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Rusthall High Street

RUSTHALL LETTERS


This page has gone a bit quiet lately but if you have any memories or pictures you'd like to share feel free to EMAIL


August 2014

Hi,

I have been meaning to write this letter for some time, ever since I happened by chance across your web-site actually. I have very fond memories of Rusthall and my connections with the village go back beyond my own generation.

I myself lived in Rusthall from approximately 1964 until 1969. Only 5 years but it seemed longer because it covered one of the most formative periods in my life, my teenage years. In those days my name was Gail Goldsmith and together with my Mum and Dad and my younger sister Elaine we lived at No 54 Shirley Gardens. In the early days there was only an open field opposite our house but I remember when they developed it and built the houses there. As it happened my friend Sally Arnold (who lived with her family at, I think, No 83) and I were, shall we say, reasonably well acquainted with some of the lads working on the site. I remember one evening, after the site was closed for the day a wagon load of bricks being delivered (the driver had been held up en route) and not only did Sally and I contact a couple of the more local lads from the site to come and help unload but we stayed and helped unload the bricks too. Delivery wagons were not equipped with the lifting gear they are today so it was a long job.

Across the road, in the other direction, from our house (I think it was 59) lived the Wenn family with their daughters Melanie and Jenny. The Arnolds, the Wenns and us all knew each other because we girls all attended Fosse Bank School in Tonbridge. I am still in touch with Sally but lost contact with Melanie many years ago.

Sally and I were regular members of the Youth Club, though I must admit that in the later years, when we were a bit older, more time was spent in the White Hart and the Morning Star. Before that, in my earlier teenage years I used to go and work at Redsheen Kennels at week-ends and in the school holidays. There were so many of us that wanted to go down there to 'help' by walking the dogs etc that most of us did it on a voluntary basis. However I remember that I was so keen that I spent just about all my spare time there and so Anne Moon, the owner said that if I worked there during the Summer holidays and came every day she would pay me a small 'pocket money' wage. I loved it so much I would have gone for nothing so that was a real bonus. One of my fondest memories is of staying overnight in the kennel-maids accommodation and getting up, with one of the full time kennel maids, at 4 o'clock on a dark winters morning to go down to the hospital block to make sure that a litter of puppies that were needing help were feeding properly from their mother. Lumpy cocoa in the freezing cold listening to the squeaks of very young puppies under a heat lamp was my idea of heaven even if my Mum did think I was mad and told me I stunk of dogs and disinfectant every time I came home.

But my family connections go back even further than my teenage years. One of the reasons that my family moved to Rusthall (from High Brooms) was that my Dad had spent a lot of his growing up years there. I am an amateur genealogist and as far as I can tell from the records I have it was his earliest years that were spent there. He certainly attended Rusthall Primary School. I have some of his old School reports the last one of which is dated 31 March 1931. I know he went to Skinners School after that and the family later lived in Dynevor Road in the High Brooms area but I don't know the date they moved from Rusthall - yet. I have a lot more old family papers to go through and I may get some clues from them. And if I do I am delighted to note that you have an active historical society with whom I may get in touch to clarify issues or answer my questions.

In the meantime I would be delighted to hear from anyone who remembers me or my family. Having initially left Rusthall to get married and live in the Lake District (which I did for 20 years) my husband and I now live in Dorset. Strangely my daughter and her husband have found themselves living in Crowborough, so near my home roots. Still it gives me an excuse to revisit the area from time to time. If anyone in the area does remember me and wants to get in touch they can reach me on this e-mail address gail.cropper@yahoo.com

And thank you for the lovely web site that not only keeps Rusthall locals up to date but also keeps us ex-pats in touch as well.

