20 November 2017

The High Street, Portslade Old Village.

Judy Middleton 2002 (revised 2017)

copyright © G.Osborne
Early 1900s photograph of the High Street in Portslade's Old Village looking west 

In times past the old village of Portslade did not bother with such niceties as street names or cottage names. Therefore, the early censuses simply listed people as living in the village with no indication as to exactly where. There were some exceptions such as Fraser’s Court and Hangleton Court but for the old cottages it remains a puzzle as to who the previous occupants actually were with no street names and no numbering. It was of course a different scenario for large houses such as Kemps, the Grange and Portslade House. From the earliest times, the High Street was the only road access to Mile Oak, the Valley Road development did not start until the 1930s.

North Side

Numbers 15 & 17 Swiss Cottages 

copyright © J.Middleton
Swiss Cottages in the early 1900s, note the absence of Valley Road.
Nobody knows quite why these two cottages were so nicknamed. Perhaps it was the picturesque roofline, unlike other old cottages in the village, or perhaps it was after the pleasure ground at Shoreham known as the Swiss Gardens.

1891 census

Charles White, 56, bricklayer, wife Elizabeth, 52, plus Findon-born lodger Thomas Tate, wheelwright.
William Warner, 29, cellar-man, wife Louisa, 27, and their children Beatrice, 4, and Charles, 2

By 1895 Charles White had changed his trade for that of a confectioner.

These cottages belonged to Portslade Farm Estate in the 1920s and were numbered as 1 & 3 High Street. On 29 May 1923 the cottages were put up for auction and were described as follows:

copyright © A. Singleton
 This view of the cottages was taken in the 1960s 
and shows the south frontages.
A pair of old-fashioned gabled cottages, brick and flint built
The cottages had two bedrooms but number 3 had an extra one
Living room with range
Scullery with copper and sink
Outside WC
Large garden measuring 2 roods and 11 poles

The cottages were let at a weekly rent of 3/6d each to Herbert Twine and Lawrence Neary.

By the early 1940s number 15 was privately owned. The wife was not complimentary about her kitchen, which was so starved of natural daylight that she described it as being like the Black Hole of Calcutta. This was because the cottages were built close against the hill and in order to reach the garden you needed to climb some steps. Once at the top, there were spectacular views across the village towards St Nicolas Church.
copyright © G.Osborne
In this early 1960s photograph the blind bend and narrow road
is apparent with the motorbike and sidecar coming into view

In 1955 a young man who was due to marry the couple’s grand-daughter the next day, spent the last evening of his bachelorhood sitting in the garden with the husband while giving the shoes he was to wear for the ceremony a good polish; at the same time the two men enjoyed a restorative drink or two.

When the couple moved in, there was already a bathroom besides three bedrooms. There were latticed windows and beams in the living room and kitchen. To reach the first floor you had to climb a dark, spiral staircase next to the hearth in the living room.

In 1960 number 15 was sold for £1,250.

It was a shame the cottages could not be preserved because they were a picturesque part of the village scene. But they presented a real traffic hazard for vehicles going up and down that part of High Street. Indeed, they created a completely blind bend. They were demolished in the 1960s.

A pair of semi-detached houses was built on the site, set back from the road and with the unusual feature of having a garage on the ground floor.

The Hook and Eye

copyright © G.Osborne
This early 1900s photograph shows the thatched roof of the 'Hook and Eye' across the road from Portslade Grange.

This was the nickname given to the low flint structure situated west of the George Inn. It was one of the agricultural buildings associated with the village. Early photographs taken in the 19th century, and long before Valley Road was laid out, show that the building had a thatched roof. It is not known exactly when tiles replaced the thatch but it would have been in Edwardian times.

For many years the Hook and Eye served as an unofficial village hall. William Grinyer who was born in 1909 and spent his last years at St Helen’s Care Home up the hill, remembered the building being used as a soup kitchen in times of hardship.

copyright © G.Osborne
The 'Hook and Eye' with its thatch roof removed ready for tiling, This photograph of the 'Hook and Eye' and Portslade Grange was taken c1915, Hangleton Court is no longer visible in the distance as it was demolished in 1914.

In the early part of the Second World War the Hook and Eye was used as a canteen for the benefit of Canadian soldiers billeted in the village. Married ladies undertook the running of this enterprise. Among the volunteers were Mrs Barden, Mrs Chandler, Mrs Dyke, Mrs Edwards, Mrs Field, Mrs Gilbert, Mrs Minter, Mrs Peacock and Mrs Wilkins.

During the Second World War the Hook and Eye was also used as classrooms for a small, private school called St Winifred’s. In normal times this school was based in St Andrew’s Church Hall (popularly known as the Scout Hut) at the foot of St Andrew’s Road, Portslade. But frequent air raids over the harbour area forced the school to move.

copyright ©  Mr G. Osborne
A 1950s view of the 'Hook and Eye' next to the 1930s rebuilt George Inn, the houses on the right stand where Portslade Grange was once situated

After the war, the building became a workshop where around a dozen girls were engaged in making lampshades by hand. This business later moved to 1 South Street, in the building now occupied by Ladbroke’s. Roy Perry continued the tradition of handmade lampshades on his own account, through the 1950s and early 1960s.

The Hook and Eye survived the demolition and rebuilding of the George Inn in 1932. In August 1955 this part of Portslade was photographed from the air and shows the building was still extant. But by 1957 it had gone.

copyright © G.Osborne
The George Inn opposite Portslade Grange

See the separate George Inn page

Number 18

copyright © Brighton & Hove City Libraries
This photograph dates to around 1905. Isaac Holland stands by the cart while the man with powerful shoulders is Mr Humphreys, the blacksmith. In the background the thatched building was known as the Hook and Eye and on the left is number 18, Mr Hammond's grocery store.

