The Sibfords in the 1880s boasted no less than thirty tradesmen and fifteen farmers, according to a Kelly‘s Directory of Oxfordshire of the period.
The entries make interesting reading, classifying the villages as “townships,” and giving populations of 431 for Sibford Gower and 267 for the Ferris. To serve these communities there was an impressive array of craftsmen: a stone mason, a marble mason, a shoe maker, a fly proprietor, two shop-keepers, a baker, two machinists, two butchers, a plumber, three carpenters, two carriers, three black-smiths, a tailor, a land-measurer, a hairdresser, a haulier, a beer retailer, a miller and Joseph Manning, who combined the arts of baker and carpenter. What size village would be needed to support such a variety of trades today?
Interestingly enough, the gentry who are listed seem mostly to have faded away, while many of the “commercial” families still flourish. Names like Lamb, Poulton, Sabin, Manning, Payne and Woolgrove are no strangers.
Communications were not neglected either. Three carriers to Banbury were operating, all on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. From the Gower, Reubin Sabin would take you to The Fox, or John Harris to The Plough, while from Sibford Ferris, Henry Lines ran a service to The Waggon and Horses.
The post arrived at 9 a.m. in the Ferris and 9.15 in the Gower – but only on weekdays – and was dispatched at 4 p.m. & 4.15. Hardly different from today – and-whatever happened to the Sunday post? In one respect we are much better off now: the nearest money order office was at Hook Norton!