The Danbury Society
Registered Charity No. 283898
The Danbury Society is a village conservation Society located in
Danbury, Chelmsford, Essex, UK

The Danbury Society in 2008
Beeleigh Abbey Visit

Chairman Curt Brown organised a visit to Beeleigh Abbey near Maldon on Saturday, 2nd February.   30 Members turned up on a dry but cold day when the rest of England was experiencing snow and were led into the Dorter Undercroft or the more aptly named Warming House as it sported a lovely large log fire.

Beeleigh Abbey
Danbury Society Members filing into Beeleigh Abbey.

Mr Christopher Foyle welcomed us & with his Wife supplied tea, coffee & biscuits.
He then told us the history of the Abbey starting with the fact that room we were standing in was dated about 1220 and was obviously of Norman build using Purbeck Marble columns supporting a Vaulted Roof (in near perfect condition) in-filled with Reigate Stone.

Originally it was a Monastery of the Premonstratensian Order or White Order as they wore white habits - they were not quite as strict as Monks.

Christopher ran through the centuries and gave fascinating stories of the "comings & goings" at the Abbey, finishing with the fact that Mr Foyle purchased it in 1943 and moved in 2 years later. He said that as children he loved being invited to the Abbey and being introduced the "high living life" in the country.

When Miss Foyle died in 1999 he purchased it from her Estate & began a 4 year period of restoration beginning with a completely new roof and rebuilding the chimneys.   He also purchased part of the Library - the remainder being sold at Christies.

Central Heating was installed sympathetically as was a new stone floor.

We were then shown through to the Chapel where a rebuilt Organ stood which was reputed to have been used by Handel to compose his Largo - much to the delight of everyone, Jenny Sharpe played part of it using the Electric Pump (newly commissioned). It sounded lovely as it echoed along the stone walls.

Upstairs we were shown a very old bed (James 1st, 1604?) which, as many were in those days, too small to sleep in today. When the skilled Carpenters were about to extend it the top piece crashed down - and was so poorly supported could have done so at any time during the past 400 years!

Fire must be a major concern for such an old & famous building but there was evidence of Fire Sensors & Fire Alarms.   After concluding our guided tour of the Abbey we were invited to look around the extensive gardens passing the newer side of the house..

Beeleigh Abbey
A modern extension to the Abbey.

Peacock at Beeleigh Abbey
A Peacock stands guard.

River Blackwater
The River Blackwater looking towards Beeleigh Falls.

The River Blackwater at this point is tidal up to the Beeleigh Falls where it becomes the Chelmer Navigation Canal.

Thank you Mr & Mrs Foyle for opening your lovely house to the Danbury Society.

"A New Zealand Adventure" by Mr Dudley Chignall

Thursday, 27th March 2008 in the Church Meeting Room.

Curt introduced Dudley, seen here standing by his laptop, digital projector showing a "Cauliflower Sheep".

Dudley & Curt Brown
Dudley & Curt Brown, Chairman (right)
Photos by John Bowen

In introducing his presentation, Dudley said that a few years ago he felt he needed an adventure so he went to New Zealand for 42 days where he did all of the mad things that are available to do (for money)! He left his lovely camera behind but purchased a Canon Ixus 400.   When he got back home & he say the quality of the pictures he (like us) was stunned with and so he turned them into a slide show.

Dudley used his digital projector to show us his walks in both North & South Islands.   This includes 4 days traversing a snowy ridge in The Alps, walking between active Volcanoes and a swim with wild Dolphins.

The audience
Part of the audience

A typical photograph of New Zealand
A typical photograph of New Zealand, photograhed and prepared for viewing by Dudley

One of the many flower photos shown
One of the many flower photos shown

A Bird of Paradise flower
A Bird of Paradise flower

He was able to convey in photographic terms why NZ is such a popular tourist destination.

All of his photographs were of excellent quality & composition - a joy to watch.

Thank you Dudley for such an informative evening - how could you ever leave New Zealand?

