Stanstead Abbotts Local History Society
Memories of Stanstead Abbotts High Street
On the 11th of March 1973 Mrs Alice Bright described her memories of the High Street and the characters that lived and worked there. She had lived in the village of Stanstead Abbotts since her marriage in the mid 1920’s. Alice mentions Jack who was her husband and Jean her daughter. By the time Mrs Bright was interviewed she was 77 years of age and was trying to remember the way the village was nearly 50 years previously. Her thoughts are presented as she remembered the way things were.
“Mr Harper had been at the Red Lion but by the time I came to live here in 1926 it was Mr Thorne. He gave me a lift to the village from Ware in 1926 on his Humber motor bike, it was all quite exciting. The Red lion was one of the better pubs in the village; it was nice to be taken in there with all its old beams. Mr Thorne now he was a tubby man and his wife was always nice and smart.”
[Mrs Bright had been told, when she first came to the village, about the tunnel that was supposed to connect the Red Lion with the Clock House, but she did not believe it.]
The Red Lion in the 1970’s
Springham’s shop as it appeared for many years under their ownership
“That’s not changed at all. They had a cart and a horse; sold vegetables, rabbits and chickens. There was a brother and two ladies Gurt and Nellie. I wonder how old that building is, it looks ever so old”
[Gurt and Nellie kept shop open until 1973 selling veg in a small way. No gas or electricity so using some very old oil lamps until the end]
Then you have got those terraced houses, I was told the last one used to be a shop but I don’t know who kept it. It was only a shop in the front room. Then you have that gap and then the Millstream Cafe. It used to belong to the Robertson’s; they sold cold meats and did snacks as well. Mr Robertson was Mrs Whyte’s dad you know” [The Whytes later ran a business from the rear of the building]
The Stables building appears in this 1920’s view on the left. Mr Chesham a village carpenter lived in the upper part of the building.
Small stool made by Mr Chesham in 1930 for Mrs Bright’s daughter.
“Jack used to know the man who lived upstairs in the Old Stables, where Barclays Bank is. It was all very strange upstairs with a lot of old beams. It used to be a hay loft.”
[This was the old stable block to Stanstead Hall and the ground floor was occupied by a Branch of Barclays from 1926 to1972 so had only recently closed when Mrs Bright was reminiscing.]
“George Chesham lived upstairs Jack knew him quite well. He made that little stool for Jean when she was about three. He worked for himself as a carpenter did all sorts of repairs mostly furniture I think.”
“Then of course you have the big house with the lodge at the back. Miss Laurie lived there in the 1930’s. [Stanstead Hall] Next used to be the Westminster Bank in the 30’s but it was a Gents Barbers for years after that. Mind you Andersons owned the building in the 1930’s. Don’t know when they sold it though”
POST OFFICE, ANDERSONS, CHANDLERS AND BEATTY’S
[Now Lilly the Pink – Doctors Surgery – Hopson’s Dry Cleaners – Cafe]
“When I got here the Post Office was run by Mr Groom. The post office used to be over the road when the Blackabys ran it. Mr Groom took over as Postmaster when they left. Blackabys had been here for years, very old village family. Mr Brown took over the PO later and Herbie Charge was postman, everybody knew him.”
“Andersons is next of course, what don’t they sell? It was Catesbies in 1926 but Andersons took over in 1932, I think. They were Bert’s [Anderson] father and Uncle who started it then, they were Ironmongers mostly.”