The High Street Sayer's Store 'nim' And Phyl Alen

A Memory of Ardingly

My name is Barbara Tester and I live in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
My beloved (late) husband, Brian Tester, was born on 26th July, 1930 at No. 1 Station Cottages, 1 Station Road, Ardingly. His parents were Bartley William Charles Tester and Gladys Evelyn Tester. His father was a stonemason who carried out a number of pieces of restoration work in Sussex throughout his long working life.

The family lived for some years in Eastbourne before moving to Hailsham in the mid 1950s. Brian migrated to Australia in 1952, and we were married in 1955. His brothers, Michael and Richard, and two sisters Anne (Pomroy) and Ethne (Ansfield) all still live in Sussex. Both Brian and Mike were members of St Peter's Church Choir.

During the war, while Dad was in the army, the family was evacuated from Eastbourne (where, like many others, their home was bombed) to Ardingly, where they lived with Aunty Phyl and Uncle 'Nim' who were, at that time, living in 'Cobb Cottage'. Cobb Lane, I remember, went down to The Brook, and on up the other side, to where Mrs Stride lived in her great old farmhouse. When Brian and I visited with her, she made us a treat of some of her famous griddle cakes, of which, he had fondly reminded her! Her Scottish brogue was so thick that I had to listen very carefully to catch everything she said!

I recall fond memories, whilst on our visit from Australia, 1958-1960, living in East Sussex, of us driving from Hailsham up to Ardingly, on Saturday mornings, to spend many a delightful weekend visit with Brian's favourite aunt and uncle, 'Nim' and Phyl Alen. At the time, they lived in one of the high-gabled, semi-detached cottages in High Street, almost opposite the entrance to Hapstead House.

Uncle 'Nim' worked for many years, as a grocer, at Sayer's Store, which I believe is the one shown in this photograph - if my memory serves me well - all these years later! He would bring home a carefully wrapped, paper package of succulent smoked ham which he had carved, 'off-the-bone', with a razor-sharp ham knife.

I can almost taste Aunty Phyl's freshly made, delicious smoked ham and home-grown tomato, sandwiches, followed by a slice of her Victoria sponge filled with jam and freshly whipped cream and steaming, bright amber tea served in fine bone china teacups. What lovely memories I have of those visits!

Aunty Phyl would usually greet us, on arrival, with -"Would you like a little drink, dearie?" at the same time reaching down into the stone bottomed cupboard under the sink, to produce a bottle of Fryco's Orange Wine which she then poured into small crystal glasses. What I would give to be able to buy a bottle of that delightful tipple today to relive those magical moments in time! I wonder if it is still being made; or does anyone know of a comparable alternative? Perhaps someone might even be kind enough to spare and share an old, family 'secret' recipe! Anyone who can remember the taste of this particular Orange Wine would have to agree 'it's unforgettable' - I'm sure! Sadly, I have Googled the name, without success! However, I did find a Stone's Orange Wine which said it was 'Made in Britain'.

If anyone remembers any members of the Tester families; Lou, May, Phyl, Mill, Hilda, Bart, Kitty and Stella (all now deceased) and/or the present generations - I would be delighted to be able to add any memories/anecdotes you may have of them to our family history.

How I'd love to visit your lovely village once again! Even just for the primroses and bluebells down Cobb Lane, alone . . . they were so beautiful! I witnessed my first snowfall in Ardingly; and walked through Ashdown Forest in Autumn. Lovely sights!

Thanking you, in anticipation.


Barbara Tester

A memory shared by Barbara Tester , on Jun 6th, 2009.

Comments & feedback

Sun Mar 15th 2015, at 2:35 pm

votto commented:

Yes Barbara, I can remember the lovely days when you lived in Hailsham for a time and I lived in the bungalow next door.We became great friends and used to do a lot of needlework together. I remember when I had my baby girl you picked primroses from the railway embankment, made them into little posies and brought them to the hospital for all the mothers on Mothers day.

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