The Foxearth and District Local History Society

Committee Announcements
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Meetings, announcements and notices for the Foxearth and District Local History Society, and associated organisations.

Foxearth Society AGM 2005 Tuesday 8th March

A good attendance of 25 members at the Foxearth and District Local History Society's annual general meeting on Tuesday 8th March heard Chairman Alan Fitch review an extremely successful year of lectures and outings during which particular highlights had been the setting up of the Web site and the publication of "Foxearth Brew" He looked forward to another active year which would include talks on Goldsmithing, the history of the barometer and tours of the Theatre Royal, Bury and the Cathedral; there would also be a joint meeting with the Cavendish History Society. Andrew Clarke would give a talk on his new book "The Bones of Borley" which is about to be published. In recognition of their invaluable work in developing the Web site the Committee had decided to award Andrew and Jenny Clarke life membership of the Society - a step warmly endorsed by members. One further development was announced by Alan: because the acquisition of historic vehicles in the villages appeared to be infectious, it was proposed to form, under the banner of the History Society, a Stour Valley Historic Vehicle Society. This would be a quite informal association of interested owners and merely a chance, it seems, to use an entirely unpronounceable but palindromic acronyn SVHVS!

The Treasurer, Mrs Justine Corney, presented her report showing a satisfactory financial situation. She had recommended that subscriptions remain at £10 per year per member.

The Committee was re-elected en bloc with the addition of Mrs Julia Pucci. Andrew Clarke briefly addressed the meeting explaining efforts being made to extend the appeal of the Web site which was already attracting an incredible 350 hits a day. A project presently underway was research by Richard Morris to produce a history of the BBA site, funded by the company. Andrew and Richard had started upon fund-raising in order to have an historic book "Melford Memories" reprinted but the owners, Melford History Society, had withdrawn permission. However, Andrew hoped to have a fascinating book, published in 1845 and called "Sketches of Saffron Walden and its vicinity", in his ownership, reprinted.

The final formal part of the meeting was a talk by Darren Clarke of Waldingfield on metal detecting. Drawing on 15 years experience of the science, Darren explained the way in which different signals allowed identification of what metals were being detected and how one could make an assessment of whether excavation was indicated.!

It was essential, of course, always to obtain permission of the land owner before embarking upon exploration but he had found local farmers mostly very helpful and work in association with archaeologists in Bury had enabled him to discover about 7 new Roman settlements. Darren brought along a selection of his finds some of which dated back to the Bronze Age. He fielded many questions expertly and suggested that an afternoon of detecting might perhaps be arranged for Society members. Over a glass of wine, members examined his exhibits together with examples of local memorabilia assembled by Carol and Roger Hobbs and Tom Hastie.

The Society's next engagement will be a tour of the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds on Saturday 9th April.!

Ken Nice

Anthony Wheeler and the Origin of Place Names

Antony Wheeler, the well-known Sudbury historian, made a very welcome return visit to the Foxearth and District Local History Society on Tuesday 8th February and talked to 19 members about the origin of place names. Antony began by explaining that the large majority of the names of villages and towns in what we now know as the United Kingdom may be traced back to the immigration of Angles, Saxons and Frisians in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. Illegal immigration was rife even then as these peoples from northern Europe faced population increase, rising sea levels and harassment from tribes further east. In the land recently occupied by the Romans there was plenty of room and although the Romans attempted to stem the incoming tide by establishing forts along the coast, the immigrants gradually infiltrated bringing with them their languages. Much of England was at this time forested and work had to be done to create settlements. So ancient words - and their derivations - meaning, for example "people", "clearing" and "home" can be seen in place names today. Thus Saxham means, literally "home of Saxons". Information about what trees and crops grew and what wildlife thrived can often be discovered by tracing back how a place name originated. "Foxearth" almost certainly derived from words meaning " a forest clearing where foxes dwelt" Mr Wheeler- a teacher - held this class's attention as he peppered his fascinating talk with many such examples and he was warmly thanked by Chairman Alan Fitch. Mr Fitch reminded members that those wishing to go on the tour of Bury St Edmunds Cathedral on June 14th should let him know as soon as possible. This will cost £3 and it is hoped that an ascent of the tower will be possible. He also reported that the Web site was being visited by an increasing number of interested parties; it was important to include "org" in the address to avoid confusion with a site in America! Tuesday, March 8th at 8pm in Foxearth Village Hall will be the annual general meeting and following business there will be a talk about recent metal-detecting discoveries in Long Melford. Ken Nice

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