cottage cafÉ

cottage cafÉ

16 Hendford - a charming 18th century building


Many Yeovilians have fond memories of the Cottage Café in Hendford, on the corner with Waterloo Lane.

The building itself is probably eighteenth century and built as a small town house. Of two storeys, it is built with local stone under a tiled roof. At first floor the two windows above estate agents Humbert's retain their glazing bars and give a good indication of what the building originally looked like. The mock-Georgian shop front is almost certainly modern.

In 1790 the occupant of the building was Henry Whitmash, a London carrier, who by 1827 was noted as a 'Gentleman' of the Borough. In 1830 Whitmash & Co were operating from Hendford to London and also ran services to Beaminster, Crewkerne and Taunton. Whitmash was still advertising his service to London in 1840 but by 1850 Jonathan Crocker was advertising his service "late Whitmash & Co" to London, Bristol, Taunton, Exeter and "all parts of the West" from Hendford.

By 1851 the premises, owned by the Three Choughs Hotel opposite, had been divided into two properties numbered, at the time, as 71 and 72 Hendford. No 71 was occupied by Chaplin & Horne, railway carriers and agents for the London and South Western Railway Company. Silas Allen was manager. No 72 was, from at least 1851 until after 1901, was the 'tap' of the Three Choughs Hotel known as the Chough's Tap. A brewery tap is usually the nearest outlet for a brewery's beers, often a bar or room in the brewery although it may apply to the closest pub. In this case it belonged to the Three Choughs where, in 1837 a new brewhouse was built, as well as other works. The Three Choughs was considered a 'genteel' establishment and the Chough's Tap was therefore an outlet across the road where it could dispense its own-brewed beer to the working classes.

In 1919 No 72 was advertised as "Miss Caroline Chant, Refreshment Rooms (Choughs Restaurant)". The Choughs Restaurant was still operating in the early 1960s as seen in the first two photographs below.

In 1928, William Frederick Banfield, photographed at left, opened the Cottage Café in No 71 (later 16) which had earlier been the premises of Chaplin's - agents for Southern Railway (see Gallery). At the rear of the premises he built a bakery. With kitchens on both floors, the ground floor had a cafe as well as a shop, while upstairs the dining room ran across both 71 and 72. The dining room was later partitioned when Modelkits started. The café was later run by his son Eric, while Modelkits of the 1970s and 80s was run by his grandson Bob, late verger at St John's church. The Cottage Café closed in 1972 and Modelkits was sold in 1993.

In 1994 No 16a was the premises of Premier Wines and 16 was the Yeovil Collector's Centre.


Floor Plans


The following floor plans of the Cottage Café are thought to date from after 1928, when William Banfield acquired the property.

Courtesy of Bob Banfield

The ground floor plan shows that, at this stage, the right hand part of the building was not part of the Cottage Café. It was acquired later.


Courtesy of Bob Banfield

The first floor plan showing the proposed wall that would reduce the size of the dining room.




Courtesy of Bob Banfield

The building photographed before 1928. Chaplin's, at left, were agents for the Southern Railway and the Choughs' Restaurant had earlier been the Choughs' Tap public house.


Courtesy of Bob Banfield

The male 'back room' staff of the Cottage Café in a colourised photograph of the 1930s.WIlliam Banfield is at centre. The two boys seated at centre are William's sons; Harry (at left) and William Fred (at right).


Courtesy of Bob Banfield. This photograph features in my book "Lost Yeovil"

The bakery at the rear of the property, in a colourised photograph of the 1930s.


Courtesy of Bob Banfield

The bakery staff, in a colourised photograph of the 1940s.. Only known person in this photo is Percy Clark, second from left, who worked in the bakery from his 20s until his retirement.


Courtesy of Bob Banfield

The Cottage Café decorated for the coronation of King George VI on 12 May 1937. 


From my collection

An advertisement for the Cottage Café dating to 1931.


Courtesy of Bob Banfield

A pre-1939 advertising leaflet for King Alfred Tea Cakes, made by William Banfield in the bakery at the rear of the premises.


