History of Kelvedon Hatch

History of Kelvedon Hatch >> Contributors >> Joan Morris

Joan Morris reflects on her childhood living at Hatch Farm.

Joan Morris wrote this for an exhibition on the celebration of the Centenary of St Nicholas's Church in 1995. I am grateful for her contribution to historyhouse.

My mother and father, Stella and Michael Bill, brought the Hatch Farm when they married in 1922; I was born in 1923. My father was mainly a pig farmer, also keeping a few cows, chickens and ducks, he also had a horse and cart which he used to take the pigs to the bacon factory at Dunmow.


Kelvedon Hatch Farm c.1906-8

At that time Mr and Mrs Tingley lived in what is now the 'Village Stores'; Mr and Mrs C. White lived in the 'Red House' opposite Hatch Farm, and between Red House and the Tingley's house stood the Village Hall which was the venue for the Working Men's Club - whist drives, dances and meetings. After Red House there were three cottages and then the 'Guardsman', which was a General Store and an off-licence owned by the Enevers. A lane run up to the Guardsman form the main road. On each side of them were allotments. A footpath ran from the corner of Church Lane, across the field in front of Red House, in front of the three cottages, past the Guardsman and then in front of more cottages - Caton's Cottages - to the coal yard which later became the Garage, and then to Royd's Corner (now Brizes Corner).


The Guardsman Stores c.1935

On the right corner of School Lane stood the existing house which was the Post Office and Sweet Shop owned by the Duttons. Elsie Dutton (now Mrs Brooks) helped in the Post Office and advised us the best sweets to buy with our 'Saturday 3d.'. On the left corner of School Lane stood Thatch Cottage where Mr and Mrs Isaac Saye lived with their son Arthur who died in the war.

Between Thatch Cottage and Hatch Farm were two semi-detached house, Mr and Mrs Weal and their family lived in the right house, and Mr and Mrs Westwood lived in the left side house with their sons Fred and Maurice. Their shed was built out on piles over the Hatch Farm Pond.

My sister and I spent a lot of time playing in and around the pond which never completely dried up as there is a spring under the big hollow tree.

There was a well behind Hatch Farm which is now filled in or covered over. We used the well water until the main water came to the village.

I can remember the Christmas Parties which Mr and Mrs Bertram Jones held for the village children at Kelvedon Hall where they lived at that time. The Christmas Tree always seemed enormous.

My Father played football for kelvedon Hatch when the football pitch was in the field opposite the Church.

When walking in Poles Wood to the north of Hatch Farm, my father discovered sand and subsequently he managed the sand pits for the Rom River Sand and Gravel Company. Several of the men who had worked on the farm, now worked in the sand pits. The sand was brought up from the pits in the wood to the Ongar Road by a diesel engine pulling tricks. Some railway sleepers can still be seen on the overgrown track. When there was no more suitable sand in the pits, my Father went to work in London in his father's woollen firm. He hated working in London after the fresh air in Kelvedon Hatch.

About that time my mother opened Hatch Farm as 'The Old Hatch Farm Tea Rooms'. We sold light meals at lunch time and in the evening and cream teas with jam and scones which my mother made. My sister and I gave pony rides to the visitors' children - once around the filed (now the School field) for 3d. It seemed a long way round the field on hot days. The pony ride money was spent on the pony's food and paid for him to be shod by E. Gibbs, the blacksmith at Navestock. We also had a putting green and a boat on the pond for visitors. The tea rooms had to close when rationing of food & petrol made things difficult.

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Book cover: Kelvedon Hatch, 1840 - 1920

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Kelvedon Hatch, 1840 - 1920: A Guided Tour

Go on a guided tour of Kelvedon Hatch, Essex, during the 19th and early 20th centuries. With the help of photographs, newspapers, parish records and census returns, the story of each house is revealed, as are the lives of some of their occupants.

It was a parish of many contrasts: from wealthy land-owners living in grand Georgian mansions with numerous servants, to agricultural workers struggling against poverty in overcrowded and dilapidated cottages. Discover how the landscape changed after the common land was enclosed, and how farmers struggled to cope with the agricultural depression. Find out about the role of the parish in WW1 when it was at the front line of Britain's fight against the Zeppelins. See how the new school was established and functioned, and why a new parish church was built. There are stories of crime, bankruptcy, poverty, scandal, revenge, leisure and migration.

Even if you have never been to Kelvedon Hatch, with the help of detailed maps and photographs, you will find yourself immersed in its history.

128 pages, 11 maps and diagrams, 77 black and white photographs

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