'Benenden' Salisbury Avenue

By Trevor Savage

This picture was taken in Salisbury Avenue outside the bungalow Benenden just east of the junction with Marlborough Road.   The family in the foreground are Nell Waters with her grandchildren Trevor Savage (me), Hazel Savage (my sister) and my father Cecil Savage.

What is noteworthy is the fact it shows a hall in the background. Thelma Oliver (nee Savage nee Waters - my mother), tells me this hall originally belonged to St Nicholas Church and was used by the Spiritualist Church and then Berry Boxing Club - can only remember it during the late 1950's and early 1960's when it was always shut up and strictly out of bounds to an inquisitive young boy. Recently Thelma told me she thought it may be St Michael's Hall, the reason for this being, this end of Salisbury Avenue is close to the woods that I always knew as 'The Copse'. Other contributors refer to a plantation near St Michael's Hall!

Next door to the hall on the other side in Salisbury Avenue lived Nell Tilley, a local home help (does anyone remember her?).  She was an aunt of the singer Sandy Shaw.  There was great excitement one weekend as Sandy came down from Dagenham to see her aunt while we were visiting Grandma and we were all introduced to her. The singer had just released her first record "There's always something there to remind me"!

Photo:Outside 'Benenden'.  Hazel and Trevor Savage with their father Cecil and their grandmother Nell Waters.

Outside 'Benenden'. Hazel and Trevor Savage with their father Cecil and their grandmother Nell Waters.

Photo:Basildon Development Corporation property survey map showing Salisbury Avenue as it would have been in 1949 (Added by the editor)

Basildon Development Corporation property survey map showing Salisbury Avenue as it would have been in 1949 (Added by the editor)

Ordnance Survey and BDC

Photo:Enlargement  of the map above showing the location of 'Benenden' (No 135) and the Church Hall (No 136) (Added by the editor)

Enlargement of the map above showing the location of 'Benenden' (No 135) and the Church Hall (No 136) (Added by the editor)

Ordnance Survey and BDC

This page was added by Trevor Savage on 16/04/2014.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

Alice and Rose White of Haselmere, Salisbury Avenue were my cousins.  My brother Tony and myself spent many happy weekends in Laindon in the 1940s/50s.  We lived in west London, so roaming through the Laindon fields was a joy I have never forgotten. I wonder where Rosie is now?

By dave ellis
On 23/02/2016

Editor - thanks, yes the plot 131 next to 'Whitethorn' did have two buildings on it.

By Judy Webb
On 06/08/2015

I love that map.  I was trying to see where our bungalow in Salisbury Avenue was.  It was called Whitethorn and was on the left hand side of the road past the railway crossing.  A bungalow called Straits Defence was next door to us.  I can't quite make out from this map where it was.

Editor:  On the enlarged map, ‘Whitethorn’ is Plot No 130.  The number isn’t clear but 132 and 131 can be seen fairly clearly.   No. 131 has two buildings on its plot.  No. 130 is to the left of those, on the edge of the map.

By Judy Webb
On 04/08/2015

The page and photo about Sandie Shaw and the WI Hall - 'Girl Don't Come' regarding Rob and Nell Tilley's 25th Wedding Anniversary tie in with what I have said in this page.

By Trevor Savage
On 31/07/2015

I want to add these observations to the discussion regarding the MISSION HALL in Salisbury Avenue on Plot 136.  

1 My mother Thelma Oliver was Christenened Thelma Margaret Waters.2 The Baptism date February 1931 was about the same time as that when the Old St Marys Church was being decommissioned.3 W T Hickson was the curate for some time at St Nicholas and Revd.M.N.Lake was his boss.4 W T Hickson then became rector of the new St Marys and St John at the top of the Langdon Hills Crown Hill.5 The parish boundary line was the railway6 The Mission Hall belonged to St Nicholas but Thelma has told me it was in fact being used as an outpost of St Marys Langdon Hills because the church at the top of the hillwas so far away from the parishioners around Salisbury Avenue.7 Maybe we should suppose because the Hall belonged to St Nicholas Church the Baptism Certificate was signed by M. N Lake even though Hickson carried out the baptism.8 It is not unknown for two clergy men to be present at a baptism, as is often the case in the present time – so this may explain some of the mystery.  Trevor

By Trevor Savage
On 31/07/2015

Hi Thelma

Revd Michael N Lake at the time was rector of St Nicholas Church, Laindon (1929-1940). Salisbury Avenue was I believe in the Parish of Lee Chapel and therefore came under the jurisdiction of St Nicholas.

By Ken Porter
On 31/07/2015

Further to the hall in Salisbury Avenue, my mother informed me that as Revd. T Wilmot baptised me, I should be confirmed by him at St Mary's Langdon Hills.  This was agreed and eventually I was married by him in 1951.  Trevor was also baptised at St Mary's.  I can provide a certificate, this will be submitted shortly.  The certificate shows 1st February 1931 signed Revd.M.N.Lake.  Possibly he signed as being the (cleric in charge at that time)?

