| 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
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".