A tale of two huts


The Red Hut on the nature reserve is loved by many. It is stands out proudly on the shingle and as you pass by you will see people taking photos of it or of their friends and family outside it.

Mick Caister, who has lived in the village all his life, has fond memories of carefree days when as a child he and his siblings used to play around the red hut and on the beach. During the pandemic he decided to bring these childhood memories closer to home. He began to build his own red hut. This was not to be a copy: this was to be his version of it. He had always had a love of shepherds’ huts but he wanted to create something different. He wanted one of his fondest childhood memories in his own backyard.

The hut is built on a moveable base so it can be taken from place to place. Mick told me that he had no drawn plans, just ideas in his head. He feels that going about a project in this way is not constricting as he just lets the ideas flow.

I asked him whether or not there had been difficulties or skills needed that he did not have. His mantra is “everything can be overcome” so nothing was impossible; it might just take a little more time. But time was something Mick had plenty of and so the project grew daily. “I believed that it could be whatever I wanted it to be. I was not trying to please anyone else, all I wanted was to create my dream hut. Sheila, my wife, was given the task of furnishing the inside and she too is taking her time to ensure that it pleases us both.”

She told me: “I am so proud of Mick. It is fantastic, and it has taken lots of skills to create the finished hut and yet Mick just got on with it and didn’t let anything daunt him. I love it. We both sit outside the hut and imagine we are on holiday.”

The Red Hut on the reserve is one of the most photographed structures in the south-east. The date that it was built is not known but it was in use from the early 1900s. In the 1930s it was known as Gran’s hut by the Honeysett family who owned it. Sophia Honeysett owned it until her death in the ’50s. It was a regular meeting place for all the family who loved visiting. I spoke with present owner, William Norton, on Sunday morning as he sat inside enjoying the peace. I asked him what the Red Hut was known as in his family and he replied, “Uncle’s”. William’s first real memories of the hut were when he was ten years old and used to visit his uncle in the hut. His father told him that he had purchased the hut from Mr Tonbridge who was the Harbour Master at the time. William said his favourite time to be at the hut is early in the morning when there is no-one around, just the birds and the sound of the sea for company. “You can’t ask for much better,” he said.

So the Red Hut, Gran’s or Uncle’s holds many happy memories for those who visit the reserve and those families who have owned it but perhaps Mick is the winner here as he has his own version right on his doorstep and he built it with his own hands.




Image Credits: Kt bruce .

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  1. I knew Mick Caister when I lived down Rye Harbour, he used to work at Icklesham joinery,he was very good with wood so not surprised to see that he has built a hut, I just hope he makes me a cup of tea when I pop down to the Harbour. I also knew his wife Sheila .enjoy your hut.

  2. The Red Hut (or red-roofed hut if you prefer) isn’t just well-known in the south-east. I believe it was Barry Yates, the reserve manager, who once told me he’d received a postcard from Australia showing a photo of the red hut!


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