|By Sheila & Alastair Beaufort for the Meat Trades Journal December 7, 1976:
The Drury family have been, quality country butchers in the picturesque little Cotswold town of Moreton-in-Marsh for 160 years come next Spring, and were in the same trade for the previous 12 years at the village of Aston Subedge, near Chipping Campden, a few miles away, on the Gloucestershire-Worcestershire border.
Before that they were farmers around the same area.
Mr. Reginald Drury (64) who runs the shop today with avuncular benevolence in a first-class butcher; he is also a talented amateur historian, who has chosen to dedicate much of his spare time to tracing his family to its pre-1066 origins in a town in Northern France. In the parlour at the side of the shop he proudly exhibits a large chart of the family tree, complete in every detail from Clement Drury in 1580 and accurate, but for a 100-year-gap (yet to be filled) from the days when a Drury (who bore no other name) helped conquer England with William, and in so recorded in the Battle Abbey Roll.
Surrounded by documents, wills from Gloucester probate Court, family records and books, he can point instantly to this or that ancestor, among the hundreds on branches of the tree, and go into a detailed and fascinating anecdote about his or her life and works.
There is a large rubbing of Sir William Drury and his wife, circa 1380, dominating the wall by the window, On the upright piano to a beautifully coloured reproduction of a picture-in the British Museum of a splendid soldier In armour on a finely-dressed horse jousting with a man named Butler, similarly accoutered, This is Roger Drury, of Rougham, Suffolk, who died for England in 1420, and who was the great-grandfather of' Clement.
Another Drury, at Gloucester, was burned to death in Mary's reign for being a protestant; and in 1649, for supporting the Royalist cause by carrying provisions to Charles's garrisons at Oxford, a local ancestor, John Drury, of Childswickham had his estates sequestrated.
Through the wall, in the busy shop, the Common Market was being crucified for what it has done to meat prices, but in the unpretentious sitting room we were marching through 900 years of Drury history.
Drury 'signifieth a precious jewell' we learned from an antiquarian book, while another translated it as 'sweetheart'; and the family motto is non sine causa nothing without a cause. The family takes its name from the town of Drury (corrupted from the earlier du Rouveray) in Normandy, in northern France.
The family have hold two baronetcies and many knighthoods. In those days, cousins married cousins to keep money and property in the family.
Even Drury Lane in named after an ancestor, Sir Roger Drury, who built Drury House on a site there, as his London home, towards the end of the 15th century. It continued in the possession of the Drury family, one of whom, Sir Robert Drury, was the patron of the celebrated poet, Dr Donne, Dean of St Pauls, until the beginning of the 17th century, Sir Robert's daughter, Elizabeth, was to have been the bride of Prince Henry, oldest son of James I, but fate decreed otherwise, for death claimed both in their youth.
Sir Robert was Privy Councillor to Henry VII and Henry VIII, and Speaker of the House of Commons.
Sir William Drury was Queen Elizabeth I's Marshal of Berwick and was later Lord Deputy of Ireland. There is a painting of him In the National Portrait Gallery.
The first English Drury who came over with the Conqueror settled at Thurston in Suffolk, and there remain two shields of the Drury arms relics of a once-renowned Drury chapel at the church there; after seven generations, the head of the family was knighted, and subsequently the family was linked with John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. In the late-15th century, Clement Drury moved to Shropshire, and, through his line, an important yeoman branch settled at Weston Subedge more than 300 years ago, whereabouts it has remained ever since. The parish churchyard at Weston Subedge has many silent witnesses to successive generations of the family, with as many as 24 Drury tombstones in close proximity to one another.
There is a record of the family at Battle Abbey which says it has continued many years in good reputation, replenished with knights and squires, and greatly honoured with soldiers of notable name and memory.'