Regarding divisions of parish etc., my cousin from Berry Lane, amongst many others, was allowed on a bus free of charge to the new High Road School.  I was considered to be in Laindon, so lost out and so had to go on the bicycle.

By Thelma Oliver
On 30/07/2015

The comment posted by Mrs Oliver on 25/7/2015, rather than answering the question about the use to which the building on plot number 136 in Salisbury Avenue was put, seems to cloud the matter a bit more. She says she was baptised in the building by the Curate, the Rev. Hickson from St Mary’s, Langdon Hills. She does not supply a date for this event and further queries arise as a result and require answering.

As I have only ever had access to older large-scale ordnance survey maps, every one of which identifies the building as a “Hall”, could it be that at some time it was used as a church but was later replaced by the church of the same name shown on plot number 65 in Green Lane? This could mean that the building on plot 136 was then downgraded to a hall, perhaps?

Similarly, would it be right to think that the Rev. Hickson (Curate) to whom she refers is the same person as the Rev. Wilmot T Hickson, Rector of St Mary’s Langdon Hills, reference to whom is made elsewhere on this website?

This much I do know; Firstly, in April 1931, a meeting of the Lee Chapel Parish Council was held at what was named as the Council Schools (sic), Langdon Hills, at which it was recorded as being the last of the Council’s term of office. Exactly a week later, as already stated, the building on plot 136, Salisbury Avenue was used to hold the same Parish Council’s annual Assembly at which meeting five members were to be elected or re-elected as the new Parish Council. The building is recorded in the newspaper report of this second meeting as being “St Michael’s Church Mission, Salisbury Avenue.” In passing, it is, perhaps, worth noting that, according to the report, thirty “ratepayers” attended this second meeting.

Secondly, at the time of these two meetings, the Rector at the Church of England’s church of St Mary’s, Langdon Hills, was the Rev. F C Livesey BA who, because Lee Chapel was what was known as being “Extra-Parochial” not having its own parish church or priest, was also in charge of the parishioners of Lee Chapel. This would mean, perhaps, that the register which Mr Livesey was required to keep of the events of baptism, marriage and burials, contains the record of the baptism of Mrs Oliver.

Thirdly, it was not unusual for a widespread CofE parish like Langdon Hills to have what were known as “outlier Chapels or Churches” which catered for parishioners a long way from their “mother” church. Laindon’s Parish Church, St Nicholas, had one such establishment on the north side of St Nicholas Lane a short distance from the High Road and a few doors away from the “Hiawatha”. This outlier church or chapel was dedicated to St Peter and like St Michael’s on plot 65, Green Lane, was of wooden construction.  St Peter’s Church hall was on the south side of St Nicholas Lane, opposite the “Hiawatha”. Both the church and the hall were often in use to hold Sunday Schools.  At Billericay, the CofE Church of St Mary Magdalene in the High Street was established in the 17th century as the outlier chapel of the mother church of St Mary Magdalene in Great Burstead because Billericay had no priest of its own.

Fourthly, both the buildings on plot 136, Salisbury Avenue and that on plot 65, Green Lane were clearly in the parish of Lee Chapel as were most of the habitations in both Salisbury Avenue and Northumberland Avenue.  These roads were on either side of the railway line which actually bisected Lee Chapel. All the properties in these streets were erected on the fields of the former farm of Little Gobions which was demolished when the railway station was built. This was the so called “Station Estate”, the very first area in the district actually to be developed. This should mean that approval to build in these roads must have been obtained from the local authority at the time. so a record should exist of when the two churches were first constructed. Unfortunately, the record as to which authority was responsible for what in the Lee Chapel area is vague. From the time that the station was opened (1888) and until 1934, Langdon Hills was in the Orsett Rural District area while Laindon was in the Rural District of Billericay. These two separate authorities seemed to have shared responsibility for the Lee Chapel district but on what basis is far from clear.

Lastly; in the same year (1888) as Laindon station was opened, the Essex County Council was formed and had overall administrative control of what happened inside most of its boundaries. The County Council thus had control over most of the schools which, in the Laindon district, included the school in High Road Langdon Hills and that at Laindon Park, the latter being known originally and officially as St Nicholas Lane but usually, of later years, called “Donaldson’s”. The Schools came under a special committee known as the EEC (Essex Education Committee).

As the district’s population grew larger after WW1, a new school was built in Laindon High Road in 1926 and the EEC made the arbitrary decision that after that date that only the children who lived to the south of the railway line would go to the school in Langdon Hills. All children living north of the railway would go to either Donaldson’s or the new school in Laindon High Road. As I have already posted on this website, this decision upset a number of families, while at the same time, the decision to nominate the railway track as a new kind of boundary line, meant that many others reached the wrong conclusion that this was where the parish of Langdon Hills ended and that of Laindon started. It wasn’t until 1934 when Markham’s Chase School (now Janet Duke) opened that the rule was relaxed.

By John Bathurst
On 29/07/2015

Trevor visited me on Friday and our conversation lead to why was there a Well in the corner of the church hall grounds.  He was always reminded "do not go near the well", water was laid on in the premises so the answer must be that it was there before water was laid on.

