Cheshunt

SOCIAL HISTORY

SOCIAL HISTORY GROUP - CAROLE BATTER 01707 879773

The Archive films loaned to Cheshunt U3A by the Independent Cinema Society gave us a lot of amusement (?). My grateful thanks to Steve Gollop who saved the day after the film displayed how Archive it actually was. We were able to appreciate the hard life endured in the countryside and see some of the beauty spots where we holidayed in the past.

There will be no planning meeting in November but Christmas lunch has been booked for 5th December.

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NOVEMBER 2017

It was rather fitting that the last trip I organised for the group was to Waltham Abbey Museum, and the first visit over three years ago was to Waltham Abbey Church. The museum has recently taken advantage of a Lottery funded grant to renovate and expand some areas in order to display their collection.
Most of our self-drive visits were to local venues of historical interest (the exception being Hatfield House which I considered far too costly) from the fairly recent history of the Secret Bunker to the hand-made paper mill; from Roman finds in St. Albans to the Cinema museum. We made two visits to Copped Hall to view the progress being made restoring the building – and I’m sure many of us will return ourselves. Our local parish church of St Mary’s was visited as well as talks and visits to Cedars Park. Ingatestone Hall, Knebworth and Kenwood all had their own charm and attraction. Coach trips to Dover Castle and more recently the Mary Rose exhibition in Portsmouth took us away from ‘local’ history.
Unfortunately, the group will not be able to continue into 2018 – but it was good while it lasted!

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AUGUST 2017
The Group paid a visit to Stephens House and Gardens on August 1st. Avenue House is a Grade II listed building in the heart of Finchley, with a fascinating history, its buildings have something to offer everyone. The house and extensive landscape gardens were gifted for use and enjoyment of people by Henry ‘Inky’ Stephens, of the Stephens Ink Company, in his will. He had lived there from 1874, he oversaw the renovation of the house; the original features included a library, school rooms and bedrooms. In 1989 the east wing of the house was gutted by fire, but it has been restored to its former condition with work still progressing.

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JULY
On 11th July the group made a return visit to Copped Hall in Upshire. We were interested to see the progress made by the Copped Hall Trust in restoring this beautiful old building. Since our visit some two and half years ago, digs in the grounds have been revealing remains dating from Tudor times. So there are now Victorian, Georgian and Tudor periods to be worked on. The gardens also have been restored, especially the Walled Garden with its cordoned fruit trees and vegetables and topiary, not to mention the flower beds. Jane, the Tour guide who had extensive knowledge of the work going on, delivered to us the history in a most amusing manner. We all thoroughly enjoyed the day (and the generous sized portions of cake....) and have vowed to return in another couple of years.

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MAY 2017

Our visit to Ingatestone Hall The May visit for the group was to Ingatestone Hall in Essex for a guided tour of the house and leisure time in the gardens. We learnt that when HenryVIII ordered Thomas Cromwell to organise the Dissolution of the Monastries, Thomas’s young assistant was a young lawyer called William Petre. Young Petre was a smart young chap who took advantage of the Dissolution and bought the ‘farm-house’ and land for £849.12s6d which could well have been construed as plundering of Church property. He soon demolished the house, building instead a “very fair, large and stately, made of brick and embattled” and, thanks to his contacts with the most able Architects, produced a very advanced design for the time. It is one of the very earliest domestic buildings to have had piped water supply and flushing drains, fed from springs which continued to supply the house until about 10 years ago.
William Petre was obviously a very able diplomat, who although a Catholic managed to serve four Monarchs – both Catholic and Protestant.
The property still remains in the Petre family, the current Lord Petre is the Lord Lieutenant of Essex, still residing at Ingatestone Hall.

Photos from visit to Ingatestone Hall

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APRIL 2017

The April visit by the group renewed our interest in Cedars Park – history on our doorstep. From the first recorded reference to Thebaudes in 1441 to receiving 15 visits by Queen Elizabeth the first having her own apartments in what was one of the most lavish country houses in England, onto 1625 when King James I of England died whilst hunting in Theobalds deerpark. Over the centuries the estate and palace having being sold off to pay debts, demolished, rebuilt, two major fires and yet with aid from Heritage Lottery Fund scheme Cheshunt District Council are able to provide us access to so much – history on our doorstep.

