The front of Games Farm, Lower Road, Peldon, pictured in the early 1960s
Early C15 small hall house. Timber framed, with red plain tile half hipped
roof. Two storeys. Two window range modern casements. Modern single storey
extension at east end, weatherboarded with red plain tile roof. Early C17,
timber framed extension to south with red plain tile roof. Originally 2 bay
open hall, with floored end bay. Most of original frame remains and is of high
quality workmanship. Internal features include screens doorways, C16 inserted
first floor, arch braced, cambered tie beam with cross quadrate crown post,
stop chamfered beams, and raised tie beam west end frame. C17 wing also has
exposed frame with heavy jowled storey posts.
Listing NGR: TL9879516278
As is the case with several of the farms in Peldon, the name of Games Farm refers back to a previous occupant, in this case, to the end of the eighteenth century. Without finding any deeds or earlier names for the house, the early history of who lived there or owned it extending back to the early 1400s remains shrouded in mystery.
However, its architecture, archaeology and status as a late medieval small hall house can reveal much about its past.
Games Farmhouse which was listed Grade II* in 1982, is sited on the south side of what is now called Lower Road, Peldon. At the time Games Farm was erected in the early 1400s the farmhouse now called Sampton Wick, to the west, would already have been standing.
Over the road from the farmhouse, Peldon Common
[ Colchester Heritage Explorer MCC9155 ]
and Games Common
[ Colchester Heritage Explorer MCC9154 ]
are located 120m and 330m to the northwest respectively, the latter appearing in a map revised in 1895
[ maps.nls.uk Ordnance Survey Sheet Essex XXXVI.SE ] but no longer in modern maps.
Built as an open hall house of two-bays, Games Farm was most likely built for a member of the gentry, whereas houses of three or four bays (as in the case of Home Farm, Peldon) were usually of lordship status.
The central open hall part of the house would have been the only heated space in the farmhouse, the largest room and a communal space. There were no chimneys and the fire would be set in a hearth in the middle of the hall. The smoke from the fire would have been drawn up into the rafters to escape where it could.
In the case of Games Farm, one of the two bays of the hall would have been open from floor to roof timbers. There would have been minimal, if any, fixed furniture. All the floors would have been beaten earth which would have been frequently renewed.
One bay of Games Farm's hall had a first floor and it is likely this would have been the private living and sleeping space for the family, probably accessed by a ladder, while the hall served as a dormitory for the servants as well as, at different times of the day, being used as a workspace and a dining room..
The central open truss of the hall's roof divided the space into two, marking the social division between the owner and his family, the Upper End, and their servants and employees, the Lower End.
Often superior architectural details and decoration would have been incorporated in the Upper End, visible to the owner, his family and guests when dining. These finer details of architecture were designed to show off the wealth of the owner. The Lower End was where the servants and employees dined, arranged in order of precedence at other tables along the side walls.
By the 16th century, older houses had started to be converted to meet rising expectations of comfort and convenience, chimneys were built and, with no need to have an open hall to the roof to allow the smoke out, first floors were put in. Games Farm had major additions in the 16th and 17th century as well as in modern times.
From an archaeological report [Colchester Archaeological Trust Report by Sarah Veasey June 2021] prior to recent building work at Games Farm, while little of interest was found in 2021, much earlier archaeological findings are listed, revealing the presence of the Romans in the village, possibly linked to salt-making.
Fragments of Roman pottery, kiln debris, metal-working debris, oyster shell and wood
[ Colchester Heritage Explorer MCC7343 ]
The pottery, oyster shells and wood were reported by Colchester Museum as being found in 1846.
The report also refers to local oral tradition telling stories of a Roman Quay on the site
[ Colchester Heritage Explorer MCC7344
from details recorded by A.A. Doorne],
not as far-fetched as might be supposed, because a creek did extend close to the farmhouse until the sea walls were built and the waters in the 1953 floods engulfed the fields to the south.
GAMES FARM in the 1960s
So who was Thomas Game whose name still persists in the name of Games Farmhouse? The only record we have in the parish registers is the baptism of Thomas and Anne Games' son, also Thomas, who was born on 16th April and baptised in Peldon Church on 29th May, 1785.
