/ Alan Cudmore: Peldon Reminiscences

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TitleAlan Cudmore: Peldon Reminiscences
AbstractI have been in touch with Alan Cudmore, now in his eighties and living in Hertfordshire, whose family lived in Peldon, probably from 1843 right through to 1970. I had come across Alan's family when researching, Honeysuckle Cottage on Lower Road then called Olde Home; his grandad, Joshua, bought the cottage in 1892.

In 1843, Alan's great grandparents married in Peldon Church, Benjamin Cudmore from Beaumont and Ann née Whittaker from Tolleshunt D'Arcy, and so began their family's settling in the village for over 125 years.

Alan was a boy during WW2 and with his father, mother and sister moved into the cottage in around 1946, although visits to his grandparents and the chapel were frequent before then.

As a teenage boy, Alan would explore the fields and sea walls, run errands, going up the lane opposite the cottage to get tomatoes from the nursery, to Clem Hyam's shop (now the Olde House) and Dansies Stores described by Alan as the 'Village Selfridge's'! He would also help the farmer, Jack Stockley, at Games Farm at the weekends. His family were very involved with the Methodist Chapel on Lower Road; his father's account of the history of the chapel is now available to read on Mersea Museum website.

The lane opposite Olde Home, which once led to the Post Office and nursery where the Osbornes grew tomatoes.

The Cudmores lived next door to the village blacksmith, William Greenleaf, whose family, including his father-in-law and brother-in-law, Stephen and George Talbot, lived in Newholme.

Stephen Talbot, the 'pater familias' was still alive and a lovely man. The walls in the chapel below the windows were finished in matchboarding with a brown woodstain. Stephen always sat in the family pew adjacent to the wall so that he rested his silver head of hair against the wooden lining to the wall. Over the years the regularity of the position and the heat from his head left a light mark on the stain. A wonderful testimony to many years of worship.

Alan remembers that the farmyard at Home Farm extended both sides of the road and if travelling from the village centre to The Rose you seemed to go right through the farmyard, road and farmyard almost indistinguishable.

Then there were the war-time memories such as the landmine being dropped in Willow Field at the back of Games Farm in WW2 only a stone's throw from where the Zeppelin landed in WW1.

My grandmother who was extremely deaf felt the mighty tremor through the shaking bed.

And of course this inquisitive teenager just had to go and look at the massive crater it left! He also remembers the dugout on Peldon Common (where now there is a patch of brambles in a dip).

... during the war opposite the forge on the Common [there was] a dugout / gun entrenchment which with passage of time has probably disappeared. Army manoeuvres in the village were not unknown with vehicles etc camouflaged and parked up at various points even on the manorial waste in front of your property.[ie on the South side of Lower Road]

The Forge and Forge Cottage with the traces of the old WW2 dugout opposite on Peldon Common,
now a patch of brambles in a hollow.

During this war-time period Alan's grandmother died and the cottage was bequeathed to her son, Benjamin, Alan's father.

When my grandmother Cudmore died in 1944 (her maiden name was Allen hence my Christian name) my father kept the cottage as it was and we went there at the week-end also during the holidays ... after some updating we moved there permanently when I was 13. It was one of the best things that happened to me and I rejoice that I saw at first-hand agricultural husbandry before its total mechanisation.

It was my job to make the name board that hung from the cottage's front gutter with chains. Early postcards establish it was sufficient to put the recipient's name followed by Near The Common, Peldon!

My grandfather Joshua did in a small way 'farm' having, I believe, occupation of land across the road and also a field on the road to the Peldon Rose on the Western side just beyond what I recall as Rose Cottage ... at Harvest time the Fairhead daughters at Brick House were heard singing

Come ye thankful people come
aise the song of Harvest home
All is safely gathered in
All except Jos Cudmore's beans.

From the deeds to Grangewood, I discovered Joshua bought part of a field called 'Common Field' (adjacent to Peldon Common) in 1897 from Hannah Page. Hannah Page was a landowner who had sold land fronting Lower Road for the building of the Methodist Chapel in 1893. Grangewood was built when the derelict bungalow, Hilldene, was demolished in 1980, (previously occupied by Ernest and Angelina Christmas). Joshua clearly farmed this land until selling it in 1930. He was, incidentally, Peldon's 'agent' for the Ancient Order of Foresters' branch in Mersea having himself joined as a teenager.

