A few years ago, while on a visit to my other home in Normandy, my friend Lady H. presented me with three handmade British dish mops. I may have previously hinted to her that I had been longing for such a thing. Finally, a mop with the quality, utility, and obvious durability that I desired and needed. Her gift led me in pursuit of other, “below stairs” (i.e. servants’ work areas) British-made household products of simple, utilitarian beauty that I desire and admire.
Last summer while visiting Lady H. at her home in Kent, her son, Simon, and I drove to the nearby town of Hastings on the southeast coast in East Sussex, a lively, if a bit down-at-the-heels coastal locale of Tudor origins and mixed charm. After lunch and a long walk through town, amid the cacophony of seagulls, we turned onto the High Street in search of A.G. Hendy & Co.’s home goods store, which she had recommended I visit, named for its ever-creative owner Alastair Hendy.
A pause at the door of the store brought goose bumps. I tingled head to toe, for before me was a mind-boggling, dense forest of the most extraordinary collection of mops, brooms, and brushes of myriad design and use—wall-art worthy—as well as an endless array of dust, floor, pipe, bottle, paint, scrub, nail, hand, foot, brushes of every type and size, each wed to a sturdy oak handle. Natural bristles—stiff to soft-as-silk—suggested their useful purposes in the home. Other goodies in the store came into focus for me, too, including lowly, but essential, rug beaters and feather dusters, more in number than I have ever seen under one roof.
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WRITTEN BY CHARLES SPADA
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALASTAIR HENDY
This story appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of MILIEU.