Event Reports for 2010
WINGS OVER SHEPPEY - 20th January
Photo-Animation by Colin Harvey to illustrate "Wings over Sheppy" and "S.S. Richard Montgomery". Colin is well known in this part of Kent for his photo-animations/DVDs.
The first, concerned Britain's earliest pioneer fliers ("Wings Over Sheppey") and the evolution of a major local industry in the creation of Shorts aircraft manufacture on the island of Sheppey and then in Rochester. The second presentation explained the background and ever-present danger of the sunken ammunition carrier only a couple of kilometres off our part of the coast – the SS Richard Montgomery. The audience was treated to some additional background and insights from Colin as he introduced each photo-animation.
Colin explained that he first developed his photo-animation techniques as a way of bringing to life, for modern audiences, the many early stills photographs that predated the emergence and popularity of movie records. Modern digital manipulation allowed for photographs to be sharpened and cleaned so that images could be panned across or zoomed in and out to provide the sense of movement and drama demanded by the subject and enjoyed by modern audiences.
The images for "Wings Over Sheppey" had been drawn widely from private collections and official records to celebrate the Centenary of the earliest flight in Britain that took place on Sheppey (Shellbeach, south of Muswell Manor). The early manufacture and flying took place on a 400-acre site that very quickly became too small and waterlogged, so a new site was found near Leysdown and Eastchurch. We learnt about how competition and ambition led to the first successful flight, followed by other milestones such as crossings and return crossings of the Channel together with subsequent competitions and exhibitions led to innovation and commercial success. We also learnt about the tragic deaths that came from the courage and ambition of the early fliers who were determined to demonstrate their skills and industry. These included Charles Rolls at the first British Flying Exhibition on 12 July 1910 (Bournemouth). It was Charles Rolls who became the first flier to make the non-stop flight across the Channel across Sangatte and back.
Throughout this early history, there was a considerable degree of collaboration with the Wright brothers, whose designs were manufactured at the Sheppey factory (comprising a few small wooden buildings). We were treated to a series of images, including the manoeuvring by horses of planes ready for takeoff! Each early plane being constructed of fabric and wood that supported the single pilot, engine and in one case a pig to support the assertion that pigs can fly! A large number of images of people and places created a strong sense of the time as they were expertly woven together.
The second photo-animation session began with a showing of a film by Ken Rowles about the SS Richard Montgomery, made as a pilot for the History Channel. It explained how the US Liberty ship was misdirected by the harbour-master on Southend Pier to anchor off Sheerness middle sands. The draught of the fully laden Montgomery was simply too much for the low-tide depth. The ship stuck fast and before all the munitions could be offloaded, the ship broke in two and sank. The site is marked by buoys and the stark masts that stand out from the sea's surface.
Colin's photo-animation developed the story with the disturbing news in a letter from America that the wreck of the Montgomery had been raised and broken up!!! We are all entitled to make mistakes, but in excess of three thousand tonnes of munitions that remain off Sheerness made nonsense of this assertion. Originally, there were 6,127 tonnes of munitions. The authorities assume that they removed all the detonators, leaving only the phosphorous. The principal concern is that this leaves significant amounts of phosphorous in the hulk, which is inevitably breaking up as corrosion progresses and threatens to allow the munitions to spill out. If phosphorous is exposed to air, it ignites.
Colin explained the history of the Liberty ships – at a cost of £2m each under Lend-Lease terms, these ships were built to survive one journey through the hostile waters patrolled by the U-Boats to bring relief to the beleaguered British Isles, although some made several journeys. He also explained that the decision to leave the 3,173 tonnes on the seabed was driven as much by the disruption it would cause through the need for evacuation of 40, 000 people if the wreck were raised and 'disarmed'.
So, how much of a threat is the SS Richard Montgomery? The jury is out and it is not clear how local residents view its presence. As one audience member commented, if only 30% of a munition is explosive and those explosives degrade over time, the figure of 3,000 tonnes may be an exaggeration. However, no-one disputed that if the wreck blew up there would be significant damage from the blast and maybe from resulting waves. Sleep easy?
