|Ron Green, one of our Museum local historians has always been intrigued by the nickname 'Monkey Beach' for the area close to St Peters Well and a letter from Ron together with the picture below might persuade other Courier readers to give their opinion.
Ron writes: "For some time now, I have been giving illustrated talks about old Mersea Waterside. I often like to include a picture of what is known as 'The Monkey Beach', showing the small turret-like building just behind the wall in the south-west corner of what was the garden of Orleans, Coast Road. I go on to say that it is believed that this small building was used by Coastguards as a lookout, and the locals thought they looked like monkeys in a cage.
Quite by chance I was recently yarning with my cousin and fellow Mersea native, David Green. He said he had a distant pre-war memory of going with his mum and her friend into the garden of Orleans and seeing a tall sturdy cage near the bottom corner of the garden. It was not suitable for birds or a dog and he thought it may have been for a monkey.
I have always been a little doubtful about the Coastguard story. Why would Coastguards want a lookout in a private garden when they had a good elevated position in the enclosure up on the Coast Road, and why was there not access through the wall to save them a long trek to the other gateways?
I seem to remember a wooden seat around the inside of the building and I suppose it could simply have been a quiet little corner or summer house for the owners to sit and relax. Can anyone else remember this cage and perhaps a monkey in it? I would very much like to know. "
A view of the structure at the back of the wall close to Orleans which is popularly supposed to give the name of 'Monkey Beach' to this area. This postcard was mailed in 1913 and shows that many rowboats were anchored close to the King's Hard to get off to the long line of smacks moored in Buzz'n Creek. The picture also illustrates that there were several breakwaters at this time and there was plenty of weed on the beach!
From Back in Time, The Mersea picture album in The Courier