Registered Charity No. 1106243
Visit to the Gardens of Easton Lodge on 20 May 2021
In December 2019 members enjoyed a fascinating talk by Claire Matthews, one of the trustees of The Gardens of Easton Lodge Preservation Trust, and requested an organised group visit. The visit could not take place last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Two excellent guides assisted by two volunteer assistants conducted the tour, providing interesting information on the history of the estate and its owners and details of the recent and current restoration project in the gardens. Much of the history related by the guides was about the most famous previous owner, "Daisy", the Countess of Warwick, a very rich member of the aristocracy who was mistress to the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) for a period of nine years towards the end of the 19th century. The visit ended with tea and delicious cakes.
Visit to Gestingthorpe Roman Villa Site on Thursday 11 July 2019
This was an interesting afternoon visit to the museum and the actual site of the villa (scheduled as a ancient monument) which was probably in existence from c. 200 AD to c. 400 AD. The Friends then visited a 15th century building (a former guildhall which was moved to the present Hill Farm site in the 16th century) and saw a collection of agricultural implements and machinery. The afternoon visit finished with tea and biscuits.
Visit to Beeleigh Abbey Garden and Beeleigh Mill on 10 May 2019
The day started with a visit to Beeleigh Abbey, the former home of the late Christina Foyle of Foyle's bookshop. The house is not nowadays open to the public but the group of 21 members and guests enjoyed wandering around the interesting, attractive and well-maintained garden. Most then enjoyed the excellent light refreshments served by volunteers in a large tent.
The visitors then walked a short distance to Beeleigh Mill, a Victorian steam-powered flour mill which is currently being restored by the Beeleigh Mill Restoration Group (BMRG) where they were welcomed by key volunteers. We were taken in small groups round the site and viewed the remains of the original water mill and the barge bays which made possible transport via the short tidal creek from the main river. In the steam-powered mill building, the visitors saw the original boiler, the engine and the hurstings, a mechanism that converts by means of gears the horizontal drive from the steam engine into vertical drive to power the circular grinding stones on the floor above. The guides gave explanations of how everything worked, the problems the BMRG have had to face and the considerable progress in the restoration project so far made.
Annual Dinner on 6th April 2019
Visit to Dedham Church and The Place for Plants - May 2018 FCM Event
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