Cookery Workshop in the village hall

Annual Report 2024

We have continued our talks on our Victorian Schoolroom Re-enactment, Victorian Education and the activities of our history group.  We are giving another talk to the Haverhill and District History Group in August in the village hall.

Charmian Thompson from the Haverhill Group gave our WI a talk on various Vicars in and around Haverhill in Victorian times.

We gave a guided history walk for our WI members last June.

We have replenished leaflets at our heritage boards and updated our archives.

This year we were given more information about the Tuffen family at Sturmer Hall through the Recorders of Uttlesford History (RUH) website. We have also helped with other enquiries received via the internet.

We sent our History Recorders’ report to the Suffolk Local History Council (SLHC) and RUH.  At the request of SLHC we have tried to recruit a History Recorder for Wixoe.  We have helped with recruitment in Kedington and Hempstead in previous years.

We attended the SLHC conference in Elmswell.  Arising from this we obtained pictures of Sturmer obtained by Lidar – a version of aerial photography.  These revealed details of the Roman road by Pitt House and a Bronze age round house near the bridleway past The Old Station House.

We have created a new house history of Abbotts Hall.  A resident gave us deeds for the sale of part of the land belonging to the house for new properties in Hill Lane.  These have been passed to the Essex Records Office.  The ERO are interested as these deeds relate to an important building in Sturmer.

We have been sharing our archives with a resident who is interested in writing a book about our history.

I have finished the first year of a two year history course on- line with the WI learning hub.  In the second year we are studying Elizabeth I and the Cold War.

I have also joined Zoom talks on Clare Castle, Wicken House (near Newport, Essex), WW2 defences in Sudbury and Kings Lynn.  These have been offered free of charge by the Clavering History Group and Stour Valley Community Archaeology.  These are groups to which we are affiliated.

In June we will be joining in the D Day commemorations planned by the church in the village hall with some of our archives and we hope many residents from Sturmer and the surrounding area will attend.

Linda Bevan – Sturmer Local History Group

2 April 2024

Annual report 2023 

This year we have started a new venture which is a talk on our Victorian Schoolroom for adults. We have expanded it to cover Victorian education in Sturmer and Haverhill and the activities of our history group. We gave the first talk to the Haverhill U3A at the Arts Centre (over a 100 members) and have another booked for September in the village hall.

In June we will be taking WI members on our guided history walk and displaying some of our archives.

Recently, we have been helping Mr Nunn from Florida with his family history in Sturmer.

Last May we were interviewed by Essex Radio about William Hicks.

I have started a two year history course with Denman WI college (weekly on Zoom) and attended talks in person including on John Atterton in Haverhill, the French Wars and landscape history.

We visited the museum at Ashdon with the WI and the Recorders’ Day with Suffolk Local History Council.

We continue to send this annual report and our Recorders’ report to Recorders of Uttlesford History and Suffolk Local History Council.

We are updating our archives every year and replacing leaflets on our heritage trail regularly.

We hope our archives, website and Twitter account will keep leave permanent record of history in Sturmer for all our residents and beyond.

 Linda Bevan

4 April 2023

Annual Report 2022 – Sturmer Local History Group

We are really pleased to have passed our 10th anniversary as a history group. We have some highlights to look back on like the opening of the Heritage Trail and our Victorian Schoolroom re-enactments.

Sadly, we have decided not to restart our Victorian event for local schoolchildren mainly for Covid reasons. However, we are going to offer something similar to adults for them to get a flavour of the Victorian Schoolroom in the village hall which started life that way. We are going to invite history groups and WIs to start with for a small fee to cover hall rental and refreshments. We also offer guided walks around the village.

Our annual outings had become WI events over the last few years we held them so we will offer those through our WI. This year we are planning a trip to Ashdon Museum.

We were asked to promise to maintain the heritage trail boards for 10 years when it opened in 2013. So far it has been fairly free of vandalism. We still have a good stock of leaflets to accompany the boards but when they run out we hope to update them and buy a new supply. We have £249 in the bank towards this.

Like other groups, local history has taken to Zoom during the Pandemic. We have been able to follow talks on WW1, dictators’ lives, archaeology in Sudbury and many more topics.

We have used social media to spread information on interesting buildings in the village. We place items in the Sturmer Village News from time to time (including our Annual Report).

We have also dealt with enquiries on email when people find our website. One gentlemen in Devon is convinced that the Purkis family who owned much land in Sturmer at one time - is related to Sir Alf Ramsey – England Football Manager when they won the World Cup in 1966.

We shared some commemorative china with the current owner of the house concerned in the village and Haverhill Local History Group (which now has museum status). This was donated by a resident leaving the village and we also have examples at Mere Cottage.

We are still updating our archives and now have an extensive file of Covid ephemera which we will turn into a scrapbook to share with residents when things “get back to normal”.

We produce a Recorders’ Report at the start of each year and recently had enquiries from a nearby village which would like to follow our example. The report goes to the Recorders’ of Uttlesford History and the Suffolk Local History Council. Eventually, it will make it’s way to The Hold – the new records office in Ipswich.

Everyone is welcome to see our archives or accounts if they give us reasonable notice and we hope to continue for many years to come recording and sharing the history of Sturmer.


