The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

For occasional articles, snippets and announcements by the Resident Historians.These articles are presented in date order, but if you explore the back-catalogue, you may find much of interest. Historical information doesn't really go out of date! Any member of the F&DLHS may add an entry or make a comment to an existing entry once they have got their userID and password from the Webmaster.

If you'd like to publish any interesting material about the history of East Anglia on the site, then please send an email to the Resident Historians at and we'll add it.

Family Historians have their own area on the site, so look there if your main interest is in tracing your family history.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

The public obituary to David Ward, October 1949.

Suffolk Free Press dated 4th October, 1949

David Ward was so important to the prosperity of the four parishes that make up this most northerly part of Essex, that he richly deserves the biographical book that we published a while back called 'Foxearth Brew'. His obituary in the local paper gives even more of a broad view into his ingenuity, and his tireless unpaid work in the service of the public, and of his philanthropy.

Home Beer was beginning for champion brewer

He was Ninety

Mr David Ward dies

ONE of the district's best known personalities, Mr. David Ward, who began his brewing in his mothers house and lived to see his beer become famous over a large area of the Eastern Counties, died on Saturday (Oct 1949) at his Foxearth home. Active until the last his influence will be missed in a wide field of Suffolk and Essex activities and many people will feel they have lost a personal friend.

David Ward was born on August 18th. 1859. at Foxearth, where he has spent all his life. Educated at a small private school at Long Melford under one of the old-fashioned masters. Mr. Z. Payne, he took a keen interest in rural and village life from early boyhood. 


Starling his public work at the age of 21. he continued it for over 60 years. He was elected to the Belchamp Rural District Council, when rural councils were first formed in 1894. and continued as the member for Foxearth. Lyston and Pentlow when it was merged with the Halstead R.D.C. in 1934.

A councillor for 48 years, he was one of the few original rural councillors surviving when he retired in December, 1942.

In 1907. on the retirement of Mr. Charles Brewster, of Maplestead, he was elected to fill the vacancy on the Essex County Council, serving as representative of 26 parishes for 21 years, during which time he was unopposed at his seven triennial elections.

The oldest member of the old Sudbury Board of Guardians, he was also a Governor of the Sudbury Grammar School, representing Essex. For many years he was a member of St. Leonard's Hospital Committee.


At Foxearth, anything for the village welfare had his attention. He exerted his influence to promote the former Foxearth. Pentlow, Borley and Lyston branch of the Essex County Nursing Association and was for many years its president. When the village hall was erected in 1928 Mr. Ward was largely
responsible for its provision, when he generously supported the building fund, presenting the land and carrying the whole scheme to a successful issue.

Keenly  interested in the parish    church.    he was organist   there    for forty years   and   was presented with a travelling case and an illuminated   address signed by everyone in the parish
when he retired. As a Freemason, he was the oldest, and an energetic member of the Stour Valley
 Lodge,  passing  through the various degrees of office and was honoured by being appointed as Provincial Grand Organist   for  the Suffolk  Province


But it is for his commercial activities and enterprise as the founder of the famous Foxearth Brewery that Mr. Ward is best known. From very small beginnings he built the brewing business up
so rapidly that in 1888 not ......
... built. 
This has since been largely extended and equipped with the latest plant and machinery. Its reputation for cleanliness and efficiency is wide. In 1919 it was converted into a private limited company for family reasons. 

Mr.Ward lived to see the remarkable results of his life's work, for his beer secured the champion gold medal in London in 1913 for the best beer in the whole show, and in succeeding: years has won some 25 other medals. 

The water supply at the brewery is generally reckoned to be fine for brewing:While he has established such an important industry in his native village, he has not forgotten to modernize and improve amenities there. A public water supply, better roads, and improved housing conditions, and lastly, at his own expense, an electricity supply which enabled the power to be extended to the entire village.


Though he passed his ninetieth birthday in August. Mr. Ward was alert and actively associated with the business, maintaining the position of managing director of the company with the necessary
co-operation and control by his son. Mr. H. E. Ward, who has continued his father's public work to a large degree. Sudbury looked upon him as a resident, for he took such a tremendous interest in
the affairs of the borough and he was noted for the generosity of his contributions to philanthropic causes. He always typed his own letters, and in such high esteem was he held that many are kept as souvenirs of him. Few men can have given longer or more devoted service to the community.
His funeral is at Foxearth Church to-day at 2.30 p.m.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The Rise and Fall of Colchester's St Nicholas church

St Nicholas Church in Colchester was Saxon in origin, being built on the foundations of a large Roman-era building. It was enlarged and rebuilt during the fourteenth century, and at various times later.

In August 1770, during another restoration, the tower fell into the nave, almost destroying the building, but by 1721, services were once more held there, and a timber belfry was erected as a temporary measure. In the nineteenth century, it is obvious that not much had been done to repair the church, as an engraving from the 1830s shows. The timber belfry is still there, but the nave was still ruined.


However, in 1876, the full restoration of the church, under the supervision of Sir Gilbert Scot, was completed and the nearby church of St Runwald's was then demolished.

 One of the great lost sights of Colchester, from 1880. St Nicholas
Church, then newly restored with the old 'Frying Pan' clock
replaced in its old prominent position. In the distance is the old town hall
with horse-drawn cabs outside the great High Street hotels. The tram
system wouldn't come for another twenty years.

In seventy years time, in October 1954, the splendid church would be destroyed to make way for a CoOp. Store

The Church was somehow allowed to sold the church and the site to the Cooperative Society in October 1954, The new owners proceeded to demolish the building in such haste that they destroyed the roman and saxon archaeology, and few monuments or furnishings were recovered.
St Nicholas Church being demolished
In 1957, the new shop was opened, leaving just the southern part of the graveyard intact. The few local residents within the parish were horrified, and refused to enter the building, believing that the ground was still hallowed. Sadly, the revulsion of the Colchester residents, was insufficient to prevent the subsequent widespread demolition of the mediaeval heart of Colchester.
No adequate record was made before demolition. The archaeologist ruefully declared that it was  'staggering to discover just how little we really know about the church and its site. As far as can be ascertained, nothing approaching an adequate record was made of the church and its fittings before or during demolition'. Little is known about the earlier church beyond  the evidence of a  12th Century pillar piscina. However it must be earlier than the castle because it is aligned on the old roman course of the high street before it was changed to accomodate the outer bailey of the castle..