I NOTICE that 111 High Street has started yet another chapter in its long and illustrious story.

My friend Jhual Hafiz, formerly of Maldon Tandoori (at 191-193), has opened his Maldon Spice there and I must say he has done a really excellent job with the refurbishment.

It’s not the first restaurant to offer Indian food in the building.

Read more: Former mayor’s restaurant adds spice to the high street

Prior to Jhual it was the Mogul, before that Chilli’s Authentic Bangladesh Cuisine and earlier still Foyaj Miah’s Curry Nights.

In fact it was the original location of Maldon’s first ever Indian restaurant. In 1978 Abdul Hannan (now of the Balti Bhujon at 24 Mill Road) and his uncle opened their new venture the Curry Inn, at 111.

They had previously had restaurants in Southend and Brentwood, but this was an altogether different experience for our town’s residents.

Nowadays we are really spoilt for choice, but it is interesting that the building on the corner of Butt Lane has a heritage of serving quality curries for well over 40 years.

Before Abdul’s time it was a “High Class Fruiterer, Florist and Greengrocer”, run by someone with the curious name of Ernest ‘Somme’ Jefferies.

Maldon-born, Ernest (whose father, unsurprisingly, had served in the Great War) had occupied 111 from at least 1956, but travelling back even further in time we have long-term occupiers the Cole dynasty.

Rachel Cole had a sweet shop and tobacconists at 111 in 1939. In the 1920s it was M and J Cole’s marine store and had been since 1906. They also advertised as “job masters” and hired out horses and traps.

Frederick Cole was a mail contractor and general dealer there in 1901 and had used the building as his premises, along with Edward Cole, since 1894.

They occasionally doubled as chimney sweeps.

Before the Coles, in 1891, it was a carpenter and joiner’s business run by John Spencer and it was briefly a photographers in 1890, under Henry Willott.

Edward R Nunneley, draper, had the building in 1881, it was a mat-makers in 1871 (George Chalk) and an earlier drapers (Richard Devenish) during the 1860s.

Prior to that time and back to the 1840s, William Morris, a Trinity pilot, and his family lived there.

So from the early Victorian period to today, the commercial premises on the corner of Butt Lane have been used to serve Indian food, sell fruit and veg, sweets and tobacco, supply items to local mariners, was the place to go to hire a horse and trap, it was a postal office, somewhere to go to ask for your chimney to be swept, a carpentry workshop, a photographers, a drapers and where you could buy a mat.

Maldon and Burnham Standard: 111 High Street in the past (permission of Kevin Fuller)111 High Street in the past (permission of Kevin Fuller)

It’s certainly an interesting mix of uses over a century or more, but we can go back even further and to an equally fascinating era.

Records reveal that during the 17th and early 18th centuries this was the location of one of Maldon’s many (but now almost forgotten) pubs.

Known as the Cock, in 1707 and back to at least 1701, John Day (or Daye), formerly of Witham, had the licence.

He died in 1722, but ale was certainly being served there long before his time.

The late historian, Dr WJ (Bill) Petchey, identified it on his reconstructed map of the High Street, sitting alongside a demolished almshouse and a place called Jacob’s or Andrew Aylewyn’s.

Bill thought the site had buildings on it by 1500, so just how old is 111 really?

It’s difficult to tell the age of the place today, not least because of the altered façade and the continuous parapet that makes it look like numbers 111 to 115 is/was one building.

In actual fact it seems that it has always been three properties and the part that concerns us (the left hand section at 111) is now quite rightly recognised as Grade II listed.

The official record says that part of it is late 16th-century, but it could easily be older than that.

The trouble is, over the years, it has suffered at the hands of 19th-century and later “improvers” and was even more recently (within living memory, that is) involved in a fire.

Despite all of that, however, its skeletal timber-frame is still largely intact and there are a number of clues to its antiquity – including chamfered tie beams over the first floor.

As Historic England have quite rightly put it, “despite alterations” number 111 “remains as a significant structure with early origins”.

Thank goodness it does and if those old walls could talk, what a tale they could tell.