Church Cottage, Peldon
Early 17th century timberframed and plastered house with some brick. Red plain tile roof. One storey. Two window range double hung vertical sliding sashes. rear extension with pantile roof. Double range plan, with newel staircase British Listed Buildings
Church Cottage abuts the churchyard of St Mary's Church, Peldon with its drive just outside the church gates. It is one of three cottages along Church Green, Church Cottage, Priest's House and Sleyes, and it seems its past history is tied up with these other two properties. According to the current owner, the back of the house, which now houses the kitchen, was once the stables and at some point in the house's history it was linked to the rest of the building.
Unfortunately, the current owner has no deeds or documents relating to the house and in the early censuses for Peldon most of the cottages are not named. However, in the deeds for the cottage next door, Priest's House, it would seem that both Priest's House and Church Cottage were sold together to Samuel Bullock in 1799. The vendor was Miss Martha Bridge, an heiress who had inherited her uncle John Wayland's properties in 1788. Wayland had bought Priest's House in 1771; we do not know when he bought Church Cottage.
Samuel Bullock, the purchaser, was the fourth generation of carpenters in the Bullock family who had lived and worked in Peldon. He had clearly done well for himself for in this document he is referred to as a 'gentleman'. He had become a wealthy landowner having a large number of properties and land in and around Peldon and at his death was the occupant of Brick House Farm. He bought the two cottages, Priest's House and Church Cottage, at auction and paid £158. The name of the premises in the conveyance is given as 'Slythes'.
Slyes (or Slythes) seems to have been a medieval estate and in investigating the history of fifteenth century Priest's House it has become evident that this timber-framed lath and plaster house may have been the wing of a much bigger medieval hall house. It is likely that when Church Cottage and Sleyes were built either side of Priest's House, it was on the land belonging to this medieval house which had fallen into decay.
Samuel Bullock was to die in 1814 and his executors sold both properties together as Lot 7 among a total of 8 Lots in 1815. The purchaser was James Digby, from a family of millers.
All those two messuages divided into Three Tenements formerly one Messuage or Tenement and also the Bake Office and Oven thereto attached and belonging with the Houses Outhouses Edifices Buildings yards Gardens and Orchards thereunto belonging with their appurtenances called Slyes or otherwise as the same are situate lying and being in Peldon aforesaid adjoining to or near the Churchyard there formerly in the tenure or occupation of Samuel Bullock the Father of the said Samuel Bullock the Testator after that of John Wayland or his assigns since that of John Bartholomew or his assigns then of [left blank] and now are or late were in the tenure or occupation of John Wood James Brown and [left blank] Bush Essex Records Office D/Del T226 Deeds of Farms
The sale particulars would indicate both cottages, together with their outbuildings, housed the village bakery, oven and bakery office. This document in 1815 is the first reference to there being a bakery. It is clear that the two buildings also offered accommodation for several households.
At Auction at The White Hart Hotel in Colchester on 1st July 1815 James Digby was the successful bidder for Lot Seven having bid £255.
In James Digby's will dated 1828 he leaves a house and outbuildings to his son Joseph Digby, baker of Peldon,
called The Boarded House and now in the occupation of William Bush and John Osborne.
and also a house called
The Brick House in the occupation of James Springett, James Wheeler and John Woods
In their twenties both Henry and Joseph appear in the Peldon 1841 census as millers. Although their address is not given it is likely they were living at Peldon Mill close to the Peldon Rose. The Mill was demolished circa 1906 but Mill House and Mill Cottage still stand. It is very unlikely the Digbys ever lived in Church Cottage or Priest's House and they probably rented to tenants, no doubt, supplying the bakery with flour.
In the 1848 White's Directory we find one of those tenants, Henry Cooper, listed as a baker and shopkeeper and in the 1851 census he is running the bakery by the church with his wife, Sarah, and 15 year old nephew, Samuel Cooper.
