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. 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.

List of Essex Local History Societies as of 26th Sept 2019

Cupola House at Bury St Edmunds Tuesday 10th September 2019


The District Society met on Tuesday 10th September to hear Dr Pat Murrell talk about the history of one of Bury St Edmunds most historic buildings - Cupola House. Dr Murrell briefly explained her own background as an historian working mostly in adult education and with a particular interest in the Stuart era. Influenced by the enthusiasm of an architect friend who was keen to restore the building she became involved in researching the building in about 2003 and was particularly fascinated to delve into the families that lived there. At this time the building was deemed to be "at risk" but restorative work removed it from this register in 6 months.

The two timber-framed buildings from which the house was developed were constructed in the early 17th century and came into the ownership of a prosperous apothecary, Thomas Macro (born 1616). Thomas became a significant figure in local society serving on the "elite"body of 37 men who governed the city and elected the Member of Parliament. His son - also Thomas - followed his father into the profession and he married Susan Cox in 1679 whereupon the building came to him. He amalgamated the two buildings inro one adding numerous baroque features including a wrought iron balcony and the cupola. This work was completed in 1693 and the result must have looked extremely impressive.. The cupola added considerable height and was an obvious landmark intended to command attention as a sign of prestige as well as providing a viewing chamber for visitors. The noted traveller, Celia Fiennes recorded the splendour of the construction as an example of"the new mode of building". The house remained the property of the Macro family until the mid 18th century by which time the apothecary's business had long eased to exist. Thomas (jnr) had moved on to higher things being three-times mayor of the borough and High Sheriff. After a short occupancy by one Thomas Moyle it was sold to Robert Hockley in 1757 where it was used for his grocery business; Hockley established a liquor trade which was extended by subsequent owners and leasees with the premises eventually passing to the Clarkes brewery (later Greene King). In 2002 the building became privately owned and was used - after some restoration -as a bar and restaurant. Its styling as Cupola House occurred in Victorian times and when listing came in it was accorded Grade 1 status.

In 2012 - to the great distress of local folk - Cupola house was considerably damaged by a fire and a further restoration project was organised. This consisted of a steel framework to support the structure but the 18th century facade was able to be saved preserving the building's external appearance and justifying its new Grade 2 listing.It reopened a a restaurant in 2017. On behalf of about 25 members and guests Dr Murrell was warmly thanked by Secretary Clare Mathieson for her contribution to an interesting evening.

Next meeting Tuesday 15th October 7.30pm when Ian Mcmillan will speak about the history of Liston Hall

Ken Nice

Visit to Sudbury’s Cemetery and Chapel July 9th, 2019

On our meeting in June, 18 members and guests met at Sudbury Cemetery for a guided talk with Helen Richardson on a project to record Headstones & Memorials.


A team from the Sudbury & District group of The Suffolk Family History Society have been involved since 2005 in a large project to record Monumental Inscriptions in our local churchyards. Head and footstone information can often offer extra information not on burial registers, so helpful for ancestors when researching Family History.

Sudbury’s Cemetery and Chapel dates from 1859. and to accommodate both Conformists and Non-Conformists. Churchyards were becoming rather full so something had to be done. 

Every year the weather takes its toll on the stones so it is important to record information before it is lost. Volunteers work in pairs to decipher and record on to laptops for transferring to the burial index. Copies of these are held at the Cemetery, Record office, Library and by The Family History Society. 

Helen explained that they’ve found different methods to decipher some rather weathered information. We were shown a way to show up some otherwise illegible inscriptions: a small quantity of shaving foam spread over the lettering then scraped off showed clearly what would otherwise be missed. Great care is taken to wash the stones afterwards! The churchyard & stones are treated with great respect.

A map has been made of the cemetery with plot numbers on the plan to help find where a relative is buried.  Information is recorded with plot number, design, shape and description of the stone. All information detail / full name/ when they died/ age/ if an additional family member has been buried in the grave with inscription on the stone is recorded too. Every burial is recorded and the wording gives useful clues about our ancestors' lives & occupations. Sudbury Cemetery holds some interesting examples. 
 eg:
  • Esther, Wife of George Baker H.M. Inland Revenue 1884. 
  • Ronald Greenwood C.B.E.  West Ham United Manager, & English National Football team manager 1977 to 1982 
  • Clive Madgwick, local dentist and painter. (He depicted local pastoral scenes, farmers and fishermen at work. Some of his oil paintings are in the Queen’s collection at Windsor Castle)
  • Thomas Haywood Ticket Collector Sudbury station, fell onto the rails.
  • Joseph George, Landlord of Rose & Crown twinned with
  • William Bailey, landlord of The Four Swans.
  • Anthony Wheeler, Benefactor.


Helen and her team gave us tea, coffees & biscuits afterwards for a chance to discuss the project and see illustrations of the work. The talk and walk through the graveyard / cemetery was a really interesting insight into this valuable project.

If anyone is interested to join the volunteers with the monumental inscriptions work for an hour at a time or all day, no experience is necessary. For More information, please contact  Helen Richardson on 01787 376287

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