• 2002
  • 2003
  • 2004
  • 2005
  • 2006
  • 2007
  • 2008
  • 2009
  • 2010
  • 2011
  • 2012
  • 2013
  • 2014


The Uttlesford group of Recorders has been in existence now for 5 years, although the Recorders scheme actually goes back to the 1970s. We feel it is now established. As a result of discussions, we now have proposals to set before you, then to have more detailed discussion in committee. We would then come back to you next year with more definite plans and, if you endorse them, will apply for funding to enable us to produce a district database for Recorders.

Why do this? The Recorders have a vital role. If we don’t record what is happening now, then future villagers and historians will have no record of what happened in the 21st century; if we turn a blind eye to the destruction or disappearance of documents and objects from the past, then again there will be nothing to pass on to future generations. Many villages acquire ever-growing collections of material but there is little knowledge of it outside their own village. It would be far more useful if it was listed and that list would be more useful still if it linked with lists from other villages and was searchable. Even if only half a dozen villages joined up their catalogues, it would provide a good resource. The more who join, the better it will be.

So tonight we are going to explain a possible approach to this challenge, invite you to make comments and ask for your mandate to take it forward. I commend it to you because:

  1. It will make village collections more accessible now to answer queries.
  2. It offers evidence which might attract funding for improved storage of material.
  3. It provides a means of passing on information to future villagers & others.
  4. It enables uou to organise an ever-growing resource.
  5. From the ULHR point of view, the co-ordinator then knows what exists locally and can ensure it gets passed on when Recorders retire, move or die.

It may be said that such material should be in the ERO or a Museum anyway – but very often it includes things that they do not require, but is still of interest locally. It also includes copies of material kept in distant repositories, thus making the information more accessible locally. It offers a resource for presentations, exhibitions etc. Photographs can be scanned and documents photocopied so easily nowadays and the Recorders need now to take advantage of modern technology to ensure this material survives and that people know what is there.

In order to promote this idea, the ULHR needs to pay for professional assistance – therefore we need funding. In order to apply for funding we need to become a fully constituted body, hence tonight’s meeting.


Jacqueline Cooper



The Uttlesford Local History Recorders have had a good year, with a number of important achievements. Firstly I have been able to thoroughly re-organise the rather out-of-date list of Recorders which I was given when I became co-ordinator of the newly-formed district group in 1998. A number of Recorders had moved away, or retired or even died in the interim and we now have a useful working list of those who are actually active in their villages. This work is ongoing, as there are still a number of vacancies, which I am pursuing via parish councils. Our thanks to those who have retired and welcome to the new ones who are giving their time to this important task.

Secondly, we have finally become a fully constituted organisation with a committee, officers and building society account. The first action of this new body was to adopt a proposal that we formulate proposals to set up a computerized database to record details on village local history collections. This has been pursued by your committee, and I would like to thank Gantwell Solutions for their excellent work. The name 'Ruth' has been adopted for the database, standing for 'Recording Uttlesford History'. The proposals include also a link to the Saffron Walden Museum website. This will mean ultimately that the ULHR have their own web page which will help to raise the profile of Recorders' work.

This project is the third of our new changes this year, and the final one has been to set in motion some additional activities and facilities for Recorders. These include a regular newsletter, the first of what we hope will be a series of workshops (this one on the conservation of historical materials) and the first pages of what will build into a Recorders' information pack. We could not do all this without the back-up of the Recorders themselves, particularly the committee. 

I am quite positive that the coming year will see even more progress, particularly if we are successful in obtaining a grant, and the Uttlesford Local History Recorders will gradually raise their profile: this in turn can only be helpful towards our essential tasks of recording the present and conserving the history of our communities.


Jacqueline Cooper

Chairman’s Report 2004

(extracts, as presented at 2005 AGM)


After the increased activity of 2003, the Uttlesford Recorders in 2004 had a somewhat quieter year, while we prepared for the plans put forward in the previous year to go through the process of detailed costing for a grant application to the Local Heritage Initiative. The grant submission was sent off in December 2004.

Apart from this, we enjoyed the first of a regular series of workshops, this year by courtesy of Saffron Walden Museum, with whom we have forged a close link. We had an excellent session, under the guidance of their conservator and curator, learning about packaging, materials and conservation techniques, plus a tour behind the scenes in the museum stores. Afterwards we were given a list of conservation suppliers and information which were incorporated into the Recorders’ Resource Pack. The packs, distributed to all members, have 15 pages so far and include a map of Uttlesford, a sample RUTH recording form, a list of useful contacts, guidelines for a parish survey and recording of war memorials, monumental inscriptions, place-names, house history and oral recording.

