The Crouches
Kitty Lashly
Rita King
World War II
Tom Edwards
Ernie Treagus
Mel Baker
Madeline Ambrose
John Sexton


Julia Moore

Walter Hart

Dulcie Hart

Sidney Morgan

Charles Routledge

Any Comments?


A village history in West Sussex


Home | Personal | Church | Scouts | Schools | Ambrose | Sketchbook | Workhouse | Census | Memories | Yesteryear | Publications | Village Website

Madeline Thomas (neé Ambrose)

Some people have fairies at the bottom of their gardens, but Madeline Thomas had a slaughterhouse. Her father was Gilbert Ambrose, Westbourne's near legendary butcher and a man still fondly remembered four years after his death. Born in 1906, Mr Ambrose left school at the age of 14 and entered the butcher's trade, gaining a wide reputation far afield.

Mrs Thomas, who now lives in Northchapel, recalls: "He used to go to market with his meat. Chichester was one market of course, but at one time he was going to four, Salisbury, Winchester and Fareham as well. We had a slaughterhouse down the bottom of our garden where he killed everything. It was just something you lived with. It didn't seem strange. There wasn't much noise. Pigs would squeal as they were unloaded, but pigs would squeal if you so much as looked at them. Mrs Thomas said. "They were killed as quickly as possible, of course. There wasn't any space to keep them, for a start. It was in operation from five in the morning, four days a week, with seven or eight staff killing a weekly load of around 200 or 300 cattle and a couple of hundred pigs and lambs. I was born in 1943. After 1952, the slaughterhouse really got going. It was part and parcel of life. I am a farmer's wife now. That's how life is, you get to realise that meat isn't always neatly parcelled up."

Mrs Thomas laments the passing of the small village butcher, a character forced out by changing ways and by supermarket dominance. Equally she laments the passing of a meat which simply tasted better, fresher, free from additives, not impregnated with anything. "I remember taking the meat round the village on a bike when I was small. It used to be busy during the week. That was the country way. But for all those who remember Mr Ambrose as a butcher, there will be just as many who remember him as a horseman. He just loved horses. His father was a coachman, and he was brought up on horses. In the 1910's there was no other way of getting around.

"He couldn't see a horse without wanting to touch it. It was in his blood. He started his driving with a little pony and trap; he graduated to shows and was soon touring the country with his horsebox. Villagers would always take an interest, asking him where he was off to as he hit the road for another show. His first horse was called Lady Westbourne, and thereafter he gave all his horses the Westbourne prefix, ensuring the name of the village travelled the country wherever he went. He used to judge a lot. You could never keep him out of the ring. He was always in there, always involved. The cups he had were just incredible. His horses were always in physical perfection."

Source: Phil Hewitt CM Observer 9 March 1995


Bill North, a cousin of Mr Ambrose, outside Vine Cottage, next to the butcher's shop. c1910

Mrs Thomas following in her father's hoof  steps.

Top of page