Trevor asked me why was the church hall in such a position.   I was christened in that hall by Revd. Hickson who was a curate for St Mary Langdon Hills and the Church being so far away the up hill, it must have been decided to build somewhere nearer to Laindon village.  I remember Sunday School in the hall.

By Thelma Oliver
On 25/07/2015

St Michael's Mission Church was, as the more extensive map shows (Plot 65), on the west side of Green Lane a short distance from Green Lane’s junction with Northumberland Avenue. This junction was known as “Barkers Corner” after the general stores adjacent. The Barkers ran two shops, the other being at the corner of Noak Hill Road and St Agnes Road.

From memory, St Michael's Church was a timber clad construction. It was very much lost from view in the copse where it had been built. This particular small wood was of considerable antiquity because it appears on the old map of the 18th century described as “The Plantation”. I suspect that is was originally composed of Willow trees, the source of the “withies” that were used to make baskets.

The LTS put their railway from Laindon slap bang through the middle of the copse to reach Pitsea but did provide a level crossing for Green Lane to continue on on the south side of the railway. This would mean that the hall in Salisbury Avenue was only a short walk from the church if the crossing was used.

By John Bathurst
On 24/07/2015

Regarding the “disused corrugated iron church” at plot 136; in a 1931 edition of the ”Laindon Advertiser”  this is referred to as St Michael’s Church Mission Hall. The report revealed that the building was in use as the venue of a Lee Chapel Parish Council Meeting.

By John Bathurst
On 23/07/2015

Further to the above article, the building opposite 135 Benenden was a small wooden bungalow in which I spent my first few months of married life, the only property available at the time owned by Mr Rix from Plaistow as a weekend retreat and rented out to us as friends.  A very close community.  

I just wanted to say that the younger girl rescued from the Cornwall sea was Rose and after her boyfriend went back for Alice it was too late as I believe she hit her head on a rock.

By Thelma Oliver
On 23/07/2015

The tragedy happened in 1954 when Alice was 15, a pupil at Laindon High Road School at the time – same as my sister (I believe in the same class).  Alice is buried at St Mary and All Saints Church in Old Church Avenue.

By Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
On 21/07/2015

George and Alice White lived at “Hazelmere” Salisbury Avenue. George was what was known as a “Ganger” on the Railway. This meant he was in charge of a gang of “lengthmen” who looked after and maintained a “length” of permanent way.  George’s length of the track of the LTS railway (now c2c) stretched from Dunton East through West Horndon station and on to Warley. He religiously walked this distance twice every day as he was required to do, ensuring that the tracks or running rails were safe for trains to run.

In 1953 or, perhaps it was 1954, George and his wife were struck with tragedy when their eldest daughter, in her late ‘teens, was drowned. The whole White family had gone to Cornwall for George’s Annual Holiday and the two White girls insisted on going into the sea on their very first day. Unfortunately they did so at a point where the currents and undertow were notoriously unpredictable. Both George’s daughters got into difficulties but the boy-friend of the elder girl who had accompanied them on holiday managed to save the younger girl but was unable to get his girl-friend out.

It was very, very sad because George was such a pleasant bloke to know and he was a broken man afterwards.

Some of the dwellings in Salisbury Avenue that backed onto the railway were rented from British Railways (BR) as did some of those in Northumberland Avenue which also backed onto the railway. I remember that BR had a big splurge and sold off a lot of such property they owned all over the British Isles at rock bottom price around the time that the Basildon Development Corporation was buying up properties in the Laindon area.

By John Bathurst
On 21/07/2015

I remember seeing Nell riding her bike all the time. I lived in Salisbury Avenue from 1953-1964. Our bungalow was called Whitethorn.

By Judy Webb
On 19/07/2015

I agree. Nell Tilley lived at plot 137. Mr White ( a railway platelayer and his wife lived at plot 134. My mother, Thelma Oliver could probably provide the names of the occupants of the other properties in Salisbury Avenue.

By Trevor Savage
On 17/04/2014

This was very interesting Trevor and made me want to learn more.  So, I turned to the 1949 survey, which shows that the hall next to ‘Beneden’ wasn’t St Michael’s Church.  St Michael’s was situated in Green Lane (see the first map that has been added to your article). 

This map also shows ‘Beneden’ (No 135) just above the ‘A’ in Salisbury Drive and the hall next door, (No 136) just above the ‘I’.  The information that goes with the map describes this building as:  A disused corrugated iron Church, in bad condition on waste ground.  Having seen it on the survey map, it’s great to now be able to see it in your photograph.

The second map shows a closer view of plot Nos 135 and 136.  The copse to which you refer is a piece of ancient woodland called ‘Hoppit Shaw’ which is now part of the Langdon Nature Reserve.

Moving on to another ‘Shaw’, Sandy’s, ‘There’s always something there to remind me’ would make a suitable and apt theme song for The Laindon Archive.

By Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
On 16/04/2014
Add a comment about this page

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.