Table of Contents
Chairman's Letter - February 2013
The Watermills of the River Stour
Managing a Masterpiece: The Stour Valley Landscape Partnership
Extending the Dedham Vale, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
Buildings in the East Anglian Landscape - as seen by John Constable
The Round Church at Maplestead
The Fine Wines of England
Progress Against Pylons: A roundup of recent developments in the pylons saga
Tea and the Tea Caddy - A brief study of the early history of tea and its containers
This year I can report some good news. Due in very large part to the indefatigable work of Stour Valley Underground and David Holland in particular, National Grid are proposing to underground the new 400 Kv line across the Stour Valley from Dorking Tye through to a more discrete point west of Alphamstone, thereby removing not just the 132Kv line, but also a further three pylons and about 1km of the 400 Kv overhead line. This is a great achievement. There is, however, still much more work to be done, including dealing with the threat of the substation, assisting our colleagues and Suffolk County Council in getting more of the route from Bramford underground, preparing for the planning application when made and in the longer term pressing to have the existing 400 Kv line also put underground. David Holland has kindly written a very informative article for us on what lies ahead.
The principal reason for National Grid’s underground proposal is its acceptance that the Stour Valley around Lamarsh, Henny and Twinstead enjoys very many of the same landscape and heritage features as the existing Dedham Vale AONB. As I reported last year, The Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Partnership have applied, with the support of all local authorities, to have the AONB extended up towards Sudbury. This will take several years. Success will depend on the ability to produce a compelling Landscape Character Assessment. We will be doing all we can to assist wherever possible.
This area and the upper Stour Valley above Sudbury towards Clare are especially beautiful. The Stour Valley Partnership does sterling work in managing it. We have therefore responded to Braintree District Council’s consultation on its draft Local Development Plan, including the section dealing with renewable energy, to try and ensure that development which adversely affects the character, views and distinctiveness of this part of the Stour Valley, or which is otherwise not supported by the Partnership’s Management Plan, will not be allowed.
I mention renewable energy because there are two current proposals for large scale wind turbines near Clare: a single 78m turbine midway between Hundon and Stokeby-Clare at Maple Hill and up to ten 126m turbines on an adjacent farm, Lords Farm. The planning application for the Maple Hill turbine is due to be heard in April. Planning permission for a meteorological test mast has already been granted at Lords Farm to assess suitability of wind conditions. A planning application for the wind farm itself has yet to be submitted. The developer, West Coast Energy, is currently undertaking an environmental impact assessment. We have objected to both. The damage which these wind farms would cause to the environment in this lovely part of South Suffolk far outweighs any contribution they may make to our renewable energy needs. Many of you may think that East Anglia has more than contributed its fair share with the extensive off-shore wind farms off the East coast.
At the Eastern end Buntings, or as it is now known The Stour Valley Visitor Centre, appeared once again. I suspect some of you may have thought that after last time that would be the end of it. How mistaken we were. Nevertheless, what a victory to have persuaded the Council to refuse permission against the recommendation of the Planning Officers to approve it! We are, I am sure, immensely grateful for the steadfast determination of Will Pavry and SVAG. Many of you wrote in to object, for which I thank you. Although we have yet to see the Committee’s full reasons, this was, undoubtedly the correct decision. The Committee were, rightly, very doubtful whether the proposal would ever be financially viable. Not only would this mean that the trumpeted benefits would not be realised, but, once permission had been granted for change of use from the agricultural land within the AONB, the door would be opened for other unsuitable activities. The Committee were disturbed by the extent to which the Buntings withheld their Business Plan from public scrutiny, regarded the so called “Constable Experience” and Chinese Garden as speculative, without any firm supporting detail to back them up and considered the project unsustainable because of the huge increase in generated traffic. Surprisingly, the Highways Authority, when recording no objection, had failed to have any regard to “sat navigation” directing cars down the protected lanes. Finally, the project was seen as conflicting with a number of the objectives of the Management Plan for the AONB. However, judging by past experience this is unlikely to be the last we hear of the Buntings.
Although your Committee meets quarterly to consider and, where appropriate, comment on current applications. Please do not assume we are abreast of everything in your area with which the Association should be concerned. If, for example, you suspect land may be being bought by Travellers, or existing planning conditions are not being complied with, do please contact someone on the Committee. The District Councils are short of money and are no longer able to police the area in the way you might presume.
You will have read that Stansted Airport has recently been sold to Manchester Airport Group for a reported £1.5 billion. Although they have been reported as having no plans for a second runway, given the huge price paid, they must be looking for a substantial increase in flights and passenger numbers. With the Government review into where to develop London’s hub airport, there can be no assurance that Stansted is safe.
Two important matters going on at national level, which may concern us, are first Lord Taylor’s review of planning guidance, in which he has reported that current government planning guidance, dating back to the 1960s and running to 7,000 pages, is “unfit for purpose.” A complete revamp is proposed by July 2013. How far this will affect us remains to be seen, but judging by the Coalition Government’s drive to prioritise jobs, housing and growth (important as they are), there must be a fear that this will override all else. The same fears apply to the Government’s Growth and Infrastructure Bill, currently going through Parliament. I can do no better than quote from CPRE’S Briefing note:- “This Bill… proposes a further weakening of local communities’ ability to make planning decisions for themselves…and will risk making it harder for councils to insist on getting development in the right places, including on brownfield sites. It will be easier for developers to target Greenfield sites which are cheaper to build on and provide them with greater returns.”
We now have over 689 members (including parish councils and societies), but to be an effective Association which carries weight when it comes to dealing with local authorities and the like, we must ensure that our membership numbers increase. For those with families, do try and get them to join. What a wonderful present for Christmas: life membership of the Colne Stour Countryside Association!
Our AGM is due to take place on Thursday 2nd May, when we will hear from Chris Burton of The Stour Valley Project who has been in charge of the “Managing a Masterpiece” project. There is much to learn about our area of the Stour Valley. Our Summer Party will be held this year in the gardens at Colne Park, the home of Georgie and Kit Hunter Gordon on Tuesday 9th July, who unfortunately had to pull out of hosting last year’s Summer Party. I would like to thank Jeremy and Virginia Hill for stepping into the breach and providing us with such an enjoyable occasion. I hope to see as many of you as possible at one or preferably both occasions.
The Watermills of the River Stour
‘Water-wheels, combined with their twin stones, are part of the mechanism of necessity, cogs in man’s machine for keeping himself alive.’
H.E. Bates ‘Down the River’ (1937)
When I was asked to write about the watermills along the Stour I had no idea of the potential enormity of the task so I accepted the challenge. It was only when I began to research the subject that I discovered that there are, or have been, some 45 watermills along the river and its tributaries. In order to restrict the size and scope of this article for the Annual Report, I decided to limit the watermills to those on both banks of the river from its source (in practical terms the watermill at Kedington) to the estuary at Manningtree. The mills along the tributaries and the estuary must await further research.
Some way into the project I began to think that every riverside village would have had a watermill. This proved not to be the case. Some seem never to have had a watermill whilst other villages had not just one, but two or three. A number of individual watermills along the Stour have already been extensively researched and I am grateful to my predecessors for their work.
In view of the large number of watermills under consideration I have produced a gazetteer rather than a narrative description. Bearing in mind my difficulty in locating a number of mills and finding little of their history, I feel that the gazetteer approach will whet the reader’s appetite and, I hope, encourage him or her to carry out extensive research on the mill or mills that they find of particular interest. In this context I would be very glad to hear from anyone with further information about the mills I mention, or indeed information about any mill I have not located.
It has been a great pleasure to visit the watermills (or their remains) along the Stour and to make this brief record of a wonderful industrial heritage, all the more enjoyable for its location in an Area of Outstanding Beauty. It is easy to forget that these often picturesque buildings were originally at the cutting edge of known technology and I hope that every effort will be made to preserve what remains of them and to save them from further decay.
I was surprised to discover that there is apparently no single comprehensive and accurate list of the watermills of the Stour; the best I have found is that produced by the Suffolk Mills Group (which records the watermills on both banks of the Stour and its tributaries) which is authoritative but as yet incomplete. Where possible I have included my own photographs of the Stour watermills but the Suffolk Mills Group has many historic photos of these watermills, freely available on its website.
‘Seek till you find, and you’ll not lose your labour.’
The research for this article was largely undertaken by reference to documents in the Essex and Suffolk Record Offices, visiting the sites of watermills during the summer of 2012 and contact with individuals with special knowledge of particular mills, whose help I gratefully acknowledge. I would also like to thank Mr Bob Paterson of the Suffolk Mills Group for his advice. The Group’s website is www.suffolkmills.org.uk/watermills I am especially grateful to Mr Ken Rickwood whose ‘Stour Odyssey’ (2010) has proved to be an invaluable guide to the watermills on the Stour.
In respect of early medieval documents, it is sometimes difficult to identify which mill is being referred to as there is usually no distinction drawn between watermills and windmills, and a parish might have both. The name of a particular watermill may have changed over the centuries and can thus be difficult to track. It is sometimes said that the name ‘mill field’ or ‘mill lane’ in a village is an indicator of the former whereabouts of a mill; if that is the case it is rarely precise. In the thousand years since Domesday was compiled the course of the Stour has altered, usually by the hand of man rather than by nature, and the site of some watermills seem to have been lost, as for example at Sturmer. Early watermills may have had two sets of millstones and have therefore been counted as two mills. Occasionally two or more mills were built on the same site, each with a separate function, typically a corn mill and a fulling mill.
Visiting the site of a watermill is often rewarding and sometimes frustrating (particularly when the building is visually inaccessible). That said, the present owners of such buildings, often occupied for residential purposes, are of course entitled to their privacy and this has been respected in the course of my research.
Mr Harvey Benham’s ‘Some Essex Water Mills’ (1976) is an excellent introduction to the subject of watermills, but unfortunately it does not cover the watermills on the Stour.
‘Much water goes by the mill that the miller knows not of.’
Essentially a watermill is a structure that uses a waterwheel to drive a mechanical process such as the grinding of corn or the fulling of cloth. The number of different processes is quite considerable and includes the following additional types: flax, paper, oil, pepper, animal feed, and macaroni (pasta).
There are two basic types of watermill: one powered by a vertical waterwheel utilising a system of gears; the other one powered by a horizontal waterwheel with no gears. The earliest watermill to have been found in England was probably constructed in the eighth century, but the technology of watermills was known to the Romans.
By the time Domesday Book was compiled in 1086 there were some 6000 watermills for corn milling in England, most of which have been located by various survey techniques. There were perhaps 200 watermills in Suffolk in 1086 and a somewhat smaller number in Essex. By 1300 the number had probably doubled due largely to the introduction of fulling mills for the production of cloth.
Until about 1185 any documentary reference to a mill is to a watermill (and this includes tide mills), as windmills were not introduced into England until the late twelfth century.
Most watermills operated on the principal whereby water was directed along a channel known as a flume or mill race directly from a river or via a millpond to a waterwheel. The force of the water drove the blades attached to the wheel which in turn rotated an axle that drove the mill’s machinery. The passage of water to the mill was controlled by sluice gates. Most watermills along the Stour had a vertical wheel and these were referred to variously as undershot, overshot or breastshot. This action produced a rotary motion which could be used to lift hammers in a fulling mill. Here (from the twelfth century) cloth was first scoured using fuller’s earth and then pounded by hammers, which thickened the cloth by matting the fibres before the cloth was hung by tenter hooks on wooden frames known as tenters. In the eighteenth century a similar pounding process was used in watermills to convert rags to high quality paper. However, in cereal mills, (usually referred to as corn mills), rotation around a vertical axis was required to drive millstones; the horizontal rotation being converted into vertical rotation by means of gearing.
It is interesting how many mills were sited at river crossing points. This theme is explored by Mr James Kemble in his article ‘Crossings of the River Stour’, Essex Journal Spring 2012.
Watermills were considered to be extremely valuable assets by their owners, who in the medieval period were usually manorial proprietors with a monopoly on their use. They leased the watermills to millers, who often worked as middlemen between the cereal producers (the peasantry) and the feudal lord.
Over the course of centuries, watermills came and went on the same site: a cycle of destruction and rebuilding, resulting not just from wear and tear but destruction by flooding, fire (or even the explosion of flour dust) and as a result of changes in technology. During the nineteenth century many mills became uneconomical and, in order to increase their efficiency, steam boilers and steel rollers were installed. Mills which failed to keep abreast of new technology were closed down. By the 1950s the majority of mills on the Stour had either closed or gone over to animal feed production. Even this became uneconomical and all milling activity on the Stour has now ceased.
In many cases what survives are the mill houses (invariably the home of the miller) rather than the watermills themselves, as they retained their usefulness after the watermills became redundant. However, certain watermills have survived in excellent condition, sometimes with machinery still in situ (as at Sudbury Mill), together with the mill house. The last working watermill in Suffolk (not on the Stour) is at Packenham near Bury St Edmunds which still produces stone-ground wholemeal flour. For further information visit www.packenhamwatermill.co.uk
‘Follow the river, get to the sea.’
