Issue No 42 (Autumn 2021) on sale at Tourist Information, Harts Bookshop, Waitrose and Saffron Walden Museum, price £4, or by post – see contact on website.
A Changing Walden – photographs by Richard Jemmett
Scenes from Old Walden: the 1910 Saffron Walden Pageant by Gillian Williamson
Flashback: the 1951 General Election by Martyn Everett
Paths to Salvation: Walden’s medieval wayside crosses, lost saints and the battle of Assandun by Simon Coxall
Community Archaeology in Time of Covid: the Clavering Castle Environs Project 2020-21 by Jacqueline Cooper
The Right not to Kill: the story of Lansbury Gate Farm, Clavering by Martyn Everett
Thomas Netter of Walden and the Conversion of Lithuania by Francis Young
Obituary Richard Dick Jemmett 1922–2021 by Martyn Everett
Journal No 33 centred on various aspects of religious history locally, prompted by the 500th anniversary since the Reformation began in 1517, and its aftermath. Subjects included: Ritual in the Pre-Reformation Church at Walden by Elizabeth Allan; a new archaeological investigation at Tilty Abbey, one of many monastic institutions abolished at the Reformation – this was by Rachel Clarke & Maggie Stevens; the role of Sir Thomas Smith (born in Walden) in the Reformation, by Jeremy Collingwood; an extract from William Harrison’s Description of England, describing in contemporary terms how the Protestant Reformation had changed the ritual of the Church; a pioneering and important new study by Kevin Davey of the activities of Quaker radicals around the Saffron Walden area during the Protectorate; a transcript by Martyn Everett of a remarkable journal kept by a man employed in 1851 to sell Bibles to the poor in Saffron Walden district; building projects at Abbey Lane Congregational Chapel by Stephen Rapkin; memories by Michael Yarrow of his childhood experiences of attending the Plymouth Brethren meetings in Saffron Walden in the 1940s-50s; the biography of an unusual country vicar, Revd John Handson Sperling at Wicken Bonhunt, by Deborah Lowe; and a summary of how the Catholics returned to worship in Saffron Walden in the early 20th century. This very full and fascinating issue is no longer available in retail outlets, but can still be purchased from the Society at the usual price of £3 plus postage.
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 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.
The beautiful gold Saxon Ring acquired by Saffron Walden Museum, found in the fields of NW Essex, is featured with a splendid colour photograph on the front cover of the Saffron Walden Historical Journal, No 28.
Another specially-commissioned article is by Christopher South, the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire broadcaster, recalling his memories of 1950s Walden. Christopher was a junior reporter on the Saffron Walden Weekly News at that time and writes fondly, and often hilariously, of the personalities he encountered and the atmosphere of the town half a century ago.
Another article that will bring back fond memories is Geoffrey Ball’s research on the story of Blyth & Pawsey, the firm of agricultural engineers who once were a big employer in the town.
The recent closure of the Methodist Church in Castle Street, has prompted a look at the history of this church which now no longer has any chapels left in NW Essex, its members having joined other churches.
Littlebury author Lizzie Sanders contributes the last of her articles on the hamlets of Audley End, using little-known old maps to recreate the history of North End, just outside the town but once within its boundaries.
There is also an article about Samuel Pepys and his connection to the town, the Charter Weekend held in Saffron Walden, WW1 centenary events, the story of a Quaker who travelled to America in the 18th century, a study of an unusual house in West Road, Saffron Walden and the memories of the Head Woodman on the Audley End Estate.
The wide-ranging impact of the First World War on life in Saffron Walden is the theme of the Spring 2014 issue of the Saffron Walden Historical Journal, a bumper issue of 40 pages which was published on 28 April 2014. More than dozen specially-commissioned articles are complemented by about 70 illustrations, including many never published before, and numerous photos of the men of Walden who fought in the war, 159 of whom did not return. Photos of some of these men, recently found in a cupboard, are published for the first time.
Starting with one man’s personal account of soldiering right through the war, the journal continues with an in-depth and very perceptive analysis by John Howard of the reasons behind the extraordinary anti-German riot which took place in the town soon after the outbreak of war. The immense efforts needed on the Home Front are the subject of other articles by Jacqueline Cooper. As the war developed, military tribunals were introduced with increasing numbers applying for exemption. The conduct of these tribunals and the experiences of conscientious objectors are examined by town historians, Malcolm White and Martyn Everett. Local residents have loaned some remarkable postcards which reflect what must have been the most noticeable effect of WW1 on the streets of the town – the billeting of thousands of troops in 1915 and other times. This affected the economy of the town and impacted on children’s education. Saffron Walden’s expert on WW1, Robert Pike, has contributed a number of articles, while the role played by women in the war is exemplified in Deborah Lowe’s detailed biography of one remarkable nurse.
This issue also has a new look. The journal team has sadly lost the services of former deputy editor, Gordon Ridgewell who has moved out of town: ‘We would like to pay tribute to Gordon’s work,’ commented editor Jacqueline Cooper. ‘He has given his expertise, energy and enthusiasm over the past ten years through more than 20 issues, and helped to make the journal an important part of the town’s history scene.’ Martyn Everett has now become deputy editor, with the graphic design now in the hands of Nick Crawley, who has redesigned the journal.