John was suddenly
taken ill in late February 2021 and after a brief illness he
passed away in Colchester Hospital, aged 87.
He was interred in his beloved Mount Bures Church cemetery with
his wife Sheila on the 24th March 2021.
I had known John in excess of 35 years; he was always at hand
to share his knowledge of Mount Bures together with everything
there was to know about gardening and farming.
Whenever I visited Catchlands I was always greeted with a warm
smile. Nothing was ever too much trouble, if I wanted something
John would soon help me out.
His knowledge of all things concerning
practical work was extensive.
||Taken from Johns
The families arrival in Mount Bures.
It was Christmas 1944 and my father decided it was time
to leave the outskirts of Chelmsford, so he was out looking
for another post. I recall that he went to Hertford, and
saying what a long time it took going by train. Then sometime
in the new year, he applied for a job at Mount Bures Hall.
We all came down from Chelmsford to Marks Tey, and then
on to Bures station where David McMaster welcomed us in
his car. That was something we were not used to, by any
After lunch, my mother was entertained by Mrs McMasters
while we walked part of the farm. Some of the buildings
had been turned into the production of chicken houses. The
main feature of these was the Metal Hen which was a big
breakthrough in the rearing of day-old chicks. It consisted
of three oil lamps in a row, sealed in a tin case, which
extended in an arch over the chicks to convey warmth down
onto their backs as if it were underneath a real hen. The
only difference was that the Metal Hen in a brooder could
raise 100 chicks at a time.
Mount Bures, although we did not know it at the time, was
to become our new home. It all seemed so peaceful after
By March 1945 the war was almost over. We were moved to
Mount Bures by Mr McMaster's transport, which was an open
flat top lorry. We all piled in the cab on top of one another,
dogs and all. I remember the driver`s name was George Willingham.
He told us that he did one move where the women and children
were on the back of the wagon, with the goods and chattels
inside the cab! When we came to Mount Bures we lived in
a cottage next to the "Hall" in the farmyard,
within view of the Church.
I would like to
remember John most of all, for his humerous stories concerning
One of Johns favourite subjects at Bures School under the Headship
of Hugh Creek, was gardening at the School Allotments to the
rear of the building.
This is where John excelled, especially as the children could
take back home some of the produce they had produced.
He felt this was much more rewarding, than being taken to Sudbury
on the bus for swimming lessons.
On his last day
in 1949, Hugh said he would like a word before I left, and what
he had to say was not music to my ears.
Hugh said, " I will give you a reference for a job,
if you can get one".
To this I replied that " I had already got a job.
Hugh continued " Where is this job ?"
I replied "Mount Bures Hall
He then said " If someone gave you a shovel and faced
you the right way, you could possibly dig them a trench"
I thought it best at this stage to keep quiet, and then finally
Hugh dismissed me.
In 1952, John was called up for Military Service, he was de-mobbed
in 1954 when he decided to work for David McMaster at the Hall
making chicken sheds and sundries for chicken farming.
His last day was on Thursday December 1st 1955, on the following
Monday John went to work at W.A.Church, Seed Merchants in Bures,
There he stayed until he retired, but he often returned to Church`s,
when machinery required annual testing and certifying that it
was safe to use.
I would often call in at Catchlands
when I was passing, I would say to Sheila " John about
No she replied, "He is up at Arger Fen all day"
John was in his element tinkering with anything mechanical.
John to the left with Diana
Taken at a luncheon held on the lawn at High Fen in 2002,
to celebrate the centenary of the company.
This was held for long time customers and senior members
of the staff.
Les Binks, Les Cook, John Cowlin and Dave Rutt.
W.A. Church staff in 1980,
being presented with a 25 year service watch.
John and Sheila
devoted an enormous amount of their time into looking after
their local Church.
They were both heavily involved in every Festival of Flowers
Exhibition since its conception in 1968 until 2019 before Covd
cancelled the 2020 event, that amounts to 51 years continuos
service to their Church. A truly amazing achievement.
John was a very hands-on practical man, when the Church was
fitted with new tiles to the Spire in 2014, or the Church toilet
extension in 2018, he was in his element watching every aspect
of the work.
||On the 4th September
2018, John and Sheila celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.
Finally back to School.
Many years later, during an event taking place at the Victory
Hall, John noticed a lonely Mr Creek sitting on a low wall,
so he went over and introduced himself.
"Do you remember me, Mr Creek, John Cowlin?"
Mr Creek replied "the name sounds familiar, tell me
what you have been up to"
John replied. "Since leaving school, I worked at Mount
Bures Hall Farm, I then joined the Army and became a Sergeant
and now I am the foreman at Church's, up at Arger Fen."
Mr Creek replied, "Well done Cowlin, I told you that
you would get on well in the world."
A true gentleman
of Mount Bures.
W.A Church photographs donated by Robert Church MD.
John Ineson. W.A. Church details