The Honeyballs and the Wellers
Well done to all who created your website. I found the entries by Vivien Borrill-Townsend and Jo Chapman-D’eath particularly interesting as it stirred the grey matter and some memories of my childhood in Teynham.
My family moved immediately after WWII from 17 London Road to 3 The Crescent, which was only a couple of houses away from Mrs Weller’s shop. I remember Mrs Weller well. Our next door neighbours, the Matsons were relatives of hers.
At that time there was very little in the shops owing to rationing and the aftermath of the war. However I remember there were two types of ‘sweets’ available to us at the shop; the first was a very large brown bean, it was very hard but sweet and I believe it was originally used as cattle fodder! We knew it as the coca bean? The other was pieces of a yellow coloured fibrous root, which we called ‘liquorice stick’, because it tasted like liquorice, I think this came from South America. These were available at about a farthing apiece.
My money for these items usually came from Mrs Weller’s shop anyway. On Sunday mornings before anyone was about I used to lift the coal hole grill, which can just be seen to the left of the door in the older of the two pictures of the shop. I climbed down and sorted through the dead leaves and rubbish and usually found several farthings, halfpennies, silver thrupences or if lucky a sixpence, which people had dropped whilst window shopping. Mrs Weller had a car, which was usually a Vauxhall, it looks very much as though that is hers in the picture. There were only about five cars owned in the village then.
On to Mrs Honeyball, or ‘Lady’ Honeyball as she used to be known; I can remember birds nesting in the hedge that ran down the opposite side of Teynham Lane to her house. She came along sitting high up in the back of her open topped chauffeur driven car looking every bit the lady in her Victorian clothes and bonnet, she had a parasol which she used to tap the chauffer on the shoulder with and give him instructions. She stopped and told us off for 'birds nesting' then gave us all a silver thrupenny piece. She clouted the chauffeur on the shoulder and demanded ‘drive on’.
My grandfather, Walter Cork from Teynham Lane, who fought through WWI with Colonel Honeyball was blown up twice and survived. He also worked on his farm after the war but you would be astonished nowadays to learn that he was sacked one morning because he didn’t doff his hat to her ‘ladyship’… that after serving five years at war with him!
Col. Honeyball’s gardens were open to the public every 1st of May or the Sunday nearest to it. The gardens were very neat with brick paths winding through masses of daffodils, roses and shrubs; there were little thatched summer houses hidden in the shrubbery. I think it was thrupence for entry.
In answer to Jo’s question, Mrs Honeyball committed suicide, one of her sons as I understand it, lived the high life in London clubbing and gambling, he virtually bankrupted her. She had a great deal of standing in society, including several visits over the years from Royalty and I think she could not live with the shame.
The Colonel was a local historian and a member of the Kent Cantiana. I think it was such a shame that so much of his valuable collection was ruined after the children smashed up a lot of the contents of the house. Mind you by that time the house had already been empty for many years and parts of the roof had collapsed and many of his valuable books ruined.
PS. The Ricky Neil mentioned in Jo's article, under 'USA Memories', was in fact our youngest brother, Rikki Knell. He died of a brain tumour brought on by him being struck on the head by a cricket ball whilst at the Grammar School at Sittingbourne.