The History of Feeches Farm, Eastwood, Essex
And The Development of Feeches Estate
(North Crescent, South Crescent & Feeches Road)
Feeches Farm was situated on Rochford Road, Eastwood, Essex up until the early 1920s, and encompassed 35 acres of arable and pasture land (originally two fields names named Great Feeches and Little Feeches). The rough oval-shaped plot was historically situated on the very southeast corner of Eastwood borough but now falls into the Prittlewell district of Southend-On-Sea, with Southend Airport just to the north.
The following maps document the development of the two fields which made up Feeches Farm, from 1840 to the present day. The smaller field on the right with the cottage measured just over 5 acres, and the larger field on the left was just over 29 acres. A farmhouse was built c.1872, but there was little change between 1880 and 1898 as far as the fields were concerned. During 1899 the land was marked out with three new roads (North Crescent, South Crescent, and Feeches Road), divided up into plots and put up for sale.
The map from 1923 shows there had still been very little development up until this point, which is odd considering the land had been sold as building plots over twenty years previous (even taking WWI into account). By 1938 a large majority of the land had been housed, with the old farmhouse still present against Rochford Road.
Essex Archives contains building plans from 1921-1933 for this estate, showing fifty-seven of the bungalows (mostly in South Crescent) were owned and built by Joseph TURNER and John Henry TURNER of “The Orchard”, South Crescent. A further 52 bungalows and houses were also built during this time by various other owners.
A few empty plots still remained in 1951 but the old farmhouse had been replaced, and by 1967 nearly all plots had been built on. A small additional curved road had also been added on the west end in the adjoining field, linking North Crescent into Feeches Road. The adjoining fields to the north remain green to this day.
Maps throughout reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.
Newspaper articles throughout reproduced with the permission of the British Newspaper Archive and The British Library Board.
OWNERS, LEASEES & OCCUPANTS
- 1840-bef.1869 – Owner of Land William Pole Tylney Long WELLESLEY
- 1840-1849 – Leaser of Land William Weld WREN
- bef.1869-1878 – Owner of Land & Property (built after 1871) George William KEYES
- 1878-1886 Owner of Land & Property Alexander Rice ALLERTON
- 1881 – Occupants of Property Robert LONG and family
- 1886-1899 – Owner of Land & Property Unknown Owner
- 1889 – Occupants Samuel CHIGNELL and family
- 1891 – Leaser/Owner? (not occupant) Emanuel VANDERVORD
- 1891 – Occupant Edward NUNN and family (possible)
- 1896-1898 – Occupants William WIFFEN and family
- 1899 – Land Sold as Building Plots (but continued to be leased as farmland, with development of housing from 1921)
- 1901 – Occupants Alfred DENNIS and family
- 1902 – Occupants James FENNER and family
- 1903-1904 – Occupants William Townsrow MILNER and family
- 1905-1917 – Occupants Charles CHASE and family
- 1918-1937 – Occupants of House (Owner?) George Benjamin Oliver CONQUEST and wife Harriett
The Eastwood Tithe Award dated 1840 shows “Great Feeches” and “Little Feeches” were owned by William Pole Tylney Long WELLESLEY, 4th Earl of Mornington, and leased to William Weld WREN.
William WESLEY-POLE was born on 22nd Jun 1788 in London, with the spelling of “Wesley” altering to “Wellesley” in the early 1790s. He married wealthy commoner Catherine TYLNEY-LONG on 14th Mar 1812, and added her surname to his own by Royal Licence, thus becoming “Pole Tylney Long Wellesley“. Catherine died on 12th Sep 1825 but had already begun a relationship with married Helena Paterson BLIGH a couple of years previous. He married Helena in 1828 after she became widowed herself.
Tithe records for Eastwood, taken in 1840, show Wellesley leased most of his land there to John LODWICK (about 294 acres), a further 24 acres to Messers TABOR & RANKIN, and the 35 acres of Feeches Fields to William Weld WREN (which stood on their own, quite away from all the other plots of land Wellesley owned there). All 202 acres of land Wellesley owned in Prittlewell were leased to Thomas WORRIN.
Wellesley was a well-known rake, debauchee, gambler and spendthrift, and succeeded his father as Earl of Mornington in 1845. He died in lodgings in London on 1st Jul 1857 age 69, and not greatly thought of by all accounts!
During his lifetime, Wellesley owned great swathes of land in Essex, including 339 acres in Eastwood and 187 acres in Prittlewell as recorded in the Tithe Awards. If he hadn’t already sold the land in Eastwood by the time he died in order to pay off his numerous debts, it may have been inherited by his son William Richard Arthur Pole Tylney Long WELLESLEY, 5th Earl of Mornington, who died in 1863 age 50.
William Weld WREN leased the two fields which made up Feeches from at least 1840 to 1949, from owner William Pole Tylney Long WELLESLEY, 4th Earl of Mornington.
William Weld WREN was born in 1776 in Southchurch, Essex. He married Mary VASSALL (born 19th Jul 1777 in Rochford, Essex) on 1st May 1798 in St Laurence and All Saints, Eastwood. They had ten children together born between 1799-1817. Mary was born on 19th Jul 1777 in Rochford, Essex.
- Asser Vassall Wren (b.1799 in Eastwood, Essex)
- William Weld Wren (b.1801 in Southchurch, Essex)
- Richard Weld Wren (b.1802 in Southchurch, Essex)
- Mary Ann Weld Wren (b.1804 in Southchurch, Essex)
- Eliza Weld Wren (b.1806 in Southchurch, Essex)
- Thomas John Wren (b.1808 in Eastwood, Essex)
- Ellen Wren (b.1810 in Eastwood, Essex)
- Robert Wren (b.1812 in Eastwood, Essex)
- Erasmus Wren (b.1815 in Eastwood, Essex)
- Henry Wren (b.1817 in Eastwood, Essex)
William was a farmer and owned over 100 acres of land in Eastwood, and leased a further 445 acres in the same parish. The family lived at “Eastwoodbury” (later Bury Priory) in Eastwood, next to St Lawrence & All Saints Church, and not to far from Feeches fields. Eastwoodbury was demolished when Southend Airport was built (after 1935), its footprint now under the runway.
