New hall improves social life

When an old army hut costing £42 became the Bodle Street Green village hall in 1923 it added an extra dimension to social life.

The village responded to new diversions enthusiastically, 150 packing the building to hear Mr Woolgar play a selection on his gramophone. ..and Mr Young read a paper ‘Is Music Beneficial to Cattle?’

The local WI was born and a newspaper cutting described a meeting when a ‘most useful demonstration was given on how to make indoor slippers out of an old felt hat’.

But all was not serene at the Rectory at about this time. The Rev Ferguson Reed resigned his living because he could not manage on a net income of £4.6s a week. He told his parishioners in a letter: “It is the wages of a plumber or a London policeman, or half what a collier gets. ..I am compelled to live in a large house and keep up a position and live like a gentleman.”

His protest seems to have had some effect because by 1927 the stipend had been increased to £321 per annum.

Edward ‘Cocky’ Wrenn was described in the 1871 census as postmaster and shoemaker. In order to collect the post he had to walk to Hailsham and back every day, relieving the tedium of his 14-mile journey by indulging his passion for reciting narrative verse.

Paradise Lost and John Gilpin was a Citizen were favourites when he stopped off at the Five Bells beerhouse. This colourful character (who claimed kinship with Sir Christopher Wren) would also give his rendering of England, with all Thy Faults, I Love Thee Still to the Hailsham ropemakers for a penny.

Chicken fattening was big business in this area and the Isted family would not fail to make the most of it. A steam mill was started at Trumpets Farm in 1909, grinding the oats for delivery to the rearers and fatters.

The White Horse pub had a rather seedy reputation at the turn of the century; drunkenness and fighting made it a place you could not go “without running into trouble”.

During the Second World War the distinctive white horse painted on the roof was ordered to be removed, because it would have provided a landmark for enemy aircraft.