ID: PH01_KSG / Elaine Barker

TitleMr Great's House Kemps Farm Peldon
and the history of Kemps Farm

In Estate Binder 3 in the Essex Records Office is a map of Messuage & Lands belonging to Mrs Mary Thurstan [Thurston] of Wenham Hall in the County of Suffolk by T. Skynner dated 1728.

On this charming map depicting little houses with windows and doors and lollipop trees, the farmhouse and 86 acres of land surveyed for Mary Thurston (born into an eminent Colchester family called the Rebows) are what is now known as Home Farm, Mersea Road, Peldon.

On the map, on the other side of the road a farmhouse is marked as 'Mr Great's House' with a field to the north-east marked 'Mr Great's Land'.

As is usual with many of the farmhouses, names have changed, often several times over the centuries, often not recorded in wills, regularly changing to that of the current owner and there is no building of that name now. So which farm is it today?

From the location shown on the map, we can deduce that Mr Great's House is the farmhouse which, at least from the 1861 census, has been known as Kemp's Farm.

Kemps Farm in the 1930s

Grade II listed, Kemps Farm is described as a seventeenth century house, timber-framed and plastered, with red plain tile roof and a gabled crosswing at its east end. It has had extensive alterations - it was ravaged by fire in the 1950s - but still has an original seventeenth century chimney stack.

The first documentary reference to Kemp's Farm was found by P.H.Reaney who in The Place Names of Essex believes it to be associated with the family of John Kemp who is first mentioned in 1351 in a court document called 'The Foot of the Fine' pertaining to the transfer or settlement of property. I have not found the name again before the 1861 census.

The name of a member of the Great family, Samuel, first appears in a Manorial Court document of 1675; clearly, he is a tenant of a property held by the Manor of Pete Hall, Peldon and it is in his will dated 1706 that more detail is given. Although not specified, this property is most likely to be 'Mr. Great's House' on the 1728 map. In Samuel's will he left to his son John

All that my Copy-hold Messuage, Lands Tenements and Hereditaments Scituate Lying and being in the Parish of Peldon in the County of Essex, & holden of the Mannors of Peet Hall, & Peldon aforesaid now in the Occupation of Robert Castle or his Assigns

It was quite usual for tenants such as Samuel to hold copyhold properties leased from the Lord of the Manor and in turn, lease them to under tenants which is clearly the case here, (Robert Castle is known to have served as a churchwarden at St, Mary's, Peldon from 1707 - 1715).

So who was Samuel Great?

The Great family were a family of apothecaries and grocers who lived and worked in Colchester in the seventeenth and eighteenth century.

The family originated in Holland from where Samuel's father, Samuel De Groote, a weaver, came to Colchester very early in the seventeenth century, along with many of his immigrant countrymen, most likely as a result of religious persecution. His name would quickly be anglicised to 'Great'.

Samuel De Groote was already resident in Colchester at the time of his marriage on 8th July 1617 to Elizabeth Houvenaer in the Dutch Church at Austin Friars, London. Subsequently, the register of St. Leonard's, at The Hythe, Colchester contains the baptism of Michaell ye sonne of Samuell Great and his wife on 26th August 1618 and of Elizabeth their daughter on 30th January 1619/20 daughter of Samuell de Graite and Elizabeth.

Their son Samuel was probably born in the Parish of St. Peter's in 1625.

Along with two brothers, Samuel attended what was to become Colchester Royal Grammar School, being admitted in his fourteenth year, and subsequently Samuel was apprenticed (most likely for seven years) to apothecary Robert Buxton, whose Colchester High Street premises were in the parish of St. Nicholas.

St. Nicholas was one of two High Street Churches that were demolished - in this case in 1955. St Nicholas House was built where the church stood and housed the Co-op store for many years while gravestones still line the low walls enclosing the space behind.