William’s wife Mary died on 3rd Jan 1830 at age 52. He was age 65 when the 1841 census was taken, still living at Eastwoodbury and working as a farmer. The 1840 Tithe Award for Eastwood recorded he owned over 132 acres of land in Eastwood and several cottages in both Eastwood and Prittlewell. He also leased a further 432 acres of land in Eastwood, including “Little Feeches” and “Great Feeches” from William Pole Tylney Long WELLESLEY (the only land WREN leased from him). There were no buildings on the land at this time. William’s other land in Eastwood was leased from Robert BRISTOW and the estate of James MEAKINS. Although it stated William was the occupier of all the houses he owned, I’m sure they would have rented out.
William died on 20th Jul 1849 at age 73. I am unsure what happened to his freehold and leasehold lands after his death.
No property names were included in the 1851 Eastwood census, and there was no mention of Feeches in 1861 when descriptions were included. The farmhouse was most likely built on the land by the next known owner, who was George William KEYES.
The next owner and occupier of Feeches Fields was George William KEYES, from at least 1869.
George was born in 1825 in Rochford, Essex and worked as a master butcher. He married Emma Charlotte CURLING (born 1830 in Hampstead, London) on 6th Jan 1852 at St Leonard’s Church in Shoreditch, London, and their first child was born just a few months later. The family moved to Prittlewell via Rochford shortly after this, where they had five more children, but sadly lost three of them at very young ages.
- George William Keyes (b.1852 in Bermondsey, London)
- Emma Sophia Keyes (b. early 1854 (poss. late 1853) in Rochford district, Essex)
- Samuel Keyes (b. late 1854 in Rochford district, Essex – d. late 1854, age 0)
- Ellen Louisa Keyes (b. early 1856 in Rochford district, Essex – d. mid-1858 age 3)
- Maria Keyes (b. late 1858 in Rochford district, Essex – d. late 1858 age 0)
- Amelia Keyes (b. 1860 in Southend, Essex)
Emma herself died in Mar 1863 in Prittlewell age 33, and George remarried Louisa PRICE (born 1833 in Prittlewell) on 15th Oct 1869 at St Mary Le Strand in London. Shortly after this, a list of Foot-and-Mouth affected farms was printed in Dec, and included George William KEYES at “Feaches Field, Eastwood“. George also owned Potash Farm in Southchurch, and had a total of 72 sheep “with the scab“.
By 1871, the family were living at 13 High Street, Southend. Also in the household was a general domestic servant and a butcher’s apprentice. By Nov 1872 they had left Southend and moved back to London. George then sold by auction his livestock from Feeches Farm, which is the first mention of it being a farm rather than just fields. The livestock included three dairy cows, a bull, five hogs and a horse, along with various other farm-related items. From Potash Farm, he auctioned off an acre of white turnips and cabbages.
Again, as per the previous censuses, no mention of Feeches was recorded within Eastwood in 1871. This map, surveyed in 1873 (published 1880), clearly shows there was now a property within the smaller field against Rochford Road, which also had a well. The dotted line marked the boundary between the parish of Eastwood and that of Prittlewell, which ran along the road the farmhouse was now situated on.
On 6th Jun 1878, George finally auctioned off the freehold to Feeches Farm, which included 35 acres of arable and pasture land, together with its “cottage residence and buildings“. It was bought by local farmer Alexander Rice ALLERTON for the princely sum of £3,200 (over £265k as of 2021).
When the 1881 census was taken, George had been widowed once again. He was now age 56, working as a master butcher and living with his two daughters in Hackney, plus two domestic servants. He remarried early the following year to widow Eliza YOUNG nee CHALKIN in London. Eliza was twenty years George’s junior (born 1845 in Croydon, Surrey), and had two daughters of her own from a previous marriage. Elisa and George had four children together.
- Daisy Louisa Keyes (b.1882 in Kingsland, London)
- Herbert William Keyes (b.1884 in Kingsland, London)
- Lillian Matilda Keyes (b.1885 in Hoxton, London)
- Frederick Stanley Keyes (b.1890 in Prittlewell, Essex)
The family had moved back into Essex by 1890, taking residence at Minerva Cottage in Southend, where George continued to work as a butcher. By 1901 they had moved to North Shoebury, where George was now working as a self-employed market gardener (age 76). The family moved again shortly after this, to “Smithcroft” in Southchurch, where Eliza died on 12th Mar 1904 at age 59. George died there not long afterwards, on 12th Feb 1907 age 82.
Alexander Rice ALLERTON bought Feeches Farm in 1878.
Alexander was born on 8th Nov 1834 in Great Stambridge, Essex, and was the son of a farmer. He married Emily KILLWORTH (born 1835 in Southchurch) on 8th Jan 1863 in Dalston, London and they moved into Colemans Farm in Prittlewell, firstly as tenants, then as the owner after purchasing it in 1869. They didn’t have any children together.
The 1871 census shows Alexander was farming 1033 acres, and employing 40 men and 6 boys and later bought Feeches Farm on 6th Jun 1878 when George William KEYES auctioned it off. Alexander and Emily were still living at Coleman’s farm in 1881, where he was now farming half the amount of land at 500 acres, employing 15 men and 1 boy.
Living at Feeches Farm in 1881 were Robert LONG and his family, where Robert was working as a farm labourer, presumably in the employ of Alexander. Robert was born c.1835 in Colchester, Essex, and wife Maria (nee unknown) was born 1841 in Asheldham, Essex. They had one son, born in 1865 (Arthur J Long), and the family were living in Chelmsford in 1871. There are next to no other records for this family, which disappears from records after 1881.
