Alfred and Sarah Mason of Hill House, Peldon, (now known as Malting Cottage).
Alfred Allen Mason was born in Chelmondiston, Suffolk in 1863, the son of a farmer. As an agricultural worker he moved his family around Suffolk moving over the county border into Langham, Essex by the 1911 census. His wife was Sarah Ellen Mason born in Baylham Suffolk and together they had four boys, Charles, Stanley, Wilfred and Gerald and three girls, Margaret, Dora and Winifred.
Some time between the 1911 census and 1917 they moved the family from Langham into Kingsland Road, West Mersea possibly via Stowmarket. In 1917 they moved to Hill House, Malting Road, Peldon, where Alfred and his wife were to live for the rest of their lives. Hill House is now known as Malting Cottage and it was famously severely damaged in the 1884 earthquake.
Hill House, now Malting Cottage showing the damage caused by the 1884 earthquake
During WW1 the Masons' son Stanley died on the Somme. At the time of his death in 1916, his address was given as Kingsland Road, West Mersea and the year after, in 1917, his parents moved to Peldon. By the time Stanley's probate came through his parents' address was given as Hill House Peldon. Two other sons were to fight in WW1 but they returned home to Peldon safely, Wilfred Wilson Mason, who served during the war as a Private in the 1st Essex and his brother Charles A Mason (also a Private in the 1st Essex).
Stanley's name appears on the West Mersea War Memorial outside the parish church and is also one of the 51 men
commemorated by the tribute placed in the saltings on The Strood, West Mersea on 9th November 2018 for the
100th anniversary of WW1.
Fifty one silhouettes of servicemen lost in the Great War were erected in November 2018 in the saltings by The Strood, West Mersea. Stanley Mason is one of the soldiers commemorated. Photo: Karen Springett
Born in 1894, Stanley was the second son of his parents, Alfred Allen and Sarah Ellen. He enlisted at Colchester and joined the 2nd/8th (Cyclist) battalion of the Essex Regiment. He was sent to France and during the early autumn of 1916 was attached to the 7th Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment.
He died in 1916 during the Battle of the Somme, which raged from 1st July until it petered out in the mud of November. According to the British official history of the battle, total Allied casualties amounted to almost 630,000 and German around 660,000. British casualties reported by the Adjutant General were 419,654 of whom some 5% were missing at roll call but may have subsequently reported.
On the 2nd September 1916 the Battalion was in action around Delville Wood on the Somme. The following is an extract from the Battalion War diary :-
"The Battalion relieved the 9th Battalion Royal Sussex and the 2nd Battalion Leinsters in the front line. C company returned to Savoy Trench. One Lewis Gun team was knocked out on the way up. No other casualties during relief. D Company accounted for 2 Germans on left of Tea Lane. Night quiet except for our own artillery that constantly fired short."
As no other casualties were recorded, it is assumed that Stanley Mason was one of the Lewis Gun team. His body was never recovered. He is commemorated at the Thiepval Memorial on the Somme in France. He was awarded both the War Medal and the Victory Medal.
One of the Masons' daughters, Margaret, (1897 - 1985), left the family home in Peldon to go into service on Mersea Island . Later, her son, Ken, wrote
We were told our mother came to Mersea transported from Peldon by pony and cart to go into service at a house in Kingsland Road, and later to look after the house belonging to Doctor Jean Hudson
Margaret subsequently was to marry into the Hewes family of West Mersea. She married Alfred Lewes Hewes in the Lexden registration district in December 1921. Alfred was born in West Mersea in 1887 and was one of 8 boys and 6 girls - he died aged just 40 in 1927. The address on his probate was Elm Dene, City Road, West Mersea.
They had two sons, Ken and Dennis Hewes and it is thanks to Ken's memoirs and photograph albums kept by his two daughters that we have many of the family photographs and stories.
As Ken recalled
And just across the water when the tide allowed you could visit Peldon and your Grandparents' house. Here we have the Mason family outside Hill House. Yes, I was a tenant there for a few months having just lost my father.
Above: Winnie and Dora standing outside Hill House with their father
Two of mother's sisters, Winnie, who married Mr Hipson and Dora who was married to Mr Cowell. They moved to Buckhurst Hill so saw very little of them.