Yours sincerely
Gail Cropper (nee Goldsmith)

Novenber 2013

Hi,

Ruth Potter

It's been a while [September, see below] since I've been in touch in connection with ancestral connections to TW/Rusthall. You may well remember my interest grew having found some old photos over the summer - well, another photo album has turned up and among these is possibly a half-interesting photo (attached) - as to be honest, looking at Google Streetview of the same location, it looks like little has changed. It is of course 18 Woodside Road with my great Grandmother standing on the front path. I think it was Dennis Penfold that told me my grandmother lived at 2 Harmony Street - but further research since has obviously thrown up this address and also 7 Spring Gardens. As for the Schmidts, I now believe I've found "Johann Thomas Schmidt" born in 1800 in Holstein (currently Germany, but believed to have been under Danish rule at the time - possibly with the transfer to Germany causing the migration to England). You may find you can see the family tree HERE, with 'John' being the first named and being the grandfather of the Fred that married Ruth Potter that appears in the photo. Clearly we know exactly where the photo was taken but haven't a clue as to when.

Not being content with the interest in the named properties (Alma Cottages), it is interesting to see the state of the gate and front walls. However, of particular note is the Fire Service's 'badge' detailing the fire hydrant being four feet away ! I bet it's still there. Having looked at Google Streetview, it looks like the hydrant's moved 2 doors down (14/12) ! I suspect Dennis would be interested in this image too and if you agree, feel free to let him see it. Any opinions of a date would be appreciated !

I've still other branches of the family to research but this has been a very good start. One of the biggest helps has been via the website "The Weald" and Peter that maintains it. I think it'd be good to give him credit for his efforts - even if we've a bit of questionable data I've still to nail (a wife has 2 possible names and it looks like there's a bit of confusion as to which one was married to our family!) I'll check with Peter possible acknowledgements on either of the websites I know you're involved with.

Cheers for now.

Mike Paley

October 2013

Hi - I have just stumbled upon your website, as one does whilst googling! I lived in Rusthall from the age of five until we moved to Brighton in 1970 when I was fifteen. We moved into 5 Rusthall Road in 1961. The house was actually in Bretland Road, on the other side to the old vicarage. I went to Rusthall Church of England Girls' School until going to the Grammar School in Tunbridge Wells, at the age of eleven.

I have many memories of the village, Denny Bottom, and the common. If anyone is interested in hearing more, I would be very pleased to contribute to the website. My family comprised my parents, Sheila and Joe Haines, myself, Sally Haines and my younger sister Alison.

I am very intrigued by the entries by Mr Dennis Penfold, on the history of Denny Bottom. The Mr Penfold I remember was (to me) very tall, and was a painter and decorator, as well as a window cleaner. He was famous to us children for having a cat that was 22 years old….probably sheer coincidence of names, but strange.

Best Wishes
Sally Macgregor (nee Haines)

September 2013

Hi,

I'm in search of the school in Rusthall with the name of "Rusthall Standard VI" (That's 6th to the Romans) (which of course may be a fictional name for a factual school) but we're talking "about 1909" when my gran would have been "about 12-ish" and attending this 'ere school along with the other posh girls. The attached image shows said girls along with teacher Miss Dunham. My gran is at the left-hand end of the row with the teacher - well that's wot it ses on the back ! And since it's you, I've attached the back too !

Feel free to use the images on the website as I'm confident the copyright holder will be a few feet under by now. There could be people in the area that are related to the names thereon - so a bit of local value for the site.

All I want to know is which /where's the school!

We believe Gran was born in Denny Bottom (possibly), either way, she was brought up there.

Of course, anyone with links to Edith May Schmidt (b 1897) can get in touch with me.

Mike Paley

Postcard
Postcard

The writing on the back of the postcard reads:
Grace Easterfield, Kate Household, Hilda Hollamby, Alice Savage (?)
Eva Coppard, Lela Chapman, Gladys Denham, Mildred Hosler, ? Longfield
Edith S[chmidt], Nellie Martin, Miss Denham, Hester Wood, Nellie Denham
Maria Damper, Lucy Benton, Phyllis Denham, Dot Boxall
Doris Hosler

Rusthall Standard VI
at about 1909

June 2013

Hi, I am David Blake and lived at no 12 Grange Road till the late 50s, after being bombed out and living in Culverden Hill House in a flat. My father is buried in Rusthall Cemetery. I belonged to Rusthall Scouts and used to go camping behind a house at the top of Teagarden Lane [Beacon Hotel]. There were lakes and we used to camp on one of the islands. I went to Victoria School and Tunbridge Wells Technical Institute, and then worked at SH Muffett.