As well as being a farmer, Alexander was also a Guardian of the Poor for the Rochford Union during 1882, living at “The Oaks” in Southchurch. He was declared bankrupt on 6th Nov 1885, and the following court case found his liabilities amounted to £2140 18s 8d unsecured, and his assets amounted to £1190 15s. He claimed the cause of his bankruptcy was “attributed to depression in agriculture“, and was also noted that he kept his books in an “unsatisfactory way“. Not long after he was declared bankrupt, an auction at Feeches Farm took place, selling various live and dead farming stock. Amongst the items were cart horses and other animals, ploughs, mowing and reaping machines, and other farming implements. He also auctioned off live and dead stock from Bridgeman’s Farm in Little Wakering. The following year, on 28th Jun 1886, Feeches Farm went under the hammer once more (buyer unknown).
Alexander and his wife Emily had moved out of Colemans Farm and into “St Catherine’s”, London Road, Prittlewell by 1891 (still working as a farmer), then to Goal Farm in Barling, Essex by 1894. He was an elected Guarding for Barling for a few years, and also a churchwarden of Little Wakering.
Alexander died suddenly of a heart condition on the morning of Sat 10th Jan 1901. He has been out shooting the previous day, in good health, but by midnight became ill with a pre-existing heart complaint. Medical assistance was swiftly called for via messengers to Southend but died before help arrived. He was age 66 and buried a few days later at Holy Trinity, Southchurch. Emily died at Goal Farm not long after on 24th Jan 1903 age 68.
I have not discovered who bought Feeches Farm from Alexander Rice ALLERTON in 1886 and then sold it again in 1899 as building plots for housing development.
The land surrounding Feeches Farm began to change during the late 1880s’, with the construction of Eastwood Pumping Station between 1888-1890 just to the south of the land along Eastwood Road (now Princes Road), and the Southend Victoria railway line opening in 1889, with its tracks passing nearby to the east of Rochford Road.
Feeches Farm was occupied by Samuel CHIGNELL in 1889.
Samuel was born 31st Dec 1854 in Ashelham, Essex, and married Annie GREEN (born 1858 in Eastwood) on 24th Nov 1877 at St Laurence and All Saints, Eastwood. They had six children together between 1878-1887.
- Emily Elizabeth Chignell (b.1878 in Eastwood)
- Florance Maud Chignell (b.1880 in Eastwood)
- William James Chignell (b.1882 in Eastwood)
- Frances Lily Chignell (b.1883 in Eastwood)
- Rose Hilda Chignell (b.1885 in Eastwood)
- Alice May Chignell (b.1887 in Eastwood)
In 1881 Samuel and family were living at Junipers Farm, Eastwood, where Samuel was working as a farm labourer. The electoral records for 1889 list Samuel CHIGNELL as a resident of “Feeches Farmhouse”, but by 1891 the family were living in a cottage near Eastwoodbury. In 1901 they moved again, to 1 Wood Cottage near Wood Farm, and was working as a farm horseman. Annie died late Sep 1904 age 48, and Samuel remarried Susannah BETTS on 8th Jun 1908 at St Laurence and All Saints, Eastwood. Susannah was born 9th Nov 1861 in Nash, Buckingham, and up until marrying had been working as a general domestic servant.
Samuel and Susannah were living at Westbarrow Hall, Eastwood in 1911 (part occupiers), where he was continuing to work as a farm horseman. By the time the 1939 register was taken, the couple had moved to Rayleigh. Samuel was now 85 and retired from ploughing. Both Samuel and Susannah’s deaths were recorded in the 1st quarter of 1945, age 90 and 83.
The electoral records for 1891 list Emanuel VANDERVORD as eligible to vote in Eastwood due to the qualifying property of “Feeches Farm“.
Emanuel VANDERVORD was born 1829 in Southend and married Eliza Walker PETERS (born 1831 in Southend) on 29th Aug 1855 at St Mary the Virgin, Prittlewell. They had nine children together between 1857-1875.
- George Frederick Vandevord (b.1857 in Southend)
- Amelia Eliza Vandervord (b.1859 in Southend, died age 0)
- Frank Emanuel Vandevord (b.1860 in Southend)
- Harry Charles Vandevord (b.1862 in Southend)
- Albert Edward Vandervord (b.1864 in Southend, died age 0)
- Rose Elizabeth Vandevord (b.1865 in Southend)
- Ernest Chapman Vandevord (b.1869 in Southend)
- Eliza Violet Vandervord (b.1873 in Southend)
- Sydney Harold Vandervord (b.1875 in Southend)
Emanuel and his brother George both worked as corn merchants and hoymen (barge owners) and were the grandsons of Abraham VANDERVORD, who set up the company “Vandervord Bros” (hoymen, corn merchants, and farmers). Abraham held the copyhold to Prittlewell Priory and Milton Hall until his death in 1817 (amongst others) and also built the Minerva Hotel in 1793. The Vandervord family owned at least two houses at Grosvenor Place, on Marine Parade, Southend (just opposite Minerva Hotel), and Emanuel and family lived at 1 Grosvenor Place, Marine Parade, Southend for many years.
Electoral records show George and Emanuel leased or owned land near Harp House in Eastwood between 1884-1889 (at least). Harp House was just up the road from Feeches Farm, and the 1891 electoral records show Emanuel was eligible to vote in Eastwood due to the qualifying land and property of “Feeches Farm“. He had land and property in Sutton called “Smithies Farm”, freehold land in lower Southend on Brewhouse Lane, and land at Fossetts Farm in Prittlewell. It’s possible Emanuel may have been the buyer of Feeches Farm in 1886, but could also have been the leaseholder.