There was a small grocery store here, right next door to the George. It changed hands with remarkable frequency. For example, see the following information from local directories:

1890 – A. Avery
1893 – H.C. Westbrook
1896 – William Court
1902 – Mr Siggs
1905 – H. Hammond
1908 – George William Shirer
1910 – George William Shirer

This shop was demolished at the same time the old George was razed.

Fraser’s Court

 copyright © Brighton & Hove City Libraries
This unique drawing allows us to see what Fraser’s Court 
looked like with its cobbled yard and narrow twitten.
To the left of the twitten is a small shop and the George 
while the cottage to the right of the twitten is still in existence.
This small group of houses was reached by a narrow twitten between the shop next door to the George and a cottage. The first lease concerning land on some of which Fraser’s Court was built dates back to 5 November 1662 (14th year of King Charles II’s reign) and it was between Edward Blaker and Abraham Winnie. The messuage and parcel of land called (charmingly) Backside was devised to Abraham Winnie for 1,000 years at a yearly rent of a peppercorn.

All seemed tranquil on the property front until the 1830s when there was a flurry of activity. By the 1830s the property was in the possession of Thomas Peters, miller of Portslade, and his wife Susanna and on 20 July 1830 they sold it to Mary Peters, a Brighton widow.

On 20 September 1839 Michael Smith and Mary his wife (lately Mary Peters) took out a mortgage on the property. Mary was keen that her children Stephen Peters and Mary Ann Peters should inherit the property, provided they managed to pay off two mortgage debts of £150 and £120. This they did in two separate transactions in 1848 and 1849 and on 1 February 1850 they divided the property between them.

Stephen Peters was a Portslade grocer while Mary Ann Peters was a spinster living at Brighton. But by the time the property was divided, Mary Ann had become Mrs Boutcher.

On 29 September 1868 Emmanuel and Mary Ann Boutcher sold the property to Ellen Dudney. For the first time, we know what the property comprised, namely one building divided into two dwellings, a house called Northerlea plus several small houses. On 31 December 1887 Ellen Dudney, by then Ellen Fraser, widow of East Hill, mortgaged the property for £700 with Alfred Jordan Hollington and Thomas William Hollington, both Enfield gentlemen.

In her will, drawn up on 9 August 1900, Ellen stipulated that her brother John Dudney should act as her trustee for the eight cottages, grocer’s shop, and premises in Fraser’s Square (not Fraser’s Court then). The rents were to go to her cousin Mary Ann Dudney, and after her death to William Alfred Dudney Pern, Mary Ann’s nephew.

In July 1901 Portslade Council approved plans for new drains in Fraser’s Square and J, Dudney was stated to be the owner. On 20 February 1902 W.A. Dudney Pern mortgaged these houses, plus the grocer’s shop occupied by Mr Siggs, for £200.

On 20 October 1903 W.A. Dudney Pern and the Dudneys sold the property for £700 to Isaac Holland, landlord of the George Inn. Holland promptly took out a mortgage with W, Dudney’s trustees. On 22 May 1913 widow Mrs Elizabeth Holland sold the property to the Mews brothers, brewers.

Fraser’s Court consisted of nine flint-built cottages, each with two bedrooms, set around a brick and cobbled yard. Number one was set back, numbers 2 to 5 were in a row facing west while numbers 6 and 7 faced south and numbers 8 and 9 faced east. There was a row of seven outside privies at the north west corner.

1891 census

Number 1 – David Tidey, 47, farm labourer, wife, two sons, one grandson
Number 2 – John Mitchell, 63, gardener, wife, three sons, two daughters
Number 3 – Fanny ? – 49, widow, four daughters, one son (a cowman)
Number 4 – James Hilton, 31, general labourer, wife Emma
Number 5 – Thomas Goddard, general labourer, wife
Number 6 – George Wellfare, 57, widower, general labourer
Number 7 – Arthur Hollingdale, 29, cowman and gardener, wife, one son, one daughter
Number 8 – Henry Morley, 79, wife, son, sister
Number 9 – Alfred Brown, 24, farm labourer, wife

The Tideys and Morleys had the longest connection with Fraser’s Court because in 1910 Frederick Morley, David Tidey and H.C. Tidey were still residents.

In 1904 someone informed Portslade Council that number 4 Fraser’s Court was very overcrowded while in 1911 the Medical Officer of Health stated the floors of number 7 were very shaky and number 6 was in a dilapidated and dangerous condition.

But it seemed Fraser’s Court continued to exist until the 1930s when the George was re-built and the cottages demolished.

Number 31

In the 1930s this house and its neighbour were tied cottages and John Broomfield, the farmer, owned them and farm workers occupied them. At 31 lived Bert Hyde, his wife Gladys and daughter Audrey while Bill Cook lived next door. The cottages were still very old fashioned and there was neither electricity nor a bathroom and an outdoor privy in the garden. Cooking was carried out on an old coal-fired range and there was gas lighting. The rent cost 4/- a week but the family received free milk and coal. Surprisingly enough, electricity was not laid on until the 1950s.

The cottages were sandwiched between the George’s twitten and the Stag’s Head. Consequently, during the Second World War when Canadians were stationed at Portslade, the occupants were somewhat apprehensive when it came to pub closing time.

copyright © J.Middleton
Early 1900s photograph of the Stag's Head in the High Street

See the separate Stag's Head page 

Number 39

copyright © J.Middleton
This photograph shows the former butcher’s shop next door to the Stag’s Head. The corner property is actually numbered as 35 South Street although its entrance is in High Street, on the left of the Stag are cottages 31.

This cottage was next door on the east side to the Stag’s Head and in 1929 Harold Venner opened his butcher’s shop here. The shop was originally numbered 29 until part of High Street was re-numbered in 1937. Mr Venner continued to run the business until the 1960s when Mr Lathbury took over.