After a lovely cup of tea/coffee and homemade cakes supplied by Ivy Hare & Jean Brown, Dudley answered questions.

He was thanked by Curt & the audience showed their appreciation with a good clap.

The Spring (Bluebell) Walk

This was on Sunday, 27th April from the Community Centre Top Car Park at 2.15pm and was be led by David & Wendy Moore.

The walk ended up by going to the very famous Blake's Wood to see the Bluebells which were quite good but not as good as last year!   It is all down to the weather!

For most of the walk it was nearly dry but on the final leg it rained heavily.

An enjoyable walk - thank you David & Wendy for yet another event in the year of the Danbury Society.

The 36th Annual Art Exhibition.

This was held at the Danbury Village Hall, Eve's Corner Bank Holiday weekend, 22nd, 23rd & 24th August.

Entrance was free but a catalogue was charged at 1.00 (good value).

Art Exhibition Catalogue
The front cover of the lovely colourful Catalogue

This year the Exhibition had a number of larger canvases displayed in a more relaxed manner, which aided viewing - a very good show.

This is a highly regarded exhibition with both framed and unframed pictures for sale, many by local artist and further a field in Essex, showing different media and a variety of subjects.

Monies raised will help to promote the general charitable benefit of the inhabitants of the Danbury area.

The Danbury Society Annual Art Show was headed by Glad & John Deamer and her band of willing helpers.

Rear room stands
Photograph of one of the stands

3 paintings
3 large paintings which all sold.

3 paintings
Also on display was the lovely painting of Danbury Palace by A.R.S.A. Artist, Keeley Halswelle & given to Hon Mrs Claughton on 11th July 1889.   Mrs Claughton was the Wife of Dr Thomas Legh Claughton, 1st Bishop of St Albans.
It was presented to the Danbury Society by Robin Campbell, the Great Grandson of Bishop & Mrs Claughton and now lives in Scotland.   See the page on Keeley Halswelle under "Danbury Palace", above.

Thank you very much Glad & John Deamer for all the work you put in on behalf of the Danbury Society. Thanks also to all the Stewards & Helpers who made this, the 36th Exhibition such a social & commercial success.

Thanks also to Bakers of Danbury, from Eves Corner who collected & returned the Art display screens, and Bairstow Eves, Danbury Office for their tremendous support.

The Autumn Meeting

This was on Thursday, 18th September in the Church Meeting Room at 8pm when Mr Stephen Nunn presented "Wartime Maldon and the Dengie Hundred".

Hon Sec Mr Norman Bartlett ably introduced Stephen and reminded the large audience that this week was Battle of Britian Week - good timing for this subject.

Stephen then took the floor & introduced Geoff Clark, Founder Member of the Maldon Historical Society & projectionist tonight.

He said he had spent 30 years researching the district and has published a number of books including "Maldon, The Dengie and Battles in the Skies (1939 - 1945)" and "Heinkeil over Heybridge" with a co-author from Danbury.  

He had left on each chair a map of the Dengie with an indication where planes had come down & the personel involved with keeping Maldon safe during the war years.

Dengie War-time events Map
Dengie War-time events Map

This was used as the basis to tell us the role played by local people in Home Defence, the Barges which went to Normady to rescue the troups, the Fishermen who sailed throughout the War from Maldon and some of the aircraft stories - and some of the 106 aircraft crashes.

The talk, illustrated with slides taken of 1939 - 45 were augmented with more modern pictures.

A fasinating story was told - thank you Stephen.

The tea ladies

The audience enjoyed a cup of English Tea/Coffee & superb (where is my Sumistatins) Cakes at the break-time provided by Glad, ???, Ivy & Jean.

The audience
Mr Lambert trying a circus trick for the camera with his cup.
Part of the audience enjoying the Refreshment Break

David Bolwell & Stephen
David Bolwell & Stephen

During the refreshment Break, Stephen answered questions and shared their experiences.

