The Hadleigh SocietyNov 2018
Newsletter Index Up Nov 2018 May 2018


Book Launch

Our chair, Margaret Woods, invites all Hadleigh Society members to the launch of her book Medieval Hadleigh: The Chief Manor and Town on Saturday 8th December 2018 in St Mary’s Church Hadleigh – held at the invitation of the Friends of St Marys.  All Hadleigh Society members will be most welcome.

Members may arrive around 5.40pm if they wish to enjoy a glass of wine or juice before the proceedings begin at 6.00pm.

After introductions Margaret will present a short talk to include the development of the book, information on the early church and its rectors with a brief reading from the text and an outline summary of book content.

It would be helpful if members could please let Margaret know if they hope to attend.  (Tel: 823798, e-mail or tell her at the Society meeting on Tuesday 4th December 2018) 

Next Meeting

Roger Kennell on
Hadleigh - Commerce, Trade and Industry -
8pm Tuesday 4th December

Not only is there the attraction of hearing Roger talk on a topic of local history but as it is our Christmas event please join us with a drink and mince pie.


Visit to Polstead Mill

 July 11

What a treat this was and many thanks to Hattie Bawden for organising this delightful field trip. In spite of Monty Donn having caused a major fracas in the gardening world when he playfully suggested that “visiting an Open Garden could be harmful for your horticultural confidence” our wander around Polstead Mill was a delightful experience and well worth the odd pang of Garden envy.

We were welcomed by Lucy Bartlett who explained the history of the Mill and the journey of discovery that had led to the development of this enchanting place. She is passionate about her garden, and undertakes much of the work herself, rising at dawn to snatch a few hours before heading off to run a business in Bury.

The gardens that cover over 11 acres had evolved over sixteen years, with meticulous planning and attention to detail. Borders and beds are beautifully colour schemed and topiary meticulously clipped, surrounding the lovely old house sitting serenely in their midst. As this was originally a working Mill, water is a constant element, with the River Box on one side and a discreetly natural swimming pool formed from the old Mill Race, on the other. Two bridges cross the stream, one grandly swathed in Wisteria, and the other cleverly constructed from old leylandii logs. These lead to the beating heart of the garden, the kitchen parterre. Surrounded by walls and overseen by a magnificent glass house, everything that is needed to feed the family is grown here in abundance; fruit, vegetables, every conceivable type of salad, and cutting flowers for the house as well.

As we gathered for tea and succulent cake made with the apricots ripening on the wall behind us, we felt truly grateful that through the generosity of members of The National Garden Scheme throughout the country, these hidden gems are open to the public and raise valuable funds for many worthy causes.

Sorry Monty, for once I don't agree with you!    Jane Crowe.

The History of Suffolk Farmsteads - Philip Aitkens

3 October

We’ve all heard of the North - South divide but have you heard of the Gipping divide? Philip explained how the River Gipping divides Suffolk into two areas as far as farming, associated buildings and landscape are concerned going back to the 13th century!  In a nutshell the different landscapes give different soil types leading to two types of agriculture - corn and dairy - and also different settlements structures.  He told us about the formation of ponds and moats and that in the 18th & 19th centuries barns were painted bright red!  Perhaps the most important message of the talk was that Suffolk has a very rich heritage of farmstead buildings (up to 500 years old) and they are of national and international importance so we must ensure they’re retained and the best way to do this is to find suitable ways to use them.

Philip’s immense knowledge about his subject was staggering and together with his relaxed style and humorous asides we thoroughly enjoyed his talk.

Mavis Winders

The Paston Letters -Mark Mitchells

7 August

The Pastons were humble Norfolk farmers in the 15 century who went from peasants to gentry in two generations but it also made them enemies!

William’s (1378) eldest son John made an advantageous match and this is the start of the Paston letters as John spent a lot of his time in London and his wife, Margaret, wrote frequently to keep him abreast of what was happening at home.  The letters were both valuable and amusing charting the ups and downs of the family; they told of war, plague, gave instructions to John of the arms which could be needed to defend their property in Norfolk and also ‘shopping’ for him to bring home - almonds, sugar and fashion items!  The letter writing continued until the early part of the 16 century and the Paston line died out in 1732.  The bulk of the letters are housed in the British Museum and indeed are still being found!

We were lucky to have Mark Mitchells telling us about these letters as his lively, amusing style added its own dimension.

Mavis Winders

AGM followed by The Gayer-Anderson twins

The 36th AGM was held on 13 June with a good attendance.

Membership fees. This was the only point on the agenda to raise discussion. The point was made that a couple should not have a reduced rate (ie less than twice the single fee) but should pay twice the single fee otherwise single members are being penalised. It was finally agreed that fees would increase as follows from 1 July 2018 and the committee would discuss further the membership fee structure (see page 6).

Full rate

will remain unchanged


Individual will change from £8 to £10


Couples will change from £12 to £15

Life members

Individual will change from £120 to £150


Couples will change from £200 to £250

Elections - Mavis Winders was elected to the committee and the existing President, Officers and Committee Members were re-elected en bloc.

