|THE MYSTERY OF HONOR VILLA and GOING's COTTAGES
In investigating the history of houses in the village of Peldon where few of them are numbered, without the help of house deeds it is often impossible to identify a house by its current name. Even in Peldon's Tudor wills it is quite common for a property to be given two names and for the testator to add 'or by what other name or names the same hath been called'. It would seem that many of them were known by the name of some far distant occupier and as property changed hands so did the name.
A handful of names of occupiers from long ago have stuck and still persist today. In some cases, using Ancestry, Find My Past, old documents or newspapers it is possible to find when the person of that name lived here. Thomas Game (Games Farm and Games Common) quit his farm at Michaelmas in 1787 and advertised it for sale in the Ipswich Journal. Ives Farm was sold upon the death of James Ives in 1838. Lanhams in Lodge Lane has been traced to a Thomas Lanham in the mid to late 1500s
Some house names go back much further, hundreds of years in fact, and names such as Harveys, Newpots, Kemps, and Butlers Farm (the latter now under the reservoir) all refer back to early occupants from the fourteenth century. The name Sampsons, amazingly, goes back to the Domesday book.
In the Peldon censuses for 1901 and 1911 two house names appear, Honor Villa and Going's Cottages. Honor Villa was uninhabited on both the census days. Both houses were clearly close to each other and by Peldon Common or Green which slopes down to Lower Road. No one living in the village now has heard of the names. Were these buildings demolished or, did incoming residents change the names of their homes?
The story starts with the 1841 census for Leigh-on-Sea near Southend. A young teenager, Mary Ann Talbot, born and raised in an agricultural labourer's family in Peldon, is a servant aged 16 in the rectory at Leigh-on-Sea. The clergyman, Robert Eden, had been curate at Peldon and in 1837 moved to Leigh to become the parish priest there. Robert had been very active as curate in Peldon and instrumental in setting up the National Day School in 1833. By 1841 he is head of a large household in the newly-built, rather grand rectory in Leigh-on-Sea with a wife, seven children (he was to have ten), a governess, three male and four female servants including Mary Ann and another local girl, Mary Sach, aged 19, born in Tolleshunt Major.
By 1861, Mary Ann is married to Joseph Hills, a Leigh fisherman and they have a family. One of the daughters they name Honor.
Honor was to marry a very successful and wealthy oyster merchant, James Allerton Going, who also, as part of 'The Going Brothers', ran 'refreshment rooms' in Southend-on-Sea as listed in Kelly's Trade Directory of 1912. These refreshment rooms were similar to tearooms and in the days before train restaurant carriages they were common in British railway stations.
Dee Gordon [People Who Mattered in Southend and Beyond] fills in some of J.A. Going's biography. Very much a self-made man, he started selling cockles and oysters, even before reaching his teens and set up a business called Going's Southend Shellfish Company whose trademark was an oyster shell. He went on, after establishing his wholesale and retail business in Southend, to try various locations in London settling on a stall near Hyde Park which he maintained for twenty years. He was known as 'The Cockle King' and was known to help collect them, steaming them on the same day in premises in Leigh-on-Sea.
Although never resident in Peldon when the censuses were taken, it is clear the Goings shared their time between Honor Villa in Peldon and their house in Southend. Their son, Reginald Ernest Going appears on Peldon's Roll Of Honour in WW1 fighting in the RHA despite the fact that his name appears in the 1914 Kelly's Trade Directory for Southend as proprietor of 'refreshment rooms' at 16, Pier Approach. On the Absent Voter's List for Peldon in 1918 his address is given as Honour Villa.
In 1901, Honor Villa (the first time the name appears), is listed as uninhabited but the three cottages nearby, called Going's Cottages, are all rented out. We do know, however, the Going family were in residence the year before, as the Peldon School Log Book reveals in June 1900.
Mr Going having invited all the children to a tea and entertainment this afternoon on Peldon Green a half-holiday granted
Dee Gordon reveals that this party for the school children in Peldon was in honour of the Goings moving in to their new house which gives us a date of 1900.
