Kate Ellen Leach

Sister to Fred Leach

This lovely picture of Kate Leach was sent in by her Grandson Norman Brand, it was taken when she was about 20.

Kate Ellen Leach was born in 1882 at Stow Maries, Maldon, to Aaron Leach, a farm labourer who later owned his own farm on Canvey Island and his wife Eliza nee Chalk. She was the sister of Fred Leach the farmer of Waterside Farm and local councillor. The family had moved to Pantile Farm Canvey, where Fred was born, about 1886.

Kate went into service in her early teens at 14 Royal Avenue, Chelsea and can later be found as a housemaid in the 1901 census at 3 Percival Terrace, Brighton.

She married John William Henry Norman when she was 20 and she died 2nd November 1964.

Comments about this page

  • Thank you for using this. Very poignant.

    By Norman Brand (03/08/2013)
  • How very practical members of the Leach family were. I’ve described my grandma’s skill in gutting chickens and skinning rabbits and, to that country-bred knowledge, she could add what she learned in service to the gentry in the last years of Queen Victoria’s reign. Looking back, there was a great deal of ‘upstairs’ which she absorbed in the way she tackled life, not least in her dress and her cooking. And in her clear, precise diction too, though a pleasing echo of the Essex countryside remained. 

    This comes to mind because, as I sort through old keepsakes and papers, I have come across a letter she must have written to my father, after she learned that he had proposed to my mother. It’s dated only ‘Wednesday’ but would have been around 1933. She writes in part: ‘ Dear Frank, I should like to wish you every happiness in the future. I see no reason why you shouldn’t be happy. I expect you will get indigestion from Dorothy’s cooking. I must say something you know…..’ I just cannot imagine my mother in later years as an inadequate cook. 

    There was an Edwardian richness to Grandma’s cooking, from grandad’s bloaters, soused herrings, kippers and Saturday evening winkle teas, to Sunday roasts and suet puddings and treacle puddings and ‘spotted dick’ in generous portions, even during the war. (Grandad was as thin as a rake. She called him ‘Gandhi’.) I don’t know how she managed to juggle the ration books but she had a very good relationship with our tiny butcher’s shop in London. ‘It’ll have to be scrag end (of mutton)’ was her prediction of culinary disappointment. And even during those difficult times she would let Mrs Wash, the butcher, and her son Len know, if she thought the Sunday joint had not come up to standard. Len did find himself the occasional recipient of a packet of 10 Players … 

    Perhaps from her time as a lady’s maid – I think she moved up the ‘below stairs’ hierarchy fairly quickly – Kate Ellen would insist, as you went out in your overcoat, that she held its collar up and pulled the coat down so that it sat properly on your shoulders. She was a first class needlewoman, wore a fox fur sometimes, and when out shopping would wear a hat with a light black net veil. 

    Meanwhile, in those war years, Uncle Fred sometimes sent us packets of feathers. These she baked for me (to kill off the insects) and added to my Red Indian headdress. As a small boy I was very fond of that headdress. 

    I was going to talk about Uncle Fred and Paynes Cottages. Will leave that for another time.

    By Norman Brand (04/08/2013)

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