In the same year, 1785, Jane Game etched her name in the window of Brick House Farm, a farmhouse to the east of Games Farm owned at the time by the wealthy Bullock family. Could she have been Thomas's sister or a niece? Alongside her name is etched the name of Elizabeth Bullock; these etchings can still be seen today.
How long the Game family lived in Peldon is unknown but by 1787 Thomas Game quit the farm.
To be sold a freehold messuage, barn and convenient buildings and about 20 acres of arable land....in the occupation
of Thomas Game who quits the premises at Michaelmas IPSWICH JOURNAL 16.6.1787
In the will of a wealthy Peldon farmer, Benjamin Cooke, dated 1792 there is another reference to Thomas.
My will and desire is that Sarah Overall, wife of Samuel Overall should have ... the cash that is in Thomas Game's
hand at the old hyth [Old Heath] Colchester
and then in the National Archives we find the will of Thomas Game, a farmer of St Giles in Colchester who died in
1803. [National Archives: The Will of Thomas Game PROB 11/1402/349]
The will reveals his wife was Anne and they had four sons, Thomas, the eldest, Henry Norman, John and William.
Checking the register of baptisms for St Giles, I found Henry Norman was baptised in 1790, John, February 1792, Thomas, June 1792 and William 1795. The eagle-eyed may notice that Thomas and John were baptised within four months of each other and, in any case, wasn't Thomas baptised already in Peldon?
Given Thomas is named in the will as Thomas's eldest son I have concluded they baptised Thomas again in their church at St Giles at the age of seven, even though his baptism is listed in Peldon in 1785. The confusion continues for we find Thomas (Junior) farming in Hintlesham, Suffolk in the 1851 census, born in Peldon, but with an apparent date of birth of 1790!
All the evidence points to this being our Peldon family, albeit circumstantial.
Anne Norman and Thomas Game, the parents, were married at St Leonard's Church, Lexden on 5th September 1782, St
Leonard's being the bride's parish. Thomas's parish is given as Copford. Apart from maybe a few years in Peldon,
they raised their family in the St Giles parish in Colchester where Thomas farmed Place Farm, the Old Hythe,
according to a document of 1791 from the Sun Fire Office Insurance Company [London Metropolitan Archives MS
Both Thomas and Anne are recorded as being buried in the churchyard at St. Giles, Thomas in 1803 and Anne in 1834.
The next documentary evidence for the history of the farm is the tithe awards for Peldon which give a snapshot of Peldon between 1838 and 1840. Games Farm is listed as belonging to Sarah Senis with her tenant Joseph Cook about whom there is little conclusive biographical information.
Once we get into the nineteenth century, the censuses, taken every ten years from 1841, are invariably useful to trace people's names but they are not so helpful when it comes to house names. Even the roads within Peldon are named differently from census to census and most of them do not list Games Farm by name.
It is not until the 1891 census that 'Games Barn Cottages' is listed with Nathaniel Appleby's family living and farming there. The farmhouse is clearly split into two dwellings; next door, also in Games Barn Cottages, are Peldon-born John Talbot and Ada his wife, born in Abberton.
Talbot is a name that has persisted in the village within living memory and three of the Appleby girls were to marry three Talbot brothers while Mabel Appleby, who married Harry Augustus Ponder, was to see two of her husband's sisters marry her own brothers!
Nathaniel Appleby was born in 1839 in Langenhoe, where he married Rosina May in 1861. They were to bring up ten children all born in Langenhoe and eight of their children are to be found living with their parents in Games Barn Cottages in 1891.
From a Kelly's trade directory we find that Nathaniel was in Peldon, probably Games Farm, from at least
1886 and in 1888 he serves as Overseer of the Poor and Churchwarden in 1891, 1892 1898 - 1903 [E.R.O. D/P 287/8/3 Peldon Vestry Minutes]
In the 1901 census, Nathaniel, aged 61, his wife Rosina and their daughter Mabel are listed as living in Games Farm.
Nathaniel died in 1904,
(as a Churchwarden, his death is recorded in the Vestry Minutes)
and probate was handled by two other local farmers, William Benjamin Clarke and Thomas Barnard Pertwee. Nathaniel's address is given as Games Farm. His widow remained in the farmhouse and continued running the farm. She is recorded there in the 1911 census living with a seven year old grandson and a lodger from the Essex Constabulary, George W Ricker.
