115/117 High Street
by Ian Fuller

Greywalls, Number 115 High Street, stood just across Lion Lane from the Red Lion, with Number 117, Burstead House, to its left. They were originally one house of 16/17 century origin. Late in the 19th century Greywalls was a girls’ academy, with Elisabeth Champion as principal. By the 1930s Mrs. Gardener had an antique shop there. Her son, Wrey Gardener, a poet and prose writer, replaced her business with his Greywalls Press in about 1939. He published several books there and edited The Poetry Quarterly.

In the 1860s Burstead House was for many years ‘Burstead House Academy’, latterly ‘Price’s Academy’, after the head, Mr Price. It was described as a boys’ boarding school for gentlemen. By around 1910 it was Burstead House Temperance Hotel. In 1939, before the start of hostilities, the hotel changed hands, closing down altogether at start of the war. It then became the local office for the Ministry of Food, issuing Ration Books and suppling special food for babies. Following the war the property was purchased by a Mr. Ellis, including number 119 to the left that possibly included a remnant of a 15th century barn. He built Ellis garage there facing the High Street with the two petrol pumps.

Hensmans Garage was a Ford agent in Brook Street, Brentwood. Dick May purchased these High Street properties in 1957, completely clearing the site to build a local branch of Hensmans. Initially he built another small petrol station, replacing it with a showroom for new vehicles with a larger filling station. In 1970 the site was sold to pay Dick May’s death duties. Hensmans’ showroom and garage was completely demolished and replaced by a supermarket.

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  • Is the Ellis mentioned here the same Ellis who owned a garage in Sun Street during the 1960s?

    By Keith Ramsey (31/03/2019)

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