Thank you Stephen & Geoff for sharing your research with the Danbury Society.

The Autumn Walk

This was held on Sunday, 19th October and started from the Community Centre Top Car Park - led by David & Wendy Moore.   Report & photographs by David Bolwell.

The weather in October in Danbury can be anything from snow to 20 degrees C!   Today was overcast but dry.

The walkers collected in the top Car Park before setting off across the Common towards Gay Bowers and Tindles Farm.

Autumn Walk Autumn Walk
Most of the walkers as they assembled ready to start the walk.   David Moore is to the right of the picture.
Photos by David Bolwell

They then double back crossing the A414 by the Royal Oak public house (now a restaurant) to Thrift Wood and up to the entrance of the Warren Golf Course where they had a few minutes rest.

Autumn Walk
Outside the entrance to the Warren Golf Course.
They then edged allong to side of the Golf Course, passing the Timber Yard.

Having transversed The Ridge they entered Lingwood and walked up the step road now named Moors Bridge Road to the Car Park.

Distance of 5.6 miles was walked in something like 2 hours.   A beautiful walk, thank you Wendy & David.

The AGM and "Living Ghosts in the Tower of London"

This was on Thursday, 20th November in St John's Church Meeting Room at 8pm.

Mr Curt Brown opened the meeting by welcoming the many people who had ventured out on this a windy & cool night.

He asked if everyone had read the Minutes of the previous AGM & this was passed and accepted.
In giving the Chairman's Report he mentioned the events (see above) and considered it had been another successful year.   He said that after problems with the previous Christmas Tree it was felt that the Parish Council could run it so had made a contibution so that power was installed on the Green.
Planning - he said the New Medical Centre had now been passed & the Village should look forward to being able to use this instead of many trips to Broomfield.   The potential problem involving access to the A414 was a "Highway" problem and the DS were waiting to see what they suggest.
The proposal to build 11 flats behind the Bakers Arms was again contentious with lack of parking spaces and poor access.
Danbury Palace was another contentious Planning issue.

The Treasure gave his report which highlighted that the Art Exhibition had returned slightly more money than the previous year, they had made a financial contribution to the Danbury Flyer, St John's Ambulance and of course the Christmas Tree Fund.
Bob said that they were always thinking of projects to spend money on they had nearly 18,000 in the Bank - none in Iceland (quiet cheers). The Accounts were Accepted as was David Spring to be the new Auditor.

The Secretary took control of the Meeting and proposed that as nobody else wanted the job - Curt Brown should be Chairman - passed.

Curt then proposed that all the existing Committee except David Bolwell who was Resigning should be elected "en bloc" - carried.

David Bolwell then gave a short report of his work during the 10 years he had been on the Committee were he had been the Conservation Officer, planting bulbs, erecting Christmas trees and running Coach Outings.   He suggested that the organisation of the Society needed the stimulus from new blood and made a plea for Members to come forward and offer themselves for the vacancies now existing on the Committee.

Curt thanked David and concluded the AGM at 9.20pm.

Curt then introduced Mr Brian D'Arcy, R.V.M.

Brian said that been called up for National Service but joined the Regular Army, 3 year engagement to double his pay - he continued to do this until he had served 22 years, when he retired.   He was introduced to the service of the Yeoman of the Tower of London by a mate and joined in November 1976.

The problem was living inside its gates - there were many rules and formalities to be observed.   He told many interesting stories of his experiences - he did not believe in Ghosts - he felt there were explanations to all events but some of his audience were not totally convinced.

The Tower serves many purposes including housing Royal Residents, Royal Observatory, Public Records Office, State Prison and of course, the Crown Jewels.   It appears that popular stories about the Ravens were only the tip of the iceberg!   They are more vicious than previously published.   Brian went on to be a Curator of the Crown Jewels and lived in the Tower for over 23 years.   He was awarded the Royal Victorian Medal in the 2000 New Year Honours List

At 9.20pm the meeting adjourned for delightful wine/soft drinks & cheese & biscuits provided by the Committee during which people could ask questions of the Committee.

