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

Latest Changes
27th January 2019 Updated 2018 page to feature in date order.

What happened in 2018

Danbury Society Quiz.

Was on Saturday, 24th March at the Danbury Sports and Social Centre.

A General Knowledge Quiz by Mike Simmons.

Tables of up to six - £5 per person in aid of the Society’s Charitable Funds.

Drinks at the bar please – but bring your own snacks.

Call John on 01245 223106 to book a table or place at a table.
  Note, the Telephone Number quoted in the blue 2018 Programme Cards is incorrect.

This was a well attended Quiz with all tables filled.

First Talk of the Year.

Was on Thursday 19th April at the Danbury Sports and Social Centre , Eve's Corner.

The Forgotten History of Chelmsford"   by Alan Pamphilon, local Chelmsford Historian.

An illustrated talk from the Iron Age to the present day.

Please note that Alan will lead a walk around Chelmsford for the Danbury Society on Thursday, 21st June.

Forty members and guests were at the Sports & Social Centre to hear him.

April Talk
Looking at part of the audience of this well supported talk.
Photos by Norman Bartlett

But before the start, Danbury Society Chairman, John Deamer presented cheques to local organisations.

First up was Paul Walker of 1st Danbury Scouts who brought along some Beavers, Cubs and Scouts to see what was going one.

April Talk
Paul Walker (left) and Chairman John Deamer.

He was presented with a cheque for £750 as a contribution to the fitting out of the new Scout HQ in Moores Bridge Lane.

April Talk
Paul Walker receiving the cheque.

Then Charlotte Jones accepted £200 on behalf of Danbury Pre-School Group to help with the purchase of replacement equipment.

April Talk
Charlotte Jones and John Deamer.

Wearing Victorian waistcoat, high collar and neck tie, Alan delivered a professional talk with a lectern and slides.

April Talk
Alan Pamphilon, local Chelmsford Historian.

His talk took the audience on an imaginary stroll from Moulsham Street and up the High Street to the railway station.
He identified various locations and told a story about them from Roman times to the 1930s.
At some sites the buildings had long since disappeared like the agora that had existed near Hall Street, the old prison by the river, the Great Black Boy Inn on the corner of Springfield Road and the Corn Exchange.   Others were still used daily like the Stone Bridge, the Shire Hall, the Anne Knight building and, of course, the train station.

It was a popular talk and Alan dealt with some close questioning afterwards before the customary tea, biscuits and social chat.

Thank you Alan for an interesting evening.   We look forward to seeing you in Chelmsford in June for your conducted tour.

Evening Visit

This was on Thursday, 10th May 7pm at the Sandford Mill Industrial Museum.

Danbury Society's annual visit this year was an out-of-hours evening visit to Sandford Mill.

Our group was met outside the building by Tim Wander, the Curator.  

May Visit to Sandford Mill
Tim Wander.
Photos by Norman Bartlett

He is a natural raconteur who explained the origins of the building.   He explained that since the 19th century Chelmsford had run out of water every 30 years or so.   In 1923 Chelmsford District Council built this waterworks to abstract and process water from the River Chelmer.   The channel was built from the river to create an island on which the works stands.   There were three boreholes to supplement the river on site, in Admirals Park and in Hall Street.   The drawn water was full of sediment and pollutants.   Settlement tanks were made and the water was treated with ferric oxide to make the particulates fall to the bottom.   The red sediment was pumped out into the river until 1984 and this is still occasionally stirred up by canoeists.

Our group went inside and Tim began his discourse on the industrial history of Chelmsford, notably the Big Four of Marconi, Crompton, Hoffmans and Christy Brothers but Marconi in particular.   He focused on Guglielmo Marconi's conviction about wireless transmission, and his early conversion of William Preece Chief Electrical Engineer of the British Post Office.   Fortunately Marconi came from a well-connected family – aristocratic father and Angle Irish mother from the Jameson whisky firm.   He continued to demonstrate his equipment over longer and longer distances until he achieved a transatlantic link.   The wealth of family and friends sustained this expensive period of development.   Marconi was more interested in communication for ships at sea.   Between 1897 and 1905, 18,000 people had lost their lives on ships that had been lost without trace.

