THE VILLAGE SHOP
We would like to wish Mr and Mrs Wyncoll a happy retirement as they settle into their new home at West Mersea. A presentation to them was received by members of the family on their behalf. Also a presentation was made to Leslie Mallett who has served behind the shop counter for nearly half a century and has always given 'service with a smile'. The shop has been in Mrs [Grace Olive] Wyncoll's family since the 1840s so is well and truly a part of Peldon History.
Peldon and Wigborough Parish News November 1981
So ended generations of grocers related by marriage, the Whites, Dansies and Wyncolls, running the general stores in Peldon. During its history it was known as White's, Dansies and Peldon Village Stores and it was housed in the building that is now known as Moss Cottage on Lower Road.
The earliest entry to be found in the Kelly's Trade Directory for Peldon mentioning Mrs Olive Wyncoll's great grandfather, William White, is in the 1862 edition where William White is described as a grocer. His family, The Whites, were to run shops in West Mersea, Tollesbury, Abberton, Tolleshunt D'Arcy, Tiptree, and Maldon as well as Peldon and by 1878 William is running the Peldon shop together with his son Samuel Cant White whose name appears as proprietor in all the directories from then until 1917.
Moving on a generation, Samuel's daughter Grace Martha White married Edgar Robert Dansie in 1898 and in the 1901 census they are living with their one year old son, Leonard, in Churchfields, West Mersea, next door to Grace's father, for whom Edgar is clearly working as a grocery assistant. By the 1911 census Edgar, Grace, Leonard and a new daughter, Olive, are living in the Stores at Peldon and Edgar is managing the shop. Baby Olive's place of birth is given as Tollesbury which could indicate they had been managing Samuel's shop in Tollesbury at the time of her birth in 1903.
Edgar and Grace Dansie with children Leonard and Olive
Olive must have been a young baby when the family moved to Peldon because there is a picture from about 1905,
of Edgar and son Leonard (looking about four years old) outside the Peldon shop. The name on the front is
S C White, and the shop both a draper's and a grocery. In a 1916 photograph, the shop front shows the name
S C White and Co (this can be dated for certain because of the Zeppelin reference in the window).
Samuel Cant White was to run his grocery businesses up to about 1916 and his retirement led to the disposal of all his shops, which were then run as separate concerns by traders, his son-in-law, Edgar Dansie, taking over the Peldon Stores.
Sadly, the same year Samuel retired, his daughter, Grace, Edgar's wife, was to die. Also in 1916 his grandson Leonard Dansie started work for the company that was to become Reeman Dansie auctioneers.
In 1919 Edgar remarried. Caroline Ethel Spore (1880 - 1948) became the second Mrs Dansie.
In 1921 another manager seems to be running the shop, borne out by an entry in the 1922 Kelly's Trade Directory which gives the name of James E Page. This is confirmed by a photograph that shows J E Page sign-written above the shopfront. Where Edgar and Caroline were for this short spell will hopefully be revealed when the 1921 census is finally published - did they rent out the shop to another trader? Edgar and Caroline were back running the shop by the 1925-1926 Kelly's Trade Directory.
In 1931 Edgar's daughter Olive married Arthur Leslie Wyncoll and it was reported in the Essex County Standard that they were to live in Colchester after their honeymoon. Their son, Patrick Wyncoll, remembers his parents lived in Elmstead Road in the early years of their marriage.
Edgar died in 1936 and Mrs Caroline Dansie continued to run the shop. In the 1939 register, as the country was about to go to war, the Wyncolls are back in the shop in Peldon, living with Caroline and their two young daughters, Patrick was yet to be born.
Arthur went on to serve in the forces in the Second World War as an RAF despatch rider, while his wife looked after their children Patrick, Betty and Ann and helped her step-mother in the shop.
