ID: ML2021_011_078 / Ron Green

TitleMemory Lane - Life around the Fox
AbstractQuite often when I sit in The Fox having my Wednesday roast, my thoughts go back almost 200 years to when my Great Great Grandfather John Green would have been around there and what he would make of the area as it is now. The Tithe awards of 1839 list him as Occupier, with others, of Cottage and Yard field 412. This was just to the west of the Fox - probably it was the cottage next to the road which I don't remember being lived in and which was eventually demolished to make way for a new house.

John Green was on my mother's side of the family. He was born about 1809 at Langenhoe. On 11th October 1832 at West Mersea Parish Church, he married Sarah Surry who was born about 1814. They had children - Susanna born 3rd November 1838 who married William Pullen of Yew Tree House on 9th February 1861, David born about 1841, Sophia Ann born 22nd Dec 1845 who married William John Farthing on 30 January 1864, Isabella born about 1848, Robert Chinnery, my Great Grandfather, born 8th Feb 1851, who married Maria Radford on 8th Aug 1875. My Grandfather Roland Percy always known as 'Roly', was the second of their eight children.

John Green was an agricultural labourer and a ploughman working much of his life for my late wife Wendy's Great Great Grandfather Charles Cock, who entered him for an early ploughing match which he won, earning himself £1 - about a week's wages in those days. He also received a further prize for long service with the same master.
Sarah died in 1898 and John died in 1899.

In 1840 the area round the Fox was a small settlement - the pub and about 8 cottages. if you travelled towards East Mersea, there was only Mortimer's Farm before you reached Waldegraves Lane. Going towards West Mersea past The Cross, the first building was Brierley Hall (known as Leakey Hall at that time) or down Cross Lane there was Cross Barn. There were no buildings on Dawes Lane. 1868 and the Fountain Inn had been built, to the west of the Fox. It is now Alpine Cottage, as a new Fountain was opened about 1913 on Queens Corner. The 'new' Fountain was demolished in 1999.

Even by 1900, the housing had changed very little in the area around the Fox but at the pub there had been changes. The tall building next to the road had been built, and there was a dance hall in the area which is now the car park. The hall was well known as the location for the Ploughing Match prizegiving from the 1920s to 1948.

Hollingtons had a large clothing factory in Colchester. In 1909 they started an outpost for finishing work in an old cottage near the Fox. The Forewoman was Maria Chapman, Work Hands Emily Burgess, Gertrude Mole, Grace Cudmore, Beatrice Green.

For many years, the main entrance to the bar of the Fox was on the west side, and on the east side, where the main entrance is now, was a shop. The story continues. The pub changes over the years, but is still an important part of our lives.

Sarah Green 1814 - 1898

The Fox around 1920. Dance Hall on the left. Old King Coel Strong Ale.

Article printed in Mersea Life November 2021 page 78

AuthorRon Green
PublishedNovember 2021
SourceMersea Museum