Connections – Arthur’s Thank You

By Arthur Woodgate

These little tributes to the old Rye families with members or connections with staff members of The Rye Memorial Care Centre are intended to be, through “Rye’s Own”, a tribute to all those who work in the centre and are looking after me as a patient here.


A man named David Benn moved into Rye about the time that Tilling Green was opened. I’m sure I’m right when I say at the far end of Marley Road right on a bend. Since then quite a lot of Benns have come about and formed a group of good hard working people, not all spectacular but the sort that earn the wealth. So carry on the Benns and help to keep old Rye in economic health.


The first Piggott I heard about during my early years was a barber who came and set up business in Cinque Ports Street, and the first record I could find about him in Rye was in the nineteenth century. He was a prominent member of the Rye Literary Society 1888. The story went that he was very fond of a drink. That he shaved the lather off one side of a clients face, then went to the nearest pub and had a drink, he then returned and shaved the other side. It seemed that from him there came hoards of Piggotts, but I only mentioned Derek because he is the one always on the go who has a relative on the staff of The Memorial Care Centre, that started its life as a hospital.

Alfred Horner
Alfred Horner


Florie Blackhall, daughter of Boulder boat owner, F.T.C. did not guess she would be Mayoress of Rye until she married Alfred Horner, but after that there was no doubt. Alf was, unless I’m barmy, the best Mayor of Rye since John Harvey. Why John Havey? They both were people’s Mayors. But as John was Mayor way before the War, Alf, who is still fresh in many Rye minds, must take all the glory.


Said Bill to spouse “Lets do a show” but Hitler said “Oh! No No No” down came a wall with Carey family under. No one was hurt said brother Bert.

The Mayor & Mayoress of Rye Councillor Paul Carey and Rita Kirk with
The Mayor & Mayoress of Rye Councillor Paul Carey and Rita Kirk with

Bert was a postman, later on in life, so had to be right, for which we all were glad. When I said later life, Bert had done other jobs when in his prime. Doris, a sister of them all, held a record, in as much she was the mayor’s secretary for thirteen successive mayors. Now nephew Paul; that’s Bill son, Thought he’d like to run the town. Up with posters and ere long we have a new councillor on the run and soon another Mayor is born.


Harbour ducks are, in number, quite a lot, and the Haffenden’s contribute to this pot. Old Ray, and brother too came into Rye, via Chapman’s Brew. Now I hear they are all part of the “Down Home” throng, which makes it look as if I’m wrong, but if both and all of this is right. Lets leave them there with all their might, and may be joined shortly at another date.


Lifeboat Memorial Rye Harbour
Lifeboat Memorial Rye Harbour

As I lay resting on my bed in the Rye Memorial Health Centre, a nurse looked down at me and said “Did you know Bill Cutting?” of course I did, and all those strutting by that name. Real “down homers” how come a name like that? So to tell you I’ll try, they came to Rye they saw a show, at half past ten they looked at a watch and then announced, “We best now get down home”, so Rye cynics with no desire to roam just had to call the Harbour “Down Home”. Haffenden’s and Cuttings might be fond of playing football as a team. But none became a hero because of this, but when heroes come on the scene, they are heroes. For lifeboat men they, and on the “Mary Stanford” on that tragic night, many a Cutting lost his life, and in my book that makes both families heroes, everyone. The word hero gets so abused but in this case it’s rightly used. So Mr. Tollett let me say of all the volunteers in Rye Bay, and elsewhere, the lifeboatmen with or without their gear, are the greatest and the bravest anywhere.


Victorian and as my father was Presbyterian my mother was banned from working when he was not so our Sunday hot dinner was not in the pot. However, we didn’t starve. We grew our own vegetables, so much bubble and squeak and a joint came in the week. Delivered on a Friday by a Mr Sewett. Funny for a butcher to be called that, but a different spelling he, along with an open tray, across his shoulder everyday. Put his tray down on the table, so mum could get her meat and pay having paid, what do we do? It can be fried it can be cooked by anyway you like, but the suet she mixed with flour and water. (Sometimes milk) and made a sort of dough we called a duff, about half an inch thick, and very rough, and not very nice at all.

The meat she cut in little squares, “Which she tipped inside the basin. Up to the brim, then made a suet duff lid and flopped on top and tied a cloth around the lot and put it back into the saucepan to boil again. But the meat stayed tough, and as a schoolboy I fell out with duff. But mother made it quite a lot because she said it was good for us.

Of the Sewetts I thought there were four, but further research showed there were five but I only knew three well. The oldest, Arthur I went to school with. He became a butcher like his dad, and ran a shop in Battle but Thursdays, he would bring some meat to Rye market to sell from a stall. All sorts of meat and suet too. Don was a lawyers clerk who worked a lot in reception in an office in the Flushing Inn and we were seen a lot in court, so I would I think, best known around the town but Fred and his laundry van and lively conversation as he moved amongst his customers, must have become the most well known of all the family so I am to leave the Sewetts as one of Rye’s antique families, like me, through the Batchelers.

“Rye’s Own” September 2009

All articles, photographs, films and drawings on this web site are World Copyright Protected. No reproduction for publication without prior arrangement. (Hard Copy Back Numbers Still Available) © World Copyright 2015 Cinque Ports Magazines Rye Ltd., Guinea Hall Lodge Sellindge TN25 6EG