Annual report of Sturmer Local History Group 2019

This is the annual report of the activities of Sturmer Local History Group for 2019.

Since we last reported to you, we have met Nigel Hicks and his family for a guided tour of the heritage trail in the village and church. Nigel is a descendant of William Hicks who was the Rector in Sturmer for many years and was at the Battle of Trafalgar. The family spent a long time in the church imagining William giving his sermons for 40 years. We had cleared the grave the day before their visit and they discovered a previously unknown ancestor there. They visited the village hall to see some of our archives and also The Old Rectory. Mr and Mrs Knight showed them round and gave them some history of the building.

We have recently been contacted by a member of the Dillistone family in Australia. Ezekiel Dillistone discovered the Sturmer Pippin apple in the garden of The Old Rectory and developed it at the nurseries which stood behind the site of The Gables which is now modern houses. We have exchanged information with his descendent and added to our archive on the Dillistones.

We also heard from another Dillistone descendent in Ipswich and explained where the site of The Gables (the Dillistone nursery) was and suggested he contact Mr Knight at The Old Rectory.

Linda Bevan also interviewed Mick Ward who is a cyclist and artist from Sturmer.

When we saw the Woodlands was boarded up we started a house history on the property. The house was built by a member of the Gurteen family who still live in the village. It has been an important part of local life over the years and several people have given me information and photos for our archive. We found Ezekiel Dillistone had lived there in his youth.

A resident has given us the deeds for the Spinning Wheel (now Wheel Chase) and we have started a house history on that too. The original deeds will be passed to Essex Records Office and we will keep a copy for our archives.

A member of the history group gave us some interesting documents on Atterton and Ellis – most people will know the fire damaged buildings at the corner of Hamlet Road in Haverhill. Linda made a document with extracts about Sturmer.

The firm started in the 1800s making lawnmowers and moved on to making machines to sharpen them.

It was taken over by the Boardman Brothers of Abbotts Hall in Sturmer and they had their works where Silvergates at Roost End stands today.

Our document paints an interesting picture of life in Sturmer around the 1930s especially for the Boardman family.

There were a number of duplicates of the documents so these have been given to Haverhill and District Local History Group, Suffolk Records Office and Essex Records Office and we will keep a copy in the village hall archive room.

We have attended talks about archaeology in Suffolk arising from installing infrastructure for wind farms and using tithe maps. We also attended a very interesting day in Clavering on Art in the First World War.

We held another Victorian Schoolroom event for local schoolchildren in June. We received some lovely thank you letters from the children. Our annual trip out will be in October.

Apart from this we send a Recorders’ Report to Suffolk Local History Council and Recorders of Uttlesford each year, we replace leaflets at our heritage boards and keep our archives and website updated with any additional information we have received.

 Linda Bevan 2019


Annual report of Sturmer Local History Group 2018

 This year we produced our first Recorders’ Report. History Recorders have the role of gathering historical records but are also expected to record what happens today as it will be history tomorrow. Our report was sent to Suffolk Local History Council who will pass it to the Suffolk Records Office. We also produce an annual report on the activities of the history group and this is sent to Recorders of Uttlesford History who pass it to the Essex Records Office.

 We have attended talks about the Reformation and the Royal British Legion.

 With the WI we visited the War Huts project at Hawstead near Bury St Edmunds. This project aims to reconstruct the huts used to house and organise troops for the First World War. They are also planning to build a trench system. All of this will be open to the public including schools. At the fund raising event we heard a folk band singing songs based on oral histories from the war.

 We also joined in with an event at Saffron Walden Museum to celebrate 100 years since women got the vote.

 We held a Victorian Schoolroom event again for local schoolchildren in June. We also provided a display for the Bank Holiday Fun Run for the River Stour Festival and another is planned for the WW1 Armistice celebration in the village.

 Our annual trip will be to Clare to see the museum, church and Freemasons’ Hall.

 We are meeting Nigel Hicks and his family in the summer for a guided tour of the heritage trail and church. He is a descendant of William Hicks who was the Rector in Sturmer for many years and was at the Battle of Trafalgar. Nigel has provided much information about William for our archives.

 This year we also heard from the daughter of one of the family who lived at Old Station House when it was a railway station. She had been looking for pictures of Sturmer for her mother’s birthday and sent some of her mothers’ memories of Sturmer to us from the US.

 We have continued to update our archive as usual and replenish leaflets on the heritage trail.               


Recorders’ Report for Sturmer 2017  - Recorders' Report is now on separate page on this website


 2017 Annual report of  Sturmer Local History Group and Sturmer History Recorders

This is the annual report for the Sturmer Local History Group and Sturmer History Recorders for 2016/17.

History Group

Sturmer Local History Group was set up nearly 6 years ago to create an archive as an ongoing record of the heritage of Sturmer.  We have press cuttings, photographs, plans, maps and documents of various kinds which make up the archive.

These are updated in the autumn each year.

Most of our records are stored in the village hall and are available to anyone with reasonable notice.  We are also happy to supply copies for a reasonable fee.  We can also search our records for any information needed and arrange an appointment to view the archive if desired.

We are always looking for information for the archive and welcome contact from anyone who thinks they can help.

We are not seeking to set up a museum but we welcome good photographs of interesting artefacts with a brief description.

The research we carried out for the heritage trail in the village provided materials for the archives.

We added oral histories and various projects such as researching the names of those on the war memorial.  We have continued with house histories and we are starting to research William Hicks and the Dillistones.

Information is also available on line.

We held a history walk for Wickhambrook History Group last year and another was held for Recorders of Uttlesford History on 6 May of this year.  We cover part of the heritage trail and provide copies of the leaflets so those taking part can complete the trail on a self-guided basis.  We also encourage groups to take some refreshment in the village hall, garden centre or pub.

We have continued our Victorian Schoolroom with Stanley Drapkin Primary schoolchildren in June.  We estimate over 300 children have attended these events since we started them for our heritage trail project.

We attend talks and trips from the various groups we are affiliated to.  This year these have included a tour of the new storage facility at Saffron Walden Museum and talks on medieval festivals and using local history resources for theatre.  We attended a performance by the East Angles at Haverhill Arts Centre.

We hold an annual meeting and an outing once a year. This year we went to the small Jam Museum at Tiptree and the tea room and craft shop nearby.  Our main way of keeping in touch with members is by email and updates in the village magazine.  Residents are welcome to join the group by supplying their email address to the Secretary.

Everyone with an interest in the on going history of Sturmer is welcome to join us.

We thank all who have supported us so far.

Sturmer History Recorders

Jo and I act as history recorders for the village.  Our aim is to keep records of what is happening in the village today as it will be history tomorrow and also to preserve and develop our archives.

Last September a very successful Sturmer Fayre was held at Sturmer Hall, the first for many years.  About 1500 people attended from a wide area and over £3000 was raised for local causes e.g. clearing the moss from the church roof and new curtains for the village hall.  Over 40 residents who helped with the Fayre

 This year has seen progress on the nine houses at the Spinning Wheel site.  A thatched building stood here and was used as a café for many years before falling into dereliction and being demolished.  The development is nearing completion as I write.