Only months later the Chelmsford Chronicle of 15th September advertised a
Live and Dead Stock auction for Mrs Appleby whose tenancy expires
The Appleby family had been tenants of Games Farm for over 25 years.
Rosina died in 1916 and both she and Nathaniel are buried in Peldon Churchyard.
Amongst those from Peldon who died in WW1 was 19 year old Arthur George Whiting. He died on 27th August 1917 and his address was given as Games Farm. This is borne out by the electoral roll for 1918.
In 1918, the farm seems again to be housing more than one family. Along with George's parents, George and Anna Whiting, are the Passfields, (Alfred Henry and Emma), and a third occupant, John Wright, whose abode is given as Grove Farm, Little Wigborough.
In this picture of the north west end of Games Farm the family of Anna Whiting are standing in front of a door which no longer exists, although the outline of the old doorway can still be seen today inside the downstairs bathroom. From left to right are Anna Whiting and daughters Rhoda, Ruth and Beatrice. Given that Ruth looks about ten years old it's likely the picture dates to circa 1924.
Anna's husband, George, died in 1922 and by the 1929 electoral register Anna Whiting, and her two unmarried
daughters Beatrice and Rhoda were living in Whitakers Cottages where Anna remained until her death in 1934.
Both Anna and George are buried in Peldon churchyard. [For more information on this family see
The Whiting Family of Peldon - Elaine Barker ]
Philip Conway who has been researching his family in Peldon has an envelope dated 1922 addressed to J J King at Games Farm which requires further investigation. Was he living in the other half of the farmhouse or did Anna move out of Games Farm upon her husband's death and Mr King move in?
By 1925 Frederick Fanstone and his second wife, Florence Matilda Fanstone, were living in 'Games Barn' and his name appears in subsequent Kelly's Trade directories in 1929, 1935 and 1937, the latter describing him as a 'dairy-man'. It would appear that Games Farm was no longer multiple occupancy.
Born in Hampshire, and living on independent means in the 1911 census, Fred Fanstone signed up as a private in the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal for his role in WW1. Sadly, he was widowed in 1916 and the following year married Florence Matilda McCrae who had been his and his wife's servant.
ATTACKED BY A BULL As Mr Fanstone of Game's Farm was about to send a bull to market, and was fetching it from a field, the animal attacked him, and threw him to the ground, causing injuries to both legs. Although he was able to rise and make an attempt to defend himself, the accident would have had much more serious results had he been alone. Mr Young, who was on the spot, pluckily kept the bull at bay, and a party of shooters nearby came to render aid. Mr Fanstone is being attended by Dr Fripp of Colchester who has ordered complete rest for a time Essex County Standard 7.12.1935
Both Fred and Florence were to stay in this area after at least 12 years living in Games Farm. Fred died in 1958 and Florence in 1971, their address listed as Ashley, Peldon Road, Abberton.
The 1939 register shows a widow, Kathleen O'Reilly (born in 1881) living on private means with her son, John F O'Reilly (born in 1914). John, working as a farmer and cattle breeder at Games Farm, was an early recruit to the Peldon Home Guard but does not appear in their stand-down photograph. Where and when the O'Reillys went next remains to be discovered but remarkably Kathleen lived to within weeks of her 100th birthday and died in 1981 in Croyden.
The next farmer to take on Games Farm, Jack Stockley, probably took over from the O'Reillys, arriving some time after his marriage in 1942.
Both Jack and his wife-to-be, Diana Elizabeth Hughes Le Fleming had been working in the Lexden area according to the 1939 register, Diana working with poultry and Jack living with his family and assisting his father who was a farmer.
When Alan Cudmore's family moved into Old Home just along the road from the farm circa 1946, the young teenager soon gravitated to Games Farm at weekends and school holidays to help out.
Games Farm then included Tanners Meadow, the lower seven acres and the two areas of pastureland immediately behind
the farmhouse coupled to the field to the east, Grove Field, Little Grove Field and Willow Field, the latter being
the site of the [WW2] landmine; I remember going to see the crater ... Working at the farm were Fred Griggs, the
horseman from Great Wigborough and Percy Christmas on a part time basis, the latter often having an arrangement for the supply of corn for his poultry.
