The Village Bakery (147 Mongeham Road) began as a pair of labourers cottages as can be seen in the map below, dating from 1841. The cottages are numbered 99 (occupied by James Graves, a shepherd, his wife and five children) and 100 (housing farm labourer Thomas Wood, Charlotte and baby William). The cottages were owned by Joseph Hewitt, Maltman to the Bray family who lived in the shop next door (101 on the map).

Stephen Philpott, born in Deal, bought the cottages from Hewitt in July, 1851 and promptly knocked them into one and converted them into a bakery. Before moving in he and his wife, Jane (who was born in Great Mongeham) and four children lived in Palmerston Terrace in the house now known as Yeoman’s Cottage. The younger two of their children were born in the village, but the older two were born in Walmer. The fifth child, Julia, was born after their move to the bakery.

By 1862 Philpott also became postmaster for the village Post Office, a position which remained with the bakery at least until 1906. At some time in the early twentieth century the Post Office transferred to Minnie Wraight’s shop, now the Post House nearly opposite Ellen’s road.

The brickwork of the bakery was exposed recently when the render was removed for renovation.

In 1851 Stephen Philpott bought a pair of eighteenth century labourers’ cottages and converted them to a bakery. When Derek and Tracey started their renovations in 1998 they removed the crumbling render from the front. This revealed the brickwork and exposed the modifications made by Philpott. Tracey kindly took this photo for me. We can see clearly the crumbly red brick of the original eighteenth century cottages. The bricked in door of the second cottage can be seen to the left of the bow window. The harder bricks of the 1851 extension can be seen to the right of the photo. The window to the left of the door was replaced by the bow fronted shop window.

The original eighteenth century roof would probably have been steeper, and have been thatched or possibly roofed with Kent peg tiles. With the coming of the railway to Deal in 1847 slate brought in from Welsh quarries became a cheaper option, so that was used to roof the bakery. The hayloft to the left of the building, above the garage doors looks as if it was part of the original building. If so it pre-dates the adjoining house which was built in 1811.

The bakehouse, marked with a red spot on the 1872 Ordnance survey map (above) was probably built with the extension seen in the photo, but without examining the brickwork it is difficult to tell.

Stephen Philpott and Jane Bowman were married in Walmer Parish Church in 1834. their first three children, Jane, Stephen and Charles were born in Walmer. However their third son, Alfred was christened in 1848 in Great Mongeham so they must have moved to Palmerston Terrace by then. Philpott bought the cottages from Hewitt in July, 1851. I have found no record of when the cottages were converted, but I would suspect that the conversion of the cottages would have been done first and the building of the bakehouse behind would have happened some time later. Although the first gasometer had been erected in Deal in 1834 there was no gas supply to the village, so when Philpott built his first ovens he probably bought his fuel from Mark Dixon, who sold his faggots from a donkey cart. The ovens were burning wood right into the twentieth century. When Philpott gained the Post Office franchise (sometime between 1851 or 1855) the penny post was in its infancy. Since 1840 letters could be sent anywhere in the kingdom for just one penny, although there could be a charge to have letters delivered to your door. By 1859 over 90% were delivered free of charge. It is likely, then, that at first people would have to call in at the bakery to drop off their letters and to pick up mail. Letters were delivered to the Post Office at about seven o’clock in the morning, and mail collected in the day was sent off at a quarter to seven in the evening.

Stephen continued to run the business until his death in 1896 at the age of 85, helped by his son, Alfred and grandson, Stephen. A provision in his will.declared that “before offering for sale his house bakehouse and premises at Great Mongeham in which the business of baker had been carried on for many years” it should be first offered to his son Alfred. Alfred took up the option. At that time letters came from Deal and were delivered twice daily, at 6.30 a.m. and 5 p.m. but only in the village street (Mongeham Road). Letters were sent off at 7.35 a.m. and 7 p.m. Postal orders could be issued but not paid. They were dealt with at Upper Deal. The telegraph office was at Deal. There is a generation of people now who have never seen a telegram or postal order, and cannot imagine how important that service was. The wall letter box at Mongeham House was cleared 7.30 a.m. and 6.55 p.m. and Sundays at 10.15 a.m.

He only continued for a few years after the death of his father. In 1900 he leased the shop to Howard Garland.

In the early 1880s the Philpott family were to suffer two tragedies. Stephen’s eldest son, Stephen died in November 1880. He was buried in the churchyard of St. Martin’s. He had been a prominent member of the Ancient Order of Foresters, a friendly society which is still in existence. His funeral was attended by about 100 members of that society. Stephen, a bricklayer, was only 39 when he died, and he left a widow and sons Stephen, Charles and daughter Julia, just ten years old.

