The Foxearth and District Local History Society

Committee Announcements

Meetings, announcements and notices for the Foxearth and District Local History Society, and associated organisations. For details of our activities, and for more information on recent events and current programme, please contact Clare Mathieson 01787 311337 or Lynda Rumble 01787 281434.

The Harwich Railway and Shipping Museum

 The Harwich Railway and Shipping Museum

The Museum is housed in the Harwich Town station buildings which opened just three years after the Great Eastern Railway in 1865. Over the past two years the buildings have undergone a massive transformation; they have been configured to show the GER station at Harwich Town as it would have looked internally in 1924. This date was chosen to coincide with the official opening of the train ferry branch line on April 24th 1924 by Prince George Duke of Kent.

The Museum is currently housed in ten rooms in the North Wing and South wing of the station with an archive room to follow shortly.

The Museum, curated by local rail enthusiast Bob Clow from his own lifetime acquisitions, displays a unique collection, never before seen by the public.

The Museum will be open every Saturday from 10am to 4pm.
Admission is on a donation basis, with a £1 minimum suggested donation. If you are a UK taxpayer, please help us further by completing a Gift Aid Declaration form.

Groups are very welcome, please book in advance with

Rayleigh Town Museum Events

Rayleigh Town Museum Events

Trinity Fair Exhibition June 2019

The museum is holding a small exhibition during June to coincide with Rayleighs Trinity Fair which is happening on the 9th June.

Exhibition to Commemorate 80 years since the start of WW2

Running throughout the summer is an exhibition covering "Life on the Home Front" and the story of the Rayleigh men who fought.

13th June at 7.30pm

Magna Carta in Essex with Additional Snippets from the Essex Hundred Histories a talk and slide show by Andrew Summers

11th July at 7.30pm

"Barber Surgeon" a talk and demonstration by The Companye of Merrie Folke" A Medieval/Tudor re-enactment Group

8th August at 7.30pm

"A Murder Mystery Evening"

If you would like further information about any of the events above please contact the museum on 01268 773535 or visit our website

Chilton, The First Three-Thousand Years: 14th May 2019

It is quite surprising what can be discovered about an apparently ordinary subject if one puts one's mind to some careful research and this was demonstrated in David Burnett's talk to the Foxearth and District Local History Society on Tuesday 14th May. Who would have thought that the Sudbury district of Chilton could have such a wealth of history but the journey through time taken by David revealed evidence dating from Bronze Age settlements and many changes to the present day industrial estate. Excavations in 1997 produced signs of late Bronze age occupation, by post holes and ruts in the clay, and of later Iron age round houses. The discovery of a 7th century coptic bowl near Chilton Hall suggested a Saxon settlement. Nothing has been found to suggest any Roman involvement. An entry in the Domesday Book of 1086 describes a small village of about 11 men and 1 plough and in mediaeval times a number of lords held the manor of Chilton. St Mary's church in Chilton was built in the 15th century. Among various benefactors the church benefitted in 1430 from the will of Sir Andrew Butler.

A significant influence in Chilton seems to have been the Crane family whose five generations - from 1436 to 1643 - were responsible for the building of Chilton hall and improvements in the church. Each of the five was named Robert and each left their individual mark on the manor. Among the bequests by various Roberts were those for renovations of the church and the building of the tower, funds for the employment of a priest and for prayers and a daily mass to be said for 99 years and the completion of Chilton Hall in 1550. The last Robert was knighted by James 1st and served as MP for Sudbury for several periods. When he died in 1643 the baronetcy became extinct as he had no sons. The parish registers show that the sons of this dynasty had a very poor survival rate; the cause is not known but was possibly due to some inherited condition.

The village gradually declined and in about 1800 the Hall was badly damaged by a fire with the site being turned mostly to arable farming. By the late 19th century industry began to take over with brick works, lime pits. a corn mill and coconut matting factory; again fire caused rebuilding. The last rector of the church was Rev. John Milner who served from 1898 until 1949 after which the building was declared redundant. Chilton was important towards the end of World War 2 when an airfield was constructed in 1944 and used by the US Army Air Force as a bomber base.