Very early in the seventeenth century, Robert Buxton had set up a manufactory for candied eringo (sometimes spelt eryngo) root which was, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as famous a Colcestrian delicacy as oysters. Candied eringo was sold from apothecary and grocers' shops as a 'cure-all' particularly for bad throats, coughs and colds but also as an aphrodisiac. Shakespeare's Falstaff refers to it as 'kissing comfits' in Merry Wives of Windsor, alluding no doubt to its aphrodisiac properties!

Upon Buxton's death circa 1655, Samuel continued in the apothecary shop in Colchester's High Street, two doors down from The Red Lion Inn and referred to as The Old Twisted Posts and Pots,

To the Colchester-oysters let me subjoin another thing which Colchester is famous for, viz. the excellent sweet-meats made of Eryngo-Roots. They were first candied in this town about the beginning of the last century by Robert Buxton Apothecary. His apprentice, Samuel Great continued this business and it hath been ever since carried on by the latter's posterity, with universal liking and approbation. [Philip Morant: The History and Antiquities of Colchester]

Eringo is a name for Sea Holly (Eryngium Maritimum) which then grew freely on the sandy beaches of Mersea, Clacton and Dovercourt. The roots were candied with sugar and orange blossom water and Buxton's closely-guarded recipe was handed down the generations of the Great family.

He [Samuel] and two further generations of Greats made eringo a speciality of their apothecary's (and later grocer's trade). It could still be obtained in the 1860s from a *'maiden lady', a family connection of the Greats, who would make some if requested. A Pleasing Prospect Social Change and Urban Culture in 18th Century Colchester Shani D'Cruz

* Patrick Denney in Secret Colchester names her as 'Mrs Thorn'.

During archaeological excavations of Lion Walk in the 1970s several apothecaries' ceramic vessels were uncovered in old rubbish pits and are now in Colchester Museum's collection. Mainly blue and white, some were labelled with the names of the drugs they contained, a few were Delft-ware made in the Netherlands, and the collection's estimated dates of manufacture would indicate they were in use during the time of Robert Buxton and the Great family's apothecary business. Images and information can be found on the Colchester and Ipswich Museums Service on-line blog.

In 1931 a small box containing candied eringo root was donated to Colchester Museum and is still on show at the Natural History Museum. The label is illustrated with drawings of a wreath of sea holly leaves flanked by two twisted Posts, it reads Eringo Roots Candyed and sold by Charles Great in the Old Twisted Posts and Pots in Colchester

A box of candied eringo root donated to Colchester Museum in 1931

So popular was this sweetmeat that Colchester Corporation was in the habit of presenting packets of it to distinguished visitors and it was often presented in attractive gilt boxes.

In 1761 Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburgh-Strelitz stopped in Colchester en route via Harwich to her wedding with King George III. While she was being entertained at the home of lawyer, Samuel Ennew,

Mr Great of Colchester had the honour of presenting to her Majesty, while she was at Mr. Ennew's house a box of candied eringo root. London Gazette 1761

The Great family also had a fine collection of paintings, reputedly by their countryman Van Dyke, and the great and the good were invited to view them.

The Prince of Orange attended divine service at St. Peter's Church on Sunday morning. On Monday his Serene Highness viewed the collection of pictures in the possession of Mr Great by whom he was presented with a box of Eringo Root which was graciously received Ipswich Journal 31st January 1795.

By the time of his death in 1706, as well as owning the Peldon property, Samuel had several others in Colchester in addition to his home and apothecary's shop.

Samuel bequeathed the Peldon property to his son John and wife Esther. John's wife, (Hester, according to a memorial at St. Nicholas), had already died in her 30s presumably between Samuel writing his will and his death. Samuel willed that his wife and son Thomas continue the family business.

I give and bequeath to my said Wife and to my said Son Thomas Great All my Apothecaries Medicines, Drugs & Commodities, and all my Utensills belonging to my said Trade of an Apothecary in Equal Partnership and to Trade together.

