The Hadleigh SocietyApril 2005
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An unusual visit

Many of you I am sure will have visited the Globe Theatre, the only thatched building allowed to be built in London since the Great Fire – if you look carefully you can see the sprinklers secreted among the thatched roof. Even if Shakespeare is not ‘your thing’ it is certainly worth doing so just to have a fascinating conducted tour of the theatre and the very interesting exhibition area.

But this year is extra special because November 2005 is the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot and the Globe is staging a major exhibition entitled Shakespeare and the Gunpowder Plot from April 2005 – January 2006. Shakespeare and The King’s Men performed Macbeth in 1606 to demonstrate their loyalty to the crown in response to the plot to kill James 1. However, how much of what we ‘know’ is true, how much was hidden and what part did the intelligence services play?

The Metropolitan Police and the National Archives are joining forces and looking beyond the obvious. Using 21st century detective methods and original manuscripts of the period, including some previously unknown, they are setting it up as a modern ‘incident room’ where visitors will be able to piece together the evidence and uncover the facts behind the fireworks.  If you are a fan of modern detective shows you should love this. Further details tel:020 7902 1500
(NB If you still want more there are complementary exhibitions as well at The Tower of London, The Royal Armouries and the Palace of Westminster)

Glenda Druce

The Battle of Maldon, and other things

Those who only come if the talk is about Hadleigh will have missed a treat from Dr Sam Newton.  On the other hand, those who came to find out about the Battle of Maldon had to wait until nearly the end.  He set the scene with a broad account of the Danish campaigns through the Eighth Century.

At that time, judging by the lack of remains, the country around the Brett Valley was not heavily settled and very much ‘border country’ (the old name means boundary river). From its principal role under the Romans Colchester had declined into a ghost town and the wildwoods had reclaimed what had been a rich agricultural area.

After success in Northumbria, East Anglia, Mercia and Wessex Alfred went into hiding but returned to defeat Guthrum. He played a masterstroke that broke the cycle of revenge by forgiving the Danes on condition that they converted to Christianity. The Danes settled widely and in NE Mercia this is clear from the prevalence of Danish place names but in East Anglia it was ‘business as usual’ with just a change of government and ordinary life carried on much as before.

Education and literature was given a great boost under Alfred.  The Anglo Saxon chronicles are a major historical source but were produced in ‘regional editions’.  All reported Guthrum’s death but only the East Anglian edition added the detail of his burial at Hadleigh. We don’t know if this was in consecrated ground (Hadleigh has had a special ecclesiastical role from an early date) or in a more traditional burial mound.  There are many such examples around the Stour and its tributaries. Although there has been nothing yet found around Hadleigh, Constitution Hill would have been a glorious site.

And finally to the Battle itself in 991, reported in fine Anglo Saxon in a battle poem whose text has survived despite a British Museum fire. Byrhtnoð bravely, maybe over-confidently engaged the Danes but died in the battle.  He bequeathed his land around Hadleigh (which included Aldham and Elmsett) to Christchurch, Canterbury.  For a fuller account see Dr Newton’s website at .

Next Event - Suffolk Witches

On Wednesday 6th April Pip Wright will relate how, from medieval days through to Victorian times, superstition has haunted Suffolk, and the persecution it led to.  

As usual, in the Old Town Hall at 8pm.

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Noel Turner Award

Nominations are invited from any member of the Hadleigh Society for an award to be made in recognition of 'Outstanding improvements to, or conservation of, Hadleigh's buildings or environment'

In deciding to make an award the Society's Executive Committee and any expert they may wish to consult, will be considering how sympathetic the work is with its surroundings and how well it integrates with them.  They will expect all work to display a high quality of workmanship and to be an example of good practice. 

Nominations should include details of the improvement made or of work carried out and should be sent to reach

the Hon. Secretary,
The Hadleigh Society
c/o 134 Benton Street, Hadleigh, Suffolk, IP7 5AZ,
by 1st June.