The Foxearth and District Local History Society

Local group - events and information.

Meetings and activities, announcements and notices for the Foxearth and District Local History Society, and associated organisations. For more information on recent events and current programme, please email or 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