Feeches wasn’t listed by name on the 1891 census, going from Waterworks to an unnamed property, then Harp House. Whitehouse Farm, located just south-east of Feeches on the Rochford Road (not to be confused with another farm of the same name further west in the parish of Eastwood), was actually part of the Prittlewell enumeration district, so the unnamed property may well have been Feeches, which was occupied by Edward NUNN (an agricultural labourer) and family.
Emanuel’s wife Eliza died on 3rd Jan 1905 age 74, and Emanuel died only days later on 17th Jan 1905 age 76.
Between 1896-1898, Feeches Farm was occupied by William WIFFEN.
William WIFFEN was born in late 1861 in Danbury, Essex and grew up in nearby Woodham Mortimer. He married Rosetta MARSH in early 1885 in Heybridge, Essex (Rosetta’s home town) and they had two children together very soon after, both born in Southend where they had just moved.
- Alice Louisa Gertrude Wiffen (b.1886 in Southend)
- Mary Ann Wiffen (b.1887 in Southend)
The family were living at Elmville Cottage, Sutton Road, Prittlewell in 1891, where William was working as a groom and gardener. Rosetta sadly died towards the end of 1895 age 33, leaving William with two young children to raise. By 1896, the family had moved to Feeches Farm, as confirmed by two small newspaper adverts. By the time the second ad was placed, requesting help finding a strayed horse, William had remarried.
William remarried on 27th Dec 1897 to Alice PERKINS at St Laurence and All Saints, Eastwood. William was now age 35, and Alice was just 20. Both were living in Eastwood, where William was working as a farmer, like his father. The following map, published in 1898, shows the Feeches and surrounding area as it would have been when William was living there.
The land around Feeches Farm was divided into plots for development, with the first auction held on 15th May 1899. There were several newspaper adverts and reports of the auction, but no indication as to who owned the land, referred to as “Prittlewell Crescent Estate“. This included various plots along Rochford Road, one of which may have been the farmhouse, and described as “a bungalow with three adjoining plots“, and another plot for a “hotel site“. The land within the estate was plotted out into roads, and named as Feeches Road, North Crescent and South Crescent. A majority of the plots had an 18ft frontage by about 100ft deep, and a second auction was held on May 29th.
The land surrounding the farm had been nearly all sold off by this time but remained in use for farming. The last few plots were auctioned off on 15th Jul 1902.
William and family had moved to Hall Farm in Southchurch by 1911, where he was working as a farmer, carman and contractor. William and his new wife Alice lost their first child at only a few months old in 1899, and had their second and last child in 1904.
- Edna Grace Leslie Wiffen (b.1899 – d.1899, age 0)
- William Leslie Wiffen aka Leslie William Wiffen (b.1904 at Hall Farm, Southchurch)
The family continued to live at Hall Farm until 1926 when William retired at age 65. He also leased Biggles Bush Farm in Eastwood between 1914-1926, and Upper Edwards Hall Farm too from 1914. William and Alice then moved to Restville, Bellhouse Road, Eastwood, where he died on 13th Jun 1947 at age 85. Alice died in mid-1951 in the Brentwood district at age 74.
In 1901, Feeches Farm was occupied by Alfred Perrin DENNIS and family.
Alfred Perrin DENNIS was born in 1872 in Eastwood, Essex and his father farmed Westbarrow Hall in Eastwood. Alfred married Harriet Eliza ELLIS on 11th Feb 1899 and they were living at Feeches Farm when the 1901 census was taken. Sadly, Alfred died only a few months later on 23rd Sep 1901 age 29, having just moved into 4 Three Ashes Cottage nearby. Harriet remarried in 1909 to Arthur James EVE, and they were living at 4 Three Ashes Cottage when the 1911 census was taken. They had one son born in 1912 and were all still living at 4 Three Ashes Cottage in 1939. Harriet died in 1848 age 72, and Arthur in 1966 age 91.
James FENNER lived briefly at Feeches farmhouse in 1902.
James FENNER was born in 1843 in Chelmsford, Essex, the son of a Sergeant in the 20th the 93rd Regiment. He travelled to Canada c.1860, where he met and married his wife Catherine PHELAN on 7th Nov 1866. They moved back to England (no children) and were living in Chatley, Essex in 1871, where James was working as a police constable. His job moved him around Essex quite a bit, living in Ramsey in early 1891, the Parkeston by the Oct, where he was promoted to sergeant. He was then transferred to Southend, back to Parkeston in 1893, back to Southend and then on to Witham in 1895. In 1900 he was living back in Southend, and in 1901 was at 3 Ashes Cottages, Watts Lane, Eastwood, now retired at age 58 and also a widower, Catherine having died at some point between 1891-1901.
The electoral records for 1902 list James living at Feeches, Eastwood, but can only have been there very briefly as William Townsrow MILNER and family moved in the following year.
James was living at 5 Fairfield Road, Upper Edmonton, London with his married niece and family in 1911. His brother and sister-in-law were also living in the household. I’m not sure when or where James died.
William Townsrow MILNER aka Edward MILNER and family lived in Feeches farmhouse during 1903-1904.
William was born in 1846 in Benington, Lincolnshire, the son of a saddler. He married Louisa Maria SNOW on 1st May 1872 in Chadderton, Lancashire and had five children between 1873-1880. They lost their third child at under 3 months, and their fifth at not much older in 1880. Louise sadly died the following year in early 1881 age 28.
- William Snow Milner (b.1873 in Oldham, Lancashire)
- Mary Elizabeth Milner (b.1874 in Oldham, Lancashire)
- Edith Alice Milner (b.1876 in Oldham, Lancashire – d.1876, age 0)
- Edward John Milner (b.1878 in Oldham, Lancashire)
- Victor Charles Milner (b.1880 in Oldham, Lancashire – d.1880, age 0)
The census was taken not long after this, showing William living in Oldham, Lancashire with his three young children, age 35 and working as a provision merchant. William re-married swiftly after this to Sarah NEWELL on 2nd Aug 1882 in Calverley, Yorkshire. Sarah was eleven years his junior and the daughter of a registrar. Interestingly, they had five witnesses sign the marriage register, rather than the usual two. William and Sarah had a child each year between 1883-1886 but was widowed once again in early 1890 when Sarah died at age 33.
