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 10 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 with more recent reports.  The records 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.

River Walk

Recorders’ Reports:




Christmas Eve was the warmest since 1997. Storm Gerrit caused havoc over Christmas. The summer was warmer and wetter than average with a record breaking June. Autumn was milder and wetter than average and it was very wet in October. There was a run of named storms too.


The charity “Friends of Friendless Churches” will be taking over St Marys, Sturmer and more details are awaited. A group rang the church bells to celebrate the King’s Coronation. There was a flower festival with other activities in Steeple Bumpstead to raise funds for all six churches in the Benefice in June and a harvest festival and a carol service were held at St Marys, Sturmer. The churchyard is kept tidy by a team of volunteers.

Red Lion PH

The pub seems to be operating a successful restaurant and is gaining a new following.

Parish Council

The Parish Council still has two vacancies.

They commented on a number of planning applications in 2023. They provided a bench in the pocket park to commemorate Elizabeth II and continued with work on trees on the amenity walk.

News is awaited on their sale of a small strip of land at The Woodlands Hotel. There is a proposal to provide a care home on the site.

On Remembrance Sunday a wreath was laid on behalf of the Parish Council at the War Memorial.

Flooding from Hill Lane onto the A1017 has been improved with the clearing of side inlet gullies after the Parish Council took this up with Essex Highways.

Village Hall

The hall is available for fairs, wedding receptions, birthday parties, clubs, fitness groups, parent and toddler groups and get togethers arranged by residents or other customers.

Games equipment is available to hire at a reasonable rate.

The Trustees’ Committee arranged an Easter Egg Hunt, tea and cake and adult and children’s activities for the Coronation and a Fright Night for Hallowe’en. The local Police visited the event in October to add to the fun.

The committee organised a number of free soup and roll lunches with all welcome. These will continue in the New Year.

 Sturmer Village News

The village newsletter – Sturmer Village News - continues to be published by the Village Hall Trustees with finance from advertising and the Parish Council.


The WI tried something different this year by obtaining grants from the Parish and District Council which enabled them to run cookery workshops in September. Non – WI members joined them making (and eating) ravioli and tiramisu with help from a professional tutor.

Funds were also raised with a Shanty Music Night open to all. A silent auction also raised funds for us and bingo night added more to our funds.

The WI enjoyed another musical evening with Barrie and Pete (postponed because of bad weather in December 2022).

They celebrated the WI “Show the Love” campaign by making green hearts in various media and displaying them in the village hall window. This campaign seeks to raise awareness of climate change. Our WI Secretary is also a Climate Ambassador for the Federation.

There were talks on seven nursing sisters, tales of a tour manager, British Sign Language and walking the coast between Lowestoft and Felixstowe.

Two members helped everyone make a macrame feather in August.

Members walked with other WIs to support the WIs campaign for 2023 for Clean Rivers. They also had a history walk in Sturmer and a display of archives in the village hall.

They made knitted squares which were joined into two blankets for Knit for Peace.

Members attended meetings of the Suffolk West Federation of WIs and two of our members volunteered as tutors at a craft workshop at the WI Office at Park Farm, Fornham St Genvieve.

Members enjoyed the Stour WI Group meeting (of 5 WIs) at Kedington with more music from The Accidentals and Flat Broke covering the last 10 decades as Kedington WI celebrated its 100 year birthday this year.

The year ended with a full Christmas Dinner prepared and cooked for 20 in the village hall.

Grace Roskilly, a former member, was 100 years old this year and a number of members met with her when they attended her party locally with relatives as she now lives in Gloucester with her son.

Local History Group

We continued our talks on our Victorian Schoolroom and other activities with a visit to Linton Local History Group. We also gave a similar talk to the Haverhill Owls WI and made some of our archives available to them in the village hall. The talk to Haverhill and District Local History Group was postponed until August 2024 because of sickness.

We gave our usual annual report to the Annual Parish Assembly and published it in the Sturmer Village News.

We helped with an enquiry about the Dillistone Family who discovered the Sturmer Pippin apple and shared information on The Old Rectory with the resident there.

The guided history walk around the village and a display of the archives encouraged one WI member to take a further interest and study them on a number of afternoons this year.

We attended the Suffolk Local History Group Conference and we updated our archives and replenished leaflets at our heritage boards.

