The Meesons of Rettendon.

I am doing some research into the breeders of flatcoated retrievers who also showed their dogs.

There were two misses Meeson – two sisters who lived at Rettendon Lodge, Battlesbridge, pre 1960s. Their home now, I believe, is a hotel. They bred flatcoats and Westies, information that came from a lady that bought a flatcoat in 1960.

I wonder if there are any photos of them around, and their house at the time.
Miss M.E Meeson died in 1961.
Seemingly they rode up-side saddle to Buckhatch Farm, on a Sunday to see a Mrs Mary
Neave, to get their flatcoated retrievers clipped.
I would be grateful if you can add anything about them, even if in a local paper of those times. Seemingly they were quite characters!!!!!

I have recently bought a book called ‘Struggle and Suffrage in Chelmsford’ by Stephen Wynn, in which there are 2 or 3 paragraphs on the Meesons. Included is this reference: “The Meeson family lived at Rettendon Hall Farm in Battlesbridge. William Merryfield Meeson was a farmer and corn merchant, his business making him wealthy enough to employ three servants to look after him, his wife Ellen and their five children.”

There were 4 daughters and 1 son, and we know that Francis Meeson was the doggy person, and Edith the horsewomen. Francis’s name in the book was Freda but I know, based upon information from a person who had bought dogs from her, that she was Francis.
Edith was the oldest child, and was 28 at the start of WW1. She joined the Voluntary Aid Detachmant (VAD) as a full-time unpaid nurse at Redcross Hospital, in Chelmsford.
Francis/ Freda Meeson’s VAD service card showed she lived at Rettendon Place at that time. She worked at the same hospital part time, and was still working there at the end of the war. She gained a blue efficiency stripe.

Can anyone help in providing more information? Are there any photographs of Francis or Edith Meeson around, and pictures of the Rettendon Lodge of old?

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  • So glad to get more feedback on ‘the Meesons’. Exactly what I wanted and I appreciated your help very much David.

    By Alison M Temple (11/04/2021)
  • The Freda/Frances question is an interesting one. Of their children William Merryfield Meeson and Ellen Bertha Meeson (Gray) had four daughters, as stated. They were: Edith Bertha, Ellen Margery, Agnes Crystabel and Mary Winifred. The family lived as a unit of seven (plus servants etc) with the additional person being the girl’s brother. Charles Henry, the second son of William and Bertha died of pneumonia in 1903 after catching measles. Thus there is no Freda, nor is there a Frances.
    Wynn suggests the Freda name may be in error but this is certainly not the case, for Freda Meeson was the contact name for the sale of dogs in newspaper advertisements. She traded first from Rettendon Place and then, after the death of her father (1925), from Rettendon Lodge. Wynn also states that none of the daughters had a name similar to Freda. However, Mary’s second forename is Winifred. It is my opinion she was affectionately called Fred but with an ‘a’ added to differentiate between the masculine and the feminine. The contact name for the dog advertisements was, for a short period of time, M W Meeson, and then Freda Meeson, but M W Meeson and Freda Meeson did not once appear together. Further, when William’s brother, Henry, died in 1924, attendees at the funeral included Miss Edie, Miss Tobel, Miss Freda and Miss Margery. Parentage was not given but all four were named together: so, (Edi)th, Agnes Chrys(tabel), Mary Wini(fred) and Ellen (Margery). Incidentally, there was a Frances Sarah Meeson at Rettendon who was the daughter of A J Meeson and she was for a period of time the organist at the church.
    Freda, however, raised pedigree scalyhams by Redlands Replica (a winner of the challenge certificate at Crufts in 1930), as well as breeding retrievers and, for what appears to be a short period of time, sheep dogs. Freda’s interest in breeding dogs appears to stem from her interest in breeding cats and putting them through shows with her mother, including at Crystal Palace. Two brown tabby cats bred from a litter born to Miss Tommy Duvals on 28 April 1901 were named Rettendon Countess and Rettendon Queen (see cat-o-pedia.org).
    Edith, as you are aware, was the horse lady. There is a picture of a hunting scene (Essex Union) in The Tatler of 13 January 1937. Edith is the second person (first lady) from the left and she is riding side-saddle, which was the norm for ladies in those days. This is a scene and not a portrait so her facial features are not easily discernible. Edith was a volunteer nurse and was awarded the decoration of Bar to the Red Cross, 2nd class, while nursing at the Royal Naval Hospital in Chatham, Kent during the First World War. Her name appears in the Gazette.

    By David C Rayment (10/04/2021)

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