- Charlotte Ann Townsrow Milner (b.1883 in Southport, Lancashire)
- Joseph William Milner (b.1884 in Oldham, Lancashire)
- John Newell Milner (b.1885 in Oldham, Lancashire)
- Richard Banks Milner (b.1886 in Oldham, Lancashire)
William is nowhere to be found in the 1891 census. His oldest son, another William (age 16), had just joined the Navy, but his other two children from his first marriage remain undiscovered. William’s youngest four children from his second marriage were being looked after elsewhere; Charlotte age 7 was living with family, Joseph age 6 was lodging in Oldham, and John and Richard, ages 4 and 3, were visiting nearby in Tonge. William turns up next when he remarried for the third time to Georgina EVANS, a young Irish girl thirty-four years his junior. They married on 10th Aug 1896 in Newington, Surry, where William was now working as a licensed victualler. William gave his age as 44 but was actually 50, and Georgina was just 16. The couple had eight children between 1897-1911, making William the father of seventeen children in total, although not all survived into adulthood.
- Charlotte Elizabeth Milner (b.1897 in Wapping, London)
- Charles Townsrow Milner (b.1899 in St George in the East, London)
- Frederick Townsrow Milner (b.1900 in Prittlewell, Essex – d.1903, age 3)
- George Edward Milner (b.1901 in Southend, Essex)
- Alfred James Milner (b.1903 in Southend, Essex)
- Harold Percival Milner (b.1907 in Southend, Essex)
- Henry Thomas Milner (b.1909 in Southend, Essex)
- Frank Walter Milner (b.1911 in Southend, Essex)
The family moved from London to Prittlewell, Essex in 1900, where William set up in business as a coal merchant, trading under the name Edward MILNER & Co, a name which he also went by from time to time as shown in the newspaper reports below and also on some of his children’s baptismal records. No sooner had William arrived in Essex than he began to get into trouble. Quite possibly a trend wherever he went. He was fined 8s 6d for leaving his horse unattended in Sep 1900, 10s with 1ss costs for ill-treatment of his horse in Mar 1901, and 2s 6d with 8s 6d costs for plying for trade without a licence in Jun 1902. When the 1901 census was taken, William’s three sons from his second marriage were living with them, along with his three latest children (ages 3, 2 and 1). The family moved to the property on Feeches Farm not long after this, making use of the smaller plot of land the house was now attached to, including stables and sheds. I don’t believe he leased any of the other lands, which although sold off at this time, had seen no development.
On 16th Jun 1903, now living at Feeches Farm, William had an accident whilst driving two ladies in his four-wheeled cart, from which he was thrown, sustaining some nasty cuts to his head and bruises to his body (the ladies were fine). Their third child sadly died at age 3 towards the end of the year, and in the Dec William, as Edward MILNER, was summoned to court for cruelty to his horse (yet again), and fined 10s with 4s costs.
On Sat 2nd Jan 1904, a fire destroyed the stables and sheds at Feeches Farm along with their contents. It was stated that William entered the stables to get a bucket on the Saturday night and lit a match, and surmised that it dropped onto some coal sacks, where it smouldered before finally setting alight. A local bootmaker by the name of Mr DOWSETT was awoken by a couple of labourers after spying flames, who then went to look at the fire. He decided there was nothing to be done, and went back home without even waking the Milner household. Mr DOWSETT, it turns out, used to be a fireman, but as he no longer was at the time, did not bother to call the Brigade for help. One newspaper article stated William (as Edward, again) was insured, which is interesting to note as the following month he was declared bankrupt.
William was working from 11 Wallace Avenue, Prittlewell when he went to court on 6th Apr 1904, stating his liabilities to be £293 5s (over £27k today) with a deficiency of £280 12s. William received £83 from the Phoenix Fire Insurance Office, which he cashed with one of his debtors and given £77 change on Feb 6th (about £7k today), then six days later filed for bankruptcy. William had failed to mention this money during his first examination, stating he had gone out on the Saturday night following and lost the whole lot whilst drunk. It was then discovered that he had actually tried to hide £40 of this money by giving it to his wife, who asked her stepson to cash up the notes on Feb 17th, unaware that they would be traceable. A search warrant was then issued for their family home at Perry’s Cottages, East Street, Prittlewell to ascertain if any of the money was still hidden there. Sadly, I have found no further articles regarding this case.
The Milner family moved around Prittlewell up until 1911 when William was living at 5 Fairfax Drive, now working as a gardener with his own account. He stated to have been married for fifteen years and had six children from that marriage (all still living), but this was just the number of children who were living with William at the time the census was taken (he actually had eight from this marriage, one of which had died). His wife Georgina was visiting her sister’s family in Southwark, London, with her youngest child, who was just two months old. She was recorded as having been married for two years, with one child born from the marriage, which is odd. William died in mid-1919 in the Rochford district at age 74. I have not been able to trace Georgina after the 1911 census.
Charles CHASE leased Feeches Farm in 1905.
Charles was born in 1835 in Woodham Ferrers, Essex, the son of an agricultural labourer. He married Eliza RAVEN on 1st Oct 1859 at St Mary the Virgin, Woodham Ferrers and had eight children between 1860-1881, losing their third child at 21 months old in 1867. By 1871 the family were living in Hawkwell, Essex where Charles was working as a horse keeper. Tragedy struck again in 1877 when their sixth child died at age 3 and their last child at just 7 months old. The family were still living in Hawkwell in 1881, William now working as a farm bailiff and living at Parsonage Farm. Eliza had her eighth and last child in Oct of that year, but he sadly died seven months later.
