ID: PH01_LNM / Geoff Gonella

TitleLanhams of Lodge Lane
AbstractIn the 1970s there was a Garden Centre in Lodge Lane, Peldon, formally named Lanhams Enterprises but known locally as 'Lanhams'. It was a home business set up and run by Yvonne and Ronnie Barbor, at their house and gardens a little way along Lodge Lane on the right, just beyond the footpath that goes off to the right.

Advertisement for Lanhams from an unknown magazine

The following is the result of initial research into Lanhams, followed by the memories of some of the many people who remember Lanhams and the lives of Yvonne and Ronnie.

Initial research findings
Ronald Charles Barbor was born in May 1910, so he was in his sixties when they started the Garden centre.

Ronnie signed and dated (1973) the illustration for the Lanhams advert. The small text of the advert gives us a snapshot of what the business had to offer:

Walk round and see the plants growing and choose from the container-grown stock of shrubs, conifers, hardy perennials and alpines. Old fashioned roses a speciality. Bedding plants, seeds and bulbs in season. Also an interesting collection of ornamental pheasant, duck and free-flying budgerigars. Our stock is continually changing, so come and see what we have. Open daily 11-1, 2-5. Closed Mondays.

In 1980 Yvonne was recorded in a Mersea Lions 'Talking Magazine' , giving tips on indoor gardening and saying she had retired from running the garden centre at Lanhams, and "now has a new garden up The Lane *, keeping ducks and fowl."

* Presumably Lodge Lane and not 'The Lane' in West Mersea.

In 1989 Ronnie and Yvonne were recorded as living at 'Rosefield', Lodge Lane. Ronnie died in 1989 aged 79 years, and he and Yvonne are mentioned in a brass plaque in St Marys church (near the font).

Since the above initial research, several people and others have provided their recollections of Lanhams, and Yvonne and Ronnie Barbor:

Memories of Jan and Eric Coan
Lanhams was a garden centre run by Yvonne Barbor and her husband Ronnie. She was an organic gardener and Ronnie carved beautiful wooden birds.

They owned all the land and built a large bungalow further up from Lanhams, which they moved into, then they are thought to have sold Lanhams. The bungalow was subsequently pulled down and a large house was built further up on their land.

Memories of Mrs Chris Moore
In the 1980s, Yvonne used to have coach parties paying visits to her lovely garden at Lanhams. Many of these were W.I. groups, and Yvonne asked me if I could provide refreshments, which I did, at the Peldon Village Hall. There would generally be about 30 people per trip, for either morning coffees or afternoon teas. This continued for several years. When Yvonne and Ronnie retired they indeed had a bungalow built, and Archie Moore and the late Michael Coe did the roof. After Ronnie died, Yvonne moved to Kingsdon, Somerset, and she passed away there in March 2010.

Memories of Rosemary Wilson
We lived in Peldon for 43 years until we moved in 2014. I worked for Mrs Yvonne Barbor from 1971 to 1973 when she ran the garden centre, called Lanhams Enterprises. I was mainly doing housework for her (she was very particular!). I also typed lists of plants and price lists for her. There were two girls working in the greenhouses - Lynne Kearney and a girl called Jane from Tolleshunt D'Arcy. Besides them, there were two gardeners - David Coe, who lived in Church Road, I believe, and Frank Baldwin who lived with his wife in the gardener's cottage next to Lanhams. Lanhams was a white ship-boarded house.

Yvonne and Ronnie Barbor had four grown-up children (two daughters, two sons) who had all married and had their own homes by then. The younger boy lived in Canada but he came for a visit at one point whilst I was there. Yvonne's husband Ronnie was a Osteopath and spent Mondays to Thursdays in London at his practice. Mrs Barbor always referred to him as "the doctor". He came home on a Thursday evening and was around when I arrived for work on a Friday. He spent most of his weekend with the gardeners. Ornamental pheasants were a feature of the enterprise and I recall Dr Barbor conducting a post mortem on a pheasant which he found dead one day. He sometimes brought various medics together for a meeting at Lanhams, and at one meeting in summertime they had a skeleton set up in the garden. Yvonne jokingly suggested training a Clematis up it!

The house was surrounded by gardens, which were opened to the public occasionally. I cannot remember that the garden centre was ever a great success, but it ticked over quite nicely for a few years. When Yvonne and Ronnie decided to close the garden centre, they had a new house built just a little further up the lane, which they named Rosefield. Yvonne always said her two passions were pheasants and roses. Rosefield was on the site of the former cottage occupied by gardener Frank Baldwin and his wife, who retired to live in Peldon Crescent.

Incidentally, Yvonne Barbor was President of Peldon WI for a while. There was a brief attempt at another garden centre in Mersea Road, Peldon, during the latter part of the 1970s, by the Cresswell family. Also, "Tiny" Prior the Postmaster sold plants from his nursery. He ran the Post Office from a bungalow up a track (now gone), off the Lower Road and into the wilds of the Peldon 'triangle'.

Yvonne wrote a gardening column in the Parish News for a few years (when I was Editor). After Ronnie died, she left Peldon and went to live near the older daughter. She must have been getting on for 90 by then. She and Ronnie had married in 1935, as I remember having to polish a silver tray they had had as a wedding present, which had on it the date of their marriage. She told me they had several servants when they were newly married, including four live-in maids. She had to make do with me for three mornings a week!

Memories of Iain Grahame of Daws Hall, Lamarsh
I remember Ronnie and Yvonne Barbor very well, and I knew their four children too.

I first met Ronnie as one of his patients at 32 Wimpole Street, where he worked as an osteopath.  In those days I suffered periodically from a bad back, and Ronnie and his partner Dr Syriax were well known for the very successful spinal injections which they had developed for back sufferers.  The injection itself was quite painful, but it was always preceded by the same phrase - 'just a little prick'.  Every time I think about the Barbors, I think of these four little words!

It wasn't long before they both became very good friends.  We all shared a love of gardening and the Barbors also became good clients of mine, as at that time I kept and bred many ornamental waterfowl and pheasants, including a number that were endangered in the wild.  I also had a part-time job, working for Abercrombie & Kent, where I was in charge of, and led, their upmarket tented safaris, and the Barbors came with me on one of those.  I still have some delightful drawings of places that we visited, by Ronnie who was a talented amateur artist.

I last saw Yvonne shortly after she had moved, following Ronnie's death (from pancreatic cancer), to a charming house in Somerset.  Needless to say, she had already created a new garden.  Her only concern, she told me, was how she could find the time to fit in her pilates classes.  That was Yvonne - indomitable to the end.

Geoff Gonella
Peldon History Project

Grateful thanks go to Jan and Eric Coan, Mrs Chris Moore, Rosemary Wilson, and Iain Grahame for providing their detailed memories. Also many thanks go to Katrina Lewis for providing assistance regarding the contribution by Iain Grahame.

I can confirm that Yvonne lived at Farm Cottage, Kingsdon, Somerset, and that she had close family living in that village. It is smaller than Peldon, but has a lot of social activities for its size. So it seems that Yvonne had found a nice place to spend her final years.

Yvonne at her home at Kingsdon, Somerset on her 95th Birthday 24 October 2007. She died 10 March 2010. There was a nice article about her life in "The Kingsdon Chronicle" 31 March 2010 - see See

Listen to Yvonne on Lions Talking Magazine 25 from August 1980: LN002501_002

Sources of information other than the Memories
Mersea Island Museum (various) (various)

AuthorGeoff Gonella
SourceMersea Museum