David Gray’s Reminiscences of Mayfield and Five Ashes – Part 4

We’re moving slowly up the High Street to Oak Cottage, which was Pound Fold many years ago when it was two cottages. In my day, the smaller east part was called Inglenook. That was the home and office of Barrows, the builders, run by George Barrow, the son of the well-known master craftsman of yesteryear, Tom Barrow.

Behind the butcher’s was probably the slaughterhouse: everybody says it was, but the shop itself was run by a Mr. Lee and he was in competition with another butcher further up the High Street. The building itself was a barn up until about 1800.

St. Dunstan’s Pharmacy was rebuilt in the mid to late 19th Century but, at the time of the Second World War, it was the Mayfield branch of A.E. Hobbs Ltd. Chemists based in Mount Pleasant, Tunbridge Wells. After the war, it was run for quite a while by friends of my family, Mr. & Mrs. Tony Craft. Beside the chemists is a drive which led to the Old Star Cellar Tea Rooms run by Mrs. Hooper who lived in Mark Cross. It’s now a bricked-up doorway just a few yards down that driveway from the main road. At the end of the drive used to be the storerooms for Sivyer Bros. who ran the Mayfield Central Garage. (Incidentally, long before that, down the end of this drive were the stables for the old Star Inn.)

I’m unsure about Strudl and Burnett’s shops but somewhere nearby was our Home Guard Office during the war which later became an additional car showroom for Caffyn’s, who took over the garage from the Sivyers. Neither Elizabeth nor Rosina Fabrics were shop premises then because where they are now was the main High Street entrance for cars into Sivyer’s Central Garage, complete with four petrol pumps on the pavement. Although it was a very narrow entrance, it did
open out a lot at the rear into a large workshop, complete with ramps and hoists. Eventually, the Sivyers sold out to Caffyn’s, who then expanded into what is now Burnett’s and Strudl café.

A little way down Star Lane is Wee Cott where Len Harman used to live. There are signs of external steps going up to a door on the first floor. I think that door may have been to our clock repairer called Nicholls. Many years ago The Star Inn was in premises now known as Stone Court but then it moved next door into the west side of Star Lane, where it remained until it caught fire in 1926. Then the licence at The Star Inn was transferred up to the large private house that was up for sale called Middle House. That’s where the licence went to and still is today.

Stone Court, which had been our Poor House, our Workhouse, Guild of Carving and all sorts of things in its life had a single storage shop built onto its front around a ground floor window to the left of the front door. This sweet shop was known as Fenners. When the house last changed hands, the single storey building was demolished and the building has now reverted back to a front door flanked by large windows, just as it was in the old days.

The next shop up the High Street was – aah, wonderful memories and smells coming from – Skinners which was our fresh fish shop. Percy Skinner, life and soul of every party, ran this and when he sold out to a well-known Sussex fresh fish merchant called Ricksons he took semi-retirement by running the aforesaid Fenners sweet shop. Skinners, then Ricksons, is now Shirley Cottage.

David Gray, April 2017

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