I would like to make contact with anyone who remembers me.

I lost contact with the area after getting married and moving away after my mother died.

David Blake


Posted to Rusthall Bonfire and Fete Group June 2013

Hello folks, you may think it a bit odd that someone resident in Lincoln would want to join your group? I was once resident in Rusthall, I went to school there (now the library I believe). I lived at 145 Grange Road, left there for Southborough in 1955ish when I was nine years old, but there are some names that I remember, Frank Seal, Robert Hayman and his sister Carol?, Alan Weightford (not sure of any of these spellings). There is a photo, on my profile, of me and my sister taken in Grange Road.

My mum made me a trolley from and old bed frame and some pram wheels, quite common in those days. I remember her 'drilling' the holes with a red hot poker that has been put in the fire for the purpose, no posh drills then. It had four seats, and I recall speeding down Harmony Hill fully loaded, straight across Woodside Road and into Grange Road. Was a bit hairy I recall, no brakes other than the heels of your shoes. No cars about then, just the occasional visit from Demashio's Ice Cream van and the bin men.

The shop on the corner of Woodside and Grange Roads was Beaumont's, I clearly remember the bacon slicing machine and the tin of broken biscuits at the front of the counter, I can even recall the lovely smell in there? Funny things, memories?

Hope to visit you one day, perhaps when you have a fete or a bonfire on the go?

Best regards,
Malcolm Douglas Porter


May 2013

Hello,

I have stumbled across your website in my search for my birth place. My birth certificate is from Tunbridge Wells, but does not have details of the maternity home name or address. I was born there in July 1943. My Mother, who was living in Broadstairs, went to Tunbridge Wells as it was considered to be safer due to the war. She told me that the “Nursing Home” was a converted mansion in Happy Valley.

During my searches for the name of maternity homes in Tunbridge Wells, the two names that come up are... '”22 Broadwater Down” and “ Northfield Maternity Home. From what I can deduce is that “Northfield” sounds like the one.

Does anyone have any information about the history of this place? Is it still there? Any 1940s photos of Northfield? Look forward to hearing.

Thank you Danny Maguire

PSThank you Nigel, Must write and let you know that I have definitely established my place of birth was 'Northfields" Speldhurst, TW. This was information I received from Brian Dobson who is involved with the Tunbridge Wells Family History Society. I still don't have an address though or any pictures. Can anyone help with these? Many thanks for your interest..... Danny


August 2012
Ann Fowkes writes

Hi my name is Ann, I now live in Bribie Island Queensland Australia and have just found this wonderful site when searching for my Bull Family.

I spent many happy holidays at my Aunt & Uncles at 8 Erskine Park Road Tunbridge Wells.They were the Gearing Family George & Dorothy & Phillip, Brian( who became a fleet street reporter) and Peter who we still have a little contact with and now lives in Somerset.They loved sport and played Cricket & Football regularly. I too spent many hours at Toad Rock; we also used to go for long walks and used to eat nuts afraid I cannot remember the name of them. Your letter brought back many memories. As we were Children in Eastbourne during the WW11 my Mother, Sister and I evacuated to Rusthall but did not stay long as it was almost as bad with bombing as on the coast.

Now to get to my elusive Bull Family Ann Bull christened 1799 in Speldhurst married Richard Hodd 13 Novenber 1823 in Lewes Sussex, I have details of the Gearing side as my Maternal Grandmother was Alice Gearing and lived with us most of my childhood years. I have found a Thomas Bull and Rebecca of Speldhurst who were the Parents of Ann Bull but have not confirmed they are my Ancestors. It was with great interest I read on this site about Bull's Hollow. Anyone who has any information about the Bull family I would appreciate hearing from.

Thank you so much for this site it is now saved for future reference.

Ann Fowkes


December 2011
Howard Rockley writes

Hello,
The attached document is extracted from Colbran's New Guide to Tunbridge Wells of 1840.

Colbran's Guide

It shows a building which features on Tunbridge Ware & which is known to collectors as Hurst Wood Cottage. However, in Colbran it is described as a ‘Tudor Style farmhouse' in the vicinity of Toad Rock.

