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

Overlaying Maps: Topographical changes in the Sudbury area Tuesday 11th February 2020

The meeting of the Society on Tuesday 11th February opened with a tribute by Clare to John Geddes who died on 7th February. John was an active member of the Society during his 10 year residence in Foxearth. In spite of a long and bravely fought battle with cancer John maintained his interest in local history and contributed some valuable research. He served also as Treasurer for some time bringing his expertise as an accountant to good use. John enjoyed taking part in visits and outings and will be sadly missed for his wise counsels and friendliness.

What the new can tell us about the old is an obvious aspect of historical research and this was explored in relation to topographical changes in the Sudbury area for about 35 members and guests by Mark Mathieson. His particular approach was through the medium of old maps related to satellite images of the areas they covered and the changes they could identify. Basing his talk on the facility provided by the National Library of Scotland web site Mark showed how comparisons could be made by viewing the maps and aerial photographs overlaid or side by side or by sliding. Satellites using some form of radar could produce contour maps thus revealing features existing many centuries before the maps were drawn; for example 
...   the traces of Roman camps near Shrimpling and the Roman villa at Gestingthorpe.
 Conversely the satellites show no signs of Brundon church said to be in use until about 1700. One feature that did seem clear was that the amount of woodland had hardly changed in the course of the 200 years or so between the maps and the modern observations. Chalk, clay and gravel pits were abundant in the district accounting for the various brickworks existing at one time. A curious image was the appearance of a Boeing super jet in the grounds of Kentwell Hall clearly caught on camera flying over the area as the satellite passed. 

Although navigation of the web site was felt to be not that easy, Mark demonstrated the effectiveness and use of the facility which covered the whole of the UK and commended it to members. He showed many examples of changing aspects in the immediate villages around Sudbury including what had replaced redundant buildings and apparent changes in the river courses - throwing doubt perhaps on the accuracy of the maps? This was a most interesting and useful talk for which Mark was warmly applauded. We are grateful to him for circulating, after his talk, a helpful summary of how to use the NLS website. As usual Lynda organised a well-supported raffle to help the funds along.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday March 10th at 7.30pm in Foxearth Village Hall. This will be the Annual General Meeting with cheese and wine and members are asked to bring along items for a 'Museum Table'

Ken Nice


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