The Autumn 2016 issue of the Society’s journal (no 32) featured articles on the 1920-30s Hunger Marchers who came through the town; the Gold Street fire of 1941; the history of Cleales; the story of Saffron Walden Town Hall; a summary of Stansted Mountfitchet history; new documents relating to the 1862 murder case in Clavering; and an update on history news in the locality and new publications. There are also obituaries on two fine local historians: Ken Neale and Jean Gumbrell.
The Spring 2016 issue of the Journal included articles on the subjects of: a stroll round 1950s Walden with Bruce Munro remembering scenes and characters of the time; a look at the varying styles of fanlights on front doors in some of the town streets and how they relate to historical fashions; memories of when the programme ‘Lovejoy’ was filmed in Walden, Clavering, Hatfield Broad Oak, Berden and other parts of NW Essex in the 1990s; new archaeological and historical discoveries in the area; the centenary of the Battle of the Somme; and much else. The front cover is an original drawing by noted professional artist and designer, Brian Sanders.
The programme below is the current season, ending with the AGM on 23 May:
27 September 2017 – A wander round Pompeii – Richard Priestley
25 October 2017 – Saffron Walden – Mike Hibbs
22 November 2017 – Abbey Lane Chapel – Stephen Rapkin
24 January 2018 – Historic Houses in Essex – Ben Cowell
28 February 2018 – Saffron Walden in 18th Century – Hilary Walker
28 March 2018 – Essex Deer Parks – Graham Joliffe
25 April 2018 – Great Plague in Essex – Katharine Schofield
The Autumn 2015 edition of the Journal included articles featuring: a fascinating study of the paintings of William Tomkins of Audley End; a look at the six Essex barons who were among the 25 involved in Magna Carta; some insights into a remarkable set of solicitors’ deeds; a local connection to the slave trade; a link between the town and Napoleon Bonaparte; memories of Sewards End – and more.
In June 2015, the Saffron Walden Historical Society, under its imprint SWHS Publications, was proud to bring into publication a new book by Elizabeth Allan, Chepyng Walden. The photograph shows the author at the launch of her book, a landmark volume offering a unique and detailed portrait of Saffron Walden in the 15th century, a time when it was still known as Chepyng (or Market) Walden. The author vividly brings to life the town as it grew and changed almost six centuries ago, leaving a legacy we still enjoy today: this was the dynamic period when the magnificent church was being built, there was a rich cultural life, sophisticated trading patterns and saffron was becoming an important crop. A remarkable and scholarly book, fully illustrated with maps, charts and photographs, it has rapidly become a classic reference for everyone with an interest in the history of medieval life in the finest market town in Essex.
Edited by Jacqueline Cooper. Design by Nick Crawley. Fully illustrated in colour.
Chepyng Walden – A Late Medieval Small Town: Saffron Walden 1438-1490
by Elizabeth Allan
On sale from Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre & Harts Books. The TIC can advise postal charges. Email: email@example.com
Geoffrey Ball, a regular contributor to the Saffron Walden Historical Journal, has been awarded a prestigious national prize by the British Association for Local History. The photograph shows him receiving the prize from David Hey at the BALH agm in Birmingham in June.
Geoffrey, who lives in Saffron Walden, received the BALH Publications Award 2015 in the short article category. The article, published in the Autumn 2013 issue of the Journal, explored the history of the WW2 agricultural committee in the town and district, the so-called ‘War Ag’, based on the rare survival of its records in the Town Library.
Journal Editor, Jacqueline Cooper, commented: ‘There are very few awards for local historians, so this one matters – it’s from the British Association of Local History for the best short article in a local history journal. We are so pleased for him – Geoffrey has been one of our most prolific contributors ever since the Journal first started, and it is good to see his excellent research and writing recognised in this way.’
Geoffrey specialises in the history of agriculture and associated trades and has written a large number of articles for the Journal over many years, some of which are gathered together in the SWHS Publications volume, Land Agriculture & Industry, on sale at the TIC in Saffron Walden.
Issue no 29 of the Journal features unusual view of Saffron Walden High Street, designed by Nick Crawley, cleverly blending a view from the top of the High Street in 1820 with the same view today. Articles included an archaeology dig discovering human remains at the Tudor Works site; a WW1 story about the treatment meted out to a member of the Friends’ Meeting House, High Street, Cornelius Barritt who was victimised as a conscientious objector; a nostalgic wander by Bruce Munro down the High Street early 1950s; the life of one of its residents, Dr Hedley Bartlett, whose medical practice was in the High Street; the history of the oldest retail business in the street, Gray Palmer who kindly sponsored this issue of the journal. Articles on local villages include a pioneering study of how pastoral landscape evolved in Anglo Saxon times; an analysis of the undertakers’ records in Sampfords; an archaeology find in Wicken Bonhunt; and a look at a curious building in the grounds of Elm Grove. The major new publication by the Society, a history of Walden in the 15th century, is reviewed along with other new local history books.