- Emma Chase (b.1860 in West Hanningfield, Essex)
- George Chase (b.1862 in Prittlewell, Essex)
- Joseph Chase (b.1865 in Hawkwell, Essex – d. 1867, age 21 months)
- Ellen Chase (b.1868 in Hawkwell, Essex)
- William Charles Chase (b.1872 in Hawkwell, Essex)
- Albert Henry Chase (b.1874 n Hawkwell, Essex – d.1877, age 3)
- Percy John Chase (b.1878 in Hawkwell, Essex)
- Herbert Arthur Chase (b.1881 in Hawkwell, Essex – d.1882, age 7 months)
The family had moved to Rochford by 1891, where Charles was now working as a farmer, age 56 (although stated to be 52). They then moved again and were living at “Briarfield” in Prittlewell when the 1901 census was taken, and Charles was working as a farmer with his own account at home, now age 66.
Charles leased Feeches Farm after William MILNER left in 1904, and renamed the farmhouse “Nordeck Villa”. The land had been marked out with wooden stakes to indicate the various sold plots, with a rail all around to prevent people and horses from going in, but otherwise open from the road. Charles was also able to lease many (if not all) of the plots for his dairy cattle, indicating much of the land had been bought by the same developer when auctioned off in 1899.
On 12th Feb 1905, Charles discovered a trespasser on his land whilst out milking cows with his son Percy. The trespasser was one George THIPTHORPE, age 30, of Fairfax Drive, and armed. As Charles went towards him, he raised his gun and shot, hitting Charles in the lower part of his face. Charles, bleeding, shouted for help from his son, who then pursued THIPTHORPE, who once again pointed his gun before walking away. Luckily Charles was not seriously hurt, and finished his work milking, before sending Percy for a constable. THIPTHORPE was later arrested, but broke free, causing a large man-hunt to ensue and his eventual re-capture. THIPTHORPE had been found on the land previous to this, stating to Charles that he had a right to be there. He did not and was poaching for rabbits and birds. During the trial, it was revealed that THIPTHORPE kept his unlicensed gun in two parts, so he could hide it from detection. He stated the whole thing to have been an accident, and that he never spoke to Charles, but was found guilty of unlawful wounding and sentenced to three months hard labour in Jun 1905. The judge told him to “stop carrying those guns the barrels of which go down your trousers and the stocks in your pocket.”
Only four months later, George THIPTHORPE’s brother, Bert THIPTHORPE, was found trespassing on Feeches Farm in search of conies, with another man, George ELLIS, and a dog. When approached by Charles’s son and then himself, the men threatened them and, stated they had as much right to be there and he did. Previous game trespass convictions were proved against THIPTHORPE, who was fined £2, plus 4s court costs and 3s witness’ expenses. ELLIS was fined £1, plus the same costs. Being fined obviously meant very little to Bert THIPTHORPE, as he and another friend, Frederick FRANKLIN, were found poaching conies once again the following month. The case went to court the following Jan and THIPTHORPE was once again found guilty. This time he was fined 40s and 5s 6d costs or 40 days. FRANKLIN was fined 10s and 5s 6d costs or 7 days.
Charles’s wife Eliza died in Feb 1906 at age 69, and Charles on 9th Sep 1908 at “Nordeck Villa”, at age 73. Their son Percy, and his sister Ellen, were still living at “Nordeck Villa” in 1911, Percy continued to work as a dairyman with his own account at home, so still working from Feeches Farm. It was described as having “five rooms”.
During WWI, the land just to the north of Feeches Farm began use as a flying base, with regular activity throughout the war. Percy married Emily Sarah SORRELL on 1st Jan 1917, describing both himself and his father as a “Dairy Farmer”, and still living in Eastwood. By the time the war was over, Percy and Emily had moved to West Street, Rochford, and George Oliver CONQUEST and wife Harriett moved into Nordeck Villa. Percy and Emily don’t appear to have had any children, and he sadly died at the end of Apr 1925 age 46.
George Benjamin Oliver CONQUEST and family moved into the old farmhouse, now Nordeck Villa on the Feeches Estate, in 1918.
George Benjamin Oliver CONQUEST was born in early 1858 in Hoxton, London to George Augustus Oliver Conquest and Elizabeth OZMOND. The Conquest family had been in the entertainment industry since the 1820s, and have an interesting history. George’s paternal grandparents were Benjamin Oliver CONQUEST, nee OLIVER, who was born 3rd Dec 1803 in Clerkenwell, London (then part of Middlesex), to a tailor father named George Augustus OLIVER, and Clarissa Ann BENNETT who was born 29th Jul 1801 in Wandsworth, Surrey, the daughter of a lighterman.
In Nov 1823, when Clarissa Ann BENNETT was 22, she bore a daughter to comedian and actor Henry Roxby BEVERLY, nee ROXBY, whom she later married in Whitechapel on 9th Oct 1826. As is still common today within the world of entertainment, “Beverly” was a stage name, also used by Henry’s father, William Roxby BEVERLY, a theatre manager. Things get a bit more confusing after this! Their daughter was baptised in 1830 as “Clarissa Ann BENNET”, (aka Clara) the “daughter of Clarissa Ann BENNET by Henry ROXBY, gentleman“. A second daughter, Fanny Louisa Roxby BEVERLY, was born in 1832 up in Liverpool, where Henry had travelled to work (possibly by Clarissa, but possibly not!). It’s also possible Clarissa had a son with Benjamin Oliver CONQUEST in between this time during 1829, who was baptised “Benjamin Oliver CONQUEST” in Whitechapel with parents “Benjamin & Cecillia CONQUEST” (no further records of this child are found, so likely died). Either way, Henry deserted his wife and daughters in 1832, and Clarissa set up home with Benjamin, and had six children together between 1834-1846.