Marconi may have chosen Chelmsford as a he wanted to be outside London and because the town had a workforce knowledgeable about electrical equipment because of Colonel Crompton's pioneering factory.   Marconi set up a factory in Hall Street where all the components of the radio equipment were manufactured.   Marconi was first and foremost an entrepreneur so his decisions were always made on a business basis.   Slowly he began to obtain orders from shipping companies but it was not until the Titanic disaster in 1912 that the fitting of radio to ships really took off.

The Great War saw an enormous growth in demand for wireless and the training of tens of thousands of men skilled in its use and repair.   After the war, Marconi began experiments with voice transmission from a hut at Writtle and a mast at New Street that towered 400 ft.   The Writtle hut had originally been used by a flight of the RNAS Zeppelin protection force, based at the village.   It had been preserved and re-erected inside the building where we stood.

Tim took us into the hut and told how the story developed.

May Visit
Inside the Marconi Hut from Writtle.

The original voice transmissions were simply just that: engineers reading out Bradshaw's timetable or pages from a newspaper.   Marconi hadn't realised that many people had primitive receivers and were listening to these transmissions with great interest.   One engineer, Peter Eckersley, started regular broadcasts of a light-hearted nature with songs, imitations and general facetiousness that gained a following of thousands.   The GPO issued a licence for continued broadcasting with the station identifier 2MT based at the Writtle hut.

Lord Rothermere heard of the tests and offered Dame Nelly Melba a fee of £1,000 to make a broadcast.   Here Tim digressed to say a little about Dame Nelly.   Admired as a national icon in her native Australia, in 1920 she was a veritable diva near the end of her career.   She was small, less than 5 ft tall, and one who jealously preserved her reputation even to the extent of discrediting younger up and coming sopranos.   The limousine that met her at the station gave her a tour of the town for which Marconi, ever the publicist, recruited a rent-a-mob to stand at strategic points and cheer.

As an entrepreneur, Marconi could see no business case for public broadcasts.   The British Broadcasting Company was formed in 1922 under the station sign 2LO.   It expanded but was wound up in 1926 and formed the basis of the state-owned BBC.   Tim spent some time commending Peter Eckersley and his interesting life and complaining how his name was so little known.

Our group then looked around the rest of the museum.   Notable is a faithful reproduction of the Wireless Radio room on the Titanic.

May Visit
Tim demonstrating the workings of the RMS Titanic Wireless Room.

Upstairs is what may be the oldest firefighting appliance in the world.

May Visit
What maybe the Worlds Oldest Fire Engine.

Thank you Tim for an enjoyable and interesting evening.

The Danbury Society Guided Walk.

Thursday, 21st June at 7.30pm in central Chelmsford.

This walk was led by Alan Pamphilon.   Note, Alan also presented the April Talk.

They met at the Stone Bridge in the High Street.   Alan, in period costume, lead the group around Chelmsford and bring the City's main streets to life before the age of supermarkets and shopping malls.

The 46th Annual Art Exhibition.

This was held at the Danbury Sports and Social Centre, Eve's Corner on Friday 24th, Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th August.

The 46th Annual Art Show took place over the August Bank Holiday weekend as usual.   It was set out in the games hall of the Danbury Sports & Social Centre.

There were nearly 300 paintings and ceramic pieces on display submitted by 77 different artists.   In addition there were hundreds of unframed portfolios laid out for visitors to look through.

Around 40% of the artists sold something for a total value of over £3,200.   Although there were many of the Show's regular exhibitors, there were around 8 newbie artists among the 77.   From the enquiries received at the show, a similar number will probably be added next year.

This shows the continued popularity of probably the most long-lived art exhibition in the district.   Although no direct count was taken, the organisers estimate that around 500 people viewed the paintings over the three days.

Everything was for sale and the commissions taken by Danbury Society for organising the event will contribute to the charitable funds the Society maintains.   These funds are used for charitable objectives linked to keeping the village an attractive place to live.

The exhibition was also a showplace for the winners in a school competition in which the three Danbury schools took part.

