St Mary Street contains a line of fourteenth century cottages including the Old Vicarage Restaurant which was given in the sixteenth century by Edward de Chedzoy to be used as a vicarage and that was how it remained until around a hundred years ago. The original building was built of wattle and daub, and a glass-covered example of this is exposed in the archway which leads to the back of the premises. On the front wall is an unusual opening which appears to be bottle shaped. One theory is that it was used to pass tankards of mulled drinks out to the coachmen who remained onboard their stage coaches as their passengers dined inside in the warmth of the building.
The Old Vicarage is certainly the oldest domestic premises in the town, only the church itself dating back any further. As a one-time coaching house, it continued life as the Steynings Tea Rooms before reverting to its Old Vicarage title.
Text Copyright © 2008 Roger Evans