- Benjamin Oliver Conquest (possible first child (mother “Cecillia”), b.1829 in Whitechapel, London)
- Ellen Oliver Conquest (b. 26 Jul 1834 in Whitechapel, London)
- George Augustus Oliver Conquest (b. 04 May 1837 above Garrick Theatre, Whitechapel, London) George Benjamin Oliver Conquest’s father
- Amelia Oliver Conquest (b. 20 May 1838 in Whitechapel, London)
- Marian Oliver Conquest (b. 10 Jun 1840 in Whitechapel, London)
- Laura Oliver Conquest (b. 1842 in Whitechapel, London)
- Isabella Oliver Conquest (b. 1846 in Marleybone, London)
When the 1841 census was taken, Clarissa was living in Gravesend, Kent and recorded as “Clarissa BENNET”, with unmarried sister Ann BENNET, and four children aged 6, 4, 3 and 1, all with the surname “CONQUEST”. Benjamin, recorded as “Benjamin OLIVER”, was living at Leman Street, Whitechapel, and working as a licenced victualler and manager of the Garrick Theatre next door (now a pub, currently called “The Oliver Conquest“). Also present within the household was Clarissa’s eldest daughter, 17-year-old “Clara BENNETT” (Henry’s daughter), who, although not stated, was working as an actress. Two years prior to this, the 15-year-old Clara attempted to elope at Kensington Church to an actor by the name of Richard COCERILL on 30th Dec 1838, but was discovered just time to stop it by her step-father!
Clarissa’s second (possible) daughter by Henry Roxby BEVERLY was baptised at age 16 in 1848, stated to be the daughter of “Henry Roxby BEVERLY and Clare”. The ceremony took place in St Pancras, but she was living in Scarborough at the time. I haven’t found her in the 1841 or 1851 censuses, and she died in 1862 age 30.
By 1851, Benjamin had taken over as proprietor of the Grecian Theatre and Eagle Tavern (next door) in Shoreditch. The property was rebuilt in 1858, by which time Benjamin and Clarissa’s son George Augustus Oliver CONQUEST was helping to run the place, as well as taking to the stage. George had married Elizabeth OZMOND the previous year on 9th Jul 1857, and stated his occupation as “comedian”. Their first child, George Benjamin Oliver CONQUEST (who would go on to live at Feeches), was born five months after they married on 9th Jan 1858 (all their children were registered at birth with the surname “Oliver”).
Later in 1858, Clarissa went to court, as Mrs Clarissa Ann ROXBY, the wife of Henry ROXBY “celebrated vocalists well known in the provinces” (the north). During the previous years, Clarissa had by her own efforts as a dance teacher, acquired a property at Palace New Road, near Astley’s Theatre in Lambeth. She went to court under the new divorce act, seeking protection under section 21 to secure her property so her estranged husband would have no claim to it. In all the time since his desertion, Clarissa stated to have received no contact from him or financial assistance. No mention was made to her relationship with Benjamin, and interestingly, Clarissa made the claim in Southwark, rather than her own district of Lambeth (where she was told she would need to go to proceed). A few years previous, in 1852, Henry had been sent to debtors prison in York, so perhaps she was worried about him having a claim to her property if he became bankrupt again.
Benjamin was age 57 when the 1861 census was taken, working as a comedian and employed 160 people in the running of the Grecian Theatre and Eagle Tavern, whilst Clarissa was working as a ballet mistress. Son George and his wife were also living there with their first two children, George Jnr (of Feeches) and Elizabeth Jnr. George Jnr took to the stage at age four in 1862, as a beetle in a pantomime produced by his grandfather at the Garrick.
Clarissa’s estranged husband, Henry Roxby BEVERLY, died on 1st Feb 1863 at age 67, and very shortly afterwards, on 4th Mar, Clarissa and Benjamin finally married in Brighton, Sussex. Clarissa was living at 1 Black Lion Street in Brighton at the time, and Benjamin was still in Shoreditch. Clarissa died on 4th Nov 1867 at 25 West Street, Brighton age 67, and Benjamin remarried (under surname OLIVER) on 3rd Nov 1870 in Hoxton, London to 21-year-old Jane Elizabeth ALLEN. He was still working as a wine merchant and theatre proprietor, although his son George was now managing the business. George also wrote many of the melodramas performed at the Grecian, along with acting, pantomime and acrobatics. In fact, he had become one of the main attractions of the establishment. When the 1871 census was taken, Benjamin and his new wife Jane were living at the Eagle Tavern, along with five grandchildren (all George and Elizabeth’s, including George Jnr age 13), but George and Elizabeth themselves were nowhere to be found, nor their other three children (they had eight to date, but would go on to have a total of twelve).
Benjamin died at his home of 46 New Road, Hoxton on 5th Jul 1872 age 68, and his health had been declining for some time. He left the Grecian Theatre to his son George. Benjamin’s young widow Jane swiftly remarried to a public house brokers agent named Thomas STOCK on 6th Aug 1873. They don’t appear to have had any children, and she herself then died in 1884 aged 35.
George Jnr was sent away for education to the College Communale at Boulogne, France. On his return he re-joined his father at the Grecian, taking on aerobatic and gymnastic parts on stage. The theatre was rebuilt a second time in 1876, and that same year George and Elizabeth lost their eldest daughter (Elizabeth) at age 17.
George Snr Snr (pictured above, early 1870’s) sold the Grecian Theatre a couple of years later to T. G. Clark, and the family toured the country with their pantomime entitled “Grim Goblins” (or the less catchy, but far more amusing “Harlequin Octopus the Devil Fish, and the Fairies of the Flowery Dell“), which had premiered at the Grecian during Christmas 1876. The company then went to America, performing “Grim Goblin” on Broadway, New York. Part of the show consisted of an aerial ballet, but on the opening night disaster struck, and father and son were thrown to the ground due to a damaged wire. George Jnr was badly shaken, but his father broke an arm and leg.