Linda Bevan

10 April 2022


Annual report of Sturmer Local History Group 2021

This is the annual report of the activities of Sturmer Local History Group for 2021.

Our activities this year have been curtailed by the Coronavirus Pandemic but we have been able to concentrate on some other areas of village history.

I sent my Coronavirus Diary to Suffolk Archives and Saffron Walden Museum. Sturmer and District WI have a poster of some of their activities and these are also included in a photobook. We have a file of Covid ephemera to add to our archives.

We have continued researching Dillistones’ nursery.

We belong to a number of history groups and these have been a great support during social restrictions for the pandemic.

The British Association of Local History (BALH) provides us with our Public Liability Insurance through our membership of them and they have extended their online activities. These have included a short talk on the use of wills in historic research which I was able to join.

Suffolk Local History Council (SLHC) has a large network of History Recorders and we usually attend their annual conference in Elmswell. This year I joined their annual meeting on Zoom. We were able to offer a poem on Covid to them (from a Sturmer and District WI member) for their Journal which concentrated on the pandemic for one edition.

The Recorders of Uttlesford History (RUH) offered us a chance to comment on the role of local history groups for a student at Aberystwith University who has gone on to successfully complete her qualification.

We will be able to donate a number of interesting booklets including photos of Haverhill in times gone by to Haverhill and District Local History Group once restrictions are fully lifted. These have been kindly donated by a resident who is moving out of the village.

We also belong to the Stour Valley Community Archaeological Group which keeps us informed of local developments in archaeology.

SLHC and RUH received copies of our annual Recorders’ Report.

We saw many more people walking in the village during the lockdowns and have replenished the stocks of leaflets at the heritage boards a number of times.

Members from Radwinter WI joined me for a history walk under the Rule of 6 and Jo and I took part in a walk in Wimbish with them in April 2021.

The heritage trail leaflet was revised by Matthew Porth this year so we hope it will be ready for a reprint when current stocks run out. The new electronic version also meant we could send it to Rambling Essex for the group to include the trail on their very active Facebook page.

The archives will be updated when the village hall opens again for normal use.

We have received a number of contributions from residents past and present including some interesting photos of work on the Friars Mead development.

Once the archives are available again we will be able complete some responses to enquiries about family and house histories. These have included sending one of our oral history recordings to family members of someone who passed away since her interview. We also sent photos of the family grave for the Hicks family to the 1805 Society. You will recall that Rev Hicks served at the Battle of Trafalgar.

I have used our Twitter account (@Sturmer_History) to post pictures of some of the interesting and historic buildings in the village.

We are looking forward to life returning to normal and will keep you informed of our activities


Linda Bevan – May 2021


Annual report of Sturmer Local History Group 2020

This is the annual report of the activities of Sturmer Local History Group for 2020.

Our activities continued as normal until March of 2020 when lockdown because of the Coronavirus Pandemic changed a lot of things for all of us.

I have been writing a Coronavirus Diary for Suffolk Archives and Saffron Walden Museum. It is illustrated with some of the photos of gardens, walks, crafts and projects shared by Sturmer and District WI during lockdown to keep us all in touch. There are so many photos that I am going to make a photobook too and the WI is working on a Coronavirus scrapbook as well as their normal record keeping.

As lockdown started, members of the WI had agreed to share the Millennium Memoir with Essex Records Office and this was sent by post on a memory stick. The Memoir is a photographic record of all the properties in Sturmer in the year 2000. It was made to commemorate the turn of the century and presented to the Parish Council for safekeeping. These photos were also shared on the Sturmer Local History Group Twitter account this year.

An update of the memoir was made in 2011 and new housing developments are included in the annual Recorders’ Report.

We have been contacted for information on the Dillistone family by Trumpington Local History Group and some information has been shared with them.

In January, there was a very successful village hall open day and we took the opportunity to display some of our sales catalogues and posters which had not been exhibited before.

This prompted the donation of some additional archive material from our members for which we are very grateful.

Deeds for the Spinning Wheel and a house history of the site have been passed to Essex Records Office.

I have attended talks on medieval Hadleigh, Framlingham in the second world war and archaeology in Nayland with Suffolk Local History Council (SLHC).

Jo and I also took part in a familiarisation tour with Essex Tourism and visited a number of sites which gave us ideas for future outings e.g. Hylands House and Oaklands Museum, Chelmsford; Langford Power Museum.

The archives were updated and the Recorders’ Report sent to SLHC and Recorders of Uttlesford History.

The website was moved to “e voice” as “essex info” was closed in 2020:


I spent some time checking the census records on Ancestry for details for The Old Rectory, Pope Mill and Riverside House and these have been added to our records.

I also visited Haverhill History Room for information from the Haverhill and District Local History Group on the aerial photos of bronze age ring ditches in the village we obtained some time ago.

The Haverhill and District Local History Group also keep back copies of The Echo and this was useful for information on flooding in the village in 2001.

Sadly, the Victorian Schoolroom event for local schoolchildren in June was cancelled because of Covid 19.

As I write, we are not sure if our annual meeting and outing will go ahead but I hope this report keeps you informed and assured we are still doing all we can to keep a record of Sturmer past and present.


Linda Bevan – June 2020



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.