Drinking Man’s Heaven
Even 30 years ago Hadleigh seemed to be well provided with pubs and 300 years ago it had twice as many again. And that’s with the same population, but without television. Nowadays we’re only going out enough to keep 6 in business. On 23rd May Sue Andrews took us on an imaginary tour of the houses in which we could have had a pint in the evening. Many of them still exist, some still have traces of their previous use, but several are just sites that have been redeveloped.
The oldest record, of 1474, is of the Angel, from which the street is named. It got amalgamated with the Kings Head next door.
Some names have lived on, some have changed. Confusingly you could have found 2 Falcons (the one in Benton Street went about 15 years ago, the other was in the High Street in 1701 but is no more) and two White Horses (the one in Stone Street closed quite recently).
In the mediaeval times there was a clear distinction between Inns, Taverns and Ale Houses. Taverns sold wine, not beer, and disappeared in the 1800s.
The most central inn in Hadleigh, the George, was first recorded 1537 and in the 19th century had coaches Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday to Colchester Station.
Some other earliest records include White Hart 1826, White Lion 1619, Wheatsheaf 1830, Eight Bells 1748 (was then the Cockerel).
If you want more, encourage Sue Andrews to write it all up.
There were two awards made this year, presented by Jan Byrne. Clare Vint, Conservation and Design Officer at Babergh District Council, received the award for progressing a practical pavement scheme on the northwest side of the High Street, which emphasised the group value of listed buildings within the Hadleigh Conservation Area.
The Ipswich and Norwich Co-Operative Society was nominated for the sensitive design of its supermarket extension and pedestrian link, whilst retaining the character of the High Street frontage. Mrs Jean Lockie, President of the Ipswich & Norwich Co-op Society and Mr Paul Seggar of their Works Department, received the award.
Behind the Vestry Door - Wednesday 17th August in the church
St Mary's Church Vestry has, for some centuries, been the repository of day to day matters and objects concerning the church as a structure and an institution. Though relatively inconsequential at the time, they now have a fascinating historical importance, illustrating some of the physical changes brought about by the personalities involved as well as a small insight into the individuals themselves. John Bloomfield has compiled some of this information to show what previous generations did to the church to match the requirements of the day and in doing so has unearthed some surprises.
The Grand Hall, or as some of us still call it, the New Town Hall, has reopened after its six month closure for repairs to the ceiling.
The hall was built in 1851, designed by William Ribbans of Ipswich. Ribbans was the architect for the Borough Workhouse, St Clements Hospital and a large number of private houses in Ipswich.
When built the hall had only two windows in its south wall and the centre of the ceiling was a large lantern light similar to that in the Corn Exchange. The ground floor was built as a police station but never used for that purpose.
At sometime around 1925 problems had developed with the lantern light and it was removed while at the same time the large central window was inserted to allow for the lost light.
Apart from a fire in the 1940’s, when the hall had been requisitioned by the Army, we have little information about the building. However in the 1990’s problems developed with the plaster in the ceiling breaking away, two sections had temporary repairs and recent surveys identified that there were more problems. The Hadleigh Market Feoffment had a full survey undertaken and the problem could no longer be ignored. The cost of the work was estimated at about £100,000 and the Deputy Town Clerk spent many hours trying to raise grants towards the repairs. Unfortunately as Babergh District Council was not prepared to give a grant towards the repairs many other charities used that as their reason to decline support. Eventually £40,000 was given by the Heritage Lottery Fund, £5,000 by the Clothworkers Foundation, together with monies from Councillor Grutchfield’s Locality Fund and the Hadleigh Charity Shop. The rest of the money was provided by Hadleigh Town Council.
The work was undertaken by Hirst Conservation, the project manager being Edward Morton of Morton Partnership, both organisations being specialists in restoration work.
It is quite difficult to raise enthusiasm about repairs to a ceiling; most of the time we don’t even notice the ceiling except to be thankful that it’s there. However, talking to the Hirst Conservation Team they were amazingly enthusiastic about how they thought the room originally looked with its grand chandeliers in the hall and up the main staircase.
Part of the work involved taking paint samples to identify the colours used on the ceiling. They appear to have started as a warm ochre colour through greens, browns and pinks to the white used more recently. Surprisingly the cornices were very heavily decorated with swirling patterns.