Samuel's wife, Susan, was to live out her natural life in their High Street home, with his eldest surviving son Thomas, taking on the house and business following her death

Samuel died in 1706 aged 80/81, his daughter, Susannah/Susan died in 1714 his son John (born 1666) died at the age of 49 in 1715. Samuel's wife Susan died in 1722 aged 83 and it is clear they had a son Samuel (1664 - 1693) who, their first-born, predeceased his parents aged only 29. An indenture exists for Samuel the Younger, recording his seven-year apprenticeship with a London merchant, Joseph Cox, from 1681.

Samuel The Elder's will requested

My Body I commit to the Earth and desire it may
be interred at the Discretion of my dear and loving Wife Susan in the Parish Church of St. Nicholas in Colchester aforesaid amongst my Children that is under the Pew where I, my
Wife & Children used to sit, and as near as conveniently may be to my Son Samuels Grave.

A memorial plaque to Samuel and his wife, Susan, hangs in the Natural History Museum, Colchester, having been removed from St. Nicholas's Church when it was demolished in 1955.

Morant in his History and Antiquities of Colchester gives the inscription which he tells us was In the Church, on a Monument against a Pillar.

In memory of Mr Samuel Great, Apothecary, who died the 9th May 1706, aged 80 years. And of Susan his wife, who died the 14th of July 1722, aged 83 years. She was daughter of Mr Nicholas Jacques, Merchant, brother to Sir John Jacques Baronet; They had issue 8 sons and 4 daughters.

Morant tells us of a further memorial on a gravestone in the Chancel of St. Nicholas

Samuel Great, died May 9, 1706, aged 81
Susan his wife, died July 15, 1722, aged 83
Samuel their son, died Oct 30, 1693, aged 29
Susanna their daughter, died Febr. 14. 1714
John their son, died Sept.3, 1715, aged 49, and
Hester his wife Janu.4, 1703 aged 34.

Clearly Samuel's son, Thomas, took on the family business and at some point owned the Red Lion Inn for there still exists a rainwater hopper in Red Lion Yard emblazoned with the year 1716, initials T.G. (Thomas Great) and a rampant Red Lion.

It would appear from an Essex Records Office document [D/DC 23/49] that another son, Charles Great, had inherited the Peldon Farm from his brother John who died in 1715. Only months later, Charles too died, early in 1716. His widow, Susannah applied through her attorney, Thomas Mayhew, to be admitted to her late husband's properties held by the Manor of Pete Hall.

The Essex Records Office abstract of Susannah's admission document gives individual names of parcels of land, none of which I have been able to verify belonged to Kemps Farm/Mr Great's House, but it is likely, and we do know the land was copyhold of the Manor of Pete Hall. Many of the names refer to previous occupiers.

A tenement and 15 acres land called Tibbenhams alias John Adams; 2 parcels of land (12 acres.) of which one is called Savages (5 acres.), and the other is called John Davies alias John Adams; 1 parcel of land called Labons of William Kettle; a tenement and ½ a virgate* of land called Webbs alias Peldon House in Peet, late of Thomas Webb; 2 crofts (6 acres, late of Thomas Fann; all in South Peet, copyhold of the Manor of Peet Hall, in Peldon.

[Recites 18 March 1715/6 Will of said Charles Great devising to wife. Susan all Messuages and tenements [unspecified]
[Court of Elizabeth Ram, widow Steward: Marmaduke Rawdon, gentleman] [ERO D/DC 23/496]

*a virgate is approximately 30 acres

The will of Charles Great was written on 18th March 1715/16 and tells us he was a Citizen and Merchant Taylor of London. He left his wife

all my Messuages, Lands, Tenements and Hereditaments whatsoever whereof I am seized or whereunto I am instituted either in Law or equity. The Will of Charles Great: National Archives PROB 11/551.