When German prisoners of war occupied the hostel that had been built for members of the Women's Land Army, we had
German prisoners helping with the harvest ... I remember one was called Otmar Zimmerman who had been at Heidelberg University.
The farm stock was always pedigree and the Friesian herd was changed to Jerseys presumably to achieve a higher butter fat content. The Jersey bull whose name I remember as 'Fyfield Elaines Timashenko' was kept on the common anchored by a chain to a large block of concrete which had to be moved regularly to change the grazing area. I got butted to the ground one day but was unhurt.
The three Suffolk Punch mares, Lady Joan, Thorpe Morieux Belinda and Lady Linda, are recorded in the Suffolk Horse Society Stud book for 1949. ....
Two large white pigs had a sty in the farmyard and the jobs I was given were multifarious, such as cleaning leather in the stock room, mucking out loose boxes, getting tobacco from Mrs Prior at the Post Office, watching the hoppers on the roller mill producing crushed oats, traving and pitchforking sheaves onto the wagon.
The arrival of the tractor, the threshing drum and the elevator was a highlight of the year.
Jack Stockley and his wife were very keen riders and hunted regularly with the Essex and Suffolk fox hounds. There were two fine loose boxes in the field adjacent to the stack yard. Jack acquired a large hunter called Badger that went like the wind and was fearless at taking any gate or hedge....
It came as a great surprise when I learned the Stockleys were selling up and moving to the West Country, maybe
looking for more exciting hunting opportunities ...
[ from Alan Cudmore Remembers Games Farm in Peldon ]
Alan Cudmore remembers that the front door to Games Farm was rarely used but they used the door in the north west
end of the house as shown in the photograph above. The full text of Alan's memories of Games Farm is available on
Mersea Museum's website - see link above.
Diana and Jack did indeed move to Devon where they were to stay until their deaths in their eighties in 1989 and 1999 respectively.
In the 1950s Eric Coan, who still farms in Peldon, remembers the farmer at Games being Roger Carr and, as a teenager, Eric had his first experience of farming by helping Roger milking cows amongst other jobs.
At some time in the 1950s another owner of Games Farm was farmer, Bill Bruton, who lived and farmed at the Hyde in Great Wigborough.
When Bill Bruton sold up the farmhouse in 1961 he kept the land which was later bought up by other local farmers.
In 1961, Games Farm became home to a retired military couple, Major General Norman Vyvyan Watson (1898 - 1974) and his wife Vera (c1919 - 1979). Their family remembers that Percy Christmas from Purlu, Lower Road, Jack Stockley's part-time employee, was still gardening at Games Farm when the Watsons arrived in 1961 and continued to do so.
The house has remained in the Watson family for over sixty years to the present day.
Gravestone for Major General Watson and Vera his wife in Peldon churchyard
This is only a partial history of this listed house which has stood for over 600 years. Should an early name for the farm come to light or the deeds be found then it may be possible to fill in some of the gaps!
Peldon History Project
An Introduction to Timber-framed Construction Dr Annabelle Hughes
Discovering Timber-Framed Buildings Richard Harris
English Farmhouses R J Brown
Home Farm, Peldon: Heritage Asset Assessment Leigh Alston
The Whiting Family of Peldon
Alan Cudmore Remembers Games Farm in Peldon
Another view of Games Farm in the 1960s
Discovering the former names of Peldon's Farms has proved an enormous challenge because many documents, especially wills, do not name properties and if they do, the names have not survived to modern times.
I had long been suspecting Games Farm's name, prior to Thomas Game's family living there, was Copelands but only recently has evidence appeared that seems to back this up.
Amongst a bundle of deeds of farms at the Essex Records Office [D/Del T226] are the
Particulars and Conditions of Sale of Several Valuable Estates at Peldon and Wigborough the late property of Mr Samuel Bullock deceased which will be sold by auction by James Thorn at the White Hart Inn Colchester on Saturday the 1st day of July 1815 at 4 o'clock in the afternoon in 8 Lots
Three of the eight lots are named and one of those is Lot 2.
LOT 2 A farm called Copelands situate in Peldon aforesaid and containing 21 acres and 17 perches thereabouts
adjoining Lot 1 with a double Tenement thereon .... Barn and Stable in very good repair. This farm is all freehold except 3 acres which are holden of the Manor of Coppid Hall and subject to a fine at the will of the Lord at a quit Rent of 2s per annum and the Land Tax is redeemed.
