Chelmsford NT Group Newsletter Spring 2024.pdf

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Chairman's report

From Chris Bellamy

All the autumn talks went well. Please see the reports on the Programme page. Thanks to Paul Chaplin for the mince pies at the December meeting!

Maurice Austin has managed our funds and choices for the East of England wish list, and our contributions have been sent to NT National Office at Heelis. Several NT staff have sent appreciative emails of “thanks”, which he has circulated to the committee.

David Simmonds, our past President, continues as a volunteer at Hatfield Forest and also gives talks which raise money for the NT. He will be speaking to the Galleywood Horticultural Society at 7:30 pm on 22nd February at The Keene Hall Galleywood on “The Coast of Essex” non-members welcome. On Friday evening ,13th September 2024. he will be speaking about Hatfield Forest. to the Wilderness Foundation meeting at the Essex Young Farmers C entre at Whitbread’s Barn Chatham Green CM3 3LQ.

I have circulated emails received around the Christmas period from Midlands & East of England NT staffs’ newsletter about NT projects and activities including a video by NT Director General Hilary McGrady. Please contact me if you would like to see these.

Several committee members read the NT AGM notes and reports, prospective candidate’s profiles and voted, and later watched some of the AGM.

Most of you will have received the 2024 handbook and I am glad to see on P20 a piece about joining Supporter Groups in England and Wales.

I attended on behalf of the Chelmsford & District Group the Excursions Exhibition at Wembley Football Stadium for information about future trips and holidays from the various stands and collected a number of useful brochures and ideas. I enjoyed, with others, a conducted tour of the dressing rooms, many photographs and walk to the pitch side and viewed the interior of the stadium.

Please look at our up-to-date website and, as webmaster Keith Otter is retiring, we need a new volunteer(s) as webmaster.

We are all very sorry to hear of the death of Alan Arnot, former Treasurer and active member of our Group. H supported his wife Jackie during her decade as Chairman,; she is now our President. He was also a former Chelmsford Mayor, Chair of City Twinning, Member of the Chelmsford Civic Society and of the Chelmsford U3A.

Long Arm of the Lore!

By Shirley Deering

Never ridicule the past, it might catch up on you!

Alec looked grim as he ushered his brother-in-law into the lounge.

“Graham, I’m going to ask you outright. Are you having an affair?”

Graham looked startled and horrified.

“What? Surely you don’t think I’m cheating on Ruth?”

“I’ve seen you a couple of times with a very attractive young lady who I did not recognise. Other people have mentioned the same thing.

“I admit I’ve taken a colleague out to lunch. She is being of immense help to me with a very tricky project I’m working on. I’ve wanted to discuss certain points away from the office and where we would not be interrupted. That’s all our meetings have been, just for business.”

“That’s not how it looked to me, or to the other people.”

“Sorry Graham, you and the ‘other people’ are putting the wrong connotation on a perfectly innocent situation. I give you my solemn oath I would never be unfaithful to your sister.”

“I am delighted to hear it, but, may I suggest that in future you hold your, er, business meetings within the confines of the office.”

“Point taken.

“Now, let me ask you a question. What is that wooden monstrosity I see standing inside the patio door? Is it meant to be some kind of animal?”

“Yes, it’s a crouching cat, about to pounce on its prey. The Haredale Estate is coming up for auction soon. I went to the house sale last week, hoping to buy a small antique for my daughter’s eighteenth birthday present, but the house contents were very disappointing. Then I spotted this carved figure and was so intrigued by the story behind it I decided to buy it for myself. Do rather regret it now!”

“Not surprised. Tell me the remarkable tale behind this travesty of art and nature.”

“Well, it seems that, in the late eighteenth century, the then Lord Haredale was plagued by a series of cattle thefts from his estate. He blamed a traveller family, encamped in a nearby wood, and, on very little evidence, had the father and adult son put in prison, to await the next sitting of the Assize Court. When they were finally brought to trial they were found guilty, mainly on the strength of sworn testimony given by his Lordship’s game keeper, and duly hanged. Of course, the wife and mother protested they were innocent and accused the gamekeeper of being the leader of the gang of thieves – naturally no-one listened.

“The father of the traveller family had a younger son who had some skill as a wood carver. She instructed him to carve the effigy of a crouching cat and put it outside the gate of Haredale Hall. Then she put an Ancient Curse on the figure, to the effect that anyone touching it, who had given false testimony, would suffer a withered arm.

“His Lordship was very angry when he heard about it and ordered his gamekeeper to remove the effigy and burn it. So, taking a horse and cart and one of the garden boys to help him, the gamekeeper went to the gate. The boy took one end of the carving, the gamekeeper reached out to take the other end, but, as soon as his hand touched it, his arm fell to his side, limp and useless, all the sinews and tendons withered.

“The terrified boy ran back to the Hall, shouting for help. Some of the servants hurried to the gate and took the gamekeeper to his Lordship, where he made a full confession of his crimes. Lord Haredale had him thrown into jail, where he caught a fever and died a week later. Also, he said the figure must remain in place, and anyone who touched it did so at his own peril.”

Graham burst out laughing.

“What a ridiculous yarn! Probably the gamekeeper already had something wrong with his arm, he strained it more trying to lift the carving and the rest was psychological, knowing his guilt.

“Alec, you should carry out the original instruction and burn this thing.”

Graham stood up and crossed the room to stand by the figure.

“Yes, puss. Its time you were cremated” he said, stretching out a hand to stroke one of its misshapen ears.

As his hand touched the surface his arm fell to his side, limp, shrivelled and useless.