According to the British Postal Service Appointment books, on 21st April 1851, Henry Cooper, was appointed sub-postmaster for Peldon, clearly taking on the job running the Post Office in addition to his bakery business. A period followed when the bakery and Post Office services were run from the two cottages by the church.
In the Kelly's Trade Directory for 1859 Henry Cooper is listed as a baker, grocer, Post Office and a receiver of letters
letters arrive at 6.30a.m. dispatched at 6.30pm and are received through the Colchester office.
In the 1861 census his wife is listed as running the bakery while Henry is the sub-postmaster. Henry appears again in the 1862 and the 1863 Kelly's Directories.
In 1869 Henry Cooper died and by the 1871 census Sarah has taken over running the postal services. She continued until her death in 1887.
In the 1891 census, Mary Overall is living at the Post Office (I believe this was Priest's House) as the sub-postmistress and receiver of letters. There are two empty dwellings adjacent described as Post Office buildings. Mary was 74, born in West Mersea, and the unmarried daughter of Stephen Overall who had lived and farmed at Brickhouse Farm, Peldon, in his later years. Living as a tenant at the Bakehouse (Church Cottage) was baker, George Smallwood.
A newcomer to the village, George Smallwood, was to then relinquish the bakery business and take over the postal services, having a house built to include a room for the Post Office. This house was Spring Cottage, the weather-boarded house by Peldon Common on Lower Road which George built circa 1898.
It was upon the death of James Digby's grandson, Henry, in 1882 that the two cottages by the church came into his widow's possession, Eliza Digby. Henry was the son of James Digby junior and a very successful miller. He owned Cannock and Bourne Mills and he and his brother Joseph also ran Peldon Mill.
Henry's widow, Eliza, had tenants in both cottages as we have seen and she appears in the 1881 and 1891 censuses living in the Mill House, Donyland Road, Colchester. Eliza died in 1910, and the cottages were then sold.
All that bakers shop cottage and bake office situate near the Church in the Parish of Peldon aforesaid together with the stables outhouses yards gardens and appurtenances thereto belonging and now in the occupation of the Purchaser and also all that cottage built of lath and plaster and tiled situate near the above and now in the occupation of Daniel Harvey.
This is perhaps the clearest indication that the lath and plaster cottage is Priest's House and Church Cottage is the baker's shop and bake office. Herbert Nicholas, a baker, buys the two cottages for £200, and in the 1911 census he is listed as a baker. It is apparent he had been running his bakery business there as a tenant prior to buying
In this photograph above, possibly taken in the years Herbert Nicholas was running the bakery, there is a young boy
standing at the gate wearing a long apron. He is standing between Priest's House and Church Cottage. I believe if he
were to go through the gate in front of him and turn right he would enter the baker's shop and office in Church Cottage and if he were to go left he would come to the bake house and oven in or by Priest's House. In many of the documents for Priest's House a right of way is asserted between the two cottages for access.
In 1907, Herbert Nicholas had already bought the third cottage fronting Church Green on the corner with Church Road, now known as Sleyes, formerly The Chequer. In 1912 he applies for a mortgage for all three houses.
All that bakers shop cottage and bake office situate near the Church in the Parish of Peldon aforesaid together with the stables outhouses yards gardens and appurtenances thereto belonging as now in the occupation of the Mortgagor and also All that cottage built of lath and plaster and tiled situate near the premises lastly described and now or recently occupied by Daniel Harvey and thirdly All those three cottages or tenements (formerly one messuage and called or known by the name of 'The Chequer') situate and being in the Parish of Peldon aforesaid and adjacent to Peldon Church and now or recently occupied by Allen White and Abbott
He pays off the mortgage in 1921 and the three houses are then sold separately. Church Cottage is described as being a freehold property and no longer a bakery.
All that freehold cottage situate near the Church in the Parish of Peldon aforesaid Together with the garden stable outbuildings and workshop thereto belonging being the Northernmost portion of the within described hereditaments known as Church Cottage and then in the occupation of Thomas Wyncoll was conveyed unto and To the use of the said Daniel Osborne in fee simple subject to a right of way over the southernmost portion thereof.