On returning to England, George Jnr married his first cousin Harriett Isabel OZMOND (age 21 & 20) on 19th Apr 1879 at the Register Office in Holborn. George married with the surname “Oliver”, and their three children were also all registered as “Oliver”, but used Conquest:
- George Augustus Oliver (b. early 1880 in Islington, London – d. 5th Jan 1893 in Southend, Essex, age 12)
- Harriett Rosina Oliver, aka Harriett Rosina Oliver Conquest (b. 1881 in Enfield, London)
- Frederick Oliver, aka Frederick Oliver Conquest (b. 23rd Apr 1885 in Brixton, London – d. 23rd Aug 1951 in Rochford Hospital, Essex)
George Snr and his son took over the Surrey Theatre, London from William HOLLAND in 1881, and began to put on the same style of shows they had produced at the Garrick. George Snr and family were living at 40 Carlton Road, Finsbury when the census was taken that year, simply noting his occupation as “actor”. Four of their now eleven children were present, with a further four found at Alexandra College For Ladies in Tottenham. George Jnr and family were living at “The Bell” in Enfield, where he was working as a publican, and his wife Harriet was several months pregnant with their second child. On 25th Apr 1883, George Snr legally changed his surname by deed pole from OLIVER to CONQUEST.
During 1889, George Snr and Elizabeth lost another daughter (Daisy), at age 17, and George Jnr took on acting parts at Drury Lane. Then on 9th Dec 1890, Elizabeth suffered a nasty head injury after jumping out of a moving carriage with run-away horses. At first, she appeared to recover but sadly died a few days later on the 18th age 52. The following year in 1891, the widowed George and five of his children were living in Dulwich, South London, whilst George Jnr and family had moved to 1 Edinburgh Villas, Southchurch, Essex, where he was working as an actor. Sadly, George Jnr and Harriett’s eldest son died whilst there on 5th Jan 1893 at age 12.
George Snr’s (pictured above, 1895) last performance was in “Sinbad and the Little Old Man of the Sea” during 1897, but he carried on working as a theatrical agent until he died on 14th May 1901 at his home “Hillsboro”, 49 Brixton Hill, Lambeth age 64. George Jnr took over the lease and management of the Surrey Theatre from his father up until 1904, and also leased and managed Terriss’s in Rotherhithe in 1902. In late 1901, George and Harriett’s daughter, who now went by Cissy Oliver CONQUEST, married music hall artist Ernest Edwin GILES (using the surname Conquest).
It was during 1905 that George and his wife Harriett moved back to Southend, where he took over as manager of the New Empire Theatre until 1909. Son Frederick married Elizabeth Rose BAKER in Camberwell in 1909 (using the surname Conquest), and then moved to the Southend area with his parents. After leaving the Empire, George toured with his flying ballet and made his final public appearance at the Royal, Portsmouth before retiring to Ravenswood Chase, Eastwood in 1916 with his wife Harriett. Frederick enlisted as a Private into the Middlesex Regiment (Duke of Cambridge’s Own) during WWI and was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal on his discharge.
George and Harriett moved one last time, this time into Nordeck Villa (formally Feeches farmhouse), Rochford Road, Eastwood. This map surveyed in 1920 and published in 1923, shows very little development had gone on within the Feeches Estate to date. This was all about to change, with many bungalows and a few houses erected over the next few years.
George died at Nordeck Villa on 30th Oct 1926 age 68. He had gone out after lunch his usual self, but on his return collapsed with shortness of breath. A doctor was sent for, but George had died before he arrived. He was buried a few days later on 6th Nov at the Sutton Road Cemetery nearby.
Development continued within the Feeches estate into the 1930s, and in 1933 Southend Council bought the airport site, which was officially opened as a municipal airport in 1935. At some point after 1931, Nordeck Villa became “Nordell Villa“, where Harriett died on 16th Feb 1937 at age 77.
A few months after Harriett died, a rather grisly incident occurred on the estate. On Tuesday 28th Dec 1937, Mrs Irene Frances JARVIS (nee DAY) was found dead in a ditch at Prittlewell Chase, having been missing since Sunday (age 29). She had been strangled by her husband, Leonard James JARVIS of Feeches Road, whose own body was later discovered by the police in his gas-filled kitchen at his home on Feeches Road (age 33). Leonard had been in trouble several times before this last event, for both stealing and assault and had spent time in prison with hard labour during 1925 and 1927-1928.
Nordeck/Nordell Villa was vacant when the 1939 Register was taken, listed just after “Goodmans Depositary” on Rochford Road by the entrance to Feeches Road. The nearby airport was once again taken over by the Air Force for their use during WWII, and there had been much housing development in the surrounding area.
Another building boom took place after peace was declared in 1945, with the addition of a new runway for the airport in the mid-1950s. The map surveyed in 1949 and published in 1951 shows that the old farmhouse had gone, with another property built in its place.
By the mid-1960s, all the plots had been housed, and a small additional curved road was added on the west end into the adjoining field, linking North Crescent into Feeches Road. As can be seen on the 2022 satellite image lower down, a few green spaces still survive to the north and west of the estate. The property built where Feeches farmhouse once stood eventually become business premises, numbered 99 Rochford Road. “Tower Radio” ran from there for some time, followed by “Beautiful Furniture In Wood”. Then in 2016, the property was eyed for development, eventually being demolished once again to make way for a large, shiny new block of flats called “Viscount House”, covering 97-99 Rochford Road.
Today, no physical evidence remains that the land was once farmed, but the name “Feeches” lives on in the naming of the central road.
I use many different resources during my research, of which there are just some:
- Ancestry – www.ancestry.com
- British Newspaper Archive – www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk
- Essex Archives – www.essexarchivesonline.co.uk
- Essex Society for Archaeology & History – www.esah1852.org.uk
- Find My Past – www.findmypast.co.uk
- Google – www.google.co.uk
- National Library of Scotland (maps) – maps.nls.uk