Herbert William Reffell (1867-1953)

H W Reffell & Son (Butchers), Slab Lane, Downton, Wiltshire

Slab Lane, Downton Herbert William Reffell was born in 1867, the son of Edwin Reffell and Fanny Frampton from the Buckinghamshire farmers branch of the family. His eldest brother Horace joined the army in 1883. By the time of the 1891 census Herbert William was employed as a butcher and was lodging at 5 Mill Lane Streatham. He married Amelia Ellen Coulter in 1893, the daughter of Austen Coulter & Sarah Sutton who were also butchers, as was her elder brother; another Austen. Herbert was 26, Amelia was 16. By 1901 Herbert William was running a butchers shop at 10 Sunnyhill Road Streatham and was employing two assistants.

Herbert and Amelia produced 4 boys and 12 girls at Streatham. However, tragedy visited this family a number of times. Incredibly they lost four children in the space of only six days during 1900, with two children dying on the same day. Finally, following the sad loss of their last child Irene at the end of 1922, they decided to move from Streatham to Downton, Wiltshire where they bought a shop & dwelling on Slab Lane from a Mr Clark.

Downton had a medical charity from early in the 19th Century that was funded mainly by the rich, although there was also some form of regular saving by potential patients that ensured them priority treatment. The charity had a sick bay in the local Workhouse, and for a time the house that Henry William had bought was additionally a fever hospital. In 1931, the eleventh child of Herbert & Amelia, Gwendoline Marguerite Reffell was married to Herbert Hull, he was a butcher and worked for his new father-in-law. After the Second World War the business was taken over by their fourteenth child, John James who was known as Jack. Herbert William and Amelia Ellen still lived in the house until their deaths in 1953 & 1963 respectively.

Slab Lane, Downton 2005In the 1980s being on busy main road with no footpath to the village, the butchers shop closed and John James & wife Bathia (nee Michie) moved to Gloucester where they died in 1992 and 1987 respectively.

The two recent photographs were taken in 2005 and show that the sign for the butchers could still be made out;

HW REFFELL & SON. BUTCHERS. DAILY SUPPLIES. OF THE WORLDS BEST QUALITY. MEAT TO BE . OBTAINED HERE.

Slab Lane, Downton 2005 Underneath there is an older sign which says; WOODFORD'S CLOTHING AND BOOT STORES.

Many thanks go to Edwin John Reffell for the original story and the early photograph.

Many thanks also go to Robin Hull for the two later photographs and additional information.