Mr Burnett - who has published his book on Chilton, the first 3,000 years - illustrated his talk with many slides and gave much more interesting information than can be included in a brief report. He was warmly thanked by Secretary Clare Mathieson supported by an appreciative audience of about 30.

Next meeting: Tuesday 11th June - a visit to Bulmer Brickyard when Peter Minter will talk about recent restoration projects. Please meet at the Brickyard at 7pm

Local History Notices for Essex: May 2019

From Christopher Thompson

Dr Anna Reynolds will be giving this year's guest lecture at the Friends of Thomas Plume's Library AGM this Friday 17 May 7.30pm The D'Arcy Room, All Saints Church, Maldon on 'Thomas Plume's Waste Paper'. All welcome. Free entry. Free refreshments.

Michael Sewell (University of Essex) published an essay on 'Remembering the Siege: Civil War Memory in Colchester' in The Journal of the Ever Present Society, Volume 10, Number 2, Pp.81-96, in October, 2017. It is available on-line.

Brodie Waddell (Birkbeck College, London) has an interesting discussion about the contents of the diary of Joseph Bufton, a Coggeshall trader, in the late seventeenth-century to be found at He also produced a longer account of Bufton's diary in The History Workshop Journal in 2018.

James E.Kelly published an important article entitled 'Counties without borders? Religious politics, kinship networks and the formation of Catholic Communities' dealing with the subscription of the Petre family to the Jesuit mission in late-Tudor and early-Stuart England in Historical Research in November, 2017. An abstract can be read here

The Rise and Decline of the Stour Valley Railways. 9th April 2019

The Foxearth and District Local History Society meeting on 9th April attracted railway enthusiasts when Robyn Lloyd Hughes talked about the rise and decline of the Stour Valley Railways. Between 35 and 40 members and guests heard an expert description of the origin of the line and of the development of railways in general.

The lecture included many photographs and Robyn began with one of some Roman gates. These were constructed to allow the passage of two centurions, side by side, with their baggage/weapons. Carts were then built of the same width and as these were used in the countryside uniform ruts would be created which in turn became supported by wooden planks (plateways); then iron was used for more strengthening. Along these reinforced routes horses could pull linked carts - and the idea of moving wagons along tracks was born. It took some 1,800 years of course but eventually we had railways! Stephenson's "rocket" of 1825 was the first engine.

The concept of a local rail network was the brainchild of John Wilks junior - a Sudbury lawyer born in 1793 who served as a Whig MP for the town.In 1824 he promoted a company called The Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex Railroad Company. He was however an unscrupulous character - involved in forgery and fraud - who earned the nickname of "Bubbles Wilks" because of the number of joint stock companies he floated all of which failed. In 1849 the businessman John Chevallier Cobbold was influential in constructing the line that linked up Colchester, the Stour Valley, Sudbury and Halstead; Norwich was later connected and the company amalgamated with the Eastern Union Railway. The project included the building of the Chappel Viaduct with its impressive 32 arches. At 1,020 feet it is the longest bridge in East Anglia and one of the largest brick-built structures in the country. There were many illustrations of locomotives in various stages of development and it was not unusual for them to be servicable for 50 years. For some years the railway did not dispense with "horse power" as the beasts continued to be used for shunting rolling stock into sheds. The Stour Valley Railway line from Shelford to Marks Tey opened in 1865 with connections to Melford and Bury St Edmunds following soon after. In 1967 the Beeching axe was wielded with just the Sudbury to Marks Tey section (the Gainsborough line) surviving after a protracted battle. Robyn presented some interesting fare comparisons. In 1849 the Sudbury to London single fare was 4 shillings and 10 pence equating to one penny a mile - this was for 2nd class travel with 1st class being half as much again; in 1956 the figure was 9 shillings and 3 pence and today it is £33.90! In 2004 the possibility of reopening the Cambridge to Haverhill route was raised and this is an ongoing campaign with local MPs voicing strong support more recently.

