augustus Maxse at the latter’s newly-built property Dunley Hill in the far south of Effingham parish; there, Charles was at this time living above the stables. Mary Ann did not marry Thomas (Jnr.) Dench until 1894 [GRO Ref: Lambeth 1d 605, 1894 (Q2)].

At the time of this census The Blacksmith’s Arms was wholly occupied by the family of George Etheridge, described as a smith, farrier and beerhouse keeper. Also living (elsewhere) in the village was a blacksmith Samuel Burt aged 20 who may have been working for George.

The 1901 Census finds Arthur and Walter boarding together in Lower Street (today’s The Street). Arthur, who would become known throughout the village as “Archer”, was working as a harness maker:

1901 Census
Lower Street, Effingham, Surrey  : PRO Ref: RG13 Piece 623 Folio 96 Page 2

in the household of a gardener Harry Jackson:
Arthur A. Stovell : boarder : unm : 21 : harness maker : Effingham, Surrey
Walter Stovell : boarder : unm : 18 : gardener domestic : Effingham, Surrey

Meanwhile, The Blacksmith’s Arms – still bearing that name – was wholly occupied by the family of Arthur Edward Dilley. He was working as an engineering smith and, since the census schedule makes no mention of his also keeping a beerhouse, it seems likely that the property was no longer functioning as one. At this time the village already had two other pubs, The Prince Blücher (today’s Crosslands) – at the intersection of the Guildford Road with The Street – and The Plough Inn in Orestan Lane; these may have been drawing drinking custom away from The Blacksmith’s Arms. Around 1904, according to [O’Connor, ibid.] a new inn and hotel was built on The Street just a stone’s throw from The Blacksmith’s Arms and was named simply The Blücher Hotel, later renamed in 1917 as The Sir Douglas Haig Hotel.

The image below is perhaps the earliest photograph we currently have of Archer. He may have been in his twenties, so this may have been taken in the early 1900s; or, he may have been in his late teens. His uniform has not yet been identified.

Arthur Archibald (“Archer”) Stovell : perhaps early 1900s.

He was a keen cricketer for Effingham for a good part of his life. The two images at the right (extracted from team photographs) show him at about the same age as above, perhaps in the early 1900s.

In 1906 Archer married Gertrude Georgianna (née) Bell [GRO Ref: Reigate 2a 396, 1906 (Q3)]. She had been born to parents George (an agricultural labourer) and Annie in Waxham, Norfolk in 1883 [GRO Ref: Smallburgh 4b 50, 1883 (Q3)]. In the 1891 Census she was living with them in Chapel Road, Palling in Norfolk; by the time of the 1901 Census she had left the parental home and was living in Norwich Street, Fakenham employed as one of many assistants to a draper William J. Aldis. It is not yet known what brought her a few years later to Surrey.

The following year their first and only child Winifred Annie was born [GRO Ref: Dorking 2a 185, 1907 (Q4)]. One hundred and three years later, Winifred contributed an oral history to this website: it can be read on this page.

Winifred related that she had been born at her parents’ home “opposite the Plough”; as explained shortly, this evidently refers to Westmore Cottages. In the photograph below she is being held not by her mother but by her nurse and, from other photographs of Orestan Lane, it appears that the location is outside No. 2, Plough Cottages – one of several attached cottages that stood just east of The Plough on the north side of Orestan Lane; this is where the nurse probably lived.

         Winifred Annie Stovell, held by her nurse : late 1907 or early 1908.

The 1911 Census finds the family living in Orestan Lane. Archer’s address on the household form is given in his own handwriting as “West Moor Cottages”. The name “Westmore Cottages” referred in this period to the property that much later became the single dwelling known as Beech Cottage, just east of Old Westmoor Cottage on the south side of Orestan Lane. In the early 20th century (and indeed before) it had been divided into three separate dwellings. This is where Winifred had, presumably, been born.

1911 Census
Westmoor Cottages, Effingham, Surrey : PRO Ref: RG14 Piece 3193 Schedule 68

Arthur Archibald Stovell : head : mar : 31 : boot maker : Effingham, Surrey
Gertrude Stovell : wife : mar : 27 : — : Waxham, Norfolk
Winifred Annie Stovell : dau : unm : 3 : — : Effingham, Surrey

Here is one of two charming photographs that survive of Winifred at about this time:

Winifred : probably about 1911-12.

