Recollections from James Barden Aged 92

Summary of James Barden recollections aged 92years born in about 1890 with a little help from Mac (a friend).

The Lucas-Shadwell’s of Fairlight Hall and Estate used to let out the Hall and the Shooting rights out to different people. James remembers a Mr Kirkley a wealthy miner from the north. He was a wonderful man and came down for 3 years with 6 gamekeepers 3 on left and 3 on right of Pett road, including Pannel Lane and Fairlight Wood.

Usually farm workers were paid half a crown a day but when Kirkley employed farm workers for shoots they got 3 shillings a day. When told he was overpaying them he told his critics he would spend his money whatever way he wished.

Stop boys got 1 shilling a day. Their role was to stop birds coming over at various places and to get them on the wing.

Kirkley apparently couldn’t shoot for his life and didn’t know one end of gun from the other.

One of the Ashburnham boys fell in love and married Kirkley’s daughter.

The Down House previously called Fairlight Cottage built in 1906. Built by Colgate as the Barden bid was unsuccessful. Les Cox wife was a Colgate (relative of Jesse Colegate) and the family may still have the old building records.

Colegate’s lived in Oakhurst while building Down House.

Architect was Mark Lansdell (1855-1935)

The Shadwells became Roman Catholic as they wanted Beatrice to marry a Roman Catholic suitor. She never did marry.

Roman Catholic chapel attached to house. Services were held in the house.

The outside bell which summoned the congregation has long gone.

Chapel then moved up the drive on site of old stable which had one horse and coach house. Shadwells built the chapel. When William Shadwell died his procession, with his coffin on a farm wagon pulled by two horses went up through Pett to Fairlight Church rather than down Chick Hill.

Beatrice Shadwell used to teach at Sunday school but when she fell in love she converted to Roman Catholic.When Beatrice died she left the Down House, coach house and 2 cottages opposite Royal Oak to her great friend Mrs Bevan. She didn’t live at the Down House long before selling to Mr Nowers (?)who incorporated the chapel back into the house.

Staircase is English oak from the Fairlight Estate.

Royal Oak was bought by Beatrice Shadwell’s aunt and made it a temperance inn.

She did however always pay the licensee so it was able to latterly reopen as a public house.

Buses only went to top of chick hill. Chick Hill was just loose beach.

1906 few cars mainly horse and cart.

Barden used a wheel cart and only hired horse and cart when needed, so only worked locally. Barden would hire from Colegate (uncle) at the Two Sawyers. (Jesse Colegate son Albert John 1879m Mary Elizabeth Barden)

Two Sawyers was a pub then was a farm house with blacksmiths on site.

Colgate (relative of builders Colgate) bought Two Sawyers when Fairlight Estate was sold in 1918 (s.b.1917). Colgate would hire out horse and carts etc. from the Two Sawyers.

Gatehurst Farm used to own all the land from bottom of Chick Hill to top of Pett Road.

Pett Church has stained glass window to Lord of the Manor which was Earl of Liverpool.

Nephew inherited Shadwell Estate and title.

Sargent Major Judge lived opposite the Gunshed. He was part of 2nd Sussex Volunteer Artillery Corps. James remembers then moving the gun up Battery Hill to Fairlight, so they could fire out to sea. In order to be a gunner you had to be 19 years old and 5 feet 8 inches tall.

In one competition held in Shoeburyness the corps came first and won £100.

James Barden shows Mac his card where he was medically unfit military service in WW1 on 22/9/15 he was aged 25 height and 5’4inches tall. He kept this card in his wallet all his life and in pristine condition. He helped in farming during WW1 and served in auxiliary fire service in WW2.Fire equipment consisted of an old pump on a trailer which was stored at Barden yard.

Pill boxes and gun placements at Pett level were smothered in barbed wire during WW2.

Zeppelin during 1st world war dropped bombs on Carters Farm by the Royal Oak. A crater was formed as a result.

Carters Farm probably Elizabethan and used by smugglers.

James remembers Marsh flooding one Easter.

Carters Farm was formally called Sinkhole farm as when tide was high marsh would flood and smugglers would deliver contraband to farmhouse.

Road along Pett Level prior to sea wall being built was frequently flooded and covered in debris.

Sea wall was built after WW2, essentially a clay wall using mud from the marshes which now are shallow lakes on the level. Dutch engineers were involved in its construction.

House building was slow in Pett as the Shadwells were reluctant to sell building plots.

Woodbine was first house in Pett to have a bathroom. James’s grandmother who was a widower started to see a widowed miller in New Romney. When he asked if she would move in as his housekeeper, she refused and insisted she would only come as his wife.

They were married. When he died James mother returned to Pett and had Woodbine built by her son, James’s father. Woodbine was built before 1906? Exact date.

When building houses, wells were dug by hand down 30/40 feet or failing that they would have underground storage tanks which would catch rainwater. They would have an overflow pie when they were full. Water would be pumped from these through primitive charcoal filters into the house and used as drinking water. Tank capacity 2000 gallons same as in the DownHouse..

Prior to cavity wall construction walls were solid with inner being made of batons and lathe and plaster.

Down House site would have been levelled by hand as were the footings.

Toot Rock named? Due to fortifications. Toot Rock made of sandstone and in the past there was gun on Toot Rock.

Building inspectors came out from Hastings. James remembers a so called surveyor Mr Friar.


























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