The long winter with the coldest March in many years and snow in April, seemed to chime with another year of austerity and unfathomable price increases. Despite the very late spring, nature recovered and blossom and fruit were abundant. The Village year proceeded very much as normal but there were new initiatives showing that people cared about those who may have been struggling.

A Community Shop – the old shop and Post Office on the Falkenham Road had closed in 2006 and was sold at auction in 2009 but it remained closed. With Susan Harvey as the driving force, the Village started to consider opening its own community shop. Meetings were held – to seek advice from the Plunkett Foundation and to identify possible locations – one being the Green. To establish the level of support for such an initiative, a questionnaire was sent to every household in September (copy retained). Later in the year it became apparent that Giles Todd was considering buying and re-opening the old shop. At the year’s end negotiations were continuing.

The Friends of Kirton Church – Neil Garnham, the new Chair, proposed that the Friends should extend their remit from simply the fabric of the Church and Churchyard out into the Community at large. The idea was that the new approach would be cash-positive for the Friends. In the face of shrinking and ageing congregations (C.of E. average age now 62), it would show the Church to be outward-looking. The Church would once again become relevant to the Village as a whole. In the thirties, the Rev. Weir had been a force to be reckoned with as he pursued improvements in the infrastructure. With more people being prepared to join the Friends, it could also serve as a vehicle to raise funds specifically from the Village to benefit people in the Village, for example with a Food Bank. At the AGM in July, however, the idea found little support

Kirton Information Desk or “Surgery” 
– another initiative on the part of Susan Harvey. Recognising that the Village had little in the way of facilities and that a trip by bus to visit organisations in Felixstowe or Ipswich was both irksome and expensive – £5 or more return – it was decided to bring the several organisations into the Village. A two-sided leaflet (copy retained) was delivered to every household inviting people to the Church Hall on the first Wednesday of each month. In attendance were:
Alzheimer’s Society Flagship Housing Citizens Advice Bureau
Woodland Pals Preschool Sure Start Suffolk Well-being & VoiceAbility
The Oaks & Sea Breeze Age UK PCSO Glynn Bown
Kidd Rodham & Webb Nassau Trust Financial Advice – Rob Case
Susan Harvey SCDC
Three sessions were held starting in October with more to follow in the New Year. A good number of people visited the “Surgery”. Under the auspices of the Nassau Trust, a desk was manned offering “Food Help” – the idea being that rather than a selection of pre-determined dried and tinned delights, anyone in need of help would have a lift to a supermarket of their choice and be given an amount of money to be spent as they saw fit. No-one attended this desk – perhaps no-one was in need, maybe having to approach the desk was inhibiting or maybe the timing was unattractive with over half of those on benefits actually in employment.

Other Happenings:
Development – SCDC continued to seem in awe of developers with the Planning Dept. citing the need “to remove onerous affordable housing provision” and on one occasion even berating elected Councillors in the Press for not taking the Officers’ recommended line. Naturally developers had a field day. It was all quiet as regards the potential development along Innocence Lane but the threat remained as did the implication of the “Core Strategy” to have around 1,400 new houses on the Peninsula.
Solar Panel Field – installation started on land between the A1093 and the A12.
Ploughing Society Match – the eighth event was organised by Tom Wells and held at Goslings Farm on 7th April
The Fete at the Rec. on 8th June – raised around £3,500
Open Gardens – twenty were open raising £1,365 for the Scouts on 23rd June and Fred Last’s Kirton Light Railway raised around £300 for the Hospice and other charities..
Cerebral Palsy Event – with a cycle ride and an afternoon at the White Horse was organised by Roger Salter on 7th July.
Boundary Review – consultation opened with a view to reducing the number of SCDC councillors from 53 to 42 and it looked as though Kirton would be split off from the Trimleys and associated with other rural parishes in the locality.
A New Parish Website – was launched by the Parish Council:
Illegal Fishing – a man was prosecuted for fishing at Kirton Hall reservoir on 1st June without a rod licence
People in the News included:
Pat Todd – with the closure of her Reunion Gallery in the Star 10th April
Rachel Pells – with a series of articles in the free magazine Spotlight about her adventures as she travelled on her own around South America.
Val Reid – had a letter in the Star regretting the demise of the Spa Theatre.
Susan Harvey – with her concerns about excessive noise from bird-scarers (11th Jan) and speeding near the exit from Back Lane 24th June).
Stephen Sheeran – in the Star on 9th December receiving the BTP Area Commander’s Commendation at Stationers Hall for bravery in tackling an unruly passenger.
Michael Francis DSM – On 2nd August, Prince Harry launched Royal Marines Tamar. One of the new training buildings was officially named the Francis Building in honour of Royal Marines Colour Sergeant Michael Francis for his bravery in the rescue of the crew of the Sir Galahad during the Falklands Conflict. C.Sgt Francis’ wife Marie attended with her daughter and grandchildren. She jointly cut the ribbon to the building sharing the same Commando dagger with HRH. 

Local History Miscellany
The Death in Kirton and the Funeral in 1862 of a Gypsy Girl – Helen Thomson of Glasgow whose family – Knights – used to live in Park Lane – stumbled on newspaper reports of this story which crossed the world. In 1862 a group of gypsies arrived in Kirton staying in fields near the old Greyhound Pub. Among them was a beautiful young woman with consumption – Repronia Lee – who despite the solace offered by the women of the parish and the attentions of Dr Bartlet – the father of the man who funded the Hospital – succumbed and was buried at Kesgrave. This account is still referred to in Gypsy literature as one of the best descriptions of their funeral rites. (Note: the Knights family is having a reunion in the Church Hall in September 2104).

Thomas Jefferson & Kirton – Jenny Scholten, a librarian in California, got in touch via Martin R-H’s website to alert us to the fact that Thomas Jefferson, III President of the US and the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence, had roots in Kirton. This is known from the will of his 5x Great Grandmother, Elizabeth, who died in 1590 and whose will gives Kirton as her place of birth. It is highly frustrating that no-one seems to know her maiden name and that our parish records start only in 1623 – Jenny found the “only” very amusing.

A Postcard from Daisy at the Rectory – Pam Cole of the Felixstowe Museum sent across scans of a postcard owned by her colleague Andrew Halliday. This had been sent in September 1914 by Daisy to her friend Nellie. This is a sweet little addition to the Archive but sadly we could find no trace of Daisy.

Hedgehogs – seemed very few and far between. A solitary individual was seen in Park Lane but run over a few days later.

Chapman & Dardry Family History – it was possible to help a Mrs Emsden with her researches. John Dardry died aged 88 or 89 and was buried in the churchyard on 5 December 1853. He had been Parish Clerk for nearly 54 years. John & Frances Dardry had triplets – John, Thomas& Frances – all of whom died aged four days and were buried on 22 January 1789.

Block Family History – Alison Howe visited Kirton for her researches into the Block family and we were able to help her.
Naming a Cottage – a lady wanted a relevant name for her cottage which was duly furnished.

Placing Cottages on the Map – up until quite recently houses tended to have names rather than numbers but now in many cases the names have become defunct or the properties demolished. A project was launched to see if we could establish the location of each of the named cottages on the 1939 Poll Register.

The Deaths occurred of :

  • Rev. John Waller – known by many in the Village and the fifth successive generation at Waldringfield
  • Lesley Kemp – whose family farmed in Kirton for many years and used to operate brick kilns behind the Church.

Len Lanigan,
Kirton Local History Recorder email: phone: Kirton 568


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