Mr Lathbury was short of stature, round-faced and red-cheeked. Home-made sausages were a speciality; in those days a large shoulder of lamb could be purchased for 17/6d. If you were really hard up a breast of lamb cost only a few shillings and could be cooked rolled around sage and onion stuffing.

The butcher’s shop closed in the 1970s and was converted into a dental practice for Mr Liddy and Mr O’Donovan who had moved from their previous premises in The Crossway. Today, it is still a dental practice, known for many years as the Old Village Dental Practice but in 2017 run under the banner of the Sussex Dental Group.

Junction of the High Street (north side) and South Street

copyright © G.Osborne
Porslade Brewery was located on the corner of South Street and High Street, the Brewery's goods yard was at the east end of the High Street next to Bakery Cottage. On the left of this photograph is the village pump.

see the Portslade Brewery and South Street pages

In 1974 the east end of the High Street on both the north and south sides of the road became part of Portslade Old Village Conservation Area.

Number 57

copyright © J.Middleton                                                                          copyright © D.Sharp
This close-up of Bakery Cottage was taken in 2002. The bulging piece of retaining wall on the left is a reminder that the next door cottage has been demolished, the building with the crooked chimney is in the back garden of number 57

This cottage is known as Bakery Cottage. There is a separate small building with a distinctive crooked chimney that is popularly supposed to have been the village bakery. Perhaps Fred Mort lived there in the 19th century. There used to be another cottage adjoining on the west side but it was demolished to make more space for the workings associated with Portslade Brewery.

Mr Patching lived in the cottage in the 1860s. There was once such a severe winter that his whiskers froze solid and needed to be thawed out over a bowl of hot water. One night after a heavy snowfall, the front door was opened gingerly and a huge drift of snow cascaded inside.

In 1984 the lady of the house was busy digging in the garden in order to create a pond when she came across an interesting metal object. She carried it indoors and scrubbed it clean in the kitchen sink. But when her husband arrived home he recognised it as a mortar bomb and swiftly removed it to the nearby car park before phoning the police. Bomb disposal experts were soon on the scene and took it away. It was fortunate that the bomb was without its explosive charge.

 copyright © J.Middleton
Numbers 57 to 63 High Street were photographed May 2003.

Number 61

This is a very small residence and was aptly called Pixie Cottage.

Number 63

 copyright © J.Middleton
A close-up of number 63 High Street that also includes a glimpse 
of new housing built on land once belonging to Kemps

This is one of the larger cottages and has been extended and it is now called Honeysuckle Cottage. In January 2001 it was on sale for £129,950. The property was described as having a living room with exposed beams and a brick fireplace with inset wood burner plus a wooden mantelpiece. There was an open-plan staircase leading to two bedrooms on the first floor.

Number 65

copyright © J.Middleton 
This photograph of numbers 65 and 67 High Street was taken on 12 May 2010.

In July 1982 the cottage was on sale for £23,000. It was stated that the outer walls were 9 inches thick at the base, becoming thinner at the first floor, which is timber-framed and may have been a later addition. There is a flint frontage and inside the living room a flint chimney-breast extends from floor to ceiling. There were also exposed beams.

John Burgess the blacksmith at Foredown Forge lived for a short period at 65 before moving to Forge Cottage.

It is believed that stable boys once occupied the premises and they were employed at the nearby stables.

copyright © J.Middleton  
This close-up of number 67 was taken in June 2002.

copyright © G.Osborne
 The cottages in the early 1920s.

 copyright © J.Middleton  
The cottages were photographed on a very sunny day 2 June 2009.

Numbers 69 & 71 - Kemps

  copyright © D.Sharp
This is the view of Kemps you see from the church twitten; the photograph was taken in 2017.

The house stands at the east end of High Street and opposite the twitten that leads to St Nicolas Church. The structure has two wings built at different times with the western part being the oldest part. Although the house has been altered considerably over the years, traces of the 16th century construction remain.

 copyright © D.Sharp
The east wing, thought to be the oldest part of the building 
where its flint, brick and lime construction can be seen
Beneath the wooden, spiral staircase leading to the first floor, an old cupboard turned out to have jambs and head of a 16th century door frame. At the top of the stairs there is another old doorway of a plainer design. The attic stairway is unusual in that it was placed next to the chimney-stack and it is an early form of newel stair. When it was constructed the stairway received daylight from a single-light window; although it has long since been blocked up, the stone-dressed jambs are still visible. There was another early window in the north east part but that too was blocked up. The front of the west wing has been stuccoed for many years.

The eastern wing is thought to date back to the 17th century and was flint-built with brick quoins.

In the kitchen there is a unique piece of re-cycled material in the form of a 13th century tomb-slab on the threshold. As late as 1940 the kitchen still retained an open fire with a spit-rack upon which the wooden pulleys of the turnspit remained.

When Portslade History Group investigated the house in 1974 / 1975 they were informed that the leaded-light windows had remained in place until recently. The attic ceilings were made of cow-dung and horsehair in the traditional way and oak pegs secured the tiles on the roof. Some iron nails had been used with the old tiles but these soon rusted through and the owners found it more practical to revert to wooden pegs. Oak was also used for the beams, which had been uncovered.

The flint-built part of the house had walls of thickness that varied from 18 inches to 2 feet. There used to be an arched cellar under the house and garden but by 1975 it had been blocked off. It is fascinating to note that when excavations for a new road surface were being undertaken in 1975 the workers came across an underground passage. There have long been tales at Portslade of secret passages dating back to the time when smuggling was rife in the area.

copyright © G.Osborne
 Kemps at the top of the east end of the High Street in this early 1900s photograph, a view that has remained virtually unchanged to this present day 

copyright © J.Middleton 
Climbing up the steep incline of High Street,
 this is the view you see of Kemps at the top.
Unfortunately, there seems to be no trace of early deeds. The present ones only go back as far as 1905 when Mr Greaves converted the two wings into separate residences. But there was a stipulation that no blacksmith’s shop should be permitted on the premises. The way the conversion took place meant there was a quaintly named flying freehold. That is, a room on the ground floor belonged to one owner while someone else owned the room directly above. But this anomaly has been rectified in recent years.
There is an interesting tradition that the attic of Kemps was once used as a meeting place for Quakers who were persecuted in the 17th century. This is not implausible because Quakers are known to have lived at Hangleton.