In May we were the guests of Littlebury History Society for our AGM, attended by 16 Recorders. As usual it was very interesting to hear about all the activity in the villages, and particularly about the Littlebury project to produce a history book. The Recorders’ 2003 reports have been sent to the ERO for permanent deposit. Newsletters have continued at intervals, but are largely superseded by regular Recorders E-News bulletins, of which I have sent about 20 or more during the past year. They cover useful information such as history websites, history news, invitations to events and invite comments regarding ongoing matters. Recorders are also being encouraged to put their researches into the public domain by making use of the Saffron Walden Historical Journal, which covers the whole of Uttlesford.

Looking ahead, our future will be dominated by the happy news that the grant was awarded in full and we can go ahead with the entire project. This will be officially launched in the autumn with a pilot project, followed by extension to all Recorders who wish to participate. Because of this changed emphasis, it has become necessary to impose a small subscription from 2005, in order to build up funds for the future maintenance of our equipment. I hope that Recorders will find this equipment particularly useful as they work to catalogue, record, display and present the history of their villages. You will be able to use it not only for the database, but also to word process research notes, scan in photographs and documents, convert slides to photographs, turn out OHP slides for presentations and compile presentations of illustrations to accompany lectures.

There are still some vacancies, but we now have 38 Recorders covering 45 villages and hamlets. This largely unsung voluntary work must be responsible for a lot of the growing interest in history and heritage in Uttlesford. So well done all of you! My thanks as ever to the committee who have been most supportive. We look forward to a busy two or three years as the project evolves.

In addition, the chairman reported to the meeting: new Recorders for Wimbish, Henham and Saffron Walden. The reports from 2004 had been deposited at the ERO, and the archivist had expressed his continuing support for the work of ULHR. There had been good press coverage of our activities, and newspaper cuttings were on display this evening. The chairman had written articles about Recorders for the Local Historian and the Family & Community History journals, to publicise the need for Recorders and raise their profile. She had also written to Uttlesford District Council, asking for a page about ULHR on their local history section. The chairman noted that Saffron Walden Library was due to close for refurbishment for 9 months in the new year, and this would affect those doing historical research. The Local Studies section, which had already been refurbished, would also be unavailable to researchers. There was unanimous agreement that the chairman should send a letter to the County Librarian requesting alternative access to research material. The chairman displayed material from the Essex Congress, a federation of local history societies, and suggested Recorders in local history groups might want to affiliate to it.


Jacqueline Cooper

Chairman’s Report 2005

(edited extract)

The year 2005 was dominated by the arrangements for equipment and preparations for the RUTH database. Its development was commissioned to Gantwell Solutions. The committee members have been putting RUTH through a trial, in order to ensure that all potential problems are ironed out, and that the database truly reflects what is most useful for village history recording purposes.


The Recorders are grateful to Saffron Walden Town Council for offering storage space for the Recorders’ equipment. The equipment came into use in April, with the A3 scanner available from August. During 2005, the laptop, projector, OHP and scanners were all well used, including training sessions and demonstrations.

The good news is that our RUTH [Recording UTtlesford History] database is almost ready. All that remains to be done is for the software developers to discuss our suggestions and for the final version to be piloted, then RUTH will be ready for launch later in 2006, with training sessions available for its use. The database will operate as an independent information logging and retrieval system for all Recorders who wish to use it, and in addition we will have a Recorders’ website both for general information and to hold a selective online version of the RUTH database, which can be updated at intervals.

Other matters

Out of 38 Recorders, covering 45 parishes, a record 24 attended our annual meeting in May when we were the guests of Manuden History Society. We received about 20 village reports, which have been sent to the ERO for permanent deposit, and a summary was published in the Saffron Walden Historical Journal issue autumn 2005. Newsletters have continued at irregular intervals, plus Recorders E-News bulletins sent to those Recorders online. On behalf of all Recorders, the chairman sent letters regarding the temporary closure of Saffron Walden Library, currently proposed to last for 10 months starting in autumn 2006. Concern was expressed about the loss of access to some of the Town Library study materials. Some individual Recorders also sent letters.

My thanks to the committee and other supporters. I look forward to the next few months when RUTH is born among us!


The year 2006 was a red-letter one for the ULHR as we finally reached the finale of our three-year database project. We decided to begin with a bang, rather than come in quietly even though the database is only in its infancy. By having a big launch and getting lots of people along, we hoped that people would be inspired to make use of RUTH themselves. In terms of the take-up of the program, this seems to have worked – by the end of our launch about 36 CD-ROMs had been given out to Recorders and others interested in their use.

