We joined the Suffolk Local History Council (SLHC) because much of their history is relevant to us and we have enjoyed the information and conferences they provide.  Their website is www.slhc.org.uk

They also run a History Recorder's Scheme and when we started our local history group we also intended to act as history recorders for Sturmer.

The role of the recorder is to keep details of what is happening in the village as this will one day be history.

Another role is to keep any historical information available.

We have been building up an archive for about 7 years and this is available in the village hall and on-line.

2017 was the first time we produced a Recorders' report for the year for SLHC and this is shown below.  The record will be held by SLHC and passed to the Suffolk Records Office in due course.  We will send all subsequent reports to them.

We also send copies to The Recorders of Uttlesford History . They send a copy to Essex Records Office.


Recorders’ Report





Record high temperatures were recorded in 2019 including in February, at Kew Gardens and in December, overnight in Scotland. The summer was a scorcher with a top temperature of 38.5 degrees C in Cambridge. Rain and some frosty days followed in the Autumn. There was a flood warning in Sturmer in December with some roads, gardens and garages flooded.


St Marys Church in Sturmer appealed for financial support from residents by letter and the response means the church can stay open for a further period.

A cream tea and coffee morning were arranged for further fundraising.

Parish Council:

Ruth Taylor left the Parish Council in 2019 as she had to move away from the village but largely thanks to her initiative and further fund raising we have a double swing in the pocket park and there are plans to provide one suitable for children with disabilities.

Kate McCleod Jones has resigned after many years service and there is a vacancy on the Parish Council which has been advertised.

Alan Carter and David Porth have continued to improve the amenity walk, pocket park and the war memorial and a new contractor has been appointed to help with grass cutting and leaf blowing.

A new bus shelter has been provided near the village sign at the request of the parish Council.

The Parish Council has been looking at disposing of “The Common” (near the former Woodlands Hotel) with a view to swapping it for a piece of land more central for most residents of the village.

Grants were given to the Sturmer Parochial Church Council and the village hall this year.

Community Speedwatch:

Community Speedwatch has not been very active this year for a variety of reasons and the equipment has been offered back to the Fire Service for another group to use.

Village Hall:

The use of the hall has increased and includes carpet bowls, WI, Parish Council, History Group, yoga, dancing, pilates and elections and the church used it for a period for discussion groups.

The village hall held a successful folk evening and joined with the hospice outreach again for a fashion show (in Haverhill).

Sturmer Village News:

The village newsletter is published quarterly and included on the community website. A paper copy is delivered to every household in the village by local residents. See



The WI continued to flourish and attracted some new members from the village.

This year we visited the Haverhill Arts Centre for the pantomime and the family Silver Band concert and also had a trip to Spencer’s Garden in Great Yeldham. Some of our members joined the history group on a visit to The Guildhall in Bury St Edmunds.

Topics from our speakers have included Gemstones, Countryside Tales, Hedgehogs, Forensic Sciences, the Chanson singers and Living on a Narrowboat.

We also enjoyed a games night and a lovely strawberry tea in a Member’s garden.

We devoted one of our usual meeting evenings to fund raising for Macmillan.

Suffolk West Federation of WIs (SWFWI) held polymer jewellery making and patchwork workshops in the village hall.

Some members joined SWFWI trips to Calendar Girls – The Musical in Norwich, the Inns of Court in London and Highclere Castle.

Sturmer was also the base for a project to provide syringe driver bags for West Suffolk Hospital. WI members from the whole of Suffolk West and beyond made nearly 300 bags this year.

Flood Action Group:

The flood group continued to pursue improvements to help with flood risk and help residents protect their properties.

It hopes to see work start on a blocked Highways bridge in 2020 and is helping to promote Essex County Council flood grants for property protection.

Local History Group:

The group continued the Victorian Schoolroom Re-enactment in 2019 and we organised a trip to The Guildhall in Bury St Edmunds.

