The Old Vienna Cafe

Farm worker’s shop

I recall back in the 1950s there was a second shop, besides the Village Store in Ovingdean, selling groceries and provisions, run by a few of Mansfield Bakers farm workers wives? This little shop was located in the farm cottage next to The Grange, which of course was Farmer Baker’s very posh council house. The shop itself may well have been an early version of the modern day farm-shop?  Although in that era, maybe it was more likely run for the benefit of the many farm workers?

The Olde Vienna Cafe

I also remember the quirky Old Vienna Cafe, popular with hikers and dog walkers alike which is sadly now long gone. I can still picture my Mother sitting there in the shade, cigarette in one hand with a nice cup of tea and a slice of homemade cake; all of a sudden she would burst into verses of her favourite poem.

‘What is this life if, full of care we have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs and stare as long as sheep and cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass, where Squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
A poor life this if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare

The short verses are part of a poem composed by W.H Davies in 1911 and simply called Leisure. The poem always reminds me of my childhood days and Ovingdean. I believe the lady who ran the Old Vienna cafe in those more leisurely times was a refuge from Vienna, and the Aunt of the famous Marxist historian and author Eric Hobsbawm?

Mimi Brown's Old Vienna Cafe on Greenways, Ovingdean circa 1960s
From the private collection of Jennifer Drury

Comments about this page

  • I remember visiting this lovely place for ‘Kaffee und Kuchen’. What a pity it’s no longer there!

    By David Eldridge (29/04/2012)
  • Now this brings back some memories. Mum and Dad used to take us here every Sunday in the summer over 40 years ago.

    By Julie Annets (29/04/2012)
  • I live in London but in 1962 my sister took my brother and myself for a holiday, and we stayed at the Old Vienna Cafe. I have a photo of us standing in the garden, unfortunately not a very good photo.

    By Caroline Wilson (13/07/2013)

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