High Street Hartfield – Central Section

The High Street has so much history that it has been split into 3 sections, North, Central & South. Links are at the end of each section.

Central Section – Vine House to Chestnut House (Modern Name)

This piece of the Parish Plan of 1842 shows the central or main section of the High Street with many of the buildings that are still with us today although internally re-imagined as you will see below. Buildings marked in red are domestic dwellings and those in black are not. These would largely be related to agriculture both storage and animals.
This is the oldest picture we have of the High Street taken from approximately the end of Church Street and possibly within 20 years of the Parish Plan above. The picture hung in the front hall of Anne Higgins house which was roughly opposite the puddle you can see. Although, sadly no longer with us, Anne had the picture dated as 1864. There are several immediate responses to this photo! Firstly, perhaps, the fact that you can clearly see to the far fields, totally obscured today by trees and vegetation. Secondly, on the left is the Dorset Arms with an overloaded cart outside. What is he carrying? Thirdly, maybe, is the unmade road with a distinct slope from left to right which explains the built up kerb of today. Finally, see the close-up picture below!

The particularly noticeable feature in this part of the picture is the row of wide open windows which you often see in old pictures. We are so used to our cosy heated houses with double glazing that many will wonder why. Fresh air was and sometimes still is considered to be the answer to good health so ventilating the bedrooms was essential and would get rid of any condensation and smells.

However, the most remarkable fact is the similarity of the buildings of 150 years ago with those of today!

Hartfield High Street, looking south-west with what became The Haywaggon but was until 1976, ‘The Dorset Arms’ as in this picture. Note on the left the mobile knife sharpener parked approximately where the War Memorial and the bus shelter are today. The entrance to the inn was by the steps coming up directly from the street. This picture is from the postcard collection of Sheilah Fenton, who sadly, is no longer with us but to whom we give thanks. The building dates back to 1540.

Named The Dorset Arms when owned by the Duke of Dorset, the name was also used in Withyham at the entrance to the Buckhurst Estate where the Duke of Dorset had his country seat. When the fifth Duke of Dorset died without issue the Dukedom became extinct. The Sackville estates were inherited by the two daughters of the third Duke of Dorset and one of them, Lady Elizabeth Sackville, married the fifth Earl De La Warr whose title is traced back to 1299.

The change of name to ‘The Haywaggon’ came about to avoid confusion and the Withyham Dorset Arms, located at the entrance to the Buckhurst Estate, was purchased back by William, Earl De La Warr, from Harveys brewery who owned it from 1986 to 2013.

The unmissable advertisement for Killicks, opposite the inn, relates to the building that is the Hartfield village shop of today that we will see further down. I feel sure that modern approval would not allow this today!

The Haywaggon was sold for development in 2016 and has become 3 private homes. The number of pubs is reducing country-wide for many reasons. It is easy to see that the original reason for these large road houses and drinking places for the local farm and land workers has simply disappeared with the changes in agriculture and agricultural practices over the last century or more. Only by spending a considerable sum on renovations to these ancient buildings and then investing in providing facilities that will attract people from near and far can they survive. 

There seems some disagreement over the spelling of the name of our once popular landmark. Despite the developer making it two words at least he spells waggon with double g. Research says this was more common 100 years ago, whereas today it is largely spelt with a single g especially in America. The Hartfield History Group will continue to call it The Haywaggon!

The High Street is such a picturesque place that painters have been drawn to capture it.
In this case it is signed ARQ and is dated 1910, not long after the picture with the knife grinder. The big feature is the Chestnut tree just beyond the steps up to the Haywaggon.
Looking in the opposite direction in this postcard clearly shows both the Chestnut tree beside the Dorset Arms steps and the Elm tree at the bottom of Church Street. Additionally, you can see the barns inside what is now the car park of The Anchor
This view shows the end of the Dorset Arms, on the right and, on the left is ‘Killicks’, Grocer & Draper, as advertised so energetically on the end of the building as seen earlier. This building is now the Village Shop. The two trees, one in front of the other indicate just how large the Elm tree has grown, overtopping the Chestnut considerably.

Returning to the beginning of the Central or Main Section of the High Street we will start again with one of the oldest postcard views.

Vine House photographed here with the ‘cat slide’ roof covering a storage shed at the end of the building
This wonderful drawing hung inside Vine House showing the building in 1898 where you can see earlier details such as an extra door with steps down to the pavement. The signature may be MJA but please let HHG know on Facebook so this can be corrected or given in full if you know.
In this view before Vine House was extended, you can see the barn opposite in what is now the Anchor car park.
Here in a matching drawing by Tony Goddard in 1999. 100 years later we have Vine House extended with an extra dwelling known as Vine House Cottage. As you can see it has been built in a matching style to the original 5 or 600 year old houses in the High Street. Planning would not allow this today but for many it would seem logical. Listed buildings, however, have to be obvious and as listing was established in the Town & Country Planning Acts of 1944 & 1947 I would imagine this ‘extension’ must date before this. If you know, please contact HHG so we can correct this entry.
Picture taken from the Anchor car park showing the whole building. The bay windows of the shop are clearly evident.
Compare this close up of the current front of what was the shop and Post Office with the one below to see how the small window still exists and where the front door used to be.

This is Miss Maria Medhurst and a child, Doris Cheal, outside the shop and Post Office. Note the small window on the right in which letters were displayed for people to collect before the days of postmen.
Outside the Post Office in 1905 with another longer view from just before Church Street on the left at about the same time as the first picture with the enormous advertisement for Killicks still visible on the end of their building.
A similar but possibly tinted version where it is clear that the road is still to be made up.
Shops and stopping for a chat – and no cars parked!

Tony Goddard drew this picture approximately covering the photo above as part of the Millennium Map
A little further back from the village shop to Bentley’s, later, John Riekie, the Butchers shop, now also a private house given the name Chestnut House.
This painting of The High Street by Ernest Marillier is dated 1911 and shows several buildings still familiar today.
Here we can see the Elm tree in what might well be described as its terminal state at the end of Church Street and the Chestnut tree in line with the steps down from the inn, both of which had to go to allow the road to be widened, although the lack of traffic is significant at this stage!

And here we are with the High Street looking very bare by comparison with both large trees gone and only the small Yew tree planted at the end of Church Street. There is what looks like a short but small tree stump that might have been planted after the original Chestnut tree had been cut down. It’s definitely further back than the original tree. The left hand kerb now looks like a ditch with steps to get across. At the near end you can see a short slope that allowed a small car to go into the garage where the door you can see in the wall is placed. The beam that supported the wall above the original doors is still visible today so glance up when you pass on your way to the shop!

At this stage the garage has gone and this building is is now part of the village shop with the other half converted into Daphne, Ladies Hairdresser.

For the Northern end of the High Street from Chessons corner, click below

High Street Hartfield – Northern Section

For the Southern End of the High Street to Oaklea, click below

High Street Hartfield – Southern Section

Church Street

If you want to go directly to Church Street click here