Tunbridge ware

Do you have any idea where it was or what it was actually called?

Best regards, Howard Rockley


July 2011
Hi, my name is mark irwin
and I have just been looking at your website – it bought back such vivid memories of my childhood I was really moved.

I moved to Asher Reeds when I was six in 1968 – well my mum and dad moved and were good enough to take me (and my 2 brothers) with them! I was in the Rusthall Cub Scouts which used to be held in St Pauls church hall which was opposite what was then the Morning Star Pub. We used to play on the common opposite and buy 10p of chips in Rod’s fish and chip shop on the way home – there was another chip shop opposite the Methodist (I think) church hall which is now a Chinese take away and has been for a few years.

When I graduated to the Rusthall Scouts I cycled to the parades which were held at Toad Rock in the big house opposite the Toad Rock Retreat. The pictures of the area – Deny Bottom etc immediately took me back – the painting of the corner of Upper Street and Apsley Street where they become a footpath and the light is particularly evocative - I could feel the bumps in the sandy stoney path as I rode my bike along it. In those days there was an off licence shop very near what is shown in one of the photos of the area as Jude Hanbury ‘Toad Rock Cottage’. There was also a corner shop opposite the Toad Rock Retreat.

I used to spend a lot of my weekends and holidays at Jockey Farm in Nellington Lane with Dave and Andy Rustbridge, in those days Mr Harris was still alive and I can remember him with a roll-up cigarette always in his mouth. At the time I think the milk round he used to do was just coming to an end but I can remember the milk being pasteurised at the farm. There used to be a fantastic allotment opposite the farm with loads of vegetables and fruit being grown – I think it is overgrown now.

I left the area in 1980 when I was 18 to join the Royal Navy. I’m currently living in Norway but will return to the UK next year.

A waffle and ramble I know but I just had to write something and send it in!!! Thanks for stirring up many happy memories

Mark Irwin


Richard Marshall writes
I am writing with regard to the Rusthall FC under 7's football team, who my son Harry plays for, and who are desperately looking for a new sponsor for the 2011/12 season (by which time they will be the under 8's team).

The current sponsor (Gleeds) will no longer be sponsoring the team as of the end of this season, and I wondered if you might be able to offer some publicity on your website to assist our plight. Without a sponsor for the next season the team will not have a football kit to play in.

Ideally a local business from the Rusthall area would be the perfect sponsor. The total amount to sponsor for the season is around £800.

Any help or advice would be much appreciated.

Kind regards
Richard Marshall


Former Rusthall resident Mick Bean writes:
I'm now a once in a blue moon visitor to my home village of Rusthall. I thought I would write a few lines rescaling a few childhood memories. Perhaps others could do the same ?

Rusthall when I was a little boy stopped where the raspberry/blackberry bushes and stinging nettles started. A barbed wire fence marked the boundary between village life and nature.

Nellington Lane ran alongside the field before turning sharply right, down past the cemetery and onward to the more outlying villages.

Little could I have known then that this wonderful field full of grasses, bushes, trees and wildlife would one day become yet another concrete slab helping house the 1970s population explosion.

Nellington lane survives but is no longer the winding country road, more a short cut for speeding taxis carrying fares from middle class housing estates to the busy commuter belt railway station in the local town.

The lane, once lined with green hedges and buttercups, now show scars of skidding car tyres and wing mirror damage along an oily polluted hedgerow. Pheasants no longer roam the lane safely; bird’s nests that once littered the nearby trees have gone and bird song has been replaced by the never ending drone of the motor-car.

The first thing I noticed as a young boy when walking past the Church hall into the village was the smell of fresh baked bread from the bakery near the Morning Star pub. The rickety old green van with its back doors open displayed rows upon rows of cakes, loaves and bread rolls on wooded slats ready for the morning delivery.

I could walk the length of the high street and never see traffic. The 81 bus turned around at the end of the village where the fields began before making its way back to TW. Most of the locals used the bus service; cars were a rarity and only used by the wealthy few.