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LARGE GROUPS OF PHOTOGRAPHS

The system of storing/viewing photographs in this system called 'SITEBUILDER' is very limiting as we have to reduce the size of each photograph, so if you send me twenty I have to select a few then resize them and then individually upload to the website. It takes time and restricts the number I can use. Plus the display is poor. To save a photograph you like is also pointless as the quality isn't good enough.
So I am trying a system that YAHOO promote called Flickr To give you an idea of what might be click on Supreme Law Courts.
So please send in your photographs via your Group Leaders and we will see if its a benefit to us all.

Peter Harris (Webmaster)

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MARCH 2017

15 members of the group took a coach visit to Portsmouth Dockyard to visit the Mary Rose Museum on 6th March. It was a visit to remember for a very long time. It is astounding that we were able to view in such detail this magnificent vessel and appreciate the modern techniques which enabled us to appreciate life on board back in 1545 when it sank in Portsmouth Harbour as it was about to fight off an invasion of the French - who apparently hoped to capture the Isle of Wight for themselves.
Many of us saw television coverage of the raising of Henry VIII flagship from the silt in the Harbour back in October 1982, and have over these many years been able to hear about the remarkable salvage of the hull and all the artefacts that were on board - and now, in this fantastic museum it has all been brought back to life for us, with sounds and holograms and detailed descriptions of what life was like on board and how bodies of Gunners and Archers were disfigured by the work they did, how the surgeons treated their wounds, how they were fed from the open couldron and oven heated by a large log fire in the middle of a wooden boat.

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THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL

Albert Memorial

The group visited the Royal Albert Hall on February 7th. We were astounded by the grandeur of the legacy planned by Prince Albert, considering it only took 4 years from planning to opening of what he designed for Recreation and Art. Sadly he died of Typhoid before its completion and it was only named the Royal Albert Hall in his memory by Queen Victoria. The building hosts thousands of events, concerts and shows every year, not only in its main auditorium but in rehearsal rooms and smaller hidden areas, some beneath ground. We took a short video of the inside area showing the equipement for the current show of Cirque Du SoleilAlbert Hall

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NOVEMBER 2016

The first of November found the group visiting the Cheshunt Parish Church of St Mary’s and enjoyed a meeting with Vicki Clark representing the Friends of St Mary’s who told us some of the history and memories connected with the Church.

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OCTOBER 2016

The group visited the Cinema Museum, near Elephant & Castle, enjoying a very nostalgic trip down memory lane. The owners have managed to collect so much from disused buildings - projection equipment, signage, advertisements for long-forgotten films - even a couple of usherettes uniforms. They have an extensive range of pre-war films too. Curiously, the museum is housed in the Masters Rooms and Chapel of the workhouse where Charlie Chaplin's family were actually housed, his father being a music-hall 'artist' and rather partial to a drink. Charlie and brother Sydney were moved out quite soon but sadly he was only able to visit his adored mother occasionally, being heartbroken in the decline of her health. Charlie moved his mother to America as soon as he was able, but it would seem that by this time her mental and physical state was not good. Many of his early films featuring the downtrodden tramp echo the time he spent visiting the workhouse. Being able to use our bus-pass on a good part of the journey added to the fun of the day too.

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SEPTEMBER 2016

----- The group visited Knebworth , near Stevenage for a guided tour. The house is still lived in by the Lytton Cobbold family and one could sense the affection the family felt for both the building and the contents, which included a painting and letters from Winston Churchill; he had great affection for Lady Pamela who rebuffed his wooing and returned to England from India and married Lord Lytton. The friendship continued until the death of Lady Lytton. After an enjoyable lunch we took advantage of the opportunity to wander a little in the beautifully maintained grounds, and amused by the maze and trees that have been turned into wood-carvings.