Property and land in Peldon continue to be mentioned in subsequent wills of Samuel's descendants. Anna Maria Great, widow of Thomas Great (son of Samuel) of the parish of St Nicholas, Colchester writes a will in 1744 (proved in 1749) leaving

Copyhold or Customary Messuages, Lands, Tenements and Hereditaments whatsoever situate and being in or near the parish of Peldon in the county of Essex now in the Tenure or Occupation of William Martin which I hold in the Mannors of Peet Hall and of Peldon Hall and which I have surrendered to the use of my Will

In Anna Maria's will she also refers to a deed made out on 29th September 1743 of having given my son Thomas Great all my stock of druggs and physical Medicines, proving a third generation of Greats had continued in the apothecary business.

Subsequently, their son Thomas (born 1719), (grandson of Samuel), a Colchester apothecary, leaves unspecified property in Peldon in the occupation of the same tenant, William Martin. His will is dated 1760 and was proved in 1762. He left the property in Peldon to pay his liabilities as executor of the will of farmer, Charles Saunders.

It is likely to be his widow, Elizabeth, who is mentioned by Philip Morant (in his 1768 publication the History and Antiquities of the County of of Essex) as Mrs. Great, and listed, along with other landowners, as having some lands in this parish.

Elizabeth was related to the next owner, Austin Stapley, a surgeon of Ford Street, Aldham, to whom her sister, Mary was married.

In another document [ERO:D/DHt T203/6] Austin Stapley and his wife Mary are admitted to property in Peldon by the Court of Pete Hall Manor on 11th October 1769. The property and land is detailed as above [Tibbenhams, Savages etc], when Charles Great's widow had been admitted to it more than fifty years before, circa 1716. The Stapleys had in the meantime also been admitted to land called South Peet, 9 acres of marsh and 6 roods held by the Manor of Peldon Hall at the Peldon Manor Court on 20th June 1768.

This document quotes a Manorial Court Baron of 1748 when William Martin was occupier; we know he was already occupying the property in 1744, the date of Anna Maria Great's will.

The document makes it clear that following Thomas Great's death circa 1763 his wife Elizabeth was left the house for life. She died in 1767 and her sister and brother-in-law, the Stapleys, were then admitted to the property.

In Austin Stapley's will of 1773 reference is made to the debts under the terms of the will of Thomas Great on an estate in Peldon, still unpaid. We cannot be totally sure all these parcels of land and properties were part of the farm we now know as Kemps Farm but all the evidence adds up.

With the deaths of Thomas and Elizabeth Great, Peldon's connection with this family of apothecaries ended after close to 100 years. However, a grocer's business and the manufacture of candied eringo root was to be continued at the sign of the Old Twisted Posts and Pots in High Street by Thomas's brother Charles who died in 1797; the house and business were not sold until after his wife's death in 1798.

It would seem from Charles's will and that of his wife, Mary, that they had no children and their property went to her sister's family, the Keymers.

The provision for his wife in Charles's will makes for moving reading in case my wife's affliction should continue... he requests her nephews ... pay due attention to her and to see that she is tenderly and suitably taken care of... particularly desiring that she may not be removed to any private or public Madhouse. He also makes arrangements for the servant who cares for his wife to continue.

As we have seen St. Nicholas was the family church and Charles - and Mary who died the year after her husband - were commemorated on a flat slate ledger within the church. I am uncertain where this memorial is now.

Thomas Great
son of Samuel Great
died May 14th 1731
three sons of the said
Thomas Great.
Demetrius Great
died 1750
Thomas Great
died January 10th 1762
Charles Great
died April 28th 1797
aged 73
Mary Great
wife of the above
Charles Great
April 8th 1798
aged 70

Upon Mary's death the house was put on the market in 1798 and from the sales particulars we learn of the extent of the old apothecary's shop, now a grocer's, which had belonged to the Great family from circa 1655

