On 24th February 2017 John Clarke passed away. He was 76. It is fair to say that John was my inspiration in choosing local history as a hobby. His encouragement and help has been invaluable.
John taught me how local history can help the community and how it can encorage your own sense of community. Over the last five years we had many long telephone conversations. We never talked for less than an hour at a time.
Gilston church was standing room only for John’s funeral and afterwards there were many who came to High Wych Memorial Hall to pay homage to him. Our thoughts are with Yolande, his widow. How lucky she was having lived with such a generous, warmhearted and kind man. All those who knew him were enriched by him.
Meanwhile, there is no better way to honour John’s memory than to reread the histories he wrote of both Gilston and Eastwick. To read them once again visit the pertinent pages by clicking on the following links: John Clarke’s History of Gilston and: John Clarke’s History of Eastwick
The below picture shows William Camp, nursery worker and great grandfather of Eric Wilison. Eric recently has been worki ng on his family history and together we have produced a very interesting article. You can find it on the articles as pdf page or download it directly here: Camp Family History
Walking back from Sawbridgeworth one evening this week I took the below photograph of the High Wych allotments. I’m quite proud of it to be honest. Here it is:
For quite a while, writing an article about the history of the allotments has been on my to-do-list. Maybe the sight of this picture will provoke people into coming forward with some stories.
Thanks already, Theo
First of all a happy, prosperous and peaceful 2017.
I am taking a break from publishing articles in the Link, High Wych’s Parish Magazine this month. This website needs a bit of updating, particularly older articles. I have also now added some back ground information on the relevant page.
The Sawbridgeworth Local History Society also takes up a lot of my time. The society would like to have its own website and is looking for volunteers who can help. Personally I would prefer it if this could be done using the same software as this site does: WordPress. The society’s needs however has a few requirements that go beyond what is being done here so my own talents will not suffice. Please contact me if you think you can help.
The Society also needs a logo. Possibly this could be a version of the above picture, an emblem which can be found on one of the old alms houses in Sawbridgworth. Anybody with a bit of graphical talent please contact me! And whilst you are volunteering, what is stopping you joining the society ylourself!
Thank you very much.
One of the nice things of having this website is coming in contact with various people inside and outside this country, people who usually have some connection with High Wych. As a results of these contacts I sometimes rewrite earlier articles. My work as amateur local historian becomes all the more interesting because of this.
A recent example has been my contact with Alan Ward whose family roots do in deed go back to High Wych. His great grandparents were Arthur and Alice Ward who lived in Vicarage Lodge opposite St. James’s Church. Alan alerted me to a lovely story involving the oak trees from Vimy Ridge. In these days of gloomy if not disastrous news stories we all need some good news. Click on the below link and perhaps you will feel a bit better.
Thanks go indeed to Alan Ward.
Happy Christmas, Happy New Year,
Hertfordshire University Press just published an interesting book about the history of windmills in our county. Entitled ” Wind , Water and Steam” it was written by Hugh Howes. It is, as they say, available through all good bookshops and I can thoroughly recommend it. If you are interested, you can find more information on : http://www.herts.ac.uk/uhpress/books-content/wind,-water-and-steam
It reminded me of my first foray in the subject of local history when, in 2009, I helped my mother in law write and publish an article about the windmill that once stood on the corner of Broadfields and High Wych Road. My rewrite will take into account information from Hugh Howes’s book as well as an article written by Gary Thorp in the early nineties. Watch this space!
Meanwhile why not buy a copy of “Wind, Water and Steam”.
Many people coming to this site do so in search of local history to do with Sawbridgeworth, the next town to High Wych. Indeed, yours truly, the High Wych village historian was and is very much involved with a local history group in Sawbridgeworth. Until recently that group operated under the umbrella of U3A.
For a variety of reasons that proved unworkable and it was decided to seek independence. That process is now finished. As from 27th October 2016 we are a society with officers and all. Yours truly was appointedchair person. We also drew up a constitution. According to this our aim is: to research, collect, record and preserve the history of Sawbridgeworth and its surrounding area and share it through public meetings, and in printed and/or electronic formats.