By 1911 The Blacksmith’s Arms may have already acquired its later name, Forge House. The small single-storey forge, or smithy, standing next to it was now being used by Henry George Woods. He had been born in Highfield, a suburb of Southampton, in 1861 [GRO Ref: S. Stoneham 2c 49, 1861 (Q4)] and had married in 1887 to Elizabeth Ann (née) White [GRO Ref: Southampton 2c 19, 1887 (Q1)]. By 1901 they were living with five children at 4, Stock Bank Cottages in Eastbourne, Sussex where Henry was occupied as a shoeing smith [PRO Ref: RG13 Piece 881 Folio 122 Page 17]. By 1911 their family had moved to Church Street in Effingham:

1911 Census
Forge Cottage, Church Street, Effingham, Surrey : PRO Ref: RG14 Piece 3193 Schedule 49

Henry Woods : head : mar : 49 : blacksmith : Southampton, Hampshire
Elizabeth Woods : wife : mar : 45 : — : Southampton, Hampshire
Henry Woods : son : unm : 15 : motor cleaner : Eastbourne, Sussex
Arthur Woods : son : unm : 11 : [at] school : Eastbourne, Sussex

In her oral history Winifred says that in her childhood the family moved “into the two little cottages next to the Haig – Yew Tree Cottages”. There were indeed at one time two semi-detached cottages, now long gone, that stood just north of the Haig, facing onto The Street. They can be seen at the centre of this photograph taken when the (relatively newly-built) hotel was being called The Blücher Hotel.

Yew Tree Cottages (centre) and, at right, The Blücher Hotel, subsequently The Sir Douglas Haig Hotel,
from the Mary Rice-Oxley Postcard Collection (a copy in the Francis Frith Collection is dated there as 1904).


A resident of Effingham born in the village in 1924 – Mrs. Margaret Mary (née Nicholls) Biles  – was interviewed in 1991 by Mary Rice-Oxley and recorded as saying that “Mr. Stovell was at the cottage next to Miss Marchant, before going to Church Street”. Miss Marchant was the sister Martha Allen of Harry Edward L. Marchant who, when enlisting with the East Surrey Regiment in 1916, gave his address as “Yew Tree Cottage” in Effingham. This was the south-most cottage of the pair. The next photograph, taken from The Street, shows Winifred in her “late teens” standing with her cat “Tricksy” outside her home, the northern-most cottage. The signboard on the house wall reads “A STOVELL BOOTS SHOES & LEATHER GOODS NEATLY REPAIRED”.

Winifred outside her home at Yew Tree Cottage : about 1914-16.

These observations are consistent with the following close-up of part of another, later, photograph taken when the hotel had been renamed The Sir Douglas Haig. In this close-up we can see, behind the white post, the same little wooden porch over the front door as seen in the earlier image, together with the right-hand edge of the Stovell signboard:

Yew Tree Cottages post-1914, from the Mary Rice-Oxley Postcard Collection.

In the 1919 and 1921 Electoral Registers, Archer and Gertrude were listed as living at “Yew Cottage”.

Archer was responsible for forming and subsequently leading the Effingham Band which enlivened many village events. He was evidently encouraged to create the band by Miss Effie Jane Ross, after some village boys had broken into the Working Men’s Club – of which Archer and his wife Gertrude were the caretakers – and damaged their musical instruments. Archer brought the boys and some older villagers together and trained them up as a drum and flute band. He single-handedly transcribed numerous piano scores into ones suitable for the flute in order to build the band’s repertoire. The band came into prominence in 1919 during the Effingham Peace Day Celebrations when, as reported in The Surrey Advertiser,

Mr. A. Stovell had got together a drum and fife band, which headed the procession, and played selections very creditably during the day.

Archer (with large drum) leading his band in the Peace Day parade : July 19th 1919.

Winifred said that her father’s limp attracted teasing by the village children and that eventually this led him to give up his public band appearances.

In 1920 Effingham cricket club played a match against the Abinger club, evidently winning by 6 wickets as the team photo below indicates:

Effingham’s cricket team at a match with Abinger in 1920, from the Mary Rice-Oxley Postcard Collection.

Here Archer is standing almost at the centre, to the right of the small boy, with his hands resting upon his bat. The much taller and stouter man to the right of Archer is Ralph Edgar Street, the head gardener at The Lodge, who appears in many photographs of village events.

Here is Archer once again in a cricket team photograph; this may also have been taken in the 1920s:


Archer at a cricket match : perhaps 1920s.

Winifred’s oral history states that Archer “eventually” bought Forge House (opposite). The Electoral Registers show that he and Gertrude were certainly living in it by 1935 and were still there in 1945. Although he had been born in this old pub, he had “signed the pledge” and never drank alcohol. She suggested the date “about 1930” for the two photographs seen here, although the true date may have been a little earlier.

Archer (at right) outside the forge; the other man may be Henry George Woods or perhaps his son Henry (born in 1895).

