The Martins of Moor Farm

The Martins of Moor Farm

Moor Farm is the white weather-boarded farmhouse on the right of the main road travelling from Mersea to Colchester a few hundred yards on from The Peldon Rose. It is a listed building and on the British Listed Buildings website it is described as a seventeenth century house, timber framed and weather-boarded, with red plain tile roof. It has two storeys and three window range double-hung vertical sliding sashes glazed in the margins. There are two red brick chimney stacks and a lean-to extension at the rear with a grey slate roof. A picture from around 1924 shows it had a pond well-stocked with Indian Runner ducks but that was filled in and is no longer there.

Over a period of 400 years, since 1613, the farm has paid a tithe of £3 a year to the Peldon church according to an ancient bequest known as Comyn's Charity. The money was originally to be distributed among parishioners but, presumably, as the value of the £3 diminished, from early in the nineteenth century it was used to purchase bread for every household in the parish. According to the bequest, the same amount is collected from Moor Farm by West Mersea parish. The money is no longer used to purchase bread; in Peldon's case it goes with the harvest festival donations to the Night Shelter and West Mersea's to the Guardian Angels. However, bread was still purchased and distributed in Peldon within living memory and the current owner of Moor Farm, Russell Martin, remembers the local parishioners being very eager to snap up the gift!

The farm suffered damage during the earthquake of 1884.

Pete Tye Hall (Langenhoe) and Moor Farm, both to the East of the village, were damaged, the latter considerably. In this last place, Mr Symons reports that 'a piano standing on the SE side of a wall running SSW to NNE remained steady at its NNE end but was moved 7 inches from the wall at the SSW end. A table-lamp fell towards ESE, and a small clock was thrown from the mantelpiece a distance of about 5 feet' The Report on the East Anglian Earthquake by Raphael Meldola

The Martins

Three generations of The Martins have lived in Moor Farm spanning nearly 100 years and Russell Martin is the current owner with his son, a fourth generation of Martins, helping him in renovating the farmhouse.

The first connection with this area was Russell's Suffolk-born great grandfather, Arthur Martin, who moved his family to West Mersea in the 1890s. He was born in 1857 and lived in Great Bealings and the Ipswich area. His father and grandfather were both Suffolk farm labourers. Arthur apprenticed as a carpenter and became a wheelwright. In 1875, he married his first wife, Ann Eliza Brunning, born in Ipswich around 1852 and mother of Edward Arthur Martin, Russell's grandfather. There were seven boys and 3 girls.

They moved to Mersea, according to the family story, around 1890. The census shows them still in Suffolk in 1891 but it is likely they were in West Mersea shortly after that and Arthur set up a workshop and wheelwright's business.

In 1901 Arthur is listed as a lodger and coachmaker in Stratford St Mary aged 44 while his family, wife Annie, and four of their children, sons Horace and Alfred, both carpenters, Frederic and daughter Harriet are living near Hill House in West Mersea.

Edith Smith's Diary (Mersea Museum) notes that Arthur Martin moved into Berwick House on 29th September 1904 and on 30th October 1904 first coffin made by A Martin at Berwick House. Arthur Martin and M Thorp began work at both blacksmiths shops in East Mersea in January 1905. In the diary, Edith Smith also reported Annie's death at the house on 8th January 1909. The house still stands on Dawes Lane now renamed Bewick House. Edith's diary notes that Arthur married Lena Cook, in the May of that year at Colchester Register Office.

Berwick House can be seen under construction in this view down Dawes Lane. The carriage to Colchester is turning off East Road. c1904

Annie's children were to subsequently put up a headstone as a memorial to her in the Barfield Road cemetery.

Annie's widower, Arthur, appears in the West Mersea census in 1911 aged 52 living with a sister-in-law in Carter Villa, near Brick House. His occupation is given as a wheelwright. Was he a widower for a second time?