This was a fascinating talk in which Robyn demonstrated his detailed knowledge of the subject including the evolving types of locomotives over the years. He dealt expertly with some related questions and was warmly thanked on behalf of a most appreciative audience by Secretary Clare Mathieson.

Clare drew attention to the Lavenham Festival on the weekend of 17th to 19th May. There will be celebration of the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the US Army Air Force at Lavenham airfield , a craft fair and various other attractions.

Next meeting: Tuesday 14th May at 7.30pm in Foxearth Village Hall when David Burnett will talk about Chilton - the first three thousand years.

Friends of Essex Churches Trust Spring Study Day: 8 May 2019



Members @ £7.00 each, Non-members @ £10 each. Everyone is welcome to join Essex historian Dr Christopher Starr for interesting talks in four of our favourite medieval churches in south-east Essex


10.00 All Saints, Rettendon (Church Close, Main Road, CM3 8DP) Light refreshments will be available

11.30 St Mary, Runwell (Runwell Road, SS11 7HS)

13.00 Lunch, own arrangements

14.30 St Mary & St Edward, West Hanningfield (Church Road, CM2 8UL)

15.30 St Mary, Woodham Ferrers (Main Road, CM3 8RF)

16.00 Refreshments will be available.

There are lavatories at or near each church and parking is available at or near each church, but at West Hanningfield this is limited and may involve a short walk to and from your vehicle.

To:   Mrs Susan Clark-Starr, 10 Kings Meadow, Sudbury, Suffolk, CO10 0HP
Tel: 01787 242121    Mob: 07956 463628    Email:

Updates on Local History Societies' meetings in Essex 2019

Witham History Society

Christopher Thompson will be giving a talk on Tudor Essex to the Witham History Society at 8 p.m. on 1st April in Witham Town Council's offices.

Chingford Historical Society

The following meetings will be held at The C of  E Primary School, Cambridge Road, Chingford
 at 7 30 p.m.  Most talks are illustrated.

11th April
The Work ofThe Essex Record Office


A Virtual Walk Around Walthamstow


14th November

The Stort Story


   12th December  Chingford in the 80s & 90s                         Acorn Films                            

Clacton and District Local History Society

 Pier Avenue, Clacton at 7.30 p.m.



Foxearth and District Local History Society

Tues 10th
Robyn Lloyd Hughes - The Rise & Decline of the Stour Valley Railways
Tues 14th
David Burnett - Chilton: the first three thousand years
Tues 12th
Peter Minter - Visit to Bulmer Brickyard,
with talk on recent restoration projects  
Tues 10th
 Ian McMillan  - The History of Liston Hall
Thur 8th?/ Mon12th
Minibus trip to Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome - near Maldon.
Tues 11th
? Pat Murrell  - The History of Cupola House.
Tues 9th
? Sudbury Cemetery churchyard mapping
Sat 16th
Ashley Cooper & Andrew Phillips -
"A Sudbury Boy Wunders (sic) aloud after 80 years"
(Memories of the Sudbury Market Hill & surrounding businesses).
Tues 10th ?
Members’ Christmas meal - details TBC

All meetings held in Foxearth Village Hall 7.30pm (unless otherwise stated).
New members and friends always welcome.
 Visitors £2   Members £10 per year

