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16th May | Guided Walk round Manningtree

Village sign for Manningtree  Essex

It was a bright and breezy afternoon the day we went on a walk around Manningtree, accompanied by our guide Josie.

Manningtree is the smallest town in England, and is well known for its swans on the River Stour – which marks the border between the counties of Essex and Suffolk. As it flows past Manningtree it is tidal, and it is popular with both sailors and fishermen.

Much of the town’s wealth in Elizabethan times came from the cloth trade, and some of the weavers’ cottages are still standing.

For two centuries Manningtree and Mistley were important brewing centres and ports, and you can still see the old warehouses next to the quay – although they have now been converted into modern apartments.

In the 17th Century Matthew Hopkins was the Witchfinder General and over a period between 1645 and 1647 he condemned two or three hundred women to death. They were bound and thrown into the river – and if they sank they were declared innocent, but if they floated it meant they were guilty. Those who were pronounced witches were then hung and burned at the stake. A group of witches were hung on The Green, just behind the High Street!

The first market was established in 1234, and is still held every Tuesday and Saturday in Market Place in the town’s centre.

At one time eels were caught in the river from flat-bottomed boats and then smoked, using old wood from a church which was pulled down. The eels smoked in this way were called Holy Smokes.

We stopped to look at Mistley Towers, designed by the architect Robert Adam in 1776. These twin towers were originally part of a church dedicated to St Mary the Virgin which was later demolished. We passed the Mistley Swan statue in its pond, all that is left of the grandiose plans to turn Mistley into a salt water spa town to rival Brighton in the 18th century.

Manningtree has a lot of history attached to it, and it has given some of us a taste to find out more. Thanks to Josie, our Blue Badge Guide, for a very interesting afternoon.

Report and photos by Sue Maynard

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18th Apr | Visit to ‘The Place For Plants’, East Bergholt

IMG0075A (2)What a lovely way to spend a warm spring afternoon!! Seven members of Capel Ladies Club visited the ‘Place for Plants’ at East Bergholt. We were not a large enough group to have the intended guided tour of the gardens, but were free to roam by ourselves. Most of the daffodils, magnolias and camellias were just finishing flowering, but some of the rhododendrons were just starting. There was also a beautiful area of flowering fritillaries. It was very quiet and peaceful but with a lot of birdsong, and we did catch the rat-a-tat-tat of a woodpecker – but never saw where he was. There were lots of healthy plants to see in the garden centre, and a well-stocked gift shop. Naturally, we could not end our afternoon without the obligatory tea and cake!!

Report by Audrey Broadbent

Photos by Beryl Backler

 

20th Mar | “Kiss Me Quickstep” – New Wolsey Theatre

Kiss-Me-Quickstep-square.pngOur March theatre trip was to a show with a ballroom dancing background, and the stage area in the auditorium had been transformed into the Empress Ballroom at the Blackpool Winter Gardens!  The polished wooden floor was surrounded by seating on all sides and there were glitterballs hanging from the ceiling.  The play’s setting was a throwback to the original “Come Dancing” competitions, shown on TV from the ’50s onwards, and we followed the stories of three different couples who were competing.

This involved watching the couples actually taking part on the dance floor, and then seeing them interact behind the scenes in their dressing rooms which were cleverly created by seamlessly wheeling several dressing rails onto the dance floor to surround a private space.

The couples, each from different backgrounds, arrived separately, and we were soon aware of their various hopes and dreams as well as the problems and worries they had left behind at home. For each couple the dance competition was their chance to find a path to fame and fortune, and to forget their humdrum lives for a while.

As it turns out the contest is a pivotal time for each of them and by the end their destinations are decided for better or worse. For some it has turned out well, while others have to come to terms with reality rather than dreams, but there is still hope for better things if they can move on.

Throughout the show the announcements over the tannoy preserved the atmosphere and tension of the dance contest and kept us in the loop along with the contestants waiting in the dressing rooms to come out and take part. There were some good performances and some dazzling ballroom and Latin dancing as well – a very entertaining and thought-provoking show.

21st Feb | Meal at The Queen’s Head, Little Wenham

For our February outing we made a third visit to the Queen’s Head at Great Wenham where once again we were made very welcome by Mark, Patsy and Linda. A hot buffet meal was laid on with the choice of chicken curry, beef tagine and lasagne, with a variety of side dishes including chips, jacket potatoes, rice, salad and seasonal vegetables. A range of desserts available to choose from included pecan pie, chocolate fudge cake, white chocolate cheesecake and fruit salad.

There was a good atmosphere as people enjoyed their meals, and at the end Sue Crane thanked the staff for all their hard work in the preparation. A very pleasant winter’s evening out for Capel Ladies members.

20th Dec | Christmas Social in the Vine Lounge

Our Christmas Social in December was great fun as usual. A delicious buffet provided by members, a huge Christmas Raffle, Members’ Hamper Draw (won by Linda Morrison) plus quizzes and Secret Santa gifts! We are now looking forward to our new programme of  activities for 2019, and to welcoming our new committee and chairlady after our forthcoming AGM in mid-January.

6th Dec | Christmas Meal at Bramford Golf Club

The Capel Ladies Club annual Christmas Meal was held at Bramford Golf Club this year, where we all enjoyed a tasty three-course festive dinner, in pleasant surroundings amidst good company. Here are some snaps of the occasion:

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Next on the agenda is the Christmas Social on December 20th, which will round off our 50th Birthday year in style!

15th Nov | Chelmsford Shopping Trip

marconi_banners-7a__largeOur Christmas Shopping trip this year was to Chelmsford, a different destination for us and one that was to prove very popular. Our coach dropped us off near the station which was very convenient for all the shops. There was a covered market, open every day, with a variety of stalls, plus two different shopping malls with a very good selection of shops.

We had had an early start and many of us wondered whether there would be enough places to look round and shop in but we needn’t have worried. Plenty of eating places too for coffees and lunch! A good day out! (And hopefully some of our Christmas shopping done too!)

Coming up we have two Christmas events to look forward to:

Our Christmas meal out at Bramford Golf Club, on December 6th, where I’m sure we’ll be made very welcome; and our Golden Christmas Social on December 20th in the Vine Lounge, which will round off our special 50th Birthday Year!

Wishing all our members (and readers!) a very Happy & Healthy New Year 2019!