On the opposite side of the road to the Chequers is a housing estate with bungalows for the elderly, called Cleavesland, built on a previous allotment site, in 1965. This plot had been previously owned by Cleaves School.
Facing towards Yalding, the next building to Cleavesland, right foreground of the LH photo below, was a Methodist Chapel, which we understand was on the site of a previous saw pit. The chapel functioned from 1874 to 1971, when the last organisers were the Reader family, farmers at Uptons.
In the centre of these buildings, with its front door columns, was a shop called the Prince of Wales. It took its name from the fact that it had once been a beerhouse, which was at the rear. It had the nickname The Monkey House for some reason, and the last landlord was a Mr Oyler when it closed in 1924. It continued to be a shop and the last owner was Fred Horstman, who closed his doors in the early 1970’s
By the electric pole on the right can be seen the weather-board lean-to of the butcher’s shop of ‘Wally’ Gibbons mentioned before. This stood next to the general stores and post office operated by the Brenchley family.
Alfred Brenchley bought the premises at about 1880, as a grocery, draper, boot and shoe warehouse, and every hardware requirement through to being a coal merchant. The RH photo shows these group of houses from the opposite view, with the Brenchley shop in the centre, and I understand Alfred himself on the railings by the River Teise, obviously closer to the road than at present.
Alfred was buried on 17th October 1942 aged 85, and passed the business onto son Reginald Walter who was buried on 22nd September 1954 at age of 55, leaving the shop to his son Eric who finally closed the doors in 1989, going the way of many village shops.
There are not many memories that connect us with the more recent past, but Ted Cooper who was born about 1905, lived with his grandparents at Beltring crossing, and three years later moved with them down to Woodlands. Of course one of the events he remembers is the frequent floods, and going by boat from Laddingford school to Yalding post office to collect milk and bread. He claimed that the flood level was over the railings of Darmon bridge. In contrast to that he recalls how in summer it was possible at times to ride his bicycle from Woodfalls bridge to Darmon bridge, along the river bed. He attended school when Mr Frank and Edith Perkins were there. She was the main teacher, whilst he maintained discipline, which he did by removing privileges, and claimed that if he had to use the cane he would have thought he had failed; he only used it six times in six years.