Community news

Foxearth and Liston Parish Council – Report of meeting 25th November 2017

There was a meeting of the Parish Council for Foxearth and Liston on 25th November 2017 with Cllr Tony Clayton in the Chair and 6 local residents present. Apologies for absence were presented on behalf of Cllrs. Corinne and Philip Cox.

Chairman’s update: The Chairman reported that because of the wide consultation neccessary in the matter of the proposed designation of a “quiet lane” in Liston the public meeting would now take place on Tuesday December 5th at 5pm in Foxearth Village Hall

Defibrillator; Cllr Posen reported that a new lottery application had been submitted – and receipt acknowledged – so hopefully a decision would soon be notified. He suggested that, in anticpation of a grant, work for the installation could be prepared including the organisation of a community event to explain the use of the equipment.

Braintree District Council: District Councillor Iona Parker discussed current projects occupying the Council. Formulation of the final stages of the local plan was ongoing; all housing sites had been allocated. Consultation was taking place on three garden communities for North East Essex. Close scrutiny of all expenditure was neccessary because of budgetary constraints and a 3% rise in Council Tax was probable in 2018/19.

Essex County Council; The Leader of the Council, Cllr David Finch, explained new initiatives recently introduced including funding for volunteer groups, community and youth projects, Crowd funding – launched in October 2017, a £500,000 fund to attract ideas and the Essex lottery offering a top prize of £25,000 and from which 60% of receipts will go to charities with the remainder being divided equally between prizes and administration. With reductions in the Government’s revenue support grant budgetary control was vital; care of the elderly and child services were still top priorities. Several major infrastructure projects were in the pipeline including junction 7a on the M11. In reply to a question from the floor Cllr Finch stressed that after 5 years of a level Council Tax an increase next year would be a last resort and only when all other options had been completely exhausted. Cllr Finch urged a representative to attend a forthcoming meeting with the County’s Police and Crime Commissioner on 28th November and the Chairman intimated that he would go.

War Memorial: The Clerk read  an update report from Cllr.C Cox. Competitive quotes show a cost of £3,600 (No VAT) for re-alignment of the monument and £900 (incl.VAT) for cleaning. Cllr. Cox is expecting a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (WW1) of £1,100; the Village Hall Trust has offered £500  and the Parish Council £1,000 – leaving a shortfall of £1,000 for the structural work and £900 for cleaning. Cleaning could possibly be done by volunteers but it was recognised that there may be health and safety concerns. It was hoped that the work could be completed in time for a re-dedication in November 2018

The Chairman said that another company would like to quote for the work for which he had the specification. It was agreed to discuss the matter further at the next meeting. In the meantime the Clerk would approach the District and County representatives regarding grants..

Renovation of Foxearth Village sign A quotation of £150 was accepted for this work to be done in the summer.

Public Participation: Attention was drawn to a collapsed  footbridge on paths 11 and 12 and growth blockage on 31. The Clerk would contact BDC and ECC regarding signs still in place. Efforts would be made to find a handyman to care for footpaths and hedges, for which funds were available.

Planning: It was noted that the District Council had approved the felling of a sycamore tree at a Foxearth residence but had refused applications for a variation to tenancies and the installation of Velux windows at two other Foxearth properties.

In connection with new applications the Parish Council supported further minor tree work in Foxearth and the installation of an eco-toilet in Foxearth Meadows. No comments were made on applications for the retention of a log cabin for short term residential use at Foxearth Fisheries and for substantial pruning and height reduction of trees at a Foxearth residence

Finance: Councillors discussed and agreed a budget for 2018/19 with a precept payment request from BDC of £7,000. £2,607.50p has been obtained from the NALC Transparency Fund for the purchase of a new computer/scanner/printer for the Clerk’s use.

Next meeting: 10th February 2018 9.45am in Foxearth Village Hall

Ken Nice


Foxearth and District Local History Society – Meeting 10th Oct 2017 – Report

The artistic connections between two painters and the Suffolk/Essex landscape.

This was a subject fully explored by Dr. Judy Ivy – Liston resident, member of the Society and university lecturer – in her talk to the Foxearth and District Local History Society on 10th October 2017. A large audience of about 25 members and guests were treated to a comprehensively illustrated exposition of the individual approaches that Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable had to the countryside of the Stour valley; the obvious affection they both had for the area shines through in their work.

Thomas Gainsborough was born in Sudbury in 1727, the son of a weaver. Having impressed his father with his talent for painting heads and laandscapes he was allowed to go to London in 1740 to study art privately. One of his earliest and best-known  works is his portrait of Mr and Mrs Robert  Andrews – newly-married landed gentry – of about 1750. This is an unusual composition in that the sitters are outside, there is no sign of the house which would ordinarily have been included as a status symbol and half of the picture is concerned with the farm land as evidenced by the seed drills and the stooped corn.  Later portraits were more conventional but Gainsborough’s favoured subjects were landscapes and it is possible that the combination in the Andrews picture was to show off his preference to wealthy clients. Some landscapes suggest a dreamy side to Gainsborough’s character and there are even fantasy compositions. Thomas Gainsborough elevated the genre of British landscape painting and was a founding member of the Royal Academy.

John Constable was born in East Bergholt in 1776- one of six children. His father owned Flatford Mill and when he left school young John worked in the corn trade. He loved to take sketching trips in the Suffolk and Essex countryside and, although his family did not want him to become a painter,  in 1799 he persuaded his father to allow him to study at the Royal Academy where he was inspired by the works of Gainsborough – who had died in 1788.  Although Constable painted many fine portraits, he found this work dull; it provided a living but his real interest was in scenes of ordinary daily life involving villages, churches, farms, cottages, mills, rivers and such like.. This was somewhat unfashionable in an age that looked for a more romantic style. One painting, commissioned as a wedding gift, is a landscape featuring Dedham church in the background and farm workers in the front dealing with a large pile of manure! Constable was a persistent sketcher and many of his most well-known paintings like Flatford Mill, The Hay Wain, Willie Lott’s Cottage have an associated number of drawings from various angles. In fact Willie Lott’s cottage was derelict in the 1920s but was rebuilt with Constable’s paintings and sketches providing valuable guidance. John Constable was elected a member of the Royal Academy in 1829. He died in 1837.

Judy demonstrated a deep level of research into this important piece of local history and warm thanks were expressed to her by Secretary Clare Mathieson. Both artists lived and worked at times in other parts of the country but the affinity which each had for the countryside in which they were raised endures in their beautiful legacies.

Next meeting: Tuesday 14th November 2017 7.30pm when Corinne Cox will talk about Foxearth and The Great War.

Ken Nice

Foxearth & District Local History Society Meeting 12th September 2017 – Report

The feelings and actions of a young weaver from Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, who served at Waterloo were dramatically portrayed by local historian, Anne Grimshaw, to members of the District Society on Tuesday 12th September. In costume of the period – which was subtly altered to reflect  different people – Anne appeared as mother Dolly, sister Sally and wife Phoebe to John Grimshaw (born 1789) ; no relation as far as Anne has been able to discover.

In 1806, very much against his parent’s wishes, John left his job as a hand loom weaver  and enlisted in the Coldstream Guards. His first letter home was from London which he described as “bigger than Blackburn”! Next he was in Spain “hotter than Lancashire” and then in Portugal which was said to have “flies everywhere” and “people sleeping in huts with their animals” In 1815, after Waterloo, he wrote again from London  about the “big fight” and mentioned that he had been injured. More about this came to light when he came limping home at Christmas 1818 giving a graphic account of how a surgeon had removed a musket ball – which had been flattened when it hit his hip. He was also injured in the right arm. Whilst recuperating he was given a carbine to shoot the rats that were around the hospital. On his arrival home he enquired whether another local lad, Thomas Pollard, whom he had met in 1811 in Portugal had been in touch. Dolly replied that he had – and he had married John’s sister Sally! John saw action in several other battles and after his army service he suffered from bad dreams and episodes of sleep screaming indicating that “battle fatigue ” is not a modern condition. He was discharged from the army in 1818 as unfit having received a number of medals and awarded a pension of 9d a day.

As “Sally” Anne described some of John’s expeience of Belgium where there was said to be a lot of fever and ague. John returned to work as a hand loom weaver and in 1828 married Phoebe Tomlinson, also a weaver, and these two became involved in the active unrest that workers started to show as they saw the introduction of machinery into weaving and steam looms as threatening their livelihood. “Phoebe” recounted her arrest, her appearance at the Assizes for rioting and her sentence of 12 months hard labour. John died in 1851 of asthma aged 61. His army record showed him to be older indicating that he may have been untruthful about his age when enlisting!

This “one woman show” demonstrated the deep level of research Anne had undertaken to compile this intriguing account in which, she said,  a few assumptions had been made on the basis of the evidence of the times. A carefully designed and interesting evening. Anne related how Thomas Pollard was quite a hero having received a campaign medal with 9 bars. The whereabouts of this decoration was unknown for some years but persistent enquiries by Anne had finally unearthed it and it now was held proudly in the regimental archives. Anne was warmly thanked on behalf on 17 members by Secretary Clare Mathieson.

Information was presented about the Society’s annual dinner on 12th December at the George, Cavendish and members should book their place with Clare as soon as possible. The next meeting will be on 10th October at 7.30pm in Foxearth Village Hall when Judy Ivy will talk about the artistic connections between John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough in the context of the Suffolk/Essex landscape.

Ken Nice