In 1911, son Horace is living with his brother Joseph, a carpenter, in Berwick House, West Mersea. Horace is described as a builder and an employer. His builder's yard was where Fred's DIY store is situated now on Kingsland Road (2020) and he owned the lorry that was used by the local volunteer firemen when it wasn't being used for his business! In the Mersea Official Guide of 1929 he advertises himself as a builder, contractor, and house and estate agent. By the 1939 register Horace is living at Hillcroft and listed as a Master Builder while brother Alf, who worked with him, is living in Les Hirondelles and described as a builder. Russell Martin relates that, in the course of his own work as a valuer, he came across a manhole cover at a property in Seaview Avenue bearing his great uncles' names, A and H Martin Builders.

In this picture from the 1930s, the nearest advertising hoarding asks

MERSEA ISLAND
DID YOU CALL ON
HORACE MARTIN LTD
KINGSLAND ROAD WORKS

Their brother, Edward Arthur Martin, Russell's grandfather and founder of the family business at Moor Farm, Peldon, was born in Little Bealings, Suffolk in 1883 to Arthur and Ann. The first reference to him locally we find in Mersea Museum.

Medal presented to Edward Arthur Martin on the 60th Year of Victoria's Reign by his employer Mr T. Gilbert of 'Orleans' in the year of 1897. At the time Mr Martin was employed as a stable lad [he would have been 14]. In 1922 he started farming at Moor Farm on the Colchester Road at Peldon. At one time he also worked for Mr Roberts who had land at East Mersea and was linked to the start of East Mersea Golf Club. Mr Martin looked after Colne View Cottages which were built to cater for the needs of guests Owen Fletcher

This would seem to confirm that the family moved to West Mersea between the 1891 census and 1897.

In the 1901 census Edward is 19 and a groom and gardener in Seven Sisters Road, Stoke Newington, working in the household of a Wholesale Stationer, George Edgar Roberts, who in later years owned land at East Mersea and was linked to the start of East Mersea Golf Club. It was while there Edward met Rose Mabel Malyon also 19, born in Great Baddow, Chelmsford, a housemaid, who was to become his wife.

In 1911 Edward is still working for the same family in Seven Sisters Road as a gardener and interestingly two of the servants are born in West Mersea, Lily Martha Cundy and Eva French. By now, Edward's future wife, Rose, is listed as working for a family in Golders Green.

Upon marriage Edward Arthur and Rose moved to a cottage in Ivy Lane, East Mersea, and Rose used to offer B & B to people who came to East Mersea golf course which had opened in 1910. Edward's London employer, George Edgar Roberts, continued to employ Edward and Rose and in his later years moved to East Mersea. He appears on the 1921 list of electors living at Ivy House Farm and the Golf Links and also in the Kelly's directory of 1925/26.

Edward and Rose then moved to a house on Mill Road opposite the old West Mersea Mill and Edward rented a field and kept chickens. Russell remembers he was also asked to prune the grape vines for the Round family of Birch Hall. On 29th September 1922 Edward Arthur and Rose moved to Moor Farm. He taught his son, Edward Herbert, all about glasshouse growing and the Latin names of plants. He died when grandson Russell was about 9 in 1954.

Edward is subsequently listed in the Kelly's trade directories of 1925/26, 1929, 1933 and 1937 as a farmer.

In the 1939 register he is resident at Moor Farm and listed as a seed grower and poultry farmer. His birthdate is given as 24th June 1883. His spouse is Rose Martin born 8th November 1882. Rose Mabel Martin died in April 1985 aged 102.

His son Edward Herbert Martin was born 17th April 1916, and described as a tractor driver and buttryman assisting his father in the 1939 register. Also living with them is Caroline S Malyon [née Blanks], a widow born 23rd July 1845. She was married to Reuben Malyon who died in 1927. They were Rose's parents and therefore Russell's great grandparents. Caroline died in 1948 at 103.