Colin has produced other Photo-Animated DVD's in the Sheppey Series about Blue Town, The Dockyard and Sheerness amongst others.
Nigel Heriz-Smith and Graham Sargent
Last weekend in January
RSPB invites participation in a country-wide survey of garden birds. Each contribution is based on one hour of observation. Their surveys can be seen here.
TRADITIONAL ORCHARDS - 17th February
Our guest speakers were Dr Robert Baxter (Lynsted's Park Farm Community Cherry Orchard Group) and Pippa Palmer with Sally Evans (North Kent AONB). Our speakers explained how local communities across Kent are being encouraged to preserve remaining traditional fruit orchards for future generations. Lynsted's Group has led the way for more recently formed groups throughout Kent who have similar aims.
We were reminded how fruit-growing and animal grazing went hand in hand under the canopy of orchards in the past. But in recent times, farmers have favoured cultivation of fruit on shorter stocks for ease of harvesting and turned to a more limited range of varieties. We were reminded how important the work of Brogdale is in maintaining the diversity of fruit collections.
We learned that traditional orchards tend to contain several varieties to aid pollination and support longer harvesting seasons up to two months. Park Farm has fourteen varieties.
The Orchard Group have worked with the land-owners (the Neaves family), North Kent AONB, and Lottery Fund support to promote the value of traditional orchards in our community. To this end they have developed a series of seasonal events and sought to study and diversify the habitat to help fungi thrive, monitor bats, and create a haven for insects and small mammals including a colony of slow worms that were moved from a building development in the Parish. Within the Park Farm Orchard, there are interpretation boards, a sculpture by a local artist and a wooden seat in memory of John Disney, who had been central to the success of the Group. The many events to take place in the Orchard include the very popular Halloween children's party, Blossom Day, Cherry Day, and barn dances. All these aspects are publicised and celebrated through their excellent web site – www.lynsted-orchard.org.uk
The second speaker for the evening was Pippa Palmer from North Kent AONB, which covers a large swathe of north Kent from the White Cliffs of Dover westwards, taking in 137 parishes. The area of coverage includes 70,000 inhabitants and has 5 million people living within 5 miles.
North Kent AONB supports and promotes village festivals (one in Lenham had cherry pizzas.....apparently delicious!), country walks, the diversification of crops including the cultivation and traditional harvesting of thatching straw. Returning some chalkland to traditional management has seen the return of several orchids, butterflies and moths. We were also shown the fascinating carved bench and pilgrim at Harrietsham – surely worth a visit! Society members will recall the story of the Noble Chafer Beetle and we were asked again to look out for old (50 years old or more) plum and cherry trees that have rotted parts in which the beetle might be found.
Returning to the theme of traditional orchards, Pippa applauded the inspiration given by Lynsted Park Farm Community Orchard Group. North Kent AONB is now working with four other communities to manage and restore traditional orchards – Sheldwich, Stockbury, Lenham, and Milsted. It is their hope that this small network will grow and share their experiences, providing the foundation for a much more ambitious project to identify and support other orchards across the whole of Kent. Already, Lenham has held open days to identify how the community views orchards and their history and created an attractive map as a work of art that captures their story. We also learned of the connections between Lenham and Grants Morella Cherry Brandy that was produced locally. Alongside stories like this, the AONB has sponsored the writing of a play (Cherry Ripe) that celebrates the history of cherries since Roman times until 70 years ago.
Finally, we heard from Sally Evans, who has built on the magnificent work of Pippa to build more community engagement in traditional orchards. She invited Society Members to help the AONB identify the location of all traditional fruit orchards throughout Kent to help the AONB build a database and that will support a bid for significant Lottery Funding to further expand the network of traditional orchards with their local communities. If you know of any old orchards, please do visit the AONB pages and let them know.
There are also efforts to identify traditional orchards by the People's Trust for Endangered Species who recognise the importance of retaining diversity in habitat for many endangered species.
One final thought left by a question asked from the audience - if you do want to plant a variety of cherry or other fruit, you can choose a suitable rootstock (some apples can be grown on very dwarf stocks) to suit your circumstances. However, you do need to give Brogdale a year's notice as this service is provided "on demand" and it takes a year to graft your favourite variety onto a rootstock that can be suited to the most modest garden.