I have completed the first year of a two year on-line history course with the WI Learning Hub which covers the GCSE syllabus (but with no essays or exams). We learnt about Crime and Punishment from 1000 to 2000 and The Weimar Republic and Rise of the Nazis up to 1939. Next year we will study Elizabeth I and The Cold War. It is a fascinating course with a truly inspiring tutor. It is also open to non-WI members (including gentlemen) via the Denman at Home website.


Flood Action Group

Gardens were flooded in October and November.

We understand a budget has been allocated for rerouting utilities on the Sturmer Station Bridge in 2024/25 and it is hoped the new bridge will be built in 2025/26 to alleviate this regular flooding.

Woody dams are inspected by the Essex County Council Flood and Water Team annually and we met with them to discuss issues in Hill Lane. The team has had to refer these back to Essex Highways as they are unable to help with these problems.

Objections have been sent on a number of planning applications because of the possible effects on flooding in the village.

Community Speedwatch

A newish resident to the village has been working hard to build up a team of speedwatchers and is now waiting for the speedgun, tabards and signs so she can start sessions here.

Solar Farms

Publicity for proposals for solar farms in Hill Lane and near the Mere was given with exhibitions in the village hall. The Parish Council and residents have raised objections including because the village is in the Stour Valley Project Area.

 Linda Bevan

31 December 2023

Recorders’ Report




2022 was record breaking weather-wise again. A number of trees were brought down by Storm Eunice in February. There was a warm dry Spring and Autumn with record temperatures in the Summer and a cold snap in December. In the summer there were field fires with the nearest to us in Yeldham which we could smell from our open windows on a quiet summer weekend. 2022 is on track to be the warmest year in the UK since records began.

Covid 19 Pandemic

Covid faded from the news headlines but we still heard of cases right up until the end of the year. People seemed to be less seriously affected this year. Many residents had flu and Covid vaccinations in the Autumn.

War in Ukraine

A number of Sturmer residents helped refugees from Ukraine following the Russian invasion in February. This included offering accommodation, collecting toys and sending toiletries etc abroad.


There is some hope that the church may be rescued from closure by a charity but no details are known publicly. A fund raiser, services and carol service have been held. The church opened a book of condolence on the death of Queen Elizabeth II which is held in the archives of Sturmer Local History Group.

Red Lion PH

The pub is under new management.

Parish Council

The Parish Council had two vacancies towards the end of the year.

The Parish Council continued with negotiations concerning the sale of a small strip of land at The Woodlands Hotel and it seems this will soon be advertised in the local press.

The War Memorial was renovated with the help of a grant and a service was held for Remembrance Sunday and a wreath was laid on behalf of the Parish Council. A number of footway lights were replaced with LED lights.

The Parish Council gave some additional publicity for proposals for a solar farm in Hill Lane in the Sturmer Village News and residents have received notice of an exhibition in the village hall in January 2023.

The Parish Council has held meetings on site about the poor condition of the footway at the end of Hill Lane on the main road. Flooding from Hill Lane adds to the damage and Essex County Council (ECC) have agreed to look at the problem further.

Village Hall

Activities at the village hall started up again with the easing of Covid restrictions.

The hall was packed in June for a celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. Residents enjoyed tea and cake and a film of the Coronation.

The hall is used by the WI, bowls club and Parish Council. A yoga group ran from September for a number of weeks. Two craft fayres have been organised by a local resident. There have been a number of private bookings which included a wedding and a home education group. A warm hub is proposed for 2023 offering a soup and roll lunch.

A new trustee has joined the committee in response to a request for a representative from the WI. The trustees are responsible for providing the buildings and facilities to all, for a wide range of purposes. Residents have been invited to make contact to start any groups they are interested in e.g. toddler, art group etc.

Sturmer Village News

The village newsletter – Sturmer Village News - continued to be published by the Village Hall Trustees with finance from advertising and the Parish Council.

It is made available on line through Facebook.


The WI resumed usual meetings this year. Activities included walks for ACWW and MacMillan and an outing to Ashdon Museum. They had talks on the Stour Valley Path, Dads’ Army, autism and memories of a midwife and a cinema night and a very enjoyable harvest supper.

Funds were raised with a successful Murder Mystery Night and family Bingo nights. They also provided four yoga lessons in June which have led to a new group meeting in the village hall.

Suffolk West Federation of WIs held successful craft workshops in the village hall. A number of members attended the Federation Annual meeting at Culford.

Kath Bartle, a founder member of the WI in 1968, passed away in 2022. Her funeral was well attended at St Marys with a tea in the village hall to follow.

Local History Group

Our archives have been updated and we continue to provide heritage leaflets at our four boards on a walking trail around the village.