Essex Records Office has another bundle of deeds [D/Del T226] one of which, pertaining to the farm called Copelands, recites a list of the previous occupants.
All that Messuage or Tenement with the Houses Outhouses Barns Stables Yards Orchards
& 30 acres of Land or pasture more or less thereto belong[ing]
called Copelands or by whatever name or names they
are or have been called or known with all and
every the Appur[tenance]s situate & being in Peldon af[ore]s[ai]d
formerly in the Occupation of John Fokes since of
Richard Norfolk afterwards of Francis Canning Esq
and John White and then of Thomas Game and
then of Sam[ue]l Bullock his undertenants and Assigns
It was the name of Thomas Game listed above and the fact that part of the farm was copyhold of Coppid Hall [Copt Hall], Little Wigborough, which supported my belief that Copelands could indeed be Games Farm.
Going even further back, the same bundle of documents included an Abstract of Title taking us back to the owner of Copelands in the seventeenth century, the earliest so far found.
This abstract of title begins in 1707 when Sarah Cooke, a spinster, is making an agreement with her married sister, Susan Wensloe (also spelt Wenslow) and her husband, Charles Wensloe, a surgeon. The agreement is that Sarah, as per their father's will, is to have sole possession of Copelands in Peldon,
Reciting that Phineas Cooke then late of West Mersea
Gent dec[eas]ed father of the s[ai]d Sarah and Susan was in his lifetime & at
the time of his death seized in his demesne in fee of divers freehold
& Copyh[ol]d Mess[uag]es Lands Tenem[en]ts & Heredit[ament]s situate in the several
parishes of West Mersea & Chich St Osyth & East Mersea Great
Wigb[o]ro[ugh] & Peldon in s[ai]d County and that s[ai]d Sarah Cooke and
Ch[arl]es Wenslow & Susan his wife agreed that all the freehold
Mess[uag]e or Tenement with the Lands & Appurt[enance]s thereto belonging
called Copelands or o[ther]wise with the Appurt[enance]s sit[uate] in peldon
[afore]sai]d from thenceforth remain to the only use of s[ai]d Sarah Cooke
her H[ei]rs & Assigns for ever
The property Sarah is inheriting is described
All that Mess[uag]e or Tenement with the Houses
Outhouses Barns Stables Yards Orchards and
30 acres of Land or pasture more or less thereunto
belonging commonly called Copelands or by wh[i]ch
other Name or Names the same are or have been
called or known with all & every the Appurt[enance]s situate
& being in peldon af[oresai]d & then in the occupation of
John Foakes or his Assigns
Phineas also bequeaths another property in Peldon called Slyes as well as a property in Boxted.
By the agreement between the sisters, Sarah Cooke retains a share in the properties in East and West Mersea, St Osyth, and Wigborough, but her sister inherits the bulk of the other properties.
The sisters' father, Phineas Cooke, seems to have had a chequered history, and references to him have been found by the Mersea Archive Research Group in documents much earlier than his will of 1686.
In this will, as we have seen, he bequeathed properties, in West and East Mersea, Boxted, St. Osyth.
Wigborough, including oyster layings in Salcott Creek and two properties in Peldon.
From other documents we can fill in some biographical detail. He served as an Overseer of the Poor in West Mersea in 1652 and 1653 where he was challenged over some 'missing' parish money destined for the care of the poor.
Described as a mariner, in 1662 he took out a lease on a fishery of oysters and mussels.
The hearth tax records reveal he had a property with five hearths in 1662 and two properties with 4 and 5 hearths respectively, in 1672 in West Mersea; these are substantial properties which indicate his wealth.
There is also a 'note of irregularities' in 1679 where, he had two very young children staying with him whose mother seems to have committed suicide. What relation he had to these boys, Sandford and Phillip Cleare, is never spelt out but he did leave part of his estate to the two boys. As for the two girls, Sarah and Susan, they and their mother, Elizabeth, have the surname 'Battey' in Phineas's will, yet in the Peldon document Sarah is referred to as Cooke. Was Elizabeth Battey, a widow, who lived in West Mersea, in fact his wife, but if so, how is her surname explained and the fact she wasn't living with him?
