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


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!

2nd Aug | Summer BBQ at Bramford Golf Club

Our Summer Barbecue this year was an unqualified success! The weather was perfect, a cool evening after a sweltering day, and the setting of Bramford Golf Club with outdoor tables overlooking the lakes and greens provided a lovely backdrop. Sarah and Roy made us very welcome, providing a delicious spread which included all the popular barbecue foods plus a number of salads and baked potatoes and desserts too. Nothing was too much trouble for them. After the meal several ladies had a go at putting just for fun. A most enjoyable evening, and one that we may repeat!

19th Jul | ‘My Life in Harrods’ – talk by Sue Smart

What an interesting career was had by our July speaker, Sue Smart. She spent all 43 years of her working life in Harrods, from the age of seventeen as a Junior until she finally retired after being a Buyer in various departments.

Harrods began as a small store in Stepney, East London, in a single room owned by Charles Henry Harrod selling only tea and groceries. The store moved to Knightsbridge and expanded in 1849, until gradually the business occupied the whole block in the Brompton Road. After the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in 1851, Knightsbridge became a very fashionable area and the store enjoyed great success. In 1898 an escalator was installed – England’s first – and smelling salts or a stiff drink were offered to its daring early passengers after their trip! In the same year Harrods issued its first Catalogue, where all its products were listed. The Harrods motto is Omnia Omnibus Ubique, which is Latin for “all things for all people, everywhere”, so you can imagine the size of this publication!

As far as Sue Smart is concerned – she began her career there travelling from her home in Neasden as a Junior trainee in 1968. Her training took two years including one day a week at college and during that time she worked in several different departments. When decimal coinage was introduced in 1971 she was one of the “Decimal Pennies” who were stationed on each floor of the shop each wearing a sash to make them visible to the customers and offering help with the new currency. During the ’60s and ’70s she remembers the I.R.A. bomb threats and the store had to be evacuated a number of times. In 1974 a bomb did actually go off in the House & Garden Tools department which was sealed off in time to minimise damage and no one was hurt. The January Sales attracted large numbers of customers, some of whom camped outside to be first to get the bargains and takings often exceeded £100 million in this month!

One of Sue’s unusual roles as a Buyer was in the Pets Department, and one of her first trips abroad as a Buyer was with the merchandise director to Frankfurt to a Pets Accessories Trade Fair. After a day of walking around the stalls she was told that the next day she could buy whatever fancy accessories caught her eye – and the more unusual the better!

As a Buyer for the Linens department Sue visited China, India and the USA in search of beautiful hand-made products, and one banqueting-size tablecloth covered in hand-made lace which she brought back actually sold for £40 000!

Famous customers who Sue remembers include Priscilla Presley (who regularly visited the linen department), plus countless celebrities, an Arab princess and several members of the Royal family. Sue told us that Al Fayed was a very generous and hands-on employer who was often in the store and who knew many of his staff by name. After the death of his son Dodi he eventually decided to sell it in 2010 to Qatar Holdings for £1.5 billion. It was – as Sue says – the end of an era, and soon after this she retired, taking all her remarkable memories with her. We all enjoyed her sharing some of them with us!

Click CONTINUE READING to discover more fascinating facts about Harrods… Continue reading

5th Jul | Orchard Players’ Show – ‘Oliver!’

Hearty Congratulations are due to The Orchard Players and director Glyn Hill for their stunning production of “Oliver”, their annual summer show for this year.

It was without doubt one of the best versions of this show that I personally have seen, and judging by the audience reaction on the night when Capel Ladies watched it, I wasn’t the only person to think that!

Oliver is one of the best-loved of British musicals with so many memorable songs and a great storyline, but it still needs an able team of performers to step up and do it justice, and that’s exactly what the Orchard Players did! There was a large cast of 40, including 15 youngsters, many of whom had never performed before.

The setting of Victorian London seemed to extend into the auditorium with brick paper covering the front and sides of the stage, and there was a tall, brick tower to one side which Bill Sikes climbed as he fled the Bow Street Runners. Even the talented musicians who played live for the performances were in their own sectioned-off corner with a washing line of “wipes” (the silk handkerchiefs that Fagin’s urchins regularly pick-pocketed) hanging up around them! Scene changes – and there were lots of these – were executed efficiently and seamlessly, and the costumes were amazing! The lighting and special effects, like the murder scene, previously filmed in silhouette, also added to the atmosphere.

But the stars of the show were the actors themselves – each character portrayed just as you would have expected to see them in a London show! Fagin, as the cunning, silver-tongued Jewish ‘protector’ of the gang of urchins, Bill Sikes, terrifying as the murderous criminal, and Nancy as the loyal, caring street-girl who loved him in spite of his cruelty towards her. Her version of the song “As Long As He Needs Me” brought a tear to my eye.

And then there were the children! Their singing, dancing, acting and enthusiasm was AMAZING! They obviously loved what they were doing and gave top performances, especially the star of the show – Oliver! Once again, when he sang “Where is Love?” there was a lump in my throat!

There were many notable moments and great performances by a number of the cast, too many to mention here. It was certainly a memorable evening’s entertainment, and I could have watched it all over again and enjoyed it as much!

Report by Sue Woolgar

21st Jun | Afternoon Tea at Hall Farm

Afternoon tea was on the menu at our June outing when a number of Capel Ladies visited Hall Farm at Stratford St Mary. The setting was a pleasant one with views from the cafe of the farm fields and various animals including llamas, donkeys and sheep; and it was another hot afternoon so it was cooler to sit inside.

The tea and cakes were served on heavy wooden boards which were difficult to pass up and down to everyone, and although there was a good variety of sandwiches they must have been left uncovered for a while as the bread was a bit dry, There didn’t seem to be a huge choice of cakes and the scones came creamed and jammed already with minimum fillings, so the food was rather disappointing. Having placed the platters and pots of tea and coffee on the tables the waiter/waitresses left the ladies to their own devices and didn’t return to see if anything else was required, so the party felt rather neglected on the whole.

After the tea several ladies visited the farm shop to look around before returning to Capel. A slightly disappointing afternoon, especially when each person had paid out almost £13.00 for their afternoon tea-time treat.

9th Jun | Capel Fun Day Stall

The weather for Fun Day 2018 couldn’t have been better! The sun shone all day and although there was a slight breeze it didn’t affect the gazebo round our stall. After a change last year we reverted to our usual theme of home-made/home-grown produce and plants. There was a lovely selection of cakes, biscuits and scones, plus jams and chutneys; and a good number of plants and shrubs as well, with some fresh rhubarb thrown in! There were plenty of helpers on the day and we raised a whopping £118.00 which was an excellent result!