We were invited to take part in Essex Quest on BBC Radio Essex in May and met presenters at St Marys to talk about William Hicks, Rector for 44 years and also a midshipman at the Battle of Trafalgar.

We offered adults a role playing event of a Victorian Schoolroom this year as we have discontinued this for school children. Two bookings were received for a slightly amended event. As a result, in October we attended a meeting of the Haverhill U3A in the Arts Centre and gave our illustrated talk on Victorian education in Sturmer and Haverhill, our schoolroom events for children and the activities of our history group. This was very well received and we have a booking for Haverhill Owls WI next year for a similar event in Sturmer Village Hall.

Flood Action Group

Woody dams were installed at the rear of Maltings Cottages this year. The heavy horse was seen helping with this work again. This is to help slow the flow of flood water to the main road and properties from the fields here.

Work continued by ECC for the new bridge in Water Lane expected in 2023/24.

Grants from ECC for property protection were relaunched and this was advertised in the Sturmer Village News.

Flood warnings were received at the New England end of the village.

Students from the University of East London, UCL and Japan visited Sturmer again to interview residents, flood group representatives and a local academic about flooding as part of their research in how to inform the public about taking action against flooding.

Linda Bevan



30 December 2022





2021 was less record breaking weather-wise but still with some notable weather events e.g. 40 ml of rain in Sturmer in one hour on one July afternoon. It seems climate change is making these events more normal. We started with a cold January. Spring was wet with a warm spell at the end of March. There were a record number of air frosts in April. Another heat wave followed in the Summer and the Autumn was warm. December had the least amount of sunshine on record but record high temperatures both night and day were recorded on New Year’s Eve 2021.

Covid 19 Pandemic

Covid 19 has dominated our lives again in 2021. Lockdown rules were relaxed and residents received vaccines and boosters in the surrounding towns and villages. Footpaths and traffic returned to normal.


The process to close the church has continued with some residents sending objections to the Bishop. The grounds have been much improved thanks to the hard work of a small group of volunteers who have been tidying them regularly. A fund raiser coffee morning was held to cover the usual running costs which accrue during the closure process and a number of residents continue to give regular financial support. Some services and events face to face (with Covid restrictions) have been held at Sturmer and Steeple Bumpstead . Jonathon Lowe, the Vicar has continued with services and talks on line.

Red Lion PH

We have heard on the grapevine that the lease for the Red Lion Pub is up for renewal in April 2022 and the current licensees do not intend to renew it. We believe a “regular” at the pub has asked the Parish Council to consider taking the pub over as a community asset if the lease is not transferred to new tenants.

Parish Council

The Parish Council returned to face to face meetings in the village hall this year.

Barbara Collar, a long standing member moved away and her place has been taken by Eileen Raynes- White.

A public access defibrillator was provided at the village hall with a small group of residents volunteering to monitor and clean it.

Complaints were made to the Parish Council about speeding traffic and they advertised for volunteers to restart the Community Speedwatch Group. Sadly, not enough people came forward to help.

Work continued on ageing trees on the amenity walk.

The Parish Council continued with negotiations concerning The Woodlands Hotel.

A service was held at the War Memorial for Remembrance Sunday and a wreath was laid on behalf of the Parish Council.

A grant has been obtained for refurbishment of the memorial but work has been delayed because of possible drainage problems below ground.

Information is available about the Parish Council on line at:


Village Hall

Activities at the village hall were greatly reduced because of Covid 19 restrictions.

The trustees continued to look after the maintenance of the building and hiring and general use as a community building for the village when Covid 19 allowed. They were very active in putting Covid 19 restrictions in place.

A well attended “Green Day” was organised in September in partnership with the WI to welcome residents back to the hall. There was a free café and raffle and many local craft stalls as well as plants and pre-loved LPs. The WI offered demonstrations and sales of crafts and a litter pick was organised. The theme of the day was helping our environment.

Sturmer Village News

The village newsletter – Sturmer Village News - continued to be published by the Village Hall Trustees with finance from advertising and the Parish Council.

It is available on line at:



The WI started the year with some small group activities – a walk and a coffee morning -to comply with Covid 19 restrictions. We were glad that most of our members rejoined this year in April when a reduced fee was offered. We held our annual meeting in a member’s garden and then returned to the village hall for a strawberry tea, talk, live band and crafts up to Christmas 2021.

Two members joined Radwinter WI for their charity walk for ACWW – Associated Country Women of the World - which helps women in developing countries.

