Letter from Ray Kingshott

I am Raymond Kingshott, the son of Finisher Coronation.

In the late 1940s I was apprenticed as a carpenter and joiner at A J Tracy & Co Ltd. One of my most memorable jobs was working on the conversion of Kingshott Cottage. At that time we lived at Cutt Mill so father was still close to his roots. He was most annoyed when granny Kingshott’s cellar was filled with rubble and concreted over. A pump was installed in the kitchen connected to the well. Every evening father would cycle to the cottage and spend half an hour pumping by hand to fill the tank in the roof. At that time Mrs. Stanley was not married, I think her maiden name was Smith. There was a small barn where the garage now is. A generator was installed in this building and it supplied electricity to light the cottage.

The extension was added by Lord Midleton when my grandparents with all their children moved from Lurgashall in Sussex. The extension was not completed when they moved in. The builders were burning off cuts of wood in the living room grate and my father at the age of three went to sleep in front of the fire. A large spark jumped from the fire and stuck to his face leaving a prominent scar, which he carried to his dying day.

In the soft brickwork beside the front door there were the initials FCK cut fairly deeply; I would think they are still there.

Grandfather’s title was ‘Head Woodman’. He was in charge of all game and standing timber. He also oversaw the conversion of timber for use on the estate. At that time it was converted by hand using a pit that was in the estate yard.

I was born at number two Sunnyside Cottages, Shackleford. My father at that time was a shepherd working for Mr. Stovold, it was a tied cottage. All our water was drawn by a pump in the field next to the cottages, lighting was by paraffin lamp. Conditions were much the same when we moved to Cutt Corner Cottage at Cut Mill in 1939.

The family is now very wide spread, there is quite a contingent in Australia. After the first world war one of the daughters married a Canadian and started a branch of the family over there.

John is the name given to most of the eldest sons in the family, my own John was killed in 1991. The Australian branch started from a John Kingshott who was transported for machine breaking in 1830.

Many of the family were fine craftsmen. There are records in Petworth House of work done by them during the 1800s. One was a bare fist fighter known as Lord Lechinfield’s man.

The bit about the body in the well on your web site is the first I have heard of it. The bottom of the well was renovated and cleaned when the pump was installed and apart from a few frogs nothing else was found.

I hope you find these ramblings interesting.


Ray son of Fin