25 April 2011

"England's oldest shop" up for sale

[Sallie Stevens] loves every inch of her eccentric workplace and home in Kent on one of the most absurdly picturesque village streets in the country, from the two iron columns said to have been made from Tudor cannon holding up the shop roof, to the 1.2 metre (4ft) high door to her bedroom – claimed to be a security measure for the unloved tithe men who used the room for tax collection, since the doorway was too low for a man to swing a sword...

The "oldest" claim for any premises is always a red rag to competitors but, in 1593 a tailor, John Moody, was recorded as taking on the lease and installing some of the counters still in daily use. Moody's lease was recording a change of tenancy, so the building was probably a shop far earlier.

The building is at least 140 years older, part of a medieval manor house, Burghesh Court, once owned by Anne Boleyn's father, Sir Thomas Bullen, whose main home was Hever Castle a few miles away. Since then carpenters, tailors, hatters and grocers have used the shop, and it has been a post office for more than a century.

The village, a single row of ravishing half-timbered houses ending in a rosy brick pub at the castle gates, has been used as a setting for many films, including A Room with a View, which was partly filmed in the shop, Elizabeth R and The Wind in the Willows.
Additional details at The Guardian.

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