And entered upon at Michaelmas or sooner if required
All the Capital Premises, late in the occupation of Mr
CHARLES GREAT, deceased; comprising on the ground
floor, a shop, containing in front 39 feet, in which the grocery
and tea businesses & have been carried on for many years; 2
good parlours, a kitchen and scullery, very large cellars; on the
second storey, a large dining room, and a smaller one in front,
with five bedrooms backwards; on the upper storey, 2 large
bedrooms and garrets. A large yard and neat gardens well
planted with choice fruit trees and a good pump in the same:
two terras Cisterns, brew office, chaise house, stabling etc the
breadth of the premises backwards contained above 60 feet.
For further particulars enquire of Mr Charles Great Keymer,
woollen draper or of Mr Wm. Keymer jun., bookseller,
NB The ERINGO ROOT continues to be candied and sold
at the above shop as usual. Ipswich Journal 5 May 1798

Returning to the Peldon property, Austin Stapley died in 1772. In his will [ERO D/ABW 104/2/33] he required all his debts and mortgages be paid off by the selling of some of his extensive portfolio of properties including the debt owed, charged upon Thomas Great's will of 1760

upon my Copyhold or Customary Messuage or Tenement and
Farm at Peldon, in the said County of Essex, and which are yet unpaid

To his nephew, Benjamin Smith, and nieces, Elizabeth and Jane Smith he left his Peldon Farm

late in the Occupation of William Martin and now in the Tenure or Occupation of Edward Ransom his Assignee or Assigns But Subject to the Life Estate therein of my said Wife Mary Stapley

It would seem Mary Stapley died the year after her husband in 1773.

Between the sketch map of 1728 and that of Chapman and Andree (surveyed between 1772 and 1774) it would appear that along with two other structures (no longer standing today), the barn at Kemps Farm was erected. This is the listed barn on the 'at risk' register currently held up by scaffolding and awaiting a barn conversion (as of 2022). Although dated by Historic England as early 19th century, these maps would indicate the original had been built by the end of the 18th century.

Stapley's nephew and nieces presumably sold the farm; no documentation for this has been found hitherto.

The Cooke Family
We know from James Kemble's research into the tithe awards in 1838 that Kemp's Farm was known as Cooke's at some point in its history and the most likely owner is Benjamin Cooke of Peldon and his heirs. He died in 1792 and his will [National Archives PROB 11/1225] bequeathed to his nephew, Thomas Cooke.

All that my Messuage, tenement or Farm with all and every the outhouses Buildings, Lands, Grounds and Hereditaments whatsoever thereunto belonging or appertaining which I lately purchased of John Bartholomew situate lying and being in the Parish of Peldon.

Frustratingly, again no name of the farm is given. Presuming it is Kemp's Farm we can but guess as to whether John Bartholomew bought the property from Stapley's beneficiaries.

In 1780 an auction for the creditors of a John Bartholomew's furniture and farming stock in Peldon is advertised in the Ipswich Journal. There were many traders bankrupted in this period at the beginning of the French wars. Did Bartholomew sell Kemp's Farm to Benjamin Cooke to pay off his debts?

Thomas Cooke of Messing (formerly of West Mersea) who died in 1807 is likely to have been Benjamin's nephew and beneficiary. Once again he clearly owned property and land which was farmed but it is unspecified and it is all put into the hands of his widow, Alice Cooke, and two other executors in trust to provide maintenance and education for his children.

The Wilson and Tiffin families
By the time of the survey carried out for the Peldon Tithe map of 1838, the landowner was Charles Wilson, with the farmsteads, Home Farm (named as North House Farm) and Cooke's, worked by Charles Tiffin, (or Tiffen) He also occupied the farmstead to the south-east (Home Farm, but recorded as North House Farm in 1838).

Cooke's Farm is detailed as 'Yards &c' in Plot 317. It is suggested the farmhouse may have been unoccupied at that time for no farm building is listed. It is at this juncture that the histories of Kemps Farm and Home Farm seem to coincide being farmed as one.

In the 1842 electors' register, Charles Wilson of London is given as the owner of freehold farms tenanted by Charles Tiffin.

