Archive contributor and Facebook follower, Jamie Holmes, is Peterborough based. He has never lived locally but his family is deeply rooted in South Benfleet history and so he feels a great affinity with our town. We already have some of that history here on this site but to hear the story from his personal view makes it all the more real!
In his own words……
“I just wanted to put a little post about my South Benfleet family, the family story which I associate with as a huge part of my identity.”
“I visited South Benfleet the day before yesterday (6th June 2023) with my stepdad – the town of deep significance to my family and our roots. I don’t often get the chance to come but when I do there are three places of significance for me, The Anchor Inn, St Mary’s Church, and then a little detour to St Laurence All Saints in Eastwood, where we had to dig by hand round the family gravestones to make them visible (they’d completely sunk like when I first found the grave).
My 3x Great Grandfather George Land took over the Anchor Inn in 1875 after leaving Gowles Farm in Leigh (the farm is no longer there and has become residential), where he was working as a Farm Bailiff. He died 9th of June 1909 leaving the Anchor Inn to his Son, Edward Land.
Edward Land, my 2x Great Grandfather, was fondly referred to as Teddy and he was quite a character, so much so that it was written about by a local, Iris Sugg. Accounts say he had no legs and rode around town in a bath chair with his pet lamb. Teddy was a Freemason, the first initiated into Benfleet Lodge which hosted its meetings at the Anchor. He had 3 children, William Edward Land (Ted Jr), Thomas George Land (George) who was my Great-Grandfather, and Amabel Land.
At the end of WW1, when it was planned to erect a war memorial, Edward Land signed a Memorandum, dated 20th December 1919, witnessed by Mr [Ellard], Chairman of Benfleet Parish Council and Mr. Ross. It stated that upon the creation of the Benfleet War Memorial, on the road outside the post office (adjoining his premises) , he would provide a gas light in the lamp outside his premises which shall give ‘good and sufficient illumination of the memorial at all times necessary’. The cost of the lighting he stated shall not exceed the sum of one shilling per annum!
George joined the fire brigade, hosted at the Anchor Inn Stables along with his brother Ted Jr (both were as cheeky as their father). There are pictures on the wall of the Anchor Inn wall showing the wedding of Ted Jr and his wife May.
After the death of Teddy (senior) on 13th September 1937, the Anchor Inn was taken over by my 2x Great Grandmother, May Land, who can be seen in another picture on the wall at the Anchor, in a white blouse with the first automobile in Benfleet.
Above is Thomas George Land and his wife Violet Rose Bass, who married at St Mary’s, with their family. The tallest child is Brian George Land (my grandfather), who was the only one of their 3 children to survive to adulthood, and the shortest is Michael D Land. Thomas George wasn’t in the fire brigade by this point, I believe around this time was when he was a lorry driver, which is the same profession his son went into.
The Anchor Inn remained in the family for almost 100 years. I don’t actually know when the family left the Anchor Inn but my grandfather spoke fondly of those times.
I do what I can to preserve their memory, as difficult as it can be sometimes, because it’s so important to me, but I‘m grateful that their story lives on through this community and look forward to when I get to visit again, hopefully soon! I’d love to hear from anyone who remembers the Land Family, my grandfather (Brian George Land) had only girls so the name is ending with them.
I want to thank Benfleet Community Archive for preserving their memory, the pub for keeping their pictures on the wall, and the volunteers who look after the churchyard at Eastwood (which the airport has resulted in graves sinking and the stones for my 3x great grandparents constantly disappearing under the mud.) I know I may be the only descendant that carries on and tells our story but I owe a lot of my knowledge to all those who told stories, Norman Chisman who married into our family and wrote about them and shared pictures, and the archive!
I’ve never lived in Benfleet but when I’m able to come I get that sense of belonging and it strangely feels like home.