The Buildings of the High Street

Cheshunt High Street

By Nicholas Blatchley

The southern end of the High Street looking north, c 1905

The southern end of the High Street looking north, c 1905

The High Street today is a mixture of old and new. In some ways, that’s how it should be, but this hasn’t been an organic process of one-for-one replacement, but a wholesale clearance of old buildings in the 1960s, to be replaced by often rather stark modern flats and maisonettes. The northern part of the street, in particular, has been almost completely destroyed.

The southern section, between Church Lane and Cadmore Lane, has fared a little better, although short stretches of it have been redeveloped. Number One, on the corner of Church Lane, is Hope House, a 1681 red-brick building which acquired its characteristic white plaster front in the 18th century. It’s one of the street’s disturbingly few grade II listed buildings.

West side of High Street, date not known. The upper floors were family homes

West side of High Street, date not known. The upper floors were family homes

Much of the west side of this section dates from the late 18th to early 19th centuries, with a few older buildings, but some parts have been replaced by modern buildings, including flats where the Haunch of Venison pub once stood. Cheshunt Free Church dates from 1889, when it replaced an earlier chapel built a century earlier. It belonged to the Countess of Huntingdon’s Connexion, and is now part of the United Reformed Church.

The east side originally contained a mixture of shops and substantial houses — a few of the former still stand, but this side hasn’t done as well as the west. The sixties blocks Edwick Court and Heaton Court respectively replaced Edwick’s Nursery and Heaton House, the former an 18th century mansion, with the Edwicks’ Penton House nearby.

Timber-clad buildings on the east side, in front of the modern car park, 1959

Timber-clad buildings on the east side, in front of the modern car park, 1959

Further along, Effingham Place and Effingham House stood back from the High Street, 16th and 18th century respectively. I believe it was here that I recall walking past a fence of iron railings with gardens beyond — there’s now a car-park and a row of sixties shops there, with more of the same on either side of Cadmore Lane. On the south side of Cadmore Lane, these replaced a building known as Cheshunt House.

North of Cadmore Lane used to be a mixture of shops, pubs, cottages and several larger houses, mostly ranging from the 16th to 18th centuries. Much of this was demolished in the early sixties, but in some cases it was a few years before anything was built in their place, and a feature of the High Street when I was growing up was stretches of advertising hoardings masking the empty ground.

Junction with Cadmore Lane before road widening, c 1957

Junction with Cadmore Lane before road widening, c 1957

On the west side, the blocks of maisonettes were built in a brutalist black-brick style — I understand they were quite pleasant inside, but the exterior made them look like barracks — together with a tower-block that had to be demolished when its design was found to be unsafe. The blocks to the east are somewhat pleasanter to look at, but still fairly anonymous.

 

 

High Street north of Cadmore Lane, looking north, c 1928

High Street north of Cadmore Lane, looking north, c 1928

 

 

The only survivors from this part of the High Street are four 17th century houses standing together on the east side, all grade II listed. Number 138 (Hillview) was for many years the home and surgery of a doctor’s practice. There’s no evidence of it in 1851, but in 1911 the doctor there was Walter Frederick Clark. By the sixties the practice was run by Dr Alan Watts, after which Dr Ahmed took over. The building is now offices.

Dr Watts’ son was my best friend, so I spent a good deal of my childhood at Hillview. It was a substantial house inside, with a stone-floored kitchen, a basement and an attic. One part of a stable range had been converted into a waiting room, and patients had to cross the courtyard to the surgery — hardly ideal on a wet winter evening.

Immediately to the south was a vacant lot, separated from the street by advertising hoardings, that we referred to simply as “the waste ground” and played on. This had previously been another substantial building called Bradford House, though I’ve no information about when it was either built or demolished.

140, Beechholm, 2013

140, Beechholm, 2013

Number 140, Beechholm, is of similar age and type. In 1911, this was the home of the Misses Boyd, two spinster sisters of private means, but by the sixties was a hotel run by a half-Polish family general known as the Lechs, although that was actually the husband’s first name. This too is now offices, with a new development behind it.

Number 142, The Orchards, a plain brown-brick house described on the listing schedule as “Included for group value”, was an annexe of the hotel. It was the home in 1911 of George Laing Paul, of the Paul’s Nursery family. Number 144, Sunnyside Cottage, is the most attractive of the group, although also described as “Included for group value”. This was never such a prestigious house, being occupied in 1911 by James Matten, a labourer.

Much of the east side was of similar age, though a few of the buildings were wooden: a mixture of shops, cottages and three pubs. Sharpe’s fish-shop, in particular, was a fine building with a plaque bearing the date 1689.

