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Annie's Attic

Annie's Attic sits snugly to one side of Westerham Green, overlooked by the protective gaze of Sir Winston Churchill. A relaxed mix of up-cycled furniture, quality fabric and haberdashery, it is a shop that begs to be explored. Its owner Jan Mills, a former interior designer, runs sewing and craft workshops and I spent a delightful summer's morning at Annie's Attic teaching 5 ladies the art of silk screen printing. They printed onto cotton drill and then turned the squares of fabric into cushions.

Over tea and cake Jan told us a story that gave me goose bumps...when she had to come up with a name for her shop fast she looked to her family history for inspiration. Ann is a middle name that she shares with relatives and when she was a child her grandparents' attic was a favourite place for her to explore, so Annie's Attic it became. It was not a name that Jan had always dreamed of using and although it rolls nicely off the tongue, Jan told us that the name has never truly sat comfortably with her. Then earlier this year something happened that meant the name was here to stay.

Jan was contacted by a historian who is leading a project which delves into the history of the Green and has revealed the shops and people who used to live and work in Westerham over 100 years ago. Particularly interested by the shop's current name he asked Jan how it came about. After explaining the story to him he had a little story of his own to tell her; back in 1914 at the outbreak of The Great War the shop had the related function of a seamstress' workshop. The lady who owned the shop would take in the villagers' repairs and alterations and was also known by the rather quaint title of Feather Beater which meant she would clean and prepare feathers for hats. And name of the lady? As coincidence has it, Annie.

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