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There had been a bakery in Witheridge for at least 200 years until the closure of Reed's in 2003, and almost certainly on the same site in Trafalgar Square. For a period of 60 years there was a second one at the lower end of West Street.

Bakers Shop

There are records of a William Burgess (1756 - 1809) having a bakery here, and he was succeeded by his son Henry (1795 - 1855) who appears in the Tithe of 1837 as occupying the site of Reeds. Upon his death he left the site to his daughter Elizabeth, who, a few years later, sold it to William Whitfield. Subsequent proprietors were Herbert Whitfield and Mrs Selina Whitfield, and it remained in the family for a period of eighty years.

At some time in the 1880s Herbert Churchill bought the property in West Street, and started a rival bakery. He in turn was followed by his son William, who, seeking room to expand and modernize, purchased the Whitfield bakery from Herbert's sister Laura and sold his own. Raymond Reed, nephew to William Churchill, came to live with him in 1940 and helped between school hours, and in 1943 started to work for him. In 1955, Raymond purchased the business from him.

The old faggot oven was replaced by a coke fired tube system in 1943, and this in turn was changed to oil in 1970, and to electricity in 1984. Faggot wood would be four to five feet long, and not more than three to four inches in diameter, and was variously described as "browse, spray, or branches." A baker would either buy a hedge and get the farmer to cut it off, and make a woodrick of it, or use coppice wood also made into a woodrick. A favourite with Whitfields was wood from West Yeo, and there are memories of Frank Kingdom collecting cartloads from a rick in the field beside the main road above the depot, known as Woodpark. To construct a woodrick planks were put down for dryness and the timber built up in the shape of a cornrick. Frank worked for Churchill's, and, for several years, helped Reeds.


Bakers used to allow Sunday dinners, particularly Christmas dinners, to be cooked in their ovens, but this practice came to an end in 1970. Customers could also have their cakes baked. Bread, dinners and cakes were taken out by means of a "peel", with a fourteen foot handle.

In the early days country rounds were made by pony and trap, but in 1930 Churchill's brought a new Ford van at a cost of £100. Village deliveries were done with a barrow, or a bicycle with a box attachment.

It may well be something of a record for a village bakery to have been on the same site for over 200 years, and we were all sad to see it close in October 2003.

(O V) Whitfield's, the bakers, were at the premises at Trafalgar Square now occupied by Reed's the baker. Whitfield always did the Flower Show tea.

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Last Edited 03/07/2006    Copyright © 2000-2006 Witheridge

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