Sains Farm, Great Totham and the French Family
By Jane Chapman
Neal and Kate French (otherwise known as Ned or Neddy, and Kit) lived at Sains Farm from the early 1900s. They apparently had a large mortgage on the property and worked hard to help make ends meet. Neal was born in Tolleshunt Knights to William French and Sarah Pudney, the eighth of 14 children, including Arthur. Arthur and his wife Maud had two girls called Elsie and Grace and a son called Sidney. Neither of the girls married, continuing to live with their father at the large house called Ashwells in Earls Colne after their mother died. Their family had moved here after a life spent farming at Bohuns Hall at Tollesbury). Neal and his brother Arthur were obviously very close – Neal and family went to visit Arthur for lunch on alternate Sundays and Arthur visited Neal and family the other. There was a tennis court at Bohuns Hall,
Arthur and family had a very social life and there were frequent gatherings for tennis etc. in the summer. Kit was the seventh of nine children, born to John Runnicles and Mary Ann Harriss in Layer Marney. Neal and Kit had two sons, Fred and Will. Fred is buried in Great Totham churchyard, an easy walk from the farm across the fields, and my mother thinks he died of scarlet fever when he was a schoolboy. He was a very bright child and much loved by his parents, so it must have been a great loss to them.