Recorder's Report 2009 - 2010


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Littlebury Parish Council: A General Report, taken from the Chairman, Michael O’Sullivan’s Annual Report May 2010.

Uttlesford Local History Recorder’s report 2009-10

This April the installation of the traffic calming features following public meetings and consultations that took place in 2007 began. They include gate features at the main entrances to Littlebury village, cobble imprint surfacing in Mill Lane and Walden Road and ‘Dragons’ teeth’ road markings on the B1383 at the village entrances. There are several Speedwatch volunteers for whom the Parish Council purchased a speedgun with the assistance of an Uttlesford District Council Community Safety Grant to assist their work.

In 2009 a number of Littlebury families were refused places for their children at Great Chesterford School even though many children had siblings who already attended the school.

The Parish Council held an extraordinary meeting in May 2009 to discuss this problem and invited the Headmaster and Mr Luke Chairman of Governors to attend and explain their position. The affected parents also attended the meeting. This was followed up by a formal written submission on behalf of the Parish Council in support of the appeals of the parents against the decision of the Governors. The appeals that went to hearing at Essex County Council were successful.

The problem of Littlebury children not getting places at Great Chesterford is likely to continue recurring in future years. Steps are being taken at District Council level to investigate long terms solutions to this problem i.e. the possibility of a new school site.

In April 2010 a very successful litter pick was organised by the Parish Council. A mass of litter was removed and disposed of by a large team of volunteers. Parents and children were involved and the team enjoyed refreshments at the Queen’s Head afterwards.

The Parish Council wishes to organise the cleaning of Littlebury Green Pond having taken advice on the environmental and wildlife implications from the Essex Biodiversity Trust. There may be a working party to consider ways in which the Parish Council could foster energy saving and other “green” projects in the parish.

New street lighting was installed in early 2010; the bulk of the cost was met by grant funding.

Parish of Littlebury Millennium Society/History Group

History Fair

The committee took turns to man the stand at the History Fair on 28 March in the Town Hall at Saffron Walden, which was well attended. We showed maps on screens, Jean Cowell exhibited her excellent collection of postcards and from a laptop Power Point displayed the activities of the History Group, running throughout the day. We sold books and answered enquiries, one of which turned out to be from the eminent landscape historian, Christopher Taylor and another from the owner of St Aylotts.

Beating the Bounds

We set out in the rain but as the day wore on the weather improved until it was quite hot by midday. We enjoyed a talk at Strethall Church given by Oriel Williams, our treasurer, about the Lords of the Manor of Littlebury Green and Strethall. Although absentee landlords, they were, many of them important soldiers and generals. We had our picnics at Lincolns, Strethall, courtesy of Kelvin and Marie Whitfield. The Littlebury Village Singers sang ‘In an English Country Garden’ to thank them. We then walked to the Temple of Victory, a one-off detour for the year, special permission having been granted by Audley End Estate, where ‘Nymphs and Shepherds’ was sung, and then to Audley End for tea and back to Littlebury ‘rec’ again. There was an excellent turnout.

Audley End

Dr Andrew Hann came to talk to us about his project to create an exhibition about Audley End in the Victorian era and to ask if we had any records to assist with this, which Gillian Williamson and I were later able to do. The talk was attended by many local historians from Saffron Walden.

Talk about Holy Trinity Church and the Church Bells

Vince Taylor and Gillian Williamson gave very interesting talks for the Littlebury Ladies group in the church, both of which were well received.

Littlebury, a Parish History

We continue to sell the book, more slowly, but steadily, through the Tourist Information Centre - eight this year, and through Nielson, also eight, English Heritage purchased forty-two to sell at Audley End House and there were about four purchases from individuals. At this rate we have stock for the next six years as there are about 130 books left.

Stone Circle in Littlebury

Paul Dawe showed us where he thinks there was once a stone circle in Littlebury, demonstrating the position with the aid of dowsing rods, and being able to repeat this time and again. Various large stones are distributed around the village.

Bronze Age Hoard

Carolyn Wingfield of Saffron Walden Museum has promised to give a talk about the finds, but the matter is complicated as the finders were exonerated and the matter still not resolved. She will let us know as soon as she has any information as to whether the hoard can be kept at the museum and will then be in touch to make a date for a talk, when she will bring the artefacts.

The Friends of Holy Trinity Church

Fundraising by The Friends of Holy Trinity Church meant that a new oak gate was fitted on the west side of the churchyard and the flint walls surrounding the church repaired. Volunteers attended two clearing up occasions in the churchyards, revealing monuments and improving the whole area, they were rewarded with a tea in the church. In November the Friends ran an Arts Weekend, selling many paintings and crafts items raising well over a thousand pounds.
A Garden Concert held in the grounds of Kings Mill meant much needed additional funds, to say nothing of an excellent evening of music.

Village Hall

Littlebury Village Hall held an extremely well attended fund raising ’40s Night.

Uttlesford Local History Recorder

During the course of the year there were several enquiries and it was good to be able to tap into the specialist skills and knowledge of members of the History Group. Every reference to Littlebury Parish found in local newspapers is carefully cut out and kept as is each ‘Parish News’ and appropriate ephemera. Local events are photographed and the files stored. The parish council and community website, is kept updated with stories and pictures about parish events. These are archived on the website itself when out of date.

I wandered slightly off piste into the next-door parish territory to write about Audley End Village, a two-part article that was published in the Autumn and Spring issues of the Saffron Walden Historical Journal. Audley End has been copiously mapped over the centuries - many maps include the village - and this formed the basis of my research. This is the first of a series of articles I plan to write about the settlements on the Cam between, and including, Springwell and St Mark’s College.

Much research on the mapping of the area led to assisting English Heritage during the process of advising the artist who created several digital ‘Phase’ maps of Audley End and Audley End village. From these projected maps the new exhibit in the Stables at the site shows the progression of this area through the centuries and, in the distance, Littlebury village. This work, led by Dr Hann, was carried out in conjunction with archaeological and architectural historians and had the benefit of recent geophysical studies and the amazing new Lidar photography taken from the air.

Visiting the Stables, which falls within the parish of Littlebury, on a bitterly cold December day with members of the English Heritage team was fascinating. We accessed the attics via the unoccupied Stables flat. We visited both its floors and finally went through an unexceptional bedroom door experiencing a ‘Narnia’ moment. Stepping through, our breath evaporating like steam in the chill air, we saw a seemingly endless open attic expanse before us, apparently unchanged for centuries. Initially there was a little discarded furniture, then, as we moved through, we saw old sacks that had been flung over the beams, maybe two centuries ago. Then there were remnants of paint marks, testing different colours, on the walls where a paint workshop was once active. A grain store with purpose built corn bins exists on the first floor at the far west end.

The stables are to be the subject of much structural restoration, but the cupola, which I was able to observe from directly underneath is in good condition and breathtaking in its complex construction. The central cross-wing of the main range of the stables beneath, is wonderful; high and light, like a cathedral. A query was raised regarding the chamfering of the ground floor internal arch on the south side; possibly the space had been divided or screened at one time. The stables still retain their mystery. Emson’s surmise that it was a fine dining hall cannot be disproved; though seeing it completely open (it is now home to the new exhibition), it appears to be the perfect shape and height to accommodate horses, carriages, chaises, equipment and all the staff once needed to service the travel requirements of the incumbents of Audley End.

The Stables reveal much about their past times and pleasures. The west wall of the double height game larder (now visible to the public), lined and partitioned with row upon row of planks of game hooks, bears a small graffiti legend, transcribed here as well as possible: ONE SHOOT 1901 8,000 BRACE PHESANTS, 2,900 HARES, 50 BRACE PARTRIDGES, 156 WOOD COCKS, 200 RABBITS, 10 TIT LARKS.


Lizzie Sanders
Littlebury Local History Recorder