Edward 'Ted' Herbert Martin was Russell's father. His wife was Tessie E.J. Usher born in 1918. They married in 1942 during the war years and moved into a converted army hut next to Moor Farm. They helped Ted's father on the farm and were to take over the business after his death. As well as being poultry farmers they continued the family seed-growing business which involved growing vegetable seed for cabbage, beetroot, celery, parsley, onion and leek; and flower seed for sweet william, wallflowers, salvia, polyanthus and sweet peas.

Tess helping to bring home the harvest. L-R Phil Nicholas, Edward Martin, ?, Ernie Mole, Will Nicholas, 'Hoppy' Osborne.
Probably Moor Farm, but the Nicholas brothers were from Malting Farm, Peldon

Russell E. Martin born in 1944 to Ted and Tessie, married Rosemary and they are currently renovating Moor Farm. Rosemary is a 'Steward' and her ancestors are knights of the realm, two being buried in Ely Cathedral in grand tombs with recumbent stone knights in armour, and Latin inscriptions. Oliver Cromwell's grandmother was a Steward.

Russell's career up to the age of 50 was as a Valuer. He then returned to help his father with Moor Farm and when his father died in 2001 Russell continued with chickens and growing pumpkins and bare rooted wallflowers - he grew up to 20,000 a year. Russell gave up chicken farming a few years ago - he says the commitment with livestock is 24/7, every week of the year and doesn't allow for illness or going away.

WW2 memories

Russell remembers there was a searchlight opposite Moor farm during World War 2 and early on in the war they employed POWs from the Peldon hostel (later to become the Women's Land Army Hostel) on the farm. The POWs used to make simple toys out of wood; he remembers a dog on wheels with its limbs attached by leather joints so it moved as it was wheeled along.

1953 floods

Moor Farm had been damaged in the 1884 earthquake, and now was affected by a second natural disaster, the 1953 floods. Russell's grandfather, Edward Arthur was living in Moor Farm at the time of the floods when, all along the Essex coast, sea walls were breached in over 800 places on the night of 31st January. Russell's parents had married during the second world war and an old army hut which had been earmarked to be a chicken house had a chimney put in and was made into a bungalow so they could live there. It was about 100 yards from the road and by the sea wall. Russell who was eight and a half was woken by hearing his parents' exclamations that there was a flood. The water came up to 75 - 100 foot away. The low-lying land near Pete Bridge (where there is a brick culvert under the main Mersea Road) was flooded and Mersea cut off. When the water subsided the water that had topped the sea wall was trapped and couldn't drain away and the action of the water eroded the sea wall to the extent it needed to have major repairs. Russell has nothing but praise for the work done by the team who so effectively did the repairs afterwards. He remembers electricity personnel turned up at Moor Farm asking if the family had a boat they could use to get to the electricity poles by the bridge. Much later Russell recalls gypsum being spread on the land to reclaim it.

1953 flood at Pete Tye bridge

Archaeology

All around the coastal marshes locally, there is evidence of Red Hills, the result of early salt-making, and Moor Farm and adjacent farmland has examples of these Red Hills. Digging into the ground of the farm, between a foot and 18 inches down there is an extensive layer of oyster shells and a historian friend of Russell's believes the site may have been a temporary summer camp for Romans involved in salt workings.

For very nearly 100 years Moor Farm has been in the hands of one family; who owned it and lived there before is another story waiting to be told!

Elaine Barker
Peldon History Project

Thanks to Russell Martin

Read More
Comyns Charity
Edith Smith's Diary
Report on the East Anglian Earthquake of 22 April 1884
The Great Flood 1953
Noel Beadle, 373 Battery, Royal Artillery   - Noel married Ruth Martin, daughter of Alfred.