West side of High Street, with St Gothards standing back, 1948

West side of High Street, with St Gothards standing back, 1948

The west side was the same sort of mix, also with three pubs, ranging from the coaching inn the Red Lion to the cottage-like “dive”, the Two Brewers. Paul’s nursery and the family’s 17th century house were demolished to make way for the building of Warwick Drive, and most of the rest was replaced by the maisonettes.

I do recall one of the houses on this side of the road from the early sixties, although I haven’t been able to pinpoint which it was — possibly the house to the immediate north of St Gothards, a private infants school that was gone by the time I remember. This house had stood derelict for some time and was the perfect playground for children. Of course, we were strictly forbidden to go in — and of course, we ignored that.

Junction with Brookfield Lane, 1960

Junction with Brookfield Lane, 1960

The row of cottages turning onto the south side of Brookfield Lane was demolished in the early sixties, and for many years the land was used as a wintering ground for a travelling funfair, but eventually the White House, a block of supported housing flats, was built on it. Another more recent block near it was named Sir Cliff Richard Court. The matching cottages north of Brookfield Lane, including the building that had been the Two Brewers, came down a little later and, after a time with the ubiquitous advertising hoardings, were replaced by flats.

 

North end of High Street, 1960

North end of High Street, 1960

Some patches of the High Street — notably the west side of the southern stretch and the group consisting of numbers 138-144 — survive to give a flavour of what the whole place was like back in 1911. For the most part, though, it survives only in old photographs.

This page was added on 24/09/2014.

Comments about this page

  • Thanks Nick it was Wheelers. I remember going in their shop when I was very young with my Mum. Savages was the shoe shop, I worked there at weekends when I was 16 and still at school. Wheelers was where Tandys used to be. 😀😀

    By Heather O’Dell (04/07/2018)
  • I’ve had a look in the trade directory for 1960. There are no haberdashers listed, but there are two drapers in Turners Hill, which might be what you’re thinking of. One was Wheelers (which I remember) which was where Tesco’s is now – it would have been almost opposite the Triangle. The other was Savage, which was further up the road, north of Windmill Lane. Do either of those ring a bell?

    Nick

    By Nicholas Blatchley (04/07/2018)
  • Heather, I think I remember the shop you mention, but I can’t remember what it was called. I’ll see if I can find out.

    By Nicholas Blatchley (04/07/2018)
  • What was the old Haberdashers called early 1960s at the Old Pond, where two old sisters used to serve you and sell dressmaking materials and the like. I am writing my life story.

    By Heather O'Dell (03/07/2018)
  • Michell & Walsh we’re opposite the police station. My husband and I lived above farmer butcher that was owned by mr Bellam ,Number 83 Turners Hill 1964 – 1969 . Farmer Butchers consisted of one whole property 83 ,85, 87. At the back was a very large beautiful garden.next to the garden down the side yard was a blacksmith named Dougie co & Son.

    By Carol sample (04/05/2018)
  • Loved this trip down memory lane, been Brookfield lane and gardens countless time in the 1940/50’s. Lived Hillview gdns. So much has changed not always for the better. Thankyou.

    By Gwen Deasey (Goodwin) (20/03/2018)
  • Mitchell and Walsh ismow MrUniques in Cheshunt, before that it was Cheshunt Motor Com. Owner was Mr Swannel and his son Richard. My husband worked there.

    By Georgina Blackwell (19/03/2018)
  • Thank you Nick.

    The information is very helpful.

    Best wishes.

    Noel

    By Noel Wade (04/01/2017)
  • Hi Noel

    Just a bit of basic research – Mitchell & Walsh’s address was 132 Turners Hill, Cheshunt. I believe it was in the location where there’s currently a petrol station, almost opposite the police station. I hope that helps, and if I can find any more information I’ll let you know.

    Nick

    By Nicholas Blatchley (04/01/2017)
  • Hi Noel

    I remember Mitchell & Walsh, but I’m almost certain it was further up in Turner’s Hill, rather than the High Street. I’ll see if I can find any definite information about it and let you know.

    Nick

    By Nicholas Blatchley (04/01/2017)
  • I am looking for information relating to Mitchell and Walsh, a car dealer in Cheshunt, any details would be appreciated address, photographs.

    The information will be used to complete the vehicle history file of our 1971 MGB first registered by Mitchell and Walsh.

    Thank you

    Noel Wade

    By Noel Wade (01/01/2017)
  • Cheshunt is now a tragic town. I lived there fro1964 -2001, and witnessed the disruption of cheshunt and the surrounding area. All in the name of progress . The councillors who at the time should be ashamed of themselves.

    By Carol sample (20/12/2016)

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