Ken was about five years old when his father died. He continued
Our father, who my brother and I don't remember, died very young and I was sent to stay with my Grandparents to enable our mother to care for my young brother. Yea, I remember it well - about 8 months. Ten aniseed balls for a penny at the corner shop. The toilet a container in the shed at the bottom of the garden; and collecting eggs from hedges in the field. And this was my holiday camp,
Hill House, Malting Road, Peldon ... No corner shop now, more houses.
This is the first photo I have of my mother with Den and myself. It was of course several years after before I realised why she was alone and for us to help her all we could.
The boys' father, Alfred Hewes, was born into a well-known and large Mersea family, most of the men making their living 'on the water'. Alfred's father was Sidney Hewes (1846 -1911) and his mother Peldon-born Sarah Ann Rudlin (1849 - 1921). Cousins included several Mersea 'characters' Snowball (Norman), Joe, and Pinky Hewes.
By the 1939 register, Alfred Hewes has died and Margaret remarried, Herbert Richard Wyatt (1902 - 1980) They married in June 1936 in the Lexden registration district. Ken wrote
She got herself a new man when I was 14 to 15 much against my wishes, age-related of course - strangers telling me what to do but he turned out OK - was grateful. He was Herbert Wyatt who used to live in City Road.
In 1939 Margaret and Herbert are living in Elm Dene, he's described as a general labourer and she as a wife, always given as 'Unpaid domestic duties' in this register. There are two blacked out entries following their names which is presumably their children, Ken and Dennis, (if people on the register could still be living their details cannot be made public).
In 1940 Alfred Allen Mason (1863 - 1940), Margaret's father, died and had his funeral service in Peldon Church.
DEATH OF MR A A MASON The village has lost a highly respected inhabitant in the person of Mr Alfred Allen Mason, who passed away at his residence, Hill House, on Friday September 13 at the age of 76 years. Although he had been in failing health for some time, the end came somewhat suddenly and he will be greatly missed by friends with whom he had taken his daily walk. The deceased was a native of Chelmondiston, Suffolk, and the youngest son of the late Mr Benjamin Mason. He followed the occupation of a farmer in Copdock, and upon retirement went to live at Stowmarket until the year 1917, when he settled at Peldon. It was in the previous year that he suffered the loss of his son Stanley, who was killed in action in France. He leaves a widow, three sons and three daughters. The funeral took place on Tuesday at the Parish Church; the Rev J R Wilson B.A. officiating.
Essex County Standard 21.9.1940
In 1944 his wife, Sarah Ellen, died. (1872 - 1944). Subsequently two of their sons were buried in Peldon Churchyard, Wilfred Wilson who died in 1948 and Charles A Mason who died in 1966.
DEATH OF MRS MASON - The village has lost a much-respected inhabitant in the person of Mrs Sarah Ellen Mason of Hill House, who passed away at the residence of her daughter, Mrs Wyatt of Elmdene, West Mersea on September 18 aged 72 years. The deceased was a native of Baylham in Suffolk, daughter of Mr and Mrs Baker of Baylham Mill and the widow of Mr Alfred Allen Mason who died in 1940. A busy life had been spent in bringing up a family of three daughters, and four sons one of whom, Stanley, was killed in action during the last war whilst fighting in France in 1916, just a year before his parents settled in Peldon. Mrs Mason enjoyed a fair measure of health until last autumn, when she entered the London Hospital for treatment and made only a partial recovery; her illness was borne throughout with great fortitude. The funeral took place at Peldon Parish Church on Sept 21, the rector, Rev J R Wilson officiating.
Essex County Standard 29.9.1944
It is likely around this time their son Gerald, (who had special needs) and remained at home with his parents moved in with Margaret and Herbert to be looked after by his sister.
Granddaughter, Carolyn, remembers Margaret loved her home and garden on Mersea and rarely left the island.
Margaret never mentioned her brother Stanley who died in WW1 but it was important to her to always wear a poppy for Remembrance.
Margaret's second husband, Herbert Wyatt, died in 1980 and the address at the time of probate was 11, High St North, West Mersea.
Margaret died July 1985 at the age of 88
It was not to be until the 1990s that Ken Hewes' daughter, Carolyn, and her husband, Chris, moved to Peldon where Carolyn's great grandparents had first made their home in Hill House some 80 years before.
Frederick Benjamin Mason visiting his family at Hill House in 1937
Peldon History Project
Not Just A Name by Roger Bullen
The Hewes Family
The Roll of Honour on Mersea Strood November 2018 Stanley Mason's name is eleventh on the list
Stanley Mason's entry on the index for the Thiepval Memorial