In 1911 the Peldon census reveals that the head of household is James A Going but that Honor Villa is uninhabited and 'family away' is written across the form. In fact, 1901 and 1911 census returns show the family resident in the Southchurch area of Southend-on-Sea and in 1911 a widowed Mary Ann, aged 87, is living with them. In Peldon, three local families are renting Going's Cottages; all three cottages very small, one of them only having two rooms and a kitchen.
In the Kelly's Trade Directory of 1914 James Going is listed as a private resident of Honour Villa.
My belief is that the prime candidate for the 'missing' villa is, in fact, the beautiful white house with blue shutters overlooking Peldon Green, Tronoh House.
Tronoh House in 2019
The house does not appear on the Ordnance Survey map of 1897 which would suggest it was built after 1897 but before 1900 when we find that first reference to Mr Going in the school logbook.
Was Honor Going, who had never lived in Peldon, so entranced by her mother's stories and memories of her childhood in Peldon that her wealthy husband bought her a house overlooking Peldon Common - or maybe even built the house from new - and named it after her? Had Honor visited her Talbot relatives in Peldon and fallen in love with the village? Her mother's brother, William Talbot, in 1901 and 1911 is living at the White House (now Sampton Wick), Lower Road, which is actually overlooked by James and Honor's house.
It is believed the Goings spent weekends at Honor Villa during WW1 until Honor's death in 1919.
A photograph of James Allerton Going in 1921 at around the time he sold Honor Villa in Peldon
[Photo courtesy of Sandra Davis]
By 1922, James appears to have sold up and according to the Kelly's Trade Directory of 1922, Stanley Sibley is given as the owner of Honour Villa which he must have bought between 1918 and 1922.
After this reference to Honor Villa, the name disappears.
By 1929 Mr William John is listed as living at Tronoh House in a Trade Directory of that year, the first time the name Tronoh appears. Is this the same house? In the 1939 register the location of Tronoh House and Bungalows would indicate so.
Some time between 1922 and 1929 the house-name was changed. Did a later resident have some connection with Tronoh in Malaysia? Or could it have been simply a case of mishearing or miswriting the house-name, Honor/Tronoh?
A postcard with the name of Tronoh house embossed, probably dating from the 1920s
By the time Mr Norman Serjeant, churchwarden, (the son of the Rev H Serjeant, late of Layer Marney) moves to Tronoh House, in approximately 1934, the name Tronoh seems to be firmly established and has remained ever since. Access to the house's deeds may yet solve the mystery and provide conclusive proof!
Presumably Tronoh Bungalow changed its name from Going's Cottages at the same time. It is where the Miller family have lived for over 100 years, ever since Alan Miller's grandfather, John, married his grandmother Elsie in 1917 and moved into her home, then known as Going's Cottages.
The Millers believe Tronoh Bungalow was built in the 1830s and was presumably labourers' cottages. They confirm that it was three cottages, the outline of previous dividing walls still visible inside. In every likelihood, it was bought by James Allerton Going at the same time as he made Honor Villa his second home.
Alan's grandfather, John Miller, fought in WW1 and appears on Peldon's Roll of Honour. He married Elsie Cathleen Ellen Ham during the war in November 1917 and his address on the marriage registration is given as Going's Cottages. In the Absent Voters' List for 1918 his address is also given as Going's Cottages. The building, incidentally, was still double occupancy as late as the 1939 register.
In both the 1901 and the 1911 censuses we find Elsie living in one of Going's Cottages with her adoptive mother and brother, Sarah and William Smith. When Elsie married John in 1917, John moved out of his parental home and into that of his new wife. This cottage, now Tronoh Bungalow, is where the Miller family have lived ever since.
Going's Cottages circa 1910 on right of Church Road
Peldon History Project
Carol Edwards - A Journey Along the Golden Mile
Dee Gordon - People Who Mattered in Southend and Beyond