ARCHAEOLOGY ON YOUR DOORSTEP - 10th March
An illustrated talk by Paul Smith about recent excavations at Perry Wood.
Bitterly cold winds did not deter people from coming out to Greenstreet Methodist Church Hall, to hear Paul Smith give a presentation on the excavation in Perry Wood, Selling, undertaken last year. This was a follow-up to the guided walk of the earthworks that many of us had enjoyed with him last October.
We were reminded that the archaeological research group, made up of volunteers from the Selling area, was under the expert guidance from professionals from the Trust for Thanet Archaeology. Paul's presentation told us about the earlier research from past reference books and historic maps which led around 15 local Selling people to re-discover and update the information on the earthworks last year. A plan of the site had been printed in the nineteenth century when the ditches were surveyed during a general survey of earthworks in Kent. In recent times only part of the south-eastern corner of the enclosure could be seen on Ordnance Survey Maps as they had been thought to have been largely destroyed. However aerial photography showed this not to be true. The extensive growth of bracken obscures the earthworks for most of the year but in February 2009, when the latest survey started, they were more easily visible. The group of volunteers were shown how to identify the salient features and taught how to use modern surveying equipment to accurately record the tops and bases of banks and ditches. This enabled them to draw an up-to-date plan of the earthworks.
Later into the project, the group dug some narrow trenches, across the earthwork ditches, but this did not yield sufficient significant finds to accurately date the earthworks. These 'finds' included pieces of Saxon pottery, some Mesolithic flints and part of a more modern metal tool.
By Autumn, the funding had run out and it was time to draw some conclusions. The hard work of the local volunteers had found and recorded that a large, rectangular, ditched enclosure survives in Perry Wood today. It is now thought to be of Roman origin, possibly on the site of an Iron Age Fort. There is a causeway entrance on the west side and the bank remains on the south and west sides. On Windmill Hill there are the remains of an old post mill near the causeway. The mill features in early photographs of the area.
Now that the local people have an accurate plan of the site they are in a position to undertake further explorations in the future should funds become available. Further research may allow more accurate dating to take place and it is thought that geophysical research could also throw further light on matters. This project shows how an interest by local people, led by professional experts, can make a significant contribution to the knowledge of the history of the neighbourhood.
Maybe someday there will be a Visitor Centre in the middle of Perry Wood with Information Boards outlining the recent research. However, enlarged car parks and hoards of visitors might spoil the peaceful atmosphere of the area as it is today. Perry Wood is open all year round for everyone to explore and enjoy. If you don't know the area why not go along and have a look at the earthworks site for yourself?
Note: In 2009, several Society Members visited the Perry Wood site.
THE THOMAS CLARK QUIRE - 24th April
The Thomas Clark Quire group presented an evening of musical performance from the Georgian period composed in Kent or associated with Kent church or chapel performance. We heard about the history behind the performance and the instruments played. Appropriately, this concert took place in Lynsted Church. Included Georgian period refreshments and nibbles during the interval. By popular request, here is a link to the Recipes for the evening's entertainment.
The Thomas Clark Quire perform "West Gallery" music: the type of music you would have heard coming from the west gallery of Kent country Parish churches between the years 1770 and 1840.
This is a part of our musical history, which has become virtually extinct and the Thomas Clark Quire has sought to revive it in the robust and lively manner in which it would originally have been performed. Performing in costumes of the Georgian period they give us a glimpse of our heritage by interspersing the musical pieces with anecdotes, quotations from period documents, information about the people of that time and the society in which they lived, sang and played.
