One of the early houses to be built was in York Road, when in 1910 “Arcady” was constructed as a two storey dwelling topped with large ornate chimneys, and positioned between Madeira Road and Dulwich Road. It was clearly designed for a “well to do” occupant as a separate chalet bungalow was also built in the grounds, facing on to Dulwich Road, as servants quarters. At that time “Arcady” was a prominent building sitting in grounds that went down to the seafront road.
Mystery and speculation has always surrounded the house as, on completion, it became the residence of Mrs Ada Garner Watts who was born in Cardigan in 1863, and in 1906 was recorded as living in “Summerholme”; a red brick semi-detached house a little further up York Road, directly facing Canterbury Road. She had a son and daughter, and appeared to be a lady of independent means who, in 1907, was booked on the ship “Minniapolis” as a first class passenger, heading from Southampton to New York.
When Mrs Garner Watts moved into “Arcady” in 1910 it appeared that there was also a rather sickly child in her charge; Mrs Garner Watts being recognised as a ‘trusted person’. Locals would wonder as to the background of the child and amongst the rumours was the possibility that this might be the illegitimate offspring of a notable family. In 1919 a planning application for an addition to the building was submitted to Tendring Rural District Council, and five years later a second application was approved, this time for a proposed new kitchen and extension to the drawing room; both plans being drawn-up by Architect G H B Gould of Station Road, Clacton on Sea.
In 1925 Mrs Garner Watts became the proprietress of Little Holland Tennis Courts which were situated on “Arcady” land at the seafront, where the Bowls Club is now based, and included a thatched pavilion that subsequently became the Bowls Club headquarters and was, for a short time, used by the Gunfleet Boating Club in the early 1970’s after the Bowls Club moved into its current, purpose built, clubhouse.
It was reported, in 1929, that the Countess of Warwick was staying at “Arcady” and this wasn’t the first time she had visited area as, in the Countess’s autobiography, she refers to previously swimming in the sea at Little Holland; this would likely be back in 1904 when her husband was a part of the military manoeuvres at Clacton and Little Holland.
Mrs Garner Watts, as well as becoming Secretary to the newly formed Holland on Sea Lawn Tennis Club, also played a prominent role in the Holland on Sea Ratepayers’ Association but passed away in 1934. Walter Johnston purchased “Arcady” and changed its name to “York House”. Later it was to become a guest house before being adapted as a specialist residential care home. Sadly, during some particularly violent storms in the latter part of the last century, a number of the large and ornate chimney pots were blown to the ground and therefore no longer form a feature of this historic building.