Eliza Giles

Date published: 18/12/2017


John Giles was born in 1823 in Englefield,Berkshire.  He lived in a tied cottage in the village, where his father was employed as a gardener on the Englefield Estate.  By 1841, he had left home and found work as a brick maker at The Kiln in Aborfield.  He met and married his wife Eliza, a dressmaker, whilst living and working in Arborfield.  After their marriage in May 1848, he became a Journeyman Baker, training with a Master Baker in the area where they lived inHurst.  By 1856; John and Eliza Giles had four children, James Leighton, Elizabeth, Emily and Ellen.


After completing an apprenticeship and becoming a Master Baker, the family moved to Beech House in Newland, Berkshire, [now part of Arborfield], where they ran a Bakery and Grocery Shop called “The Stores”.  The shop was situated next to the house. This village shop still exists, although it looks very different now from when John Giles and his family lived there.  The shop area has now increased considerably and encompasses both half the frontage of [and into] Beech House. A car park has been built on the front garden and the large rear garden is now taken up with bungalows.


Sadly, John Giles’s wife committed suicide in March 1865. Her death certificate states that she drowned herself through “temporary insanity”.  Eliza is buried under a large yew tree in a sarcophagus grave in St. Bartholomew’s Churchyard, Arborfield.  Their son, James Leighton left home during the 1860’s to join the army, but John and his three daughters, Elizabeth, Emily and Ellen, stayed on in Arborfield, after Eliza’s death, running the bakery and grocery shop. 


By 1881, and after all his daughters had left home, he had sold “The Stores” and moved to Lambourn to live with his married daughter Elizabeth Edwell and her family.  Later, they moved to Westfields in Newbury and John bought three small shops on what was then called St. Mary’s Hill, Greenham. He demolished these premises and built the larger “Giles’s Bakery” shop on the site, which he then ran as a Grocery and Bakery business. Giles Bakery was on the corner ofStation RoadandCheap Streetand for many years after the bakery closed, it became The Motorist Discount Centre but more recently, it has been a Fancy Dress Hire shop.


In 1882 he married his second wife, Eliza Parker and they moved to Granville Terrace, Gloucester Road, Newbury, where he bought several properties.  These included a grocer’s shop and a number of houses in both Gloucester Roadand Craven Road.  He retired about this time and handed over Giles’s Bakery to his son, James Leighton.  John Giles died at 5 Granville Terrace on the 8th June 1899 of “senile gangrene and exhaustion”. His second wife Eliza lived on in the house, [which had by then become18 Gloucester Road], until she died in 1923.




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