With performers and audience numbering fifty, this was a memorable and intimate performance that raised much applause, smiles, and several surprises. The Lynsted church gave an ideal backdrop to music dominated by Kentish composers and intended for church choir performances during the Georgian and early Victorian period (1770-1840). While this wonderfully entertaining evening was civilised enough, we heard that this was much less so 200 years ago when choirs and the clergy operated with open hostility. One story tells of a choir falling out with the clergyman, getting up and walking to another church to perform. Why should there be such a conflict? We were reminded that the clergy was drawn from genteel families with whom they hunted, danced, dined and entertained; Quires were made up from "the middle ground" – farmers, blacksmiths, carpenters, journeymen, ostlers, and other skilled artisans. There was very little respect or common ground between these two classes and it wouldn't be so unusual for quire members to be drunk as well. We also learned of the different ways services were conducted, churches decorated and pulpits designed.
Anecdotes and insights peppered the evening and brought to life the period performance. Locally recognisable names of tunes included Boughton, Sittingbourne (a setting of Psalm 49 by David Senior (1746-77), a schoolmaster – if anyone knows of this man, the Quire would love to hear), Orlestone, Kemsing, Faversham, Canterbury, Queenborough, and Cranbrook! Two pieces played and sung in the first half were chosen to reflect the current period of the ecclesiastical calendar – Ascension and Pentecost.
Period Instruments of the Thomas Clark Quire explained.
The first half of the performance ended with a fascinating talk about period instruments with examples being played (some made by the player) to reinforce how the look and sound changed with changes in material, use of keys, and fundamental design principles. Perhaps the most surprising was the bass shawm (a conical woodwind instrument) that stood seven feet tall! In the 18th century, many instruments were made locally to the players and tuned to each other – but with no guarantee that instruments of neighbouring communities would be in tune with each other!
Thomas Clark was a prolific Kentish composer of psalmody from Canterbury who lived between 1755 and 1859. This Kentish Quire adopted his name in recognition of his contribution to West Gallery music. The concert finished with the hymn "Grace 'tis a charming sound" to the tune "Cranbrook", set by Thomas Clark and more often today sung as "On Ilkley Moor bar tat"! So, not a Yorkshire tune at all!
At the close of the first half, and before we tucked into the magnificent spread of Georgian nibbles and punches (try the recipes if you wish), the Society invited Rev. Steve Lillicrap to accept an archival copy, hard-bound and gilt-decorated, of the Monumental Inscriptions found in the churchyard surrounding Lynsted Church. The research was undertaken by Society members with participation by friends from the Teynham and Lynsted History Society. The printing and binding of this unique book were generously provided by Barrett & Co. printing company.
LOCAL HISTORY MORNINGS - 1st and 15th May
Venues: Lynsted Church Community Room (Centre of Lynsted Village) and Methodist Church Hall on Lynsted Lane near the A2.
If you have items to add to our online archive or our collection, please do contact us using email@example.com.
We had to digest more than 1,200 items (and that number grows steadily as people find more material and offer it up for us to scan, photograph or keep)! This is an on-going project, so we are happy to continue to receiving more material if you are willing to share it with us. Thank you to everyone who has or will help us with this project.
We hosted two Open Mornings for anyone with photos, slides, newspaper clippings and other documents of the Parish and surrounding area to help create a permanent record of recent history for future generations to enjoy. We enjoyed the company of a very large number of people who dug out some fascinating collections to kick off our important project. We have collected together material from near and far.
The Church of Sts Peter and Paul, Lynsted, hosted this Open Day, where we displayed many of the contributions received over the past year. Some material naturally fell into booklet format, while other individual contributions helped create a 25-minute photo-animation that was continuously projected in the Community Room. Of particular interest to many visitors were the display-boards put up by the sub-group and the Park Farm Traditional Orchard Group (agricultural theme). The Society's main displays highlighted our interest, firstly, a future publication of material about Royal events celebrated by Parishioners to coincide with the 2012 Jubilee. The second display gathered together items about the Parishioners' experiences of war-time and we hope to build on this to produce a publication for 2015, the anniversary of the end of WW2.
There was a steady trickle of visitors throughout the day, with a welcome lull at lunch-time. This meant that Society Members were able to spend more time with individual visitors to explore the material they brought with them and proposed home visits at a later date to dig into personal collections. We also want to follow up with lengthier discussions with those visitors who are willing to go into more detail about their wartime or Royal celebration experiences. The photo-animation also attracted a steady audience and lively discussion of the scenes presented.
This year, we were able to fill several gaps in our records. People were identified in photographs of events. Dates were identified for key events (e.g. burning down of the Co-op in Greenstreet; design and installation of the east windows damaged by bombing; inauguration of our local volunteer fire-station). The quality and diversity of contributions made the day's efforts worthwhile and the sub-group will follow many leads up in the coming months.
The Heritage Day was made even more rewarding by our Members' support on the day, welcoming our guests and plying them with tea, coffee and cakes.
Perhaps most moving was the answer to a question we posed about a man in our wartime display whose identity we hoped to confirm on behalf of a Lamberhurst researcher into their WW1 stories. Who would have thought we would be visited by the man's son? The visitor simply said, "that's my father, who died when I was 2 years old". Our visitor was not aware that his father had featured in the Lamberhurst Book of Remembrance. We have loaned a copy to him. [Note: Later we were able to introduce these two people and our visitor met up with the Lamberhurst author to hear more of his father's tragic accidental death at a firing range.]
When we were setting up the Heritage Day displays on Friday, we unexpectedly met up with Mr Luckhurst who had a book ("Hells Corner 1940" by H R P Boorman) in his hand showing a photograph of the hole in the church roof, made by the bomb in 1940. Another visitor came with a newspaper cutting showing the same photograph! All new to us.
We were also visited by a London-based researcher who is writing a book about the stained-glass designer (Francis Spears). Alan Brooks brought with him the original watercolours from which those windows were created.
Some 40 years ago, a local Alec Lewis found a battered old brass plate in a builder's skip and salvaged it, recognising the historic importance but not sure where the plate came from. For many years he allowed his children and grandchildren to practice brass-rubbing with it but then stored it carefully to protect it from damage. We were able to confirm that the brass was documented as "probably hidden under the choir stalls" because its location was not known. We can only speculate that when the old oak boxed pews were removed or war-damaged cleared up, the plaque was loose and carelessly thrown out with the old wood! This 400-year-old plaque could so easily have been lost to land-fill and now Alec is working with the Society in the hope of reinstating it (subject to the bureaucratic processes of Canterbury!).
Three visitors with Oyler family connections also gave us an opportunity to expand the scarce material we hold on farms and houses in and around the Parish – for example, Claxfield, Loyterton and Malt House.
As happened last year, some visitors came because they have connections to the Parish but didn't think we would be interested in their old photographs – our strong message is that every record is valuable and, when stitched together, will build a subtle and more complete picture of how our Parish has evolved and changed over many generations. Our interest goes far beyond the 'famous, and infamous' family names because we believe strongly that the true character of this Parish is as much about the businesses, farmer-workers, children, housewives, visitors and landscape (e.g. orchards, hops, deneholes) and how national events affected people in our Parish.
With close to 3,000 images, documents, and other extracts in our archive, we are sure we are only scratching the surface. So, keep it coming!
Nigel Heriz-Smith - use firstname.lastname@example.org for ideas about or offers of material in our Archive
DORMICE IN COPPICED WOODLAND - 30th May
Several Members shared cars to drive to a local managed coppiced woodland. We were shown the distribution of dormouse boxes and how successful the project had been with the active support of Wildwood advisers. We were then joined by the local gamekeeper, Jeff Handy, who explained his role as gamekeeper for 23 years. Followed by the ever-popular tea and cakes at our Chairman's home.
Bank Holiday Sunday found fifteen members of the Lynsted with Kingsdown Society gathered at Hare Cottage for, what has now become, an annual walk around the land farmed and managed by our Chairman.
Last autumn Hazel Ryan, from the Kent Wildwood Trust visited us to talk about the 'protected' common dormouse. She told us about nest boxes that she had placed in Erriott Wood to help with this project. Last year some dormice had been found in the boxes and we were eager to have a look to see if there was any sign of a return of these attractive mammals. Neil had a quick look at three of the boxes which were mounted about two metres above the ground on tree boles. Hazel had cleaned out the boxes in the Spring but there was evidence that fresh leaves had been brought into some of the boxes, so we are optimistic for their return this year. We were joined by Jeff Handy, the gamekeeper for all the surrounding woodland area. He gave us a summary of the job he does and explained how he fed and managed the land for game shooting. He gave an interesting explanation of land management from his viewpoint and claimed that 80% of the countryside conservation work is dependent on the gamekeeper's successful management of the land for game shooting. In answer to many questions put to him, he told us that predator species numbers have to be kept in check to achieve a 'balance' of species and prevent the songbird population declining even further.
Woodland Walk in KingsdwnWhen asked about the decline in the insect population which is such an important part of the food chain he said that he shared our concern but could give no clear reason for it. He also worried about the re-introduction of the sea-eagle in South East England. If the population of such large birds increases we will need a much broader-based predator-prey 'pyramid' and that will be difficult to achieve. Jeff also discussed the increasing use of wood pellets as fuel in renewable energy schemes and felt that this would help restore the coppicing system and economy in North Kent. Converting derelict woodland timber to pellets would help re-establish the broad range of wildlife that coppiced woodland encourages.
After a couple of hours strolling around, enjoying the views, admiring the speed of the local hares and the grace of the buzzards soaring high above our heads, we returned for tea, cake and Pimm's jelly in Neil and Jenny's idyllic garden. There may not have been a Mad Hatter nor a Dormouse asleep in a teapot at our tea-party but the sun shone down on us as we admired the expansive view from the garden making it a perfect finale to the afternoon.
CHALKLAND MEADOWS - 7th June
A visit to unspoilt chalk-land flower meadow near Battle - Numbers were restricted to manage access and to get the most from our guide. This unspoilt, delicate and colourful environment has been used for hay-making for generations. The walk took 3 hours with frequent stops to admire the variety of flowers. Images from the day. The setting was tranquil, the company friendly and the diversity of flowers in this unspoilt habitat cannot really be done justice without visiting this lovely meadow. So, no surprise that plans are afoot to repeat the visit next year in response to the interest shown by this group.
BUS TRIP TO WALMER CASTLE - 18th September
Made possible and all the more enjoyable by David Powell who takes the group on his vintage Titan-class double-decker bus.
The morning of September 18th found thirty members at various 'pick-up' points waiting to clamber aboard David Powell's 1948 Vintage 'bus for the start of our latest trip. We could hardly believe our luck as we were, once again, blessed with perfect weather for our journey to investigate part of the East Kent coast. By the time we stopped in Faversham to pick up the last four passengers the 'bus was probably top heavy with all the upstairs seats occupied as people enjoyed the views of a secluded world rarely seen.
We arrived in Deal well before lunchtime where we disembarked and soon scattered ourselves through the town to investigate the various activities on hand. There was a Folk Festival in progress with several different groups of Morris Dancers and Clog Dancers to entertain us as we sat outside one of the many cafés and pubs along the promenade and enjoyed our lunch. There was plenty of time to stroll along the pier, view Deal Castle, one of Henry VIII's coastal fortresses, or visit the Time Ball Museum on the front. One of the best-known features of Deal front, the Time Ball, which rises and falls above the Museum roof every hour was, unfortunately, out of action but the Museum contained more information about the Shutter Telegraph, part of the nineteenth century messaging system that we had first learnt about during a Society visit to Perry Wood last year. After this, there was still time to join other members and sit on the pebbled beach to watch the waves and eat fresh shrimps from a paper bag!
Titan Bus to Deal and WalmerSeveral of the group decided to spend more time in the afternoon exploring Deal while the remainder climbed back onto the 'bus for the short trip along the coast to Walmer. The castle at Walmer is another Henry VIII fortification and is the seat of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports - a post held by such famous names as Wellington, Churchill and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. There was an interesting audio tour around the castle to see, amongst other things, original Wellington Boots. Other people were more attracted to walking in the grounds and gardens around the castle.
Finally, most of us then met up again at the Castle Restaurant where an appetising cream tea was tucked into. By late afternoon we were ready to climb aboard again for the spin home through the beautiful Kent countryside - remembering, of course, to collect those who had stayed on the promenade in Deal, on the way! Our grateful thanks again to David for a memorable day out in the late Summer sunshine.
