Ernest and Margaret in Loughton

Ernest and Margaret moved to Loughton, Essex when they married in 1904. The house they rented was then new – “Doneen” in Algers Road. Doneen was the present No. 72. The house is one of four (2 semis, 2 detached) erected by the Goulds in 1903 or 04, and Chris Pond (see below) is pretty certain Horace White would have been the architect. The Goulds were the leading nonconformist family of the town, the mainstay of the Loughton Union Church, and had a good deal of house, commercial, and agricultural property in the town. Doneen / 72 is the western half of a pair of semis, that nowadays look quite nondescript, and 72 is hemmed in by a later (1970s) house. It has not been improved by having inappropriate windows fitted. The houses are larger than they look and had a 1929 Rateable Value of £49.

These houses were rented out on yearly tenancies as late as 1930. It was very common in Loughton even for quite well-to-do people to rent rather than buy. 72 Algers Road is less than a hundred yards from the railway station, over a bridge across the lines to the carriage sidings and excursion station. So EM could easily have commuted to the jam factory in Stratford.

This photo by and of Ernest was taken in the garden of Doneen (the bit which has had a 1970s house plonked on it). The house in the background of the photo is Hartwell, which was occupied at the time by the splendidly-named Rev Thomas Toovey Hedges. The photo must have been taken between 1905 and 1909 when some houses were built next to Hartwell. The state of development of the garden planting suggests around 1907, and the date written on the slide, though hard to read, is probably 1907. Hartwell is still there, not much altered, though the angle of the shot now has a large evergreen in it.

In about 1920 Ernest and Margaret moved to a larger house in Loughton. Their children were 8 and 11 years old, and perhaps needed more space. Park Villas were three pairs of semi-detached 3-storey Victorian houses on the south side of Loughton and the west side of the High Road. Nos.1-2 were a private school, run first by Miss Lundquist, who was Swedish, then Miss O’Meara, and called Holmcroft. No.3 had been the Baptist manse till WW1; the first recorded occurrence of E. Marriage there is 1920. No. 4 was occupied by an old Loughton family called Duddy, and later by Leonard Bone, who was the Lopping Hall librarian. He would have been a neighbour of the Hills – Sir Leonard Hill and Bradford Hill, who lived at Nafferton Lodge adjacent.

Quite a lot of artistic and literary people lived in Loughton. It’s possible EM was attracted to Loughton to join this little colony, if he was interested in art photography, for instance. The Hills (whose land adjoined to the rear) and EM were contemporaries; so were the Lester sisters (“Mother of World Peace”- Doris Lester, socialist, friend of Lansbury, Gandhi, etc) whose Rachel Cottage was nearby and whose house “The Grange” was adjacent to Park Villas.

If Margaret was a Belfast protestant then the Union church would have been the logical one for her to have attended – it was joint Baptist and Congregational. The Methodists were (are) at the other end of town. If they were Union church types then they would have had a wide circle and network of friends, would have known the Lesters, Goulds, Lincolns, Hills etc, who in turn had a national network of artistic and political (Liberal) friends.

Ernest’s family background was Quaker, and there were some very influential Quakers in Loughton, for example Richenda and Katherine Fry, grand daughters of Elizabeth. They lived in Albion Hill, about 250 yds from Park Villas.

EM rented 3 Park Villas until 1924. Park Villas were sold by auction on 28 May of that year – there is a sale catalogue in the Essex Record Office. He had been paying rent of £56 p.a. Obviously they bought the place, as he was still there in 1939, when the local directories cease, and later.

When the High Road was numbered, Park Villas became 16 to 26 High Road , with 3 Park Villas becoming No. 20. The Loughton UDC valuation register shows that the owner was Mrs Margaret Marriage, occupier Ernest. The rateable value in 1929 was £52 (average for a good middle-class villa with about 6 bedrooms in Loughton). The house being in the wife’s name wasn’t that uncommon – sometimes a protection against bankruptcy.

As far as we can tell they stayed at No. 20 until failing health forced them in the late 1940s to live alternately for periods of about 6 months with Stephen’s and Tony’s families until their deaths in 1952.

The original Park Villas no longer exist. Two of the houses were demolished in the 1960s (including No. 3), and the other in 1988. Strangely, the other side of the High Road is still much as he would have known it.

Nearly all the information on this page was provided by Chris Pond, Chairman of Loughton & District Historical Society, to whom I am very grateful. The Society have published an excellent little book- “Buildings of Loughton, and notable people of the town” by Chris Pond (2003).