Eventually there will be a website where we will publish the results of our research and members can work on projects. Please be patient whilst that is set up. For the moment watch this space for news about the Sawbridgeworth Local History Society.
Talk to you soon, Theo
Recently I started research on the Manor of Groves. History of that estate goes back to the middle ages. The Manor of Groves was the place where local vips such as the Barnards, the Buxtons and the Egertons resided. As always I will appreciate help from all who think they have a story, a picture or any other information.
I can already show you one picture. It was given to me by Douglas Scott. The Scotts were the last private occupants of the Manor before it became a hotel. The photograph shows Hadrian the Bull on what had until then had been a cricket field. Shortly afterwards, in 1987, the Scotts left for Gloucestershire where they still live and are engaged in raising pedigree South Devon cattle.Isn’t Hadrian beautiful?
Currently I am preparing the second of two articles about John Sapsford (1922 – 2010) a local history luminary who wrote about Sawbridgeworth and High Wych.
In his later years John was active in promoting the Rivers Orchard Project. The importance locally of Rivers Nursery (1725 – 1987) cannot be underestimated. John Sapsford collaborated intensely with Elizabeth Waugh, author of “THE ART OF PRACTICAL POMOLOGY, THE HISTORY OF RIVERS NURSERY, a book I cannot recommend enough. Elizabeth came up with the below tribute:
For a number of years, I enjoyed working with John afternoons in his bright sitting room. I was attempting to pull together the facts that would form the basis for writing of the rise and fall of Rivers Nursery, one of the most important in terms of employment and prestige and certainly the longest surviving of local businesses. John was a fount of local knowledge in the best possible sense: he gloried in the accurate recording of events, having a positive attitude to assembling mundane facts in chronological order, in bearing witness to his times from his place in them. Unlike many writers he did not choose to aggrandise himself. He seemed to take pleasure from paying attention in an intelligent manner and noting what he observed.
Although he focused on several other subjects too, his relation to the Rivers Nursery is a good example of his skills. His father was one of the long-term employees of the company which at its height in the early 20th century employed up to 300 people – but one who rose to be manager. John never worked for Rivers but in addition to being a good archivist of his father’s documents, he was quietly collecting information as he grew up and went to work for other employers. As John witnessed the prosperous times and the decline of the business as well as the eventual rebirth of Rivers Orchard as a local heritage, he was there at a crucial period. In his later years, he found time in his industrious way to make notes and take pictures and to share them with all who were interested.
His efforts can be valued for being comprehensive and his own modesty allowed him to see the people and events he walked through without bias. His quiet achievements and accurate knowledge certainly underpinned the efforts to preserve the memory of Rivers Nursery, in its way the embodiment of the rural Sawbridgeworth that is so quickly disappearing.
The below picture, taken on 1st September 2016 shows Rivers Orchard in its full glory. It is good the Orchard has been saved!
Currently I am preparing publication of an article based on the writings of John Sapsford. As some of you may know already, John Sapsford (1922 – 2010) wrote extensively about the history of High Wych and Sawbridgeworth. I received a lot of help from John’s daughter, Wendy Oxborough who supplied me with some lovely photographs. Amongst those is the below picture taken in 1907 at the wedding of Alice Sapsford and Walter Bird. Perhaps some of your ancestors are in it as well!
According to John Sapsford’s writings the people in the above photograph are:
Backrow left to right: Frank Bury, Susanna Thurgood, Percy Saban, Harry Tucker, William Bird, George Childs, Emma Thurgood, Nellie Thurgood, William Sapsford, Jim Eaton, Bertha Rickett, Minnie Rickett.
Middle row left to right: Lilian Bury, May Tucker, Louisa Sapsford, Walter Bird, Alice Bird, Alfred Sapsford, Liza Saban.
Bottom row left to right: Leonard Thurgood, Harold Thurgood, William Bury, George Rickett, Emily Tucker, Arthur Sapsford, William Rickett.
Talk to you soon. Best regards, Theo