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Ernest Alfred Dengate


Ernest Alfred Dengate signature.jpg
Ernest Alfred Dengate

Ernest Alfred Dengate was born on the 1st December 1857 in Peasmarsh, East Sussex to Thomas and Frances Dengate.  He was baptised on the 21 February 1858 in Rye Methodist Chapel, East Sussex.  His parents were members of the Rye Methodist Circuit and had their first children baptised in the Rye Methodist Chapel, the latter children being baptised in the Peasmarsh Church of England.  


On the 1871 census, Ernest Alfred is living with his siblings and parents at King's Head Cottages, Main Street, Peasmarsh.

The former Rye Methodist Chapel, 2019
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Extract from the 1871 census
Kings Head Cottages, 2019

Four years later, in 1875, Ernest Alfred left the village of Peasmarsh for good, settling in Hastings. On the 18th November 1876, he was employed by the South-Eastern and Chatham Railway Company as a railway goods porter / carter. He had been recommended to the job by a Mr A. Ashdown, presumably a relative of his mothers, who had also recommended Ernest's brother, William Dengate to be a porter for the company in 1872. Ernest Alfred was paid 19 shillings per week. He resigned from the post on the 8th October 1880. It was around this time that Ernest Alfred joined the Salvation Army, attending the new Iron Fort church in St Andrew's Square.

The 1881 census shows Ernest Alfred as living in 47 St Andrews Road, Hastings, East Sussex as a boarder with his occupation listed as a 'railway carman'.  Also living in the same house is Ernest Alfred's brother William and wife Elizabeth Jane Dengate.

Ernest Alfred married Agnes Lucy Thomas on 27 July 1881 in the Church of Emmanuel, Emmanuel Road, Hastings

Ernest Alfred Dengate's marriage to Agnes Lucy Thomas
Ernest Alfred and Agnes Lucy Dengate

Around 1887, Ernest went to work for S. Hermitage and Sons, a well-known Pianoforte dealer in the town, whom he remained working for for 30 years. He was well known and widely respected in the town and was frequently called upon to help people.

Ernest and Agnes had eight children: Edith Agnes, Ethel Caroline, Mabel, Elsie Dorothy, Leslie, Stanley, Ada and Cecil. At the time of the 1891 census the growing family were living at 55 St George's Road, Hastings. 


By 1901 the family had moved to 69 Manor Road, Hastings with Ernest's occupation listed as a 'piano remover'. Ernest and Agnes continued to live here for the remainder of their lives.

Towards the end of the First World War, Ernest went into business himself as a furniture remover, eventually starting up a second hand-furniture business in Cornwallis Street, Hastings. 


Ernest Alfred's daughter-in-law, Gladys Dorothy Dengate remembered being out walking once and seeing Ernest and his brother William in London Road, Hastings pushing a piano up the hill on a wheelbarrow. 


Marjorie Maplesden recalls her grandad, Ernest Alfred, always sitting just inside the small furniture shop.  He persuaded Marjorie's parents to buy her a piano in 1930, which they did at a cost of 31 guineas, which she kept for 53 years. 


Another grandaughter, Dora Chandler remembers Ernest Alfred telling her he would send her 5 shillings a month when she went in training to be a Salvation Army Officer.  After the first month's payment he seemed to loose his memory and the money stopped!


69 Manor Road, Hastings, East Sussex, 2002


The Dengate shop in Cornwallis Street opened in the 1930s, and was such a success that larger premises were sought, so they bought a shop in Queen's Road, Hastings from Messrs Staite and Co. Ltd for the sum of £3,700 on the 17 February 1930.  The cost of the premises was £3,000 for the shop and depository in Waterworks Road and  £700 for 'the goodwill of the business of furniture storers carried on therein', signed by Ernest Alfred and his sons Cecil, Stan and Leslie Dengate, after his three sons went into business with him. The three brothers divided responsibilities; Cecil was in charge of shop trading, Leslie was in charge of the removal side and Stanley was in charge of the furniture side.

Ernest's sons Cecil, Leslie and Stanley continued to work for their father, eventually taking over completely when Ernest retired. The shop was gutted in the biggest fire Hastings had ever seen in 1938. The shop was completely refurbished, this time with concrete floors.  However due to high taxes after the war the shop was sold to the Co-op in 1948.

Agnes Lucy Dengate died 12 October 1930, aged 70 years of liver cancer.  She was buried 17 October 1930 in Hastings Cemetery following a service at the Salvation Army Citadel, Hastings.  At the time of her death she had been making school blouses for her grandaughter Dora Chandler.  Dora recalls her Grandma doing a lot of sewing on an old treadle machine.  She also has the idea that Agnes may have been a sewing teacher.


Agnes Lucy Dengate's funeral procession through Hastings town

Ernest Alfred and his sons and daughters are walking behind the coffin in Hastings Cemetery

Ernest Alfred made out his will on the 28 July 1932, appointing his sons Cecil and Leslie Dengate to be executors and trustees of his will.  In it Ernest leaves five pounds to each of his grandchildren "as a remembrance for them of their grandfather" with the rest of his estate being divided equally between his daughters Edith Mapplesden, Ada Donnelly, Mabel Chandler and Elsie Glazier.  His house, 69 Manor Road he placed in trust so that his other daughter, Ethel Caroline Dengate may reside there rent free for as long as desired.

On Easter Monday, April 10 1939, the Dengate family held a reunion where the eight surviving brothers and sisters got together for the first time in 60 years.  The idea came from Ernest Alfred, and was organised by his son, Cecil Dengate.  For more information, click here.

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The Dengate Reunion, 1939

Ernest Alfred Dengate can be seen rising from his chair on the top table, alongside his siblings

Ernest Alfred Dengate died aged 83 years on 15 March 1941 at 1 Ghyllside Drive, Hastings, the home of his son, Stanley.  Following a service at the Salvation Army Citadel on 19 March 1941, conducted by Adjutant Mawby, he was buried with his wife and (later) the cremated remains of his daughters Ethel Caroline Dengate and Mabel Chandler in Hastings Cemetery.


Ernest Alfred, Agnes Lucy, Ethel Caroline Dengate and Mabel Chandler's grave, Hastings Cemetery, 2002


The grave inscription reads, "A devoted wife and mother, Agnes Lucy Dengate, rewarded October 12 1930, aged 70 years.  Sweet peace the gift of God's love.  Also her husband, Ernest Alfred Dengate, who passed away, March 15 1941, aged 83 years.  Reunited.  [Separate headstone] Also their daughter, Ethel Dengate, 1887-1975."

Grateful thanks to the late Eveline Florence Edwards, the ate Joan Cecile Rider, the late Dora Chandler and the late Norman Dengate for their help, memories and photographs used in this biography.

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