ID: KGM / Kay Gilmour

TitlePeldon in Essex. Village over the Marshes


Village over
the Marshes.

England has greater countries -
Their peace to hers is small.
Low hills, rich fields, calm rivers
In Essex seek them all.

  Lyre Evangelistica, Essex

  Rev. Arthur Shearly Cutts.

This shire is moste fatt, frutefull, and full of profitable thinges, exceeding (as farr as I can finde) anie other shire, for the generall comodeties, and the plentie... this shire seemeth to me to deserve the title of the englishe Goshen, the fattest of the Lande: comparable to Palestine, that flowed with milke and hunnye...
Ther are in this shire some especiall groundes noted generallie, in regard of their fertilletie, by this comon Rime or Proverbe.

Lorde Morleyes Baron parke is fruitfull and fatt:
In Layr Marney pk - How feild is better then that:
In Wigboro - Copte hall is beste of them all;
  Parcell of Peldo hall
  Yet Hubbledown
  may wayr the crowne.

  Essex described by John Norden 1595


FOREWORD by J.A.S. Trydell.


Geology and soil - the parish - Blackwater River - Peldon and the Sea - the Riddle of the Red Hills.
The Pre-Christian Era - Aelfgar and King Edmund - Bryhtnoth and the Battle of Maldon - the Danes and Edward the Confessor.
The Normans - Markets - the Black Death - the Peasants Revolt - the Rising.
Blackheath - Mile End - Smithfield - the End of the Story.
Witchcraft - the De la Poles and Darcys - Sad Story of Countess Rivers - The Siege of Colchester
Chapter 7 THE NEW RICH
The Reynolds Family - William Samuel Powell
The Poor and the Poor House - Parish Apprentices - Big Boy Bunne - Bastardy - Education of the Poor.
The Building - the Bells - the Rectory Manor - Plurality and Absenteeism - John Palmer - Robert Eden
Robert Walpole - Horace Walpole - Frances Elizabeth Anne, Countess Waldegrave - Ward Braham - Spencer Braham (Harris Meadows) - Christopher Robert Harrison.
Beating the Bounds
Peldon Hall - The Rectory Manor - Pete Hall - The Mills
The Institutions - Women Parish Officers
The Waywardens - The Chapel - The School - The Charities - The 'Unknown Donor'.
Nursing and Epidemics - Lunacy - Consultations - Burials - Burial in Wool - Bastardy - Poor Children.
Chapter 15 EVENTS
The Earthquake - The Two World Wars - Peldon Today - The Essex Character - Unsolved Mysteries.


by J.A.S. Trydell

The author of this book, Kay Gilmour, born Kate Finzi on 28th February 1890, the only daughter of John Finzi, ship-broker, was the eldest child of a talented family, the youngest of whom was the late Gerald Finzi, the composer.

Born and brought up in London she attended schools in Bayswater and Brighton, going on later to Cheltenham Ladies College. In 1914 she was among the first women to go out to France to serve in a Voluntary Aid Detachment as a nurse under the British Red Cross. After a period of sick leave and convalescence she returned to France, this time to work with the Y.M.C.A. A vivid account of her experiences is given in her first book Eighteen Months in the War Zone, published in 1916.

In 1918 she married Major Alexander Gilmour, who fought in France in the Royal Artillery, and among the many places she afterwards lived was Hull, where she wrote under the pen-name of 'Pandora' for the Yorkshire Evening Post. In 1930 she made a journey to Finland and a result of her visit there was her informative book on that country published in 1931.

She finally settled in Essex, to which county she had been greatly attracted, particularly by the vicinity of the River Blackwater with its estuary. and long salt marshes stretching along its banks. Here, in the village of Peldon, she found the home of her heart within sight of the sea and the marshes, an old cottage reputed to have been built in the fifteenth century.

Living there in 1939 when war broke out she soon found herself working for the Y.M.C.A., supervising a large area on the East Coast, visiting the women at lonely gun-sites and organising the rest rooms. She was also hostess to the Land Army girls living in the hostel at Peldon.

After the war she settled down again, this time to write Committee Procedure, published in 1950, a useful little book described so aptly in the Times Literary Supplement as a "committee man's vade-mecum" and in the Local Government Journal as "a ready source of reference and adjudication on points of doubt and dispute".

Elected to the Peldon Parish Council, she served for a period as chairman of it and was also the founder and first president of the Peldon Village Women's Institute, the status of women being an important factor in her life. In Colchester she was elected a patron of the Old Contemptibles Association an office of which she was particularly proud, and was a member of the local branch of the Business and Professional Women's Club. She was also instrumental in originating the Colchester Literary Society and was for a time chairman of its committee.

