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Old Thatch

The house is tucked away out of sight of the road at the top of Dolleys Hill. It is a single-storied building of brick with a thatched roof.

In a survey taken in 1910 it was described as "a detached brick and thatch bungalow having a pantry, two bedrooms, kitchen and woodshed. Water from a well." At that time it was probably little changed from the original dwelling on the site but it has since been considerably altered including having the whole roof raised to provide more headroom inside. However, there are still some traces of the original structure with oak beams and some wattle and daub interior walls.

Many smallholdings in the area like Old Thatch started life as encroachments upon the waste of the Manor of Cleygate. The entrepreneur would enclose a piece of land, build a dwelling and then await events. Thus, in 1798 it was reported in the Manor court records that Benjamin Chandler had "encroached upon the waste by enclosing a piece of land at Longer End Hill and had built a house thereon". He was ordered to demolish the dwelling and throw open the piece of land. In spite of successive threats of fines for non-compliance the plot was still enclosed in 1802 and on 14th October 1803 William Woodroffe, Lord of the Manor of Cleygate, granted the land to Benjamin Chandler and Hannah his wife during their natural lives.

By 1851 Chandler and his wife were both dead and the property reverted to the Lord of the Manor. In 1880 Rose Mangles, the widow of the late Lord of the Manor Captain Charles Mangles, conveyed the property, together with the plot on which Mount Pleasant now stands to her old retainer Charles Wood in recognition of his good and faithful service. It was then tenanted by William Collyer and after Charles Wood died in 1895 followed by his son in 1897 the Collyer family continued to occupy the holding until 1935 when it was sold to R H Burch. In 1938 Arthur Haydon bought it and named it "Old Thatch". Up to that time it had been known as "The Bungalow".

Arthur Haydon was a retired engineer but he was called back during World War II to work as a machinist at Rice Engineering in London. The firm was bombed out and moved to a site on the corner of Shawfield Road in Ash opposite the Greyhound public house. The establishment was called "Ashe Garage" and later became "Always Welding". Haydon worked at the site for the remainder of the war and then retired. His son emigrated to the USA and became a film actor.

The Haydons were followed at Old Thatch by the Westbrook family and then for a short time by Douglas Squires, an American choreographer associated with the dance group "The Young Generation".

Jack Kinder

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