The show was formally opened by the new rector of Danbury, the Reverend Jacqueline Jones.

2016 Art Exhibition
Rev Jacqueline Jones looks on as Society Chairman John Deamer introduces her.
Photos by Norman Bartlett

 Rev Jacquline Jones addresses guests
Rev Jacqueline Jones addressing the guests.

She said that although she had been brought up in the area but had been absent from Danbury for many years.   She was delighted to see that the spirit of community lived on, shown by the great efforts that had been put into achieving this exhibition.

Having looked around the exhibition she talked about the paintings she liked.

2016 Art Exhibition
Is she saying, "I like paintings this high"?

 Rev Jacquline Jones addresses guests
Is she saying, "I like paintings this wide"?

Heritage Open Days Season.

These started Friday, 7th and continued until Monday 17th September throughtout Essex and the UK.

Locally, Norman Bartlett of the Danbury Society started off with two conducted tours from St John's Church Green, Danbury, CM3 4NG at 3pm on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th September.  
Each tour lasted about 90 minutes, centered around the Church area.   There was parking on the Green.

On Saturday Norman was blessed with a day when the weather got better as the day wore on.  

Heritage open Days
Norman (second from the right) about to start his presentation
Photo by John Bowen

Starting at 3pm with a nice group of people he led them around the Churchyard and drew their attention to some of the distinguisted and interesting people so interned.
Unfortunately it seems as though the last person has now been buried in this part of the churchyard which was opened in the late 1960s.

Heritage open Days
The Churchyard as seen from the Bridleway by it.

Further afield there are hundreds of very interesting places to see within 10 miles of Danbury.
Have a look at the website: -

This opens in a new window which you have to close to come back to the Danbury Society web site.

Enter your Post Code and cursor to see maybe 16 pages of places to visit without booking - more if you book.
The section on Chelmsford has a great poster: -

Heritage open Days
Heritage Open Days
Thanks to Chelmsford City Council for the above

Autumn Talk - Thames Sailing Barges.

On Thursday 27th September at 8pm at the Danbury Sports and Social Centre , Eve's Corner.

By Jim Lawrence, former Thames Barge Skipper.

When Jim was at school in the late 1930s, he and his mates used to go down to the Hythe in Colchester to watch the Thames Sailing Barges.   He decided that was what he wanted to do when he left school at 15.   He joined the 'Gladys' as Third Hand, sailing along the Essex rivers and down the coast to London and then back.   When men were called up in 1939 and 1940, he was promoted to Mate and a few years later to Skipper.

He will give his talk about those days in his warm Essex accent.   He may possibly have a Bargeman's song to sing as well if he brings his banjo or accordion along.   What he will bring along is a rich fund of stories that tell of those days when the brown sails of the barges were a familiar sight along the River Blackwater and Crouch, the Thames estuary and the Medway.

You can get a flavour of Jim by watching this clip:

After the talk tea, coffee and biscuits will be served.

Danbury Society's Annual General Meeting.

Thursday 22nd November at 8pm at the Danbury Sports and Social Centre , Eve's Corner.

Danbury Society AGM 2018.

The meeting was attended by over 30 members on a dark and chilly evening.
The evening opened with the Chairman, John Deamer, presenting a cheque for £1,000 to Danbury Sports & Social Centre as a contribution to the refurbishment of the sports hall kitchen.   The cheque was received on behalf of the Centre by Stephen Holland with Centre Manager, Adrian Owers alongside.

Heritage open Days
Adrian Owers (left), John Deamer and Stephen Holland receiving the cheque.
Photo by John Bowen

The business Meeting then started with the Chairman’s Report.

Heritage open Days
The top table, Vice-chairman Roger Cole-Jones (left), Bob Booker & John Deamer.

John Deamer mentioned particularly the continuing friendly association between the Centre and the Society.   The close relationship with Hands Off Danbury has been productive in seeing off one determined efforts by land promoters to grab land at the edge of the village.   He went on to mention other grants that the Society had made to village bodies and its activities during the year to achieve the Society’s charitable objects.   He thanked his fellow Trustees, those who made the Art Show such a success and the distributors who delivered the newsletters to members and collected subs.