We also enjoyed an outing to Stansted World of Golf at Elsenham.

Flood Action Group

More woody dams were installed at The Baulk footpath opposite the pub to help hold back flood water to the Stour Brook. We have seen these and those at the golf course ravine in action and feel they are helping to protect properties in the middle of the village from flooding.


Similar installations are planned at the rear of Maltings Cottages in Spring 2022 if approval is given by Essex County Council

Investigation work continued for the new bridge in Water Lane expected in 2023/24.

The Parish Council joined with the Flood Group in complaining about the condition of Hill Lane, where the poor drainage system means water floods onto the main A1017 flooding gardens and causing a hazard to traffic.

Two flood warnings were received in 2021 with some flooding of gardens and outbuildings.

Local History Group

We have updated our archives and continued to accumulate items for them including Covid ephemera.

Cups and Saucers from the Parish Rooms have been shared with the current owner of The Old Rectory (where the rooms were situated) and Haverhill and District Local History Group.

We have continued to deal with on line enquiries. One gentleman from Devon thinks he has found a link between the Purkis family of Sturmer and Sir Alf Ramsey (manager of the World Cup English winning team in 1966) whilst researching his family history.

A tale of two fields

We have reported before on two fields turned into eyesores by the activities of a local builder and civil engineering firm. They dug up these pleasant green fields and dumped builders’ rubble on them in recent years.

We are pleased to see one of them looks like a normal field again on the surface at least. We think the damage to the field drains and pipes laid for services remain beneath.

The other field has been purchased by adjoining residents. They are in the process of incorporating the area into their gardens.

The Environment Agency also stopped dumping of builders’ rubble in the Mere (a flood plain for the village). It looks peaceful and attractive again.

Linda Bevan

1 January 2022


Recorders’ Report




2020 was a year of extremes for weather in Sturmer. We had the wettest February, the sunniest Spring and a heatwave in the Summer. Heavy rain returned in the Autumn and the year ended with cold, frosty weather.

Covid 19 Pandemic

Sturmer was affected in a variety of ways by the Covid pandemic. Our footpaths were very busy with new visitors in the first lockdown taking their daily exercise. Traffic on the main road was very quiet during this period and it was lovely to hear the birds singing particularly in the early evening. Residents joined the “Clap for Carers” on Thursday nights and displayed a variety of rainbows and thank you messages for the NHS.

We are not aware of many cases of Covid in the Sturmer area but it must have been a lonely time for residents who live alone. Several ladies offered to do shopping and to cook for those who did not have support.


The process to close St Mary’s Church in Sturmer has begun. There are not enough residents attending normal services although it has been used for weddings, christenings and funerals until the pandemic.

Members of the Church had started to meet at St Mary’s in Steeple Bumpstead for Evensong and at a house in Sturmer for a discussion group and tea and cake before the pandemic struck.

The Vicar and his team posted bible readings and prayers on Facebook during the pandemic to support and give encouragement to all.

Between lockdowns a service was held at Sturmer, which was well attended.

There were online services on Sundays and church meetings on Zoom on Sunday mornings.

In December,a carol service was held in the churchyard with social distancing and masks worn because of Covid

A new volunteer has started to tidy the churchyard regularly and Daniel Hannan of Sturmer Hall keeps the grassed areas mown.

Parish Council:

The Parish Council continued meeting by Zoom during the pandemic with a few residents joining meetings from time to time. These are advertised on their website:


The Parish Council Handyman, Darren Higham kept the pocket park, amenity walk and some highway verges tidy. Councillors Alan Carter and David Porth continued to help with this work.

A number of dead trees have been removed from the amenity walk this year.

New swings including one for the disabled were provided in the pocket park as well as parallel bars for older visitors. These have been very popular when Covid restrictions have allowed the use of them.

Keith Choat monitored footpaths and reported problems.

Terry Jones worked with Carol Jones, the local First Responders’ Co-ordinator on providing a defibrillator for the village. Funds were raised from residents and local business including the use of a Just Giving Page. It should be in place in 2021.

A newly painted 30 mph roundel on the carriageway was quickly lost in resurfacing works at the New England end of the village but fortunately reapplied by the end of the year thanks to the efforts of the Parish Council Chairman, Diana Garrod.

Wreaths were laid at the War Memorial on Remembrance Sunday and on 11 November. The Parish Council has applied for a grant to refurbish the area.

Danny Harrington of The Old School House refurbished the milestone near Sturmer Nurseries after discussions with Alan Carter.