The bus route back to town would take you past the marl pit then onto Sandy bank (top of Bretland Road) before reaching the Toad Rock bus stop. By that time the bus would usually be full before continuing on past Dingly Dell, the Spa Hotel and onward down Major York’s road to the Pantiles.

As well as the bread van you could well see the coal lorry, milk floats, one man dust carts, the fish van, the rag-and-bone man, the swill-man (collecting spud for his pigs) and once every few months a man of the road (tramp) would walk through the village singing and whistling with cap in hand hoping for a few pennies from the more well off folk in the village. A twice a year visitor to the village would be the knife sharpener-man, he would up-end his bicycle in the middle of the road and spin the rear wheel which had a sharpening stone attached. He charged one shilling (1/-) for all the knives you could carry to him and one and a tanner (1/6) for sharpening garden tools like shears or mowers.

Over to you lot...............
Mick Bean
February 2011



Sent: July 2010
Subject: Rusthall


My name is Chris Taylor from the USA. My mother Patricia Taylor (nee Hollamby) was born, and raised @61 Woodside Rd. Her parents were Vi & Harry Hollamby, and her brother, Richard, who still lives in Rusthall. They also lived on Erskine Park Rd.

Pat has lived in the US (New Jersey) since 1961. She frequently comes back home to visit including a trip planned later this year. She was married @St. Paul's Church in 1954, and remembers being on Rusthall Common the day WW II started in 1939. She has many fond memories of growing up in Denny Bottom.

I have been fortunate to visit many times since I was a baby. My father grew up in Tunbridge Wells (Camden Rd. , and later Dunstan Rd.) I remember Happy Valley, the working man's club (St. Paul St.?), and of course walks w/my grandfather to the Toad Rock. Some of the shops might have changed a bit, but it all looks pretty much the same otherwise. As a kid I liked the 'Paper Shop' as it was called to buy a copy of the "Beano" comic book, and eat some 'Penguins'. lol

Rusthall, and the English countryside of Kent & Sussex are simply some of the most beautiful places ever put on Earth.

Cheers
Chris Taylor of Cherry Hill, NJ USA


From: Diana Gibb
Sent: May 2009
Subject: the Co-op, Rusthall


My Father, Reginald Young, Born 25th. January 1907 in Chandos Road, Tunbridge Wells, worked as an errand boy for the Co-Op in Rusthall. This was his first job and I have very old photos of him with his bicycle parked beside the store and also standing in the shop doorway.

A few years ago I travelled to Rusthall and was so pleased to identify the shop, It is the One Stop shop and the alleyway next to it still looked the same as it was in the photo all those years ago. If I can find out how to send copies of said photos to you on the computer I will do so, I'm not very computer literate but try very hard!

I stumbled across your site by accident and I must say I'm very impressed with it, thanks for all your hard work on it.

Diana Gibb (Nee Young)


From: Susie Spragg
Sent: February 2009
Subject: the White House


I love your site – it is on my list of favourites and I have just been catching up on some of the messages.

Denny Bottom

I was born in the White House, in Harmony Street in January 1950. The house is between The Scouts Headquarters (now private residence I think), which was next to the demolished houses behind Morfetts shop. I remember the houses there, as they abutted our garden wall and I would climb up and look down into their decaying back yards. Old man Morfett(he was a real old lech) was keen to get planning permission to build on the land there.

The house is set on top of a high wall to the right of Harmony Street as you go down, opposite the pub and next door to Harmony House, which at that time belonged to Geoff and Joan Williams with their four children. (We are still in touch with them).

The White House was very old, having been one of the laundries in the area – we discovered a huge boiler built into the corner of the wall under the garden. We also had two wells under the floor in the kitchen.

My childhood was idyllic – playing on the rocks and in Bull’s Hollow. I too climbed all the rocks, known by name. I had a particular friend, who lived in the last house in Rusthall Park. The gardens backed onto the golf course and Bull’s Hollow. He and I often visited the owners of the house there – it was a brother and sister, who had half each – a strange house, built into the rocks.