Following Phineas's death circa 1686, both Cleare boys challenged his executor through the courts in 1694 who, it appeared, was not following the instructions in Phineas's will. Was this why the two sisters felt it necessary to enter into a covenant between themselves?
Sarah Cooke died in 1709 and in her will she bequeathed
All her Mess[uag]es lands Tenements & premises in
s[ai]d Sarah Cooke died (leaving s[ai]d Susan Wenslow her
survivor) without altering her s[ai]d will which was duly
executed & attested
On 12th Oct 1713 an Indenture was made between Charles and Susan Wenslow and Nathaniel Gilson, a Colchester Baker. For a payment of £150 he was to buy
All the premis[es] hereinbefore last described
On 29 Sept 1714 Nathaniel Gilson appears to sell to Charles Richardson of Colchester, an Apothecary for £159 who was to have the property for the remainder of Gilson's 1,000 lease but it seems more likely this was a mortgage for by the time Gilson dies in 1732 his will reads
I order will and direct that my farm lands and premises lying in Peldon...in the Occupation of Richard Norfolk be sold.
Presumably Gilson's executors, his brother, Daniel Gilson, his mother-in-law, Mrs Quilter, and the supervisor of his will, brother Benjamin Gilson, followed Gilson's wishes and sold Copelands. However, no record of this can be found.
We next find an Indentures of Lease and Release dated 10th and 11th January 1766 selling various properties to a miller, Sadler Whitmore of Wiston in Suffolk including Copelands (and incidentally a property called Doggets in Peldon along with various crofts). The vendor is another miller, Thomas Green of Wormingford. Did he buy Copelands from Gilson's executors some 30 plus years before?
As before, these documents inform us the premises had been in the occupation of John Folkes and now of
Richard Norfolk and the area being sold is 30 acres of land or pasture [ERO D/DU 86/60 61]
The property is both freehold and copyhold of the Manor of Coppid Hall, Little Wigborough which would also confirm that the farm was in the west of Peldon where Games Farm is situated .
Another document confirms that Sadler Whitmore is still the owner of Copelands on 25th January 1777.
When he sold to Samuel Bullock is not known.
Bullock seems to have acquired most of the properties along what is now Lower Road, Peldon, extending into Little Wigborough as far as Kestons Farm (then known as Bumsteads and Herston's) and as we have seen he died in 1814 in possession of Copelands and seven other properties.
Who bought Copelands at auction in 1815 remains to be discovered and although we know some of the tenants in the intervening 100 years or so I have not found the owners.
As for the tenants of Copelands mentioned in all the deeds, we have John Pafflyn (pre 1689) through to Samuel Bullock, possibly 100 years later. The list in sequence is as follows.
Francis Canning Esq.
In Phineas Cooke's will of 1686, Copelands is described as now in the occupac[i]on of John Pafflyn.
The next tenant, John Foakes, is the Peldon yeoman whose 1719 will is held by the Essex records Office; he is believed to have died in 1725.
Richard Norfolk died in 1768 and was buried in Peldon Churchyard; he was possibly the same man who married Susan Cadman at Great Wigborough Church in 1725.
The next tenant was Francis Canning Esq. who had the Manor of Badcocks (in Abberton), and freehold lands in
Layer de la Haye which rendered him eligible to vote in elections. We have him recorded as voting for Essex M.P.s in 1763 and 1774. He would not have lived in Peldon but, no doubt, had the land farmed on his behalf. He died in 1783 and was buried in a family vault in the Audley Chapel, Berechurch, Colchester.
John White is the next tenant of Copelands and is most likely to be the John White connected with the
house, Sleyes, in Peldon near the church.
[ See The History of Sleyes ]. Sleyes had been run as a butcher's and was transferred to John White (by then a widower) by his step-son, Edward Ransom, in 1772. Being a property owner, White was entitled to vote and the poll books of 1763 and 1774 record he voted in those elections for Essex M.P.s. White died in 1780.
Thomas Game was the next tenant - we know he had his son baptised in Peldon in 1785 - followed by Samuel Bullock who, at some point, must have bought the property, later sold at auction following his death in 1814.
This research suggests to me that Copelands was indeed an earlier name for Games Farm. Since my conclusions are based on circumstantial evidence, it will for the time being remain in an Appendix and I leave it to you the reader to make up your own mind!