His son, Benjamin, trained as a schoolteacher at the Westminster Methodist teacher training college and was to be a devout Methodist all his life being a stalwart of Peldon Chapel.

... unlike our neighbour William Greenleaf, the village blacksmith, and senior steward at Peldon Chapel, he was not registered as a local preacher on the Circuit Plan but listed as an Exhorter one might say 'stop gap'. At his funeral in 1968 where Anglican priest and Methodist minister officiated it was said his knowledge of The Bible was encyclopaedic.

... The Advowson which gives the right for the patron to present the benefice, 'the living', to a particular priest was in the hands of the Church Society Trust which at this time would ensure that Peldon priests were evangelical 'low' churchmen and this is borne out by the excellent relations now recorded as existed between church and chapel. The word 'ecumenical' had yet to come into use! Whilst my father as a member of the Methodist Church supported the chapel loyally with its afternoon and evening services he was equally a regular worshipper on a Sunday morning at the parish church for Matins and revered the liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer of 1662 and read the appointed Old Testament lesson following the psalm .

... My father's musical interest started with piano lessons, I believe, at Yew Tree House opposite the church at Mersea and he played at Gt Wigborough Church, and occasionally at Peldon Church but shared the playing of the American organ at the chapel with Mrs Dansie and Leslie Mallett.

In those days, prior to the building of Newpots Close, the football field extended from opposite The Plough to the boundary with Olde Home. On the other side

... the boundary between us and Newholme was a variety of species elm, hawthorn and privet; that on the football field side was largely the Duke of Argyll's tea plant, a decorative shrub but not very stock proof. Further along, the boundary with the farmer's field was reinforced with hawthorn and quite spiteful to keep in check. The field had at one stage (this pre-to the Stockleys coming to Games Farm), had elaborate pens for the breeding of mink but I think this was a short-lived experiment.

At the bottom of the cottage garden there was quite a deep pond that had been a source of water before the mains tap arrived just inside the front gate - carting buckets from the pump in front of The Plough was solely for drinking purposes and 3 large corrugated iron water butts collected the rain off the roof. This pond when not covered with duckweed would in the evening sunlight provide views of smooth and palmate newts. Sadly when a cess pit had to be dug for modern drainage the spoil filled the pond just leaving an open ditch to take the rainwater down towards Newpots Lane.

Alan tells me that his grandfather Joshua had two pear trees he'd grafted, a Johnny Mount, or Little Dick, (a heritage pear known around the Colchester area pre-1900) and a Pitmaston Duchess. [See Appendix 1] At Alan's prompting a Pitmaston Duchess has been planted in community orchards at Fordham, established on land held on long lease from the Woodland Trust.

David Baker, a relative of the Harveys who had Ives Farm in Peldon, was the pioneer in establishing this collection of rare Essex apples and other fruits with the assistance of Andrew Tann, the fruit grower of Crepes Farm, Aldham.

Alan went into the army in 1954 to do National Service and he acknowledges that really was the beginning of my severance from Peldon.

Elaine Barker
Peldon History project

Thanks to Alan Cudmore

Appendix 1 A plan of Olde House, its grounds and surroundings circa 1950s

Read More
Honeysuckle Cottage, Peldon - The History of a House
Recollections of the Village Blacksmith
Methodism in Peldon by Ben Cudmore

SourceMersea Museum
IDPH01_PCM
Related Images:
 The lane opposite Olde Home, Lower Road, Peldon, which once led to the Post Office and nursery where the Osbornes grew tomatoes.  PH01_PCM_001
ImageID:   PH01_PCM_001
Title: The lane opposite Olde Home, Lower Road, Peldon, which once led to the Post Office and nursery where the Osbornes grew tomatoes.
Date:18 November 2020
Source:Peldon History Project / Elaine Barker
 The Forge and Forge Cottage, Peldon, with the traces of the old WW2 dugout opposite on Peldon Common, now a patch of brambles in a hollow.  PH01_PCM_003
ImageID:   PH01_PCM_003
Title: The Forge and Forge Cottage, Peldon, with the traces of the old WW2 dugout opposite on Peldon Common, now a patch of brambles in a hollow.
Date:18 November 2020
Source:Peldon History Project / Elaine Barker