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A village history in West Sussex


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 By Mel Baker

I used to go to number 2 Old School for my weekly piano lessons with Mrs Crouch. I seem to recollect that an hour's lesson cost two shillings and sixpence (12½p). Against the flint wall at the corner of School Lane there used to be a Victorian pillar box. After this was removed it was replaced by a smaller one that was attached to a telephone pole outside the Lashly's bungalow. Probably the same pole that is there now. On the opposite corner of the lane was a small general store that was owned by Mrs Daisy Hellyer. Mrs Hellyer used to sell home-made ice bites for ld. They were so creamy it was like eating frozen custard on a stick. It was Mrs Hellyer's husband Ernest who built most of the bungalows on the west side of Monks Hill after the war. Mr Hellyer was a partner in the Duke and Hellyer building business that operated from premises in The Square. Mrs Hellyer's shop is now a bungalow named Merry Garth.

Leaving Lashly's corner and going towards "The Cricketers" public house there is a house named "Vectis," on the right hand side of the road. This was the home of Mr Gilbert Ambrose, the butcher. At the bottom of a short lane beside the house, there used to be a slaughter house where Mr Ambrose would regularly slaughter pigs. On the days that this took place the squealing from the animals was horrendous and echoed all around the area. There used to be another slaughter house in Foxbury Lane opposite the road to Woodmancote. This is now a private home. Mr Ambrose also kept horses which he trained, for shows I believe, but also used some for meat deliveries to Racton, Walderton etc. The horses used to pull small two-seater traps. The horses were trained to trot with front legs lifted high. Mr Ambrose achieved this by taking them on to Westbourne Common, and with the horse attached to the end of a long rope, poor animal ran in circles around Mr Ambrose. A flick around the front legs with a huge whip ensured that the horse lifted its legs as required. Horses and traps were kept in the long low-level building that stands at the bottom of Covington Road. This is on land that used to adjoin the old Union Workhouse. One of Mr Ambrose's longest-standing employees was Godfrey Goble. Apart from working in the butchers' shop Godfrey used to carry out the upcountry deliveries for Mr Ambrose. My cousin Jill Gask (neé Farnden) related to me an account of the day that Godfrey overturned the trap at Broadreed spilling all his intended deliveries on the road. Bearing in mind that the meat would probably only have been wrapped in paper I imagine some of the joints may well have been a little crunchy when served up.

Quite a few of the local tradespeople used to call at houses at least once a week to take orders and usually provided a next-day delivery. One such was Mr "Clarkie" Clarkson, who used to call to us on a Saturday for fruit and vegetable orders. I can't remember seeing him wearing any sort of light clothing. He always seemed to wear a heavy army style great coat and finger-less gloves. Visits from tradespeople were never a quick in and out occurrence, but more of a social occasion when local gossip was exchanged.

Ems Valley Gazette 26 January 1995