Recorder's Report 2008 - 2009


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Parish Plan
Within one year the Parish Plan for Littlebury was completed and it has now been adopted by UDC. Dozens of Littlebury, Littlebury Green and Catmere End parishioners collected their copy at a launch at the Queen’s Head. The illustrated Plan deals with various topics of village life including transport, traffic, housing, leisure, personal and community safety, planning and development, the environment and leisure. The product of a year’s work by volunteers from all over the parish, it examines how we see our villages, identifies areas for improvement and will be, as Sir Alan Haselhurst, MP, attending, suggested, the foundation stone for action.

Sir Alan congratulated the Steering Group for the work that had been put into the Plan on behalf of the parish and noted that the Parish Council would be the envy of both District Councillors and Members of Parliament since 76% of respondents to the plan questionnaire said that they understood what their Parish Council did and who their councillors were, 79% believing that their views were represented fairly. He added that Littlebury parish was in many ways a microcosm of Uttlesford as a whole, its issues and concerns reflecting that of the district, the disparate geography of which is composed of many villages.

Parish Council and Community website
Littlebury now has a new with an events calendar and useful information about council and community affairs. Ongoing work keeps it up to date.

Playground The ‘rec’
Rabbits, moles and waterlogging at Littlebury Playground following heavy rain are a perennial problem. The ditches to the north were cleared with the costs being met by a grant.

Community Speed Watch
A team can often now be seen in Littlebury. They have a positive impact on traffic, inhibiting speeding in the village.

Community action in Catmere End
Over the weekend of 3/4th January the villagers cleared the pond of a mass of overgrown and unsightly weeds, and tidied up the area around it. A digger and dump truck were hired, and the whole area was transformed, with parts of the pond exposed that had not been seen for many years. The support from the village was amazing! At any one time, volunteers from 15 households were on site, either digging, sawing, chopping, clearing or burning. Virtually every household whose members were not on holiday, disabled or sick was represented. Part of the exuberance can be explained as it offered the first opportunity in many months to get chain saws, strimmers, hedge cutters etc, out of the garage – and to light a bonfire. One over-enthusiastic volunteer had to be banished, and only allowed to return minus his chain saw!

There was a constant flow of tea and coffee from nearby houses, while Isabel Leeming set up an urn in the garage for regular tea-breaks. Isabel also provided a cauldron of her mean, hot mulled wine, which really did reach deep into our frozen bones at the end of the day - and all went home wreathed in smiles. Such was the enthusiasm that plans are now being made for a bulb planting event, and a mid-summer barbeque beside the pond, with many offers of regular maintenance of the area around it.

Friends of Holy Trinity Church
Three churchyard clearance days brought progressively more volunteers out each time to give the Victorian monuments some much needed attention. The Friends had raised enough money to have the flint and brick walls repaired and to replace the old gate on the B1383 with a new oak one.

Parish of Littlebury Millennium Society/History Group
In 2008 we ‘Beat the Bounds’ of the parish for the third time and three Junior Summer History Days gave local youngsters an opportunity to find out more about Littlebury, its Roman heritage and the collapse of Henry Winstanley’s lighthouse on the Eddystone Rocks in 1703.

Littlebury is famous for Henry Winstanley who built his ‘House of Wonders’ in Littlebury and erected the first lighthouse on the Eddystone rocks at Plymouth at the request of William III. He was tragically killed when this collapsed, with him in it, during the great storm of November 26th 1703. As part of our Junior Summer History Days programme we decided to build a large model replica of his lighthouse and despatch it in a ‘storm’ of our own making. With permission to do this on Church Meadow, the site of Winstanley’s ‘House of Wonders’ that had once had its own brick model lighthouse built in the garden, we were all set for the project.

In the preceding weeks we amassed quantities of cardboard boxes and tubes and during the day built a 12ft high scale model in sections at the village hall. The children and their parents divided into four teams: ‘Base with Goods Gallery’, ‘Airry’, an area open to the elements, ‘Kitchen and Bedroom’ and ‘Lanthorn’, for the lamp and 60 candles. We worked with written instructions, patterns and a ‘white model’, all of which were prepared in advance to ensure that we finished within the day.

Altogether about twenty children and teenagers between the ages of 3 and 17 got stuck in, showing immense concentration as well as parents, grandparents and other interested adults. After a picnic lunch on the recreation ground we completed the four sections by 5.30pm. We offered them up to each other to see if they fitted – mercifully they did.

Luckily the promised rain held off and we lit a barbecue for all the model makers at a house near the meadow, the adults imbibing ‘Littlebury Lighthouse’, a beer brewed by Saffron Brewery’s Dave Camman, a much missed manager of our local, The Queen’s Head. In the evening, as dusk fell with the sort of atmospheric skies we would have ordered if it had been possible (a rainbow, deep blue skies and a golden light), we carried the sections of the lighthouse into Church Meadow while many Littlebury folk turned up to watch. The lighthouse was successfully assembled and we attempted to light the candles, which, due to a sharp breeze, unfortunately kept blowing out; but when a high-powered torch was played on the tin foil covered ‘Lanthorn’ candle compartments instead, the effect was bright and illuminating.

The children were by now at a fever pitch of excitement and, with a background of thunderstorm sound effects, careened around the wavering lighthouse with turquoise net waves, waving them up and down, creating ‘stormy’ conditions with wild and generous abandon. At a given signal they surged forward after the final thunderclap crescendos died away and our beautiful lighthouse disappeared promptly into a sea of long wet grass. Within seconds our careful model makers of the daytime turned into tempestuous waves of the evening, rising and falling on the quickly disappearing edifice. It was a long day but certainly an exciting one.

The Littlebury Village Singers
This is a fledgling music group who meet up to perform at village functions and occasions, welcoming any newcomers, and from all over the parish. No auditions are required; all that is necessary to take part is the ability to carry a tune and a great deal of enthusiasm. The first performance was held in the church at Christmas time.

Lizzie Sanders
Littlebury Local History Recorder