Another tradition maintains Kemps was once a coaching house at one time and in the part adjacent to Drove Road there were sleeping bunks for drovers that could be let down as necessary. There was a fodder house on the corner.

It was reported that a little girl living in Kemps had a ghostly friend. On one occasion, her mother asked her what she would like to eat for dinner and she replied ‘Boiled potatoes’. Her mother was astonished at her request because she had never shown interest in them before. But her daughter explained that her friend has asked for them. This obviously relates to times past when there was poverty in the village and a good, boiled potato would have been a luxury for some.

Kemps had a very long association with the Blaker family, going back as far as the 16th century. However, it also seems apparent that the house or land must have once belonged to the Kemp family. When Edward Blaker died in 1594 the house was already called Kemps. At least two of his sons continued to live there because they were noted as being ‘of Kemps’.

Edward Blaker (c.1570-1654) was granted a coat-of-arms in 1616. It consisted of an ermine chevron, and unusually three profile blackamooor’s heads with golden hair. These heads caused some excitement in recent times amongst local Black History enthusiasts. But a heraldic blackamoor head was merely used because it resonated with Blaker.

copyright © J.Middleton 
Early morning shadows at Kemps photographed
 in May 2003.
Two Nathaniel Blakers lived at Kemps. The first Nathaniel (1699-1764) had a modest family consisting of two daughters and a son Nathaniel. But the second Nathaniel (1742-1815) had a very large family of twelve children, seven sons and five daughters, all by the same wife who reached the age of 69 before dying and being buried in St Nicolas’s Churchyard. This Nathaniel Blaker was the great-great-great-grandson of the first Edward Blaker of Portslade. In the 19th century William Berry published his Sussex Genealogies and noted no less than 46 descendants of this Edward Blaker who had spread from Portslade to Shoreham, Kingston, Patcham, Brighton and Lewes.

When the second Nathaniel Blaker died in 1815 he left £25,000 plus Kemps to his two spinster daughters Catherine and Cordelia. Their brother Thomas, who likewise had never married, lived in the house too. Catherine and Thomas both died in 1847. Cordelia died in 1854 leaving £100 plus £20 for mourning to her friend and companion Mrs Ann Dyer. Cordelia’s executors were also instructed to purchase a brooch for £5 to contain a lock of her hair to be given to Mrs Dyer.

After Cordelia died, Anna Kemp Blaker, her sister-in-law, occupied Kemps; she was the widow of George Blaker. It was not the only time there was a ‘Kemp’ in the Blaker family tree. Back in 1810 Edward Blaker (1780-1851) married Anna Kemp and her first child was also called Anna Kemp; the latter died in 1869.

In the 1920s Miss Cook, an eccentric old lady lived at Kemps. She habitually wore a Paisley shawl about her shoulders and a high-crowned bonnet, somewhat similar in design to those familiar to us in Welsh national costume. Her front bedroom was full of canaries; there was a brew-house out at the back.

The antiquity and importance of Kemps was recognised early on because it became a listed building on 22 September 1971, before Portslade Old Village was declared a conservation area.

The Cross family lived at Kemps from the 1970s. They were an artistic family and Mrs G.B. Cross ran a painting circle whose work was exhibited at the Parish Centre. Mrs Cross painted a charming view of St Nicolas viewed from the twitten that used to hang on the wall of the south aisle.

Her daughter Sheila Cross ran a ballet school in the barn at the back and a sprung floor was laid especially for this purpose. Many displays and shows were put on at the Parish Centre and proud parents flocked to see their little ballerinas in action.

 copyright © D.Sharp
A view from Kemps looking west to King's School (the former Windlesham School) at the top of the High Street

In September 1987 Kemps was put up for sale at £125,000 as a three-bedroom listed building. The property included the barn that was said to be suitable for conversion to a dwelling. The price was too steep to attract purchasers and in April 1988 the house and barn were offered as separate items. A price of between £75,000 and £80,000 was put on the house while it was hoped the barn fetch between £40,000 and £50,000. The barn also came with planning permission for conversion into a two bed-roomed house. But before Kemps came up for auction it was sold for around £125,000.

In July 1998 Kemps was on the market for £250,000. It was advertised as dating back to the 1580s with exposed beams and inglenook fireplaces, four double bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large lounge, dining room and kitchen / breakfast room. It was a steep price for a house at Portslade.

In November 2002 Kemps up for sale through Mishon MacKay at an even steeper price of £550,000.

Number 73

 copyright © D.Sharp 
Kemps on the left, Number 73 in the centre and the south end of the Old Riding Stables on the right.

In March 2003 the property was up for sale at £225,000 with Tingley’s. It was claimed that there had once been a forge on the site; this would stand to reason if, as tradition holds, Kemps was once a posting station and horses would have needed the attention of a shoeing smith. The house is difficult to locate, being tucked away behind the main frontages of Kemps. The lounge measured 26 feet by 16 feet and there was an inglenook fireplace with a wood and coal-burning stove. There were exposed beams. The kitchen measured 13 feet 6 inches by 6 feet 6 inches and the bathroom was on the ground floor. There were two bedrooms upstairs with sloping ceilings, one measuring 12 feet by 9 feet and the other 12 feet by 8 feet. There was an enclosed garden plus a private drive and garage. There was enough space for two small cars and a workshop. Another interesting fact attached to the property was its description as a link-detached cottage, which meant it was connected to the next-door cottage but only on the ground floor.