The database was launched on 16 November by the Uttlesford District Council chairman watched by about 90 guests in the Council Chamber at London Road, Saffron Walden. Michael Southgate who first suggested the idea, gave a presentation showing how he is using RUTH in Radwinter, and Rosemarie Gant who designed the database, demonstrated its capabilities. We owe a huge debt to both of them for all their work on this. The Manuden Recorder, Fiona Bengtsen dealt with publicity and also made us a beautiful iced cake for the occasion, with the RUTH logo and website address as part of the design. The Chesterford Recorder, Kate McManus dealt with the packs and I would like to thank them both, and also Gordon Ridgewell who gave a lot of help on the computer side, designed the new visiting cards and took the photographs of the event. We also now have a ULHR leaflet that can go in libraries, etc.

Our thanks also to Adrian Webb and Michael Frost at Uttlesford and Paul Marsden of Gaia Technology who developed the online version of the database, and set up a number of laptops at the launch so that everyone could try out RUTH for themselves. The feedback after the event was tremendous and the advent of the database has truly put ULHR on the map. Michael Frost has responded with great efficiency to the material I have sent through to fill up the website www.ulhr.org.uk The website was praised in the BALH review as ‘a clear, effective and unfussy website'. If anyone has any ideas for further items that would be useful, please let me know and thank you to all those who sent contributions already – please keep them coming. We are still waiting for the full search capabilities and other features of the online database to be completed, but several villages have already started sending through their records. I now have a separate address chairman@ulhr.org.uk which is being used by enquirers.

We must also thank Gordon for continuing to offer training to those wishing to use our projector and other equipment. During 2006 there were 40 item loans as well as ongoing use of the A3 scanner for copying original documents. The year before there had been 35 item loans, hence the equipment is proving its worth, and the digital projector in particular has been a great boon to all those preparing local history lectures. A number of societies have affiliated to the ULHR so that they can borrow the equipment from time to time.

During the year we acquired new Recorders in Newport, Elsenham, Sewards End, Thaxted, Widdington and Margaret Roding, and there were resignations from those in Wendens Ambo, Lindsell and Ashdon, whom we thank for their past work – there remain vacancies in these parishes, and a few others such as Dunmow. During the year I sent out some newsletters and about 600 emails, some informational to all the Recorders but the rest mostly about RUTH! I also began some email RUTH updates as things progressed, sending these to all those who had asked for a CD. Information on RUTH was supplied to the LHI website prior to its closure, so that it could be included in their records being deposited at the National Archives.

There have been a number of other events this year. In May we had our usual AGM, this time at the Museum courtesy of the Curator, a very interesting evening as ever. On behalf of ULHR I attended a meeting in August to explain the new plans for the library and, at the request of two Recorders, wrote to ECC asking for a meeting to discuss improving history facilities in the revamped library, then in November we had a meeting with two ECC officers to put the case to them personally – we still await a letter in reply to this. I also had two visits to DameBradburySchool to help them sort out their archives, and have also arranged for a concordance of the Saffron Walden Town Archives to be provided for the ERO and Town Council. In September Zofia Everett invited Recorders to a conservation day at the Archive Access Point. Also in September we had a special evening at the Town Library before its temporary closure with Jill Palmer kindly hosting the evening and showing us round.

So one way and another it has been a very busy year and we look forward to 2007 when the data input on RUTH should start to enable Recorders to keep track of their growing collections, and researchers begin to find the online database an increasingly useful resource. My thanks as ever to the committee – Michael, Fiona, Kate and ex-officio Rosemarie – for all their support the past year.

CHAIRMAN’S REPORT (extracts) on 2007 activities

(given at 2008 AGM)

Our main activities in 2007 were the AGM, the IT workshop and the continuing efforts to get the RUTH database online. The AGM was held at the Bury barn, Manuden on Saturday 7 July with a speaker, Tom Doig who gave an enlightening analysis of dating old photographs, much appreciated.

Workshops have now become more frequent events for ULHR, and this time we had a very good day on computer-oriented subjects. It was held at the day centre in Thaxted on Saturday 29 September. The morning was devoted to a training session in how to use the RUTH database, and the afternoon session a lesson in how to construct your own history website. Both of these workshops were excellent, and our grateful thanks to all those involved.