We have produced house histories for The Woodlands Hotel (where a care home is proposed) and The Spinning Wheel (now a development of 9 houses).

We attended talks including on Framlingham in WW2 and medieval Hadleigh.

We continued to update our archives and maintain our heritage boards and supply of our leaflets giving a guided walk around the village.

We have passed documents to the Records Offices for Essex and Suffolk as appropriate and produce our Recorders’ Report and Annual Report of the Group’s Activities for the Suffolk Council of Local History and Recorders of Uttlesford History.

We also joined a Visit Essex tour this year for some ideas for future outings. This included Hylands House, Chelmsford museum, a vineyard, a power pumping station and Hyde Hall gardens.

We have a new website as essexinfo will finish in March. It is



Developments and concerns:

Water Lane (Kedington Road) is looking much better after several years of disruption now the developments at Dearsley Farmhouse and Jacksons Barn (formerly Dearsley Barn) are nearing completion.

All is quiet In Wilsher’s Field in Water Lane at the moment.

Rear of Wheel Chase off the A1017 – Nature has started to reclaim the field at the back of this development of 9 houses since the Environment Agency stopped dumping here on Environmental Pollution grounds. However, the reinstatement of the pleasant field which we had at one time seems unlikely as we believe the owner is bankrupt. Planning Permission for 16 houses on the site was refused on appeal.


Recorders’ Report





A long wet winter combined with the “Beast from the East” cold snap in February and March 2018 saw temperatures very low. There was a flood warning in April 2018 but no reports of serious flooding. After that four months of very hot, sunny weather caused drought and some field fires locally. The autumn and early winter has continued to be mostly mild.


A public meeting was called by the church this year over concerns that the congregation of Sturmer residents at St Marys Church, Sturmer is very low. The church is used regularly for weddings, christenings and funerals but often those attending services are doing so in advance of those events and are not from the village. A small group was formed to take forward an idea from the meeting which was to replace one of the services in Sturmer with a discussion group in the village hall. This would consider various religious issues and provide a warm venue where refreshments and toilets would be available. It has been reported that these have been fairly well attended. The church magazine was relaunched as “The Source” and is distributed in the village by Sturmer residents. The magazine includes details of the Sturmer events as well as other churches in the Benefice. It gives suggestions for bible readings on the Sturmer page too.

The Two Rivers Benefice Facebook page advertises services and events.

Events are also included in the Sturmer Village News e.g. Harvest Festival and Carol Service.

Funds are needed for the church roof and fundraising has included a quiz night, cheese and wine with music, cream teas with an art exhibition, autumn walk and a coffee morning.

Parish Council:

Ruth Taylor joined the Parish Council in 2018 and has obtained funding from Tesco for some new play equipment in the pocket park in Sturmer. As a very active member of Community Speedwatch she has reported on the work of the group and promoted better speed signs with the Parish Council.

Alan Carter has continued to improve the amenity walk and the war memorial.

The Parish Council has updated the Emergency Plan for the village.

Diana Garrod, the Chairman has asked for residents to come forward to join the Parish Council as there will be Parish Council elections in May 2019.

Community Speedwatch:

An active group of speedwatchers have continued to report speeders to the Police although some sessions were rained off earlier in the year. After pressure from the group, flashing slow down signs have been added to the flashing 30 mph signs at both ends of the village. Speed surveys have been carried out by Essex Highways who say we do not meet the criteria for flashing, variable signs (Smiley Faces) in the middle of the village. We still hope for painted 30 mph roundels on the carriageway.

There is a Facebook page and website for Sturmer Community Speedwatch


Village Hall:

The Village Hall Committee joined the River Stour Festival this year and held a number of events to celebrate the River Stour and its landscape. This included a fun run and walk along parts of the river bank, a photographic competition with some lovely pictures of the area especially from children, an exhibition of local, community poetry and a film showing of “The River Runs through Us” – about the River Stour.

They also held a very successful fashion show at the village hall with the St Nicholas Hospice charity shop in Haverhill in March – sharing the proceeds between the village hall and the hospice.

In addition, they took the lead in commemorating the end of WW1 on 11 November. They also involved the Parish Council, Sturmer Local History Group and the church. Over 50 residents from Sturmer and further afield attended of all ages. There was the usual wreath laying and also a live broadcast of the Cenotaph Ceremony, exhibitions of war memorabilia from villagers and tea and cake.

The village hall has a new door, LED lighting and heating.

Regular bookings include the WI, yoga, pilates, carpet bowls and adult tap and ballet.

It holds its annual meeting in June and meets regularly throughout the year.

Volunteer of the Year:

This year Jo Porth won the Braintree District Council Volunteer of the Year and Long Service Award for her work in Sturmer.

Jo is a stalwart of the Village Hall Committee as Secretary and Treasurer and has been involved in voluntary work in Sturmer for over 40 years including WI, Cub Scouts, PTA, tree warden, Sturmer Village News, Parish Council Clerk and support for her husband as Parish Council Chairman, history and flood groups, church flowers and helping vulnerable residents.

Sturmer Village News:

The village newsletter is published quarterly and included on the community website. A paper copy is delivered to every household in the village by local residents. See



2018 saw the 50th anniversary of the Sturmer and District WI. We have members from Sturmer and Haverhill and other nearby villages. We celebrated in style with a gliding night at Ridgewell and a party in November and numerous other events to mark this anniversary.

Outings this year have included Newmarket Stud and Fullers Mill garden. We also joined the Sturmer Local History Group for a trip to Clare church and museum.

Speakers ranged from one on the Foundling Hospital to another on Coco Chanel.

Crafts continued with the Suffolk West Federation of WIs in Sturmer village hall and included willow weaving, needle felting, fused glass and a dabble day for Christmas items.

Suffolk West also provided Sturmer members with the chance to climb the tower at the Cathedral at Bury St Edmunds, walk around Rougham, visit the war huts at Hawstead and enter a competition to make accessories for the “little black dress” from items from your recycle bins.

Fundraising events included Bingo and Circle/Barn Dancing.

Members are currently aged 60s to 80s but all ages are welcome.

Flood Action Group:

The group continues to monitor any flood problems in ditches and gullies etc. We are concerned that the annual gully cleansing has been missed this year and gullies are blocked by straw carried through the village by lorries without netting. We hope this work will be done once Gigaclear have finished road works for installing high fibre broadband in February. We reported on our work over the last 4 years to the Annual Parish Assembly.

Local History Group:

The group continued the Victorian Schoolroom Re-enactment in 2018 and joined the Village Hall Committee event for the commemoration of WW1 with an exhibition on the fallen from the village war memorial.

We organised a trip to Clare museum and church.

Leaflets and leaflet boxes are replaced by our heritage signs. The signs are surviving well with only some small damage to the one in the pocket park.

We also hosted a visit by the Hicks family to the village. Their ancestor, William Hicks was the Rector in Sturmer for many years and a midshipman at the Battle of Trafalgar.

We have attended talks on art in WW1, archealogical finds arising from providing infrastructure for wind farms and use of tithe maps.

Developments and concerns:

Water Lane (Kedington Road)

Dearsley Farmhouse is being extended

Dearsley barn has been converted to residential use

The field next to Dearsley Barn has been reinstated but hardstandings made from rubble brought to the site and services installed remain under the surface. Nothing green grows here now and the entrance is littered with rubbish and fly tipping.

Rear of Wheel Chase off the A1017

A pleasant field at the back of this development of 9 houses has been spoilt by the developer. Rubble has been brought to the site and covered with earth and it is strewn with scaffolding, skips and builders’ rubbish. The earth has been compacted by diggers. Planning permission has been refused for additional houses. The site is outside the village envelope.

 Recorders’ Report




Weather : Weather has been dry with no flood warning since November 2016.  A sharp frost early in the year destroyed some fruit crops and we were surprised by snow just before Christmas after many mild winters recently.

Church: Fundraising has included a cream tea, walk around the village and coffee morning.  Donations were requested.

Parish Council:  Fruit trees supplied by the Stour Valley Environment Fund were planted by Parish Councillors on the amenity walk in the village.  Residents were consulted on use of Section 106 money from the Spinning Wheel site (now called Wheel Chase) by an article in the village newsletter (Sturmer Village News).  Some new residents were recruited for the Emergency Plan.  A new Parish Clerk, Ian Brown was appointed and Diana Garrod who is also the District Councillor was elected for a second time as Chairman of the Parish Council.

Community Speedwatch:  Residents continued to monitor speeding vehicles in the village and report them to the Police for warning letters.  They distributed 30 mph bin stickers purchased by the Parish Council to residents in addition to those sold or given out by the Speedwatch Co-ordinator and there is now a good display on bin collection days along the main road through the village.  Some members of the Group attended a Parish Council meeting to ask for variable, flashing speed signs, additional markings on the carriageway and speedwatch signs on the village gates.  The results of the Parish Council’s work on this is awaited.

Village Hall:  New heaters were installed in the main hall, fluorescent tubes have been replaced with LED and new curtains were purchased (partly with a donation from the Sturmer Fayre in 2016).  Cladding improved the appearance of the main hall.  An open event was held in June with all the equipment available for hire on display (some in use) and a free barbeque.  This small hall is ideal for clubs and meetings, children’s parties and family get-togethers.  It has a fully fitted stainless steel kitchen for self catering or take-aways.  There is a special rate for village organisations.  The main hall holds up to 60 theatre style and there is a meeting room upstairs for 12 people.

Sturmer Village News:  The village newsletter is collated, printed and paid for by the Sturmer Village Hall Charity.  All but £70 was paid for by advertisements this year.

 WI:  Sturmer and District WI continues with about 25 members and meets on the second Monday of the month in the village hall at 7.30 p.m.  Members and guests enjoy a variety of speakers, demonstrations and activities.  Outings have included a meal at the Red Lion PH in Sturmer and joining the history group on a trip to the Jam Museum at Tiptree.  It also offered free Ukulele lessons this year as a bursary course and a number of members took the opportunity to continue these after the course ended.  Fund raising events e.g. family bingo and jazz night  are arranged from time to time.  Craft sessions are also held by the Suffolk West Federation of WIs in the hall.  Members attend Federation and National WI events.  Off shoots of the WI in recent years have included members joining a local book club and indoor bowls club, learning Nordic walking and a tap and ballet class for over 50s.  All this contributes to a lively group offering fun and friendship and educational activities to local women of all ages.

 Flood Action Group:  This small group of residents has been promoting flood alleviation methods in the village since the last serious flood in February 2014.  It reports regularly to the Parish Council which has recently helped bring about improvement work in Water Lane by Highways by approaching the County Councillor.  It also comments on flood issues when new planning applications are received.  Practical work this year has included keeping the ditches on the amenity walk flowing and moving dumped cement from a ditch in Hill Lane.  A log of all issues is kept for monitoring purposes.

Local History Group:  The Group continued its Victorian Schoolroom Re-enactment this year and ran a trip to the Jam Museum at Tiptree.  It replenishes the leaflets on the heritage trail opened in 2013 with the help of a Heritage Lottery Grant.  Members attend talks and conferences on a variety of history topics e.g. the Reformation and the Royal British Legion.

Community Website:  A community website was set up as a result of Sturmer Fayre 2016 and contains information on all the Groups in the village.


 Developments and concerns: A development of 9 houses at Wheel Chase has been completed and the conversion of Dearsley Barn has begun.  Residents have been concerned to see what seems to be work going ahead without planning permission adjacent to both these developments.  An application has been received for the field at the back of Wheel Chase and one is awaited for the field by Dearsley Barn.

Linda Bevan