Some parts of the ceiling had to be replaced but wherever possible the old plaster was retained and tied into the laths with metal supports. The opportunity was taken to insulate the ceiling whilst the scaffolding was in position and to put walk boards in the loft space to allow safe access for the caretaker and any future building works.
The work was completed ahead of schedule and under budget, finishing at around £90,000.
The hall is now back in use and for future reference we have in the archives a good photographic record of the work that was undertaken.
Chris Drake presented this year’s financial statement. The purchase of 100 tea-towels for resale within the town has produced a profit of £60, so another 100 have just been bought. However, this year’s accounts showed an overall deficit of £183, so members were asked to comment on the Committee’s proposal to increase subscription fees. Support was unanimous and the general feeling was that an increase of £2 per head was acceptable. Thanks were given to Paul Garrod at Walter Wright for checking the statement of accounts.
HISTORY GROUP REPORT
The Group has continued to research Hadleigh life in the 1830s and is currently searching through local newspapers of the time for any relevant articles or advertisements. Two presentations of ‘Highway Robbery in Hadleigh’ (in St Mary’s Church, Hadleigh and East Bergholt Church) had been very well received, and the Group has been booked for the Lavenham Society in December 2005.
The Society identified a medieval wall at risk when an application was submitted for a proposed new housing site on the corner of Aldham Road/ Lady Lane. Babergh District Council’s Conservation & Design Officer immediately placed a ‘Building Preservation Order’ on the wall, which is now listed. The Society also worked closely with the developer of the site and contributed input into the design of the proposed development.
REPRESENTATION ON OTHER BODIES
John Bloomfield reported as Chair of the East of England Association of Civic Trust Societies (EEACTS). The Association has become a member of several important regional bodies, and tries to promote realistic and practical policies. John will be stepping down as Chair in October 2005, but hopefully will remain on the committee.
Jan Byrne represents the Society on the Town Forum and the Entertainments Committee, which has organised many summer events. Its ‘Street Fairs’ are an excellent way for organisations to raise money as well as offering good entertainment for the town.
The Traffic Management and Environment Working Party has been disbanded by Suffolk County Council. This group had been very successful in achieving a number of projects for the town, and it is hoped that it might be re-instated in the future.
Jan Byrne opened her report by stating that the Society is slowly growing and the membership is just over 200. Our meetings attract an average of 65 people and we have continued to find excellent speakers, including our ‘in house’ team.
We were delighted to see Sue Andrew’s book (Hadleigh & the Alabaster Family) hit the market and that it is selling well. We look forward to Roger Kennell’s new book to be published later in the year.
The May Show was well supported and we were pleased to offer part of the display to Fred Breyer and Peter Lee who are collecting information about the Hadleigh servicemen who died in the Second World War. In July 2005 the Society is taking part in the Hadleigh Community Tent at the Tendring Hundred Show. In September 2004 we participated in the Civic Trust’s Heritage Open Days Weekend giving tours of the town, and will be doing so again this year.
Much time has been taken up by ‘Tesco’. This last year has been our first experience of tackling a District Plan Inquiry. This involved masses of written information and submissions produced by Joe Byrne, and oral evidence given by John Bloomfield and Jan Byrne for a period of about two hours. We await the outcome of the Inspector’s recommendations.
We understand that Tesco is expecting to have its amended planning application heard at Babergh District Council in the autumn, so we must remain vigilant. All members are urged to write again to oppose the application which will be treated as new by the planning officers and the councillors.
The Executive Committee has started work on identifying properties that are not listed but are significant in their own or their group right. Babergh District Council’s Conservation & Design Officer, Clare Vint, has sent the procedure for producing a ‘local list’.
Jan is standing down as Chair of the Society as she has completed her five-year term, as have Sue Angland (as Secretary) and Jim Betteridge, who is to continue as Newsletter Distributor. She was pleased to announce that nominations had been received for two new members of the committee.
Jan thanked all the committee for their hard work throughout the year and for their personal support to her. She concluded by asking all members to prepare to gather support in opposing any Tesco application in the year ahead, in order to keep our town a ‘Home Town’ and not a ‘Clone Town’.
John Bloomfield, on behalf of all members, thanked Jan Byrne, the outgoing chairman, for all her hard work, particularly over the last difficult year, which was roundly applauded.