Hut dream is sewn up after years of waiting

Elsie Adams cuts the tape, watched by Mary Matthews and supporters S14612H14
Elsie Adams cuts the tape, watched by Mary Matthews and supporters S14612H14

A DREAM has come true for a keen crafter with the opening of her own little shop in Steyning.

Mary Matthews has taken on a hut in Cobblestone Walk after years of hoping to set up base in the historic shopping arcade.

The woman who inspired her to sew, her nan, 93-year-old Elsie Adams, was there to officially open the new shop on Saturday.

The first seeds of the hut idea were sewn many years ago, when Mary was walking around Cobblestone Walk, off High Street.

“I thought how wonderful it would be to be selling there,” she said. “At the time, I couldn’t for the life of me think how that was going to happen, or what I would sell.”

Her nan, who has lived in Henfield all her life, has always done sewing and Mary says that is where she gets her skills from.

She explained: “During the war, she would make things to sell out of all sorts of materials that they could get their hands on to make some extra money.

“She has always embroidered, cross stitched, painted and crotcheted and she loves to watch me work and gives me some great ideas.”

Last year, Mary made a few things, like tissue holders and glasses cases, for Mother’s Day and that developed into sewing phone cases for friends. Thanks to positive feedback, the work grew and Mary left full-time employment to start her own small business, opening an online shop (, selling gifts such as egg cosies and coasters.

Mary added: “But my real dream that I’ve secretly had for years was to open my own little hut shop in Cobblestone Walk.

“I grew up in Henfield but spent most of my adult life in Steyning and Upper Beeding, so I have walked around there many times and always thought how quaint and lovely it would be to own one of those little units.”

Mrs Adams encouraged her, having always loved Steyning High Street and enjoyed looking around the huts, seeing how all the different businesses have grown and, in many cases, moved on towards the high street into larger premises.

Mary said: “Then out of the blue a few weeks ago, I had a call to go and viewed one of them that had come up for rent. As soon as I stood inside, I could imagine me and all my wares in there, so I jumped at the chance.

“Reality had now struck, as I realised I now need to stock a whole shop. However small it may be, when you make it all yourself, it is quite a task, so I am eating, drinking and sleeping sewing at the moment.”

She has expanded her range to cushions and larger items, as well as the smaller products for which she has become known.

Mary said: “I suppose that I have grown into having the confidence to do what I want to do, as opposed to what I think that I should be doing. I have my ideal job in my ideal location.”