Archive | September 2018

20th Sept | Guided Walk around Hadleigh – with Gill Dudley

Nine Capel Ladies took part in a walking tour round Hadleigh, a town which has 250 listed buildings and is famous for seeing off Tesco’s after a battle lasting 26 years! We were met by Gill Dudley, a Blue Badge volunteer guide, and we started off by the bus station where she told us all about Sir Cedric Morris. He was born in 1889 and was famous both as an artist and a plantsman, and lived for many years at Benton End. He loved irises which he grew and bred, and in the spring you can see the irises he grew in the Cedric Morris Gardens by the bus station. He died in 1982 and is buried in Hadleigh cemetery, and earlier this year two different exhibitions were held in London to celebrate his life’s work.

From here we moved to near Partridges to see the obelisk milestone, which we discovered from old pictures Gill had with her had been moved from the opposite side of the road. The bicycle shop opposite led Gill to tell us about the Gayford Flyer, a cycle race held in Hadleigh each year named after local man Oswald Gayford who was born here in 1893. In World War 1 he joined the Naval Flying Corps and earnt the Distinguished Flying Cross. His flying experience led to his appointment as officer in charge of the RAF Long Range Flight, and in 1933 along with his co-pilot Gilbert Nicholetts he flew a record-breaking distance in a huge Fairey long-range monoplane from Cranwell in Lincolnshire to South Africa in one flight, with extra fuel stored under the wings. It was 5340 miles and took them 57 hours 25 minutes to much acclaim and press attention. He later became Commanding Officer at RAF Wattisham, and later Bomber Command. He died in 1945.

We then moved on to the Market Place where Gill explained the symbols on the Hadleigh sign, the lamb for the Lamb of God, the V stood for ermine, meaning purity and the 3 woolsacks for the wool trade. She talked about the wool trade and how it brought wealth to East Anglia and also a little about how the wool goes from fleece to cloth. She spoke about carding the wool and Irene in our group discovered the origin of her surname Carder! The market got its Royal charter in 1252, and is still held regularly every Friday morning on the Market Place just off the High Street.

We looked at Victoria House that has a picture of an unknown man or possibly a woman, no one is quite sure and the picture is of unknown origin. We heard about John Ansell who was a millionaire and ran a department store in Hadleigh. He was keen to help the children of Hadleigh get an education so he built a school which is now Ansell Hall. This is now a multi-purpose building for use by the community.

The Corn Exchange had its moment of fame when a scene from the Lovejoy TV programme was filmed there, and nearby we spotted an old water pump. Hadleigh didn’t get piped water until 1930!

We stopped to look at St. Mary’s Church with its lovely 13th century broach spire. The graveyard there is unique in that it was the oldest continually used burial site in Suffolk.  The Deanery Tower is late 1400s and it was built for William Pykenham, the Archdeacon of Suffolk. The bricks are all handmade and the blackened bricks were charred and used for the decoration. It is said that it has very little in the way of foundations but it has stood firm for over 500 years! The remains of his gatehouse are in Ipswich, the Pykenham Gatehouse near the library in Northgate Street.

Turning round we saw the Guildhall which over the years has had many uses and been extended. Originally it would have had shops downstairs, but it has also been assembly rooms, a school and a corset factory.  We walked to the back of it to peep in the delightful little gardens and then came to the end of the tour.

Gill was a lovely lady and she had with her a folder full of old photos and newspaper clippings showing old pictures of Hadleigh which were interesting too.

Report by Di Barker

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Photos by Pat Bradford

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6th Sept | History of the Co-op Movement – talk by Chris Matthews

Chris Matthews was our September speaker on The History of the Co-op Movement. He began by saying that he grew up in London where he got his first job at 13, delivering newspapers for his local Co-op.  Now here he is in his thirties still working for them as the Manager of Woodbridge Co-op & a Director of some aspects of the work the Co-op does in this area.

The Co-op movement was started by The Rochdale Pioneers, a group of twenty-eight people (one of whom was a lady), who decided that the rich merchants were taking advantage of them by adding ingredients to products to make them weigh more, to the detriment of the quality of the goods.  They started in 1844 calling themselves the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers. They struggled to amass £28 over four months, but were able to open a warehouse from which to trade at 31 Toad Lane, Rochdale, on 21st December 1844.  They traded in flour, butter, sugar, oatmeal and candles, and soon expanded to include tea & tobacco, all goods sold at fair prices.

Chris told us that The East Anglian Co-operative Society follows the same principles as the pioneers in that they do what is right for the people. It was started by John Castle of Essex in 1861, later joined by George Heinz of Ipswich in 1867. Together they opened a little shop at 34 Carr Street, Ipswich, which was registered on 3rd March 1868, and was later to transform into the flagship Co-op Department Store. Eventually Boss Hall Farm was bought to supply dairy products in Ipswich. The first official Co-op Supermarket was the Solar Store (now Morrisons) that was eventually built on the same site.

The East of England Co-op is now made up of 150 stores across Norfolk, Suffolk & Essex, and – as in the old days – customers can still become shareholders by paying a membership fee of £1 which entitles them to an annual dividend payout.

The Co-op is still a great supporter of local communities. They promote local food producers and source many of their goods from our region. In addition they have a number of good causes which they support and they pride themselves on being a business for people and communities not just for profit.

The Co-op was the first company to introduce degradable plastic bags, and they led the way in introducing Fair Trade products such as bananas, tea, coffee, sugar and chocolate.

Chris brought several bars of Fair Trade Chocolate for us to sample, and it was passed around and duly devoured. He was an extremely good ambassador for the Co-op, and we all enjoyed his talk and his chocolate!