High Street Property Details

No.35 & 37 John Curtis – Estate Agent

John Chennells and his wife Annie (a local Welwyn girl) had a grocery/druggist business on this site before the present building was erected in 1897.  The family continued to live and work in the new premises, with their three children, John (who died before his first birthday), Frank and Nellie.

The grocery shop, known as Chennells, was also home to the post office where John Chennells was postmaster and Frank, his son, was the post office clerk.  John died in 1906 (aged 75) and Frank succeeded him as sub- postmaster.

After she was widowed, Annie Chennells continued to live at this address. A local lady, Emily Matthews, lived with her working as a domestic servant.  Annie died in 1914.

Frank married Stella Godseff and moved to Brewhouse Hill where they had two children, Winifred (born 1910) and Edward Frank (born 1913). Stella's sister lived next door to the post office in No. 39 Wheatsheaf House, with her husband Robert (Bob) Seabrook.

Frank continued to work as sub-postmaster following the death of his wife in 1921. In 1924, Frank married Maggie Smith from Bromley in Kent, who was 21 years his junior.  Together they had three children, John, Una and Roy.  Frank continued his work in the post office and grocery as the sub-postmaster.  By 1926/27 the post office also had a telegraphy office and by 1929 Maggie and Frank had moved from Brewhouse Hill to Amwell Farm. During the 1930s, the Chennells family had a dairy at the back of these premises, with the dairy herd being milked at the farm on Brewhouse Hill.  Frank and Tommy Newbury delivered the milk. In his spare time Frank photographed the village, selling his photographs as picture postcards. He was remembered as a very pleasant but also, ironically, a miserable man too. It was known he suffered with sciatica and kidney stones, which probably accounted for him also being so miserable: the story goes that he would always say 'close the door behind you' when people came into the shop !  

By 1936, Frank's son Edward was also working in the post office and shop.  In 1939 he married Kitty Williamson, a local girl, who lived at the Bull Cottages.

During the early years of the Second World War, the Chennells family created an enormous window display of large gun cartridges.  In 1942, Frank, now 65, closed the post office. He died in 1950.  His widow Maggie and their children moved back to live at the property again until 1954 and Edward (Frank's son from his first marriage) continued to run the grocery business and live in Brewhouse Hill until his death in 1968. Maggie died several years later in 1972.

The electoral register confirms that a dairy business was run at the property between 1952 and 1958. The dairy business, Hertfordshire Farms Ltd, later changed its name to Lea Valley Dairies.  During 1952 there were advertisements about the dairy in Kelly's Trade Directories advertising them delivering Guernsey milk from Barton Yard (in Brewhouse Hill) to St Albans, Harpenden and Wheathampstead.

By 1959 there were two families living together at No. 35. High Street.

By 1962 the grocery shop was sold and redeveloped by the Midland Bank; the accommodation above the bank continued to be used by various families.  During the late 1960s there were several male lodgers living in the upper rooms.  In 1966-1967 four gentlemen, who had previously been resident at Wheatsheaf House next door, moved in for a couple of years.  Michael M. Parke continued to occupy these rooms from 1968 until 1973. By 1992, Midland Bank had closed its doors and an estate agent took over.  The upper rooms were used by dentists Thornton and Kinnock, Sian Verkroose and Christopher Ringrose from before 1980 until 1992.  Christopher Ringrose later moved his practice to the other side of the High Street.  Putterills Estate Agent used the building from 2000 to 2007 and by 2010 John Curtis, another estate agent, had moved into the address and are still housed there today.


Researcher:  Jacky Edwards


Census returns 1871, 1891, 1901, 1911


Electoral Registers

Kelly's Directories

Interview with Kenneth Garrett

Interview with Jack chennells 


Property Images

past & present images for this property

Additional images, documents, audio and video files: