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

Report on Foxearth & District Local History Society AGM 2022

There was a good turnout of 28 members for the FDLHS annual general meeting held on 8 March in Foxearth Village Hall (writes Andrew Le Sueur of Borley Lodge). Society stalwarts Lynda Rumble and Clare Mathieson steered the meeting through its formal business. Mark Mathieson reported that the Society’s finances were on a sound footing thanks to member subscriptions (a bargain at £10) and a generous grant from Foxearth & Liston Parish Council. Several members volunteered to serve on the committee.

The meeting heard from Beverly Barker, lead organiser for the Foxearth Platinum Jubilee Celebrations, about plans for a photographic display in Foxearth Village Hall of events over the past 70 years.

After President Ashley Cooper invited members to socialise over drinks and nibbles, the Society’s webmaster Andrew Clarke spoke about the development of the Society’s wonderful website, which has become a go-to resource for amateur and professional historians interested in the history of East Anglia.

There is a rich and varied programme of monthly talks and visits for 2022 and new members and guests are always welcome. At the next event on Tuesday 12 April at Foxearth Village Hall, Sue Tibbetts of the Sudbury Ephemera Archive, will talk about “The ordinary man – a story tracing one family from Bures to Chilton and Great Waldingfield”.


Feb. 2022 meeting: "Through the Green Baize Door - a life in Service"

Bryan Thurlow, local historian with a background in professional theatre, delighted nearly 50 members and visitors as he gave a portrayal of George Barrington, a retired butler of the Victorian and Edwardian era.
Mr Barrington, born in 1856, worked in the grand house of Lord Cowrie in Yorkshire all his working life. He asked us to imagine the year 1928 as he told us about his gradual rise through the ranks to eventually becoming Butler at Thrigsby Hall.

George was one of a large family. When aged 12, his father, a miner, was badly injured in a pit accident and was unable to work. George had then to take on full time work to support his family.

He found work at the big house, initially cleaning carriages before rising to boot boy. He remembered having to take out the boot laces before polishing the boots, and ironing them before returning them, followed by a fingernail inspection.

George soon made a friend, a maid called Dora, who added some fun to his life. She’d even locked him in the laundry cupboard as a prank. One day she’d disappeared. He later found out that she’d ‘had relations’ with the under gardener so of course, lost her job.

He was asked to help the rather infirm lamplighter next before taking on the role. The chandeliers had many candles both to light, and to safely extinguish after the household retired to bed. The roles of assistant valet followed before assistant butler and finally butler.

Among George’s notable memories he shared with us was meeting Edward Vll when coming to supper; attending his master’s deaf mother in law; the death of Queen Victoria;

After Lord Cowrie’s death in a hunting accident, his eldest son took over the title and the house. He gave George a chance to experience ‘The London scene’.

During the great war, the new Lord Cowrie’s wife turned one wing of the house into a hospital. This brought an unexpected delight. Dora had returned, now as a nurse!

Later, In retirement, George was offered use of a ‘two-up two-down' in the town. On occasions he was invited to join Dora and sample her cooking for Sunday lunch.

Bryan was warmly thanked for his polished presentation which had delighted a marvellous turnout of members and visitors. What changes there have been since his days behind the Green Baize door!