The Recorders continued to operate loan system for our equipment, which was very well used last year. A number of societies have affiliated and make use of it. We have affiliated to Essex Congress, and now receive their newsletters and invitations to their meetings – Recorders can therefore advertise their events on the Congress website. A Recorders’ discussion forum has been set up as a means of exchanging news and views. As in the past, I have continued to distribute news and views to Recorders, subjects including useful websites, archival boxes, history news items, campaigns, grants information, occasional warnings and various appeals. Email is proving to be the ideal way for us to keep in touch in such a large district, and to develop our common concerns and develop a higher profile for the Recorders system.

We continue to maintain a close relationship with the Town Library, ERO Archive Access Point and the Saffron Walden Museum. At the request of several Recorders, a letter was sent expressing various views about the move of the AAP to the library. These did not influence any change of heart. We continue to enjoy cordial relations with the staff of the Library, ERO Archive Access and Museum. The curator made a valuable offer to the Recorders of temporary storage space in the new Heritage Quest Centre, and a questionnaire was circulated about this, which indicated there would be a certain amount of take-up of this offer: it was generally aimed at storing original archives that are required for easy access, but needed special archival conditions. I wrote a letter of support from ULHR for their grant application to build the Centre [granted in March 2008, to be opened 2009].The Museum is also interested in transferring their MODES database on to our RUTH format so that it can be disseminated more widely, and there have been discussions with their documents officer about this. Since the last AGM, we have gained a new Recorder in Felsted.

The Recorders committee decided to go ahead with a new website of our own,
www.recordinguttlesfordhistory.org.uk which will be launched at the AGM. It only remains to thank you all for all the work you do voluntarily in your communities and in raising the profile of Recorders and local history generally, and to particularly thank the committee for their continuing support. In June 2008 ULHR will be 10 years old, which is something to celebrate. The challenge for the next 10 years is to raise the profile of Recorders in communities, to emphasise the importance of preserving the evidence of the past, continuing to record the present and to get our local collections catalogued on RUTH.


Jacqueline Cooper


The year 2008 was a remarkable one for the Recorders, thanks largely to having an active committee who have implemented a number of ideas. We celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Uttlesford Local History Recorders by changing the name, at the agm, to the Recorders of Uttlesford History (RUH).

Hatfield Regis Local History Society appointed Robin Gurnett as our Recorder at Hatfield Heath, with Carol Toogood assisting for Hatfield Broad Oak. Elmdon - Don & Patricia Hunter passed on their collection to Chris Crane, landlord of The Dial pub who is now Elmdon Recorder. Sue Gowlett agreed to be Little Canfield Recorder. Where we are unable to find a named Recorder, or our existing Recorder is not online, we are now seeking an email RUH Contact for villages.

This was our big project of the year, giving up the old UDC website, and creating our own. It rapidly became clear that the website had far greater potential as a history resource. The website was suggested and developed by Ray and Nina Gaubert, whom we thank for their many hours of work in design and input. We are also grateful to about 25 people who have contributed material to varying degrees – without this, it would be like a pretty book cover with nothing much on the pages. As it is the RUH website provides hours of reading, hundreds of directly-accessible pages and thousands more through links to other history websites. By the end of 2008, internet usage had pushed it to the top of google and yahoo search engines, reaching a peak of 779 visitors in August 2008 with 2,275 pages read. Of the 57 parishes in Uttlesford, there was material on three-quarters of them plus many other items of Uttlesford history, journal articles, hundreds of photographs and various indexes. The new website generated a steady flow of history queries, which were either passed on to the Recorder concerned or to the ERO at the library: we can fairly claim the premier site for researching Uttlesford history.

Our series of workshops continued - thanks to Gordon Ridgewell we had a fascinating Sunday afternoon in October with a photographic workshop in Manuden.

Fiona Bengtsen, the Treasurer has been out and about talking to groups about RUH, to raise our profile. In October Fiona talked to Essex Congress who were most impressed with our work. In November Jacqueline Cooper the chairman gave a talk about the Recorders to the Saffron Walden Initiative and they subsequently gave us a grant towards running the history fair. Over the year we had some good coverage in the local press and the website really put us on the map.

History Fair 2009 planning was proceeding in earnest in 2008 with over 1000 emails going to and fro. We sent a further donation £50 to add to our previous donation of £50 to the Saffron Walden Museum for their last push for funds to build the Heritage Centre, which is going to be very useful to Recorders. Congratulations received from SSE following our petition from 20 Recorders objecting to the G2 plan at Stansted Airport. The lottery grant was wound up by the former treasurer, Michael Southgate in October. He also obtained a grant for archival materials which were distributed to Recorders. The database on 3-4 villages was successfully transferred to the new website. The Recorders’ equipment continues to be well used, with 25 loans during 2008. We bought a set of screens for Recorders to borrow.  The RUH leaflet has been re-done and copies sent out. [in 2009 with our new logo]. The website editor continued to send informational emails round the online Recorders and Associates. These covered such diverse subjects as grants, Heritage at Risk, The Times of My Life website, heritage news and various events of interest.