Arthur Leslie Wyncoll RAF Despatch rider in World War 2
Caroline Dansie continued to be heavily involved with the village most especially the Peldon Methodist Chapel where she was superintendent of the Sunday School. She also filled the role of local correspondent for the Essex County Standard which she seems to have done between 1931 and her death. At the end of the Second World War her entry reveals that the shop as well as supplying essential groceries and household supplies had become an unofficial village clock supplying 'wireless time'.
With the abolition of black-out restrictions the unofficial 'village' clock in the window of Dansie's stores comes once more into its own having been hidden behind a wooden shutter on Sundays and on week evenings for 5 and a half years. The clock was purchased by the late Mr E R Dansie who was the first in the neighbourhood to venture on a wireless receiving set, having acquired an experimental one only three months after the formation of the BBC. Very soon customers were asking for the 'wireless time' and the proprietor rightly judged that a public clock would be appreciated. The habit of setting ones watch by the shop clock was formed and has persisted through the years and there are many expressions of satisfaction on the part of local residents and of motorists and cyclists passing through Peldon at the reappearance of an old familiar friend.
Essex County Standard 22.6.1945
She continued to submit the weekly news of Peldon village and, occasionally, events at the Wigboroughs until her death in 1948.
Step-daughter, Olive, then took over the running of the shop with the help of her husband, Arthur. Arthur's full-time employment was with Oliver Parker's, a groceries business, through which he used to drum up work for the village shop, turning up at home with orders to be delivered. Although Olive's married name was Wyncoll the shop still seemed to be known as 'Dansies'.
The shop sold groceries, household supplies, paraffin, sweets and tobacco. Many people would have a weekly order of groceries usually delivered by shop assistant, Les Mallett. Les worked for the Stores all his life, starting there straight from school and he used to do the shop deliveries round the local villages with his motor bike and sidecar. Unmarried he lived with his father in a council house on Mersea Road a stone's throw from the shop. He was another stalwart of the Methodist chapel
Little Wigborough resident Bernard Ratcliffe relates there was a cellar in Dansies where there was a wooden chest of little drawers containing different sizes of nails, bolts and screws for sale. Bernie bought this chest when the shop closed and still owns it.
Pat Wyncoll remembers they hung pheasants, rabbits, sides of bacon and kept whole cheeses down there - anything that needed keeping cool. Pat recalls the cellar was also used as an air raid shelter and as a baby he was put in a drawer for safe-keeping. He also relates that they had a problem with water coming into the cellar and on a fortnightly basis they used to bail out the cellar. Following the departure of the Wyncoll family the cellar was finally filled in by subsequent residents.
Pat, who worked in the shop for five years, while also keeping pigs for the farmer at St Ives Farm, remembers the day in 1981 that his parents retired and moved to Mersea largely due to his mother's frail health. He said it was clear it was a wrench for his father - the shop was his life.
So the family's association with Peldon Village Stores spanning at least 120 years came to an end in 1981.
The shop, which in later years also offered Post Office services, was to continue to 2002 until the final owners, Ken and Maggie Finch, due to a combination of ill health and falling revenue called it a day and the building reverted to being a house.
Village Stores proprietors or owners
(sources: Kelly's and White's Trade Directories and Peldon and Wigborough Parish News)
William White 1861 (born in 1814 he already had a shop in Mersea in the 1840s)
William White and Son 1878
Samuel Cant White 1886 - 1916
Edgar Dansie approx. 1905 - 1916 manager and 1916 - 1936 proprietor
Caroline Ethel Dansie 1919 - 1948
J E Page briefly some time after 1921
Arthur and Grace Wyncoll 1948 - 1981
Don and June Plunkett November 1981- 1986
Sue Dampney January 1986 - 1988
Alan and Martine Hemsworth January 1988 - 1993
Bill and Maureen Sanders November 1993 (Bill dies in early 1997) - 1999
Ken and Maggie Finch November 1999 - August 2002
Peldon History Project May 2018
With thanks to Pat Wyncoll