Halstead and District Local History Society

All events take place at 7:30pm in the Baptist Church, Hedingham Road, Halstead unless otherwise stated
Our programme may change at short notice due to circumstances outside our control 
 April 2019
“An introduction to the Chelsea Physic Garden”
Dr. Christine Hodgson, who is a guide at the garden, will introduce us to its history from the foundation in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries.
May 2019
“The Lost Cheeses of Suffolk”
Vivia Bamford of the Sciapod Dairy in Suffolk will tell us about traditional cheese making and will be bringing some samples to taste.
June 2019
Visit to RAF Wethersfield Museum
July 2019
Visit to Alderford Mill, Sible Hedingham - Details to follow
September 2019
Old Films of Halstead & Hedingham
Brian Day will be showing us a few of the amateur films of the area that he has been given.
Exhibition: The Photgraphs of Geoff Root - A Retrospective
To take place at The Queen's Hall, times to be confirmed.
October 2019
Corsets, Crinlines & Camisoles
Frances Saltmarsh returns to tell us all about the history of underwear.
November 2019
Can You Keep A Secret?
Lynette Burgess, Visitor Services and outreach Manager, will tell us the history of Bawdsey Radar and its role in WWII.
December 2019
More Images Of Old & New Halstead
Followed by our Christmas drinks and nibbles!

Leyton and Leytonstone Local  History Society

7.45pm Wednesday April 17th 2019 *
‘Before the dig: why archaeology happens, how we know what to look for, and what might be found in my street’, a talk by Christina Holloway
St John's Hall, off High Road, Leytonstone, London E11 by the entrance to the Matalan store, (not far from Leytonstone Central Line station)

7.45pm Wednesday May15th 2019 *
‘The Real Dad’s Army – The Home Guard’ A talk by Mike Brown, following our Society’s AGM
St John's Hall, off High Road, Leytonstone, London E11 by the entrance to the Matalan store, (not far from Leytonstone Central Line station)

Lexden History Group

Wednesday 10th April 2019 ‘The Early Days of Clacton’ George Hardwick Members £1 Non Members £3
Wednesday 8th May 2019 AGM ‘Fenwick Jewels’ Adam Wightman Members £1 Non Members £3
Wednesday 12th June 2019 ‘Giles’ John Field Members £1 Non Members £3
Meetings are held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 7.45pm in St Leonard’s Church Hall, Lexden except August when there is no meeting. Entry £1 for members, £3 for non-members, refreshments included.

Loughton and District Historical Society 

All meetings are held in the Methodist Church, Loughton High Road, from 8.00pm usually on the second Thursday of the month, from October to May inclusive.
Guest visitors are welcome at all meetings on payment of a donation of £2.50.
April: Thursday 11
29 October 1940: One Day in the Battle of Britain
When a Spitfire crashed in Chelmsford and North Weald was bombed.
May: Thursday 9
Annual General Meeting, followed by:
Heroes of Everyday Life: Postman’s Park
The remarkable history of the Watts Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice in Postman's Park in the City.

Saffron Walden Historical Society

Wednesday 27th March: Dr Peter Moore to speak on The Italian Artist Biagio Rebecca and his work at Audley End                                
Wednesday 24th April: Richard Till to speak on The Cutlers of Thaxted, 1350 to 1450           
Wednesday 22nd May : AGM.  A short talk will be arranged.
All meetings are held at 7.45 pm. in the Quaker Meeting House, High Street, Saffron Walden
Annual Subscriptions: £7.00 per member; Visitors £2.00 per visit – ALL WELCOME!

Thurrock Local History Society
Meetings are held at Thurrock Adult Community College, Richmond Road, Grays Thurrock, Essex, RM17 6DN.
All meetings begin at 8.00 pm unless indicated otherwise. The AGM begins at 7.30 pm.
Most talks are illustrated and there is a break for refreshments.
Friday, 26th April               The Annual General Meeting (starts at 7.30) followed by
                                         DNA - what can it tell us? by John Matthews
Friday, 17th May                Machu Picchu by Scott Sullivan

Waltham Abbey Historical Society

We organise a series of lectures on the third Fridays of September to May, at the Baptist Church, Paradise Road, Waltham Abbey EN9 1RL, 8-10pm with a refreshment break. Anyone is welcome to come; members are free and we invite a £1 donation from non-members.

Friday 12th April 2019:
(this is the 2nd Friday of April)
Presidential Address & Annual General Meeting

Friday 17th May 2019:
The West End of the Church at Waltham Abbey: Mysteries and Modifications
Lawrence Greenall & Steve Miller