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JULY 2016

----- The group visited Kenwood House in Hampstead on a 'very damp' day - and had the most amusing time (just take a look at the photos on the website for evidence)
We met on cue at Finsbury Park and clambered on a bus – those who could, went upstairs reminiscing about locations and memories of who lived where and when. The tour was based on Upstairs/ Downstairs and although the family were very affluent, there weren't vast numbers of staff, the staff actually moved with the family from their London residence when they relocated to the 'country' in Hampstead. The rain didn't cease and although a bit damp we returned feeling we'd had a good day.
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JULY 2016

On Tuesday 5th July the group went for their furthest visit yet to a 'centre of historical importance.' We travelled by mini-bus to Dover Castle ----- to view the Operation Dynamo experience. The hour long tour took us deep underground to Secret Wartime Tunnels viewing the danger to our troops as the 1940 evacuation from Dunkirk was organised, this was brought to life by unusual Multimedia installations making us feel as if we were experiencing it firsthand. ----- -----

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MAY 2016

----- The group visited the Shuttleworth Collection and the Swiss Garden at Old Warden, Bedfordshire. Shuttleworth has six hangars which house vintage aircraft from 1909-1950, some of which are the last airworthy examples of their type, alongside vintage vehicles, classic motorcycles and agricultural exhibits – and every one of them in working order. Richard Ormonde Shuttleworth was born into wealth, he also inherited a very constructive brain and a fascination for mechanical objects. The Swiss Garden is an outstanding example of the Regency fashion for creating landscapes in a peaceful, tranquil space.

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APRIL2016

The group was very supportive of the Cheshunt U3A’s hosting of the SLP ‘Memories of the River Lee’ with Bill Lammas, Sheila Turner and Herbert Harris handing over photographic and written memories – which made the event so successful for us.
More available if you visit the S/L Project Button

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MARCH 2016

The group visited Alexandra Palace, unfortunately the weather didn’t allow us to ‘view the vista’, but with beautiful sunshine, one can only imagine…. With aid from the Lottery Fund work is progressing to restore – and even improve – this vast building. There is so much potential for future development and use. An excellent talk was given to us on the origins and history of the Palace, the various uses the building has been used for, from a military hospital and internment for prisoners to BBC television transmitting studios.

FEBRUARY 2016

Our February event was a visit from Chris Sumner who gave us a fascinating talk relating to his Grandfather a Poplar Counsellor who resolutely upheld his principals.
JANUARY 2016

The group’s first event of 2016 was a talk, with slides and photographs, entitled “Revolting Councellors” – so interesting and a little bit of personal ‘history’ from within the 20th century – given by Chris Sumner. This will be on Tuesday, 2nd February at 11.15 at the Green Dragon in Churchgate. If you’d like to join us, you will be very welcome.

NOVEMBER 2015

The Group’s visit to Lowewood Museum couldn’t take place so a talk was arranged from Michael Dewbrey from Enfield Archaeology society, regarding Theobalds Palace which was situated in Cheshunt’s very own Cedars Park. The group found the talk so fascinating Michael has promised to take us on a tour in Cedars Park during the coming summer to show in more detail the evidence that he and his team has uncovered of Theobalds Palace. King James I actually died at Theobalds Palace after developing a fever while hunting. After his successor King Charles I was executed and his estates sold-off to pay his army, much of the palace was demolished.

OCTOBER 2015

A very wet 6th October day took the group to the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Albans. Many of us had visited before but without the benefit of a guide to explain the architectural, historical and religious differences, the changes that had been made over the centuries and the involvement of the Abbey with the Magna Carta. Explaining the new additions for the (possible) 1000 years since Saint Alban, a mere heathen, sacrificed himself to save the life of a Christian – one can wander and just wonder.

SEPTEMBER 2015

A really interesting time was spent at Audley End House and Gardens on 1st September, this being one of the grandest Jacobean houses. Built on the foundations of Walden Abbey, a 12th century Benedictine monastery, Henry VIII granted Walden to his chancellor, Lord Audley, who converted the monastic buildings to a house. Between May 1942 and December 1944 Audley End was the headquarters of the Polish section of the Special Operations Executive, volunteers to join the underground movement were trained here before being parachuted into their home country. The house was purchased by English Heritage in 1948 who has restored and recreated the building, gardens and grounds into the beautiful example it is today.