Author: Elaine Barker

Related Images

 Ted Martin operating a 'Wiles' motor plough. This was made before 1918.
 From Album 3.  FL03_014_001FL03_014_001
Ted Martin operating a 'Wiles' motor plough. This was made before 1918.
From Album 3.
1936
 Barfield Road Cemetery Plot 62.
 In loving memory of Annie Eliza beloved wife of Arthur Martin, died 8 January 1909. Aged 57 years.
</p><p>From Elaine Barker:
 Annie and Arthur moved to West Mersea in the 1890s from Suffolk - he was born in Gt Bealings. They came with about five of their sons and one of their daughters as far as I can make out between 1891 and 1897). He set up a carpenter and wheelwright's business - now that would be a find if we could discover where that was! They were the great grandparents of Russell Martin who has Moor Farm now. Their sons were Horace and Alfred who were the builders and Russell's grandfather Edward Arthur who bought Moor Farm in 1922.
</p><p>Annie Eliza Brunning was born c1852 in Ipswich.  CEM_BFD_0062_001CEM_BFD_0062_001
Barfield Road Cemetery Plot 62.
In loving memory of Annie Eliza beloved wife of Arthur Martin, died 8 January 1909. Aged 57 years.

From Elaine Barker:
Annie and Arthur moved to West Mersea in the 1890s from Suffolk - he was born in Gt Bealings. They came with about five of their sons and one of their daughters as far as I can make out between 1891 and 1897). He set up a carpenter and wheelwright's business - now that would be a find if we could discover where that was! They were the great grandparents of Russell Martin who has Moor Farm now. Their sons were Horace and Alfred who were the builders and Russell's grandfather Edward Arthur who bought Moor Farm in 1922.

Annie Eliza Brunning was born c1852 in Ipswich.
30 July 2018

 Edward Arthur Martin
 Born 24 June 1883  FL03_011_001FL03_011_001
Edward Arthur Martin
Born 24 June 1883
 Moor Farm, Colchester Road, Peldon. At one time up to 500 Indian Runner Ducks were kept on the pond. It is now filled in.  FL03_012_001FL03_012_001
Moor Farm, Colchester Road, Peldon. At one time up to 500 Indian Runner Ducks were kept on the pond. It is now filled in.
 Back Edward Martin, Rose Martin
 Front 'Ted' Martin (son of Edward), Aunt Nance, Grandmother Mrs MalYon (?).  FL03_012_002FL03_012_002
Back Edward Martin, Rose Martin
Front 'Ted' Martin (son of Edward), Aunt Nance, Grandmother Mrs MalYon (?).
 Tess Martin, 'Ted' Martin
 From Album 3.  FL03_013_001FL03_013_001
Tess Martin, 'Ted' Martin
From Album 3.
 Tess helping to bring home the harvest driving a Case Model D tractor. 
 Phil Nicholas, Edward Martin, ? Ernie Mole, Will Nicholas, 'Hoppy' Osborne.
 JEV752 with a binder behind. JEV registrations were issued 1939 / 1940.
 Location not known - the Martins were at Moor Farm, Peldon and the Nicholas family at Malting Farm, Peldon.
 From Album 3.  FL03_013_002FL03_013_002
Tess helping to bring home the harvest driving a Case Model D tractor.
Phil Nicholas, Edward Martin, ? Ernie Mole, Will Nicholas, 'Hoppy' Osborne.
JEV752 with a binder behind. JEV registrations were issued 1939 / 1940.
Location not known - the Martins were at Moor Farm, Peldon and the Nicholas family at Malting Farm, Peldon.
From Album 3.
 'Polly', Edward Martin, Ernie Mole (Peldon)
 'Polly' was given to Ted Martin by Fred and Beat Cudmore (Mersea carriers) on the understanding that when it had finished its useful working life it would be destroyed. It finished up as dog meat for the Essex Hunt.
 From Album 3.  FL03_015_001FL03_015_001
'Polly', Edward Martin, Ernie Mole (Peldon)
'Polly' was given to Ted Martin by Fred and Beat Cudmore (Mersea carriers) on the understanding that when it had finished its useful working life it would be destroyed. It finished up as dog meat for the Essex Hunt.
From Album 3.
ID: PH01_MTN
Source: Mersea Museum