Allen Watts Upfield owned Upfield’s Stores (now Forrest Place) on Durbans Road overlooking the green.  The owner of another grocer’s and general store, Thomas Garrett, was in business for some of the time that Allen Watts Upfield ran his store across the green.  Garrett’s shop is now the Wisborough Green Stores and Post Office.

Thomas Hide Garrett was born in Petworth on 23rd June 1864 to Chares Garrett, a baker, and Anne.  He was the second youngest of eight children.

At the age of 18 he was living in the household of William Underwood, a grocer and draper in Merstham along with two other lads all of whom were described as grocer and draper’s assistants.  They may all have been apprentices or perhaps living-in while learning the trade without being indentured.  William Underwood must have been quite prosperous because there were two servants under his roof as well.

Ten years later, in 1891, Thomas was running his own grocer’s and draper’s store in Thakeham high street.  In his household was a housekeeper and a 17-year-old apprentice.  In 1896 he married Alice Moore in the parish church at Thakeham and three years later their daughter Margery was born.

The family was living in Wisborough Green by November 1901 and their son Geoffrey was born that November.  Their third child, Sybil, was born in 1908.  In  January 1917, tragedy struck when Alice Garrett took her own life.

Alice Garrett’s sister, Nellie Moore, had moved in with the family the previous year on account of Alice’s health.  For eight or nine months up to her death, Alice had been very depressed and was under the care of a doctor.   Showing no signs of any unusual demeanour on the day of her death, Alice had brought Thomas a cup of tea, said to him “you have been a good husband to me”(words she had used before) and left the house early.  At 4.45pm Special Constable Frank Noble found her body in a brook near Skiff Meadow.  The foreman of the jury at the subsequent inquest held in the Workhouse, said it looked as if Alice had walked down to the water and then slipped to one side.   Alice was said by Dr. Heygate to be suffering from Melancholia which could lead to a sudden mental breakdown and a verdict of “Suicide during temporary insanity” was returned.  Alice was buried in the churchyard of St. Peter’s.

Thomas Garrett remained in Wisborough Green until 1938 when he moved to Worthing.  The 1939 Register shows him living with his eldest daughter Margery, a governess, and Nellie Moore who was his housekeeper.

Thomas Garrett died in Worthing age 82 in August 1952.

This is an abridged version of an article that appeared in the February 2023 edition of the Wisborough Green Village History Society’s monthly newsletter which is free to all members.