    Forge House in Church Street, formerly the Blacksmith’s Arms.

Henry George Woods appears to have died in Sussex in 1931 aged “70” [GRO Ref: Lewes 2b 216, 1931 (Q4)]. The forge faced directly onto Church Street. At the right of the above picture is Forge House, its frontage being reached by a narrow passage at right angles to the street. This passage also led to the garden of Forge House in which stood, directly behind the forge, the hut in which Archer spent his working life as a shoe and boot repairer. He always kept a fiercely hot ‘Tortoise’ stove  – like the example shown at left – burning in this hut, with prodigious quantities of ash flying about. Winifred recalled that after her parents had acquired Forge House she had lived there until she married in 1934. More remarkably, in order to obtain his raw leather, Archer routinely walked from Effingham to a tannery near Chilworth where large hunks of it were then strapped onto his back, whereupon he then walked home with it – a round journey of perhaps 16 miles, with significant heights to ascend on his way back. Archer had been born with one leg shorter than the other, imparting a limp, so this must have made his journey even more arduous. More generally, he was not an especially strong man and perhaps that was why he had not taken up his father’s trade as a blacksmith. He became very deaf in later life.

Winifred married in 1934 to George Hall [GRO Ref: Surrey Mid. E. 2a 564, 1934 (Q4)] and then moved away leaving Archer and Gertrude alone at Forge House.

Although Archer did not (to our knowledge) play football, he took a keen interest in the activity of Effingham’s team. In particular he maintained their boots and footballs in good condition. Besides repairing footwear he also made it, and many residents remember having had their school shoes and sandals made by him.

We do not know whether he played any public role in the village’s celebrations on May 6th 1935 of the Silver Jubilee of King George V’s accession to the throne – newspaper articles describing Effingham’s activities on that day do not mention him. George V died in January 20th 1936 and was succeeded by his son George VI whose Coronation took place on May 12th 1937. For this event a local band certainly did lead Effingham’s festivities, as The Surrey Advertiser reported in its issue of May 15th 1937, describing it now as “Mr. Street’s drum and fife band”; the same article also noted that “the village drum and fife band was resuscitated for the celebrations after a lapse of over 20 years, and so successful was it that it is expected it will be continued.” The stated lapse cannot have been so long, as we know the band was active in 1919.

The Effingham Band : May 12th 1937, Coronation Day for King George VI.

The above photograph is known for certain to have been taken in 1937 during the village’s Coronation celebration. Mr. Street is at far left, with Archer standing next to him. The tall man at the back, 5th from left, is Frank John Patten.

The next photograph shows the band at a possibly much earlier date, but clearly after telegraph poles had come to the village (a resident has given us a very similar photograph, clearly taken on the same day, bearing the date 1920). Here, Archer is 4th from right, whilst Mr. Street is at far left. The tall man 5th from left is Frank John Patten.

In 1938 Archer’s mother Mary Ann died aged “94” [GRO Ref: Surrey S.W. 2a 361, 1938 (Q3)].

Besides his skills in music and leatherwork Archer had another major talent, namely wood-carving. He carved and sold many beautiful items still in the possession of some of Effingham’s residents, as shown below:

Two frames made by Archer containing photographs of Winifred.

Left – a close-up of the first frame, showing the exquisitely accurate detailing; above – a bread-board made by Archer.

Besides the above items, at least two residents of Effingham in 2010 possessed beautiful small folding tables, with elaborately carved tops, made by him.

The following photograph of Archer shows him perhaps in the 1940s or 1950s, standing outside his little workshop and displaying strikingly large and strong hands. His leather apron shows long years of wear.

Archer’s wife Gertrude died aged “67” in 1951 [GRO Ref: Surrey S.W. 5g 1237, 1951 (Q1)] and was buried in St. Lawrence churchyard. Archer then went to live with Winifred and, presumably, his working life came to an end. In due course the forge and Forge House were both taken over by the garden machinery firm still there today, namely M.P.S. Forge House was entirely rebuilt in 1963 but is not greatly different, to the casual eye, from its precursor. The bellows from the old forge were saved and are today accommodated at the museum in Guildford.

Archer died aged “86” in 1966 [GRO Ref: Surrey Mid.E. 5g 143, 1966 (Q1)] and was buried with his wife. Their grave lies in the remotest part of the churchyard, being one of the last to be made there.

Loving Memory of
A dear wife & mother
Gertrude Stovell
who fell asleep 4th January 1951
aged 67 years.

Also of her dear husband
Arthur Archibald
who passed away 21st March 1966
aged 86 years.

The Stovell grave in St. Lawrence churchyard.