The AGM business was followed by fascinating talk given by Graham Panton about the ‘Astonishing Gayer-Anderson Twins’. Perhaps like me there were one or two people who hadn’t heard of them but soon realised how important they were to Lavenham and therefore the area. Both men had military backgrounds but were also very interested in and knowledgeable about the Arts and the history and beauty of objects. ‘The Colonel’ spent a lot of his career in India while ‘The Major’ was in Egypt and left some of his collection to what is now the Gayer-Anderson Museum in Cairo. Half of the Fitzwilliam Museum’s Egyptian collection is from the two brothers with bequests also made to various other museums including the British Museum.  They bought The Great House and Little Hall in Lavenham and started restoration of the buildings in 1930.  When complete they moved into Little Hall and sold The Great House.  As well as being involved in the preservation of these and other buildings in Lavenham they were also responsible for there being no cables on view - they were put underground in 1931!

And, after a full and interesting evening there was still time to enjoy wine, nibbles and chat.

Mavis Winders


Dick Fletcher has commented on several planning applications on behalf of the Society since the last newsletter.  Here’s a summary of what was said.  You can find the full details on our website and on the Babergh website.

McCarthy and Stone - Minor amendments to approved drawings

The Society notes with disappointment, but with no great surprise at McCarthy and Stone’s dumbing down of the designs of all the dwelling units on this development of which over half lie within the Conservation Area.

All architectural features, such as plinths, jettying, moulded bay windows, gable features, sash windows, symmetrical window placements that gave the dwellings an air of distinctive character and contended in the original Design, Access and Sustainability statement as reflecting the special architectural character of the Conservation Area are removed from all 29 dwellings.

This current set of alterations and modifications to the units obviously has nothing to do with maintaining a higher level of good quality design in a Conservation Area, which is totally contrary to the thrust of recent national design policy given in the Revised NPPF, Section 12: Achieving Well Designed Places. In particular it is hoped that the Council will note the advice given in paragraph 130 which states:-

“Local planning authorities should also seek to ensure that the quality of approved development is not materially diminished between permission and completion, as a result of changes being made to the permitted scheme (for example through changes to approved details such as the materials used).”

The Society requested that the Council reject these amendments.

Hadleigh Leisure Centre - demolition of old pool and development of new pool.

The Society welcomes the proposed replacement swimming pool as the current pool building is now appearing a little worn and tired. The new pool building appears to be both in scale and in keeping with the style of the Leisure Centre building. It is critical however that the exterior wall and roofing materials do match those used on the Leisure Centre building. It is also an opportunity to enhance the Complex’s setting within the park with new landscaping of shrubs and medium sized trees on its south western and south eastern elevations.

Stone Street - Change of use of land to form a Business Park

Any development of this nature should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment, encourage the effective use of land, be focused in locations which are or can offer genuine modes of sustainable transport, be visually attractive and add to the local character as a result of good architecture, layout and effective landscaping. These are all important requirements set out in the Revised NPPF which, amongst other updates, has increased emphasis on sustainability of locations and good design. This scheme fails to meet many of these aspirations and particularly the economic, social and environmental objectives set out in paragraph 8 of the Revised NPPF. We requested refusal

Membership Fees

At this year’s AGM the suggestion was made that, for a variety of reasons, it was “unfair” to charge members who were part of a couple less per head than single members. This practice is common in clubs and societies and is probably based on the reasoning that a couple would share newsletters, etc., so the club or society could service a couple for much the same cost as a single member.  Nowadays when most communication is done electronically, as we do, this argument does not apply: there is virtually no cost to an extra email.

The discussion mostly concerns Senior Members – they greatly outnumber Full Members as shown in the table below, based on our present membership. This assumes that all “other halves” among Seniors are interested and active members: are they really, or is it just inertia that keeps them in? The question is: how many of these members would we lose by changing to a flat fee? If we lost half of them then the fee would need to increase from £8.50 to £10.00. Single Senior members would not then have saved anything but the Hadleigh Society would have lost 17 members. If everybody pays £10 (Full members included, Students excluded) life would be much simpler for the Membership Secretary! 

We can have an interesting debate at the 2019 Annual General Meeting.

Chris Drake, Treasurer.





“Unified” Fee


Full Single





£1.00 less

Full Joint

2 x 2




£2.00 more

Senior Single





(say £8.50)

£1.50 less

Senior Joint

35 x 2




£2.00 more






*excluding life members

Hadleigh Railway

David Bousfield has built a very detailed model of Hadleigh station as it appeared at the end of the 19th century. The model was featured in the Model Rail magazine Nov 2017 (see at ) and is pictured below.  David hopes to add some small scenes depicting typical commercial activities. He would welcome more information including the arrangement of the coal staithes at the end of the goods yard and details of any special excursion traffic to/from Hadleigh. 

 Chris Nevard Roger Kennell here describes how industry and trade in Victorian/ Edwardian Hadleigh were served by the railway.

Following the arrival of the railway to Hadleigh in 1847, Thomas William Wilson set up around the station, and elsewhere in the town, his enterprises. Wilson advertised as being: Maltsters, corn, cake, and manure merchants; and brick and tile manufacturers  Chris Nevard and farmers.

This was probably the main freight for the railway. Incoming to Hadleigh by the railway would have been coal, and timber required for the Victorian building growth. Maybe the coco-nut matting factory in Duke Street used the railway also. Additionally Makin the blacksmiths, top of George Street made use of the railway for some items. At this time also there was a windmill in Tower Mill Lane, and two water mills, (Bridge St. and Toppesfield Mill.).

Hear more from Roger about Hadleigh’s commerce, trade and industry on Tuesday 4th December at our meeting in the Old Town Hall, 8pm.