AUGUST 2015

SCOTTS GROTTO, MUCH HADHAM FORGE AND VILLAGE -----

Confession time, unless I am directly involved, when it comes to days out I turn up on the day at the arranged meeting place at the set time where I receive my instruction’s. Often as not I haven’t a clue where I am going; all that I know is, I’m with a bunch of like-minded people who no matter what is thrown at them will nevertheless have a great day out.
So with that in mind, together with my wife Jean, we turned up at the Green Dragon PH on Thursday 6th August to receive our instructions. Scott’s Grotto, that rings a bell actually, so I must have listened at some point - directions given and I have my passengers so off we go. On arrival I couldn’t find said Grotto – others arrived, pointed to a door that looked like an entrance to a building site and parked their cars. “Got a Disabled badge?” No, so I returned to check my instructions - deposit passengers - turn around and turn right at the BOTTOM of the hill, then left at the level crossing where you’ll find a Pay and Display. Now I’ve got to walk back to the group at the top of the hill. On arrival I truly wished my doctor was present when a disabled certificate would have been issued immediately.

We entered the grounds of Scotts Grotto to join the main party in a wooded area, with dense ground foliage but clear paths. We descended steps to the Grotto to meet our guide Graham Watson who gave a short talk on the history of the site then down into the tunnels we went with torches as per instructions - read by my wife but ignored by my good self. Glad someone’s on the ball. I took a few photos and video of the second talk given by Gary, somewhere in the depths of the Grotto. I hadn’t a clue where. On exit we ascended numerous steps to the Summer House that overlooked the Grotto. Further explanations were supplied before we left for Hopleys Garden Centre in Much Hadham.

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We arrived at 12.45pm to find that by some miracle we had all made it. Light lunch followed then a short walk to the Forge. We arrived 30 minutes early but somehow this fitted in to the pattern of the day as we took in the sunshine and pleasant surroundings. At the allotted time we met our guide Christina Harrison, who enlightened us about the forge and the secrets of the building. During this time we were policed by two dogs, Carter and Eric, (only the residents of Much Hadham could come up with such names). There followed a delightful tour of the village High Street ending at St. Andrews church, a grand and imposing structure. Of course such a building couldn’t have any old paned glass window, no, they had could call on the services of then local resident, sculpture Henry MOORE who designed window as shown here.

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There followed a short walk back to our vehicles and the day was done. Now I have been on many excursions with U3A but this must be up there with the best of them. The locations, the weather, the guides but above all our group leader Carol Batter who organised it all a big THANKYOU.

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DENNY FARM
The visit on Thursday 4th June to Denny Abbey Farmland Museum (which is currently being restored by English Heritage) and the Farmland Museum was far more interesting than I thought it would be. The 11th century Abbey, having been Byzantine, Catholic, home to the Sisters of Poor Clair and later a Farmhouse was in a pretty dilapidated condition but is improving. (If you’re ever in the village of Waterbeach at any time, we highly recommend the White Horse!!)

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The Social History group visited North Weald Aerodrome Museum on 7th May for a fascinating tour of the museum, up some incredibly steep stairs to the control tower and visiting hangars containing ancient planes – and flashy, pricey new jobs. Whilst being shown the Essex-Herts Air Ambulance we observed the team ‘scramble’ and take off on a mission.

On 7th April we had a guided tour by the Curator of the Verulamium Museum David Thorold. A two hour talk that was fascinating. Although many of the Group felt we knew about the Romans settling in St Albans, the Curator brought so much information, knowledge and enthusiasm during his guided tour, opening our eyes to not only the Romans, but the Iron Age inhabitants of Verulamia who were established ‘farmers’ prior to the visit from the Roman ‘ambassadors’ to do trade and settle.Part of the tour is included just click on the words highlighted in blue. This announces our own site on UTube

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Our March visit to Copped Hall

To say that the group’s visit to Copped Hall on 3rd March was ‘interesting’ would be a complete under-statement. The work being carried out by the Copped Hall Trust to save and restore this mansion to its full glory was utterly fascinating and admirable. We all felt it will be necessary to re-visit in a couple of years to view the progress made by the Trust during this time.

Decisions were made at the last meeting in the Green Dragon for future visits which you may like put into your diary (some dates have been altered from our usual Tuesday visits so as not to conflict with Exploring London visits)

We meet on the second Tuesday of the month in the Green Dragon in Churchgate at 11.15; join us to visit more fascinating places – almost on our doorstep.

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