GMS News 91 June 2016

Our Rural Heritage 

Fred_Newing_senior_with_beehivesI am trying to collect as many photographs as I can of past activities in the village. Last month I featured activities in Three Horseshoes meadow. In the photograph above Fred Newing senior is tending his beehives at Redberry, now called Champlain’s Well. This photograph was kindly donated to the Society’s archive by the late Freda Assinder who sent me several photos. I am always on the lookout for old photos of activities in the village, so if you know of any could you please send me copies. I would particularly like to collect photos of farm workers, craftsmen, leisure activities or ceremonies, but all photos with links to the village would be appreciated.




Last Month’s Meeting

At the John_Howard_talkslast meeting John Howard recounted his lifetime involvement with wine. It all started when, as a customs officer in Yorkshire, he became involved with a group of home made wine enthusiasts. After some early disasters with exploding bottles he became more competent and won a number of prizes for his wines.

Jim_sets_out_biscuitsPromotion took him to the Crown Prosecution Service in London. Although there was not much scope for home wines in London there was an off licence not far from his office. He started a wine society at his place of work, this time with the commercial variety.

As time progressed he honed his wine tasting skills to a point where it was suggested to him that he take the exams to become a fully qualified wine taster. On retirement he set up the Dulwich Wine Society. At the same time he judged at international competitions in London and Dorking. On moving to Walmer he set up the Deal Wine tasting society.

At the conclusion of the meeting we enjoyed a glass of wine from a bottle purchased by our treasurer for £2.50, accompanied by biscuits and Cheese.

June Meeting

Fort_Burgoyne_3You may have seen Chris Valdus featured in an article about Fort Burgoyne in the Mercury a coupe of weeks ago. The site was called Castle Hill Fort until Queen Victoria renamed it after her Inspector General of Fortifications, John Burgoyne. It housed 240 men and seven officers.

When the Parachute Regiment left Connaught Barracks in 2006, the fort was also left empty.

At our next meeting on Thursday 16th June Chris Valdus, the project manager, will tell us about plans for the development of the site. We meet as usual at 7.30 in the Village Hall..


The Kent History Federation 2016 Annual Conference

Two of our members, Audrey Pitchford and Val Rees, went to Smarden. This is Audrey’s report. 

This was hosted by Smarden Local History Society based at Smarden Charter Hall.

Attended by two members of Great Mongeham Society, the talks by the guest speakers provided fascinating insights into the life of this ancient village. Smarden is one of the Kentish Wealds oldest weaving villages dating back to at least 1205. The cloth industry was supported by Edward III, who granted the village a Royal Charter in 1333 to hold a weekly market and annual fair. It then had the status of Town. The beautiful timbered houses of the weavers reflect their success.

The first speaker, Roger Craig, provided an informative talk about ‘The Kent Heritage Resource Centre’. He explained how large collections of ephemera and documents can be captured and stored using modern digital equipment. Software, camera and advice are available from Smarden Local History Society. However, he emphasised the importance of maintaining standards with regard to provenance and validity. How was this equipment

funded? In partnership with Kent Archaeological Society, money was obtained to purchase ‘Community Chest’, a package for recording and storing information. The Society now has a room in the Charter Hall for their archive. A training programme is also offered by Smarden Society, available to other societies, in the use of this new technology.

Kaye Snowden then gave an illustrated presentation ‘Five Wealden Villages Through Time’. This was mainly reliant on 19th and 20th century postcards.

She was followed by Martin Brooks whose subject was ‘Notable Smarden Characters’. He revealed a long list of people that included George Sanders (actor), Mervyn Peake ( author) and Peter West ( TV personality).

The final presentation of the morning ‘Four Smarden Plane Crashes’, was by Alex Ferris. Of the four, two were primitive freight planes, one of which crashed with £80,000 of gold bullion on board. During World War II, a German Messerschmidt crashed near Smarden. Its pilot, Hans Berthel, a renowned fighter ace, parachuted to safety escaping with minor injuries. He took no further part in the war, but went on to make a successful career

in the American film industry.

A memorable day concluded with visits to the Zion Chapel and St. Michael’s Church.

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