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Harrold Odell Paths to Crime Walk stop 4 The Old Smithy

The Old Smithy, Harrold

The Smithy in Harrold

The Smithy in Harrold c.1880 [ref.Z50/54/23]

A Young Witness

At the Michaelmas Quarter Sessions of 1842 John Crouch, the son of Christopher Crouch of Harrold described how he saw a certain John Allen go into William Stevens' butchers shop, put some pickled pork into his pocket and leave without paying for it. In his deposition young Crouch says he does not know how old he is. The 1841 census gives his age as five and the Harrold baptism register shows John Arnold Crouch, son of Christopher and Hephzibah Crouch to have been baptised on 13th September 1835, meaning he had probably just turned seven at the time the deposition was taken on 30th August 1842. The record describes him as an "infant" and he was not examined under oath, being considered too young to be sworn in as a witness. Stevens had asked young Crouch to keep a watch on a sheep hanging up outside his shop while he was absent for an hour, and the boy clearly took his task seriously. Despite considerable circumstantial evidence - Allen had been seen in the shop, his pocket was wet with brine and marked with grease and salt, and the constable found in his house a frying pan recently used to cook salt, fat meat - Allen was acquitted of the charge. The gaol register shows that Allen had a string of minor offences to his name dating back to 1810, ranging from being idle and disorderly in 1826 to breaking a door and lock in 1836, for which he paid a two shilling fine. The gaol register describes him in 1836 (when he was aged fifty) as "near bald on the forehead".

The Crouch family lived next door to William Stevens' shop in Harrold High Street and were well known local blacksmiths. The family carried on their trade in the Old Smithy at 49 High Street for at least three generations until the death of John's nephew Frederick George Crouch in 1941. You can read more about the smithy and the Crouch family in the Community Histories section of our website. William Stevens appears to have had plenty of competition. The 1841 census shows there were five butchers in Harrold – Stevens and one other in the High Street, two in the Market Place and a fifth in Brook Lane.

References: QSR1842/4/5/30; QGV10/1; QGV10/2