A history available via Mersea Museum archives, [Wilson Family Blog from Adrian Flatt June 2019] tells us the bulk of Charles Tiffin's land was rented from Charles Wilson including Cooke's Farm and Home Farm (North House Farm on the tithe map). Charles Tiffin also occupied land owned by William Carleton Smythies. By this time only 25 acres or so of land remained in the ownership of the Smythies Family who had bought Home Farm in 1741 from the Thurston family for whom the 1728 survey and map mentioned above had been commissioned.

Charles Wilson's will reads as follows

This is the will of Charles Wilson of Gravechurch St made this 26th day of December 1837. To my brother Horace Hayman Wilson I leave all and every part of my lands and buildings at Peldon in the County of Essex conditioning that he grants to Charles Tiffin a lease of 21 years at 200l [£200] per year.

Charles Wilson died in 1846.

So why was Charles Wilson keen to ensure such a long lease to Charles Tiffin? The story of the Tiffins is an interesting one. Charles Tiffin's father's gravestone appears alongside the path that leads up to St Edmunds Church, East Mersea. It is believed he was already widowed when he died and had in fact had thirteen children, three of whom must have predeceased him. The inscription reads

Charles Tiffin
Late of this Parish
who departed this life
February 27th 1829
Aged 57 years

Leaving ten Orphan children
who will long have to regret
the loss of a kind and
affectionate Father

One of those children was Charles Tiffin, born circa 1797 who was awarded a 21 year lease on Kemps Farm and another was his sister Hannah, born circa 1813.

As the Tiffins' twelfth baby, Hannah, when the thirteenth arrived was adopted by Hannah Clark also of East Mersea who owned and rented a significant amount of land and property. These include the homestead known as Home Farm in East Mersea, and a beerhouse later known as The Dog & Pheasant. Hannah Clark also rented North House Farm, East Mersea, and land from her brother Elijah Clark including a cottage, barn, yard and garden identified as Mitchells Farm and a homestead later identified as Weir Farm.

Horace Hayman Wilson was Charles Wilson's brother and beneficiary and was an eminent Professor of Sanscrit, He had his son, Frederick, as a young child, sent over from Calcutta on a six month voyage in the care of the ship's Captain, to be educated in England.

Subsequently, presumably as a young man, Frederick was taken by his brother, Thomas Luxmore Wilson (a solicitor), to Peldon where he owned a farm that he kept for shooting. Here, Frederick met Hannah Tiffin and they were subsequently married in 1839.

A marquee was put up for the nuptials and the festivities lasted a week. "Their son was my father and that was how I came to be in Mersea" says Mrs Isabella "Rose" Dawson of High Street North, who will be 89 this month An old lady remembers - Isabella Rosa Dawson 1968

By the 1841 census Frederick and Hannah Wilson were living in London and had their first child.

Four years after the marriage, in 1843, Hannah's adoptive mother made her will citing Charles Tiffin as an executor, leaving, the bulk of her estate divided between him, her 'godchild' Hannah, and Elijah Clark, her brother.

Hannah was left two farms, some cottages and the Dog and Pheasant.

The Tiffins were to continue farming at Home and Kemps Farms and amongst those who worked for them was the Baldwin family.

The Baldwin Family
The Baldwins were a family of agricultural workers, some of whose descendants are still in the area today. They had a long history working for the owners of Kemps Farm and living in the farmhouse. In the 1851 census the entry for John Baldwin, agricultural worker, and his family is next to that of Charles and Mary Tiffin and their family. The acreage that Charles Tiffin was farming, 258 acres (and employing eight men) would seem to indicate he was farming both Kemps and Home Farms.

By 1861 the farm Charles Tiffin was occupying is listed as Kemps Farm by name (acreage 264 and employing nine men and 5 boys), and again, John Baldwin with his expanding family is next door.

Charles Tiffin died in 1869 leaving Mary to run the farms. His grave is in St. Mary's churchyard, Peldon.