My thanks must go to a wonderful committee – Fiona, Kate, Gordon, David and Rosemarie, with Debbie and Zofia helping out with the history fair. And finally THANK YOU all Recorders for the work you do in your communities, much of it unsung but so very worthwhile – the History Fair was to celebrate that work and I hope it inspired at least some groups to hold their own village history exhibitions.

Jacqueline Cooper

RUH Chairman’s report for 2009

HISTORY FAIR: The History Fair was a huge success (see report elsewhere on this website). The committee felt the History Fair should only take place at five-yearly intervals but we would encourage village exhibitions – Little Hallingbury has these regularly, Debden had one in December and Wicken Bonhunt has had their first - very pleasing to see a completely new history societies emerging in Wicken Bonhunt, Debden and Elsenham. These developments are related to the encouragement of RUH but very much to the credit of the Recorders and other local historians. All a good sign that local history is alive and flourishing to an unprecedented degree in the district of Uttlesford!

WEBSITE & DATABASE: The website has settled down under webmaster Peter Upson, whom we thank for all his work. A lot less has been inputted this year (a deliberate decision) but it is still well used by internet users – there are about 100 visitors a week and we have recently passed our 10,000th visitor. The new website generated a steady flow of history queries, which were either passed on to the Recorder concerned or to the ERO at the library.

INFORMATION NETWORK: Numerous emails have been sent out by the chair with information and items of interest to Recorders as well as any queries generated by the website. The emails are gathered together now and then by the secretary for a mailshot to those Recorders not online.

RUTH Database problems have been the subject of various discussions, with the idea of making input directly online. We are waiting to see what will emerge from this proposal which the RUH committee has approved.

RECORDER PERSONNEL: Currently there are Recorders and village Contacts covering 46 named places in Uttlesford. We also have 7 affiliated societies. Where we are unable to find a Recorder we are trying to find an email Contact as in Wendens Ambo, Broxted and the Sampfords. We have new Recorders in Berden and Sewards End. The committee sent graeful thanks to Rosemary Tinney on her retirement as Recorder after carrying out the role in Berden since the 1970s.

UTTLESFORD HERITAGE: The Second Runway airport public enquiry is effectively abandoned so no further involvement envisaged for the moment. However, there are moves in discussion to protect the unique heritage of this area.

VICTORIA COUNTY HISTORY OF ESSEX: Newport historians are providing a pilot project in contributing the village history to a new volume on NW Essex which has never before featured in the VCH on a parish basis. Work on this began in August 2009 and is continuing.

EQUIPMENT: During 2010 all our equipment was well used. Our thanks to Gordon Ridgewell for keeping the equipment in good repair. A recording machine was purchased.

RUH CAKE BOOK: after this was suggested at the last AGM, Heather Salvidge of Elsenham agreed to help produce a book of cake recipes from all over Uttlesford, to include some stories or history notes. Recorders and others sent recipes and a working group who sorted them out and it is hoped to launch it soon.

Finally my thanks to a very supportive committee (Fiona, Kate, David, Gordon, Debbie, Rosemarie) – Fiona has been working overtime this year, overseeing the Cake Book group. And above all, THANK YOU to all our Recorders who do so much unsung voluntary work preserving and promoting the heritage of our beautiful Uttlesford villages. The work you do is not only valuable to your communities now, but will be even more so for future residents as yet unborn whose historical record is so much more valued and secure as a result of your efforts.

Jacqueline Cooper


Having had a red letter day before with the Uttlesford History Fair, we had another great success this year with the launch of the Cake Book which has so far been reprinted twice.

RUH CAKE BOOK: This has been a huge success, so far printing 800 copies. We are very grateful to Fiona Bengtsen for the complex task of distributing and accounting for the books, and to all those who helped us sell them. Everyone loves the book, our first publishing venture!

WEBSITE: New additions included a gazetteer of pumps and wells in Uttlesford, the Saffron Walden Cemetery catalogue of gravestones. The number of users continues to rise to about 150 some weeks, Thank you to the village Recorders and Zofia Everett at the ERO Access Point who have been helpful with information for enquirers. Our thanks to Peter Upson for his efficient maintenance of the site, and to the Saffron Walden branch of the Essex Society for Family History for allowing access to their transcriptions.