Just two months later tragedy struck again. On the morning of 18th January Alfred Philpott, a baker like his father, went to the coal house. On opening the door he found his wife “suspended by a cord”. He last saw her at 5.30, presumably when he went to work down the road at his father’s bakery. He found her when he returned at 10.30. In his statement to the coroner Alfred said “For the last ten days she has been rather strange, and said at times that her children were starving and that she should be hung for it.” He also said she “has never been in a strange way before”. She left four children, the youngest just three months old. Could she have been suffering from post-natal depression? Later that year Rachel Marsh, a 63 year old widow, moved in with them as housekeeper.

Happier times were to come. Eight years after the death of his father Stephen Philpott (named after father and grandfather) married Minnie Friend at St. Martin’s Church. The festive occasion was reported in the Kentish Post thus “The Union Jack was hoisted at the Church, and in the village a string of flags and various emblems of the bridegroom’s trade were stretched across the road from the ‘Horseshoes’ Inn. The ringers showed their kindly feeling by ringing several merry peals.”

Young Stephen and his bride went to live in the middle house of Palmerston Terrace, where their daughter, Minnie, was born. Later his grandfather retired and went to live with them. Alfred moved into the bakery with his family. By this time he had remarried His second wife was a woman seven years his senior.

The history that I have been able to uncover for the twentieth century lacks the human drama of the Philpott family. It is merely a record of changing ownership.

In 1896 Alfred Philpott paid off the outstanding mortgage of £90 and paid £130 to the trustees (him and his brother-in-law) to distribute to his father’s heirs. However he was not to keep the business long. In the Kelly’s Directory for 1899 he is listed as baker, but in the 1901 census Howard Garland was baker and postmaster, so Alfred must have leased it to him at some time in the previous year or eighteen months. Alfred at the age of 52 retired with his family to Sholden.

The bakery changed hands many times in the following century, although, until 1956, the baker was always a tenant. In 1923 Alfred leased the bakery to Edward Mannering, the miller at Buckland Flour Mills for £40 per annum. A clause in the lease A provided that Mannering could purchase the Bakery for £400 on the demise of the Philpotts. Margaret died 12th Jan 1924 and Alfred followed on 14th Dec 1925 so through on 10th May 1926 the ownership passed to Mannering. On Mannering’s death in 1932 ownership passed to his sons.

I have found no record of how long Garland was the baker, but by 1938 he had been replaced by George Piper. In 1948 planning permission was given for an extension to the bakery, presumably to accommodate new electric ovens. The ovens had continued to be heated by faggots well into the twentieth century. On Saturday mornings after the bread was baked, villagers would take their own cakes, already mixed in tins. The baker would place them in his ovens which were still hot enough to bake the cakes and he would charge a penny for a big one and a half-penny for a small one. The villagers would collect them on Saturday afternoons.

In 1956 the bakery was sold to Richmond Williams who was probably the tenant at the time. In 1957 part of a bedroom was converted to a bathroom.

In June 1960 the mortgage was transferred to C.J. Hudson Ltd. at Thanet Flour Mills. Part of the deal was that Williams should buy all their flour from Thanet Mills. The following October the business was sold to Francis and Phyllis Davies for the same arrangement with Thanet Flour Mills.

The Davies’s were very hard working having two other shops in Deal, one in the High Street and the other in Stanhope Road. Most mornings Frank Davies would get up at 3a.m. to start baking but on Fridays baking started in the evening. He employed 3 bakers, one being his son David, as well as assistants in the shops. His bread rounds went out to the surrounding area.

Many people still remember the penny buns which sold like “hot cakes” and the Kent Cob loaves which were made from specially ground flour. These loaves were much sought after and people travelled distances to buy them. Wedding cakes were a speciality.

Frank tried to sell the business as a going concern but there were no takers so the bakery closed in January 1985 Frank Davies reached retirement age. he died in October 1985 and Phyllis sold the Bakery as a private residence to Philip and Christine Skipper in 1986.

The photograph shown above was taken soon after Frank and Phyllis Davies took over the village bakery . The van is being loaded with bread and cakes for delivery to the surrounding area.

Sometime in the seventies the property ceased to be a bakery. In 1986 the property was sold as a private dwelling, and then sold on about fifteen years later The current owners have spent several years restoring the property and the photograph below shows us what the Village Bakery looks like now.