Courtesy of Bob Banfield

Tempting you into the Cottage Café with windows filled with cakes and pastries and posters advertising "Morning Coffee, Dainty Teas and Snacks" at left, and "Hot Luncheons served Daily" at right.


Courtesy of Bob Banfield. This colourised photograph features in my book "Lost Yeovil"

The upstairs dining room. A wall would later be built across the room (where the curtains are either side) to separate the dining room from the first floor of Modelkits.


Courtesy of Bob Banfield

The upstairs dining room seen from the other direction.


From my collection

The Cottage Café's advertisement in the 1950 Yeovil Guide.


Courtesy of Bob Banfield

The Cottage Café's new kitchen and stillroom photographed in 1956.


Courtesy of Bob Banfield

... and seen from the other end.


Courtesy of Bob Banfield

The Cottage Café's menu, thought to date from the 1960s. 


Courtesy of Bob Banfield

The Cottage Café' laid out for a 'Silver Service' wedding breakfast. 


In this colourised photograph, again taken around 1960, the quaint roundabout with the traffic light had gone by the early 1970's - in fact when I moved to Yeovil in 1973 there were no traffic lights in the town whatsoever. Those were the days! Between the Cottage Café and the Oxford Inn is the entrance to Waterloo Lane.


This photograph looks across Hendford and shows the very narrow entrance to West Hendford, originally called Horsey Lane, running alongside the Oxford Inn. Note that the Three Coughs Hotel (standing immediately behind the photographer) had a garage for patrons at left. This was the former livery stables of the Three Choughs Hotel. At right is the building housing the Cottage Café and the Choughs Restaurant, the former Chough's Tap, which would become Modelkits.


Courtesy of Bob Banfield

Staff of the Cottage Café during the late 1960s or early 1970s. Many thanks to Bob Banfield for supplying the names below.

1 = Nelly Chislett, 2 = Dorothy Shire, 3 = Daisy Watts, 4 = Mrs Carlisle, 5 = Mabel Wade, 6 = Abigail (?) Harvey, 7 = Queenie Miller,  8 = Pat Franklin, 9 = Evelyn Scrivens, 10 = Mabel Tucker, 11 = Gladys Barrett (?), 12 = Veronica Dabinett, 13 = Agnes Rankin, 14 = Christine Hilborne, 15 = Dorothy Newsham.


Courtesy of Rob Baker

The Cottage Café photographed around 1983.


Photographed by Doug Keyse, courtesy of Andy Keyse

The 1968 St George's Day parade passes the whitewashed building that had been the Oxford Inn on the corner of Waterloo Lane, at left, and the Cottage Café. The Oxford Inn stopped trading in the late 1940's and later became the offices of the Petter & Warren architectural practice before being demolished in the early 1970s.


Courtesy of Bob Banfield

Eric and Bob Banfield stand outside Modelkits when it first opened in the 1970s.


Courtesy of Jack Sweet

Photographed in the 1970s by which time Bob Banfield had opened Modelkits while his parents ran the café.


From my collection

Part of the upstairs dining room shown in an advertising card of the 1960s.


From my collection

The reverse of the above advertising card.


An advertisement for the Cottage Café dating to 1964, using the above photograph of the upstairs dining room.


Courtesy of Rob Baker

An undated matchbox label featuring the Cottage Cafe. From the telephone number it appears to date from 1970.


The advertisement for Modelkits in the 1970 Yeovil Guide.


.... and a Modelkits advertisement in the Somerset Express in 1990.


.... and a Modelkits advertisement in the 1991 Denton's Directory.


The Cottage Café and Modelkits, photographed in the 1970s.


Courtesy of Robert Smith

The building photographed in the late 1980s or early 1990s (Modelkits closed in 1993).


.... and photographed in 2013.


.... and again in 2015.


The original Choughs Restaurant sign revealed during refurbishment works in March 2015.


The signage itself, photographed in 2015.


This photograph features in my book "Yeovil In 50 Buildings"

Photographed for my book in 2017.