The picture you have at the top of the notice board brings back particular memories. When I was about 10 years old, my mother was approached by the very elderly spinster who lives there (it is the first house on the left in Rusthall Park). She had a Canadian niece who was sent over occasionally for the long summers and I was summoned to play with her. Stephanie (as she was called) was a bit of a “blue stocking”, but I adored going there. It was a time warp and we played for hours in the gardens and summer house. I did try to keep in touch with her by letter, but as often happens she either moved or lost interest!

I was heavily involved with the Girl Guides in Rusthall (was even Lieutenant in 1966) and we had the use of Happy Valley with the Rusthall Scout Company. We spent wonderful Monday evenings in the Summer building bridges, clearing the undergrowth from around the lakes etc. It was like a huge secret garden, with the rhododendrons and azaleas out in full bloom. As you can tell, I loved it.

Just a few memories and probably not worth posting, but if anyone wants to get in touch, please do.

Susie Spragg (nee Stacey)


From: Beth Mooney
Sent: September 2008
Subject: Bull family


My 3x Gt grandparents, Robert and Mary Bull lived at Denny Bottom. I live in New Zealand, so it was a lovely suprise to find your great website of the area. Their son my gt gt grandfather emigrated to New Zealand in 1875.

Is Denny Bottom part of Speldhurst. I am visiting the Tonbridge area next month, but it will be just for the day. Is it easy to get to Denny Bottom from Tonbridge, as we will be travelling on the train from London.

My gt gt grandfather left his siblings behind when he came to NZ. I would be interested to know if there is anyone reading this, think they may be connected to my family.

Beth Mooney


From: Beth Mooney
Sent: December 2008
Subject: Bull family


Thank you for your information and for posting my email on the website. Your instructions on how to get to the area were very helpful, except that the taxi driver hadn't heard of any place called Denny Bottom, but when I mentioned the Toad Rock Hotel, he knew immediately! We had a lovely day's outing there. We were amazed at the wonderful rock formations and took plenty of photos. It was very exciting for us to discover Bull's Hollow and Bull's Hollow cottage, and to think that my ancestors once lived there. Unfortunately no one was home when I knocked on the cottage door. The area seemed to be so unique. Is there any other area in England that has such interesting rock formation I wonder?

I am certain that Bull's Hollow was named after my ancestors, Robert & Mary Bull as they are recorded on the 1851 census as living in Denny Bottom. His occupation on the census was a bricklayer. He was my 4x great grandfather.

I also have in my possession 2 original photos relating to the area. i don't know the date they were taken. My guess is that they are of a sister of my gt gt grandfather Bill and her family. The first photo is of her 2 daughters and on the back of the photo is written " This is Bulls Hollow with Hilda and Winnie Jellett. I wonder if you will recognize it. The other photo shows a family group and has the following written on the back: This is taken outside 1 Apsley St Denny Bottom. Young Albert Bull, his daughter Nell and Mable Jellett are in the photo. Nells little boy, Hilda, Winnie, Leslie and twins (Jellett) also Mables boy. Looking at the clothes etc I would think the photos were taken either late 1890s or early 1900s. Up until now, I have done very little research on my Bull family. I knew my gt grandmother who was a Bull very well. She lived until her 95th year and my son was 4, he was her first and only gt gt grandchild. Her father Thomas, arrived in New Zealand in 1875. I thought his father was Robert Bull, but found out that he was the illegitimate child of Sarah Bull, Robert's daughter. So Robert Bull was in fact his grandfather. As Sarah was unmarried, Thomas kept the Bull surname. His grandparents probably brought him up as one of their own. These photos had been sent to him, probably from his auntie in England.

We found the same houses in Apsley St and they are still recognisable.

Regards
Beth Mooney


From: Franklin
Sent: February 2008
Subject: Rusthall


thanks for making the rusthall website i have enjoyed it very much....

i was thinking it could include the fact that baden powell attended the old boys' school next to the church (unless i'm wrong) and i'd like to add that in about 1976 i saw two ghosts on separate occasions (a soldier and a maid with candle) at "yewside" 17 lower green rd. which i believe was a V:A:D: hospital in the first world war. i'd love to hear if anybody else has a ghost story from the same house!! I don't remember exactly but it looks like "two yews" was next door and if so we had the yews and the two old ladies and monty the dog who lived there in the nicer house!!