By 1871 John Baldwin is nearby in a Cottage, now having two sons also working as agricultural labourers, Thomas and George, with three more sons and a daughter. Mary Tiffin, now widowed is farming 270 acres employing 8 labourers and 5 boys with a son and daughter, two grandchildren and a nursemaid.

In 1881's census Mary Tiffin is listed as living in Pond Farm farming 114 acres, again John Baldwin's family is the adjacent entry.

Living with Mary was her Farm Bailiff, Elijah Woods and his wife.

Only three years later, Elijah, the farm bailiff, wrote on the back of a mirror broken in the 1884 earthquake which is now at Mersea Museum

This mirror is a part of one that was shaken from a mantleshelf and broken at Home Farm Peldon, Essex at the time of the great earthquake April 22nd 1884 the house being shaken from its foundations, chimneys thrown to the ground and widespread damage took place, this piece of glass was framed as it was broken by the earthquake in remembrance of so great and terrible event. Signed by me Elijah Woods occupant of Home Farm 26/6/84

Does this indicate that Pond Farm (a name not found elsewhere) was another name for Home Farm?

Mary Tiffin died in the February of that year 1884, and one can only presume Elijah remained in the farmhouse and was resident when the earthquake shook.

In 1891 Elijah and his wife are again the next census entry to the Baldwins and he is still a Farm Bailiff. There are two Baldwin homes next to each other that of John and the other his son George's family, were they sharing Kemps Farm divided into two cottages?

In 1901 there were three Baldwin households in the Mersea Road, Peldon, John and Lucy's and two of their sons.

By 1911 we have George living on the Mersea Road with his family, and his son, George, a horseman on a farm. Next door in Kemps Farm Cottage were his parents, John aged 87 and Lucy aged 81, living on an old age pension, and next door to them also in one of Kemps Farm Cottages was son Alfred and his family - his son George was to die in WW1 at the age of 19.

It is likely that Kemps Farm Cottages actually refer to Kemps farmhouse itself which later owners, the Wooldridges, remember was divided into two at some time in his history confirmed by the sale catalogue of 1903 which refers to it as a double tenement.

Interestingly, the next entry in the 1911 census, that for Harry Balls, an engine driver, and his family, the farm he is occupying is named as Holmes Farm on one page of his census entry and Kemps Farm on the other.

The relationship between Home Farm and Kemps Farm continued into the early 20th Century. In 1903, the farms were sold at auction together. Described as a Desirable Landed Estate known as Home and Kemps Barn, the structures and land were sold in two lots; one containing the farmsteads and immediate surrounding land of 155 acres, with the second lot comprising a 'small occupation' with a brick cottage and garden, and arable, meadow and marsh land, all situated east of Home Farm.

Kemps Farm Homestead was described as comprising:
a Boarded and Tiled Double-Tenement Cottage' with Large Gardens, Carthorse Stable and Chaff Place, Double-Bayed Barn with Paved Centre Floor and Granary, Horse and Cattle Sheds and Yards, Granary on Brick Piers, and a Cart Lodge. The Land is in a good state of Cultivation.

In 1903, the 'occupier' of Kemps Farm was Mr. William Golden Fairhead the farmer of Brick House and Harvey's Farms, Peldon, but as we have seen, it is likely the Baldwins were actually in residence.

John and Lucy Baldwin's youngest son, Alfred and his wife Emily were to have a large family of six boys and two girls. Their son Charles Edward was a horseman who worked for the Fairheads and he lived in a cottage at Harvey's farm, this farmhouse also divided into two cottages at that time.

The Fairheads ran a steam contracting business and employed another of John and Lucy's sons, Cecil. Cecil's nephew, Tony, tells us that Cecil worked for Mr Fairhead from a young age driving steam engines. They would travel widely - Harwich for example, with a live-in van for the week, and taking their cycles to get home at the weekend. As a boy, he would have to be first up in the morning, to raise steam. According to Cecil's granddaughter, Cecil reckoned he'd ploughed every field from here to Colchester and out towards Weeley.