Number 75 – The Old Riding Stables

 copyright © D.Sharp
Number 75 - The Old Riding Stables

It once formed part of the curtilage belonging to Kemps but over the years it became a separate entity while Kemps became two residences.

In the late 1960s and 1970s there was a business run as a riding stables there that kept a string of horses. They were a familiar sight and sound clip-clopping along Drove Road, across to Mile Oak Gardens and then up the boundary path to Southwick Hill. During summer months they used to organise day-treks on the Downs and French student Martine lodging in Mile Oak Gardens was delighted to be able to enjoy such an excursion.

By the early 1980s there were only three horses at the stables. They were James (the large grey) Tango (a bay horse) and Brandy (whose coat was liver-coloured with a touch of chestnut). There were also two privately owned horses stabled with the others called Petunia and Sebastian. Chickens were allowed to scratch around the stable yard at will, which provided a picturesque touch to an ancient rural scene. Unhappily, on one occasion James, who had such enormous feet, accidentally trod on a chicken and squashed it flat.

The old riding stables were to be included in a joint auction put on by Habens Banner & Dell, and Goldsack & Freeman. But in the event the property was sold privately beforehand. The property included an old flint barn that was considered suitable for house conversion, a paddock, loose boxes and storeroom. There was sufficient space for the construction of two new homes but first planning permission would have to be sought. High flint walls bounded most of the site.
In February 1987 Changewave Ltd of Eaton Gardens put forward plans to convert the barn into a residence, and to build five homes on the paddock (four mews cottages and a maisonette) using flint to blend in with the surroundings. Hove planners thought it was an over-development of the site, although apparently the first application was for seven homes. It was not until April 1988 that the go-ahead was given for three houses to be built but only after lengthy negotiations with developers Southern Homes of London. Hove planners might have been satisfied but local residents were horrified at the height and appearance of the houses in a conservation area. The houses were two-storey structures with rooms in the roof space and possibly the height exceeded that specified in the plans. Turner Associates designed the houses, which were completed by September 1989. The four-bedroom houses cost £99,950 while the three-bedroom barn cost £145,000. In April 1994 the barn was up for sale at a price of £107,950. The lounge measured 20 feet 5 inches by 12 feet 3 inches and there was an inglenook fireplace. The dining room measured 12 feet 5 inches by 10 feet 3 inches.

South Side

Portslade House

 copyright © J.Middleton
Portslade House 1795-1936 once stood at the top of the High Street on the south side

See the separate pages for Portslade House and Windlesham House School (now the temporary home of the  King's School, Hove)

Portslade's Old Bridge

 copyright © J.Middleton
'A pretty view' of the bridge across the High Street

A wooden bridge later to be replaced with a steel bridge once spanned the High Street linking Portslade House with its extended gardens, see the separate Portslade's Old Bridge page

Portslade Grange

  copyright © G.Osborne
On the right is the former Baliff’s House later to be known as Portslade Grange, on the left is the 'Hook and Eye', 
In the distance to the left of the ivy covered St Nicolas Church is the line of roofs of Hangleton Court, to the right of the Church is the original gabled roofed Georgian vicarage

This house probably dated back to the 18th century and it was built almost opposite to the George Inn. The residence was faced with knapped flints and there were brick quoins. The front entrance boasted a portico supported on either side by a graceful column but the effect was somewhat spoiled because there was the narrowest segment of garden and the door opened practically straight onto High Street.

Inside the house and opposite to the front door there was a staircase of pitch-pine. But the floorboards were constructed of oak, varying in width from 8 to 11 inches. The rafters were of oak too and wooden pins secured the roof tiles. The interior walls were lime-washed.

The kitchen was on the east side of the house and in the 1920s there was an old-style stove with a large fire space with an open top and heavy round bars across the front. There was a large cast-iron hob on either side. When this structure was removed, an ancient fire-back came to light. Quarry tiles paved the wash-house and there was a brick structure containing a copper bowl. The walls of the cellar were 4 feet in thickness.

A small wing had been added at the back of the house, most probably in 1862 since this was the date scratched on the plaster around the chimney-stack. The timber used for this extension was pitch-pine rather than the oak used in the rest of the house.

 copyright © G.Osborne
This photograph of Portslade Grange was taken c1915, Hangleton Court is no longer visible in the distance as it was demolished in 1914. The back flint walls of the houses was kept as a boundary wall for Whychcote and are still visible today as a part of the twitten to St Nicolas Church.

In around 1862 also, a row of cypress trees was planted along the garden walls fronting High Street and South Street. This soon became an area of thick foliage evident from old photographs of this area. There was a large elm tree in the centre of the garden, a fig tree against the south wall and a walnut tree near the back of the house. A garden gate allowed the occupants access to the communal village well in the days before piped water was laid on.

Along the west boundary of the property were the out-buildings consisting of a stable, tack-room and coach-house, this area now being covered by houses in Windlesham Close.

The reason we know so much about this historic building is all due to Edward James Harrison who lived at 287 Mile Oak Road and died in the 1970s. He was one of the men engaged in the demolition of the property in around 1927. He remarked that the old oak was so ravaged by beetle that it was barely able to support the weight of the house. Mr Harrison’s first reaction upon entering the house was one of disappointment. The exterior looked so grand but the interior was a different story. By this time the lime-wash was covered with grime and it was impossible to imagine it as being a homely place. This reaction was strengthened by the lack of fireplaces – there was only one and that was in the kitchen. The house seemed designed for someone who was out and about during daylight hours and indeed the 1841 census records the name of the property as being the Bailiff’s House.

