Explore Headley - Churchgate House

Churchgate House
Churchgate House

Named The Gateway Buttery after the Second World War, when the new owners tried to establish it as a high-class restaurant, and retained that name as a Spar shop and post office until these closed for business in March 2002. 

Previously it was known as Church Gate Stores, and was a thriving concern under the Curtis family.  They sold everything a village needed, including drapery, and several of their young lady assistants lived in.  In common with the other shops of those days, they opened at eight in the morning and closed at seven at night, the last chore being to put up the heavy window shutters and bolt them with long iron bars.

A record from Mr Laverty’s visiting book in 1878 implies that part of this building at least was used as a school around 1830.  He interviewed Ann Coombes (née Shrubb) who, as a girl of 6, remembered looking through the classroom window there and seeing soldiers who “came up in force” into the village after the Workhouse riot that year.  She says the schoolmaster, Mr Allfield, “pulled the blinds down when we saw the soldiers.”

Just before the Second World War the next owner ceased trading, and so the building was commandeered and was bursting at the seams with various troops, beginning with the Pioneer Corps and ending with Canadian Tank regiments.  Graffiti in the attic recalls some of these.

Graffiti in Churchgate House
It is thought that Trooper D.123094 James L. Desaulnier was a Despatch Rider (D.R.) with the Fort Garry Horse (F.G.H.).
In 1992 we wrote to the address in Montreal, but received no reply.


Since the war it has had many different owners and been altered as many times, and is now a private dwelling - the shop and Post Office finally closing in 2002.  The link here shows a 1963 view from the Frith collection.

The startling contrast with the sixteenth century house next door is a very good example of the way in which this village has evolved naturally throughout the centuries, in comparison with Cerne Abbas in Dorset, built as an entity in the style of that particular time.