End of an era as Uckfield scheme begins

End of an era as gallery owners Mike and  Liz Penton Harvey move out of Bridge Cottage
End of an era as gallery owners Mike and Liz Penton Harvey move out of Bridge Cottage
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An era came to a close last weekend as Uckfield’s iconic Bridge Cottage was cleared ready for the start of its £1-million restoration.

Saturday, August 30 saw the last day of trading for Mike and Liz Harvey Penton from the Bridge Cottage Heritage Centre.

Mike and Liz started using Bridge Cottage as their gallery after the small trading units were removed from the Bell Walk Market Hall in 2010.

Since that time customers and passers-by have enjoyed Mike’s wit and Liz’s smiling face which have welcomed everybody who stepped over the threshold to view Mike’s extensive collection of pictures.

Mick Harker, chairman of the Bridge Cottage Committee, said: “Come rain or shine, and in spite of the extremes of temperature experienced in an unheated medieaval hall house, there has always been a kind word and the offer of a jelly baby to help the viewing experience.”

Latterly Liz’s artistic talents have branched out into jewellery making which, combined with other local craftsmen, created a small craft hub in the most complete medieaval Hall house in the District.

In 2011 they were joined by the Lions, who used the lock-up shop attached to the cottage to start a second hand bookshop. This was a new venture for the Lions but, due to its success it soon became evident they needed more space. Unable to find anything else locally, Mike and Liz graciously agreed to reduce the size of their gallery to allow the bookshop to expand into the cottage.

Now the Lions have gone, having at last found new premises in Olives Yard, officially opened on August 23, leaving Mike and Liz to shut the shop on this latest stage of Bridge Cottage’s 600 year history.

The Uckfield District and Preservation Society (UDPS) has received a grant of £1,017,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for Bridge Cottage Heritage Centre Renovation Project and the work is scheduled to start on September 15.

Information about the project and its progress will be available at the Society’s Charity Shop in the High Street or through a monthly series of talks and activities scheduled to start at the end of September.

Uckfield and District Preservation Society (UDPS), an independent charity and company limited by guarantee, was founded in 1968 to encourage interest in the history and environment of the parishes around Uckfield.