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The Rother Valley Guide
West Sussex, England

The Heyshott Book
pages 110 to 112


The Blacksmiths shop

On 25th March 1854, George Randall sold the property to Stephen Parry, blacksmith of Heyshott, for £70.
This time it is described as

the messuage or cottage (now used as one tenement only), garden and
premises and which are now in the occupation of George Randall the
younger and also all that Blacksmith's Shop into which the fuel house
formally standing on the same premises was many years since converted
by the said George Randall and which is now in the occupation of the
said Stephen Parry.

So the smithy must almost certainly have been built in the early 1840s. Although the blacksmith, Stephen Parry, owned both the cottage and the smithy from 1854, the cottage was leased to George Randall's son who lived in it. The Parrys only moved into the cottage sometime between 1854 and 1876 when another Deed shows that it was occupied by his son William, who had by then taken over as the blacksmith. The old cottage was pulled down in the late 1890s, just after the Parrys had built the present brick cottage close by.
The smithy thrived until the outbreak of the Second World War and the western end was extended out to the road to form a wheelwright's shop. As well as the many repairs which were needed to cart wheels and bodies, whole farm wagons were built here. In the 1920s the Parrys took on the additional role of general builders,carpenters and decorators as well as making all the village coffins. However the advent of tractors during the war, and the dearth of new building work, was the death knell of the business.
To re-equip the premises so that they could repair tractors and cars required more capital than the Parrys had available. So the amount of work steadily dwindled and, after more than 100 years as a Parry family business, the smithy closed in 1961, when the Parrys sold the premises together with their cottage.
Until then the latter had been known as Sydney Cottage but, soon afterwards, it was re-christened 'The Old Forge'.
When, in 1981, the premises were bought by Colonel and Mrs Palmer from the excecutors of Mrs Hilda Corney (mother of Mrs Judy Newsom Davis of Berrywood), the old smithy was used as a store and had an earth floor, except for the stable adjoining the forge which was still lined with heavy wooden railway sleepers. The Palmers retiled the roof with old tiles, put in concrete floors and sub-divided part of the building into an artist's studio and picture framer's workshop. So it is still being put to a good practical use 160 years after it was built.

Page 110

Page 111

the Blacksmiths shop, Heyshott

The smithy was listed as a Grade 2 building in 1987 and, from the outside, there is still happily very little change from what it looked like in its heyday. Inside, the blacksmith's shop would immediately be familiar to any of the Parry's who worked there.
The unusual chimney, which spirals its way up through the roof, the original hand operated pear-shaped leather bellows in full working order, the anvil and troughs for fuel and water are still there, as are the racks for holding the coffins.

Page 111

Page 112

When the village held a fete in 1993 to raise money for the church and to commemorate Richard Cobden's close connection with the village, many villagers dressed up in Victorian costumes and the smithy was fully operational for 3 days.
Here it is in action:

fully operational Blacksmiths shop, Heyshott 1993

Once again there was no shortage of children to operate the bellows and help to stir the fire.
One of the most expert was Gemma Parry, seen above. She is the great, great, great, great, grand-daughter of Stephen Parry, the first blacksmith who worked the forge here 150 years ago.
Sadly it was not possible to bring back that wonderful smell of horses being shod!

Page 112

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Heyshott Book


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