INFORMATION NETWORK: As in previous years, information emails go out regularly. Our network has now grown to over 50 Recorders and Village Contacts. The RUH continues to offer a wonderful network of co-operation.

RECORDERS: We welcome new Recorders in Tilty, Flitch Green and Farnham. We thank very much Freda Nancarrow, who covered Farnham for many years - since before the Uttlesford scheme began, as she was one of the original Essex Local History Recorders. Recorders continue to work closely with local history societies and new ones keep appearing - Berden and Manuden have now joined forces with a joint society.

UTTLESFORD HERITAGE: CPRE and others are discussing how to protect the unique heritage of this area Uttlesford and there will be a talk on this at our AGM on 25 May.

EQUIPMENT: During 2010 all our equipment was well used, Our continuing thanks to Gordon Ridgewell for maintaining the equipment and offering advice on digital problems.

RUH HISTORY VISITS: We thank Debbie Lowe who has taken on the task of organising visits for Recorders to places of historic interest. She circulated a questionnaire and we started with a fascinating evening at Ashdon Museum.

POTTERY WORKSHOP: Recorders took part in a Saffron Walden Museum workshop on identifying pottery sherds, which was extremely well organised - our thanks to Carolyn Wingfield for all her work on this (and for all the help she gives to Recorders generally).

I must once again say a huge THANK YOU to a super committee (Fiona, Kate, David, Gordon, Debbie, Rosemarie) and to all the Recorders and local history groups who do a great job in their communities.

Jacqueline Cooper

Chair’s report for 2011

(Given at the 2012 AGM)

Having organised the Uttlesford History Fair in 2009 and the 'Let Them Eat Cake' book in 2010, the year 2011 was a relatively quiet one for RUH, with our principal activity being the series of outings organised by Debbie Lowe (Wicken Bonhunt Recorder & member of the RUH commitee). We are very grateful to Debbie for going to so much trouble to fix the tour of a medieval house in Church Street, Saffron Walden, the Youth Hostel and the coach trip to The National Archives, all much enjoyed and very successful. There was also a village tour of Manuden – our thanks to Fiona for showing us round, for dealing with continuing sales of the Cake Book, and representing RUH at a well-attended local history conference at the ERO: there was great interest in her talk and our advice was sought from historians in the Braintree district keen to start a Recorders group there.

The RUH website continues to receive new material, including transcriptions of Saffron Walden Parish registers by the Essex Society for Family History Saffron Walden branch. We are very grateful to Peter Upson for maintaining the site, which generates numerous queries. As in previous years, dozens of emails have been sent round the Recorder email network, either sending useful information or queries or invitations to history events.

The Recorders’ equipment continues to be useful, particulrly the projector and laptop We added to the collection an A-board for notices. Our thanks to Gordon Ridgewell for his help with the equipment and many other matters.

Village reports continue to be added to the website and are sent to the ERO, providing a growing archive on permanent deposit about village activities

In 2013, the Recorders of Uttlesford History will reach its 15th anniversary since the district group was formed out of the Essex Local History Recorders, and in 2014 we are discussing whether to have another history fair.

My thanks as ever to a supportive committee, and to all Recorders. Our thanks to everyone for all their promotion of history in your communities. We seem to be entering a period of huge challenge to rural life as developers race to cover the lovely Uttlesford countryside with more and more commercial housing. At such a time, it is more and more important to have people on the ground who understand about heritage, landscape and conservation and can help to ensure these are always considered when planning new developments.

Jacqueline Cooper

RUH Chair’s report Jan-Dec 2012

Although the RUH has kept the officers very busy with emails and other admin, there have not been many actual Recorders’ events this year as we felt everyone was already very busy with village events for the Jubilee, Olympics etc. We had three group activities: the annual meeting at Debden, a visit to Tiptofts at Wimbish organised by Debbie Lowe, and a database workshop with Henry Blackie (husband of the Recorder) at Debden.

Two of our Recorders sadly died during 2012, Robin Gurnett in Hatfield Broad Oak/Heath, and Chris Crane in Elmdon. But we have new Recorders in Hatfield Regis and Lindsell. We currently have only a few vacancies (Barnston, Elmdon, Great Canfield, Henham, High Easter, Little Bardfield and the other Rodings) and are seeking representation there as these villages are missing out on the advantages of our network of information and support. The RUH now has its largest extent to date with Recorders or Village Contacts in 50 parishes (Arkesden, Ashdon, Berden, Birchanger, Chrishall, Clavering, Debden, Great & Little Dunmow, Elsenham, Farnham, Felsted, the Five Parishes (Broxted, Great & Little Easton, etc) Flitch Green, Great & Little Chesterford, Great Hallingbury, Great & Little Sampford, Hadstock, Hatfield Broad Oak & Hatfield Heath, Hempstead, High Roding, Lindsell, Little Canfield, Little Hallingbury, Littlebury, Manuden, Margaret Roding, Newport, Quendon & Rickling, Radwinter, Saffron Walden (2), Sewards End, Stansted Mountfitchet, Stebbing, Strethall, Takeley, Thaxted, Tilty, Ugley, Wendens Ambo, Wicken Bonhunt, Widdington and Wimbish). In addition, the history group in Sturmer, Essex asked to affiliate to RUH since they have no comparable organisation in their district, and we welcome them too.

The website has been busy, with an average of 21 people a day using it – some weeks up to 150 visitors. With the continued support of Peter Upson, the Webmaster, the Website Editor (myself) feeds in material regularly sent by Recorders and others. The village reports have been added and material from a dozen villages material on their war memorials. Over 400 emails were dealt with over the course of the year, with numerous queries coming via the website to the chairman, in addition to those which go to Recorders directly. A lot of interesting emails have been received and useful information sent out, eg. an index of articles in the journal Essex Archaeology & History relating to Uttlesford – local lists were extracted and sent to the Recorders concerned, who can consult the journals in the Town Library. We are very grateful to Carolyn the Curator of Saffron Walden Museum for sharing this valuable catalogue, and for all her support for Recorders generally. We also express thanks to John Read of the Saffron Walden Archive Society, which is cataloguing the Heckford Norton solicitor’s archive prior to its deposit in the ERO, and sent lists of deeds relating to various parishes, inviting Recorders to view and photograph the documents. We also had an approach from Bruce Tice for contact with Recorders to help with the conservation appraisals which they are carrying out in various Uttlesford villages. We continue to have a close relationship with the Archive Access Point (ERO office at Saffron Walden Library), where Zofia Everett (one of the Saffron Walden Recorders) works and passes on useful information – we send news of their events via the RUH network. Finally the RUH is grateful to the Saffron Walden Historical Journal which has given a quarter of its back page in the autumn 2012 and spring 2013 issues to a notice about the Recorders of Uttlesford History, which helps to publicise our activities.

The RUH equipment continues to be well used. The talk by Henry Blackie at the 2012 RUH agm about his database was followed by an autumn workshop, for which we thank him. The RUTH database continues to be useful for cataloguing village collections. We would also like to thank Debbie Lowe, the Wicken Bonhunt Recorder, for organising the RUH outing to Tiptofts which was fascinating.

Our financial position is very good and we decided to affiliate RUH to various organisations who work to protect Uttlesford heritage – many Recorders are very worried about the great pressure of development in towns and villages, so we have affiliated to SPAB and CPRE Essex in hope they will work to keep Uttlesford a beautiful rural district. The 100 Parishes Society has been set up and the inaugural meeting was held in June attended by a RUH committee member. The committee hopes that the new society will campaign effectively to protect Uttlesford heritage.

In the coming year, the committee plan to expand our activities with more visits, a digital workshop, a new book project and a Christmas social. We are always grateful to Recorders who squeeze these extra activities into their already-busy lives. I am constantly impressed by the
wonderful programmes being followed by local history societies and Recorders. Thanks as ever to a supportive committee, and to the Recorders who do so much to preserve the heritage of their communities. This is the 15th year since the Uttlesford group was formed at a meeting in Thaxted, so it is very appropriate that we meet again this year in the same place, Thaxted, and we thank Len Farren, the Thaxted Recorder, for his hospitality and the guided tour of the windmill. We have come a long way in those 15 years, and look forward to many more years of helping local historians to stay in touch and help each other.

Jacqueline Cooper – Chair, Recorders of Uttlesford History, 9.5.13

RUH Chair’s report Jan-Dec 2013

The year 2013 was a busy one for RUH with six group activities:

*  the annual meeting at Thaxted with a tour of the windmill in May (thank you Len Farren)

*  visits to Bartlow in the summer and Cambridge Archaeology Museum in September (thank you Debbie Lowe)

*  an excellent computer workshop in October (thank you Gordon Ridgewell and Rosemarie Gant)

*  conservation workshop at Saffron Walden Museum in December (thank you to Conservator Lynn Morrison)

*  Christmas Social at Elsenham (thank you Ray Franklin and the Elsenham Village History Society).

