It was back in the late 1830s or early 1840s when Thomas Carpenter Kench, the illegitimate son born in 1808 to Patience Carpenter of Charlbury, came to Eydon to set up in business as a plumber and decorator. His old ledger, in copperplate writing, shows that he worked for all the local gentry, farmers and Clerics in and around Eydon and it can now be seen in the Northamptonshire County Record Office.
He married Esther Ell, whose parents and grandparents are buried near the north wall in Eydon Churchyard, and they had 3 children but one (Mary) died when an infant, but Thomas Jr. and another Mary survived with Thomas continuing the family business and gradually expanding it to become a more general builder’s business. Thomas and Esther are buried amongst the snowdrops near the south west corner of Eydon Churchyard.
Thomas Jr. married Alice, the daughter of George and Ruth Marshall, George being the station master at Byfield where he and his wife are buried not far from the west end of the tower of Byfield Church.
Thomas and Alice had five children, Frank who died tragically at the early age of 10 together with Harold, George, Frederick and Mary. George and Fred ran the family business following the death of Thomas in 1917 and as modern transport developed and more mechanised machinery became available, they began to work further and further afield taking on house building and other large projects as far away as Kenilworth, Duston & Kineton, employing well over 30 men from Eydon and the surrounding villages. The builder’s yard and business were closed down at the time of significant changes to the manner of employing tradesmen and recession in the building industry in the late 1960s.
Four generations of the family lived in 31 High Street, Eydon which at that time had a garden which stretched through to Lime Avenue. Its outbuildings were used for the painters and plumber’s side of their business together with stabling for a pony and trap and eventually a lorry and vans. Their builder’s yard, which during its life featured a saw pit, a steam driven sawmill, carpenter’s & wheelwright’s workshops and numerous storage buildings, stretched from behind 45 High Street right through to Lime Avenue where number 30 has since been built. The former Quaker Chapel building and its burial ground, now the site of 20 Lime Avenue, was also acquired and became the firms scaffold store and glazier’s workshop.
Alice Mary, the daughter of Thomas and Alice, never married and lived in Eydon until she died. George and Frederick lived in Eydon for all their lives apart from Fred’s time with the Royal Artillery in France during WW1, and together they ran the building firm until they retired. George’s children Ruth, Hilda and Thomas never married and neither did Fred’s son Donald. The other son of Thomas and Alice, Harold, never joined the family builder’s business becoming a watch and clock maker and after WW2, during which he was awarded a Military Medal while serving with the R.A.M.C. in France, didn’t return to Eydon, eventually marrying Dorothy Hazell in Bournemouth where they had a son and daughter, David and Mary.
David and Mary came to Eydon having been evacuated to live with their Uncle and Aunt, Fred and Maud (née Tyrrell), during the early years of WW2. Both returned to Bournemouth after 2 or 3 years, but David came back later and worked with the family builder’s business and when that closed moved into Local Government with Northampton R.D.C. and South Northamptonshire D.C. Building Control Departments until his retirement.
Alice Mary and her brother Frederick, both Methodists, were very much involved in village organisations during their lives and David subsequently followed in that tradition during his many years in the village.
The Eydon Historical Research Group holds much more information about members of the Kench family during over 180 years of their lives in Eydon if you wish to get in touch either through this forum or by email.