Ann Edith Florence Tyler one of our older local residents reached 100 years of age on July 21st.Although now residing in Ghyllgrove Nursing Home she was resident in the council houses in Markhams Chase from the early 1930s for well over 60 years. Auntie Nan is also my Godmother and took on that roll at St Nicholas Church in July 1945 and has proved a great friend and mentor over the years especially after my mother died. She was just there for me.
My abiding memory of the house in Markhams Chase was the back garden. My uncle Len planted a weeping willow tree at the end of the back garden when they first moved in. Over the years it grew into a fine specimen and stood proud until they changed the road layout when houses were built in Ballards Walk. The gardens of the council houses were foreshortened at this time leaving the willow stranded in grassland around the new properties. After complaints some years later by the ‘New’ neighbours it was felled by the council. The family were distraught as it was their tree, it was missed by many locals who had known it for so many years.
My father, mother, Ann and her husband Len all used to go out together which kept their close family bond. After Len and my mother died the two of them together with other family members still used to go out for drives all around Essex to visit family and to keep in touch with our large number of relatives.
Living locally I have visited her on a regular basis over the years and we nearly always land up talking family and local history and having a great laugh even when life has taken us on difficult and sad parallel journeys. Until very recently her memory was extremely good and would recount her life over the years and help me with filling in the gaps in our family tree. She was well known in Laindon and loved to walk to the shops in the High Road and chatting to the locals and often met my mother to catch up on family news. She was furious when ‘Our little Village’ as she always referred to Laindon was demolished and swore that was when the community spirit was lost.
The family congregated at Ghyllgrove to celebrated her landmark birthday where we had a great time all together, she proudly showed us her Telegram from the Palace congratulating her on reaching her Hundredth Birthday.Below is an account given by Jane one of Annie’s granddaughters at the happy occasion of her 100th Birthday.
Ann Edith Florence Lidstone was born on 21st July 1912. Ann who we affectionately know as Annie or Nan was often left in the care of her grandmother whilst her mother worked for the RAC in London. When aged 14 years Nanna left school and obtained a position as Dressmaker Apprentice to Liberty’s located in London. She often took a short cut through Horse Guards Parade on her way to and from work.
On 6th June 1931 Nanna married Leonard James Tyler (born 16th September 1906) at Little Burstead Church. He was the sixth child of Jane & Herbert Tyler. Len worked as a market gardener for the gentry in Billericay, cycling to and from work in all weathers. They lived in a small bungalow called “Rostrevor” in Salisbury Avenue on the south side of the Railway.
Nanna had two children Eileen in 1932 and Raymond in 1942. Leonard being a market gardener was an avid grower of fresh fruit and vegetables which the family found very beneficial during the dark war years of 1939 to 45. This production was particularly useful when making exchanges of goods to make life run a little smoother and to supplement the meagre rations in those austerity years.
The family moved to No 9 Markham’s Chase soon after they were built and they lived there very happily for many years.Their lifelong friends Mr & Mrs Hymas of No 8 supported their application for the their tenancy. Mr Hymas was a taxi driver and consequently owned the only telephone in the street. Nan in later years helped Mrs Hymas with her requirement for daily injections for the treatment of diabetes. In fact this action of Nan was typical of her selfless attitude towards helping others throughout her life, putting others first.
During the war years Nan had lots of close shaves with the Luftwaffe and RAF fighter planes, being on the receiving end of shrapnel as she braved the run home from school, across the fields, with Eileen. They witnessed dog fights between Messerschmitt 109s and British Spitfires, with Doodlebugs and V2s dropping from the sky. On one particular occasion a Doodlebug came down in Pound Lane nearby to the family home and was close enough to blow the front door off, and rock the cot that baby Raymond was sleeping in. The families in the road would share their individual air shelters with other residents in the road and this attitude was part of the general camaraderie within the community. Grandad worked hard gardening by day in Billericay and came home and did it all over again the garden at home to provide fresh food for his family!
Nan enjoys reading books especially on history and is a Royalist and very much a supporter of all things Royal. She is an expert on plant identification especially knowing all the names of wild flowers. She enjoys nothing more than listening to the birds in the garden and knows the song of each one. She fed them with her own bird food recipe right up to leaving her house to live here at this rest home.
Nanna and Grandad loved cats, but after losing one too many they turned to Budgies. Their first was a big boy called Joey, when on 17th November 1954 Nanna found him flying about in the back garden, obviously lost. Grandad made a box for him and soon he was tame enough to come into the house. They would often have Joey out of his cage and subsequent budgies talked and were hand fed. There is a photograph of Grandad in his Home Guard uniform, the wooden frame of which has been pecked by various budgies.Nanna and Grandad were proud grandparents to six grandchildren born between 1949 and 1966, and 12 great grandchildren born between 1976 and 1999. Nanna is a great great grandmother to the boys Samuel and Edward. We all have our own fond memories of our amazing mother, grandmother, great grandmother and great great grandmother who never tired of playing with us at bat and ball, skipping or five stones or even competing in touching our toes without bending ‘zee’ knees.
She has always been a wonderful knitter and crochet worker producing intricate designs for the dressing table. A small number are here which members of the family have brought with them. As children our dolls were provided with the top most fashion items and she would assist Eileen in turning out cardigans and jumpers for her grandchildren for school or best. Nanna enjoyed baking. I remember visiting her as a graduate living in Barking. We would go to the pub for lunch and when it was time to go home Nanna would always have a tin of fairy cakes or biscuits for me, my flat mates eagerly awaiting my return. She has a marvellous sense of humour which combined with her other human attributes has proved why she is so popular and loved by so many.