Franklin


From: Eileen Thompson
Sent: June 2007
Subject: Ancestry


Hello -
I do hope you won't mind me asking for information on your site ? I am researching my family history and discovered that my grandfather Thomas George Smith b.1874 and his brother John James Smith b.1872 were born in Tunbridge Wells - the brother's birth certificate specifically says Denny Bottom, Rusthall , but in the 1881 Census it gives his birth place as Speldhurst.

As I've had no luck with finding my Grandfather's info in Tunbridge Wells - I'm now wondering if he too, was born in Denny Bottom. His cert gives Seager[?] Cottages. Would you or anyone 'out there' have any knowledge or ideas about this? Their parents were John [James] Smith and Mary Ann Smith nee Cox. John's father was James Smith and both of them were Tailors - it says 'High Street' Tunbridge Wells - but could this have been Denny Bottom or Rusthall I wonder as I could find no records in Tunbridge Wells. But then - I've only searched on line so far.

Your site is very interesting and I think I will visit the area as soon as I can Thank you so much for your time

Eileen Thompson


From: Brigitte Baxter-Steiz
Sent: March 2007
Subject: Long Shot


After many years of trying this and that I've decided to go for a long shot and see if you can be of any help.

My name is Brigitte and I live in Connecticut. (USA)

I grew up in the UK and had a very best friend that I have lost touch with. When we were teens she lived right by Toad Rock and we came into your Pub a few times.

Her house was on a road near the rock (was going to type Toad but realised it was going to look like I'm typing a poem) - We had a few treally really fun summers in Tunbridge Wells... She moved there with her mother from Portsmouth, so we eventually lost touch after being best friends for years.

Her mother married a man named Glynn/Glenn. I have no idea what his last name is.

My friends name is Joanne Drew - She's probably married now and moved away, but as small as the world is sometimes I wondered if you could put this e-mail around a bit (hang it up or something) to see if anyone remembers her or knows where she went.

I've lived here here for 20 years - So I know it's probably another dead end. Joanne hasn't joined Friends reunited, she left school in 1984. My research so far jogged my memory that she went to Bennett Memorial.

She had 4 brothers Alan, Rodney, Simon and Steven (twins)

Oh, and by the way... the ploughman's lunch I had in 1983 was excellent.

Thank you and all the best.

Brigitte Baxter-Steiz


From: Fiona Graves
Sent: Christmas 2004
Subject: Rusthall website

I've just tracked down your excellent website and thought I'd drop you a line in the hopes you may be able to help me with tracking down any information on my great-grandfather, John Graves, who was a milkman in Denny Bottom at the time of my grandfather's birth on 26th March 1878.

John was married to Harriet (Lawrence) and his son (my grandfather) was called Mark William.

This is a bit of a shot in the dark - but I've just started researching the family and thought it was worth a try.

Thanks in advance

Fiona Graves
Southend-on-Sea, Essex


From: Francis Huddy
Sent: 13 September 2004
Subject: Rusthall website

Your website is fascinating and reminds me of many places I used to know some time ago.

I used to live in Bretland Road, just near the beginning at the bus stop in Rusthall Road, and remember going all over Rusthall, playing cricket up at the cricket pitch and even at the playing fields down in Ashley Park. Why did they extend the cricket pitch and then never use it? They must've done that in about 1985. It left the pavilion stranded, right out in the middle of the field.

We used to play cricket (just 4 of us) on that field every day after school in the early 1980s, just beside the pavilion. One day, the groundsman came along and was so incensed that we were playing cricket on his beloved pitch that he actually drove his car onto the pitch and ran over our wicket! Well, we knew it was owned by the council so we had every right to play cricket there (the police said the same).

Another strange thing on the website is your story 'Two Rusthall Ghosts'. Well, I can remember walking home from school one day, with a friend, from Southborough (St Gregory's) through Hurst Woods (in about 1981). This is really spooky because there was no-one around, just the two of us, and we actually heard this really eerie, shrieking noise of a heavy horse approaching at speed yet there was nothing there! We even started running away, assuming the horse was right behind us ready to run us over. I remember that to this day and to read of the account of the ghost is rather strange. I must say that I am not remotely a believer in anything paranormal, yet this is the only such experience in my entire life.