In addition Fiona Bengtsen, Gordon Ridgewell, Ivan Cooper and the chair have all been working on the War Memorial Book, and many Recorders sending in material. What is good about all this is that so many people are contributing to the group, and offering their time and expertise. Debbie Lowe has run a lot of outings for us, much enjoyed.

The RUH now have a very good coverage of the district, and have not had any changes in the Recorder list this year. A new RUH leaflet has recently been prepared and will be circulated in due course. There are still a few vacancies but we are happy to have Village Contacts instead. It is worrying that there are still a few villages which used to have Recorders who have not been replaced, so they do not have the advantages of belonging to a useful network.

The website remains popular with the wider world with up to 180 hits some weeks. Our grateful thanks to Peter Upson, the Webmaster for continuing to run the site for us. We are grateful to those who continue to send material to add to its interest and particularly Austin Reeve who has contributed new pages. Hundreds of emails have been dealt with, including many that come in via the website. Apart from the usual genealogy searches, interesting subjects that came up in 2013 included children's homes, searchlight sites in the war, policemen, house history, village shops, manorial boundaries, memorial seats, school history, deer parks, street names, blacksmiths, mayors of Saffron Walden and of course WW1. I am grateful to all the Recorders who helped deal with these queries, and am most impressed by their expertise.

My thanks as ever to a supportive committee. The war memorials book is our big project for 2014, the Centenary of the start of WW1 and many Recorders are also involved in their own village commemorations. We were very grateful to Gordon Ridgewell for visiting every parish in Uttlesford to take excellent photographs for the book. With very deep regret the committee received his resignation following his move. Gordon has done so much for RUH – run workshops, designed our logo, taken photographs, provided links for the website, advised and given his time and expertise on times without number. We are most grateful to Ivan Cooper of Hatfield Regis who has stepped in to complete the design of the book, which I am currently editing following Fiona’s indefatigable research effort, with help from Austin.

The amazing work that many of you do was underlined in the 2013 survey and village reports that are sent to the ERO and put on the website. Thank you all for your work in preserving and enhancing the heritage of the beautiful district of Uttlesford. Recorders continue to assist UDC with their ongoing series of village conservation appraisals, and to write letters about planning applications, trying to keep our villages from unsuitable developments. But it is depressing to see what is happening - many parishes feel themselves under siege from the mad rush to build on the green fields of Uttlesford - when we are told (by the National Trust etc) that there is plenty of disused brownfield land that could be utilised and there is no need for them to spoil the district that came tops in a poll of the best place to live! Even when UDC can be persuaded to turn plans down, they often succeed on appeal. The RUH remains concerned at the over-rapid change taking place, and has renewed subscription to SSE, CPRE and SPAB to help their work.

Jacqueline Cooper – Chair, Recorders of Uttlesford History, 9.4.14

Chair Report Jan-Dec 2014

Following an interesting annual meeting at St Mark’s College, with a tour of the building, the highlight of 2014 was the publication of our first district history book, Lest We Forget: The First World War Memorials of Uttlesford District. The work that went into this volume was unbelievably wide-ranging and demanding for the whole editorial team, and to all of them and to the dozens of Recorders and others who researched and sent in material, we offer congratulations on a very successful project.

The book launch took place during Remembrance Week on 13 November 2015 in the prestigious surroundings of the UDC Council Chamber, for which we thank their community liaison officer. About 60 people attended and we also enjoyed an interesting lecture by Jef Page on 'The Art of War: paintings of World War One'. The book has been well-received, with good reviews.

A new RUH leaflet was prepared in time for the book launch and copies have been left with the TIC, library and elsewhere – a digital version is also available on request.

The RUH Website www.recordinguttlesfordhistory.org.uk remains well-used with numerous enquiries, many of which are channelled to the parish Recorders/Contacts or the ERO in Saffron Walden – thank you to our efficient webmaster, and to all those who give their time to deal with these queries.

RUH now has a very good coverage of the district, and we welcome a new Recorder in Wendens Ambo. Many Recorders have been extremely busy with events in their villages, and they are encouraged to compile annual reports, so that a permanent record of your history and other village activities can be lodged with the ERO.

Our thanks as ever to a supportive committee, and we would like to thank two who are retiring this year, Rosemarie Gant who has been our IT adviser for many years, particularly in her work on the RUTH database and giving workshops – thankfully, she will keep in touch and is still happy to offer IT advice. We are also very sorry indeed to lose Kate McManus from the committee, and thank her for a very efficient long period as secretary, but thankfully she will remain Recorder for the Chesterfords. We hope for some new members to replace them on the committee. Thank you to all Recorders and history societies for your work in preserving and enhancing the heritage of the beautiful district of Uttlesford.