The Parish Council continued with discussions about common land at The Woodlands Hotel.

Community Speedwatch:

Community Speedwatch was suspended during the pandemic for safety reasons and is unlikely to resume because of lack of support from residents.

Village Hall:

After a very successful open day in January attended by the users of the hall and many residents, the village hall was closed for most of the year. It opened briefly with Covid secure measures in place but was closed again when restrictions became stricter.

Jo Porth of the Village Hall Committee edits, prints and delivers the Sturmer Village News (with help from residents). Advertising covers some of the cost with any shortfall met from village hall funds.

Sturmer Village News:

The village newsletter continued to be published during the pandemic. The Sturmer Hub Community website was moved to evoice and updated by Matthew Porth and there is an active Sturmer Community Hub Facebook page.





WI meetings were suspended because of the pandemic from April 2020 after three successful monthly meetings to start the year. These had included First Responders, Medical Detection Dogs (in the news again for Covid) and Aromatherapy.

Members have kept in touch by email, telephone and letter and with a regular update news sheet. They shared some beautiful photos of gardens, walks and crafts throughout the year.

They also continued to make craft items for West Suffolk Hospital and Knit for Peace and exchanged books with so much extra time available for reading.

Suffolk West Federation of WIs (SWFWI) has provided a fortnightly newsletter with poems, recipes and updates on WI activities in the area. They have also offered Zoom talks on a variety of subjects and craft sessions from “The wonder of stem cells” to gift bags

The National Federation of WIs (NFWI) decided to close Denman (the WI college) after it had struggled financially for many years and bookings were cancelled because of the pandemic. However, their tutors provided some very interesting Zoom talks and demonstrations from walks around London to making felt fingerless gloves and cooking mango chutney. A number of Sturmer members enjoyed these in the comfort of their own homes.

A small group from Radwinter WI visited for a socially distanced walk and coffee when regulations allowed this.

Goody bags were given to all members for Christmas.

Flood Action Group:

Property Protection Grants from Essex County Council were promoted in the village with the help of the Parish Council Chairman. Two properties have been fitted with flood doors etc. Seven surveys were carried out.

Bore holes and trenches were dug in December as investigation work for the replacement of the blocked Highways bridge in Water Lane continued. A new bridge is planned in 2022/23 for safety reasons (the bridge failed a structural assessment) This will be designed to help alleviate flooding in this part of the village.

Woody dams were installed in a deep ravine across the local golf course to slow the flow of flood water to the Stour Brook (and the blocked bridge). More are planned in the ditch at The Baulk (which starts opposite the Red Lion pub) in January 2021 to alleviate flooding onto the main road.

Several flood warnings were received this year with flooding in gardens and on the main road.

Local History Group:

We sent photos of our Millennium Memoir to Essex Records Office (ERO) in early March and made a photobook of the pictures for our records. The Memoir was a gift from the WI to the Parish Council to celebrate the year 2000. It contains photos of all the houses in the village that year. An update was made in 2011 and new properties are now recorded in this report.

We also sent deeds for The Spinning Wheel and a house history of the site to the ERO.

Before Lockdown 1, I visited the Haverhill and District Group’s history room at the Haverhill Arts Centre for research on aerial photos we have of bronze age ring ditches and flooding in the village in 2001.

We have continued to deal with online enquiries during the pandemic. These have included WW1, Hicks and Dillistone families, The Old Rectory and paintings by Sid Holbrook.

Census returns were checked for details of the occupants of a number of larger houses in the village and the information has been kept on file.

I took part in a telephone interview with a student from Wales writing a dissertation on local history through the Recorders of Uttlesford History.

A Coronavirus diary for the first lockdown period was sent to Suffolk Archives and Saffron Walden Museum.

Our heritage trail leaflet has been updated and shared on the Essex Ramblers Facebook page.

Updating our archives has been postponed until the village hall is free of Covid restrictions.

Our website is:


Developments and concerns:

Residents were dismayed to learn of a proposal which was added to the West Suffolk Local Plan at the end of the consultation period on the plan and with a short period allowed for comments. This proposes 5000 houses between the Haverhill by-pass and the Red Lion pub in Sturmer. 2500 of the houses would be in Sturmer and would join the village to the town.

A number of residents have sent in objections because of flood risk, traffic increase and loss of countryside amenity and lack of facilities e.g. GPs and schools.

The Parish Council met to discuss this and other matters before Christmas and decided to object.


Linda Bevan

1 January 2021

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