Among more recent documents produced by historian-butcher Reginald Drury are census papers, a farm day book showing such items as 'washed 2 tegs for Mr. Drury' and local trade directories with advertising relative to the butcher's business. Extracts from directories show Sarah Drury as the Moreton High Street butcher and shopkeeper in 1839, and as butcher-grocer in 1844. Census entries show William Drury, butcher, in 1851; and subsequent ones describe Sarah Drury as 'a widow' aged 65' and as "a butcher, born at Weston Subedge, employing two men. . . , and 'a son, Joseph, a widower aged 40, also a butcher, born at Aston Subedge. . . ' and 'two servants, 18-year-old Mary Locks from Minster Lovell and 16-year-old William Nobes, of Leamington Spa. . . ' In 1856, Mrs. Sarah Drury was again simply 'a butcher'.
The butchering began in 1805 with John Drury, third son of a yeoman farmer at Weston Subedge, setting himself up in a shop in the village. In 1817, he moved to Moreton-in-Marsh, took over a baker's premises, which had been there since 1750, and founded the business which in little changed in style and form today, and which has been variously known over the generations as John Drury, Drury Brothers, Charles R Drury, and presently Drury's.
|John Drury died in 1830, aged 51, when his widow, Sarah, took over. Reference to the family tree shows that they had five children (including two Harriets, the second of whom was so-named after the first had died). Sarah was a splendid organizer and did so well butchering that she was able to buy the shop and house (one building) in 1860. She died in 1862.
There is an oil painting in the sitting room of one of her daughters, Mary Ann Drury, who married well as Mrs. Barclay.
Both her sons had worked in the business, but they had predeceased her. One was Joseph, already mentioned; the other was William, whose wife Elizabeth made straw hats and kept the Bell pub, of which days an engraved rummer remains in the family. So it fell to Sarah's grandson John William (grandfather of the present proprietor) to take over the family butcher's business at the age of 17, which he apparently did with great elan, with the help, mainly, of a widowed aunt. His only brother ran a stationer's shop in the town and had no offspring.
In 1868, John William married Mary Lawrence from Torquay (the tree tells us) when both were 23, and they subsequently had 12 children (six of each). When John William died in 1892, his oldest son, John Drury ran the business for three years, and from 1895 to 1906 it was run as a partnership between two of the boys, the second and fourth sons, Arthur and Charles respectively, Charles being the present Mr. Drury 's father. Mary Lawrence Drury had meanwhile taken most of the rest of her large brood back to her native Torquay.
In 1906, Arthur left to do other things in Moreton, including property-ownership, and Charles R Drury carried on butchering. He was a real expert on cattle, (renowned as a judge around the fatstock shows of the area) who would feel his judgment was slipping if he was more than two or three pounds out in his estimate of the weight of a beast. He had married a Miss Frances Randall of Barton-on-the-Heath, four miles from Moreton, whose family had a farm at Barton-on-the-Heath, and they had two boys, Edward and Reginald. From the age of 9 or 10 the boys ran errands and saw how the family business was organised. At the age of 12, Reginald set up a small museum of his own in the summerhouse, exhibiting anything he could lay his hands on, from stamps to snakeskins, and attempting not too successfully, to charge admission.
Edward, the older by two years, wanted to have nothing to do with butchering. On leaving school, he went into local government in Evesham, and became deputy borough treasurer.
After attending King Edward's boarding school in Stratford-upon-Avon, where, appropriately, he was tremendously interested In history, Reginald joined his father in the shop at 15, learning as and when he could and being partly kept down because his father held strictly, to the belief that certain work was beyond the capabilities of a lad in his 'teens.
Reginald had wanted to be a printer, rather than a butcher, but his father said he would have to stay longer at school for that, so he had chosen the lesser of two evils and joined the business in 1927.
His father, had five or six staff, and a slaughterhouse in the backyard of the shop. They also sold a lot of game. They made their own sausages, with distinctive Drury bands. And they farmed 50-60 acres at different times at Moreton and Barton-on-the-Heath, which an uncle looked after. Mostly cattle were raised, plus a few pigs and sheep - and a lot of poultry, which were looked after by Mrs. Frances Drury. They supplemented their own stock by buying live in Evesham Market. From those times, some eight acres remain today, but they are let to a farmer.
