Foxearth & District Local History Society AGM Report

The inaugural meeting of what was to become the Foxearth and District Local History Society was held on 9th March 1999 when about 35 people turned up to hear the then Rector, Rev. Captain Brian Sampson, explain his idea to form an association of villagers interested in local history. Whilst from the outset it was envisioned that “local” would encompass  Foxearth and its neighbours – Borley, Liston and Pentlow – neither the subjects covered nor the membership has, happily, ever been that restrictive. At this first gathering great enthusiasm was evident and a committee was quickly formed with Alan Fitch being appointed as Chairman. In the years since then, the Society has met pretty well every month (on the second Tuesday) for a talk or a visit and (each year)for a Christmas dinner; occasionally a summer month has been deliberately left blank but this hasn’t happened every year. Talks by local experts have varied enormously including every time period from the Iron Age to World War 2. Local industry such as silk weaving, milling, brewing etc have all contributed to fascinating and memorable evenings. Local ghost stories have had an airing and we’ve even had visits from a Pearly king and queen. Each year’s programme has  included  archive film shows during which many members have been able to relate personal recollections.

Visits to places like Bletchley Park and the Duxford Air Museum have been well organised and supported and it’s amazing what one finds out about an adjoining village like Long Melford in the hands of expert guides! Thanks to member Andrew Clarke the Society has an expanding web site which is proving to be very popular.

Well – so much for the potted history. The Society’s 17th Annual General Meeting was held on 8th March 2016 when just 15 members were present. Chairman Alan thanked the committee and others involved in various ways for their service not just in the past year but during his long term of office. He felt that after 17 years it was time to step down and warm tributes were paid to his leadership of the Society. President Ashley Cooper expressed his admiration and thanks to Alan for his conscientious work.

It was  noted that Treasurer John Geddes had tendered his resignation and appreciation was expressed for his work. In his absence on leave a financial statement was presented and accepted showing a satisfactory fiscal state It was agreed that the membership would remain at £10pp. Concern was voiced at the falling membership and the difficulty of meeting the fees that some speakers expected.

Ashley suggested that the Society may like to consider the Bulmer system of meeting every two months if things did not improve.

It was felt that an approach to members as well as a mail drop in the community generally would be worth trying to hike up support and to find people to fill the two vacancies. Also it was agreed that the raffle associated with meetings should be revived. Some time ago the possibility of publishing a book entitled The Mediaeval Roads of Essex was discussed. This exists as an Ebook but it was understood that the author – Helen Walker – had given permission for the Society to print it and it was agreed to proceed.

Refreshed by cheese and wine members were invited to reminisce about their school days – and tongues began to loosen! From the most unlikely sources we heard tales of truancy, corporal punishment (a slipper was presented as evidence) and methods of coping with the discomfort and episodes of clearly “undeserved” punishment. Secretary Clare Mathieson suffered a most uncomfortable ordeal when hailstones got into her underwear and if you want to know more about that you’ll need to ask Clare!

Next meeting:Tuesday 12th April 7.30pm in Foxearth Village Hall when Chris Strachan will talk about the history of Harwich Picture Palace .

Ken Nice

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