The Old Town area of Hastings is steeped in character yet much of it’s heritage feels obscured and somewhat under-valued. There’s one notable exception, the three-storey Georgian townhouse that is A G Hendy & Co Home Store.
The house appears to have escaped any form of modernisation whatsoever, as if a large dust sheet draped over the building for a couple of centuries has now been removed. It is infact the result of an obsessive restoration. Time and paint have been peeled away, the false ceilings and patched up decor in place when Mr Hendy first arrived all removed revealing many wonderful features. Any irreparable damage has been replaced with carefully sourced replacements. Whilst the restored decor is incredible, equally fascinating is the blend of new and vintage merchandise on sale.
Seemingly ramshackle displays are very carefully considered and executed. Here you will find bell jars, bobbins, an unimaginably comprehensive array of brushes, candles and cane carpet beaters. There are a few good purveyors of modern utilitarian home wares, Hendy’s is a different proposition altogether.
The atmosphere, smell and many of the items therein remind me of childhood visits to my grandparents rambling town house. Whereas my grandfather was constantly touching up the deep bottle green paintwork Mr Hendy has revealed and preserved layers like palimpsest.
The back rooms of the house accommodate a small seafood restaurant with decor strictly adhering to the style of the house and a menu making best use of available local ingredients. We sat in the yard adjacent to the kitchen enjoying spring sunshine and chatting with other diners. A dish of brown shrimps (in shell, be brave) with bread and butter to start. Mains were an enormous crab, cod and shellfish pot and smoked haddock chowder with duck egg. Two glasses of super crisp Pinot Grigio completed a perfect lunch. If we were considering dessert Mr Atkinson Jr had other ideas and so we left our table to explore the upper floors of Mr Hendy’s wonderful establishment.
File next to Old Town in Holt, Norfolk. Equally wonderful.