The Hadleigh SocietyAug 2004
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An Old Soldier of Hadleigh

We don’t know his name but he stands erect and dignified wearing a large rather ragged topcoat and a battered hat looking into the distance, both hands resting upon his stick, proud of being painted by a real artist. In the background are shadowy outlines of the church spire and the milestone obelisk.

He was painted between 1823 and 1826 by J. Dempsey, possibly John Dempsey, itinerant painter of jewellery miniatures and cutter of threepenny profile portraits. However he seems in this case to have travelled the country painting the British poor, perhaps on commission for a projected book? In Suffolk he chose four people, Wilkinson the Town Crier of Ipswich, Mary Leagrove, attendant at Ipswich gaol, Nanny Chapman of Bury St Edmunds and our Old Soldier.

There are 50 of these watercolours altogether each of them highly individual we understand including portraits of match-sellers, beggars, bill posters hawkers of a variety of goods, a gardener, a dreadlocked hermit, a lunatic and a maniac. Whether they were ever published we don’t know but the original portfolio survived travelling out to Tasmania where it was in 1956 given to The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

Their curator David Hansen is trying to find information about the people with a view to publishing in the future.

Nicola Mann kindly passed the request for information on to us and we hope to be able to help – we already know that there were at least two old soldiers here in 1842.

Interestingly he would have been living here at the time of John Mann’s trial and execution. All this just from a small query via the internet.

A print of the portrait was published in the January 2005 Newsletter.


Civic Trust Registration Fee

This year the Civic Trust is introducing a new scheme, which enables us to claim a discount on some of the registration fee payable by the Society.  For each member of the Hadleigh Society who joins the Civic Trust as a new Individual Member, £10 will be deducted from next year's registration fee.  If you join the Civic Trust you will receive a free subscription to its quarterly magazine ‘Civic Focus’, advance information about 'Heritage Open Days', discounts on Civic Trust publications and regular updates on its work.  Individual membership costs £20.  Membership leaflets are available from Sue Angland on 827298 or at any of our meetings.

Next Event

The Work Of The Commonwealth War Graves Commission by Major Peter Lee MBE RMP (Ret'd)

This is an illustrated history of the work of the War Graves Commission through the years up to the present day. Starting from what happened after the great battle of Waterloo in 1815, where there were some 16,000 casualties, Peter takes us onto the Crimea in 1853-55 when Florence Nightingale set-up her Nursing Service which led to the first Military Cemetery being established.  This was followed up by the various Regiments of the British Army making their own arrangements until World War I. During this conflict Fabian Ware set up his Grave Registration Unit. This led to the establishment of the Imperial War Graves Commission in 1917 to tend all our War Graves world-wide which became the present day Commonwealth War Graves Commission in 1962. If you ever wanted to trace a friend or relative's final resting place, now is your chance. In Peter Lee we have an expert.

Meeting as usual in the Old Town Hall at 8pm. Entry is free for members, £2 for others.

Hadleigh History Mysteries

Departing from the usual formula of a prepared talk, on 19th May questions to Sue Andrews came right from the start.  To be honest the poster gave her a clue to what might come first and she was well prepared to explain that the building popularly known as the ‘Monastery’ or ‘Nunnery’ had been the Gateway to Place Farm, whose origins could be traced back to  “Hadley’s in Hadleigh”.  Pigot tells us the farm was demolished in 1847.  The gateway was demolished in the 20th century, and the bricks went to Frinton.

According to a 19th century traveller, Hadleigh was ‘not a place for tourists’ since it had no made up history.

Unlike Hadleigh, Essex, we never had a real castle.  The house of that name was demolished in the early 1960’s but was only of the previous century.

The Gallows was not on the hill of that name (which was a corruption of Galleybreads - curleybeard) but probably at The Herst, near Hadleigh Heath. 

The Rector found skeletons on Dean (Dane) Field near Aldham Church suggesting there was once a battle there. 

The brick tunnels to be found in various places in the town were probably drains.  Water St Lavenham has good examples of such brick vaulted drains, built about 1500.  On the other hand the brick structures at the back of Hicks, and in the Deanery Garden are Ice Houses. 

A snippet of information for the present editor: The Flying Chariot (or Royal Oak as it was then known) was owned in 1695 by Thomas Scarlet, a Draper, and lived in by John Stevens. 

Toppesfield Bridge was positioned to lead to the market via Duke (or Duck) Street, which used to be an open sewer. 

Holbecks was previously Hobbarts and Hobbits.  

And finally, a piece of false history: an account of staying at the White Lion in 1790 was composed for a WI competition of 1922.

Maitland Mason

Following the request in the last newsletter for information regarding the paintings of Maitland Mason we received several useful responses.  We were able to trace some more of his paintings in Hadleigh and also discovered that some are to be found in Aldeburgh.  Many thanks to the members who responded to this enquiry.