This is the first time the cottage has been named as Church Cottage.
From here Church Cottage's fortunes diverge from those of Priest's House and we have no deeds to tell the rest of its story. We know that at least between 1815 and 1921 Church Cottage was part of a bakery business.
Daniel Osborne remained in Church Cottage until his death in 1926 according to his probate. In the 1901 and 1911
censuses he is listed first as a feeder to threshing machine and then as a roadman. Thomas Wyncoll mentioned in the schedule above, a road-maker, is named as Daniel's executor together with Daniel's son Bertie.
In the 1939 register we find a widow, Lilian Wopling (b 1888) with sons Arthur Wopling (b 1927) and William Wopling (b 1921) living in Church Cottage, along with Arthur Mason, a Farm Labourer, Charles Mason, a public works contractor, and Alfred Pullen, also a public works contractor. Presumably the men were all lodgers.
Lilian was the daughter of Daniel Osborne and it is likely she stayed in Church Cottage following his death in 1926.
Former neighbours, The Baldwins, remember the Woplings were asked to move temporarily during the war to provide accommodation for the soldiers who were manning the searchlight near the church. The family moved to one of Barnards Cottages in the Mersea Road, Peldon, opposite The Crescent. Lilian was to stay living in the Mersea Road with her son Dick. Her son Robert and his wife Florence, who in 1939 were living on the Causeway in Abberton with their two boys then moved into Church Cottage in 1944 where they were to stay until 1948. Their twin daughters, Heather and Joan were born in Church Cottage in 1944. During this time Robert worked at Pete Tye Farm.
The newspaper advert for the sale of Church Cottage shown below is a not-often-seen view of the back of the house. The family who bought the cottage for £4,500, in 1965, the Holdings, were to stay for five years. Carol Holding tells me they viewed the house on Valentine's Day and very little needed doing to the house although at that point the cottage had no mains drainage. The vendors were a couple, Elsie and Bert, (possibly Charles Bertram 'Bert' Ponder and his wife Elsie née Brown) and the house called 'Elsbert' which the Holdings promptly changed back to Church Cottage!
Tim Holding was an artist and sculptor and the room which abuts the churchyard was turned into an artist's studio.
He was Lecturer and Senior Lecturer I/C of Sculpture and 3D Design at Colchester School of Art from 1964 to 1993. He held group and one-man shows in painting and sculpture, locally and nationwide. His sculptures are mainly abstract and made of wood, but he has also produced sculptures in aluminium and bronze. He also likes to paint landscapes and still lifes in watercolour and has been involved with various local art groups as founder, president or tutor. He has been a member of Colchester Art Society for many years. Colchester Art Society website
The Parish Magazine for Peldon and the Wigboroughs was in the habit of welcoming newcomers to the village and in May 1971 the next owner of Church Cottage, Mr Anthony Masterton-Smith was welcomed as he took up residence in Church Cottage. It appears he also had a house in London and used the cottage as a holiday home.
In September 1978 Paul Francis Brandt and his wife, Barbara, moved in. Their son was Judge Nicco Brandt who was to be the last resident circuit judge at Colchester County Court taking up the post in 1988 and retiring in 2003. Known as a 'no-nonsense' judge he was well-known for his dog who accompanied him into court! His father, Paul was to die in 1987.
Jameson Smith, is another of the more recent owners I've been able to trace, having the house for eight years.
I was told once that the single storey was where the Cows/Goats were kept and that they sold Milk from there. He bought the house from Mr and Mrs Stickles c 2011 and in 2019 he sold to the current owners, who had been his tenants and fell in love with the house and village.
Peldon History Project
Thanks to all the owners of Church Cottage, past and present.
History of Sleyes, Peldon
The Mills and Millers of Peldon
Historic England Listed Building details