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.

The Foxearth History Detectives

May Spring Bank Holiday saw the opening of the first Test Pit excavation in Foxearth, as part of the Heritage Lottery ‘All Our Stories’ funded Foxearth Church Heritage Initiative project. This was the first of several Test Pits due to be excavated in the village throughout summer 2013.

Appropriately, this Test Pit was located in the garden of The Rectory, with a second here to be opened in June. Much information has been gathered already about Foxearth in the past, with a surprise find of an antler from a Fallow Deer (usually a parkland species). If you would like to take part in any of the future excavations or haven’t already offered a site on your own land or garden and would like to be included, please contact Corinne Cox ( 01787 379410).
Fieldwalking, although hampered by poor weather earlier in the year, has already indicated some interesting manorial sites and finds have included several pieces of medieval pottery as well as a complete base from a Hedingham ware flagon/drinking vessel. Fieldwalking will continue later in the summer and autumn.

Residents have been busy undertaking research into the history of their own house or property and arrangements have been made with Lavenham Press for publication & printing of a book charting the history of Foxearth as evidenced from work done during the project. Anyone having problems with their research should contact Corinne for assistance.
A video recording of life in the village and interviews with all its residents has begun and will continue throughout the summer holiday period with the assistance of young volunteers in the village. Residents will be contacted to arrange suitable convenient times for their own interview sessions.
If you want to follow the progress of the detective work so far, pop into the church and look at the displays & information there. We are hoping to post updates on various websites & social media during the summer months….more details later.
Thank you to all those who are helping with our project…it’s not too late to get involved if you aren’t already !! We’ve recently had some volunteers involved with the Access Cambridge Archaeology & Managing a Masterpiece who want to join our project and we thank them for offering their time.

Corinne Cox (Project Leader FCHI )

Grave Stones and Pentlow Church


Twenty one intrepid members and guests of the District Local; History Society assembled on the evening of 11th June (one of the cold ones!) in Pentlow churchyard to hear Isobel Clark talk about gravestones. “Talk” is an entirely inadequate word for someone who professed a life-long fascination with the subject and who has explored many cemeteries including some in Turkey and the Sudan.
Isobel is now involved with a group based at Sudbury library researching some of the graves in the area and her enthusiasm was apparent as we toured Pentlow churchyard and various features were pointed out. For example when lettering is almost illegible the style will often indicate a particular time period. One of the reasons why engraving is worn and faint is due to the practice at one time of covering the memorial stone with plaster upon which the lettering would appear in sharp relief but the ravages of time, weather etc would cause the plaster to fall off leaving just a slight impression.
The fact that the initials and date of deceased often appear on the foot stone is a help and access to burial registers will often provide confirmatory evidence in the case of names difficult to read. In some cases lead lettering has been prised out leaving just the fixing holes – but we saw no examples of this in Pentlow! A trick of the trade Isobel explained is to lather the faded writing with shaving soap; alas this was not demonstrated so we may have to try it at home!
Moving inside the church Andrew Clarke discussed the origin of the building. What was once thought to be a Norman foundation is now considered to be of much earlier date. Various configurations including the width of the nave point to a Saxon building i.e 650 – 850AD. This could place Pentlow among the earliest stone churches in the country. The original main door would have been at the west end and there would have been a three-arched opening to the chancel. Wall paintings would have represented the educational function of the early church. Of particular interest is the square font – thought to be 12th century - with its elaborate carvings of interlacing ornaments and foliage. Some of the commemorative wall plaques were discussed as were the well-known Kempe and Felton tombs in the North Chapel.
Chairman Alan Fitch expressed thanks to Isobel and Andrew for their contribution to an interesting and enlightening evening. He reminded members that the next two gatherings of the Society would be visits to Halstead – to explore the town’s industrial heritage - on 13th July and to the Nuclear Bunker on 17th August.

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