|WEST MERSEA will have the most unusual village green in Essex if a move by retired general practitioner Dr Alec Grant to register a 400-yard stretch of its waterfront as a public open space is successful.
Dr Grant, a past secretary of the Mersea Island Society, has carried out the registration under the Commons Registration Act of 1965 as a private individual. But Major A. D. Mansfield, the society chairman, has confirmed that his society "is proud to support his public spirited action."
The land which Dr Grant wants as a village green is St Peter's Well Meadow, between Coast Road and the fisherman's hard. It comprises marshland, saltings and a stretch of shingle beach. But objections are being lodged by West Mersea UDC and Mersea Shipwrights William Wyatt Ltd., both of whom claim ownership of part of the land.
This means that there is likely to be a legal wrangle in the hope of sorting out the rival claims. The matter will probably end in a public enquiry if private negotiations fail to find a solution. No final decision can be taken anyway until September next year - the earliest date when a decision can be given.
Dr Grant, who lives at Coast Cottage, Coast Road, West Mersea, said this week that he wants the disputed meadowland to become a village green, preserved for the enjoyment of the people of West Mersea, because it is the last remaining part of the local coastline to remain in its original state of its natural beauty.
"It contains within its boundaries," said Dr Grant, "St Peter's Well, which used to supply the village of West Mersea with drinking water, and no doubt was the reason for the settlement of the original village. It also supports the fisherman's hard, used from time immemorial and still functioning."
Dr Grant says he wants to save the meadow if possible from any threat of development, and that he wants to restore the ancient well. At present the well is overgrown with nettles and brambles and the woodwork is dilapidated.
The doctor's suggested cure is the laying of paving stones and provision of a proper approach to the well, with a seat for people to relax on. He would also like to see the whole area tidied up and footpaths made.
"The meadow and trees," declares Dr Grant, "provide a playground for children, a walking place, and a viewpoint for the magnificent view over the estuary for elderly people. Also, the shingle beach provides a bathing place at high tide and the meadow in the past has been used as a football and cricket ground."
Some of his "village green" land is waterlogged, but most of it is walkable. And it has remained virtually untouched throughout history.
Article from Essex County Standard, date not known by probably 1969, transcribed by Pauline Winch
Mistral Magazine 1985