Benger Trails
Forge Cottage

Christian Malford Road

The High Street to the east of Sutton Lane used to be known as Christian Malford Road; see the old postcard (labelled incorrectly as 'Christain' Malford). The photo was taken from along the road, looking back towards the junction of Sutton Lane; a fingerpost pointing up Sutton Lane can be seen to the right. A modern photograph taken from roughly the same place (the edge of the '30 mph' zone) would show a very different view today; however, the distinctive hipped end of the thatched cottage on the right, at 74/76 High Street, is still much the same as it was.

Sutton Lane

But, for reasons known only to history and the Post Office, the houses on the south side of Christian Malford Road now have addresses on Sutton Lane. No 5 Sutton Lane is Forge Cottage, and is where one of the village blacksmiths used to be. In fact, this was still a blacksmith's until the 1920s, and is shown as 'Smithy' on the early Ordnance Survey maps. It is labelled as Number 51a on the coloured 1900 map.

Blacksmiths in the 1800s

There were at least two blacksmith's shops in the village through much of the 1800s; the 1841 Census actually shows seven people who were blacksmiths. The main one in the first half of the century was at the junction of High Street and French Gardens Lane; it was demolished in the 1890s, to be replaced by the current house at 12/14 High Street.

Forge Cottage

There has been a house on the corner of High Street and Sutton Lane for over 200 years, and it is possible to document most of the residents back to at least 1808. But Forge Cottage did not become a Smithy until around 1850, when Thomas Bray moved to the village from Bradford on Avon; the 1851 Census shows him as a 'Master Blacksmith'. He was followed at Forge Cottage by his three sons William, Thomas and Robert; Robert was the grandfather of Nesta Heath. See Nesta Heath, Life and Herbing in Sutton Benger, p. 3.

William and Robert were still shown as blacksmiths in the 1903 Kelly's Directory, and in the 1911 Census. However, by 1920 the blacksmith at Forge Cottage was Henry Martin, originally from Kington Langley.

Forge Cottage; 1920 Auction

Martin is shown in the 1920 Auction at Lot 113. However, the property did not sell in that year, and it is not known what happened next. But there is no reference to 'Smithy' on the 1921 Ordnance Survey map.