The Hadleigh SocietyMar 1984
Newsletter Index Up Mar 1984 Apr 1984



So many things seem to be happening in Hadleigh which concern the Society that it is almost too difficult to say stop, enough, we must get out a Newsletter. If we wait any longer, events will create more delay. As those of us who attended the last Society meeting will know we are seeking ideas to put to Babergh District Council for civic improvements for the 84/85 financial year, and most of our suggestions were taken heed of and plans were shown. This is very heartening. For 84/85 we might look forward to some improvements to take away some of the wirescape in the conservation area and we may see something start to alleviate the lorry parking problem in the Town. Nevertheless the more ideas we can feed in to the system the better, so please let the Secretary know your ideas, even if you think they sound silly, because they may contain the germ of a very good idea.


Hadleigh featured in About Anglia when the Dean and the Deputy County Archaeologist discussed the possibility of a ‘dig’ in the churchyard. There are records of substantial foundations in the South West corner, near the Old Fire Station. Formerly these were a considerable hindrance to gravediggers. The County Archaeological Unit is very keen to dig one or two trial trenches to see whether there are any remains deserving proper excavation, and work is likely to start in the early summer when the Diocese has given consent. Of course, there is no certainty that whatever is there dates from Guthrum’s reign, but Hadleigh was one of his administrative capitals, he had become a christian, and he died here, so the location and the plan of his church might be found, even his tomb perhaps.


The big open fires on which cooking was done in medieval times were almost always positioned, in the case of larger houses and public buildings, away from the main structure, in a special building. If it caught fire, which was quite often, no great harm was done. Our own Guildhall has such a building, in the yard behind the Guildhall, near the Fire Station. It is one of only three left in the country and was still in use in the 1700’s. Babergh District Council has progressed well with the preliminary clearing operation so that it may be opened up to visitors, and the Society has had the offer of an oak tree from the County Council’s Conservation officer, so that a completely rotten but important beam can be replicated in the original form. It is hoped to persuade Anglia Television to record this operation. Unfortunately, since the work has commenced one further part of the kitchen has collapsed, which shows the urgency of this rescue work.


As Mr Bruce Sutherland travelled his vetinary practice over the years, he rescued from farm scrap heaps and begged from his clients pieces of obsolete equipment and hand tools, and has now offered them to the Hadleigh Society for renovation and display. The Chairman has accepted these most gratefully on behalf of the Society, and with the help of a number of ‘volunteers’ work will be starting soon to refurbish the collection. The problem remained of where they could be worked on, and how they could be stored in the meantime. Help was to hand, nevertheless.

Mrs E Stevenson, of Church Walk, has offered the use of her stable as a temporary store and workshop, Mr Leslie Garrod of Higham St Mary has given a quantity of timber for the storage racks and a work bench, and others are being approached to assist with wire brush, preservative and elbow grease. If you would like to help for a few hours a week, please contact the Revd. Canon John Griffin.

Where the Collection can be permanently displayed remains to be determined, but a proposal has been put to the Feoffees and the Hadleigh Fur and Feather Club that the old armoury which is underneath the Assembly Room, might be a suitable repository. Most members will appreciate that there is a great deal of material in the town which needs to ~ preserved, and an increasing amount is being offered for display, almost weekly.


Regretfully, the Society’s proposals for the Broom Hill Nature Reserve have been much misunderstood, partly because deliberately they were not developed in detail, and possibly because they emerged as a news item at about the time that the River Walk was being trimmed and tidied. Since then the Chairman’s letter to the East Anglian Daily Times of the 28th January has affirmed that discussion and thorough planning by all interested nature organisations is an essential before any work is physically undertaken on site. As a result of the interest aroused, a report made to the old Hadleigh Urban District Council by Mr Edgar Miln-Redhead, formerly of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Wisley and a Conservation Officer for the Suffolk Trust for Nature Conservation, reveals that he made recommendations which exactly paralled the Society’s thoughts and these were accepted: The sole difference was that the Society’s proposals included additional trees of as wide a variety as possible of the species natural to England.

Babergh District Council has been asked to produce a discussion paper on the lines of its draft, and to invite representatives of the conservation and naturalist societies at which an outline plan might be agreed and a tentative timetable drafted.

Mrs Audrey Mason has began listing plants, trees and shrubs in the Broom Hill reserve, but the assistance of other botanists will speed the work and ease her task. Names please, either to Mrs Mason, 122 Benton Street, or to Revd. Canon Griffin, 3 Church Street, who will co-ordinate volunteers.


During the winter several members of the Society have been attending Mr Peter Northeast’s lectures on East Anglian history, and five have taken an additional course on public speaking. The object of the exercise was to provide visitors to the Town with knowledgeable guides, able to answer the kind of questions that tourists ask. The East Anglian Tourist Board learned what was afoot, and mentioned the Society in their bulletin as a possible source of information for visitors, so now it is up to us to make the necessary arrangements.

To begin with, however, we urgently need information about the history of individual houses in the town; that is an account of how the house or shop grew to its present size and plan, any details of who lived there, what they did and. such like. We already know about just a few of the larger ones, but in most instances only the owner has the knowledge. Please tell any of the following if you can help; one will then visit you and make notes.

Mrs Rennison, 57 Ann Beaumont Way, Hadleigh 825874

Mrs Haylock, The Idler Bookshop, Hadleigh 827752

Revd Canon Griffin, 3 Church Street. Hadleigh 823100

There is no wish to bring visitors into homes, but a tour of the town would be so much more interesting if for example, the guide is able to say,

"This house looks as if it was built in the 1700s, but underneath is a house which has been standing on that site for at least the previous three hundred years, and in the late 1940s it used to be the offices of a scribe and notary who used to write letters for those who could not read or write. The children always used to remember him because he had an ash tray in the shape of a skull and the smoke used to come out of the eye sockets:" True you wonder? Absolutely: Today, it is Robin Ford’s antique shop. And next door is where the Suffolk Preservation Society was started by a concerned lady who deplored the loss of our heritage.


The next meeting of the Hadleigh Society should prove to be very interesting since we have been able to persuade the Director of the Museum of East Anglian Life to come to Hadleigh to give a talk on the museum. Rob Shorland-Ball is a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable lecturer so please do come and give him your support.

Venue St Mary’s School

Date Thursday 22 March
Time 8 pm
Charges Free to members, 50p to non-members

J N Bloomfield

Hon. Secretary