Kay Gilmour was a woman of great vitality, possessing an active mind with a wide range of interests and a high sense of public service.

Unfortunately she did not live to complete the writing of this work, the narrative of an Essex village to which she had given much time and labour. At her decease she left a sum of money for the building of a new village hall at Peldon and it is hoped that in this her memory will be perpetuated and cherished for years to come.

March 2024

Just two copies of the manuscript of Kay Gilmour's book, PELDON IN ESSEX Village Over the Marshes exist, in the Local Studies Department of Colchester library. Bill and Naomi Tamblyn, who moved into the village in 1984, stumbled across a copy in the library and decided that it was too vulnerable to just be available through the loan section of the library system. They began systematically scanning in the text and re-typing it. In due course they contacted The Peldon History Project (formed in 2015) who judged it was a matter of urgency that this unpublished and important type-written manuscript should be transcribed onto computer and made available for all to read.

Kay Gilmour died on 24th April 1958 at 8, East Hill, Colchester at the home of a friend who she appointed to be one of her executors, Captain John A S Trydell. Trydell was to write the foreword to Kate's history of Peldon after her death and we presume had the two copies of the manuscript bound and donated to Colchester library.

Described by Trydell as 'unfinished', the book, we feel, was in draft form awaiting proof-reading and corrections. Dates, references and spellings of names have been checked and a small numbers of 'typos' and changes to grammar made. A few editorial notes have been added and the notes and bibliography expanded. Many thanks to Tony Millatt from Mersea Museum for his work in making the manuscript available on-line.

Naomi Tamblyn         Elaine Barker

Author's Foreword

How this book began

It was the V.1, a pilotless aircraft, or 'P.A.C.' to give it its official title, better known as a "fly bomb" or "doodlebug", that began it.

It flew over Essex one bright July morning during the second World War just before 9.30, with the all-too-familiar noise that was a cross between a backfiring motor cycle and a combine harvester - and then the engine cut out.

Those who experienced these unpleasant examples of German destructive genius will recall the tension of the silence that ensued, for it followed, as surely as night follows day, that 30 seconds after the engine stopped, the bomb must fall, and some place must "take it".

One lived a lifetime of conflicting emotions during those 30 seconds before the explosion. Instinct prayed that it might fall anywhere but here. Reason calculated the odds against a direct hit. Instinct screamed again: 'Not yet, O God, Not yet!' Altruism argued: "Better in the country than on the densely populated town for which it is intended". Altruism won on that occasion, for this particular V.1 crashed on the grasslands of Pete Tye Farm, half a mile east of Peldon Church, damaging a few windows and ceilings on three farms and two cottages, and hurting no-one.

There the matter might have ended had not the memory come surging back one morning six years later as I stood in a hill top garden above the Blackwater River, picking the Emily Gray roses that separated me from my neighbours.

"Do you remember our doodlebug?" I asked. "It fell on a morning just like this. Which year was it?"

Everyone on the hill top remembered the V.1, but no-one knew the year.

If the history we had lived was so easily forgotten, was it not time someone noted it down for posterity?

Musing on all we had seen on that incredible dawn of June 6th, 1944, as the mightiest-yet airfleet, towing gliders, went over to the liberation of Europe, our thoughts flew back to that Autumn Sunday in 1940 when, conscious of Hitler's hordes mustered on the French and Belgian coasts, poised to invade, we watched the Luftwaffe fly over to the destruction of London, and heard and felt the patter of the bullets on our houses as British pilots in Spitfires or Hurricanes fought overhead, and turned them back to the sea: back in imagination to the crash of the Zeppelin in 1916, and to the tumultuous year of the Roundheads, when a few miles from the hilltop there was a pitched battle between cavalry and naval craft in the shallows off East Mersea: back to witch hunts of Tudor times; the troublous days of Richard II when Peldon, then the property of Michael de la Pole, the king's "evil counsellor", may have hearkened to the preaching in the Churchyard of the first Christian Socialist, John Ball: back to the coming of the Normans, (who found Peldonians particularly stubborn in defence of their rights), to the Saxon Aelderman Brythnoth, whose heroic stand at the Battle of Maldon inspired one of the greatest of Battle Poems and whose wife had inherited the village from her sister Aethelflaed wife of King Edmund, friend of Dunstan: back..back-back---

It became apparent that whatever had happened to England, Peldon, this little village of under 400 souls, had always been in the front line - an integral part of the nation's history.

And so this book began.

Chapter 1

AuthorKay Gilmour
SourceMersea Museum