The Stour from source to estuary is reckoned variously to be about 47 miles in length. From the earliest times it has formed a territorial boundary, a transportation route, a source of food, a recreational asset, a processional way, and to judge from the number of ancient burials along its route, it also had important religious significance for our ancestors. Now of course it has national importance in an Area of Outstanding Beauty. The name Stour derives from the Old English or possibly Celtic word sture meaning ‘strong’ or perhaps ‘mighty’ and the same river name occurs in various other parts of England. The Stour basin covers a considerable area in the counties of Suffolk and Essex (whose borders it defines for much of its length) and contains within it not only the Stour but its tributaries: the rivers Glem, Box, and Brett together with Kirtling Brook, Stour Brook, Chad Brook, Bumpstead Brook, Belchamp Brook, and Ramsey Brook. The source of the river is at Wratting Common on the Cambridgeshire border. It becomes tidal at Manningtree and it joins the sea at Harwich.
The river boundaries have changed slightly over the last one thousand years, principally as a result of the Navigation Act of 1705, which affected the river between Sudbury and Manningtree.
‘Wel coude he stelen corn and tollen thries, And yet he hadde a thumbe of gold, pardee.’ Chaucer
During the medieval period the miller is usually represented in literature and folklore as a sometimes sinister but proverbially dishonest member of the village community. In Chaucer’s mocking, ribald ‘Miller’s Tale’, an honest miller was said to have a ‘thumb of gold’.
However unpopular, the cereal miller was an important man. The usual arrangement was that he rented the mill from the manorial lord for a year at a time and he was paid for his work with between a twelfth and a sixteenth of the grain he ground. Opportunities for dishonesty were clearly available. Arrangements in fulling mills, where cloth was pounded to improve its quality, were different and opportunities for dishonesty by fullers were fewer.
‘Every miller hath a golden thumb. None but a cuckold can see it.’
I have chosen a route which begins at Kedington Mill (nearest to the source of the Stour) along the Suffolk riverside to Brantham Mill, crosses the river at Cattawade and then travels west to Sturmer where there was a watermill, but its precise location is at present unknown.
What follows is a list of the watermills (or their remains) to be found on the route I have described, together with a few notes about their history. Where precision is lacking it is because I have been unable to find the information required and would appreciate any further information known to readers. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org I have included recent photographs of the watermills and mill houses mentioned in the text. For historic photographs, please visit the Suffolk Mills Group website. Just for fun I have included a selection of sayings collected by Theodore R. Hazen regarding mills and millers.
Kedington Mill (Suffolk)
‘Remember the miller when you eat your daily bread.’
The watermill existed in 1066 according to Domesday Book (DB) but had disappeared by 1086 when DB was compiled. The mill was subsequently rebuilt and continued working as a corn mill until 1901. It was converted to residential use in the recent past.
Wixoe Mill (Suffolk)
‘Wait your “turn”.’
Appears in DB as a watermill before and after the Conquest. The Chapman Andre map of 1777 shows Wixoe Mill was probably the last watermill to be constructed on the site. The eighteenth-century weatherboarded building still survives as does the mill house.
Stoke by Clare Mill aka Fulling Mill Green Mill or Moor Mill (Suffolk)
‘Every miller draws water to his own mill.’
Not recorded in DB. Later, a water corn mill and presumably a fulling mill were built here but ceased operation after about 1785. Moor Mill in Stoke by Clare was purchased by Samuel Colling in 1688. This seems to have been Fulling Mill Green Mill by another name. The deeds of Hunts Hall in Ashen mention ‘a fulling mill, long since demolished’ in Stoke by Clare in 1737. There is now little or no trace of the mill to be seen.
Clare Mill aka Waymans Mill (Suffolk)
‘Many a miller, many a thief.’
There was a watermill here in 1066 and in 1086 DB. It was later associated with the castle and priory in Clare. It appears on the Chapman Andre map of 1777 as Clare Mill. In the nineteenth century a brick boiler house containing a steam engine was added to the existing timber-framed building. The watermill burned down in about 1978 leaving little trace of its former existence.
Cavendish Mill aka Paddock or Puddock Mill (Suffolk)
‘When heather bells grow cockle shells, the miller and the priest will forget themselves.’
Not in DB but shown on the 1777 Chapman Andre map as Paddock Mill. Near the former railway station, all that remains of this eighteenth-century corn mill is the mill house. The mill was demolished after it had ceased to produce animal feed in the 1920s.
‘The mill gets by going.’
The mills here were on the Glem and not the Stour.
Long Melford Mill aka Withindale Mill (Suffolk)
‘Put a miller, a weaver, and a tailor in a bag, and shake them, the first that comes out will be a thief.’
There were two watermills in Long Melford in 1066 and 1086 DB and possibly one more in the medieval period and later. One mill was on the Stour, the other (Hall Mill) on the river Chad, subsequently the home of the poet Edmund Blunden. The Stour watermill (Withindale Mill) was a large building, housing three pairs of stones used for grinding cereals. Today the mill has mixed residential and commercial use.
Sudbury Mill (Suffolk)
‘Much water runs while the miller sleeps.’
A watermill was recorded here in 1086 but not 1066 DB. It is likely that there were two or more mills here throughout the medieval period, at least one cereal mill and one fulling mill. The present mill retains traces of a timber-framed building but is mainly of about 1890. The waterwheel of 1889 (which still turns) was augmented by steam powered rollers in the early twentieth century. The mill was taken over by the Clover family about 1850 and they owned the mill until it closed in 1964 when it was producing animal feed rather than flour. The mill has since been developed as the Mill Hotel.
Great Cornard Mill aka Baker’s Mill (Suffolk)
‘Keep your nose to the grindstone.’
A watermill existed in 1086 DB at which time Great and Little Cornard were shown as a single estate. The deeds of the manor of Abbas Hall, Great Cornard show that Great Cornard Mill, with a mill house and 4 acres of land (all in the occupation of Francis Kinge), were part of the manorial estate. The watermill was purchased by Edward Baker in 1851 and the family continued to mill flour here until 1967 when the mill switched to the production of animal feed. Since the closure of the mill, the site has been developed for high density housing.
Little Cornard Mill (Suffolk)
‘What is bolder than a miller’s neck-cloth which takes a thief by the throat every morning?’ (There is an almost identical proverb in Germany)
A single mill is shown for ‘Cornard’ in DB and it is likely that this was in what is now Great Cornard. Dr Jonathan Belsey considers that there appears to have been a fulling mill on the Stour in Little Cornard and cites early fourteenth century manorial documents as evidence. These mention ‘Melnefeld’ (Mill Field) which can still be located close to the river, and repairs to the ‘fulling mill’. The mill seems to have fallen into disuse by the end of the seventeenth century.
Bures (St Mary) Mill aka Hitchcock’s Mill (Suffolk)
‘Just a cog in a wheel.’
This watermill has been extensively researched by Nicholas Temple the present owner whose fascinating article about the mill was published in the CSCA Magazine in April 2011.
Nayland Mill (Suffolk)
Two watermills were recorded both in 1066 and 1086 DB. In the eighteenth century there were at least two mills, one for cereal milling and one for fulling. A new corn mill was built in 1823 and this operated until the twentieth century when milling ceased; it has since been converted for residential use. Another mill was built in Fenn Street and housed a steam boiler.
Wissington Mill aka Wiston Mill (Suffolk)
‘Judge your feed by your speed.’
Wissington was included in the DB under Nayland, which had two mills. During the seventeenth century there were cereal and fulling mills on the site. The existing building has traces of a sixteenth century structure and retains some of the nineteenth century mill machinery. Milling ceased here in the 1920s and it was converted to residential use about 1935.
Stoke by Nayland Mill (Suffolk)
‘The miller’s horse is fed upon the grain of others.’
On the river Box. Higham Mill (Suffolk) ‘The mill that is always going grinds coarse and fine.’ On the river Brett. Stratford St Mary Mill (Suffolk) ‘A miller’s sweat is strong enough to kill a toad.’ There was a watermill here in 1066 and 1086 DB. The seventeenth century mill was eventually replaced by a brick structure about 1890. This functioned as a ‘macaroni’ mill in the twentieth century but was demolished in 1947. A few walls and footings remain.
East Bergholt Mill aka Flatford Mill (Suffolk)
‘There are mill-wrights and mill-wrongs.’
There was a watermill here in 1066 and 1086 DB. The mill’s association with the Constable family is well known. The mill seems to have operated throughout the medieval period but by the late seventeenth century it was a ruin. It was later reconstructed and operated until 1901 when it fell victim to competition from more efficient mills and was shut down. The mill was eventually restored and given to the National Trust, who leased it to the Field Studies Council. This now operates a successful field studies centre on the site.
Brantham Mill aka Green’s Mill (Suffolk)
‘Sharp teeth biting the corn.’
There was a watermill here in 1086 DB possibly operating as a tide mill where the mill was driven by the tidal rise and fall of the river. It was certainly a tide mill later, and was rebuilt in 1778. Eventually it was supplied with a steam engine which drove steel rollers. Cereal milling ceased before World War II, during which time it operated briefly as a pepper mill. War damage brought about the closure of the mill and it burned down about 1965. The extensive site has one or two remaining buildings from the mill complex and is now the location of several industrial and storage companies. I would like to thank Mr David Brasted for allowing me access to the site of the mill and sight of some early photographs of the mill.
Dedham Mill (Essex)
‘Down by the old mill stream.’
There was one watermill in 1066, and two in 1086 DB. When the manor was partitioned c.1240 each recipient received a half share of the mill. By 1427 corn milling and fulling took place on the same site and continued until at least 1777 when both activities were depicted on the Chapman Andre map. By 1858 only a corn mill remained.
The Clover family took over the mill in the late nineteenth century and, after the mill burned down they built another by 1913. Flour for biscuit making was produced until the mill closed in the 1980s.
A second fulling mill was built on the river c.1380; it continued to operate until about 1620 but seems to have been demolished by the end of the seventeenth century.
Langham Mill (Essex)
‘Grist to the mill.’
There was one watermill here in 1066, two in 1086 DB. By 1273 one is recorded as a corn mill, the other as a fulling mill. The latter was demolished c.1510. By 1752 the remaining mill was said to be capable of use in either capacity. About 1779 the mill was rebuilt in brick. By 1912 the mill had ceased to function and was demolished. A pumping house was built c.1928 by a water company.
‘Run of the mill.’
There was a water mill here in 1066 but DB suggests that this was out of use in 1086. Later there was a corn mill and possibly two fulling mills. The mill was demolished in the 1920s but the two-storied nineteenth century brick mill house survives.
Great Horkesley (Essex)
‘And the sound of the millstone shall be heard in thee no more.’ Revelation 18:22.
No evidence for a watermill on the Stour here. Little Horkesley (Essex) ‘The mill cannot grind with the water that is past.’ Possibly a watermill here, if so it may have been recorded under Nayland at the time of DB.
Wormingford Mill (Essex)
‘To set the Thames on fire.’ Originally ‘tense’, being the sieve in which flour was sifted (a boring task).
There was a watermill here in 1086 DB. A grant of land in Wormingford to the church of St Mary Wix (Essex) by Thomas le Harpur c.1240 reserves ‘a footpath over the land and right of entry to the mill and of return by boat in the middle of the old river’. Wormingford Mill was in the occupation of Thomas Green in 1742.
The mill burned down in 1929 but the mill house survives.
A sketch of the mill house by Constable dated c.1834 was sold at Bonhams in 2009 for £9000.
Mount Bures Mill aka Crudmill (Essex)
‘To go through the mill.’
A watermill existed here in 1066 and 1086 DB. There is also evidence of a watermill in the fourteenth century. Nothing now remains of the building but it is thought to have stood on what is now Crudmill Meadow.
A watermill (Cambridge Mill) dating from perhaps the eleventh century on Cambridge Brook, a tributary of the Stour, was partly excavated at Craig’s Lane by the Colchester Archaeology Group.
Further details of the two mills can be found on the Mount Bures Community Website.
Bures Hamlet (Essex)
‘Her thoughts were as still as the water under a ruined mill.’
No evidence for a watermill on the Stour here.
‘The mills of God grind slowly but exceedingly small.’
No evidence for a watermill on the Stour here.
Great Henny Mill aka Sharneford Mill (Essex)
There was a watermill here in 1066 and 1086 DB. On a map drawn in 1600 by William Sands for Roger Gwynn, a London apothecary and lord of the manor of Great Henny, the watermill is described as Sharneford Mill alias Henny Mill. The same map shows that there was another watermill called Loshes at Great Henny. This mill has disappeared and Loshes is now a nature reserve. The watermill closed down shortly before World War II, during which time it was damaged by enemy bombing. After the War the mill was demolished but the mill house remains in residential use.
‘A millstone round one’s neck’
No evidence of a watermill on the Stour here.
Ballingdon (now in Suffolk, formerly in Essex)
‘To come to a grinding halt’
No evidence of a watermill on the Stour here.
Brundon Mill (now in Suffolk, formerly in Essex)
‘Still as a mill pond.’
The watermill existed in 1086 DB and is shown as a mill on the Chapman Andre map of 1777. Evidently there was a fulling mill and a corn mill at Brundon in the medieval period, probably on the same site. A steam engine was installed in 1857 but cereal milling finished in 1923. The surviving building is weatherboarded and of the eighteenth century and has been in residential use since 1932.
This watermill has been extensively researched by Mr David Burnett and described in his Brundon: The Enigma in Sudbury’s Shadow (2010).
Borley Mill (Essex)
‘Safe as a thief in a mill.’
No watermill is recorded here in DB. There was a mill in the fourteenth century and this is shown on the Chapman Andre map of 1777 as a corn mill. A lease dated 1483 to John Talbon of Long Melford, fuller, was for the mills of Borley ‘under one roof’ which suggests that there may then have been a corn mill and a fulling mill on the same site. By 1533 this was certainly the case, as William Firmyn of Borley, yeoman, received a lease of ‘fulling and corn mills’ at Borley from Canterbury Cathedral Priory for 21 years for an annual payment of £12 6s. 8d. The mill continued to grind cereals until 1916 when it went over to animal feed production. This process ceased in 1969.
Much of the present building is timber-framed and dates from the mid-eighteenth century. A photograph taken in the 1940s clearly shows a tall chimney (now vanished) indicative of a steam engine house on the side of the mill.
Liston Mill and Humme Mill (Essex)
‘It’s just water over the dam.’
There was a watermill here in 1086 DB. A lease dated 1813 of ‘a watermill called Liston Mill’ with house and lands (13 acres), contains a detailed list of fixtures in the mill. The mill was demolished in 1887 after falling into disuse. The mill house remains.
A second watermill in Liston known as Humme Mill was established in the eighteenth century or earlier for the manufacture of paper. The ‘road to the paper mill’ in Liston was mentioned in a deed of 1746. Following a fire in 1868 which destroyed the mill house, the mill became a flax mill and so continued until 1899 when it closed.
Foxearth Mill aka Weston Mill (Essex)
‘The mill is never silent while the damsel sings her song.’
No reference to a watermill here in DB. In 1691 it was owned by John Haynes of Copford Hall, Copford in Essex when he left it to his son John under the terms of his will. Cereal milling ended in 1894 and the watermill was switched to flax milling. Both the mill and the mill house burned down at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Pentlow Mill (Essex)
‘Mills and wives are ever wanting.’
There was a watermill here in 1086 DB. The eighteenth century watermill and mill house form one continuous range. The building is timber-framed and brick-faced. After milling ceased the mill was converted to residential use.
Belchamp St Paul (Essex)
‘The lower millstone grinds as well as the upper.’
The mill was on Belchamp Brook, a tributary of the Stour.
Ashen Mill aka (Essex)
‘Millery, millery, dusty soul, how many sacks have you stole?’
Nursery Rhyme Recorded as a watermill in 1086 DB. Known as Claret Hall Mill in the medieval period, and in the late eighteenth century was part of the manor of Claret Hall. Shown on Chapman Andre map of 1777 as Ashen Mill. The mill was situated close to present day Mill Farm, a sixteenth century house. Fulling Mill Croft in Ashen is mentioned in a deed of 1725.
Birdbrook Mill aka Baythorne Mill (Essex)
‘No miller can enter Heaven.’
French saying There was a watermill here in 1066 and 1086 DB. In 1716 property including a ‘double water cornmill’ in Birdbrook was assigned to Stephen Style in trust for Samuel Rush of Southwark, Surrey. A steam engine was added to the mill in the mid-nineteenth century and its chimney remains. Cereal milling came to an end about 1910 and the mill was converted to residential use thereafter.
Steeple Bumpstead (Essex)
‘The daily grind.’
No evidence for a watermill on the Stour here.
Sturmer Mill (Essex)
‘Here lies an honest miller, and that is Strange.’
Epitaph of a miller named Strange in an Essex churchyard.
There was a watermill in 1086 DB but it was on a tributary of the Stour.
Dr. Christopher Star is an Historian living in Sudbury.
Managing a Masterpiece: The Stour Valley Landscape Partnership
A lighter in use on the Stour.
Many of you may have seen or heard the phrase ‘Managing a Masterpiece’ Landscape Partnership Scheme in the local, and sometimes national, media, relating to a project in the Stour Valley, but how many people actually know what is it?
Firstly, what is a ‘Landscape Partnership’? According to the Heritage Lottery Fund’s website, which will fund up to 90% of such schemes, a Landscape Partnership is: A programme that helps conserve areas of distinctive landscape by delivering conservation benefits on a landscape scale, as well as helping people learn about and access our unique countryside.
The Stour Valley Landscape Partnership, known as ‘Managing a Masterpiece’, is a partnership of the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project, local authorities, education establishments and charities that have come together to develop a series of 62 wildlife, landscape, archaeological and access projects in the Stour Valley.
Managing a Masterpiece is a £1.1m investment over 3 years into landscape projects in the Stour Valley. It is funded predominately, at around 86%, by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The remaining funds come from the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project, seven local authorities, Natural England and English Heritage. The River Stour Trust has also contributed to improve the outcome of an individual project.
The Scheme is now into its third year of delivery. The projects completed so far have ranged from those with a high profile, such as the restoration of the Stour Lighter; archaeological digs; the Dedham Vale Hopper Bus and panoramic photographs taken from the top of church towers, to projects with less public profile but still important to improve visitor and residents appreciation and understanding of the Stour Valley. These projects include courses run at the University of Essex on landscape history and the Stour Navigation, self-guided walks, leaflets from Sudbury, Bures and Marks Tey railway stations and courses run in schools concentrating on traditional skills and traditions such as building techniques and songs and dances.
With such a wide range of projects, the Scheme’s staff made up of just three individuals, two of whom work part time, have worked extremely hard and effectively to deliver the projects on time and to budget. The Heritage Lottery Fund has consistently praised the Scheme in their quarterly monitoring visits, and regional staff and board members have visited the Scheme to help promote and celebrate various elements of it.
Some of the highlights. . .
Perhaps the most high profile, challenging and to some people controversial project was the restoration of the Stour Lighter, or barge, the John Constable. The Scheme had originally proposed funding a feasibility study into the restoration of a lighter, but the Heritage Lottery Fund encouraged the board to be bolder and bid for a full restoration. Taking soundings from boat builders, marine surveyors and boat experts at the Heritage Lottery Fund and others, the board sanctioned the bid to include a project to restore a lighter. Once the grant had been awarded, the Managing a Masterpiece staff organised a competitive tendering process. Six companies expressed an interest in restoring the vessel but in the final analysis the Pioneer Sailing Trust based in Brightlingsea won the contract. The Trust has an impressive track record in boat restorations and the experience of running the apprentice scheme associated with the project, and quoted within budget. Once the contract was awarded, the vessel was moved from its location to the Pioneer Sailing Trust’s workshop in a delicate operation.
Once at the workshop, the vessel’s dimensions were recorded and the restoration began. While nearly all of the timbers in the vessel were unusable and had to be replaced, the work is still defined as a restoration as the new timbers were placed in the position of the old ones.
The John Constable prior to restoration.
The Lighter is owned by the River Stour Trust who had recovered it from the Ballingdon Cut, off the River Stour, where it had been scuttled during the Great War as a precaution against any possible use by invading forces. The vessel was taken out of the cut in around 1976 and restored by the River Stour Trust, and for a short period of time was used as an education vessel. However, the vessel was soon requiring further repair which was not affordable and the vessel was stored outside the River Stour Trust’s Visitor and Education Centre in Great Cornard.
The Lighter would have once been part of a pair, the rear barge acting as a giant rudder. The John Constable is an example of a front barge and they would have at one time travelled between Sudbury and Mistley. The Lighters would carry goods from the Stour Valley downstream and then these goods would be transferred to larger vessels to be taken to London and beyond. The goods leaving the Stour valley included bricks. It is thought that many of the bricks that built the Albert Hall and London Liverpool Street railway station came from this area. The return journey had the slightly less glamorous cargo of ‘night soil’ (a polite way of saying manure from horses working in London) that was used to fertilise the fields of the Stour Valley.
The original vessels were pulled up and downstream using horses. As there is no official tow path the horses often had to swap banks by means of climbing on the vessel and being taken across to the other side with the crew propelling the vessel with long wooden poles know as quant poles. The scene of horses being transferred from one bank to the other was depicted by the painter John Constable in his works entitled: The White Horse and The Leaping Horse. The restored vessel will be propelled by silent electronic motors and, due to the requirements of modern day safety requirements, quant poles will also be kept on the vessel as a secondary source of propulsion.
The John Constable at the Pioneer sailing Trust workshop before restoration.
One of the unusual features of the vessel was the clinker built nature of construction, meaning the restoration needed to shape and bend some large pieces of timber. The vessel has a very flat bottom which is kept attached to the sides using single pieces of timber that have an almost 90 degree bend in them. The need to source enough of these pieces at the right size and quality led to a national search, with Pioneer Sailing Trust staff travelling the length of England on the strength of promises and rumours.
Once the vessel was restored it was taken back to Cornard, via a brief stop-over in Ipswich for a press call that attracted local media, radio and television interest. It was launched back into the water and is undergoing trials before an official public launching ceremony in Spring 2013, before it earns its keep as a passenger-carrying vessel running between Sudbury and Great Henny.
The restored Stour Lighter on display in Ipswich.
The Dedham Vale Hopper bus, first started as a pilot in 2005, was revived thanks to funding from Managing a Masterpiece. Over the three years of operation the bus has transported thousands of people on a circular route starting and ending at Manningtree, but including East Bergholt, Stratford St Mary and Dedham.
Dedham Vale Hopper Bus.
The plan had been to move visitors around the area without them having to use their own cars. What hadn’t been anticipated to such a degree was the popularity of the service to residents. From surveys undertaken on board the bus it was found that nearly 50% of the users were local residents getting to nearby villages to meet with friends or access local shops and services. One project that has really caught local residents’ imagination was the archaeological digs. Early on in the Scheme’s lifetime was the dig at Wormingford Hill that excavated a Tudor Hunting-Lodge overlooking Smallbridge Hall. It turned out that the site also had a well and what looked like a brewery. Hundreds of volunteer man hours went into the excavation and many more local school children visited the dig. The work was recorded and a ‘coffee table’ publication of the findings is available from the Colchester Archaeological Group. The well was excavated to a depth of nearly 15 metres. Right at the bottom the volunteers found the workings of an old pump system. The pump was carved from wood and is similar in design to that of a modern day bicycle pump. A length of elm, around 2 metres long, had been hollowed out which the piston would have been driven up and down to create the vacuum required to pull the water. Also of particular interest were parts of decorated brick, wall tiles and a number of coins found on site, indicating a high status building on a much earlier site. The coins found included a silver sixpence of Elizabeth, dating from 1561 to 1566 and a ‘Coin of Cunobelin’, who ruled south eastern England from his capital of Colchester in the First century AD.
There were other equally successful digs in Clare, Nayland, Stoke by Nayland, Bures Common and Mount Bures. Each dig gave the local community a chance to learn more about the history of their village and take part in an archaeological dig under the watchful eye of experts from Access Cambridge archaeology or County Archaeological Services. The Nayland test pitting programme, where villagers were encouraged to dig a one metre square in their garden and record what they found, turned up a large amount of pottery as might be expected from this historical settlement. Finds included wares from Roman times and early medieval sand ware (dating from 1100-1400). There were also many finds of locally produced material including Hedingham ware, Thetford ware and Harlow slipware, as well as finds from wares further afield such as examples of Staffordshire Manganese ware and German Stone ware. Also found was an Elizabethan coin dating from 1567. Over 150 people from the village were involved in examining thirty-four test pits in the village, and the weekends activities culminated in a presentation from the archaeologists and an evening barbeque.
School children taking part in Wormingford dig.
Archaeological dig on Bures Common.
Another project that caught the imagination was the taking of panoramic photographs from the top of church towers. These amazing photographs have been loaded onto a ‘pod’, essentially a computer on a pedestal, which is touring the churches of the Stour Valley. Prints of the images were made available to each church but they come alive when seen electronically on the pod or online on the Managing a Masterpiece website. When viewed electronically, one can zoom in on features of interest and jump to the next viewpoint.
Panoramic photograph taken from the top of All Saints Church, Sudbury.
Landscape and wildlife are also important elements in Managing a Masterpiece. Over sixty riverside trees have been pollarded; many of the iconic trees between Flatford and Dedham have been pruned, ensuring these important trees live longer. Once, the trees would have been regularly pollarded for firewood or bean poles, but since markets for this type of product have been filled by cheaper suppliers, the trees have become in danger of becoming over mature and literally pulling themselves apart, as boughs become too heavy and splinter off causing deep fissures in the main trunk.
Pollarding near Flatford
Over 1.5km of hedging has been planted in the Stour Valley, restoring three lengths of hedgerow that had been removed. Along with the thousands of trees put in for the hedgerows, another sixty riverside trees have been planted alongside the Stour and its tributaries in specially constructed exclosures to prevent grazing by stock. Suitable native trees have been selected, such as willow, ash and native black poplar, Britain’s rarest timber tree. As the scheme develops in its third and final year, the emphasis has been more on celebrating the Stour Valley landscape. A series of projects are currently being organised to encourage and inspire children and disadvantaged groups to study the landscape, and to take part in photographic and art based competitions. Hundreds of high quality photographs were submitted for the competition that ran over a whole year with the three themes of heritage, farming and landscape. The judges eventually picked winning entries from the adult and under 16 age categories, with many of the winning entries being selected for a 2013 calendar. The profits were donated to the Stour Valley Environment Fund, to support environmental projects in the area.
Other arts based projects include open air lessons and school mosaic projects. 2013 will see projections onto church towers, poetry commissioned and competitions for budding poets from the local community. A lasting legacy?
Managing a Masterpiece has affected lives of many from the Stour Valley and beyond. It has directly employed three people during its lifetime and its contracts to run various elements of the scheme have supported local businesses.
When the scheme was being planned it was always an aim to have community-run events overseen by professionals. I think this has been achieved by the numbers that have been touched by Managing a Masterpiece. There are tangible achievements too: the Stour Lighter, archaeological finds, pieces of artwork, restored archaeological assets, walking and riding leaflets, new hedgerows, panoramic photographs. It is perhaps the intangible benefits we should dwell on. After two and a half years the project has had over 3,500 volunteer days on archaeological, countryside, art and learning events. Each one of those volunteers has learnt something about the Stour Valley and contributed to the shared knowledge of it. It is those people who have learnt new skills: the Stour lighter apprentice who got his first job; the wheelchair-using owner of Mount Bures Castle being carried to the top of the Motte; the hordes of schoolchildren working on archaeological digs and even rumours of a couple who met and became partners at a Managing a Masterpiece event.
To be continued. . .
Managing a Masterpiece has been such a success due to its partners delivering on time and to budget. The 10% contingency that the Heritage Lottery Fund insists being included in the initial budget has hardly been touched, and following a representation from the team, the Scheme is to be extended by a further six months. The new work is a mixture of repeats of successful projects and new ideas. They are: an archaeological excavation; archaeological fieldwalking; heritage workshop; traditions, folklore and custom course for schools; basket making course; use of the Stour Lighter as a floating classroom and the appointment of an apprentice to work on the restoration of medieval burial hatchments. We hope that you have managed to learn more about the Stour Valley from one of the Managing a Masterpiece projects. If not there is much information about the Scheme’s findings on its website at www.managingamasterpiece.org
Simon Amstutz in AONB manager at the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project and developed the Managing a Masterpiece scheme alongside others with a professional and personal interest in the Stour Valley.
Construction of riverside tree guard.
Extending the Dedham Vale
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
Map showing the area of outstanding natural beauty to the right. The long term aim is to extend the AONB up to Haverhill. However the next application will be from Wormingford to south of Sudbury.
The existing Dedham Vale AONB should be extended a few miles further upstream in the Stour valley towards Sudbury to include the hilly areas around the picturesque villages of Bures, Lamarsh, Alphamstone and Henny.
This has been proposed before and until 1991 much of the area was designated Potential AONB. The key arguments for this extension are: 1. The area can be shown to meet the criteria of Outstanding Natural Beauty as laid out in Section 82 (1) of the Countryside & Rights of Way (CROW) Act 2000.
2. The area has always been known for its gentle farmed landscape qualities and was the subject of paintings by Thomas Gainsborough, John Constable and other famous artists.
3. The area has been greatly enhanced in the past two decades by farmers adopting the various countryside stewardship schemes to help fund a wealth of hedge planting, pond restoration, woodland creation and other conservation measures.
4. This proposal has the support of all local authorities including Essex and Suffolk County Councils and has been proposed to Natural England, the regulatory body which makes the designation.
5. The proposal is now urgent as National Grid is in the throes of decisions on the forthcoming new East-West power lines that will cross the valley. It has already agreed to underground the new lines across the Stour Valley; itself a recognition of the area’s exceptional natural beauty – but funding to underground the existing 400kV structures at the same time will only be possible, as things stand, if the area has AONB status.
The Role of AONBs
The main reason why AONB status is so important is that it gives much enhanced protection to the countryside. This does not mean that no development is ever allowed, but controls on quality are tighter and any changes should be appropriate to the landscape character. Other beneficiaries from AONB status include all who rely on tourism such as pubs, bed & breakfast accommodation and local shops. It can also include priority areas for environmental schemes delivered by farmers. Existing property values should also benefit from the restrictions on further development. Funds are available to help with environmentally friendly community and economic projects and can be given to remedial activities such as undergrounding low voltage wires and, in some cases, associated telephone lines.
The recent changes in planning legislation confirm protection for AONBs but make development, which may or may not be appropriate, much easier elsewhere. It is instructive to read the document “Designation History Series, Dedham Vale AONB” which gives a clear account of the lengthy process required to achieve AONB status. It was produced in May 2010 by Natural England, the Government’s advisor on the natural environment, and details the steps showing how and why these areas were added to the original AONB.
The Dedham Vale AONB
The Dedham Vale was first designated as an AONB in 1970 and there have been only two extensions since. The first added a small area consisting of Shelley and Raydon in 1978.
From the same year, the Dedham Vale Society, the Colne Stour Countryside Association and local authorities, notably Essex and Suffolk County Councils, campaigned for AONB status to be granted to an area comprising Nayland, Wissington, Wormingford, Bures, Mount Bures, Lamarsh and Alphamstone, all of which were given the official designation “Potential AONB”. After a series of inspections, meetings and much correspondence over a decade or more, the Countryside Commission, the body that at that time had the power to designate land as AONB, decided to recommend only the small extension including Nayland, Wissington and Arger Fen, of six and a half square miles. Its report speaks of “degradation in the landscape” beyond this point and the character of the valley being different to the area recommended. The designation “Potential AONB” was removed in 1991 and we were told that evidence of substantial improvement in landscape quality would be needed before the Countryside Commission decision could be reviewed. My own opinion is that the Commission, and in particular the employee, who made the recommendations, never visited the enchanting, often hidden, side-valleys on both sides of the river which frequently amaze visitors by their exquisite and unexpected delicate beauty.
245 acres of grassland.
Changing farming practices in the area However, in the main valley, the Commission had a point. As with all arable land, the 1970s and 80s were a time when most farmers had little regard for the environment. Many ancient boundary hedges had been ripped out without any understanding of their antiquity or importance. Ponds had been filled in, public footpaths ploughed up and fields were cultivated to the tarmac on country lanes.
But perhaps most damaging to the landscape and to the reputation of farming was the widespread practice of burning straw after harvest. Indeed, the Stour Valley from the top of Wormingford Hill sometimes looked as if it was the film set for the Battle of Stalingrad with fires and columns of smoke as far as the eye could see and often burning woodland and hedgerows as well. The resulting dirt and damage to households, hospitals, schools and businesses, particularly after the 1989 harvest, provoked a furious reaction from town and country people alike and stubble burning was finally banned by John Gummer (now Lord Deben) when Minister for Agriculture from 1992 onwards.
That was over 20 years ago and much has changed. 30 years of happy conservation!
30 years of happy conservation!
A 38 page document from Natural England entitled “Guidance for Assessing Landscapes for Designation as National Park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England” sets out in detail what is required. The formal wording is: Section 82(1) of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 ( ?CROW?) defines an AONB in England as an area that is not in a National Park but which appears to Natural England to be of such outstanding natural beauty that it is desirable that the protective provisions of Part IV of CROW should apply to it for the purpose of conserving and enhancing the area‘s natural beauty. In such circumstances Natural England may, by order, designate the area as an AONB.
Beauty as such is not precisely defined but the factors to be considered are landscape quality, scenic quality, relative wildness, relative tranquillity, natural heritage features and cultural heritage. The Guidance defines this as “the influence of cultural heritage on the perception of natural beauty of the area and the degree to which associations with particular people, artists, writers or events in history contribute to such perception.” The fact that, as in our case, the landscape is entirely man-made over the centuries is understood. It is worth studying the detailed criteria but in my view, the Stour Valley ticks all the boxes even though more remains to be done. The concerns of the Countryside Commission of two decades ago have been addressed.
There has been new legislation such as the CROW Act but as important has been the change in farmers’ attitudes to environmental factors and the realisation that the overwhelming majority, who are not farmers, want the landscape to look attractive as well as be productive.
Attitudes have been helped by programmes such as the Environmentally Sensitive Area Scheme (ESA) for the Suffolk River Valleys, introduced in 1987 and Countryside Stewardship, introduced in 1992 both of which gave financial support to landowners who were prepared to put part of their land into agri-environmental schemes. These involved wildflower meadows and other attractive options which were particularly encouraged in Suffolk river valleys. It is interesting to note that the ESA scheme encompassed the Stour Valley to Sudbury to include both the Dedham Vale AONB and the area which is the subject of this paper.
From 2007, the programme of Environmental Stewardship was introduced on two levels. The simplest is called Entry Level Stewardship where in return for modest payments, farmers commit to a range of options to improve the landscape. For example, letting taller and wider hedges grow up and sowing grass margins (formerly known as headlands) around arable fields are amongst the most popular. Nearly all farmers in the Stour Valley have joined this scheme and the benefits are already apparent.
Hazel hedges to improve the landscape.
Approximately 7 miles of hedges planted.
Phacelia, borage and clover strips to attract wildlife. Five acre lake and conservation washland created in 2001. New homes to swans, geese, ducks, widgeon, snipe, coots etc. Many farmers in the Valley are also enrolled in the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme (HLS). This is considerably more demanding in terms of land management and there are many options, all of which raise the quality of the landscape from an environmental viewpoint. HLS is a ten year commitment and is not automatically awarded. In fact Natural England, which administers the scheme, has concentrated resources in this region on the Stour Valley and the impact has been significant.
Phacelia, borage and clover strips to attract wildlife.
Many miles of hedgerows and acres of woods have been planted, ponds have been restored and most arable fields now have a two, six or sometimes ten metre margin, often set with native wild flowers and which encourage songbirds and other wild life. A number of landowners have undergrounded telephone and low voltage electricity cables. Many of the old water meadows which were ploughed up in the era of intensive farming have been returned to their original condition and, taken as a whole, the landscape quality has been transformed for the better over the past twenty years.
Five acre lake and conservation washland created in 2001.
New homes to swans, geese, ducks, widgeon, snipe, coots etc. Dedham Vale AONB & Stour Valley Project Partnership
Another important factor has been the work of the Dedham Vale AONB & Stour Valley Project Partnership (the Project) which was set up in 1981 with responsibility for the AONB.
The Project area was extended in 1988 and 1992 to include the Stour Valley right up to the headwaters of the river at Great Bradley in Cambridgeshire (see map). The Project is funded by DEFRA (Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and also by Essex and Suffolk County Councils, Colchester and St Edmundsbury Borough Councils and Babergh, Braintree and Tendring District Councils. The Project joint managers are Katherine Potts and Simon Amstutz, both highly experienced and effective, who with their small staff and large number of volunteers have done wonderful work throughout the valley. If the AONB is to be extended, the new area will have to have a formal management structure. In our case it already exists and is working to good effect with local farmers and others. The case for extending the AONB is already known, understood and supported by all the official bodies concerned because local authority Councillors and Officers work together on the Project Joint Advisory Committee and Partnership. It was at a meeting of the Project Partnership in November 2009 that the resolution was passed “to issue a statement of intent to Natural England seeking an Extension of the Dedham Vale AONB, including westward towards Sudbury and to evaluate and provide a substantive case and detail in support of an extension.” This intention has been incorporated in the area’s Management Plan 2010-2015 and acknowledged by Natural England as one of a number of requests for boundary changes put to it. The strong support of local authorities is vital and this has been forthcoming both from Councillors and Officers, with Suffolk County Council taking the lead. An AONB is a legal entity for which the local authorities concerned have to take responsibility and meet certain requirements laid down by Acts of Parliament. In straightened economic times further spending commitments will be unwelcome so it will be necessary for funding to be realised from other sources. This will present difficulties but they can be surmounted. For example, Managing a Masterpiece, funded mainly through the Heritage Lottery Fund, (whose work is described elsewhere in this magazine), has raised the profile of the Stour Valley through its wide range of projects, not least the understanding of local history and archaeology.
Other supportive factors for granting the area AONB status
A further key factor has been the research which has identified works by major artists notably Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable in the area. Specific views by Gainsborough in Henny, Lamarsh and Bures have been identified and Constable’s connection with Bures, where his grandfather was miller have shown he was active in this section of the valley, with his painting Lamarsh Hall (actually Daws Hall), a well-known example. The wealth of Grade 1 and Grade 2 listed buildings has also been highlighted.
In the years since 1992 there has been only a modest amount of development in the area. A few regrettable farm buildings have been more than balanced by some sensitive restorations. For example the ugly cheese factory in Bures with its industrial chimney has been replaced with a charming housing development which blends in well with the historic Church Square. Essex and Suffolk Water has built a pumping station near Bures, effectively disguised as a large Essex barn. The few telephone masts in the valley may become redundant as technology makes them unnecessary. Even the prominent masts at Assington with their red lights at night will probably be needed for only a few more years, and their removal will be welcome.
The river itself was also degraded in the late 1960s by Anglian Water building dykes from Bures to Sudbury, ostensibly to prevent flooding. Under the Water Framework Directive (to improve the ecological status of water bodies) the Dedham Vale AONB & Stour Valley Project are now looking at some potential river improvement and restoration schemes.
National Grid powerline plans lend urgency to the issue of AONB status
The major issue over the last three years, however, has been the intention by National Grid (NG) to build a new 400kV power line from Bramford to Twinstead. After consulting widely, NG has decided to place the new line underground across the Stour Valley, the first time that it has agreed to do so outside an urban area, AONB or National Park which is recognition of the scenic, cultural and historic quality of the landscape.
The older, 132kV overhead line is to go and the pressure will now be on to get the existing 400kV power line undergrounded at the same time as the new one is installed. The removal of these eyesores would be a huge benefit and restore the timeless integrity of the valley.
Electricity lines buried at Chapel Meadows.
However, the immediate problem is that, although NG has been told by its regulator OFGEM that £500million can be spent on remedial work undergrounding unsightly overhead lines, it applies only in AONBs and National Parks. This unique opportunity to get rid of such horribly damaging structures will be lost unless either the rules are changed or the Stour Valley achieves AONB status. As work is planned to begin in 2016, time is very short.
Because of this dilemma, I believe it is now urgent that AONB status should be sought for the Stour Valley from its present boundary to a line South of Sudbury, probably to include parts of Little Cornard, Henny and Twinstead. A Landscape Character Assessment will be required, not least to recommend exact boundaries, although much of the detailed work has already been done by other bodies. Approaches have been made to people who could undertake further work, and it is conceivable that funds could be raised from sympathetic organisations and local residents to pay for the survey.
Subject to the conclusions of the resulting report, the case can then be made to Natural England and, provided there are no last minute objections, a public enquiry will not be required.
I am confident that Natural England’s demanding criteria can be met and we must hope that the urgency of our case can persuade it to allow our application to go forward alongside that of Suffolk Coasts & Heaths AONB who are hoping to have the South bank of the Stour Estuary included and which is now near the top of the queue. The wholehearted backing for this vision from all concerned will be a key factor in realising our goal.
Robert Erith has lived in Lamarsh overlooking the Stour Valley since 1966. He is President of The Dedham Vale Society and on the Committee of the CSCA. His farmland is mostly within the proposed extension of the AONB and in recent years he has joined the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme. He has replanted hedgerows and added many trees, mainly oak. Geoffrey Probert , who lives at Bevills, Bures, has provided all the pictures for this article and, as can be seen, he has transformed his land so that it now adds to the scenic value of the proposed extension of the AONB.
Bevills Farm sits on the bend of the Stour river around Bures village.
Buildings in the East Anglian Landscape –
as seen by John Constable
Golding Constable’s Flower Garden painted by John Constable, 1815.
The East Anglian countryside has not always evolved slowly – in fact, sudden waves of prosperity which have struck our region from time to time have resulted in transformations. One of these was in about 1600, a time known nationally as ‘The Great Rebuilding.’ Another was during the Napoleonic War period, at the beginning of the 19th century. Illustrations of the landscape and townscapes of East Anglia before and during this period are not numerous, but the evidence they give is startling. A good starting point in understanding the countryside around the Stour and Colne Valleys during the 18th century would be to study these two maps: Hodskinsons’ Map of Suffolk published in 1783, and Chapman & Andre’s Map of Essex published in 1777. They show the following:
• many greens and tyes which as a result of 19th century enclosure no longer exist today,
• a pattern of roads which has since been rationalised and upgraded,
• small settlements scattered all over the landscape. Overlying this unfamiliar 18th century landscape there were picturesque farmstead groups in widely-varying conditions of maintenance or decay. The coming of the wars with France resulted in escalating grain prices, the ploughing up of pastures, and the rebuilding of farmsteads. At the centre of each was a large barn, either new or redeveloped. Clustered around it would be buildings serving this new arable economy, which was producing great wealth for landowners and entrepreneurs. These farmstead groups would include stables, granaries and cartlodges, all necessary for handling the increased crop production. The farmhouse would be rebuilt, replastered, or refronted with a white brick facade and sliding sash windows. In fact we can visualise two worlds which were separated by only a few decades. In the first, Tudor and Jacobean farmsteads continued in use with a little adaptation when funds allowed. In contrast, the second world was characterised by rebuilt or expanded farmsteads, surrounded by large cornfields which had taken the place of a patchwork of small meadows and hedgerows. Artists of the period around 1800 enjoyed depicting romantic scenes just as they do today. I have chosen three illustrations which have unconsciously given us a powerful record of a landscape and its buildings that had so far escaped the transformation of the Napoleonic Wars:- • A view of Long Melford Green by William Poulter, c.1790. Most of the houses in this unique watercolour are still standing today, but they are almost unrecognisable because of 19th century alterations. The painting corrects many of the misapprehensions held today about Suffolk and Essex decorative traditions. There are no bright pink, yellow or green colourwashed plastered walls on any of these houses. Such things were unknown until the later 19th century – and the colours recently applied on many historic houses have no part in the vernacular tradition. All the plasterwork is white. Only one of the houses in the picture has a brick front, and even this may be a refronting of a timber-framed house. Nearly all the ‘Georgianized’ houses in the East Anglian countryside date from the Napoleonic Wars or later – the fashion had barely started in the 18th century. There is one obvious outbuilding in the picture with boarded walls – a barn or stable placed at right-angles near the centre. The boards are black, but coal tar had not arrived in East Anglia in 1790 and so this must have been a carbon-black pigmented distemper. • ‘Golding Constable’s Flower Garden’, by John Constable, 1815. An upstairs window in Golding Constable’s house in the village of East Bergholt was the vantage point for the artist. Beyond the garden wall was a meadow with a trimmed path across to a farmstead. The buildings in the picture include a medieval farmhouse with whitewashed plastered walls, and a thatched 3-bay barn with boarded walls. These walls are painted with a bright red ochre. We have discovered that at least 30% of the boarded farm buildings in our area were painted this colour in the 18th and early 19th centuries before the arrival of coal tar. Others were black or unpainted, and some were ‘blue’, which seems to have been achieved with nodules of chalk suspended in carbon black pigment – an optical blue. The subject of these pigment colours – fascinating and highly relevant – urgently needs more research including microscopic analysis of paint samples. This is the way to be sure exactly what Constable was painting in his beloved countryside. • ‘The Red Barn at Polstead: A Correct View of the Exterior’, by an unknown artist, c.1830. The murder of Maria Marten in this barn by William Corder on the 18th May, 1827 captured the imagination of the public throughout England. This accurate illustration shows that the barn was thatched with boarded walls, and was in poor condition. The artist was intent on correcting inaccuracies concerning the identity of the barn, and the details of the story of the murder which were in circulation. The Staffordshire Pottery models of the barn which were made in great numbers at the time show that these boarded walls were bright red. It was demolished soon afterwards, apparently because people were stealing pieces of timber as souvenirs and the owners were becoming distressed by all the unwanted attention. The boarding in the foreground is very pale: white was not normally used as an external treatment of boarding and this bright effect would not be used as an illustration of blackness. We can conclude that the artist was looking at red boarding. The building is a highly recognizable example of a Suffolk threshing barn in every detail. The barn is illustrated and the whole story is discussed on the website of St. Edmundsbury Borough Council. A commentator speculates that the name ‘Red Barn’ might have referred to the partial tile roof-covering, but this is improbable because the barn is mainly thatched, and tiles were commonplace and unremarkable. Red boarding would be as striking as it is today, but we now know that it was far from unique on boarded farm buildings.
A view of Long Melford Green painted by William Poulter, c.1790.
By examining paintings and prints in this way, and by carefully scrutinising the standing buildings that go back to the period, it is possible to reconstruct the 18th century countryside. Questions should be asked about current attitudes to the maintenance of buildings and landscapes that we have inherited, but bearing in mind that time cannot stand still. Should we be encouraging owners to paint their plastered walls only in white, and their boarded farm buildings in red or black distemper? Should houses be plaintiled and outbuilding roofs thatched? Should we be reconstructing wooden fences, sowing rough pasture, and leaving wasteland along road sides? The answer surely is ‘sometimes’. Otherwise we might forget what it is that makes the Stour and Colne Valley countryside – as for instance it was in the time of John Constable - so very attractive to modern eyes. A fashion for brightly colourwashed plastered walls took hold in the 1970s, encouraged by the Planning Authorities. I noted at the time that there was further encouragement from manufacturers of cement-based paints who added new ‘historic’ colours to their ranges. More recently, the advice from our conservation officers is to restrict the palette to earth colours, in particular red and yellow ochres. Converted barns are today invariably clad in black boarding, bringing to mind Henry Ford’s offered choice of paint colours for his new cars in the 1920s! Colour on buildings is extremely important. The choice in each case needs to be built on sound research. Those of us who look closely at historic buildings will have to take responsibility for not publishing our findings widely enough in the past. For the moment I would like to make a plea - if in doubt - for white-painted plaster, and for renegotiating the colour options for the boards on converted barns.
Philip Aitkens is a Historic Buildings Consultant and it was he who discovered the true significance of Abbas Hall in Cornard. He has written two articles in earlier CSCA magazines. He helped us overcome planning obstacles when we were wanting to build on to our Grade 2 Listed House in 1998.
The Red Barn at Polstead painted by an unknown artist, c1830.
The Round Church at Maplestead
The Round Church at Little Maplestead.
One of the gems of northern Essex is to be found along a small country lane in Little Maplestead, a few miles northwest of Halstead. Locally known as The Round Church, it sits nestled in a beautiful spot among several ancient yew trees on the crest of a small hill. Approaching by foot across the fields or by road from Halstead it can be seen from quite far off and merits a visit, as it is a very pretty little church and one of the most historically important buildings in the area
Officially known as The Church of St. John the Baptist, the Round Church is one of only four round churches still in use in England. Its history dates back to the Middle Ages although the early records are unreliable. It is generally believed that there was a church near to the site of the current church in late Saxon times, as a priest is mentioned in the Domesday Book, but there is no documentary or archaeological evidence to support this.
The Round Church surrounded by ancient yew trees.
During the Crusades, the manor and church of Little Maplestead were given to the Order of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, also known as the Knights Hospitaller. After the grant of the land in 1185 by Juliana Fitz-Audelin, the Hospital was founded by the Knights who then built a church for their own use in around 1186, although history does not relate whether or not that church was circular. At around the same time, domestic buildings would have been erected in the surrounding area for the use of the Knights Hospitaller community, including a chapter-house, refectory and dormitories. The preceptory was close by on the site of what is now Maplestead Hall, which can be seen on the other side of the road from the present church. Unfortunately, no evidence of any of these buildings remains, but the Round Church on the site is still associated with the Order of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem today. Every year members of the Order can be seen in procession, clad in traditional full robes, on the first Sunday in June as they celebrate their annual “Service of Thanksgiving and Re-dedication” at the Round Church.
The Order was originally founded in 1092 in Jerusalem with the building of a hospice to accommodate pilgrims visiting holy places. It was first introduced in England in around 1144 to give medical care to sick and injured crusading knights. It eventually became today's St John Ambulance service which is the UK's leading first aid provider and training organisation. The Houses of the Knights Hospitaller were dissolved by Henry VIII in 1540, as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries and most of the knights retired to Malta, becoming known as the Knights of Malta. The Maltese cross of the Knights Hospitaller still forms part of the service's livery and also features on the traditional robes of the Order. Round churches were built by both the Knights Hospitaller and the Knights Templar. The round design was based on the fourth century rotunda of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, which was built by the Emperor Constantine. Constantine's church was built on what is regarded as the site of Jesus's tomb and the round shape of the church is thought to celebrate the resurrection. The other round churches still in use are the Temple Church in London, belonging to the Knights Templar, and the Churches of the Holy Sepulchre in Cambridge and in Northampton, but neither of these are connected to the Knights Templar or Hospitaller.
The present church was probably built around 1335 on the site of the church of the Knights Hospitaller and is the latest of the four round churches still in use in England. It is therefore of great importance historically. There is debate about why the circular plan of the church would have been adopted as late as the 14th century, as this style had gone “out of fashion” by the end of the 12th century. One theory is that the circular aisle and walls of the chancel probably date from the late 12th century and the hexagonal arcade within the round dates from a later period. However, there is no sign of work earlier than the 14th century so it may be that the circular form was simply influenced by an earlier round church on the site. The church was dramatically restored between 18511857 when most of the old details were renewed or replaced. It is possible to read what was done in the old minute book of the Restoration Committee which is still in existence. The external walls were completely refaced and the windows and buttresses were renewed. A new roof was added to the chancel and circular aisle, the wooden belfry was rebuilt and the old western porch was replaced with a smaller one. The interior stonework was scraped and much new stone added.
The present font was discovered during the restoration work. It is the most ancient feature in the church and probably dates from 1080. The bowl was originally square but the corners were later cut off, in all likelihood during the 16th century. The font was probably intended for total immersion baptism as was the custom in early Norman times. The western face of the font bears a carving of St Andrew’s cross. As St Andrew was possibly the first bishop of Byzantium, this may account for the presence of his symbol. Apart from the font there are no other treasures of any great significance inside the church, but it is worth a visit for its unique shape and historical importance if you happen to be in the local area. The church today probably looks very much the way it did after the Victorian restoration over 150 years ago. It is made of flint with a tiled roof and a low, six-sided wooden belfry and, as you will see if you visit, it has a very unusual design. It has a six-sided nave surrounded by a circular aisle which forms the round part of the church. Running east from the nave there is an aisle-less chancel terminating in a semi-circular eastern apse which is apparently the only 14th century example of this type which now exists in England. There is a porch on the western end of the nave over an original 14th century doorway which opens into the round. The roof over the nave and circular aisle is of a conical shape and is surmounted by the sexagonal belfry. On top of the belfry sits an iron weather vane with a gilded finial, which is a copy of a similar one which existed in 1836.
Although the Round Church has been rebuilt and restored many times in its long history it is in need of significant restoration once again. At some time in the middle of the twentieth century, the brick and flint exterior was repointed using cement rather than lime mortar, which has proved to be rather disastrous for the church. The fabric of the church cannot breathe and so the interior of the church has become very damp. This is causing the plasterwork inside to crumble and fall off and is now in urgent need of repair. The Friends of the Round Church was set up in 2009 as a charity to raise funds to carry out the remedial works required. So far, the gutters have been replaced and French drains have been installed to keep water away from the exterior walls. Fundraising continues so that the internal plaster can be replaced and, eventually, the cement pointing replaced with lime mortar. Because the church is so tiny, it has a very small congregation and most of the money required will have to come from outside Little Maplestead, either from grants or donors interested in protecting this local treasure.
Damp and cracks causing the plaster to fall off which is in need of urgent repair.
Despite the dilapidations the church is still active locally. Services are held on the first Sunday of every month and several weddings take place every year as it is such a charming location in which to get married. If you would like more information on the Round Church or the Friends of the Round Church, or you would like to make a donation to help with its restoration, please visit the website www.roundchurch.co.uk.
Chairman of the Friends of the Round Church
Jane has lived in Halstead for 15 years. She set up and runs the Friends charity and is involved with fundraising campaigns for the repair of the Church. She is also the Halstead representative for the CSCA.
The Fine Wines of England
’m an incomer to Suffolk, lured here in the mid-1970s by the county’s fledgling wine-growing scene. Having worked my passage around the wineries and cellars of France and Germany, I set my sights on English vineyards or - more precisely - those of Suffolk. Eight brilliant years were to follow, during which I fought a rearguard action against rabbits, hares, partridge (they adore young vine shoots), the ravages of various mildews (due to inappropriate weather), ravenous birds at harvest-time (thrushes, blackbirds and starlings could munch their way through an inordinate number of bunches in pretty short order), and the unequalled competition from established wine-producing countries the world over, with more suitable climates, fewer pests and more competitive prices. Eventually – along with my fellow English winemakers – I started to reap the rewards, as over the next three decades English wine at last began to hold its own on the world stage. Progress hasn’t been without its setbacks, of course, the most dramatic recent example being the washout summer of 2012. English producers are well used to dodgy weather and have usually found a way to muddle through, but we are now witnessing a much more professional approach to the actual art and science of winemaking. Full marks in this respect to one of the largest and best-known producers of sparkling wines, Nyetimber in Hampshire, who made the decision to write off their entire rain-damaged crop rather than jeopardise their growing international reputation by making substandard wine from rubbish grapes. However, if you thought that English fizz would be a nice cheap option to Champagne, think again. Although made in the same way and with the same grape varieties, the quantities produced are minute in comparison to the mass-production of its counterparts around Rheims and Epernay, while still being subject to the same iniquitous taxes. So if twentyfive quid seems too much to spend on a bottle of really exceptional sparkling wine - English or otherwise - stick to Prosecco or Cava for the time being and put patriotism on hold.
The grape which I believe will help to cement the reputation of English wine once and for all, is a variety called Bacchus. As California trades on its ‘signature’ variety of wines made from Zinfandel, Argentina on Malbec and New Zealand on Sauvignon Blanc, so I believe will English wine and Bacchus become inextricably linked. If you should be in any doubt, search out the eponymous wine from your local vineyard at Lavenham Brook (available also from the Adnams Cellar & Kitchen Store in Hadleigh). It has some of the ethereal aromatics of Sauvignon Blanc, but with a twist of Englishness about it - just the qualities I feel it needs to become ‘England’s’ wine.
Whilst nearly every wine-producing country has its signature variety, it is not always the single varietal that garners the plaudits. It certainly helped open the sluice gates in terms of UK wine consumption in the early 1980s (who could resist a bottle of Bulgarian Merlot or an Australian Chardonnay?) and thanks to the clear labelling of New World wines we are much better able to identify individual grapes. But to me, the greatest joy is indulging in wines which have been made with more than just the one grape variety. I liken it to an artist on the end of Southwold pier, with just a daub of blue paint on his palette; I wager that his picture will be predictably boring. Give him some white paint and some green, and suddenly you have a sky, sea, waves, gulls etc – something on which to feast your eyes. Bordeaux and Rioja are two classic examples of blended wines, both being greater than the sum of their component parts. Bordeaux, for instance, is generally blended from three grape varieties, namely Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, with the occasional inclusion of Petit Verdot or Malbec (a native variety to south west France). On their own, these can all be quite dull, but when carefully combined – in whatever proportions the winemaker considers suits his château’s style - the result can be overwhelmingly delicious. Rioja made solely from Tempranillo can be predictably dull but, thankfully, most of them contain a little Garnacha, the occasional splash of Merlot and sometimes two other local varieties – Mazeulo and Graciano. Suddenly your glass is choc-a-bloc with aromas, nuances and a depth of flavour which otherwise would not be there. Like a decent claret, it has become a mini work of art, comparable to the signature dish of a top chef, where the exact ingredients may only ever be known to its creator.
Playing devil’s advocate, one could likewise suggest that a single varietal wine can be simply spectacular. Red Burgundy made from Pinot Noir is arguably the greatest wine of them all, when produced by a great grower in a great vintage. Some might say that White Burgundy, made from Chardonnay, is the apogee of greatness – be it a simple Chablis, a radically expensive Montrachet or a user-friendly Mâcon. Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé are stunning examples of Sauvignon Blanc, and Barolo -the king of Italian wines (and said to be the wine of kings) is made solely from the Nebbiolo grape. To every rule there must be exceptions, and the proof of the pudding is in the tasting of many bottles.
And finally, for those who don’t feel the need to spend the entire family budget on trophy wines, yet would like some reassurance that the wine they have just forked out a tenner for is the real deal, I might suggest you head for our Cellar & Kitchen Store in Hadleigh’s High Street, and aim for the Adnams ‘own label’ selection. These are wines to which we attach maximum importance, and which represent the best we can find in their category, appellation and/or price range. Space may not permit the inclusion of all of them, but I would eagerly draw your attention to a handful of my personal favourites. Adnams’ White Burgundy (affectionately known as AWB to its fans) is possibly the icon of the range. At £9.99 a bottle, it is the classic example of that much maligned and ubiquitous variety – Chardonnay; the grape the chattering classes like to eschew these days, in favour of Pinot Grigio! I dare anyone not to love this wine, for its purity of flavour and its crisp, unoaked, citrus vibrancy. In our opinion, there is no better example. Three of my other favourites are heady blends; ‘Les Promesses’ is our Côtes de Rhône, packed with fruit, style and grape varieties like Grenache, Syrah and Counoise (£8.99). ‘Monte Acuro’ (also at £8.99 a bottle) is a classic, perfectly balanced Rioja Crianza made from Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano, with bags of red-fruit character, and Adnams Champagne; a winning blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, and a wine of such excellent quality, that we maintain that nine out of ten East Anglian brides’ fathers can’t all be wrong! At £19.99 a pop, it knocks spots off the opposition and is guaranteed to bring a smile to everyone’s
Fine Wine Manager
Adnams Wine Merchants
Rob has worked in vineyards and cellars across France and Germany, and has travelled extensively as a member of the Adnams wine-buying team. His other daytime job is selling fine wine, and he is never happier than when he has the opportunity to de-mystify the subject, through tastings and wine lectures, to anyone who might be foolish enough to stop and listen!
Adnams have agreed to offer CSCA Members 10% discount at their Hadleigh store.
The Adnams White Burgundy is a favourite of mine.
Progress Against Pylons:
A roundup of recent developments in the pylons saga
A roundup of recent developments in the pylons saga Reasons to be cheerful 1-2-3 sang the wonderfully gritty Essex voice of Ian Dury, and here in the more rural valleys of north Essex we do indeed have reasons to be cheerful.
Time was when some folk told us that confronting National Grid's (NG’s) proposals to cover our landscape with pylons was futile: we were wasting our time and they would run roughshod over us. I hope that by now they realise that we can make a difference and that campaigning to protect our beautiful countryside from inappropriate development can succeed. The latest announcement from National Grid is a case in point. We have successfully moved the proposed site for one of National Grids huge installations to a far less detrimental location, a move that will bring great improvements to the natural beauty of an outstanding valley landscape.
Our work to establish the cultural heritage value of the Stour Valley, and the proposal to extend the AONB up to Cornard/Sudbury, lead to National Grid’s proposals to put their connection underground across the valley. This, along with the proposal to underground the Dedham Vale, was a huge step in the right direction. This little article, however, is not written to blow our own trumpet. Instead, it is intended to show that the call for energy infrastructure that does not despoil the countryside, is credible and worthy of your support and voice which will certainly be needed in the coming months.
Reasons to be cheerful 1 & 2
Undergrounding the Stour Valley and now…
A Sealing End Compound (SEC) is the installation that links underground and overhead cables. National Grid’s latest announcement of the proposed location for the Stour Valley’s western SEC is a triumph for our countryside. National Grid originally proposed a site beside ancient listed farm buildings, in a publicly accessible meadow strewn with rare flora, and overflown by even rarer fauna. The field boundaries are ancient and can be shown to date from before1600 and the land and ground water has the rare distinction of being completely free of modern agricultural chemicals, which may account for the presence of two ultra rare species of wild flower. This land is to be managed to the highest levels of stewardship and is in truth a subtle, though highly valuable, environmental asset for us all. Surely this landscape should not be spoiled with industrial installations that would corrupt it forever?
But we have success. National Grid now propose to place the SEC in a disused sand pit, beside a robust road built to take heavy vehicles. Indeed, the road was built by the Americans so that they could extract sand to build their airfield runways for the last war. Our research showed that such a location would allow four existing pylons to be removed allowing the County Wildlife designated woodland, at Ansels Grove, to be reinstated. Such a route also reduces the impact of the project on protected lanes. But perhaps most important of all, this decision will allow the beautiful tributary valley from Twinstead down to the Stour to be freed of most of its pylons and the views around the villages of this area will improve greatly.
Ansels Grove: currently cut through with overhead lines, will under NG’s proposals, be reinstated.
We should however be clear. This solution benefits the vast majority of us but will perhaps not suit all. That is always going to be the case and so our work now moves to minimising the impact of the works through concerted and informed pressure on NG.
So the campaign groups, of which SVU is just one, can claim some success and have hopefully developed some momentum for their ideas for better ways to develop the grid and keep the lights on. But there is still a long way to go, and this is where we need to ask for your continued support. Whether through consultation events or local government, you need to make your voice and opinions heard. Our landscape is just too valuable to let its natural beauty slip away through inaction. We all need to keep ourselves informed and make our views know. As part of their project National Grid have proposed to build a substation west of Twinstead with the preferred site being beside the Sudbury – Halstead road (A131). This, they say, is needed to replace the supply from the 132kv pylon line they propose to remove. However, we have made it clear that there are economic alternatives to this which do not industrialise the gateway to the heritage Gainsborough landscapes south of Sudbury. Put simply, the heavy equipment that is needed can be installed at National Grid’s existing site at Braintree, and an underground cable run from there to near Castle Heddingham to link to the local distribution grid. We have put this and other viable alternatives to a substation to NG, and their response has been interesting. They have exaggerated both the cost and land take for our proposals. We have countered this with technologies and costings from the very companies who do this sort of civil engineering for them. But why would NG want to exaggerate in this way? In part, the answer lies in the internal culture of their industry: they want their kit where they can see it - above ground and, sadly, that means in our view.
Google “Stour Valley Underground” and you will find our website which explains far more but the point to take away from this is simple: a substation in the beautiful Essex countryside is not necessary and we should oppose it vigorously.
Sometimes support for our ideas comes from surprising sources, NG being one. At NG’s Alphamstone consultation event, SVU presented panoramic photographs of the area that indicated that the best location for the SEC was toward pylon 005. Subsequently, NG did their own research and sent the results to us which confirmed our view. Accordingly, they have decided on such a location. Of course, this was more reassurance than pivotal data. More valuable to us going forward is another piece of information from NG. It seems that pylons can only keep their place in our countryside by consent of the Secretary of State. If a pylon becomes redundant, we can press the Secretary to rescind its consent and the energy company has to remove it.
NG have stated that they will remove all pylons made redundant by their project but, sadly, UK Power Networks, say they want to keep theirs. They could just end up with quite a few redundant ones, from Twinstead Tee through Wickham St Paul to near Castle Heddingham, if we have our way and no new substation is built. So we have NG to thank for the key to removing ALL redundant pylons and we expect to be lobbying the Secretary of State just as soon as we know how many and which pylons should be removed.
Of course our campaign addresses much more than our local Stour Valley pylon issues. We have always argued that the whole route from Bramford to Twinstead should be undergrounded and we can make a sound case for this in all areas. By way of example, you may recently have read that English Heritage have made plain that they consider NG to have understated the potential environmental impact of their proposals around Hintlesham Hall and its setting. But NG have presumably used the same judgmental criteria to determine the impact of their proposals across the entire route. Thus, English Heritage’s position undermines the whole of NG’s environmental impact work. We have long argued that the SSSI wood at Hintlesham should be cleared of the pylon that sits within it. Surely an overhead line cutting through a SSSI is utterly at odds with the very purpose of the designation. NG want to keep it simply because it is their consented asset. But to leave it there flies in the face of NG’s own “best practice” when siting two lines of pylons. However, two parallel lines in keeping with best practice would lead to further visual detriment of the area. Taking these points together, underground cabling is the right approach.
Past precedent provides a strong case for undergrounding in another area. The two Sealing End Compounds proposed for the area that includes Assington and Leavenheath will blight the views out of the areas whose visual amenity is to be protected with underground cabling. This is similar to the situation in Yorkshire some years back where two areas were proposed for undergrounding . The planners rejected the overhead line NG proposed to link the undergrounded ones, and the whole lot was eventually put beneath the landscape. The situation in the Assington area is very similar, and the same argument for undergrounding holds true for our local case. There are clearly more arguments for undergrounding than can be covered here but the case for underground cabling each individual area along NG’s route corridor is strengthening and thus so is the overarching case for a totally underground solution.
And so reason to be cheerful No.3 is to do with building on success, and grounds for a positive outlook. We have shown that we can come forward with better solutions, and that they can hold sway. The Amenity Group Coalition of which CSCA and SVU are members is our mutual campaigning organisation on the pylons issue and it enters 2013 fighting on many fronts. But we cannot succeed alone. We need your informed support through the current NG consultation process and pressure on government at all levels. If we win, everybody wins. The benefits will be huge and felt for generations.
David Holland has been Chairman of Stour Valley Underground (SVU) since National Grid first mooted its proposals for a second line of pylons. He has been tenacious in his reasoning for undergrounding and protecting the countryside along the entire route and he is now snapping at NG’s heels about the proposed substation and why there is no need for this in the middle of the countryside. CSCA have supported him all the way.
Tea and the Tea Caddy
A brief study of the early history of tea and its containers
Tea was introduced to England from China sometime in the middle of the 17th century. Although there are earlier references of its use by traders in China, it was not until 1657 that we have the first account of its sale in England. Together with the fragrant leaf came the respect for this drink and the ceremonial way in which it was to be prepared and drunk. Tea was pivotal in the history of Britain in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. To understand the full impact of the importation of tea we have to consider the fiscal implications of this newly introduced commodity. We also have to realise that the tea and opium trade were inextricably interlinked. At the time of its introduction, tea was believed to be therapeutic as well as delicious. The health benefits of tea were known in the East for thousands of years. In England people accorded it time and space and this alone must have had the effect of producing a sense of wellbeing. At first, the drink was enjoyed in the established coffee houses frequented by the intellectuals and the men of the world. It was prepared in advance in large containers for the excise man to levy his duty before it was sold. In 1662 when Charles II married the Portuguese Catherine of Braganza, she introduced tea to the English Court. Holland and Portugal were fifty years ahead of England in importing tea. Tea was - and remained extremely expensive for over a hundred years and therefore sparingly used.
At first tea was only sold through apothecaries, coffee houses, snuff shops and through shops catering for ladies needs. However by the second half of the 18th century, smuggled tea was so widely available, that it was a matter of course (even for respectable people) to buy it illegally for less money. William Pitt tried to address this problem in his Commutation Act of 1784, which reduced taxes on tea and halved its price.
It is not easy to be certain how much tea was sold for. There were claims of £10 a pound early on but by the end of the eighteenth century it settled to about 16 shillings per pound. This made it impossible for poor people to afford and, amongst other ways, they obtained their tea by buying second hand leaves from inns. Smuggling and adulteration with, amongst other things, dried sheep droppings and cow dung, became rife. Even so, legitimate imports continued to rise making tea more accessible to a wider section of society. More teahouses and tea gardens opened and more homes prepared it as an after dinner delight. However, the ups and downs of tea are much more complex and can only be glimpsed at by understanding the underpinning policy of trade colonisation which links it with opium.
Many an English bank was set up on money earned from opium and tea dealing. Many grand houses and fortunes were made and sustained by trading opium for tea. The opium was derived from the poppy, grown in Britishcontrolled India for the purpose of selling it to China. The whole operation was administered by the British East India Company, which was set up in 1600 and granted trading rights in India early in the 17th century by the Mogul Emperor. In 1637 the first Company ships sailed to China with a view to exploring trading possibilities in the Far East. China did not allow free range to foreign traders. It allowed them to stay in the trading quarters, down river from Canton and only during the trading season. There, the Company established their warehouses and carried their transactions through the Chinese Hong merchants.
The government of the day saw its chance of augmenting revenue by imposing heavy import duties on tea, which was perceived to be a rare and precious beverage. In 1701 less than 70lb of tea was imported rising to about a million by 1730 and nearing twenty million by the last decade of the century.
As the eighteenth century progressed and demand rose, the inevitable result was greed for more profits by more people - and especially the Exchequer. Because it was such a valuable commodity those who could afford to buy it wanted to preserve its quality and keep it safe, which leads to The Tea Caddy.
The Tea Caddy
The word Caddy is believed to be derived from catty, the Chinese pound, equal to about a pound and a third avoirdupois. The earliest examples that came to Europe were of Chinese porcelain, and approximated in shape to the ginger-jar. (Fig. 1) They had lids or stoppers, likewise of china, and were most frequently blue and white. Until about 1800 they were called tea canisters rather than caddies. Earlier tea caddies were made of either porcelain or faience. Later designs had more variety in materials and designs. Wood, pewter, tortoise-shell, brass, copper and even silver were employed, but in the end the material most frequently used was wood, and there still survive vast numbers of Georgian box-shaped caddies in mahogany, rosewood, satin-wood and other timbers. These were often mounted in brass and delicately inlaid, with knobs of ivory, ebony or silver. Most caddies were lockable, the key being kept by the mistress of the House, as tea was very expensive as the servants were not to be totally trusted! Many examples were made in Holland, principally of the earthenware of Delft. There were also many English factories producing high quality goods.
Tea Caddies are a vast subject. Manufactured in very diverse materials they, in many collectors’ minds, are seen to epitomise the very best examples of craftsmanship. The finest top quality materials were transformed into a myriad of designs and it is only possible to scratch the surface in an article of this length. I have picked out below what I consider to be an interesting cross section of styles which are all highly collectible.
Early Georgian Mahogany Caddies
The earlier caddies were more substantial and made of quality mahogany, rectangular in shape with locking lids and standing on bracket feet.
Inside were two or three sections with fitted metal containers made from tin, pewter, brass or sometimes silver. Often they had sliding “secret” panels on one side in which the silver caddy spoon was hidden. Sadly, these days, the containers are usually missing, as are the spoons.
Rolled Paper Work Caddies
Georgian ladies needed something to occupy their time and their hands – shooting with the gentlemen was not an option in those days. Carcases for Tea Caddies for this work were made in various shapes, with recessed panels into which a design was fitted made up from coloured and/or gilded papers rolled into tight rolls, cut to length, dipped in glue and put into place (Fig. 2).
The Caddy illustrated is particularly fine, the design on the back (Fig.3) incorporating a Prince of Wales motif. The colours are unusually bright for a Caddy of this age as, so my family history relates, it was kept in a dark drawer and only shown on special occasions thereby lessening dust damage. The internal lid is not fixed, allowing it to drop with the tea level, keeping it fresh. Mother of Pearl was used as a veneer for a small range of very pretty caddies (Fig. 4)
More usually 19th Century, these caddies are veneered with the shell of the Hawksbill Sea Turtle from the warmer waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, where coral is to be found. Being extremely flexible (and also capable of being moulded), the shell is glued to a gesso-covered wooden carcase (the gesso covers the wood grain) (Fig. 5).
The caddies are then additionally decorated using strips of ivory, brass, silver and mother of pearl. Most incorporate a hanged ring made of silver on the top. Some caddies are further decorated with moulded tortoiseshell in the form of knops and mouldings around the edges as used for wooden caddies. (Fig. 6) The majority of caddies are mottled brown in colour; others, which can be more valuable, are coloured green or red. (Fig. 7) They usually stand on brass or silver feet. These caddies are highly desirable and command high prices.
The finest examples of Ivory Caddies (Fig. 8) date from the 1770s to Regency times. They tend to be single compartment containers and octagonal (or sometimes decagonal) in shape. The veneers of ivory are usually separated by silver or pewter strips. Delicately wrought silver handles (sometimes known as Dutch drops) are placed on the lid. Caddies of this period were commonly lined with a tin lead alloy called “tea pewter”. Internal lids were often unfixed so that they dropped onto the tea surface to keep it fresher.
In the opinion of many collectors, Ivory Caddies are the most desirable (and therefore expensive!). Needless to say fakes abound! I once bought a ‘Georgian’ caddy at some considerable price which was then discovered to be a fake made up from ivory piano keys!
Caddies mainly made of Wood
Mahogany, Walnut, Satinwood and Rosewood were mainly used for the basic carcase. Whilst there are a lot of plain designs with different mouldings, vast numbers were embellished with boxwood and ebony stringing (some in complex designs), kingwood and many other cross-bandings. The octagonal late Georgian satinwood caddy (Fig. 9) is fairly plain on its vertical surfaces but beautifully inlaid on its top (Fig 10).
Larger Tea Caddies were made throughout the 19th Century, incorporating two lidded smaller caddies positioned either side of a fine cut glass bowl. Opinions vary about the use of this bowl; some say it was used for mixing the two different teas (green and black); others say it was a sugar bowl (which I go with). The jury is out! Another fine example of late 18th/early 19th Century craftsmanship is the oval caddy; this satinwood one is beautifully inlaid with flowers and leaves and the margins, top and bottom, cross-banded with tulipwood. Fig. 11)
Extremely rare are tea caddies made to represent fruits. The two below (Fig. 12 and 13), an apple and a pear, are probably the most common. These types of caddy command high prices and are highly collectible.
Whilst Tunbridgeware (originating in Tonbridge, Kent) has been made from the 17th Century, the development of mosaic work from the 1830s (coincident with similar work from Italy called Sorrento) turned into a massive area for collecting and encompassed articles of every description. The Tea Caddy pictured is a fine example of the work.
Two more unusual caddies which perhaps indicate what a vast subject this is, the surface of which I have tried to scratch. They epitomise the range of creativity in an attempt to attract extremes in a particular market. Both caddies are very decorative and have very similar values.
The pictures used above have come from various sources including my own collection. I am very grateful to Barbara and Peter Lang of Coromandel Antique Restoration, West Sussex who have provided photos of ivory, tortoiseshell and mother of pearl caddies they have restored so beautifully. Visit their website to see more of their work at www.antiquesboxes.com or call them on 01798-813716 to discuss similar restoration.
Simon Foord is an antique dealer and furniture restorer. He is also an antiques valuer. He lives in the Stour Valley.
I don’t think Members realised what they might be missing when the details of a visit to Thenford House were given in last year’s Magazine. There were a few vacant seats on the coach, but it was your loss, as the visit was considered a stunning success, by those who went. I am going to quote verbatim the hand out from Thenford, as this was not available, when I set out the details last year. There are 70 acres of arboretum and ornamental gardens. The arboretum has been created since 1977 and contains more than 4000 different species of trees and shrubs. The collection contains rare plants, many of which were wildcollected by well-known plantsmen, including Roy Lancaster, Allen Coombes, Keith Rushforth and Chris Chadwell.
The layout is a horseshoe-shaped ring around the house, and closed by a lake dug in the 1970s. There is a further eighteenth century lake, recently restored, and an ancient yew avenue. There is also a chain of mediaeval stew ponds, which had become silted up but are now clear and running again. The whole of this area clusters around the little church of Saint Mary, which is reflected in the lake. Recent development has included a third lake and a trough garden, which has extended the collections into the realm of numerous alpines.
The old walled kitchen garden was completely rethought in the late 1990s, and the present layout was designed by George Carter. The area, which is approximately two acres, is in four sections – a herb garden, an aviary, a softfruit garden, and a quiet sitting area with a small pool. There are new heated glasshouses. There are kiosks, some containing sculpture reflected in mirror pools. There is a tunnel of wisteria, clematis and rambler roses, and many flower beds. In the centre stands the tall fountain designed by William Pye.
Alongside the house is a new rose garden, again designed by George Carter. The Hornton stone used in the building of the walls and stairs echoes the fabric of Thenford House and the cottages in the village. The centre feature is an old Venetian fountain head, with the missing metalwork newly re-created from an existing Venetian example by James Horrobin.
There is a sculpture garden, which consists of separate “rooms”, displaying contemporary sculpture, mainly by British artists. At either end there is a yew, arcaded circle, with a knot garden within. The Rill is a series of nine formal ponds, each spouting four jets d’eau, which exit under a stone bridge into a series of woodland pools, leading down to the two lakes.
The sculptures were interesting, although I personally found the one of Lenin overpowering, whereas the sculptures of animals were very fine. The walled garden is spectacular, as are the glasshouses within it. The whole layout is unusual and captivating. There is an herbaceous garden along a wall, just outside, which is beautiful. There are many rare trees in the park and more than enough to test one’s knowledge. Several Members managed to speak to Lord Heseltine who charged around in a golf buggy! As the arboretum and gardens are only open to groups four times a year, those of you who did not come, will have to find a group that is going. Good luck!
Garden Visit 2013. Thursday 6th June.
I have, once again, received several ideas, but having taken soundings from some of the “regulars”, I got the impression that a more local visit would be appreciated and I have therefore chosen Blickling Hall in Norfolk, which was recommended by several Members. Members on e-mail will have already received details of this visit. The cost of the 53 seater coach including CSCA purchasing Public Liability Insurance will be £20 per person. Entry to the house and garden is FREE to National Trust Members and at a discounted rate of £9.95 for non-members.
The coach will arrive outside the Eight Bells in Colchester Road, Bures at 09.00 and we will aim to leave at 09.30 which should get us to Blickling just before 12.00 which is when the house opens. Having seen the house we can have lunch in the NT Restaurant and then go round the garden in the afternoon. Depending when everyone gets back to the coach will dictate when we leave to return to Bures. However, we will leave no later than 17.00 which means we should be back in Bures at about 19.00.
Members who are on the internet/e-mail received notification about this visit in February, as it is important to fill the coach, as I personally underwrite the cost. At the time of going to press the coach was over half-full but there are still places and people may drop out. Therefore rather than print a lot of Reservation Forms and send these to all Members I have decided that the best way to deal with others wanting to join the visit is for you to telephone me 01787 227088, (the line sometimes goes dead but you will get through on the second attempt) and find out if there are spaces available, and if there are I will keep you a place and send you a Reservation Form. I will also start a waiting list. Visit the Wickipedia website for Blickling Hall and you can read its full history. However, for those of you without internet this is part of what it says.
In the fifteenth century, Blickling Hall was in the possession of Sir John Fastolf of Caister in Norfolk (1380–1459), who made a fortune in the Hundred Years’ War, and whose coat of arms is still on display there. Later, the Hall was in the possession of the Boleyn family, and home to Sir Thomas Boleyn, created Earl of Wiltshire, and his wife, Elizabeth, between 1499 and 1505. It is presumed that their first two children Mary and George were born at Blickling Hall, along with several other Boleyn infants who did not live long. If the couple’s most famous child, Anne Boleyn, was born before 1505 (as one school of historical thought contends) then she, too, was born at Blickling. Other historians maintain that Anne was born after 1505, probably in 1507, and by that time Sir Thomas had moved to Hever Castle in Kent. Nonetheless, a statue and portrait of Anne Boleyn reside in Blickling Hall claiming “Anna Bolena hic nata 1507” (Anne Boleyn born here 1507).
The current Blickling Hall was built on the ruins of the old Boleyn property in the reign of James I, by Sir Henry Hobart, Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas and 1st Baronet, who bought Blickling from Robert Clere in 1616. The architect of Hatfield House, Robert Lyminge, is credited with the design of the current structure. The Lord Chief Justice married Dorothy, the daughter of Sir Robert Bell of Beaupre Hall, Outwell/Upwell, Norfolk, Speaker of the House of Commons 1572–1576. A grand display of heraldic material is present throughout the estate.
A house and garden existed at Blickling before the estate was purchased by the Boleyn family in the 1450s, but no records survive to give an indication of their appearance. After Sir Henry Hobart acquired the estate in 1616, he remodelled the gardens to include ponds, wilderness and a parterre. A garden mount – an artificial hill in Blickling’s flat landscape, was made to provide views of the new garden. With the accession of Sir John Hobart (later the 1st Earl of Buckingham) in 1698 the garden was expanded to add a new wilderness and the temple was constructed. In the latter half of the 18th century John Hobart, 2nd Earl of Buckingham, embarked on works that would radically change the appearance of the gardens. All traces of formality were removed, and naturally arranged clumps of trees were planted to create a landscape garden. By the 1780s an orangery had been built to overwinter tender citrus trees. Following the 2nd Earl’s death in 1793, his youngest daughter Caroline, Lady Suffield, employed landscape gardener Humphry Repton and his son John Adie to advise on garden matters. John Adie Repton would go on to provide designs for many garden features. The estate was inherited by nine-year-old William Schomberg Robert Kerr, 8th Marquess of Lothian in 1840. He later re-introduced the formality and colour schemes of the parterre. After his death at the age of 38, responsibility for the gardens rested with Lady Lothian and her head gardener Mr Lyon. Philip Henry Kerr, 11th Marquis of Lothian, inherited the estate in 1930. After disparaging comments in a publication of Country Life, Lothian engaged socialite gardener Norah Lindsay to remodel the gardens. In the parterre she replaced the jumble of minuscule flower beds with four large square beds planted with a mixture of herbaceous plants in graduated and harmonious colours. Other improvements included removal of a line of conifers in the Temple walk, which were replaced with plantings of azaleas.
The garden at Blickling contains formal and informal gardens, Grade II listed buildings and structures, woodland, specimen trees,Victorian garden ornaments, topiary, the kitchen garden (open to the public in 2010), and 18th century yew hedges.
The lawns which frame the main approach to the hall are bounded by yew hedges which were first recorded by William Freeman of Hamels in 1745. Surrounding the hall on three sides is the dry Moat. The plantings in the moist, sheltered conditions of the moat were considerably revised by Lindsay who introduced hosta, species of hydrangea, budlea and rosemary. To the rear of the hall is the noted Parterre garden which is located on the east lawn. Originally created as a Victorian sunken garden it was remodelled by Lindsay in the early 1930s. Set around an 18th century listed stone fountain, she divided the garden into four large, colourful herbaceous beds surrounded by L shaped borders stocked with roses and catmint with an acorn shaped yew marking each corner. In the terraces above the parterre there are plantings of peony. Seasonal beds and the Double Borders, created in 2006, contain a wide variety of perennials, shrubs and grasses with colours ranging from hot to cool. Close by, are the White and Black Borders which were established in 2009, together with a collection of elaeagnus. The western side of the garden features the lawned Acre which is fringed by a spreading oriental plane tree. Outdoor sports such as croquet are played here in the summer months. Further highlights are a collection of magnolia underplanted with autumn cyclamen, the shell ountain and the kitchen garden. To the north of the parterre is the Wilderness garden which is bisected by radial grassed avenues flanked with turkey oak, lime and beech trees and naturalised bulbs. The wilderness hides a Secret Garden with a summerhouse, scented plants and a central sundial. Nearby is the listed 18th century orangery which houses a collection of citrus trees. Adjacent to the building is the steep-sided Dell which is home to many woodland plants including a selection of hellebore and foxglove. In 2009, an area of woodland was cleared close to the orangery to create a new garden, stocked with a wide range of woodland plants, including camellia and varieties of mahonia. Opened in 2010, it will be known as the Orangery Garden. The Grade II listed Temple is approached by the Temple walk which is lined with azalea planted by Lindsay in her original 1930s design. Scattered throughout the garden are many garden ornaments including thirty pieces supplied to Lady Lothian in 1877 by Austin & Seeley of Euston Road, London.
Garden Visit 2014
An advance “recce” has been carried out, and one of the gardens that was on the list for 2013 is a must for 2014. It is Waterperry Gardens between Oxford and Aylesbury just off the M40. Members who want to find out more, and who are on the internet, should Google Waterperry. Details of the visit will be in the 2014 Magazine but will be sent to Members with email in the early part of next year.
I would like to thank all those who have written articles for this year’s Magazine. I know, from experience, how time consuming it can be. Many of you will realise that there is one regular writer missing, Jeremy Hill. Jeremy has been writing articles for many years and he has asked for time off but I hope he can be persuaded to take up his pen (computer) in the future, as his articles are witty and invariably interesting. Thanks also go to Rory O’Brien and Gay Foord for correcting the punctuation and grammar. Rory has been doing this for a number of years. I would also like to thank the advertisers without whom we would be unable to produce the Magazine. Here are some notes about them.
Adnams have featured in articles that I have written in 2011 and 2012 and they supported us last year and this year their Wine Buyer has written an article. Adnams have a Cellar & Kitchen Store in Hadleigh where I buy some of my wine and I have persuaded them to offer a 10% discount to CSCA Members. They have a list of Members and they will check your name against the list. There are always wines to taste and Luke Crawley, the Manager, is knowledgeable and very helpful. A & G continue to service my mowers and hedge-cutters and are very helpful.
Carter Jonas have a very local office in Long Melford and will be tasked with selling our house this year as we want to downsize. The local Director is Caroline Edwards. Greystones Interiors. Kate Samengo-Turner has been involved in the interior design world for over 26 years. Prior to starting her own business she has a degree in art and art history. Based in the grounds of her family house, in Suffolk, Greystones Interiors has been established under Kate’s ownership for over 12 years.
Assington Mill feature on our website as they run some very interesting courses and they are of course in the CSCA area. Anne Holden is the person to speak to. NFU continue to insure my house and contents and were very helpful when we had a claim last year when we, like many others around here, had sheds broken into by thieves looking for gardening equipment. Fortunately they chose the wrong shed, as it had no equipment in it, and unlike the others it was not then alarmed, or covered by CCTV.
Savills need no introduction as they are very well known Estate Agents with local offices in Chelmsford and Ipswich.
Nethergate Wines supply the wines for our AGM and our Summer Party.
Bates Wells & Braithwaite. I have used BW & B for a long time and they will be handling my house sale whenever that happens!
TWP Designs are designers, craftsmen and skilled specialists in custom-made furniture, and cabinetry, individually designed for hotels, offices and businesses, counting Ferrari, Maserati, Xstrata and Savills amongst many high profile clients.
Last year I asked if someone would be prepared to understudy me as Deputy Editor but sadly no-one came forward. Therefore, can I once again ask if there is anyone out there who would like to assist? I already have a number of articles lined up for 2014, but it is always getting the advertisers that takes up a lot of time but I would like to hand over the editorship within the next few years.
The website contains copies of the current Magazine as well as previous years. It also features Latest News where we post items of current interest, such as the battle with National Grid over the pylons, and the proposed development in Great Horkesley by the Buntings. Those people with e-mail receive updates on these matters as things progress. Looking to the future I do need someone to understudy me with a view to handing over control before I become too old! Please step forward someone who is computer literate!
The majority of Members are on e-mail, and this has to be the way forward, as, when we need to get support against things like pylons and inappropriate development in the Dedham Vale AONB by Buntings, we can contact Members and ask them to write to the appropriate organisations. We cannot write to Members as the cost of postage is so high.
AGM Replies. Garden Party Replies
Last year I instigated a drop down menu on the website where Members could answer whether they were coming to either of these events. I am pleased to say it was widely used, which saves you postage and me time, and I am able to run off lists straight from the website. As the majority of Members have internet/e-mail it seems a waste of CSCA money to send everyone an envelope, so this year, whilst there is a reply form, you will have to use your own envelope! Please DO NOT tell me that you are NOT coming! My address, Cooks Green, Lamarsh, Bures, Suffolk CO8 5DY.
Enclosed you will find a letter from Charles Aldous asking you to find additional Members. On the reverse side is an Application Form. Please look at the list of Members and see if you know someone whose name ought to be there and get them to join. Those of you with internet/e-mail can download additional forms from the website. If those of you without internet/email want a Membership Form please telephone me (01787 227088) and I will put one in the post. As Charles says in his letter, we really do need to increase the membership as numbers do count. There are likely to be major issues that will affect our area in the near future and maximum support will play a major part in trying to defend the countryside. The CSCA is not against development, per se, but it needs to be controlled and not just taking the easy option of building on greenfield sites. For example, there is a proposal to build 9,000 houses between Coggeshall and Marks Tey. This is equivalent to a small town.
2012 AGM Minutes
We are discontinuing printing the Minutes of the previous AGM in the Magazine, as no-one remembers to bring the Magazine to the meeting, so in future they will be on the same sheet of paper as the AGM Agenda.
The Association’s bank balance shows a modest increase over the previous year. Payments from new Life members have contributed towards this and we have also benefited from those existing members who have voluntarily increased their annual subscriptions in line with the new rates which took effect in 2012.
Although difficult to come by, advertising revenue has substantially covered the cost of producing the magazine. Because of the large increase in postage rates it was decided to buy additional stamps before this took effect in April last year. Consequently, at the year end, we were holding a reserve for sending out the 2013 magazine.
Some funds were used to plant an avenue of trees at Sible Hedingham in memory of Malcolm Jones, who served the Association for many years.
In 2012 no outside secretarial help was used, committee minutes being taken by me.
It has been the policy of the executive committee to preserve our capital for occasions when it might be necessary to incur legal expenses to fight any major unwelcome planning decisions. There is the possibility that this situation may arise in connection with National Grid’s proposed new line to Twinstead. In this instance the committee would consider making a contribution, over and above any subscriptions individual members who are directly affected may decide to make on their own account.
There has been a minimal change in membership during the year, the total now standing at 663, along with 26 parish councils and societies. The Association will only survive in its present form if a steady increase in numbers is achieved.