The premises in High Street, Moreton, date from 1680, and feature a doorway with 1707 on it. They were altered somewhat in 1885.
Deliveries until 1929 (When a motorcycle was purchased) were by horses and carts, and Mr. Drury recalls Kit, a fast mare, and Ginger. (shown in one of the photographs). In about 1930, vans were purchased. The small, shop, with its small cutting room and cold room at the back, could not accommodate the large staff, but in those days most of them were out canvassing or delivering, working in the slaughterhouse, or doing a bit of farming.
|In 1929, blacksmith William Dyer, whose two sons worked in the Drury shop, made the equipment for an ox roast for a charity-raising event run on the occasion of the Charter or Mop Fair. Mr. Charles Drury selected, slaughtered and dressed the beast, which William Dyer cooked all day in the High Street, for each of the ten years until the war. Substantial sums of money were raised for the local hospital for old people, until it was nationalised. Rationing brought the ox roast to an end, but it was revived at Moreton and at Draycott, by Reginald Drury, for the Queen's Coronation in 1953.
In January, 1940, just before rationing came in, George VI arrived at Moreton to inspect the Green Howards who were on parade in the High Street. The Drury family was called upon to supply Lamb Chops and Legs of Lamb, for the King and his party at the Officer's Mess.
Anyway, when rationing was announced in 1940, Charles Drury and his son Reginald, with the staff still remaining, buckled down to it and slaughtered everything they could got hold of to put in the cold store. Reginald recalls that home-killed meat kept much longer In those days, because there was a greater pride taken, and the animal was fasted for a day before being killed. They were able to cut up enough carcasses to give some three weeks of extra supply to their customers, before any of them had to break into their books of ration coupons a gesture that was much appreciated in the town.
Later in 1940, Reginald joined the Royal Armoured Corps and became a tank driver/instructor at Bovington, Dorset. But in January, 1943, he was given compassionate leave because his father had collapsed. His leave was extended, and, in fact, he never went back to the army, having taken over the business fully, managing as best he could, mainly with part-time help, borrowed from here and there.
His father died in 1944, and his mother in 1959. Reginald and his brother are both bachelors, looked after in the family home by two part-time women, who do the cooking and cleaning, so the family business will be no more when Reginald retires.
Since the war, Reginald Drury has never had more than 2-3 staff, and he now only has one. It was going to cost £5-6,000 to alter the slaughterhouse, and he got a bit annoyed with the council and its restrictions, so he closed it down in 1960. He no longer deals in game because it was no longer worth it for the smaller demand.
Deliveries were stopped 7-8 years ago, which is the principal change in the business. The Drury shop still sells the best meat, now carefully chosen through the Evesham Butchers' Company, in which Reginald Drury has a shareholding. And he still makes sausages on Sundays.
Mr. Drury is somewhat gloomy about the state of the trade. He thinks it is hard at any time and is now unrewarding as well as hard. He says he has had no holiday since 1931 (unless you count a total of four days off in the 'thirties and two days last year to do research into the family history in Bury St Edmunds).
'There's not much money in it now, he says, 'with sky-high rates for a high street shop and prices increasing to the point where customers have to cut back on their orders. Since prices went through the roof, we're taking the same amount of money but selling a smaller quantity-of meat.'
The working hours are no less, he adds, and explains that he is a bachelor because he has never had a moment to spare for courting; any spare moments he has had in the past 15 years have been spent checking the family's descent and pedigree, and adding something to the history of Moreton-in-Marsh.
It is sad to contemplate that when he goes there will no longer be a Drury's brightening the heart of Moreton, Anyone who stands in the shop for even a short time can feel the warmth of affection the customers feel for their long, established family butcher's. Everything about the shop, including its meat, its rosy cheeked proprietor and his clean-aproned lad, bespeak the stuff of Old England. Royalty and the nobility have expressed their appreciation of Drury's quality, and the family has always played important parts in the community, respected equally as tradesmen and people. You feel Drury's ought to go on as long as England. Alas, it will not, and of how many family businesses will that be true in the not-so-distant future?