Anyway, the website is superb. The old pictures of Toad Rock and Rusthall in the past are a delight.

Many thanks,

Mr Francis Huddy
Exeter, Devon


From: "A.J.Fermer"
Sent: Sunday, December 09, 2001 7:07 AM
Subject: Denny Bottom kids' memories

I was really pleased to find this site - I lived in Denny Bottom as a small child, 3yrs old I think, when my father Arthur Walter Fermer was called up in 39/40 for the duration of the war. I lived with aunt Georgina and uncle Frank Bugden, uncle Arthur Fermer lived opposite and Aunt Liz (Georgina's sister just up the road).

My Grandmother - who lived in Ripley, Surrey - was out of favour with my dad because he never knew his father and had Gran's surname. I know the street was below Toad Rock and I think the church was at the end of it. You climbed out of the street to the council houses. We were there for a year. In the 60's I visited Georgina and Liz and Arthur, they were all still there. I do not know if any relatives are there now, the named have passed on.

I remember, on visits after the war, playing around the pub while the family drank there. My father was brought up by his Grandmother Fermer until about age 10 when uncle Frank and Georgina took him in. He always said his Gran was 'cheated' out of a property, a pig farm in the area - but who knows. The houses were very small and close up to , what seemed to me, to be a steep cliff (a tiny backyard and next to no front garden).

I have nothing of real use for your site- but I must say it is very good. If I ever get to come back to UK I will call in to the pub.

Arthur John Fermer.
Redland Bay Queensland 4165 Australia.
Heresdad@Hotmail.com


From: Anne Dean Kadis
Sent: 6:13 pm Saturday April 6, 2002
Subject: Toad Rock and Denny Bottom

I love this site! As a american child, I lived in Rusthall for a year during 1964 and '65. I spent many happy hours playing on the rocks surrounding Toad Rock. I felt very proud when I accomplished the feat of jumping off of "chair and table rocks."

Together Sally Haines and Anne Whale and I played there for hours. One day Sally and I were playing in the sand by Toad Rock and a photographer asked us to pose for a picture. He claimed he was taking pictures for postcards. We were very excited and ran home to tell our families, but figured nothing much would become of it. My family returned to the states. Several years later the Haines family found the actual postcard of us at Toad Rock in the local shops. We later found ourselves on calendars and tea towels!!!

If anyone is interested, I will try to locate a scanner to send a copy of the postcard to add to the historical pictures of Toad Rock.

I plan to visit Rusthall this coming July 2002, with my husband and two children. We will climb on the rocks at Toad Rock, and will search for my initials that I carved in to the rocks. We will stop by the local pub and would love to meet the person responsible for this charming web site. Anyone interested in reaching me can email me at 'toanniebananie@yahhoo.com"


From: Mick Bean
Sent: 9 September 2002
Subject: Toad Rock

Nice site, well done. Who I wonder can remember "keepingthe kettle boiling"? We kids in the 50s would climb up on top of the "table" and jump off onto a pile of sand, run back up on top and jump off again (yes, I did break my arm).

Going down the "spa lake " collecting golf balls (never pinching them) wash them in vinegar overnight and sell them back to the golfers next day !!

The "water rock " where we would try and climb without slipping down, on cold winter nights light a "Yoggie" in one of the caves to keep warm and whistle like an owl, frightening the folk who lived nearby. Lay on top of the "chair" rock and look at the stars high above ..... I could go on but I hope I have rekindled some memories for old Rustonians.

Mick Bean


From: M Pinson
Sent: 14 October 2002
Subject: Dornden House

I visited the Denny Bottom web site, having come across N.M Bailey's article.

Do you or any of your friends know what happened to the house Dornden mentioned in this article ?

In the 1881 & 1901 censuses it was occupied by James Harrison and his daughters. James Harrison was co-founder of the T & J Harrison Shipping Line of Liverpool and retired to Rusthall, dying in 1891.