The engines in the photograph above are Ploughing Engines. and the living wagon reads W.G. Fairhead Peldon. The picture probably dates to around 1910 and shows Arthur Polley and his sons who lived at Ardleigh and also worked for the Fairheads.

Cecil Baldwin is seen on the photograph below with one of Arthur Polley's sons, Charles.

An Aveling Porter Ploughing Engine with Cecil Baldwin on the left and Charles Polley on the right [though Ron Green who knew Cecil, thinks it is Cecil on the right]. They both worked for Fairhead of Peldon for several years.

Some of the registration number is just visible - NO66.. NO registrations were issued in Essex between January 1921 and July 1923 so the picture can be dated to after January 1921.

The 1918 electoral roll shows Alfred and Emily Baldwin living at Kemps Farm while Percy Golden Fairhead (son of William Golden) is listed as being the 'occupier' of Kemps and Harvey's Farm.

By the 1929 electoral roll a widowed Alfred was living with son Frederick at Kemps and again Percy G Fairhead had Kemps and Harvey's Farms.

When the Fairheads had to sell up in Peldon because of death duties, Charles Baldwin, his wife Florence Daisy and their three boys moved to the council houses opposite Church Green, Peldon where they can be found in the 1939 register. Charles's brother Walter and his family lived next door.

Charles Baldwin had been farm manager to Mr and Mrs Horn who lived at Abbots Hall and bought Virley Hall (they also owned Greenacres in Wigborough). Charles's son Norman then took on the job and worked at Abbots Hall Farm. Cecil was living at Rose Cottage with his wife Dorothy's aunt and his daughter Sylvia, close to the Peldon Rose Inn.

Kemps Farm in the 1930s with the pond that was to be filled in later.

In 1930, farmer, Maurice Wooldridge, and his family moved from Kent to Kemps Farm. It is likely at about this time Home Farm was sold to the Knight family who were to farm there into the 21st century. The Knight family name is inextricably linked with the farmhouse which is today more usually referred to by villagers as Knights Farm rather than Home Farm. Home Farm and its listed barn went were put on the market by the Knight family in 2019 and as I write (February 2022) planning permission for turning them into two luxury homes is in the offing.

Alfred Baldwin lost his wife Emily in 1927 and in the 1939 register is living with some of his children in Old Hall Lane in Tollesbury. In retirement he was to live with his daughter in Beckingham (Tolleshunt Major) but used to visit Peldon, staying with son, Cecil, in Rose Cottages.

Alfred died in 1948 at the age of 77 and his obituary in the Essex County Standard reads

a native of Peldon he was the youngest son of the late Mr and Mrs John Baldwin, of Kemps Farm and for many years was in the employ of the late Mr. Fairhead of Brick House Farm. Peldon.

It would appear that by the time Alfred and his family left Kemps Farm, the Baldwin family had lived there for 80 years or more.

Shortly after arrival in Peldon, the Wooldridges, as owner/occupiers, put in a planning application for an extension to Kemps farmhouse which was approved in December 1930. They were to continue farming in Peldon until the 1960s.

The story of the Wooldridges' time in Peldon and a wealth of the family's photographs of Kemps Farm appear in The Wooldridge Family of Kemps Farm

Later Kemps farm came into the possession of the Bayswater Estate and the land subsequently sold to Tom Sawdon from Peldon Hall Farm. Kemps farmhouse was sold separately in 2021 and outline planning permission obtained to convert the dilapidated scaffolded barn into a home; this came back on the market in 2022.

Kemps Farm in the 1930s showing the barn on the left (now scaffolded), further farm buildings behind and the farmhouse on the right.

Elaine Barker
Peldon History Project

Thanks to
Helen Jones
Anne Lee

Read More
Memoirs of Isabella Rosa Dawson
Mirror from Home Farm, Peldon, damaged in 1884 Earthquake
The Wooldridge Family of Kemps Farm

AuthorElaine Barker
Published26 February 2022
SourceMersea Museum
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