A RECENTLY restored funeral directors, which is home to a hidden wine cellar, is unveiling the history behind the grand building.

The building which is now the home of Daniel Robinson and Sons Funeral Directors in Halstead was visited by historian Jim Davis who revealed the building was built in the 1830’s.

The three storey building was originally built by Samuel Hulme Day who was a wine and spirit merchant in the town.

At that time it was called The Croft.

A gentleman called Charles Portway lived there with his family in the mid 1800s, staying there until 1914.

It was at this time it was partly demolished - this was to make way for the Halstead branch of London, County and Westminster Bank.

Jim explained the back of the property at this time was kept and used as the bank manager’s residence.

The building is best known in the town today as being the former Natwest Bank branch up until its closure in 2017 before being been taken over by Daniel Robinson and Sons.

Mr Davis attended the funeral home’s recent open day where the new owners showcased the restorations made to the almost 200-year-old building.

Managing director Gary Neill said the open day was a huge success and a great opportunity to find out more about the history of the grand building.

He said: “It was a very Halstead occasion on Saturday when we opened the door to our new Funeral Home for an open day and found a queue of interested people outside, ready to come in and see the newly renovated premises.

“Many of the people who came along were previous bank workers and bank workers, a local historian, Jim Davis, also attended and was able to give us not only the history of the building, but also a fantastic photograph.”

During the renovations a cheque slip was discovered from Atlas Works of Earls Colne.

Signed by Reuben Hunt, which will be donated to the Museum at Earls Colne.

Reuben was the son of millwright Robert Hunt who settled in Earls Colne in 1824 and set up the millwrighting and weheelwrighting shop and smithy which would become the Atlas Works.

The business soon gained a local reputation for making general agricultural equipment and after exhibiting products at the Royal Agricultural Show in 1851 it gained country-wide recognition.

After Robert Hunt’s death the firm was carried on by Reuben Hunt, growing to to become the major employer in the village.

By the turn of the century it employed around half of the male working population of the village.

The Atlas Works were closed in 1988 making the discovery of the cheque an important part of the district’s history A hidden wine cellar, which generated a lot of interest in the town, was also found during the work.

Mr Neill added: “As well as short tours around the building, there were presentations running on screens showing photographs of the building works from start to finish, including pictures of the rediscovered cellar.