Once the meeting was reconvened, Brian had a few more stories and then answered questions.
Who can join the Yeomen?   Answer - Only Army, RAF and Royal Marines who have served 22 years.
Are Police allowed in to the Tower?   Answer - no, except by invitation of the Governor.
Who runs the Tower, the English Heritage?   Answer, no - They are independent - paid for by entrance fees.

Curt thanked Brian and all showed their appreciation with a good clap.

A delightful evening, well run with good food.

Carols Around the Christmas Tree at Eves Corner
Wednesday, 10th December at 8pm.

Contractors, aided by Robin and Mr Willy obtained a nice tree from Mrs Ooms, Bakers Lane and arranged new lights for better effect.

The Tree was erected in a nice stockade and powered from the new lighting pillor.

Tree in early evening Tree at night
Christmas tree in the early evening and illuminated at night.
Photos by John Bowen

The Salvation Army Band travelled from Maldon to lead the Carols.   Carols were introduced by the Rev Blythe and Readings were led by each of the Churches in turn.

Powerfull flood lights from the new lighting pillor meant that the Carol sheets could be read easily.   Carols old & new were sung well by the large crowd who stood in the cold and for a while a mild snow storm.   The bells of St Johns Church could be hear as the wind was blowing from the South West - gave it a nice Christmas feel.

Tree in early evening
Taken from behind the Salvation Army - note the flood lights illuminating the area so well.

Tree in early evening
Part of the large crowd who turned out on this cold night - but it was enjoyable.

Afterwards a large number of people walked down the slippery road to the URC Hall for hot Tea/Coffee & Mince pies served by Carolyn Lambert, Silvia Harding and helpers - thanks, it was appreciated.

The Danbury Society would like to thank the Parish Council for all the work involved in providing the Tree and to those who made the "Carols Around the Tree" such a success.

Please support the Danbury Society Activities

Daffodil Planting

Dave Bolwell is in charge of planting another few hundred Daffodils in the verges around Danbury during late September/October.

David Bolwell will identify & organise the new planting areas.

Click here to go back to the Top

Aims of The Danbury Society

To involve the residents of Danbury in interests and pursuits to enrich village life.

To ensure that changes in the Village are undertaken with sensitivity to the character of Danbury.

To protect the natural beauty of the local landscape and to promote its maintenance and care.

To Work for the preservation and protection of buildings and features of interest in Danbury.

To promote the general charitable benefit of the inhabitants of the Danbury area by provision of such financial and/or material benefit as the Trustees for the time being shall determine.
(Added by Charity Commission approval 2006)

To contact the Chairman: -
The Danbury Society,
Porlock, 116 Maldon Road, Danbury, CHELMSFORD. CM3 4RA

Telephone -- 01245 223306

Click   here  to e-mail Mr Curt Brown directly.

The Danbury Society Web Site Address is:-

Comments and Suggestions regarding the Web Site
Click  here  to e-mail Henry the WebMaster directly.

Click here to go back to the Top

Copyright (c) John Bowen 2008

Last revised:-

9th February 2009 - Created this Page to record 2008.     10th December. Report & photos added for the "Carols around the Christmas Tree".   9th December - Just remembered the Carols Around the Christmas Tree was not added.   21st & 23rd November, added the report of the AGM & Tower of London Talk.   12th November, added the Autum Walk held on the 19th October.   18th September, added pictures for the September Meeting.   2nd September, to add the The Danbury Society Blog information.   25th August; Update Art Show with photos and brief report.     4th April, added a beautiful photo prepared by Dudley to the March Meeting report.     27th March - Added the Meeting tonight.     19th March, minor changes.   29th Feb, 2008. Added to the March talk & correct name.   8th Feb, minor amendments.   2nd Feb added the visit to Beeleigh Abbey.   29th January 2008 - Created this page & put the 2007 Year Record on its own page.