THE HADLEIGH TOWN ARCHIVES
Cyril Cook recalls the background and looks to the future.
At one of the sessions of a local history course held in 1955 at the old Hadleigh Secondary School in Station Road a student mentioned the existence of some old documents kept in-the Town Hall. Permission was sought and granted to look at them and some of the more important records were selected and studied. The conditions under which they were being stored at the Town Hall were unsatisfactory to say the least and I could not but feel very concerned. There were several books and documents of considerable historical value and the condition of' some, of both parchment and paper records had sadly deteriorated over the centuries, the oldest document being a bond of 1389. It seemed obvious that these records could not continue to be stored in the Town Hall without suffering further damage. The assistance of some of the Hadleigh Urban District councillors was sought and Mr. Peter Boulton, in particular, proved to be very sympathetic and helpful.
The council set up a Muniments Committee to which Mr. W.A.B. Jones and I were co-opted. From- the very outset the Hadleigh Urban District Council agreed to assume the responsibility for the future care of all these old Hadleigh records. Mr. Jones and I took all these documents into the offices of the council in Toppesfield Hall where we were allocated some rooms on the top floor. Here we proceeded to examine and catalogue all the hundreds of different records. The council also agreed to meet the cost of repairing some of the documents that were in very poor condition.
In due course the council provided a specially constructed very-fine fireproof strong room of ample proportions with-ceiling and: walls of concrete 18" thick. Adequate shelving was installed and all the boxes of records could now be stored under very satisfactory conditions. When Mr. Harold Grimwade died his daughters asked both Mr. Jones and myself to look through all his papers and select those which were of interest and importance to the town. Mr. Grimwade, a well known local solicitor, had been, in his time, clerk to many of the Hadleigh charities and we discovered several very interesting records. The most exciting of these were the original "Orders, Constitutions, Decrees, laws and ordinances" of 1619, when the town received its charter of incorporation as a borough. Subsequently many other documents and artefacts have been presented to us.
Unfortunately the reform of local government in 1974 brought about the demise of the Urban District Council. The new Babergh District Council became the occupier of Toppesfield Hall. All was not lost however at that time since the newly formed Hadleigh Town Council was given accommodation in Toppesfield Hall and Mr.Jones and I were able to continue undisturbed with our work as honorary joint archivists. These pleasant circumstances were doomed not to last. Within a few years Babergh District Council sold Toppesfield Hall, having moved into the new offices in Corks Lane.
The Town Council was provided with accommodation in a house in Bridge Street, formerly the home of the manager of the Hadleigh Gas Works. A small room, once the scullery, became the new home for the archives, now stored in four large and expensive safes acquired for us by Babergh District Council. These safes are of very good quality and well suited for the storage of our records. The County Archivist was most impressed by them when she came to view our archives.
The Bridge Street accommodation was never really satisfactory for the needs of the Town Council and when eventually the Council was able to become the trustees of the Hadleigh Market Feofment the way became clear for it to move into the Guildhall. This move has improved the accommodation for the Town Council's activities but has unfortunately created 'a difficulty for work with the archives. However, this was only ever likely to be a temporary setback and the time is very soon approaching when conditions will be very much better. There will be a far greater area for working with the archives and students will be able to enjoy much better facilities.
Over the years we have been able to secure the repair of some of our 16th century documents and to have others put on microfilm. Sadly these things are expensive but the Town Council has been as generous as one could reasonably expect it to be in these difficult times. Fresh material continues to arrive for eventual inclusion in the archives. Because of this fact the Town Council has agreed to purchase another safe. Very soon now the reconstruction of the ground floor of the east wing of the Guildhall will be complete and the archives. will be housed in accommodation even better than at Toppesfield Hall. My concern for the welfare of the town's valuable historic records is no less great now than in 1955. These records undoubtedly suffered from poor storage facilities over the centuries but there has been no deterioration in their condition during these last four decades. If I ever were given cause to have any doubts about this I should certainly make it immediately well known.
Today then we have the Town Council working from the Guildhall were the government of the town in one way or another started in 1438 and continued with only a break during the last hundred years. The town records are back where they started now after some undue restlessness since 1955- I trust the future of both the Guildhall and its archives are now as secure as mortal man can make them.
JOHN OF HADLEIGH
It appears that the last minted personal name in the town was John in circa 1200.
John Bloomfield, who reported this interesting item, swears he had nothing to do with it. But can you help ? Who was this John of Hadleigh ?
The Babergh Local Plan Alteration No. 1
A preliminary meeting called by the Inspector has been attended by
representatives of the Society.
There are three things to consider in preparing a submission.
There are to be no further preliminary meetings with the Inspector.
SNIPPETS FROM 'URBAN FOCUS'
- The Magazine of the Civic Trust 17 Canton House Terrace, London SWIY 5KW Tel. 071-930 0914
English Heritage - Stepping back or walking away'.
The Civic Trust has long argued that English Heritage is under-resourced for the job it is expected to do and are dismayed to learn, following the Autumn Statement that its annual budget is to be cut by around £2 million in the next financial year.
Earlier in 1992 English Heritage published a report 'Buildings at Risk' which showed that there are some 36,700 or about 7% of the total listed buildings stock at risk from neglect. About twice that number are believed to be vulnerable and in need of repair if they are not to fall into the risk category. That means that more than 100,000 listed buildings are in need of urgent attention. Since Grade LI listed buildings comprise about 96% of those listed, around 969000 of these buildings will be Grade II
Local Plan Flexibility
A Development Plan led system for local planning decisions should result in fewer successful appeals against local authority planning decisions said Housing Minister Sir George Young at Oxford Planning Law Conference this Autumn. But he stressed that for the plan-led system to be successful, local authorities would have to adopt local plans which were flexible enough to cope with market changes.
Vacant Urban Land
There is a total of 60,000 hectares of vacant land in Urban England, according to a research report published recently by the Department of the Environment. However, not all this land is available for development. The DoE is now re-commending that local authorities carry out their own surveys of sites in their areas to assess their potential for development.
CONSERVATION ON ON THE VERGE
Roadside verges could become one long nature reserve, but need better care in order to become a real asset. So say the Council for the Protection of Rural England, who have recently published 'Conservation on the Verge', a leaflet written by landscape architect and conservationist Chris Baines.
Mr Baines attacks the way verges have been eaten away by new road widening schemes and soil has been poisoned by salt spray from winter applications. He recommends a. number of measures to encourage conservation by the roadside. These include ensuring that grass cuttings are removed, stopping the ploughing up of verges and not using chemicals or other pollutants.
THE LIVING CHURCHYARDS
Churchyards and burial grounds can also p1a7 an important role in preserving our rural heritage and wildlife.
There are an estimated 20,000 sites, most created out of meadow land at the time that the church itself was built.
Changes in farming and increasing development mean that some churchyards are now the last remnant of 'original' countryside in their area and, as such, provide sanctuary for a whole range of wild animals and plants.
With appropriate management the wildlife value of many ,churchyards alone can actually be improved.
A number of local Wildlife Trusts are actively involved in identifying species-from butterflies to orchids- present in churchyards and supporting practical. conservation management schemes to protect and enhance them.
Further details may be obtained from the Development Officer, Church and Conservation Project, The Arthur Rank Centre, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire CV8 2LZ.
Tuesday January 26 from 8 p.m. Hadleigh Town Hall
Monday February 22 from 7 p.m. East House, George St.
Editor: Jim Betteridge