By the 1880s the house had nothing to do with farm work and was let to Mrs R. Otter from at least 1889 to 1917. Possibly the name Portslade Grange had been given to add prestige. When Mrs Otter was in residence she kept peacocks and they strutted around the gardens uttering their unearthly calls. At least there were many trees for them to roost in at night.

 copyright © Marie D. Pook
A view of Portslade Old Village looking east to St Nicolas Church on the far hill. In the foreground Portslade Grange
can be seen next to cottages, therefore this watercolour by J.M.Powell dates from the c1920s-1930s

Mrs Rodber Horton was the occupant during the early 1920s.

The house belonged to the Hall family who also owned Portslade House Estate. At some stage Portslade Grange was separated from the rest of the land holdings belonging to the Hall family and by the 1850s it was owned by Revd William Hall, vicar of Saxham Parva, Suffolk from the 1850s to the 1880s. He was the son of Nathaniel Hall and the brother of Eardley Nicholas Hall.

Revd William Hall died at Brighton on 14 January 1885 leaving Portslade Grange to his nephew John Eardley Hall who remained a bachelor and died at Harrogate on 2 October 1915.

In Revd William Hall’s will the secondary heir to the property was named as 2nd Lieutenant Henry George Watson of the 4th Northamptonshire Regiment, son the vicar’s niece Mary Blanche Watson. But the unfortunate young man never lived long enough to inherit because he died aged nineteen when he accidentally fell out of a window at his barracks and fractured his skull.

Portslade Grange thus went to another nephew Fredrick John Eardley Blackburne, son of his sister Annette. In less than four years, this heir was dead too; he died on 22 March 1919 and his widow died on 23 September 1930. Her death heralded the break-up of the Hall land holdings at Portslade. Mrs Blackburne left the property to her two sisters who had absolutely no interest in the area and quickly sold their inheritance to property developers.

Building work soon followed and numbers 21 to 33 South Street, and numbers 40 to 48 High Street, plus the detached house on the corner of Windlesham Close were built on the site. The only visible reminders of the old dimensions of the property are some flint garden walls, and in particular the wall on the east side of King’s School (formerly Windlesham House School).

Junction of the High Street (south side) and South Street

In 1974 the east end of the High Street on both the north and south sides of the road became part of Portslade Old Village Conservation Area.

Number 46

copyright © J.Middleton 
It is difficult to photograph these cottages properly because they face north and the only chance to catch them in sunshine occurs briefly in summertime. The view shows number 50 on the left with number 44 on the corner

Bert Patching lived in this house in the 1930s and 1940s. He was a chimney sweep by trade and used to sweep the chimneys of Whychcote. In 1944 his son, also called Bert Patching, married Olive Walter, the upstairs maid at Whychcote.

Number 50

This cottage is the only one in the row of four not to have an attic room.
copyright © J.Middleton 
A close-up of number 50 photographed in 
July 2004. Note the old-style sliding windows
 on the ground floor.

Mrs Jenner lived in the cottage during the 1920s together with her son from her first marriage, John Tidy, maintenance engineer at Petersfield Laundry, his wife Daisy and their daughter Betty. Betty and Gran shared the double bed, a massive iron and brass affair with brass knobs on the corners and a white coverlet that Gran had crocheted. There was no space for such a luxury as a wardrobe and clothes had to be stored in boxes placed underneath the bed. On Gran’s side of the bed there stood a commode, which was for her exclusive use; Betty had to make do with the outside privy that stood in a row with three others adjacent to the newsagent’s in South Street.

Gran’s bedroom also contained a marble-topped wash-stand with jug and basin and a gas-light. Only candles lit the other bedroom and Betty’s father, mother and brother shared it.

Number 50 and the three adjacent cottages shared a well but by 1926 there was the benefit of an indoor cold-water tap

The cottage contained two downstairs rooms, the kitchen / living room and the scullery. Cooking was done on an old-fashioned kitchen range that had to be black-leaded frequently.

Space was so scarce that the copper used for boiling the family’s clothes clean was kept underneath the stairs.

On Saturday nights all the family, except for Gran, enjoyed the luxury of their weekly bath. A tin bath was hauled in from outside and placed in the scullery and hot water heated on the range was added. The youngest child had the privilege of using clean water, and bathing progressed to the last user, Mr Tidy.

Gran used locally grown flowers and berries to make lovely wine that she stored in stone crocks. She also managed to create potent ‘moonshine’ – possible because she was friendly with a man who worked at the brewery opposite and used to slip her some malt from time to time.

In the 1960s the cottage was extended to the south; this meant that the living room became more spacious and upstairs there was a bathroom as well as the two bedrooms.

copyright © J.Middleton 
In this photograph taken in 2002 at the junction of the High Street and South Street the modern extension to number 50 can be seen jutting out. It is also apparent that the church tower was more visible then than it is now

On Christmas Day 1992 the lady of the house was enjoying a lie-in because she worked shifts. Her family had come to visit and were busy downstairs preparing Christmas dinner. She is absolutely sure she was wide awake when she became aware of a young soldier dressed in his khaki uniform, standing by the window and looking into the room. He was quite tall and as he was not wearing a cap she could see his face clearly. His hands were half-raised but not necessarily towards her. She was not in the least afraid, just interested. It was the only occasion she saw him but she has often been aware when seated at her dressing table of someone being there out of the corner of her eye. Since then another persons has seen the solitary soldier.

Number 54

 copyright © D.Sharp
Number 54

Daisy Tidy ran a café here during the 1930s and 1940s. When Canadian soldiers were billeted in Portslade during the Second World War, she became something of a mother hen to them. Sadly, many of the men she knew were killed in the ill-fated Dieppe raid but for many years after the war was over Christmas cards from Canada would arrive for Daisy. This café remained in business until the 1950s.

In the 1960s Mrs Bailey ran a business here called Jonquil. She created arrangements of silk flowers and hired them out. She would arrange different flowers and leaves according to the season.

Then in around 1972 her son Victor placed a few model vehicles in the window. Ten years later it was stated that the shop stocked the largest selection of obsolete Dinky toys in Europe.

