East Farndon: A dancer with bells on

09a ??firemark

Another picturesque village set on a hill. The houses became the main focus here and when I took the photograph of the small sun plaque, high up on the front of a house, I had no idea what it represented; having referred to Geoffrey Grigson’s Country Alphabet book, it seems likely that this is actually a firemark – or insurance sign, these were issued after the Great Fire of London when it became apparent that some houses needed insuring. The number is the insurance policy number, they were affixed to houses and told the fire brigade that the house was their responsibility.
On the main street there seems to be a trend for naming houses based on their original use, and another nice feature is the date brickwork feature on the gable end.

I found this personal recollection from Marjorie Houlston (nee Read) who lived in East Farndon and she refers to some of the houses:
I remember three shops in the village. One is now ‘Hillside’ and was kept by a Mr Mayes. Then there was the Post Office and shop kept by Mrs Nichols (now ‘The Old Post Office’) and one in ‘Ivy House’, kept by a rather eccentric lady called Mrs Dancer. She used to sell everything and had small bells stitched to her long skirts, which tinkled when she moved about. 

I love this evocative image of Mrs Dancer – and just the sort of person you can imagine fascinating – or scaring(!) young children, I imagine her being rather bohemian. Bells seem to be a recurring theme at the moment! (The images above show Ivy House from two different angles).




  1. I’m drawn to the house names – both typographically and as a description of former use. Within my section of the walk I have not included names of houses but could – perhaps a second or third re-visit is needed to search out further links across the whole walk?


  2. I think you’re right; as themes emerge we may find it beneficial to re-visit. The historically background to each place seems to be what is driving the project at then moment, which I had’t anticipated when we started this process.


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