On the matter of subscriptons, John Deamer reminded the Meeting that the annual subscription of £1 had remained unchanged for 26 years.   The Trustees recommended that this should be raised to £2 per year and he asked the Meeting would agree to that.   It did with no dissent.

It was noted with sadness that long time Member, John Hawker (Snr) had passed away.   John always officiated at Danbury Society events and arranged the serving of wine.   He also delivered many of the Newsletters.

Bob Booker presented the Annual Accounts for the year ended 31 October.   There had been a significant increase in outgoings as the Society made grants and incurred other expense in satisfying its charitable objects.   The contribution from the Art Show had also declined although it remained a valuable social event.   He reminded Members that although expenses exceeded income, the Society still had reserves of over £8,000.   The accounts were accepted.

Vice-chairman Roger Cole-Jones took over the meeting to oversee the appointment of the officers and committee for another year.   There were no other candidates so that the meeting agreed to re-appoint John Deamer as Chairman and Bob Booker as Treasurer.   There was a vacancy for Hon. Secretary and the Chairman was delighted to announce that there was a candidate for post.   Joanna Overy was appointed to the post with general acclamation from members.   The remaining Members of the Committee had agreed to continue; there were no appointments.
After one or two questions, the meeting closed and the next stage of the evening started.

Tony Tuckwell has studied New Hall at Boreham and delivered a fascinating talk on the subject.

Heritage open Days
New Hall by Tony Tuckwell.

  Its history goes back to Neolithic times for artefacts from that time were found during an archaeological dig on site. There was also an Anglo-Saxon building and a large medieval dwelling built by the monks from Waltham Abbey. It came into private hands and was rebuilt in 1450 for Margaret of Anjou, wife of Henry VI and then passed to the Boleyn family. The place moved up socially when Henry VIII visited in 1510. He liked the estate and bought it for £1,000. This was only one of the 60 buildings that the monarch built or acquired during his reign. He decided it would be one of his palaces and his court comprised 600 courtiers and staff it needed to be big.   When rebuilt the frontage was 500 feet across, with 8 courtyards.   It became the main residence of the King’s first Wife, Catherine of Aragon.   She was pregnant several times but only went to full term twice.   It has been suggested that because she was a devout Catholic she stuck rigidly to fasting on days of obligation although there was no requirement for expectant mothers to do so.   Had her fasting caused the miscarriages?

New Hall was so closely associated with the first Queen that none of Henry’s subsequent spouses had any wish to dwell there.   On the King’s death, the house – like many others - was redundant.   Royal residences were given away to royal favourites.   James I gave New Hall to his lover Charles Villiers, Duke of Buckingham.   At one stage the gardens were attended by John Tradescant.

During the Civil War, the place was acquired by Cromwell and then later George Monck (Duke of Albemarle) and Richard Hoare, founder of Britain’s oldest bank.   These ownerships typically lasted only 2 generations as the cost of upkeep was too high.   The place was steadily made smaller until it passed into the hands of the nuns of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre 1799.   The house was rebuilt in a Tudor style as a school.

Tony Tuckwells’s talk was entertaining as well as informative, touching on some intriguing aspects to add to its value.

Afterwards everyone enjoyed a social evening of wine, snacks and conversation.

Thank you Tony for such an interesting account of a local Royal Palace - New Hall.

Carols Around the Christmas Tree at Eves Corner

This will be typically on a Wednesday in December 2018

The annual Carol Service around the Christmas Tree on the village green usually has a Silver Band to provide the music.   There will be powerful flood lights to help read the song sheets more easily since the power pillar was erected.

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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.

The Danbury Society supports the Village

As part of its Charitable Objects, the Danbury Society makes grants to village activities and organisations of all kinds.   Since its formation in 1967, the Society has donated many thousands of pounds ranging from improvements at Eves Corner, refurbishing the Village Hall, restoration of the Grade 1 listed Parish Church to helping out with youth organisations.

The Danbury Society publish a Newsletter every 4 months.   This is available to paid-up Members

Contact Information

The Danbury Society Web Site Address is:-

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Copyright (c) John Bowen 2019