In January 1994 Victor Bailey of Veteran Vintage Models was counting the cost of flooding in his cellar that was used for storage. He did his best to dry out original cardboard packaging but he thought as much as £8,000 could have been wiped off the value of his stock. For several days, he was obliged to pump away gallons of water.

The shop closed in January 2002 and the property was converted into a private dwelling. Part of the refurbishment included taking off the plaster on the interior wall of the living room so that the original bricks and flints could be a decorative feature. The owner demolished the shop front extending to High Street to take the house back to its original dimensions and he also installed a ground-level skylight to illuminate the basement..

Number 56

copyright © G.Osborne
Number 56, Hector Read's Upper Portslade Post Office and supply stores

In 1900 Hector Read established his grocer’s business at number 56 while he lived next door at number 58. But the business became much more than a mere grocer’s and was named Reed’s Supply Stores. Here, a housewife could find most items she might need. Apart from food, the shop sold pots, pans, trunks, wicker baskets and tin baths. The impressive display of goods for sale also included sides of bacon and barrels.

West of the shop there was a hoist and pulley so that weighty goods could be swung straight up. From at least 1904 the shop also served as the village post office and there was a telephone box outside that remained until the late 1960s.

By 1910 Hector Read ran additional business premises at 78 Trafalgar Road, Portslade. Read continued to run his High Street stores until 1937 when Clarence Hunter took over. But Read continued to occupy the house next door until at least 1939.

After the war there was no sign of Read and Vincent W. Brittain occupied numbers 56 and 58.

A small grocery concern was still being run at number 56 in the 1970s. But by 1987 Lyn and Fred Powell ran a video hire shop here. The shop possessed a ferocious letter-box and customers returning their videos had to be quick about it in order to keep their fingers intact.

In September 1987 the Powells stated that they had eight baby tortoises. Their adult tortoises Freda and Stanley had produced eggs and the Powells placed them in earth inside a large jar and placed the jar inside the airing cupboard.

By the 1990s the property had been converted into rented living accommodation with the old store part becoming a separate house numbered 56A.

 copyright © D.Sharp
The Conservation Area's number 56 with the red door, photographed in November 2017, which sadly had its  90 year old Read's Supply Stores advert painted over in 2014. 
Number 56A with the black door and bay windows was the original Read's Supply Store.

Recently, the advertisement for Read’s Supply Stores on the west side was painted over during restoration work carried out on the wall. Since the property is in a conservation area planning permission ought to have been sought. Local people are dismayed at losing a piece of local history and it is to be hoped the lettering will be re-instated.

The obliterated advertisement read ‘Est 1805 The Old Village Stores Family Grocer & Provisions’. However, it should be pointed out that the original lettering dating back to around 1920 was placed higher up the wall and read ‘Upper Portslade Post Office Read’s Supply Stores & at Southern Cross’.

Number 58

 copyright © D.Sharp
Number 58 photographed in November 2017
 
When viewed from the garden, it is evident that this house was extended in three separate stages. The oldest flint-built part faces south and behind it there is an extension with a roof at a different level. Towering above them is the Victorian extension fronting High Street.

There is a stable in the garden where Hector Read kept the horse he needed to collect and make deliveries; The wooden stall and part of a hinge are still extant. At the end of the garden there is a wall (now part of a garage) containing a brick with ‘H. Read 1900’ scratched on it.

The garden is surprisingly spacious and perhaps there were once old cottages on the site. When digging in the garden, particularly on the south west side, fragments of pottery and glass have been uncovered.

 copyright © D.Sharp
The imposing structure of the former Portslade Brewery dwarfs the cottages 44-58

Inside the house, the rooms are spacious and there are some beautiful cast-iron fireplaces with original Art Deco-style tile surrounds. In the sitting room the tile colours are green, purple and cream while in the main bedroom they are brown and terracotta with small tiles of the same hue on the hearth. It is pleasant to record that the fireplaces were re-discovered in recent times during some restoration work and fortunately the original features emerged unscathed.

There are other cast-iron fireplaces with different details in other rooms and all now opened up and retained as decorative features.

The kitchen still has its black-leaded range with fittings. A massive boiler once used to heat the house now rests in the yard.

The cellar is of particular interest because after you descend a wooden staircase, you enter a curved passage carved out of solid chalk and into a brick-floored storage room. But this space is liable to flood when there are heavy downpours of rain that cause the water table to rise. In the winter of 1994/1995 there were some 18 inches of water and the floor needed re-laying. The engineer suggested the bricks were laid with gaps between them, which would allow the spring water to rise and fall unimpeded.

It seems that Hector Read was so fond of the house where he lived for over 40 years that he could not bear to leave it after his death. His footsteps were sometimes heard upstairs walking along the passage to the back bedroom. On one occasion the owners were sitting in the kitchen and nobody else was in the house when they heard the footsteps clearly. Their Collie dog also heard the sound and pricked up his ears. In those days the passage was not carpeted but even when carpeting was laid Hector’s footsteps were still heard. The couple had two young children and never mentioned the footsteps for fear of frightening them. But after they moved away it transpired the children had known all about them and just accepted the footsteps as part of the house’s atmosphere.

The next owners also heard the footsteps but their two cats were unconcerned and the three children were too young to take any notice. The footsteps were heard in the daytime or late afternoon but never at night.

These two sets of owners never saw Hector’s ghost but a visiting relative had no hesitation in picking out Hector Read when shown old photographs of the supply stores.

The back bedroom in the oldest part of the house might be haunted too. A young man fast asleep in that room had a disturbing dream. He suddenly shouted ‘They’ve taken the thatch! They’ve taken the thatch!’ His girlfriend woke him up in some anxiety but he could not remember what he had been dreaming about. Removing the thatch from a dwelling was a classic way of evicting tenants and so perhaps he picked up a folk memory of some long-ago injustice.

