Life at Kents Hill Cottages, Villa Road

Carol Smith's Memories

The Miles and Parmenter Families

My Nan and Great Nan lived in No.1 and No. 2, Kents Hill Cottages, Villa Road.  My Mum lived at No.2 with her Mum, Dad, (Jessie and Albert Miles), brother and sister.  My Great Nan and Great Grandad (David and Anne Parmenter) lived in No.1, that faced the High Road. They were both rented properties, my Great Grandparents had lived there for quite a few years before my Nan and Grandad moved into No.2.

My Mum, who will be 90 this year, remembers that they lived in a new house in Hatley Gardens, Benfleet, complete with all mod cons for that time. When my Nan’s sister who had been living in No.2 Kents Hill Cottages moved to Surrey, followed by another two sisters and their families, my Grandad was informed by my Nan they were moving – moving into No. 2 Kents Hill Cottages. There was no bathroom and only an outside toilet; there was a scullery, dining/sitting room (2 armchairs either side of the open fire), through to the best sitting room, (I can’t ever remember it being used all the time we visited and very rarely were we allowed to go in there).  The stairs were between the two rooms and were so steep, that my Mum, when she fell down them once, she felt like she was flying and didn’t hit another step, just the floor at the bottom. If you turned right at the top of the stairs there was a large bedroom, if you turned left, there was another large bedroom with another smaller room leading off it.

……..I also hated the metal bath by the fire they bathed us in and then the outside toilet with the Izal toilet paper!! Ugh!!).

My Great Grandmother ruled and what she said was followed.  My Nan used to go round every morning to make their breakfast, clean the house, empty the chamber pot (I hated them so much when I stayed at my Nan’s as a child, I also hated the metal bath by the fire they bathed us in and then the outside toilet with the Izal toilet paper!! Ugh!!). There was a gate in the garden that led into my Great Nan’s garden and that’s the way my Nan would go. Breakfast was followed with a cup of tea at 11 am, dinner was at mid-day, a cup of tea at 2.30pm, (that’s the time we were allowed to visit), then it was tea time, followed by bedtime cocoa. I think my Mum would have been about 5 or 6 years old when she moved there, so that would have been around 1934 or 1935.

My Mum said her Dad didn’t moan too much about my Nan always being round No.1 Kents Hill Cottages. He was a very gentle, easy going man, he bred canaries and loved his garden. He died in 1943 from MS, that broke my Mum’s heart. My Nan remarried in 1947 to my Grandad’s friend, Herbert Wright. He was a lovely Step-Grandad to me and my brothers and sisters. My Great Grandad Parmenter died when I was 2 years old in 1953 and my Great Grandmother died aged 94 years in 1967, still being looked after by my Nan.

No.1, was sold and modernised, with another detached house being built in the very large garden. My Nan and Step-Grandad moved to Norfolk in the early 70s, I can’t remember exactly what year, to live near Mum’s sister.

I have found out about the family history of the Miles/Parmenters but haven’t managed to find many living relatives, I would love to hear from anyone.

My Grandad’s parents were Jonathan and Phoebe Miles, (nee Warren), his siblings were Jonathan, Walter, Arthur, Phoebe, Clara and Alfred Owen Miles, who died in 1917 and is named on the war memorial in Benfleet and I have read about him on this site.

Photos 1, 2 and 3, show my Grandad Albert Harold Miles, born 1898 at Hopes Green, South Benfleet.     Photos 1 and 2 are from WWI.  My husband and I think it’s the British Machine Gun Corps and he looks very young.

Photo 2 he is again marked with an X and it is somewhere very hot, if the clothing is anything to go by. My Mum has a photo of him, dressed the same but with a pith helmet on a table.

Photo 3 was the last photo Mum has of him, she can’t remember where it was taken or how old he was when it was taken, he died when he was 45.

Photo 4 is of my Nan, Jessie May Miles, nee Parmenter.

Photo 5 is of my Great Grandparents, David and Anne Parmenter (nee Parker).   Photos 4 and 5 were both taken at 1 Kents Hill Cottages, but when I don’t know.

 We had a lovely time playing in Nan’s.  My Step-Grandad, Herb, planted peas, potatoes, carrots, onions, lettuce etc in the seasons, and he had a pig and chickens.  We certainly weren’t allowed to run freely in my Great Grandmother’s (or NanNan’s as we called her) garden.

The gardens of Kents Hill Cottages were both huge.  We had a lovely time playing in Nan’s.  My Step-Grandad, Herb, planted peas, potatoes, carrots, onions, lettuce etc in the seasons, and he had a pig and chickens.  We certainly weren’t allowed to run freely in my Great Grandmother’s (or NanNan’s as we called her) garden. There was a big barn at the bottom of No.1’s garden, where Mum said her Dad and Grandad (who she called Pops) brewed beer and fruit wine.

My Mum is Pamela J. Miles, she was born in 1929 and she lived at 2, Kents Hill Cottages from when she was young, about 6 or 7 years old. She left when she married my Dad, Bill Cook in 1949.  She spent the second world war years there and has told me about the air raid shelter that was built in the garden, walking home from school with bombs dropping in the distance and my Nan and her watching the doodle bugs. My mum went to Benfleet Primary School.

Mum and Dad started their married life renting a room in Thundersley, then when I was due to come along in 1951 moved in with my Dad’s Aunt and her husband in Rochford.  They had a downstairs back room and a bedroom upstairs and shared the scullery and bathroom.  A few weeks before my 3rd birthday my brother was born.  We moved to Rayleigh, where I went to Infant, Junior and Secondary schools and I lived there until I got married at 17½ years old (the ½ makes all the difference!). My husband and I celebrated our Golden Wedding last year, we have lived in Thundersley for all those years.

My Mum used to take us to Nan’s and NanNan’s by bus. By the time I was 12 I had three brothers and a sister, so it was quite interesting getting there.  We took a No.1 bus from Rayleigh High Street to Kiln Road, crossed the road and then took a No.3 bus to the High Road. I think we used to get off near the Clinic but I can’t really be sure about that.  Dad used to pick us up in his van (no health & safety then!!) in the evening after work.  My poor Nan and Grandad (Herb was, as I said, my Step-Grandad, and he was a lovely one), we used to get there for lunch and leave after tea. Before he retired and when I was older I was allowed to go and meet him from work.  I’m totally worn out when we have our two younger grandchildren round together, what must it have been like with five, though thinking about it we were pretty good children.

 

Photo 1 - Albert Harold Miles - marked with a cross
Carol Smith
Photo 2 - Albert Harold Miles - marked with a cross
Carol Smith
Photo 3 - Albert Harold Miles
Carol Smith
Photo 4 - Jessie May Miles nee Parmenter
Carol Smith
Photo 5 - David & Anne Parmenter, nee Parker
Carol Smith
Kents Hill Villas in 2019
Google Maps

No Comments

Start the ball rolling by posting a comment on this page!

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *