Table of Contents
Chairman's Letter - February 2012
Trees R Us – An Amateur Arboretum
Glimpses into some Stour Valley Churches
The Art of Brewing
'Elf 'n Safety . . . and All That
Daws Hall Open Days and Events 2012
Bringing our Past to Life: Gestingthorpe Roman Villa
Miniature or Apprentice Piece?
New Stour Valley Environment Fund
The Colne Stour Countryside Association. Minutes of the 46th Annual General Meeting held at Ferriers Barn, Bures on Thursday 12th May 2011
Chairman's Letter - February 2012
I would like to start with reporting that on your behalf we arranged for 14 lime trees to be planted in memory of Malcolm Jones on either side of the pathway running through Greys Hall Meadow, behind St Peter's Church, Sible Hedingham. The trees were planted with help from the Parish Council. I can say that Elizabeth, who was there on the occasion, has been very appreciative. It is planned that the Parish will put up a suitable plaque in memory of Malcolm and possibly name the walk after him.
As with last year, a considerable amount of time has been taken up with National Grid's proposal to install a new 400 Kv line from Bramford across the Stour Valley, Lamarsh, the Hennys and through to Twinstead, together with a new substation in the Twinstead/Wickham St Paul's area. The Association is part of an Amenity Group formed to challenge National Grid and get as much of the cables, as possible, put underground. The Group comprises Stour Valley Underground, the Dedham Vale Society, Bury not Blight (Hintlesham area), CPREssex and the Suffolk Preservation Society. National Grid have decided on Corridor 2 and are now undertaking a series of public consultations to enable it to decide on the precise route within the corridor and which sections to underground.
Your Association is represented on the Twinstead & Stour Valley Community Forum. National Grid has engaged TEP consultants and with their assistance set up three Thematic Groups to look at landscape and views, cultural heritage and biodiversity issues affecting possible route selection and, importantly, the pros and cons of undergrounding particular areas. As well as having representatives of our joint group on these, we meet with TEP at the Community Forum meetings for updates. However, having explained this, I do not want to give any impression that the public consultation is meaningful; rather it is increasingly being thought to be a "box ticking" exercise by National Grid to be seen to go through the required process. As I understand it, there will be no independent expert report to National Grid on which parts deserve to be undergrounded and the relative importance or weight to be attached to the various matters being looked into by TEP (scenic, culture, biodiversity etc). The decision will be for National Grid alone, subject to challenge before the relevant Planning Authority. National Grid has already stated that it will not underground the entire route and some think it is looking for excuses to underground as little as possible.
I am not proposing to write a detailed report for the news letter as, by the time of the Annual General Meeting, National Grid should have announced which parts of the route it intends to underground. I can then report at the meeting and on the website where we are then and how we see matters going forward. But I don't want to leave this topic without expressing my profound gratitude for the huge amount of work which Stour Valley Underground (principally David Holland and Richard Barnes) are doing to defend our area. Those interested in following the technical issues or seeing how the arguments over the comparative cost of pylons versus undergrounding should visit their excellent website: www.stourvalleyunderground.org.uk.
I am pleased to report that a formal application has now been submitted by The Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Partnership to have the AONB extended up towards Sudbury. This application has the full support of all relevant County and District Councils. It is nevertheless one of over 35 similar applications and will likely be several years before it comes up for detailed consideration. As AONBs have greater statutory protection, when it comes to undergrounding cables, we are maintaining that National Grid should proceed on the basis that in due course the application will succeed.
There is also good news to report on the Buntings application for the Theme Park at Great Horkesley. With strong opposition from Stour Valley Action Group and support at the hearing from your Association, the application was thrown out by the Planning Committee. I have since been informed not only that there is to be no appeal, but that the Chantry (the house forming a central part of the scheme) is up for sale, with rumours of other connected property coming onto the market. Although we have heard of the possibility of a new much scaled down application sometime in the future, this should be the last of anything like the previous one.
There are, however, serious threats at both ends of our area. Two applications for wind farm trial masts have been submitted close to Clare. If they lead to formal applications for a large number of wind turbines, as threatened, this will have a devastating effect on this lovely part of the upper Stour Valley. Opposition is being spearheaded by Stop Clare Wind Farm www.stopclarewindfarm.com. We are fully supportive and have written in to object as appropriate. On the South East side we are faced with persistent applications and appeals by Colchester Skip Hire Ltd to vastly expand its waste disposal site at Fordham. If allowed, it will result in a large number of trucks hurtling through the village at all hours of the day, dropping litter and causing considerable anxiety to the residents, as there are no pavements in parts and a Primary School, not to mention noise and light pollution. Again, we have given full support to the village and intend to give evidence at the forthcoming appeal hearing.
I do not propose to mention all the other planning matters in which we have taken an interest during the year. But, as I repeat each year, if there are any matters which you, the members, are concerned about, do mention it to your local representative or a member of the Committee. Although we receive details of every planning application in our area, do not assume everything of concern will be picked up. There may be unauthorised activities of which the Committee are unaware.
The Localism Act received the Royal Assent on 15th November 2011. It generated much hostility from many quarters. Even though there are some good points, such as giving Local Authorities and communities a greater say in development within their area, there is pressure for a large increase in housing and a presumption in favour of sustainable development (whatever this means), wherever land is not protected by specific designations. With a shortage of finance, there will be added pressure on Local Authorities to allow unsuitable development in return for receiving a financial levy from developers to pay for community projects. CPREssex is actively monitoring a threat of a major development by a consortium of landowners between Coggeshall and Marks Tey.
Air traffic has been a concern to many of you. Despite years of uncertainty, NATS has still not reached any final decision on flight paths and stacking areas. The options, put out for further consultation, carry a threat to the area close to Sudbury. We are monitoring this and will be commenting. Although there may, at present, be a downturn in the number of flights, this will increase. Those who are particularly troubled by aircraft noise should make their views known to NATS.
Finally, the Committee have decided to increase the annual subscription rates to £10 for single and £15 for joint membership. I hope you will think these increases are entirely reasonable. Given the immense pleasure you derive from the Magazine, not to mention the AGM and Summer Party, members will, I hope, amend their existing bankers order, or even better become a life member at the bargain rate of only £50 for one or £80 for two! This year we are very fortunate to be able to hold our garden party at Colne Park, the home of Kit and Georgina Hunter Gordon. I hope to see many of you there, if not before at the AGM.
Trees R Us – An Amateur Arboretum
Acer cappadocicum aureum and Acer rubrum October Glory.
On the last day of 1999, I retired from gainful employment and started planting an arboretum. I thought at the time that I was just filling in a field corner, but planting fever got the better of me. Over the previous few years I had planted a number of small woods under the aegis of the Woodland Grant Scheme, which restricted me to native British species, and I was now filled with the urge to do something more exotic. It happened that my then favourite nursery (Hartshall near Walsham-le- Willows) was about to close down, so I walked round with the proprietor and bought some of his remaining stock. I planted these in the corner of a field adjacent to our garden and the arboretum was born.
It sounds a bit pretentious to call my trees an arboretum but the simplest definition of the word is "a collection of trees" and that is what I have. Charles Sprague Sargent, founder of the Arnold Arboretum which is part of Harvard University, used to say, apparently, that in order to start an arboretum it was necessary to have a thousand acres with an endowment of at least a million dollars. He quickly managed to prove himself wrong when he started his own arboretum with a mere 125 acres and 100,000 dollars.
My own arboretum is slightly less ambitious - about 6 or 7 acres which is as much as I can handle. I can't quite compete with Sargent but I shall have just as much fun and I especially enjoy the fact that its all my own work. (or would be if James my tree-planter-in-chief did not dig the holes for me while I lean on my spade and try to calculate where the next tree should go).
My planting has been financed by gradually cutting down the cricket bat willows which I planted about 25 years ago on a particularly wet part of the site. These willows were originally to have paid for my youngest son's education but the 1987 hurricane blew down half of them and a similar storm 3 years later blew down half of the remainder. Following the hurricane, willow was in short supply and I got a very good price for the twisted remains of my trees, but even so, as a fee-paying plan it was something less than a success.
Before starting any serious planting, I had over a number of years restored all my farm hedges, most of which were suffering from the ravages of stubble burning and roundup, while a number had been rooted out in line with post war agricultural policy. One of my main objectives had been to shelter the garden from the west wind which is often pretty brutal round here. To this end I had also planted quite a number of hybrid poplars many of which had to be cut down once I started planting the arboretum. Although these poplars had done a good job in helping to change the microclimate, they proved to be a remarkable anti-investment. The original whips cost about 15p each, but it cost roughly £350 a time to cut them down 25 years later and an additional 10% or so to grind the stumps out. The timber was worthless.
A very minor stream (known as the Cambridge Brook) flows through the middle of the farm in the rainy season creating a small damp valley. This is where I started planting among a mass of meadowsweet and nettles. My initial, not very original, plan was to plant groups of trees of the same genus but I soon ran into trouble. It is impossible to know in advance how many trees will end up in each group and how far away to start planting the next genus. The same conditions do not anyway suit all the members of the same genus and in no time at all I had decided that the plan was impractical. Not so the genius behind the planting at the celebrated Abbey Park Cemetery in Stoke Newington which until Kew opened was said to be the biggest arboretum in Europe. The 2500 different species which surrounded the cemetery were set out alphabetically, starting with Acer and ending with Zanthoxylum (the American toothache tree.)
Having rather a vague idea of what the limits of the arboretum were going to be, I twice found myself starting my planting year by enlarging the overall boundary and expanding into more easily plantable meadow. By the end of 2006, I was faced with having to plant an extremely wet bit, in fact it was more or less a bog. That provided me with an excellent excuse to go on an International Dendrological Society expedition to the U.S.A. which happened to include a visit to the Great Bear Swamp in Philadelphia, famous among other things for the large number of bald eagles that live there. Although summers in Philadelphia are very much hotter than here, I wanted to see what trees grew in the swamp as it appeared from the reference books that most of them would grow without difficulty in the UK. This turned out to be the case. The main species were Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip trees or what the Americans call yellow poplars), Acer rubrum (red maples), Nyssa sylvatica, and Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay magnolia). Come the autumn, we planted all these species in quantity and they have flourished, with the exception of the magnolias which look as if they need another dose of global warming if they are ever going to flower.
Apart from Hartshall, my most important source of trees when I started off was Mount Pleasant Trees at Rockhampton on the Bristol Channel. Mount Pleasant's specimen tree catalogue for 1997 listed just 292 species of specimen tree, with a splendidly quirky description of each. I found it compulsive bed- time reading. One of the nursery's greatest claims to fame was that it had the most complete collection of limes for sale in the country and as I was still working on my original plan, I soon acquired the majority of them, thus solving the problem of which species to plant first. A year or two later, Mount Pleasant, to my eternal disappointment, gave up its specialist business, thus depriving its faithful clients of the annual excitement of reading their catalogue. But by 1992 another star was rising – Bluebell Nurseries in Ashby de la Zouch which now has what I think the best and most comprehensive catalogue of out-of-the-ordinary trees in England. Furthermore, Ashby de la Zouch seems to have the same sort of hostile climate as we do, which causes me to feel that if a plant can survive there, it ought to be able to survive on the Essex/Suffolk borders. More recently, I have discovered Pan-Global Plants in Frampton-on- Severn which sells a small but even more exotic selection of hardy trees. Unfortunately, they do not deliver and the last time I went the very fine wrought iron gates were locked against me. Nevertheless, it is well worth persisting.
Acer rubrum Red Sunset, Liquidambar acalycina, and Populus tremula erecta.
Frustrated by the difficulties of finding the plants I want, I have, for the last few years, bought an annual consignment from Esveld in Boskoop in Holland. The nursery is vast and among other things claims to have the largest collection of acers in the world (crammed into about an acre and a half – the whole nursery is only 10 acres). Esveld's catalogue is enormous – my 2007-2008 one has 558 pages. Unfortunately, delivery costs have suddenly shot up, so it's sensible to combine a visit to the nursery with the other pleasures of Amsterdam and make a week-end of it. Boskoop is an astonishing place for plant buyers as it has almost 1000 nurseries side by side. (750, anyway – estimates vary widely). I also use the much smaller nursery of Rein and Mark Bulk, next door to Esveld, which specialises in rare field-grown woody plants. Bulk, too, publishes a wonderful catalogue and the nursery is a great deal less exhausting than Esveld.
finally standardised on aluminium labels on which I etch details with an electronic engraving tool. This is a slowish process, but the labels do stand up to the elements. The one major drawback is that deer, bizarrely, are attracted to the labels rather like salmon to a fly and enthusiastically chew them, if they get the chance, unpalatable though they might be. As a result, the labels have to be hung on the rabbit wire round the base of the tree rather than on the tree itself. Finally, I use very strong plastic coated wire with which to attach the label as this also deters other predators such as humans.
Part of the Arboretum.
Betula jacquemontii and Acer rubrum October Glory.
I am often asked if there is some master plan or theme behind my planting and, having abandoned my idea of planting neat little groups of different genera, it took me some considerable time to find a suitable answer. I now tell people that my purpose is to try to grow any woody plant that can survive the harsh winds, horrible spring frosts, and frequent droughts of East Anglia. Apart from the climate, our biggest problem is keeping the deer at bay. We are host to 3 species – muntjac, roe and fallow, all of which are increasing alarmingly, but it is the fallow which do by far the most damage, as they are able to pull down branches from a height of 6 to 8 feet. In the early spring a herd of 30 or so frequently takes up residence with us leaving a trail of broken branches each morning. We have a stalker who rarely goes out without bagging one or two but this has, so far, made no noticeable difference to overall numbers. Every tree we plant has to be surrounded with pig wire in addition to rabbit wire, and it is at least ten years before the wire can be disassembled.
It is now well over 12 years since I started planting and the landscape has changed dramatically. At the latest count we had over 400 species and varieties, so that labelling and maintaining the labels is a time-consuming job. There is, however, little point in having an arboretum if the trees are not properly labelled - from a scientific point of view, the collection would be valueless. I have tried out several labelling systems and know to my cost that there is no such thing as a cheap and easy one. I have On May 3rd 2011 we suffered the most destructive frost in the 44 years since we came here. Following a spell of warm weather the trees had been growing at a furious pace and, after the frost, looked as if they had been attacked with a flame thrower. Despair set in and I resolved never to plant another tree. Three months later it was difficult to tell that anything untoward had happened and, following a visit to Pan-global, I was unable to resist putting in an order . . .
Once again Jeremy has written another interesting article. However, he is threatening that this will be his last! If you should see him, please tell him that he is too good to stop!
Leaves: Acer rubrum Autumn Blaze.
Glimpses into some Stour Valley Churches
St. Gregory & St. George Church at Pentlow.
As the Team Vicar of the North Hinckford Team Ministry I have the cure of souls in the parishes of Great & Little Henny, Twinstead, Alphamstone, Lamarsh, Middleton and Wickham St Paul's. I use this description, which seems rather quaint and perhaps old-fashioned, since the Latin "curare" meant care, responsibility. For twenty five years prior to coming to these parishes I was a curator of museums and the verb "curate" also derives from that same Latin word "to care for and have responsibility for the well-being of". This is rather neat as I love people and I love old buildings. As a museum curator I was also looking after listed buildings and trying to get people over the threshold to inspire them, and now as a vicar I am still trying to get people to come in over the threshold to be inspired!
When your Editor suggested that I might write an article on some of the churches along the Stour, I grasped the opportunity to explore, and it has also re-awakened in me the desire to write articles again. Obviously I could write lots about the six churches in my immediate care, or even many of the 15 churches in this Team Ministry. Instead I chose to start at the northern tip of the Stour in the area shown on your map, and finish at the southern end of the map. There are far too many churches to cover in one article so this is something of a pot-pourri. I have picked out a few to give you a feel for a visit to these wonderful buildings. I am not going deeply into their history, but each has a distinctive flavour, and I hope that if this article inspires my readers to visit these churches, then I shall be well pleased. All the churches mentioned are open with the exception of two, and I shall describe how to obtain the key for those. I should also mention that I decided to miss out Sudbury altogether, as the churches there merit an article by itself.
I began my quest at Kedington, St Peter & St. Paul's. I read nothing up beforehand and the exterior seemed quite large, but nothing prepared me for what I beheld when I opened the heavy door: inside, my first impression was that of a huge lumber-room! I wondered whether the church was in the midst of alterations and indeed it was, but this did not really account for the fact that there seemed to be something from every ecclesiastical age and fashion somewhere within this somewhat cluttered interior. The nave seemed very dark and full of wood: a jumble of box pews, a 17th century triple decker pulpit, tiered seating for Sunday school pupils climbing up the rear walls, a gorgeous musicians' gallery in the west end, a crazy floor which lurched its way down the aisle to a much lighter, brighter area: the choir and sanctuary. Because this is so light in contrast to the darker nave, you are drawn into the lighter, less congested space where a beautiful early 20th century reredos shows the Blessed Virgin and the infant Christ. Above this is a Saxon stone crucifix rescued from the churchyard, the oldest thing in the church and crucially showing the heart of our faith.
On my way down to the altar I passed a very imposing Squires box pew facing the recumbent figures of the Barnadistones in their beautiful clothes, solidly at peace in God's eternity. Now the Barnadistones have an immediate link with Great & Little Henny, as the "big house" in Henny, The Ryes, was owned by this family and they were generous to Henny church. Some of this family are buried in that churchyard. I bought the guide book and discovered that the jumble I was sitting amongst has also been described as the Westminster Abbey of Suffolk. I understood why I felt as I did: I'm not too keen on Westminster Abbey either! I think I would find the clutter difficult to cope with while worshipping: a distraction but perhaps it's only my unfamiliarity, and that it would soon grow on me. This made me wonder: although I love museums, which are storehouses of ancient treasures, I am not sure I want my churches to be exhibition pieces of church architecture and toot from every age!
Bell Ringers Gotch at St. Peter and St. Paul's Church, Clare.
Calm Interior of Stoke by Clare Church.
Outside in the fresh air I took to the road and tried, but failed, to visit Wixoe (the road being closed) so I next found myself at another church which was in complete contrast to Kedington: St John the Baptist, Stoke by Clare. On entering, the calm interior soothed me immediately, as did the wonderful aroma of furniture polish, and sure enough there was a very friendly welcome from the lady whose turn it was to tend her church in this very tangible way. This church is beautifully ordered, serene even. It is tidy and light and seems almost all of a piece. I don't know whether it was the juxtaposition of these two visits: would I have felt differently had I visited on separate occasions? This is certainly an oasis of peace where it would be easy to become lost in prayer.
Before the Reformation there was a College of Secular Priests settled here and a certain Matthew Parker was its last Dean. This cleric, a wise and moderate man, was Chaplain to Henry VIII and had the charge of the young Elizabeth I on the death of Anne Boleyn. When Elizabeth became Queen she made Parker Archbishop of Canterbury. However there was one problem: Matthew Parker was a married priest and Elizabeth disapproved of married clergy. She visited Lambeth Palace and enjoyed Margaret Parker's hospitality but said to Margaret: "Madam, I cannot call you Mistress, I would be ashamed to call you (that) but whoever you are I thank you". Matthew was involved with the detailed management of Lambeth Palace and earned himself a nickname still in currency today; he was the original "Nosey Parker".
In this lovely church there is a side chapel, the Elwes Chapel: this is the Squire of Stoke's chapel. Two members of this family were real misers wearing hand- me down clothes and mending broken windows with brown paper. One of them looked so impoverished that people would offer him alms, yet this same man was a successful businessman leaving £300,000, a colossal sum in those days. He was M.P. for Berkshire and his last words are reported to be "I will keep my money – I will"! On to Clare's lovely church of St Peter and St Paul, which stands squat and squarely in the very middle of this delightful little town. This church always has people coming and going within it. There is a delightful children's corner and this congregation goes out of its way to welcome children. I often pop in to browse the bookstall. Also on sale is a good range of greetings cards and other little gifts. The church possesses a sturdy 18th century bell-ringer's "gotch" (beer jug) and it has a ring of 8 bells. Clare church, like many others in our area suffered much from the iconoclasm of the Commonwealth men. William Dowsing wrote in his journal of his visit to Clare in 1643: We brake down 1000 Pictures superstitious; I brake down 200; 3 of God the Father, and 3 of Christ, and the Holy Lamb, and 3 of the Holy Ghost like a Dove with Wings; and the 12 Apostles were carved in Wood, on the top of the Roof, which we gave order to take down; and 20 Cherubims to be taken down; and the Sun and Moon in the East Window, by the King's Arms, to be taken down. However, Dowsing's followers were not always as zealous as himself: the cherubim were not destroyed and the sun and moon are still in the east window of the chancel. The other special place in Clare is at the Priory: the Shrine of our Lady, Mother of Good Counsel, where there is a relief of The Virgin Mary by Mother Concordia OSB based on a fresco at Genazzano near Rome. The tiny heavily timbered shrine is the oldest part of the Priory (13th century). The metal relief sculpture sparkles in the dark interior, as the reflected light of candles dance on its surface. Behind the sculpture, the cream wall is framed by dark heavy curtains, and above is a semicircular cap painted in virginal blue. This lovely intimate space is steeped in prayer and is a place of great solace.
Clare Priory was the first Augustinian foundation in England. It was established in 1428 but after the dissolution of monasteries, in 1538, the house passed through many hands and uses until the Augustinian Friars purchased the house in 1953, and returned to their English roots.
Just a few miles along the road (A1092) and we arrive in Cavendish, a village much-favoured by calendar photographers. I have seen quite a change in this church of St Mary over the last few years. When I first visited, it seemed rather grey, and a bit dead, to be honest. On this last visit the church seems to have come alive and in little subtle ways I felt that the congregation seems to have blossomed. This building exudes restraint and refined culture. There is a large tomb of the Protestant Sir George Colt, which is quietly overlooked by a modern statue of Mary with the baby Jesus, which must have replaced a former pre-Reformation one in a beautiful canopied niche whose rear wall is a striking Marian blue. In complete contrast to the rest of this church there is an amazingly flamboyant treasure: a wildly coloured Flemish reredos from 16th century showing a crucifixion scene all complimented by a frame made by Ninian Comper whose colourful work is seen in many Anglo- Catholic churches.
Reredos in Middleton Church.
From Cavendish we cross the river to Pentlow (St Gregory and St George) which is sadly locked. . .but it is well worth obtaining a key from the churchwarden (Mrs June Turner 01787 280438) to visit this secret gem. It lies tucked away up a little path and is closer to Cavendish than the main part of Pentlow. Not long after I arrived in this area, this church's round tower (one of only 6 in Essex) was struck by a ball of lightning causing a fair amount of damage, but the church is now beautifully restored. Entering, you cannot help but be amazed at the square font, which is 12th century, with elaborate carvings and its unusual carved wooden font cover with three panels which are opened for christenings. The North Chapel (1600) is the resting place of Judge Kemp and his son, John, and daughter-in- law, Elinor, and clustered round these silent recumbent figures are their 10 daughters and 4 sons, all united in death. We can reflect and give thanks that scientific and medical advances mean that infant mortality, on this kind of scale, is almost unheard of in our western world. This church has a lovely warm atmosphere with its rich warm wooden roof, which reminds me of an upturned boat set beautifully against the plain white walls. This church is clearly loved and well cared for.
Flamboyant Reredos in Cavendish Church.
Ignoring Sudbury, let us continue along the southbank of the Stour taking the road, at the Ballingdon traffic lights, towards Lamarsh and Bures. About a mile and a half along this road turn right into Middleton. This tiny village is tucked away, perfectly formed round a circular lane and footpath close to Sudbury. The approach to All Saints church seems as if one is entering private grounds: it shares the access road with Queens Beeches which was the former rectory. The gravel path beside the church provides an excellent site for the annual Boules Tournament which raises funds for the church. The church doorway has a mass (or scratch) dial on its right lintel, while the wonderful ancient door has a Norman surround with the typical zigzag patterning. On entering, do be careful of a steep step down into the gloom, so allow your eyes to grow accustomed to the darkness. Facing the door is an enormous darkened painting, thought to be by Schiavone (16th century), of the Annunciation. This church is well-cared for and has recently formed a very active Friends organisation. Unusually the Choir is the same size as the Nave. Here in the 1920s the peace of this village church was shattered by the paparazzi of the day and by strident folk who came out to protest from Sudbury. What stirred up the good souls of Sudbury was the claim by the then Rector, Revd Clive Luget and a Doctor, and his son, who claimed to have seen a vision, on more than one occasion, of The Blessed Virgin Mary standing on a little mound in the Rectory garden. This brought out the usual Protestant versus Catholic sentiments. Fr Luget was High Church and made no concessions to his middle of the road congregation; consequently only a few attended church. However there are people still in this village today, who remember Fr Luget's kindness especially to the children of the village. In spring, it is a sheer delight to see this churchyard covered in drifts of quietly nodding snowdrops and the stained glass is lovely whether on a sunny morning or in the evening when the church is lit for services. Do not miss the fine gilded reredos showing the Last Supper. You do need to come right up to the altar to appreciate its full beauty. This church is open, though the handle sometimes proves difficult to turn.
Coming through Henny Street if you look west, on top of the hill you will see a church with a tilted spire 233.2 feet above sea-level (and with a bench mark to prove it!). This is St Mary's Great Henny, built between 1066 and 1599, and its tower built 1066 - 1199.
It is the church I know best. I say my Morning Prayers there since the Rectory is just down a track south of the church. It is always windy at St Mary's, which sits atop a plateau overlooking the Stour Valley. St Edmund's Way and the Stour Valley footpath pass through the peaceful churchyard, so the church is often visited by walkers, who rest and shelter from the elements, glad of its welcoming open door. Inside, there is a surprisingly large Sanctuary area which makes this church a wonderful venue for a varied concert programme. On the east wall are beautiful stained glass windows, probably by Hardman, vibrant with strong blues and reds. An unusual aspect of this church are the painted medieval corbel carvings at the end of roof timbers: playing medieval musical instruments: bagpipes, the shawm, and a harp, among other things. Here are two grotesque red devils' heads with white teeth, grinning or grimacing at the congregation! Woodpeckers adore this church: drumming on the wooden shingles of the spire makes the most wonderful sound to a female woodpecker. Unfortunately, it causes the spire to resemble a sieve, after prolonged years of drumming, so in 2000 this tiny community managed to raise funds to replace the spire, and they chose much harder oak shingles to replace the old cedar ones. This church is also the subject of the centre of one of Gainsborough's paintings which hangs in the National Gallery. Titled Cornard Wood, it depicts a heavily wooded scene with a church in the middle distance. This is thought to be St Mary the Virgin, Great Henny. If you visit the Henny Swan, in its Gainsborough Restaurant there is an enlargement of this painting which shows greater detail of the church, which had a different spire in those days. Today, both Great Henny and St Andrew's Great Cornard, across the river, have typical Essex shingled broach spires.
Great Henny Church and Borage Field.
The hymn "My Song is Love Unknown" by Samuel Crossman (1624? – 1684) may have been written at Little Henny (though the people at All Saints, Ballingdon in Sudbury also think this!); perhaps because he was Rector of both All Saints, and Little Henny Church (which burned down in 17th century and was never rebuilt). The scant remains of Little Henny Church lie in the grounds of the Ryes.
Thence, on to Lamarsh, keeping close by the river. Holy Innocents Church, dating from 1174, holds very special memories for me, because it is the church in which I was licensed in May 2005 as Team Vicar in the North Hinckford Team of 15 churches. This is our second Round Tower Church, and it is well looked after by a very active Friends Group. The dedication to the Holy Innocents is one of only five such dedications in England. In 1797, the round tower was struck by lightning and part of the north side collapsed. It was restored in 1865 and only then was the tower capped by its timber and red tiled spire. The lovely porch is Elizabethan, with a tiny room, accessed by a trap door for visiting priests to sleep in, and inside all is light and very simple; basically one big room which is enhanced by a very delicately carved rood screen (15th century) which was installed when Margaret Beaufort (mother of Henry II) was Lady of the Manor, and may have been gifted by her. On the southern exterior wall there is a carved female head which is thought to be of this lady. A tiny chamber organ, built by George Pike, (1750 -1856) is quite special. The interior is a gorgeous creamy tint as is the exterior, only recently lime-washed. We know that hidden under the paint there are medieval wall paintings. At the east end there is a beautiful large triple window: the work of arts and crafts stained glass artist Mary Lowndes (1857 - 1929) installed in 1895.
Here are dragons. . . St. Andrews, Wormingford sits on a high bank above the Stour surrounded by a beautifully kept old churchyard. Below lies Smallbridge Hall where Sir William Waldegarve entertained Queen Elizabeth I. Looking across the Stour Valley you look back to where Edmund was crowned on that Christmas Day so long ago. Inside, the church is furnished with dark wood everywhere. It is comforting to reflect that this wood shines by dint of the work of hundreds of duster- wielding hands polishing all to attain such a fine patina. There is a lovely painting which depicts a crucifix at a harbour, with a few people gathered round a priest, perhaps blessing fishing boats; it looks French to me, and this has a wooden plaque below which was a bit obscured by a fine Christmas tree, when I visited in December. The inscription is about returning to a safe haven and is given in thanks for the safe return of people from the 1914 - 18 War.
St. Stephen's Chapel Barn, Bures
A few miles more and we enter Bures Hamlet, on the Essex side of the River Stour, and cross over the bridge, into Suffolk, into Bures St Mary's, named after the church which sits securely in the centre of the village. This church has a busy programme of weekly groups and events. Inside, it seems to be only concerned with the present and the future as I could find no information at all within the church, which tells of its history or past events. No architectural details. This is not a criticism, it just tells you where the congregation's hearts are focussed. If you have access to a computer and go on-line to Bures-online.co.uk, from this page you are invited to take a panoramic tour from the church tower, which is well worth doing, especially if, like myself, you suffer from vertigo, and tend not to climb church towers. I then made a slight detour up Cuckoo Hill to a rather hidden gem. It is accessed through a farmyard at Fysch House Farm, where keys are available. About half a mile onwards down this farm track you find the little thatched St Stephen's Chapel (1218) predating St Mary's in Bures by 150 years. On Christmas Day 855, Bishop Humbert of Elmham anointed a 14-year-old boy as King of the East Angles. This was Edmund who succeeded King Offa. It is generally thought that the coronation took place on this remote hill, set in placid rolling scenery, where St Stephen's Chapel now stands. Inside the chapel all is dark, until your eyes grow accustomed, and then you suddenly become aware of the effigies of three Earls of Oxford, the only survivors of twenty-one tombs, once found at Earls Colne Priory. At least, there appear to be three: close inspection by expert eyes has suggested that they are in fact made up from pieces of seven separate monuments. The disused Chapel of St Stephen's was converted to a hospital during the plague of 1739 and then became cottages and eventually a barn, hence its local name "Chapel Barn". It was restored in the 1930s, by members of the Probert family, and re-consecrated. This place has a very special atmosphere, and you feel history becomes almost tangible here.
St. Mary's Dragon, inside Wiston church.
I finished my journey at a church to which I keep returning, because it is a lovely little treasure and there is a great sense of a church beloved by its community. You park the car and walk along a lovely track, which leads to a little Georgian house, Wissington Hall, estate farm, and the church of St Mary itself. The present appearance of the church is largely the due to Charles Birch, Rector from 1832. He removed the 15th century windows replacing them with the present neo-Norman ones; he removed the eastern wall and created an apse,which looks much older than it is, but which stands on the site of a Norman apse. He also added, at the west end, a mock-Romanesque gallery, and the oak benches. Birch also uncovered the medieval wall paintings, but covered them again, considering them to be distracting to the congregation! They were uncovered once more by Professor Tristan in 1932, but the wax treatment he applied, for their preservation, had the opposite effect, trapping in damp.
In the tiny south porch there is a veritable library of pre- owned (as they say now, instead of second-hand) books which I always fall for in churches. Inside, all appears dim at first, but allow time for your eyes to take in the beauty of this little sacred space. Don't rush; allow yourself to breathe deeply, and then go over to the north wall and turn on the new lighting system, which very gently and slowly illuminates the whole interior, in a quite magical way. This has been extremely well- designed and thought out, really enhancing the experience of this lovely place. Then, you can properly examine the 13th century wall paintings, including the earliest representation in England of St Francis of Assisi, feeding the birds. On the north wall there is a great reddish coloured dragon. Is he related to the monster from which Wormingford takes its name? Or, the green one from Bures? In 1405, the Chronicle of Henry de Blaneford of St Albans Abbey wrote about such a dragon: "In these days there appeared an evil dragon of excessive length with a huge body, crested head, saw-like teeth and elongated tail in land near the town of Bures, which destroyed and killed a herd of sheep. The servants of Sir Richard Waldegarve came forth to shoot it with arrows which sprang back from its ribs as if they were hitting bronze plates." Also in the 15th century, another chronicle, surviving in Canterbury Cathedral's library, mentions this incident: "On the afternoon of Friday, 26th September, 1449, two giant reptiles were seen fighting on the banks of the River Stour (near the village of Little Cornard) which marked the English county borders of Suffolk and Essex. One was black, and the other 'reddish and spotted'. After an hour-long struggle that took place 'to the admiration of many [of the locals] beholding them', the black monster yielded and returned to its lair, the scene of the conflict being known ever since as Sharpfight Meadow" (opposite Henny Swan). So the Red spotted Essex dragon won that battle.
And so ends my first exploration of a few of these wonderful churches in our beautiful valley. My own parishioners know the importance I attach to churches being open all week and not only for one hour on a Sunday. An open church is a sign of welcome, and is proof that the church is not just there for those who attend services on Sundays; in some of our villages they are the only public gathering place. These churches are there to be used: for prayer and worship of God; and their stones tell of the centuries of worship offered by these, mostly tiny, communities. Many of the churches are listed, and each one is precious to its community, as our sacred spiritual home where we celebrate births and marriages; say farewell to our loved ones; where we give thanks at Harvest; where we remember in November; and where we follow the ceaseless round of the Christian year.
They are intrinsic elements of our landscape and cultural heritage. They need cherishing with time and money to care for them. Let us never take them for granted.
Reverend Margaret H. King
Margaret King was born in Glasgow, and after attending Bellahouston Academy studied Geology at Glasgow University, followed by research at Liverpool University. She then followed a career in museums, finally as a County Curator of the seven Angus Council Museums. She became a Fellow of the Museums Association. Margaret took Holy Orders in 1998 in Montrose, before joining the Hinckford Team Ministry in 2005. She has transformed those churches where she is "in charge" and congregations have blossomed.
The Art of Brewing
Inside Adnams Brewery.
Last year I wrote about "Brewing in East Anglia" with particular emphasis on the brewers in the CSCA area, both past and present. However, the two major brewers in Eastern England remain: Greene King in Bury St Edmunds; and Adnams in Southwold, and I turned to both of them to find out the processes used to brew a good pint.
After water and then tea, beer is the most widely consumed drink. There is evidence that beer was being brewed as long ago as 9500 BC when cereal was first farmed. However, the oldest chemical evidence of beer was found at a site in the Zagros mountains of Western Iran, suggesting a date of around 3500 BC to 3100 BC.
A beer-like beverage can be created from almost any substance that contains carbohydrates, mostly sugars and starch, which can undergo fermentation. Hence, beer is brewed around the world from maize, millet, sorghum and cassava root in Africa, potato in Brazil, and agave in Mexico, to name but a few.
The core ingredient of beer is barley that is tricked into germinating/growing by the maltster to produce malted barley or malt. The germination is started by steeping the barley in water whereby the stored polysaccharide or starch is broken down by natural barley enzymes into a range of smaller fermentable sugars which are extrated by the brewer to make beer. The malt is kiln dried to stop further growth and stabilise the grain.
These days, brewers buy the malted barley from specialist malsters rather than produce it themselves. At the maltings, the finished malt is screened, known as "dressing", to ensure that the malt is sieved to a consistent size. Artefacts are removed except for stones of the same size, and dust is reduced. At the brewery, rotary screens are used to remove stones, and electro magnets ensure that any swarf or shards of metal, nuts or washers, do not reach the brewing process and therefore protect the mill.
As a rule of thumb, one tonne of malt makes 50 barrels of beer at 4% ABV. After screening, the brewer will mill the malted barley into a pre-determined particle size to produce crushed malt now known as "grist''. (The metaphor "adding grist to the mill" does not refer to this grist, but rather to corn, especially wheat, that from a time prior to the 1500s was known as grist and was taken to the mill to make flour and therefore profit!)
The brewing process ("mashing" from the name of the vessel "mash tun") starts by mixing hot water at around 65°C, or around this temperature, depending on the type of finished beer, with the "grist". The ratio of water to barley is one "noggin" to two "noggins". Basically, this is merely a ratio of 2 to 1 of any sized receptacle.
The porridge like mixture is left to rest for an hour to ensure any residual starch is converted to fermentable sugars, as starch carry over can produce hazy beer. During this rest the sugars are dissolved to produce a sweet malt extract liquid called "wort'' which is subsequently drained off the grains.
The grains are then washed, a process known as "sparging", which ensures that the maximum amount of fermentable liquid is recovered. In modern breweries these two processes are combined and the liquid ("sweet wort") is put in a "kettle" or "copper" where it is boiled for about an hour. The water evaporates but the sugars and other components of the "sweet wort" remain. At this stage, hops are added as a source of bitterness, adding flavour and creating an aroma, and the liquid becomes "hopped wort".
The water used at Greene King is sourced from 3 artesian wells deep below the brewery. The water is abstracted, made potable and demineralised, to remove nitrates, before adding back mineral salts including gypsum to condition or harden the water. This process is known as "Burtonisation". The name derives from Burton-on-Trent where the water is naturally hard, due to the presence of gypsum.
Having read this far you will realise that brewing has a wealth of strange words. The terminology for the next stage, is again rather quaint. After boiling, the "hopped wort "is cast into a whirlpool by use of a "tangenital feed". The liquid spins or swirls which causes particulate matter to accumulate at the core at the base of the vessel. This forms "trub", which is essentially spent hop material and protein which has come out of the solution during the boiling process. The now clear wort can be removed and is cooled on transfer to the fermentation vessel using cold fresh water which will be heated and used for subsequent brews. Brewing yeast is added and the process of fermentation begins.
The result of the fermentation process is to turn the "wort" into beer, a procedure that may take a week or more depending on the type of yeast and the desired strength of the beer. For every yeast cell that is used to inoculate the "wort" there is a fivefold increase by the end of fermentation. Much of the surplus is sold off. In the case of Greene King it is sent to make (you love it or hate it!) Marmite. Some is retained for use in future brews.
At the end of the fermentation the "green'' beer is sent to package in casks, or cold conditioned at the brewery, before filtering and ultimately ending up in bottle can or keg. For the living beer in casks, finings or isinglass are added to aid settlement of residual yeast, leaving the beer bright.
The process of brewing is basically the same in all breweries. I was shown around the Greene King Westgate Brewery in May 2009. The present brewery was built in 1938, and remains authentic.
As a tower brewery, essentially the brewing process starts at the top of the building and, historically, gravity allows the production to drop from floor to floor, although conveyers and elevators do allow raw materials to be moved upwards/sideways as required. The end result at the base of the tower is the boiled and clarified hopped wort ready for fermentation. Greene King brew round about 500,000 barrels a year, or put another way, 155,000,000 pints!
Last Autumn I visited the Adnams Brewery in Southwold and found myself amazed at what a state of the art brewery looks like. In 2007 the company decided that the time had come to modernise. The old brewing equipment was second hand when it was installed in 1970 and was becoming a bit "tired". The directors decided that the best brewing plant available, at the right price, for the size of operations, was from Huppmann in Germany. A plant was specifically designed to fit into the buildings on Victoria Street. The Fermentation part of the plant had already been updated and moved across the road, between 2001 to 2004, by Briggs of Burton-on-Trent. If you walk down Church Street you will pass what look like cottages with front doors, but behind these disguises is the brewery.
It was also designed to create an eco-friendly system as an imperative. Less water is used and some 90% of the heat is recycled. The end result is a stainless steel plant totally controlled from a computer.
In January 2012, I again visited the brewery, and met up with the Head Brewer, Fergus Fitzgerald, who is a young enthusiastic Irishman from Limerick. He learnt his trade at Fullers, having first thought that the dairy industry was to be his metier, but he found that the smell of cheese on a Monday morning was too much! Fergus joined Adnams when the new fermentation vessels for the brewery were being installed in 2004. The new brewhouse was then installed in 2007. Adnams brew around 86,000 barrels of beer a year.
The total brewing process is controlled from his desk, although he and his assistant brewers check the brew as it progresses. Whilst the malt is sourced from malsters, care is taken to purchase malted barley that originated in East Anglia, as this is considered to be the highest quality.
Fergus examining brew in progress.
When the brew reaches the mash tun filtration vessel, the temperature can be varied which allows greater diversity of the style of beer, or distillery wash, by careful control of the enzymatic action. The new brewhouse allows the brewers to use raw materials other than barley. Wheat beers, with wheat accounting for up to 60% of the sweet wort, have been produced, as well as 100% Rye distilling, for rye whisky. The wheat adds a spicy taste, with banana and clove flavours when used with the appropriate yeast.
After the brew is completed, the surplus spent grain is sent for cattle feed, as it contains lots of protein and fibre. Other surplus by-products are sent to the Adnams anaerobic digester, just outside the town, where the plant produces methane gas which is then fed into the mains gas pipeline, which in turn supplies the gas-fired boilers in the brewery.
At the final stage of the brewing process the liquid is boiled for sterilisation and to take in the hop flavours. Fergus has available up to twenty-one different varieties of hop, mainly English. The steam from this process is captured and passes through a heat exchanger to produce hot water to be used in the next brew, thereby saving energy costs of 30 to 35%. Once the beer is finished, it is piped to a cask filling plant on site. However, the beer to be bottled is taken by tanker to the Marstons Brewery in Burton-on-Trent and distributed centrally from there. The site in Southwold is not large enough to accommodate a bottling plant.
Adnams used to extract its water supply from boreholes under the brewery. However, in the early 1940s, it was found that salt water was seeping into the aquifer and the supply had to switch to the town's mains water supply, which is used today. The water is purified before being "Burtonised". The amount of water used to produce a pint of beer is approximately 3.2 to 1, whereas most breweries are more than 5 to 1.
Besides producing beer, Adnams installed, in 2010, a distillery to produce Gin, Vodka and Whisky. They are the only brewer in the UK to have a distillery on the same site as a brewery. The plant for the distillery came from Carl Artisan Distilleries in Germany.
The basic substance of any spirit is ethanol, which can be produced from the beer fermentation process. The brewing process follows the normal pattern but after the mashtun stage the liquid is not boiled and no hops are added and the liquid is passed into a fermentation vessel to ferment all the sugar to alcohol.
It then passes to a "beer stripper", which is a tall boiling column some 20 feet high, The beer or wash from the fermenter, at 7% alcohol, is fed into this column where alcohols are evaporated and separated from the beer giving a liquid called 'low wines', which is approx. 80% ethanol. Thereafter, it passes into a pot still and then to two rectifying columns, again about 20 feet tall, which, by evaporation and condensation, produces the vodka quality spirit at 96/97% strength. This almost pure ethanol is then diluted down if it's destined to be Vodka, or if it's to be made into Gin it is left in a pot still overnight, along with some botanicals such as Juniper berries and orange peel, and distilled the following morning and then diluted to the required alcoholic strength. Whisky spirit is made by using 'low wines' and distilling them in the pot still.
Copper House Distillery.
If you are visiting Southwold, I would recommend that you set aside a couple of hours to go round the brewery. Tours depart from the Main Office on East Green alongside the brewery and bookings can be made by telephoning 01502 727225. The cost of a tour is £10 per person.
One thing that has really struck me, when visiting any parts of the Adnams brewery or the wine shops, has been the friendliness of the staff. This says a lot for the Directors and Managers. Furthermore, everyone seems to really enjoy working for the Company.
From left to right: Belinda Jennings (Quality Assurance Manager), John McCarthy (Head Distiller), Jonathan Adnams (Chairman) and Fergus Fitzgerald (Head Brewer).
Whilst Gin and Vodka are on sale, the Whisky has yet to be bottled as it has to be matured in Oak casks for a minimum of three years to qualify as whisky, and the first batch was only distilled in 2010.
Adnams have diversified over recent years and now have a chain of Cellar and Kitchen shops, which have an extremely good range of kitchen utensils and an outstanding selection of sensibly priced wines. In the CSCA locality there is a shop in Hadleigh, which I can recommend. I am grateful to Fergus for correcting the content of this article, where it relates to Adnams, and also, Jonathan Adnams for giving the article one final check. I am also grateful to John Bexon, of Greene King, for his guidance in relation to the brewing processes and the unique names used.
Distillery photographs by Anthony Cullen.
Presumption in favour of sustainable development – is it a serious concern? – edited highlights
Hardly anything stirs up the emotions within a community more than issues concerning planning. More often than not, large scale developments will bring together a community like nothing else in order to oppose the development. But we have an expanding population and everyone needs somewhere to live and somewhere to work. That, of course, needs the input of controlled planning.
Part of that controlled planning is guidance from central government, which is issued to help local planning authorities write their local development plans. That guidance is principally in the form of Planning Policy Statements and Planning Policy Guidance, which guide on matters such as Delivering Sustainable Development (PPS1), Green Belts (PPG2), Housing (PPS3), Planning For Sustainable Economic Growth (PPS4) etc.
Each PPS and PPG will also be a material consideration for determining planning applications and appeals, particularly when the PPS or PPG concerned was brought into effect (usually as a revision of earlier guidance) after the applicable local development plan was adopted by the local planning authority.
But everything about guidance from central government will soon all change.
Central government has decided that the current planning system is too complicated and slows down development, and part of the change proposed is the replacement of the current system of guidance with a new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
According to the Minister for Planning (Greg Clark), the old system was "elaborate and forbidding" and the new NPPF will change that by "replacing over a thousand pages of national policy with around fifty, written simply and clearly", and that this change will allow "people and communities back into planning".
Now, the condensing down of over a thousand pages of current central government guidance to just fifty pages (no matter how simply and clearly written it is) has alarmed more than a few people.
In his introduction to the NPPF, the Planning Minister sets the scene for the justification for bringing in the new NPPF, when he says (amongst other things) that: "Our natural environment is essential to our wellbeing, and it can be better looked after than it has been. Habitats that have been degraded can be restored. Species that have been isolated can be reconnected. Green belt land that has been depleted of diversity can be refilled by nature – and opened to people to experience it, to the benefit of body and soul.
Our historic environment – buildings, landscapes, towns and villages – can better be cherished if their spirit of place thrives, rather than withers. Our standards of design can be so much higher. We are a nation renowned worldwide for creative excellence yet, at home, confidence in development itself has been eroded by the too frequent experience of mediocrity."
And the Planning Minister further states that:
"sustainable development is about positive growth – making economic, environmental and social progress for this and future generations. The planning system is about helping to make this happen. Development that is sustainable should go ahead, without delay - a presumption in favour of sustainable development that is the basis for every plan, and every decision. This framework sets out clearly what could make a proposed plan or development unsustainable. In order to fulfil its purpose of helping achieve sustainable development, planning must not simply be about scrutiny. Planning must be a creative exercise in finding ways to enhance and improve the places in which we live our lives."
Some bold claims are made in that introduction, although anyone unfamiliar with the planning system might be a little surprised to learn that much of what is claimed will be changed is not in fact already happening. After all, modern planning as we know it has been around now for a very long time.
Whilst I'm sure everyone is delighted that the government intends, via the NPPF, to make things better, many of those people and organisations (such as the National Trust) involved in planning have found it difficult to see how this desire to make things better squares with what appears to be the relaxation of planning rules in favour of sustainable development in certain circumstances. It's this contradiction that has caused the most agitation.
The source of the agitation is to be found at paragraphs
14, 15, 26 and 110 of the NPPF, where it says:
14. At the heart of the planning system is a presumption in favour of sustainable development, which should be seen as a golden thread running through both plan making and decision taking. Local planning authorities should plan positively for new development, and approve all individual proposals wherever possible. Local planning authorities should:
• prepare Local Plans on the basis that objectively assessed development needs should be met, and with sufficient flexibility to respond to rapid shifts in demand or other economic changes
• approve development proposals that accord with statutory plans without delay; and
• grant permission where the plan is absent, silent, indeterminate or where relevant policies are out of date.
All of these policies should apply unless the adverse impacts of allowing development would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole.
15. All plans should be based upon and contain the presumption in favour of sustainable development as their starting point, with clear policies that will guide how the presumption will be applied locally.
26. Up-to-date Local Plans, i.e. Local Plans which are consistent with this Framework, should be in place as soon as practical. In the absence of an up-to-date and consistent plan, planning applications should be determined in accord with this Framework, including its presumption in favour of sustainable development. It will be open to local planning authorities to seek a certificate of conformity with the Framework.
110. Applications should be considered in accordance with the presumption. Planning permission should be granted where relevant policies are out of date, for example where a local authority cannot demonstrate an up-to-date five-year supply of deliverable housing sites."
The combination of the final bullet point at paragraph 14, what's said at paragraphs 26 & 110 (particularly the example of a local planning authority failing to identify enough housing sites) and the fear that many local planning authorities do not have in place up-to-date development plan policies is something that makes those charged with protecting the countryside very anxious indeed.
But do we need to be so anxious?
Certainly the government says that we do not (but then they would, wouldn't they) and to calm our concerns on the matter the government has produced a handy little booklet (available online at www.communites.gov.uk) with the snappy title "National Planning Policy Framework: Myth-Buster". In this booklet the government puts a cosy governmental arm around our collective shoulder and reminds us that the presumption in favour of development (i.e. that development should be allowed unless there are sound planning reasons for not allowing it) has been with us from the birth of modern planning in 1947, and that the "myth" that the presumption in favour of sustainable development will mean that every application has to be accepted is simply not true. Well that's a relief then, although I do wonder why so many people and organisations got it so badly wrong when voicing their concerns about this presumption to the government!
The fact is, though, that until the NPPF is introduced in its final form (the draft form will inevitably be subject to a number of changes) and begun to be used in practice, it's near impossible to predict what effect it will actually have. But as long as local planning authorities have up- to-date development plan policies that deal with areas of countryside within their respective boroughs, then most people will hardly notice any difference.
Tom McPhie is a solicitor with Ellisons. He is a specialist in Planning and Environmental matters. He read law at the University of Essex before joining Colchester Borough Council, moving to Ellisons in January 2007.
'Elf 'n Safety . . . and All That
The Daws Hall Nature Reserve and River.
Pictured on the front cover and above are two of my favourite views, both on the Suffolk/Essex border; and I am the lucky man who owns the land from where these two photographs were taken. Both in fact are part of our nature reserve and are, I know, appreciated by the large numbers of schoolchildren and adults who come here each year. But more of these two places anon. . .
Until December 2010, when Essex County Council abruptly cut off our grant and relocated our teaching staff, the Daws Hall Trust, which I founded in 1988, came under the control of ECC for much of its work. And that, of course, included 'Elf 'n Safety.
Most of this tortuous topic I was able to leave in the capable hands of Simon Perry, then Head of our Environmental Education Centre and who maintained a massive file on this subject. Unfortunately, he was otherwise occupied when, several years ago, a lady from the Council descended on us. It was springtime and young lambs were playing in the wildflower meadow, the birds were singing, and we both agreed that she could not have come on a lovelier day. I gave her a map of the reserve, suggested she have a good look round, and said that I would happily discuss any points she wished to raise when she had completed her tour of inspection. Little did I realize what I was in for when, a couple of hours later, the good lady (GL) came back to the house.
GL 'I'm afraid we can't allow school parties to come into contact with pregnant sheep' was her opening salvo.
IG 'Oh, why's that? We always make a point of putting in-lamb ewes into the wildflower meadow after we've taken the hay crop. It's one of the things the children enjoy most when they come here.'
GL 'Sorry, but we can't allow it. Contagious abortion.'
IG (rapidly casting his mind back to veterinary lessons long ago at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester), 'Sorry, but I didn't know humans could get brucellosis. Anyway,' (in an ill-judged attempt at a little levity) 'surely you're not suggesting that any of the schoolchildren who come here are pregnant?'
GL (clearly not amused) 'Certainly not, but the teachers might be'.
IG 'I see. Anything else?'
GL 'I'm afraid so. First of all, I'm very concerned about the number of stinging nettles on your nature reserve'.
IG (beginning to get somewhat irritated) 'Nettles are highly beneficial on a nature reserve. Whitethroats and chiffchaffs nest in them, and the larvae of several different butterflies feed on them. Anyway, we've got plenty of docks, so that's another thing that children can learn about the countryside when they come here'.
GL (connection obviously lost on her) 'Well, perhaps you could reduce them somewhat by spraying'.
IG 'What, put poison down? Poison which could come into contact with children?'
GL 'Well, no, I suppose not, but I must insist you put up more notices as a warning to visitors. Apart from the nettles, you've got two other very dangerous places.'
IG (by now thoroughly exasperated) 'Right, so these schoolchildren, who've somehow managed successfully to run the gauntlet through dangerous nettles and pregnant ewes, have got some even more life-threatening obstacles awaiting them. Is that what you're saying?'
GL (referring to my two favourite views) 'I'm afraid so.
It's a very dangerous bank near your badger setts and it's even more dangerous by the weir. Apart from several notices about STINGING NETTLES you need to put up one notice saying STEEP BANK and another that says DEEP WATER. All, of course, in very large letters'.
Recent budgetary cuts have now meant that the Trust no longer receives a grant from the Council and, to all intents and purposes, runs an independent show. How nice it would be to think, therefore, that there would be no more visits from blinkered bureaucrats and that the young of today could experience the age-old joys of conker fights, rolling down banks and climbing trees. Better still that if, on my regular walks, I came across a child with a cut knee, I could demonstrate my remarkable knowledge of first aid by applying a sticking plaster. Alas, for such Utopian dreams! If I were so much as to touch a child without written authority from its parents, I would be laying myself open to prosecution on all manner of salacious counts.
Thirty years ago, when we first started having school visits, George Carrick (the then teacher) would take everyone up to the wood for their picnic lunches. On arrival, it would be 'Boys to the right, girls to the left. Here's a spade for each group, and make sure you don't leave any mess'. The trees in the wood flourished, but, ten years later, the Council in its wisdom insisted on three state of the art loos – boys, girls and disabled – and the total cost came to more than I paid for my house.
I used to think that political correctness was probably the most pernicious of all modern creations. (Last Christmas I read in my paper that 'US networks have now banned the term 'virgin' (Mary) as being 'inappropriate'). 'Elf 'n Safety, however, must surely run it close.
Apart from being the founder and an active Trustee of The Daws Hall Trust, Iain is an antiquarian book-dealer, specialising in rare and unusual works on all branches of natural history, field sports, and Africana.
Daws Hall Open Days and Events 2012
Henny Road, Lamarsh, Essex
14th & 15th April, 11am - 4pm
In aid of the Daws Hall Trust
£4 Adults, £1 Children, £10 Family
27th May, 10am - 4pm
Food for Free
Learn what is edible - or inedible! in the countryside with botanist Steve Clarkeson
£25 per person, £40 per family. Booking essential.
9th June, 10am - 4pm
An excellent introduction to outdoor skills. Learn to be a Ray Mears!
Bushcraft knives can be purchased on the day from leader John Jackson
£35 per person. Limited places booking essential.
7th & 8th July, 2pm - 4pm
in aid of Holy Innocents Church, Lamarsh
£4.00 Adults, £1 Children, £10 Family
20th October, 10am - 4pm
Mushrooms and other Fungi
Identification course for adults led by expert Ian Rose
£25 per person. Booking essential.
For more details of all courses and to make bookings please contact:
Sarah White Tel: 01787 269766
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Bringing our Past to Life: Gestingthorpe Roman Villa
Artists impression, by Benjamin Perkins, of Gestingthorpe Roman Villa. Note especially the white roof tiles, semi-circular room on the south eastern corner and craftman's workshop to the right.
Gestingthorpe Roman Villa lies mid way between both, Halstead and Sudbury, and the Rivers Colne and Stour. In this article Ashley Cooper tells of the site's discovery, before describing the finds and relevance of a Romano- British settlement that was at the heart of our area almost two millennia ago.
My Father, Harold Cooper, moved to Hill Farm, Gestingthorpe in late 1945. One Field – situated on the farm's best soil – was infested with weeds. Kale was planted as a 'cleaning crop'. But after harvesting the kale seed, the stalks were too thick to 'plough in'. A 'deep digger' plough was consequently hired from the War Agricultural Committee.
Visiting the field to check on progress, after it arrived, Harold was struck by the vast amount of red tile that the plough had brought to the surface. None of it matched that on local houses, or resembled anything made at the nearby Bulmer Brickyard. Eventually he took a sample to Colchester Castle Museum, where the curator, Rex Hull, identified it as Roman. Impressed by Harold's keen interest, Rex then suggested that Harold should conduct a 'trial excavation'. Major Brinson of the Essex Archaeological Society provided invaluable guidance.
For the following twenty eight years Harold devoted every spare Saturday and Sunday afternoon to slowly excavating a series of Romano-British buildings and ditches, together with a 'hearth site' and an agricultural area. It was a mixture of hard manual work and meticulously patient trowelling. The 'geo-physical' apparatus used by archaeologists today had not been invented and metal detectors were not commercially available. Occupation layers were sometimes a metre or so beneath the surface. Every single crumb of soil – amounting to several hundred tons – was moved by hand. Progress was often hindered by weather conditions: droughts when the top soil was rock hard; wet winters when numerous bucketfuls of water had to be 'baled out' of the excavation trench before any archaeology could begin.
Excavation trench to reveal the villa's flint foundation walls. (They measure approximately 0.8 metre in width.) The trench curves where the semi-circular room begins.
During the first two centuries of Roman rule they purchased smoothly glazed Samian pottery from Gaul – with twenty four fragments providing the makers names. But decorated pottery from Oxford and the Nene Valley, and 'lipped' ware from Much Hadham in Hertfordshire, tells us how fashions in pottery and trading routes changed in the third century. The mortaria used in their kitchens likewise came to Gestingthorpe from across Southern Britain. One piece, produced in Colchester around A.D 160-200 bore the name of the potter Martinus II. Of additional local interest was some Samian pottery which had also been made at Colchester.
Whilst the villa's occupants were clearly, 'pleasantly well off', the absence of any significant silver and absolutely no gold objects implies that they were not people of 'lavishly spectacular' wealth. That the villa had no mosaic floors – nor curiously any oil lamps – further supports this view. Most probably, the inhabitants were of mixed blood or even Celtic origin, who worked hard to preside over a farming estate, with the villa rather like a medieval manor house, or a village's 'Big House' in Victorian times.
Map of sites. The green dotted line shows old roman road.
As the years passed, a picture slowly emerged. It was of a settlement extending over about three hectares, with blacksmiths, carpenters and craftsmen's workshops, a farmyard area and artisan's huts all centred around a large 'villa' type building. The latter had a 'hypocaust' heated main room, a bath block, glazed windows and some decorated walls.
Rectangular in shape, the villa was thirty six metres in length and eighteen metres wide. (Roughly the same size as St. Peters Church on Sudbury's Market Hill.) Two rows of wooden columns supported the villa's roof – rather like a church with two aisles – although there may have been a small open courtyard at the northern end. The roof was unusual, for there were some white tiles amongst the more typically orangey-red tiles. Both were almost certainly made locally. (Gestingthorpe has a seam of clay which produces white bricks.) The villa's roof tiles, we have calculated, would have weighed somewhere between thirty to forty tonnes.
The building appears to have been constructed between A.D 175-200, close to the position of an earlier dwelling which was destroyed by fire. (Coincidentally, a number of other Roman settlements in Essex also suffered fires at about this time.*) The owners must have prospered however, for some years after the rebuilding occurred, a heated semicircular 'best room', was added to the south eastern corner.
Items of their jewellery such as bronze brooches, finger rings and bracelets were found in the villa and nearby ditches. So too was an almost complete necklace, jet and bronze hairpins, and fragments of glass bowls and beakers. But there was another potential source of income. The major Roman road that ran from London – Chelmsford – Braintree – Long Melford to the North Norfolk Coast, passed through or very close to the Gestingthorpe site. Quite possibly then, the settlement might have provided refreshment, rest and blacksmithing skills to State Officials or any other travellers as they passed along the road.
Artists impression of the villa owner's wife wearing some of the jewellery discovered during the excavations. Note especially the necklace, jet bracelet, decorated bone hairpin and signet ring on her husband's finger. © Benjamin Perkins
That the villa is situated almost exactly midway between the River Colne and River Stour suggests there may have been forethought in planning its location. (It is approximately 'one hours walk' from both Roman Long Melford and the River Colne.) Ideally positioned to also act as a local administrative and market centre, the settlement could have been pivotal to people in the vicinity.
Inevitably, coins were lost in the transactions and activities of daily life, and over five hundred have now been discovered. Almost all are bronze or 'silver washed', with low or moderate value denominations – such as one would expect to find in a 'working roadside settlement'. Pleasingly however, almost all the major Emperors – such as Claudius, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius and Constantine – are represented in the coin list.
As the fortunes of the empire declined in the fourth century, so too did the currency. The latest, clearly dateable coin recovered from Gestingthorpe, was minted between A.D 388-392, when Arcadius had been appointed a Caeser (or heir) by his father, Theodosius the Great. Several other 'minims', however, are so illegible and tiny, (just 5mm in diameter), that they could well be contemporary or slightly later. The settlement clearly continued until this date, and probably for some decades after the 'official end' of Roman authority in A.D 410. Yet a mystery remains. For at some point in the fifth century the settlement was completely abandoned, and then lost for fifteen hundred years.
The Distribution Map of coins lost in more prosperous times is of particular interest. Just to the north of the villa were found some fifty coins, scattered amongst a cobbled area about the size of a tennis court. This is where the market may have been held, and where those from neighbouring Celtic homesteads would have come to buy specialist items, or to sell their own surplus produce. That a cobbler periodically set up his last there is indicated by the discovery of a wide circle of hob nails covering about a metre and a half in diameter.
The millefiori. (It measures just 35mm in diameter)
Within the proximity of the villa were made some particularly exciting finds – such as a beautiful enamelled millefiori ornament. The latter consists of hundreds of minute, coloured glass rods fused onto a bronze base about 35mm in diameter. (Millefiori means a thousand flowers.) A signet ring with an onyx intaglio depicts a lion attacking a red deer – a not uncommon device seen in jewellery and mosaics across the Roman world from Syria to Verulamium (St. Albans). A miniature representation of Cupid, carved in ivory and measuring just six centimetres in height, is thought to have fitted onto the corner of a casket – such as a jewellery box.
The signet ring showing the Lion attacking a Red Deer. The intaglio is less than 8mm wide.
It is always tempting to dwell on eye-catching discoveries like these. Yet the far greater significance of Harold's work was to spot – and retain – much less spectacular artefacts. Some have shed invaluable light on how the ordinary people of our Colne-Stour countryside lived in Romano-British times, and how their craftsmen worked.
To elaborate; two lumps of burnt clay were exposed, not far from part of a bronze worker's crucible. They came from a mould which had produced a small bronze statuette. Together with part of the 'sprue cup', (into which the molten bronze was poured), they were the very first evidence that bronze statuettes had been made in Roman Britain using the 'lost wax' process. (The figure, which is thought to be Bacchus, stood about fifteen inches tall.)
A scatter of charred grains, discovered almost three feet beneath the soil's surface, revealed that Rye, six row Barley and, possibly, Oats were among the crops being grown at Roman Gestingthorpe, in addition to much larger quantities of Spelt and 'free threshing' bread Wheat. (The latter is like today's wheat – which releases its grains far more easily than the earlier hulled wheats like Spelt.)
One shard of pottery bore a small 'feather shaped' imprint about two centimetres in length. It had been formed, magnification revealed, when a piece of flax sacking was pressed against the pot's soft surface before it was fired. Even the 'half basket weave' could be identified. Another piece of blackened pottery came from a chimney. When the sooty deposits were analysed they confirmed that pork fat, olive oil and wine had been used in the villa's kitchen when cooking.
In 1975, the Villa Site was scheduled as an Ancient Monument, and excavations on the field ceased. Many of the finds were temporarily sent away for analysis by twenty eight archaeological experts. Their reports were published by Essex County Council – and made fascinating reading. (See Excavations at Hill Farm, Gestingthorpe, Essex: East Anglian Archaeology Report no. 25).
Unearthing one of the complete storage pots beneath the kitchen floor.
The iron tools such as carpenter's chisels, axes and plough shares, for example, were subject to pioneering analysis. The results were surprising: the blacksmiths at Roman Gestingthorpe, and across Britain generally, were unable to 'heat treat', (or harden), iron tools and knives as successfully as their Saxon successors. Sophisticated 'barb spring' padlocks, however, were being made. Indeed, the most numerous iron objects to be discovered, (apart from some 4000 nails), were keys and locks which were clearly being made – and sold – at the site.
Bone and antler was also being worked. Tools, knife handles, gaming counters and hairpins have all been discovered. Some of the latter were unfinished. That a Gestingthorpe family were making bone hairpins with intricate 'cross-hatched' and decorated heads, provides another glimpse into life at the settlement.
Within the theme of 'How people lived', we might also enquire, 'What did they Worship?' A broken statuette of Venus, made of white clay, was unearthed in the villa. As noted, bronze figures of Bacchus were made nearby. Of equal interest however, was the discovery of two tiny votive axes. One was made of bronze, (with the axe's 'head' being just 7mm wide). The other was produced in lead, as was a miniature scythe. All three, the Report suggests, were probably symbols of a 'local agricultural Celtic divinity', which was worshipped at the site. These votive objects, the Report continues, were probably made by the settlement's own metal worker.
Unearthing one of the complete storage pots beneath the kitchen floor.
Christianity was also represented. A bronze brooch, which is shaped like a fish and has indentations to indicate the gills, was unearthed near one of the ditches. Even more remarkable, the Sign of the Fish is scratched onto a 'flue tile', used in the villa's hypocaust heating system.
The theme of 'How people lived before our time,' has continued to inspire intensive archaeological field walking and historical investigations across the farm since the Report was published in 1985.
In a Roman context, this has resulted in the discovery of two further Romano-British settlements. Both are in Bulmer and both along the presumed line of the Roman road from Braintree to Long Melford. The first is situated just 600 metres north-east of the Villa, (on 'Old Barn Field'.), the second lies some 650 metres further distant, close to 'Lower Houses'. (It is even more noteworthy to record that a third site in Bulmer, close to the present day Brickyard, is also about 600 metres from the villa.)
Although the 'Old Barn Field' site is so close to the Villa settlement, it provides a dramatic contrast with its neighbour. A Romano-British occupation area, extending over at least 100 square metres, is crossed by a series of ditches. In annual excavations, these have produced extensive quantities of pottery, but almost no personal artefacts or jewellery and only two first century coins. The mystery is enhanced by the unearthing of small amounts of prestige Samian ware, tile and oyster shells.
This paucity of ornaments and metal objects stimulates many questions. Might 'Old Barn Field' have been a slave area, or a drover's compound? Might another craft activity have been conducted there, which we have yet to identify? Was it abandoned after the first or second century? Or is it just one example of a basic, rural dwelling of which there may be many thousands more? That we had farmed both new sites for almost twenty years, before discovering either, is noteworthy in itself.
One of the ditches near the villa. The stratifications in the ditch together with the 'undisturbed soil' around it are quite apparent. A two foot ruler stands in the ditch.
From the work undertaken on the farm, and in the locality generally, it is becoming apparent that there were numerous other Romano-Celtic homesteads scattered across our area. Can it be argued that the population of our genuinely rural parishes, in the Colne-Stour Countryside, was possibly much the same in A.D 300 as it was in A.D 1700?
On New Years Day 2012, my Father and I drove up to the site of the Roman Villa, which he had so assiduously excavated in the years of my childhood. Today, the settlement is 'grassed over' as part of our Higher Level Stewardship Scheme. The villa's rooms, however, are marked out, so that visitors and school children can appreciate its size and location. Frequently, visitors comment on the site's remote hilltop situation and extensive views—which stretch across to Bulmer Brickyard, Wickham St. Paul's and Gestingthorpe.
As my Father and I stood there, I hoped that visitors in the future would continue to enjoy the site's rural ambience; and that in gazing out over our countryside will still be able to imagine how it might have been in Romano-British times, eighteen hundred years ago.
Ashley Cooper is the author of five local history books, including The Long Furrow and Our Mother Earth. All are available in local bookshops. He has been our Guest Speaker at two AGMs. Excavations at Hill Farm, Gestingthorpe, Essex: (E.A.A. 25): Published by Essex County Council, 1985, to which this author records his indebtedness.
*Roman Essex: by Warwick Rodwell. Published by Essex
Archaeological Society, 1972.
Gestingthorpe Roman Villa and Local History Museum welcomes about twelve groups of adult visitors each year. A forty five minute DVD which records the story of the excavations and discusses some of the finds will shortly be available. (Initial price £10) To visit the museum or order a DVD, please telephone 01787 462027.
Miniature or Apprentice Piece?
I feel very lucky to have been involved in the art world for almost as long as I can remember. After a year in France, and having passed my secretarial exams, I spent nearly two years at the Bear Lane Gallery in Oxford, as secretary under the competent but formidable Elizabeth Deighton, who had the foresight to promote artists such as David Hockney, Frank Auerbach, John Piper, Patrick Heron, Ivon Hitchens and many more. It was an exciting time and I met them all – if only I had been able to save months, no years, of my £10 a week salary to buy a Hockney 'Swimming Pool' series or an Ivon Hitchens!
It is, I believe, rather appropriate that I should be writing for the Colne-Stour Magazine, because I have lived beside both these beautiful rivers. In 1965 I came to live at Hovis Mill, on the Colne between Sible and Castle Hedingham, and inherited this house, which my mother renamed Maplestead Mill, from her when she died in 1971. With it went the incumbent responsibility of maintaining the level of the river, and I remember many times in the middle of the night, in my nightie and in a storm, when I had to open the sluice gates to stop the river flooding. Of course, nowadays this job is undertaken by the Environment Agency. For the past sixteen years I have lived at Daws Hall on the Stour where, among many other things, I am a trustee and honorary treasurer of The Daws Hall Trust.
Having been on the BBC's Antiques Roadshow at the 'Miscellaneous' table for the past 25 years, it is still not widely known that I particularly love pre-Victorian furniture. Apart from being surrounded by antiques as a child, my real appreciation of it began in 1966 when I joined Sotheby's. Strangely, at that time, Sotheby's considered any furniture after William IV (1837) was 'too modern' and was not included in their sales catalogues!
After my stint in Oxford it seemed only natural that the appropriate department at Sotheby's should be pictures. However, getting in proved more difficult than a mere telephone call – the Personnel Director told me there was no vacancy but that he would call me if and when one turned up. I didn't wait for his call but kept ringing him each week, so that he finally said 'you'd better come and see me'.
Before the interview, he kept me waiting well over an hour in his secretary's office, during which time I could not help but overhear her talking on the telephone about when she was leaving. So when he finally called me in and told me once again there was no vacancy, I suggested he employ me as his secretary! He must have been reasonably impressed because he rang me a few days later and offered me a position on the reception counter.
In the 1960s the reception counter was the main area for all valuations, and for me it was fascinating to see all manner of odd, famous and beautiful people either buying catalogues or bringing in their possessions, which were valued there and then at the counter by the relevant expert. I always say that the best way to learn about antiques is 'hands on'.
I well remember some of the people who came to the counter: Tito Gobbi, Maria Callas with Aristotle Onassis, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, David Attenborough (who still collects fossils), the King of Sweden, the film director Cubby Broccoli, Stewart Granger (my uncle) with Jean Simmons, Ava Gardner, to name but a few. Then there were the odd-bods, many of whom would set me giggling so much that I had to get a colleague to take over.
From the main counter I did a stint in the Silver Department under the charismatic and charming Richard Came, but silver to me is not a tactile medium; at least it didn't appeal to my aesthetic sense, so when an opening appeared in the Furniture Department I grabbed it.
Although it was called the 'Furniture Department', in the 1960s, clocks, carpets, works of art, automata and dolls all came under its remit. Although I learned a lot about furniture, the idea of a woman valuing a tallboy in some stately home was inconceivable, so I became more and more involved with the dolls and automata. But I'm straying from the subject of this article…
Strangely, even today, there is no definitive literature on miniature furniture, only on 'nursery' furniture, and in Thomas Chippendale's published drawings there are no designs for children's furniture.
Antique miniature furniture tends to be more difficult to find than children's furniture. It is often impossible to tell the difference between an 'apprentice or cabinet maker's sample' and a child's piece; it entirely depends on the quality, not only of the type of wood used but the intricacy, joining and overall finish. 'Nursery' furniture can be as accurate and precise as a sample of the adult design.
Equally, there is some exquisite dolls' house furniture, truly Lilliputian, so precise and to scale, which could well have been made by Chippendale and other famous cabinet makers over the centuries. I have huge respect for those men and women today, who spend hundreds of hours making dolls' house furniture. Their patience must be limitless and their attention to detail a true labour of love.
My own collection of 'small' furniture was probably kick- started by the grandfather I never knew. He was rector (as were his ancestors before him going back two centuries) of Walton-on-Trent church. Apart from being a competent watercolourist, he carved all the pews and rood screen in the church, and (Fig. 1) shows the little child's chair he lovingly carved and which I inherited when my father died. Its value is very little, but to me it is very special.
Together with the little chair made by my grandfather, I also inherited (Fig. 2) the little spindle-back Windsor armchair made of beech with an elm seat, circa 1770; this could very well have been an apprentice piece or cabinet- maker's sample, although it is simple in design.
In an extract from The English Chair by M. Harris & Sons of 1937 is the following:
'No-one knows why or when a beech chair with an elm seat came to be called a 'Windsor' chair. Presumably a chair-maker evolved the type in Windsor Great Forest, and the name stuck. An advertisement of April 1730 speaks of "all sorts of Windsor Garden Chairs, of all sizes, painted green or in the wood, at John Brown's, at the Three Chairs and Walnut Tree in St. Paul's Church Yard, near the School". It seems to prove that the product it described was only suitable for rough usage.
'Whatever the truth about the origins of the Windsor chair, even as late as 1937 in the woods near High Wycombe there were chair-makers, known locally as 'bodgers' who, as Sir Lawrence Weaver wrote in 1929, "buy trees as they grow, saw the trunks by hand into lengths suitable for the leg of a chair, split those great sections with an axe wielded with primeval skill, and then turn the leg of the chair on the spot, in the open air, with a pole-lathe so simple that it might have made the balusters of the Ark" (extract from The English Chair).'
The 'Windsor' chair is by no means an exclusive product of the English countryside. It has been a familiar and popular type in America from about 1725, where it has evolved on far superior lines in the eyes of American collectors. There are very few English Windsors on the other side of the Atlantic. The Americans only imported fine furniture, in which category they did not include the English Windsor, which they considered to be lacking in finesse and grace.
Fig. 3) This is a Regency child's green painted deportment or posture chair, circa 1815. Similar chairs were made to the specification of the famous surgeon and anatomist Sir Astley Paston Cooper who died in 1841. Just imagine trying to make a child sit in this today: they would probably ring 'Childline'!
My most prized miniature chair (Figs. 4/5) is a Louis XV walnut 'menuisier's' or apprentice piece, circa 1760. The close-up shows the fine carving, and I am still searching for the right petit-point upholstery for it. This is a rare piece.
Miniature Tables: My criteria for small furniture is that it should be useful, apart from looking attractive. (Fig. 6) is one of my little tables which I bought at auction on the telephone without previously viewing it. I had obviously not taken in the size, mixing inches with centimetres, so that when my colleague on the Antiques Roadshow, Clive Stewart-Lockhart (who is a Director of Dreweatt Neate Auctioneers), brought it to me, I had to laugh as the measurements in the catalogue were obviously correct, 12cm high by 22cm wide by 12cm deep, not inches! It is
Fig. 10. enchanting and I love it; it is 18th Century and carved oak, but I doubt an apprentice piece, more likely for a large dolls' house.
Chests and desks: These are so very useful for storing small things such as jewellery, buttons and sewing accessories, apart from being most attractive. The elm chest (Fig. 11) is a fairly large size, with three graduated long drawers, 19th Century and with ivory escutcheons, 15in high and wide, likely to be a sample or a child's bedroom piece as it is simple in design (Courtesy Mark Dawson).
The small mahogany chest (Fig. 12) has four graduated drawers and elaborate brass escutcheons, which seem far too large and indeed are probably the prototype for the full-size version. Under the base of the third drawer there is a handwritten inscription 'Mary Scutcheon given to her by Mrs Cooper in the 11th year of her age (June 21 1834)', although its manufacture is earlier, George III circa 1780. If the lining of the drawers and the back of a piece is oak rather than pine, which it is in this case, then it is of superior quality, so it was a lovely 11th birthday present!
The next table (Figs. 7/8) is a little larger, 26cm diameter and 24cm high, with a tilt top on a baluster stem and tripod base on little gilt claw feet, mahogany and Victorian, probably a sample for the full size (Note the intricate metal mechanism for closing and opening). The last table (Figs. 9/10) is smaller at 61/2in high, top 93/4in by 75/8in; a little octagonal tilt-top example, the wooden closing lever basic and not substantial enough or suitable for a full size table, so not a sample.
A later, but nevertheless elaborate and beautifully made piece, is (Figs.13/14) a French menuisier's commode in the style of Louis XV, early 20th Century, the parquetry on the top and fall front is of sycamore, palissander and rosewood with satinwood stringing. The central lozenge on the front depicts La Fontaine's Le Loup et l'Agneau. When open there are two short and one long drawer veneered in palissander and satinwood. A showy piece, lovely honey colour and in excellent condition, size 111/2in high, 143/4in wide, 91/4in deep.
The following four bureaux all vary in date and quality, although on first sight they appear very similar. All would have been cabinet makers' samples, all roughly the same size, 9 - 91/2in high and wide and 4 - 41/4in deep, all veneered in walnut with holly stringing, fall fronts revealing stepped interiors, pigeon-holes, all including a 'secret' well.
The two earliest bureaux are (Figs. 15/16) the drawer linings and back are oak, their escutcheons of early form, both circa 1700-1720. (Fig. 17) has later escutcheons, circa 1740, also oak back and drawer linings, and (Fig. 19) has a pine back and drawer linings which make it much lighter than the others and of less superior quality, although it is still mid-18th Century.
Figs. 15 and 16.
Inside of Figs 15 and 16.
Figs. 17 and 18.
Inside of Figs. 17 and 18.
The rarity of well made miniature period pieces has put them into the same price range as the full size furniture. So, small only has meaning in size, not value, and with more and more people down-sizing, perhaps it makes sense to look out for the real thing, but in miniature!
Since 1988 Bunny has been running her own consultancy business Campione Fine Art engaged in valuing, buying and selling all forms of antiques on behalf of clients.
She particularly enjoys taking charity auctions, and frequently lectures on antiques and gives talks about her experiences 'On and Off the Antiques Roadshow'. Bunny speaks French, Italian and a little Greek. Her hobbies include painting, bee-keeping, bridge, tennis, riding, skiing, salmon fishing, bird watching, cooking, classical music and opera. She has two sons, two grandsons and five step-grandchildren.
Gainsborough's View in 2012.
Many people contribute to the work of Stour Valley Underground in its efforts to rid us all of the threat of more electricity pylons, and yet they are not all horribly technical issues that are brought to us. In this article I want to tell you of one rather wonderful contribution.
We in this area are blessed with a local historian, Barry Wall, who has through his efforts added enormously to public knowledge of our local history. Amongst his initiatives he has worked to identify the locations that inspired some of our most important landscape paintings.
Here in the Stour Valley he has identified a number of locations that inspired Thomas Gainsborough in the 18th century. A little before Christmas he visited me with news of what is perhaps the most nearly intact view that Gainsborough painted.
The rather wordily named oil painting "Wooded Landscape with Herdsman Seated" hangs in Sudbury's Gainsborough's House Museum. It is a view of a gently hilly landscape with the distinctive spire of Henny Church on the horizon and the ancient Thornycroft Farmhouse set below it. The astonishing thing is that you can walk to this view today, on public footpaths. Until Barry identified it, few people realised that this valuable cultural heritage asset was there.
As can be seen from this reproduction of Gainsborough's 1748 work, there is a young oak, left of centre and water at the bottom of the view.
Today, the view is much flattened by centuries of ploughing and agriculture. The young oak of Gainsborough's time is now old, mature, somewhat broken and yet still thrives. What was a water course is now merely a line of reeds in a field.
What is truly wonderful is the fact that you can visit the Museum in Sudbury and then drive just a few miles out of town to Henny, stroll along public footpaths and experience for yourself this inspirational scenery.
Wooded Landscape with Herdsman Seated painted by Thomas Gainsborough in 1748, now hanging in Gainsborough's House Museum in Sudbury.
Opposite the gate into Henny Churchyard is a public footpath that leads down past Thornycroft farm, across a couple of styles and on to a point where the footpath splits. Straight ahead would take you toward Middleton. However, by turning left onto the other path and walking along the footpath that runs along the field boundary, you see Gainsborough's view to your left. As you walk, the relationship of the church and farmhouse change until the house is seen below the church. At this point you know you are at Gainsborough's vantage point and the oak sits in the same relationship to the buildings as it did when Gainsborough was there 264 years ago. What greater way can there be to bring this piece of our cultural history to life.
But this view is under threat. And I do not need to use Photoshop to show you why. It is possible to gauge that threat by simply strolling up the hill behind this viewpoint.
National Grid have identified a preferred route corridor for another line of huge pylons, and that route extends either side of the existing pylons. This means that the proposed new pylons could be on higher ground, nearer the church. Where are the pylons now? Well you can see one on the horizon in the Gainsborough's View photograph, 1/4 of the way in from the left, but they are there, hidden by trees and the church. But walk up the hill and you see just what is there: a run of pylons right across the view and also disappearing into the distance, as you can see from the "view to a threat" photograph. A second line of pylons could loom larger and totally dominate Gainsborough's view from his original vantage point.
To defend our countryside from the threat of pylons we have in part to show its true value. This is no easy task. After all, we never actually had to pay for it. And yet this natural beauty belongs to us all and is of immense importance, including to our inner sense of wellbeing and indeed, our economy. Such heritage assets can deliver economic and employment benefits and we already build local economic activity on cultural assets such as this. Stroll into the Henny Swan pub restaurant and an entire wall is covered by a mural reproduction of Wooded Landscape with Herdsman Seated. Thus it is that our landscape, cultural heritage and economy are all linked by this view.
National Grid's environmental consultants, TEP, are currently conducting surveys of the wildlife, cultural heritage and landscape views all along their consultation area. We all owe Barry Wall an enormous debt of gratitude for bringing this unknown natural masterpiece to our attention. Without his invaluable work this wonderful asset might never have been added into National Grid's surveys and, as a result, could have been earmarked for more pylon blighting. Barry brought his discovery to Stour Valley Underground and we have set it before the nation by having it hilighted in the national, regional and local press. National Grid must surely know: this view is not the place for more of their paraphernalia.
I heartily recommend that you walk the footpath and take in this view for yourself. Just as you turn the corner to walk along the field boundary, you will pass a stone seat that is dedicated to a local lady's memory. It is further inscribed with the words "her little piece of heaven". Walk there and it will be yours also.
Chair of Stour Valley Underground
New Stour Valley Environment Fund
Higham and River Stour aerial photo.
Finding new ways of encouraging local giving to benefit environmental projects in the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Stour Valley is quite a challenge, and is one we feel we can face with the support of local organisations such as the Colne-Stour Countryside Association.
The Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project has recently established the Stour Valley Environment Fund (SVEF). The Fund is both donation seeking and grant giving, supporting charities and voluntary groups who work to enhance the environment in the Stour Valley, with money raised from donations and legacies. The Fund will be managed by the Essex Community Foundation (Reg. Charity No. 1052061).
We don't need to tell members of the Colne-Stour Countryside Association what makes the Stour Valley so special! We all know that the Stour Valley is cherished for its relatively undeveloped, tranquil landscape and stunning natural and cultural history, by you and by everyone that lives in, works in and visits it. Recognised as special by England's greatest landscape painter, John Constable, this landscape is a 'living picture' captured for future generations.
The aim of the Stour Valley Environment Fund is to provide a channel through which individuals, families, companies or charitable trusts can support the Stour Valley landscape. By pooling donations into one charitable Fund we can have a much more powerful impact to support environmental activities in the Stour Valley. The fund will hopefully grow over the years with donations, legacies and investment, and is a long-term sustainable approach to the management of the Vale.
The Fund will support voluntary and community organisations working to benefit community life and the environment in the Stour Valley area, on both the Essex and Suffolk sides of the river Stour. The SVEF will initially award grants of up to £2,500 twice a year, and expects to announce the first awards in April 2012. The next deadline for applications is 9 September 2012.
What projects could be funded? The Fund will support voluntary and community organisations working to enhance community life and the environment in the Stour Valley area. This could include access and awareness projects aimed at local residents or visitors, practical work to enhance the upper Stour, or conservation projects in a school, or on a piece of common land.
PLEASE HELP THIS "LOCAL GIVING TO LOCAL CAUSES" INITIATIVE!
To apply for a grant please visit www.essex communityfoundation.org.uk or contact Essex Community Foundation on 01245 355947.
To make a donation, at any time, send a cheque payable to 'Essex Community Foundation' to 121 New London Road, Chelmsford, Essex CM2 0QT stating that your donation is to support the Stour Valley Environment Fund. Don't forget that Gift Aid can enhance your donation. Please contact the ECF to discuss tax-efficient giving and setting up a legacy.
Other News from Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project
There is a new project along the length of the River Stour, aimed at identifying and locating where non-native invasive plant species are to be found. These species could be Himalayan balsam, Giant hogweed, Japanese knotweed and floating pennywort, amongst others. Working with the riverfront landowners and the Environment Agency surveying and clearance will also be undertaken, supported by the Stour Valley Volunteers. If you spot any non-native invasive plant species, please contact the central recorder from where we will receive local reports, Dr Jonathan Newman, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology at email@example.com or 01491 692556. Information required is the exact location, with a map grid reference if possible and the extent of the infestation.
For more information contact Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project 01473 264263 or visit www.dedham valestourvalley.org Cathy Smith is the Funding Officer of the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project. Cathy is part of the small team undertaking a range of activities to support the AONB vision, and also works for Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB.
The Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project aims to conserve and enhance the special qualities of the Stour Valley from the source to the estuary. Part of the area was designated as an AONB in 1970, with the extended project area being added in 1992. As a protected landscape the whole area is championed by the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project, who work together with a Partnership of local and community groups who care about the special landscape, environmental and cultural quality, and the future of its communities.
Once again there has been little change in the Association's overall financial position and the accounts show a small surplus for the year, with additional income from garden visits and advertising balancing out extra costs.
It is the aim of the Executive Committee not to use capital for normal running expenses and, with this in mind, we have looked at the membership fees which have remained unchanged for at least ten years. It was therefore decided at the October meeting to increase the annual subscription for Single members to £10 and for Joint members to £15. The rates for Life members were left unchanged.
As we have no wish to lose any of our present members, the increase will only apply to new people joining the Association, however it would obviously help our financial position if existing Annual members were also to increase their payments to reflect the change. Please consider this and, where appropriate, complete and return to me the Standing Order authority enclosed with the magazine.
At the year end all of the Association's funds were held by Nat West PLC following the decision by AMC Bank to close the account we have held with them for many years.
There was a small increase in membership during 2011 and the total now stands at 664. We also gained one new parish council.
On 27th April last year we visited Highgrove, the country home of HRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. A full coach left Bures and we reached Tetbury in time for lunch which was taken in several eateries. We arrived at Highgrove at the appointed time and having debussed we split into two groups. After watching a video of the development of the garden the first group set off with a very knowledgeable and amusing guide called Christy. The second group followed with Doreen as guide.
It is impossible not to be impressed by what has been created, although there are parts that may not be to everyone's taste. Personally I found the whole garden invigorating, particularly the wild flowers including ox- eye daisies, yellow rattle, common spotted orchid, meadow crane's bill and ragged robin, creating a rich tapestry of colour and diversity. One of the most abundant plants in the meadows were Camassias, also known as Quamash or Wild Hyacinth. These are deep blue/purple. After the tour we all settled down to tea in a room that doubles up as a concert hall. It was a long day but well worth it, judging by the comments emailed to me afterwards.
2012 Garden Visit Saturday 9th June
I am grateful to Tony Frost for suggesting that I contact Thenford House, the home of Lord and Lady Heseltine, to see if they would have us. The garden and arboretum are only open on four afternoons a year and only groups are accepted. We were accepted and have been given a date of Saturday 9th June.
This is what Tony Frost wrote about Thenford. About 70 acres of parkland, lakes, the famous arboretum, and gardens, all maintained to the highest standard by ten full time gardeners! Fabulous herbaceous borders within and without walled garden, formal walled garden, spectacular rill, statue garden in which many 20th century artists' work and a monolithic bust of Lenin (who but MH would have the initiative and resource to snap up a bargain behind the Iron Curtain as the wall fell?) appear, a Quinlan Terry summer house, acres of shrubberies and much, much more. Not to be missed!
The house is near Banbury, which means a coach journey of about three hours. I have reserved a 53 seat coach from Kings whom we have used for the last two years. The coach has a loo on board and also a coffee machine. The cost of the coach is £25 per person. Entry to Thenford House is a further £12. The money is always given to a Charity.
I have not finalised timings but I would think we will need to leave Bures at about 10.00/11.00 and leave Thenford to return at about 17.00 getting back to Bures at about 20.00. I think it might be wise to bring sandwiches with you as I am not sure that we will be able to find somewhere suitable to eat.
Those of you with Internet access were contacted just prior to Christmas and so far the coach is over three quarters full. If you are hearing about this for the first time, I suggest you telephone me if you want to go. (01787 227088) I will then be able to tell you if there are any spaces available. Once the coach is full I will keep a waiting list. I will need immediate payment to confirm your place. There will be NO REFUNDS if you drop out, for whatever the reason.
One Member was rather peeved that I had not telephoned all Members without Internet/email. Whilst the majority of Members are now on the Internet, this would have involved about 150 telephone calls and I am afraid this is something I do not have time to do! No one is too old to learn how to use the Internet, and it is invaluable for researching holidays, flights and for some shopping to name but a few uses. You can order your weekly shop from Tesco, Sainsbury's or Waitrose! They deliver.
Garden Visit 2013
David Morse suggested that we go to Hidcote Manor at Chipping Campden this year, but I had already had the acceptance of our group by Thenford House. However it is my present intention to make Hidcote Manor where we will go next year, if enough Members want to go, as it is quite a long way (168 miles) and we might need two drivers to avoid having to have a long break in the middle of the journey. This will of course increase cost. Members of The National Trust can look up the venue in the Handbook. I will send out an email to judge interest, later in the year.
I have run the CSCA website since it started in 2005 and ideally I would like to find someone to understudy me. Is there anyone out there who is suitably computer literate to volunteer? Initially, I would gradually introduce them to the system, with a view to handing over in a few years time.
When Simon Ward was Chairman, he asked me to supervise the printing of the Magazine in 2006. The role then evolved to my becoming Editor in 2008. Whilst I am happy to continue, it would be a good idea if someone were to understudy me, as it does involve a lot of work, particularly finding advertisers, which are vital if we are going to continue to produce a Magazine of quality. Do you fit the bill? Would you like to be Deputy Editor? Let me know.
Every year I have to write letters to about half a dozen people who have changed their e-mail address without telling me. Everyone, with e-mail, will know how frustrating it can be when a friend changes their e-mail address and fails to let you know. Imagine what it is like when I have e-mail addresses for over 300 CSCA Members! Please remember to let me know if you change your e-mail address! If you do not receive emails from me, then I do not have your email address! Please send it to me firstname.lastname@example.org Reply Form AGM and Summer Party
Those of you with Internet access can reply to the AGM invitation and the Summer Party invitation by going to the following link www.colnestour.org/eventssignup.aspx or you can go to the website and there is a new heading in the drop down menu on the Home Page "Events Signup" You will save me time, and you the cost of the stamp! You may ask "How will it save time?" The computer will send me your replies and produce an Excel spread-sheet listing responses. The Company, who host our website Web Management-UK, have a program that we are now logged into. What could be easier? With over 50% of the Membership using the Internet, next year we will no longer send out reply envelopes, but rely on Members to write out their own. After all, well over 50% are going to be wasted this year, if those of you with Internet access, use the above link.
Last year I stressed the importance of Members making use of advertisers wherever possible. Without advertisers we could not produce what I hope is an interesting Magazine. If you are involved with a company that might be willing to advertise please do get in touch with me.
Carter Jonas have been entrusted with selling our house!
Charles Stanley are my stockbrokers and continue to produce good results in what are challenging times.
A & G have once again come to the rescue when my garden machinery has gone wrong. They service my mowers. They will offer Members a special discount. Savills are well known both nationally and locally.
Adnams are very well known in East Anglia for their beer. However they are also excellent wine merchants, and are used by me. There is a branch in Hadleigh, 73/75 High Street, operating under the name Cellar & Kitchen.
Seago & Stopps continue as my accountants. They are also able to offer payroll services, something that may be of interest to small businesses, as well as farmers, where this work is a time consuming matter.
Ellisons, who are advertising for the first time, are a well- known firm of Solicitors in Colchester.
Claas produce those enormous green machines which plough, combine and bale for our farmers. They had pride of place on the front cover of last year's Magazine.
Greene King are one of the largest brewers in the UK and you cannot go far without seeing a sign for one of their pubs!
Nethergate Wines is the wine merchant used by the CSCA for providing wines for the AGM and the Summer Party.
NFU are my insurers and continue to provide an excellent service. We unfortunately had one claim last year which was dealt with expeditiously and without a query. Premiums are competitive.
I would like to thank all contributors, both writers and advertisers without whom, this Magazine would be nothing.
The Colne Stour Countryside Association. Minutes of the 46th Annual General Meeting held at Ferriers Barn, Bures on Thursday 12th May 2011
The President, Jeremy Hill, welcomed the guest speaker, noted environmentalist and Pro-Vice Chancellor of Essex University Jules Pretty, who is an expert in fields of great interest to the Association including sustainability and global warming. He gave an extremely interesting talk entitled 'This Luminous Coast' based on his recent journey along the entire coast of East Anglia.
Afterwards the President thanked Jules Pretty for his really fascinating talk which brought to light many interesting and little-known facts about our coastline.
The President, Jeremy Hill, took the chair.
1. To approve the Minutes of the 2010 Annual General Meeting
Approval of the Minutes of the 2010 Annual General Meeting was agreed by the meeting after being proposed by Simon Ward and seconded by Jeremy Hill. The Minutes were then signed by the Chairman, Charles Aldous.
2. Matters arising from the Minutes
There were no matters arising from the Minutes.
3. To receive the Chairman's report
The Chairman's written report appeared on pages 3 and 4 of the Newsletter, but he added a few points to give a more up to date picture on three subjects.
Firstly, the Association is taking all possible steps to oppose the erection of more pylons in our area. National Grid had encountered opposition from various sources, and their final decision had had to be delayed. An independent report into costs of undergrounding had been undertaken, and National Grid were also undertaking further public consultation on their policy. The Association was continually coordinating their efforts, although he was not able to hold out much hope for the eventual outcome.
Secondly, with regard to Buntings’ application, he reported that a meeting of interested parties was to be held at Colchester Town Hall, which he would be attending to represent the interests of both the Association and Dedham Vale. As each speaker would only be allowed three minutes, a meeting was being arranged beforehand in order to review all the submissions and ensure the best use was made of them.
Finally, on the extension of the existing Area of Outstanding of Natural Beauty, he asked the members present at the meeting to make a resolution to be forwarded to Braintree District Council in the hopes that it would be included in their core strategy plans, which were due for finalisation shortly. Jeremy Hill duly proposed the resolution that the Association endorse the Committee’s proposal that the current AONB be extended as far as Sudbury, and the motion was passed unanimously.
The adoption of the report was then duly approved by the meeting.
4. To approve the Annual Accounts
The Treasurer, Michael Goodbody, presented the accounts for the year ended 31 December 2010, which are to be seen on the final page of the 2011 Newsletter. Approval of the annual accounts was proposed by James Macmillan and seconded by Simon Ward, and they were duly approved.
5. To re-appoint the Independent Examiner
The President, Jeremy Hill, announced that Charles Dinwiddy had kindly agreed to act as Independent Examiner for the year. His appointment was duly agreed having been proposed by Noel Owen and seconded by Mark Dawson.
6. To elect the Officers and the Committee of the Association
The Officers and Committee of the Association had all agreed to stand for another year, and their re-election en- bloc was proposed by Angela Fossick and seconded by Jill Kerr-Smiley.
7. Any other business
No other points of discussion were raised. The meeting closed at 9.35pm.
Charles Aldous QC.,
Ravensfield Farm, Bures Hamlet, CO8 5DP.
Tel: 01787 227881
The Old Rectory, Wickham St. Paul's, Halstead, Essex CO9 2PJ.
Tel: 01787 269250
Christopher Robinson (Vice Chairman), David Daniels, Mark Dawson, Henrietta Drake, Gill Eadie, Robert Erith, Jeremy Hill, Georgina Hunter Gordon, Anthony Keniry, Simon Ward, Petra Ward.