In May 2009 the house was up for sale through Cales & Co at a price of £389,950. The property was described as having newly fitted double glazing throughout and the ground floor had rooms with the following dimensions:

Lounge 15 feet 6 inches by 14 feet 4 inches with feature fireplace and bay window
Dining room has three steps down to the kitchen
Kitchen / breakfast room 14 feet 7 inches by 13 feet
Utility room 15 feet by 11 feet

There were four bedrooms on the first floor and the bathroom was on a mezzanine floor.

Hangleton Court

copyright © G.Osborne
A view of the grey roof line of Hangleton Court to the left of the ivy covered St Nicolas Church tower.

This was a group of ten flint-built cottages situated at the east end of High Street. The name derives from the fact they stood near the route to Hangleton. When they were demolished, their back walls were left intact and can still be seen today. The walls form the western boundary of the church twitten and the tall flint wall fronting the south side of High Street. The entrance to Hangleton Court was up some steps.

It seems likely that Hangleton Court may have dated back to the 18th century like other cottages in the area. Although flint was the main building material, villagers would make use of any stones or bricks that came to hand. For example, there is a face-shaped white stone jutting out in the twitten wall. Weathering has rendered it almost smooth but there is a possibility it once decorated the magnificent Priory of St Pancras at Lewes. This edifice was closed down during the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries and demolished in 1537. It is known that a cartload of stones from the Priory were taken to Hangleton and some used at Hangleton Manor and so it is quite possible that others found their way to Portslade. There is another round white marble-like stone in the flint boundary wall near Manor Lodge. If stones did derive from the Priory, it would be poetic justice in a way, since for many years some of the tithes from Portslade and Hangleton, as well as many other Sussex parishes, went towards the upkeep of the Priory.

 copyright © J.Middleton
This old view shows the original roof-line of the Brewery with Portslade Grange in the distance. The two boys on the left are standing near the entrance to Hangleton Court.

1891 census

Number 1 – Henry Lindup, 53, (farm labourer), wife Jane 46, sons William, 24 (cowman) Albert, 16, (farm labourer) Jesse, 12, and daughter Kitty, 10
Number 2 – William Avery, 51, (farm labourer), wife Eliza, 41, daughters Grace, 7, and Emily, 4, and two three-year old sons Lawrence and Clement
Number 3 – George Parsons, 56, (farm labourer), wife Mary, 46, son Frederick, 19 (farm labourer) and daughter Edith, 12
Number 4 – Mary Ann Hills, 37, widow, son-in-law George Hills (general labourer) sons Sydney, 11, and Henry, 9
Number 5 – George Alderton, 50, (farm labourer) wife Ann, 54, son-in-law Henry Martin, 35, (farm labourer) daughter-in-law Kati, 19, son-in-law Thomas Martin (shepherd) daughter Alice Alderton, 4, and boarder James Bouch (shepherd)
Number 6 – Sarah West, 41, widow, sons Harry, 26, (farm labourer) George, 15, (farm labourer) John, 8, Charles, 5, and daughters Kati, 19, Caroline, 13, Jane, 11, plus boarder William Reed, 65 (gardener)
Number 7 – Henry Earl, 70, (horse carter) wife Sarah, 71, grandsons Thomas Earl, 15, (farm labourer) George Earl, 14, (farm labourer) plus boarder Sam Gilbert, 45, (shepherd)
Numbers 8 & 9 were empty
Number 10 – Henry Hills, 78, (general labourer) wife Lucy, 76, grandsons Amos
Streeter, 23 (general labourer) Martin Hills, 13

Thus there were 45 people squashed into eight small cottages.

In 1898 Oliver West lived at 3 Hangleton Court and on 30 July that year he was fined 10/- for trespassing in search of game on Percy Hatrdwick’s land at Hangleton. Some partridge feathers were produced in court as evidence. But West did at least have a gun licence. Three other men in the party were also fined 10/- with costs.

By the early 20th century Hangleton Court was in poor repair and in 1902 a notice was served on the owners to put the cottages in a safe condition.

Eventually Herbert Mews purchased the cottages, which were demolished in early 1914. Herbert Mews lived at Whychcote while his brother Walter Mews lived at Loxdale and they both ran Portslade Brewery. When Herbert Mews acquired Hangleton Court, he was able to enlarge his garden while keeping the back flint walls to maintain privacy. On the site a tennis court was laid out and when Andrew Melville owned the property there was a greenhouse there too. 

 copyright © D.Sharp
On the left the former back walls of Hangleton Court now the boundary wall of the church twitten.

It is ironic that the spacious gardens of Whychcote did not last as long as the old cottages of Hangleton Court. This was because the site of Hangleton Court was again used for housing in the 1960s, although of course there were fewer properties and they were more spacious. When the foundations were being dug for the bungalow by the twitten an interesting old stone was unearthed; it was a somewhat grotesque face with an open mouth. The owner cemented it above the entrance created by breaching the high flint wall. But a Virginia creeper has since obscured the face.

copyright © J.Middleton
The 2017 photograph shows the effects of erosion in
 comparison with this 1970s drawing

Sources

Argus
Brighton & Hove City Libraries
Census Returns
Directories
Middleton, J Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Middleton, J Haunted Portslade (1995)
Sussex Archaelogical Collections

Thanks are due to Mr G. Osborne for allowing me to reproduce twelve of his wonderful photographs

The Keep

HOW 105/6 Smithers & Sons, Portslade title deeds
HOW 113/3 Portslade Brewery and adjoining land 1801-1884
TAM 7/1 Fraser’s Square, High Street, Portslade and Northerlea
Portslade Urban District Council Minute Books

Other Sources

Private house deeds as regards information about Portslade Grange
Personal interviews

Copyright © J.Middleton 2017
page layout by D.Sharp