Costa (The Morning Star) and shops to its west

The Morning Star

The Morning Star (now Costa Coffee) had been a working class beer-shop  since 1857, run by James and Mary Brightwell. It was first listed under the name Morning Star in 1881.


A typical Victorian taxidermy scene of squirrels playing cards

By 1870 it had been bought by the brewers Ashby & Co with John Ferryman as the publican until 1880. He was also a taxidermist and his cases of stuffed animals were part of the decor until the 1960s. As well as individual animals there were two cases of red squirrels mounted as a dramatic scene. One showed the squirrels playing cards and the other had two of them fighting a duel over cheating at their game.

Morning star main beam - CopyBefore it became a beer shop the building was a private house which had been rebuilt in the late 1700s as it is now, three stories of Georgian brick with a fashionable symmetrical facade. A smaller and much older house already existed on the site and was incorporated into the rebuilding. This included the room to the right of the entrance which was panelled until recently and still has a great ceiling beam which probably dates from the 1600s.  Its appearance has changed little since the rebuilding although there have been many interior re-modellings, including Costa’s recent conversion. The central upstairs window was blocked at some time, which may have been due to the window tax but could equally have been because the internal arrangement of rooms was altered. (The tax was imposed in 1696 and repealed in 1851 as there were concerns about poorer people doing without light and air to save money.)

A wartime memory


Queenie in 1999, photo RG

Among the many Datchet people who remembered the pub in the past was Queenie Sams, whose father bought it in 1933. Queenie and her husband took over in 1949 and she continued to run it until 1962. In 1941 Queenie was entrusted with a national secret which she kept faithfully for fifty years. One day in that year she served a glass of bitter to a stranger, a middle aged lady, who was then collected from the pub by Commander Thomas Holden of the Admiralty Compass Observatory at Ditton Park. They left, as Holden later told Queenie, for Heathrow airport where the lady was to be dropped by parachute over France to meet the resistance movement. In 1991 the stranger was identified as Josephine Butler, the only woman member of Churchill’s secret circle of spies and who won the George Cross for her wartime exploits.


‘Temples’ and the Blacksmiths Forge

The building immediately west of the Morning Star, 1 and 2 Temple Cottages (now estate agent’s and dentist’s surgery) was originally a house called Temples. Since the 1870s this building has been altered by raising the roof, redesigning its gables, and by adding shop fronts with a balcony above, but it has not been completely rebuilt. In the first half of the 20th century Miss Bugby, the village school’s long serving infants’ teacher, lived in 2 Temple Cottages (the dentist’s) with her brother who was the station master.

Next west from Temple Cottages now is Crumbs bakery plus Christin’s hair salon, in a building with a wide white gabled facade, formerly Boots hardware store. The 1870s photo and the print show that on the site of this house and its shops was the blacksmith’s forge, a low workshop projecting forward into the street. It was run by the Hammerson family who lived in the west end of Temples from about 1860, with their forge built in a yard and alleyway close to the house. In the 1861 census Thomas Hammerson was described as a  master blacksmith and farrier (horse doctor). In 1871 his son Alfred Hammerson, also a blacksmith, was living in the other half of Temples. and by 1881 another son, Richard James, was in business with his father. In 1891 he was running the business as Thomas had retired, though he was still living in the house.

Richard James Hammerson (1840-1917) was also a churchwarden and made the mechanism by which the church bells were rung in the new tower from the 1860s as they could not be swung there; he also wound the church clock for very many years. The last descendant of this family in the village has only recently died.

Boots hardware store, which is well remembered by older residents, was built on the site of the forge and its yard, now occupied by Crumbs and Christin’s.

Beyond that to the west was another pair of low-status tenement dwellings (only one visible in the photo and print), which were replaced in the early 1900s by the present Silver Cottages and shops, currently Spices Indian restaurant.

Earlier History and Owners

It is difficult to separate the histories of the Morning Star and Temples as they were often rented or leased to tenants so it is not clear who was the owner. The Dearle family, who acquired Temples in 1721, still owned that house in 1866 and may originally have owned the Morning Star house as well. The sequence of owners or occupiers back to 1721 is shown below. It is quite unusual for the house originally named as ‘Temples’ from its early owner should still be known as ‘Temple Cottages’.

Mary Wilson acquired this house in 1808 at the death of its previous owner, William Batchelor. It is possible that the rebuilding as a fashionable Georgian house was carried out by Batchelor who owned it from 1785 to 1808.

The first Edward Dearle, a lawyer (see table below), moved to Datchet from Stoke Poges in 1682 and the eldest son in subsequent generations was also named Edward. It is known they owned a lot of Datchet property in 1681, which may then have included the Morning Star house. They were a family of some substance but the most interesting of them is John Henry Dearle (1859-1932) who was a designer and later Art Director for the company William Morris & Co. Some of the many familiar Morris designs are actually those of John Henry Dearle.

1808 Mary Ann Wilson, at death of William Batchelor, who rebuilt the Morning Star house?
1785 William Batchelor, bought from Richard & Elizabeth Grace of Windsor
1777 Elizabeth Grace, wife of Richard, inherited from George Bryer
about 1770 George Bryer, from Mary, widow of John Williams
1755 Edward Dearle to John Williams, Sarah Peerman & Mary Atlee living here
1721 Henry Temple to Edward Dearle

Research Sources 

Censuses 1841-1911; available online
Bucks County Rate Surveys, 1939, 1857/9, 1866: Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies, Aylesbury
Dearle family wills: The National Archive (PRO), online
Datchet Manor Court Rolls: Northamptonshire Record Office & Beaulieu Archives, Hampshire