AGM & KEEPING CHICKENS - 22nd October
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Outgoing Committee - Chairman: Neil Anderson; Treasurer: John Jackson; Secretary: Mary Fielding; Events Coordinator: Norma Baxter; Membership Secretary: Lis Heriz-Smith; Committee Members: Nigel Heriz-Smith (Webmaster), Elaine Egalton, David Bage.
Members of the Lynsted with Kingsdown Society met on Friday 22nd October in the Methodist Church for their AGM, followed by a talk on keeping hens.
|Death of David Bage. The meeting began on a sad note as the Chairman, Neil Anderson, reported the recent death of committee member David Bage. David had been central to many parish initiatives over the past 56 years and he was a founder member of the Society.|
In his report as Chairman Neil Anderson said that his second year had been enjoyable and thanked the Committee and many Members who had supported the Society and lent a helping hand with the busy schedule of talks, visits, events and projects. The events had delivered many experiences under the guiding hand of Norma and members were asked to share any new ideas with her or other Committee members.
He thanked John Jackson, the retiring treasurer who had held the post since the Society began and Nigel for his work on the website which goes from strength to strength. Membership had remained stable at around 100 with events attracting 30 or more people, producing a lively and enjoyable atmosphere. In May the Society began its next project, which is to record the story of the Heritage of the Parish. It hosted two 'History Mornings' that proved to be a great success. The work continues and the first group of records is available on the web-site.
Neil Anderson was re-elected as chairman and Graham Sargent was elected to the Committee. The Treasurer reported that the Society was financially secure and it was agreed that subscription rates should stay the same at £12.00 for a single person and £20.00 for a couple.
Keeping Chickens in your Garden (from Churchman's Farm)
Members enjoyed a talk given by Mary Bruce from Churchman's Farm, accompanied by the clucking and occasional squawking of her friendly hens, told us how easy it is to keep a few hens that will provide the family with a plentiful supply of fresh eggs. Supermarket eggs can be ten days old before they reach the shops. She assured us that hens are not time-consuming to keep and only require a small amount of space.
Mary told us why it is advisable, to begin with hybrid hens and told us how to house and feed the hens to get the best results. She then talked about the signs that we should look out for that might indicate there is a problem and answered questions from the floor. By this time the hens were getting a little bored and fractious. Perhaps they had heard this all before. Then came the highlight of the evening when members were able to handle and stroke the hens and even give them a little cuddle.
The meeting finished with tea and delicious homemade cake. mmm mm!
WORK OF A GAMEKEEPER - 24th November
The Society enjoyed a very interesting talk by Jeff Handy on his life as a gamekeeper. Jeff is currently the keeper on the Tory Hill estate and came clad in the traditional Tory Hill tweed, which is worn by everyone from the estate on shooting days and when they visit other shoots.
Jeff told us how his interest in wildlife had developed as a child, around Sevenoaks, and he was taken under the wing of his local gamekeeper so that he could keep an eye on him. He started his career as a gamekeeper on Little Sharsted Farm for the Neaves family where after a couple of years he began to hatch and rear his own birds. He eventually moved on and after a year on an estate near Folkestone, he was offered the gamekeepers position on the Torry Hill Estate.
He explained that during his years at Tory Hill his gamekeeping role changed and when John Leigh Pemberton took over the management of the estate, they stopped releasing birds and managed the wild bird population. He also told us that he now plays an active role In the National Gamekeepers Association and various steering committees.
Jeff explained how nowadays gamekeepers played are more involved in conservation and saw his role as maintaining a balance within the countryside. He also said that without the money bought into conservation by shooting, wild-life habitats on many estates would go unmanaged and disappear.
He also told us that he is also worried about the number of badgers in the country today and blamed them for the demise of the hedgehog. He said that at a time when badgers were at a historic high, they were given a level of protection as great as many endangered species.
It was a very interesting evening and we felt that we had all learned more about the job of a gamekeeper and the way in which we help to shape the countryside around us.
CHRISTMAS CAROL SINGING - 16th December
Members' Event Carol Singing with seasonal nibbles took place in a family home in the northern part of our Parish.