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Recorder's Report 2007

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Hadstock had a very busy year, raising money for an extensive programme of Church restoration and then spending it!  In February, the Friends of St. Botolph’s had the first of their concerts – Penelope Manser (Soprano) accompanied by Gale Ford (Piano) sang songs by Britten, Brahms, Head and many more.  In March, there was a concert of chamber music arranged in association with the Guildhall School of Music: young musicians played Mozart’s E minor Violin Sonata, Janacek’s 2nd String Quartet and Brahms’ B major Piano Trio. Three more concerts took place in May and June, thanks to Bernard Lanskey and his students.

The Annual Village Fete, held on a lovely, 18th June, raised over £6,000 to be divided between the Village Hall and the Church Building Fund. It seems an incredible amount for a village of only 264 adults but is always a community effort, involving a lot of hard work by everybody. Also in June, Essex County Council ran its last flint-walling course here and very nearly completed the renovation of the churchyard wall.  Robert Foster, who has done the course and is learning bricklaying too, has undertaken to complete the last short length – not enough for a four-day course.

With the aid of grants of £49,000 from English Heritage, £3,000 from the Friends of Essex Churches, £2,000 from the Lankelly/Chase Foundation and £500 from the Stansted Airport Community Fund together with £16,000 raised by the Friends of St. Botolph’s, and the Church’s Building Fund, the builders Bakers of Danbury started work in early July. Scaffolding enveloped the Tower, N. Transept, S. Transept and Vestry.

During the summer, a new roof was put on the Tower and a new access trap made. The North Transept was partly re-roofed. The Vestry chimney was rebuilt. Extensive stonework conservation and repairs were carried out to the whole of the Tower, the N. Transept, the S. window of the S. Transept, and the N. Porch outer archway.  Fairhaven of Anglesey Abbey was responsible for much of the conservation. The Transepts’ windows needed new lead and glass in the top tracery.  The walls of the N. Transept had loose Victorian cement plaster carefully removed from the original underlying flint walling. Some signs were found of the blocked archway and doorway uncovered by Warwick Rodwell in his excavation of the interior in 1976.

Roger and Sylvia Jiggins of the Essex Bat Group kept an eye on proceedings. On their first visit they found that Hadstock Church has five species of bats in its roof. This is most unusual – there are normally only about 3 species.  Hadstock has Pipistrelles, Natterers bats, Brown long-eared, Serotine and either Whiskered or Brandts bats (these last are very rare and hard to tell apart without handling them). Buildings Archaeologist Dr. Jackie Hall kept a close eye on the removal of the cement plaster from the N. Transept. She and Matthew Beesley took samples of what appears to be original Saxon mortar in the hope that we can find the money to get them dated.  The work was completed by early November, the scaffolding cleared away and we can admire our smart Church!

The Parish Council has worked very hard on a consultation document for Policy Choices and Options for Growth. This is to help the Uttlesford District Council to make decisions for the period up to 2021. The Council is also working on a Parish Plan, after consultation within the village to see what we want for the future. Rick Albrow has put a lot of work into this too. The Parish Council also obtained a grant of £6,000 from Essex County Council’s Community Initiatives Fund and with voluntary help added a play trail, two springies and a play tractor to the children’s area of the Recreation Ground in time for its grand opening in April. Following elections in May, the present Councillors are:- Hamish McIlwrick, Tim Plumridge, Isobel Fish, Pat Cropper and Robin Betser.  Andy James has taken over from Sue Crawley as Parish Clerk.  The Council is still debating with the County Council about what to do to make the accident black spot on the aerodrome safer. Continental drivers coming out of the depot in the old hangars turn down the hill and do not always get back to the left side of the road. There have been several accidents though fortunately without casualties except for the death of Nigel Bowman two years ago.

The Friends arranged more concerts during the summer.  At the end of June, we had a concert of recorder music given by Ferdia Stone-Davis, Henrique Meissner and her students. These were very talented youngsters, one boy only 8 years old!    All sizes of recorder were played, sopranino, descant, treble, tenor and bass. Heather Poore was the pianist accompanying them. Katy Edgecombe, mezzo-soprano, with Ilga Pitkevica, piano, gave a recital of Songs by Purcell, Schubert, Howells, Bernstein and Gershwin, on 13th July.  In September, the Friends put on a Music Festival between 23rd and 29th September, again arranged by Bernard Lanskey.  Students from Hills Road Sixth Form College gave a concert of Choral and guitar music. Young string players from Singapore School of Music, where Bernard now teaches, with Bernard on the piano, gave four more concerts which were much appreciated. The young Chinese players showed a lot of talent.

There were problems over maintaining the Village Green, the Churchyard and the Recreation Ground. After more than 40 years of mowing the grass and trimming the edges and trees, Albert and Gerald Rowlandson retired. The new contactor did not do a very good job so many volunteers helped out. Tim Plumridge arranged a rota of lawnmowers to cut the Green which made a terrific improvement in its appearance. Malcolm Seward and John Crawley worked hard round the gravestones, as did Peter Crawley with the strimmer. Rosamond Hudson and Ann Seward spent a lot of time

raking up cut grass in the churchyard. The very wet summer meant it had got very long and was too thick to leave to rot in situ. Albert Rowlandson died peacefully at home on 9th June at the age of 85. He had an amazing memory for stories of the village in which he was born and was almost our oldest inhabitant.

Once a month throughout the year, Hamish McIlwrick has been leading a walk on Sunday mornings. Quite a few people have walked for an hour or two, ending up at a pub for lunch.  There are a lot of good walks in the Parish of varying lengths. It is possible to walk in a large circle round the area with many radiating paths to and from the village. A new footpath map is being prepared as there are a lot of people keen on walking, many with dogs who love it too.

During 2007, there has been yet another healthy sign for Hadstock. Old people have died, other people have moved out, but a number of people with young families have moved in. Nine young children have come into the village, one baby was born and another is expected in June 2008. We have enough for a toddler group now and, as they grow up, we should be able to start a youth club again. We are also fortunate in that the new arrivals all seem keen to join in the life of the village and are fitting in well.

Pat Croxton-Smith

Hadstock Local History Recorder