Rottingdean Through Time – Chapter 5

High Street

Looking North from the Crossroads

To the right of the policeman on point duty on the previous page was St Stephen’s Holiday Home for (Invalid) Children, which occupied Stanwell House.

On this page, the animated, street scene postcard is a classic, although not rare 1930s buildings, including the relocated Queen Victoria public house, have supplanted the cottages and shops of yesteryear. The modern photograph of the crossroads almost bare of traffic could only be taken early on a Sunday morning!

A Vanished Drapery Store and Residence

This view, from 1934, shows, from right to left, Mary Richardson’s drapery store, the residence occupied by Ralph Cheale, farmer, of New Barn Farm, and the small alleyway which led to the back of Mockford’s shop (see next page).

It was a right-of-way for the two horses kept by the customs officers who occupied The Homestead, pictured on page 37, which stood on the other side of the shop.

From Greengrocery to Tea Rooms

Like The Homestead next door (left), this property, which was formerly a greengrocery business run by Frank Mockford, has barely changed down the years. Dating from 1586, it is today the Olde Cottage Tea Rooms. Greengrocery is now available from the adjoining premises, Deveson’s!

In August 2001, over 100 descendants with the Mockford name gathered in Rottingdean to celebrate the first ever meeting of the Mockford clan.

The Custom House/Tallboys

Apart from the removal of the lean-to structure on the left, the former Custom House, consisting unusually of three storeys, has perhaps seen the least change among properties in the village. Dating from 1780, it has borne several names: Tamworth House, The Homestead and, latterly, Tallboys. Until recently it housed a gift shop but lies vacant at the time of writing.

The driveway on the left led to Dene Motors, a car sales outlet and garage currently awaiting redevelopment.

St Aubyns School

St Aubyns School, formerly Field House, was built in 1882. From 1887 to 1894 it was named Rottingdean School but that name transferred to a new establishment at the north end of the village (see page 48). Prominent former pupils of St Aubyns include John Kipling, the explorer and travel writer Sir Wilfred Thesiger and Nicholas Soames, MP for Mid Sussex.

In the lower picture, the school is celebrating Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in style. At that time it lacked a south wing.

The Stores

A business that served the villagers for many years was The Stores. It opened under this name in 1918, and traded until 1962, having by then become Richardson’s Stores (see next page). In the doorway stands Jimmy Cruse, the assistant in the shop. His son, Ron, later opened his own grocery business across the road, Cruse’s Stores, which closed in 1979.

A feature on these shops by this author appeared in the local Weekend Argus in April 2001.

Richardson’s Stores

‘Old Mr Richardson’, wrote Dulcia Stenning in her reminiscences of Rottingdean in the 1920s, was ‘… a typical grocer … tall with silvery hair and glasses on the end of his nose.’ Bob Copper, in Early To Rise, remembered him in his clerical grey alpaca jacket, moving ‘gravely about from one job to the next’. Herbert Richardson had taken over the shop in 1923. His name was retained when the business was acquired by

Ernest Penwarden three years later. It finally closed in 1962 under Penwarden ownership.


Copyright © Douglas d’Enno, 2009

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