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Effingham Eye: Village Communities Unite to Celebrate Harvest Festival

Published on: 18 Oct, 2017
Updated on: 22 Oct, 2017

By Chris Dick

So much has happened over the summer that at one point my editor joked (at least I hope he joked) that he was worried we would have to change the name of The Guildford Dragon to The Effingham Dragon (also covering Guildford).

Effingham seemed to dominate the front pages during the usually quiet holiday period, sometimes referred to in the media as the “Silly Season”. There was article after article covering illegal Gypsy Traveller encampments and the arrest of a local parish councillor. Dragon pictures were even used, with suitable permission, by the nationals!

In fact, there was so much going on that another popular Heritage Day passed with hardly a comment. It was well attended and might next year involve some Open Gardens.

More recently it was great to see the communities of Effingham and Little Bookham come together for a social event.

The ancient Tithe Barn was decorated with fairy lights and displays from local groups and charities.

On Saturday, October 7 (2017) residents from both villages came together for a Harvest Festival of shared food, drink and live entertainment. The event took place in the 15th century Grade II listed Tithe Barn in Little Bookham, which is within the parochial parish of Effingham. The barn is one of the largest in Surrey at 4,500 sq ft and made the perfect setting for the social event.

As previously reported the event had been organised by Jon Hargreaves on behalf of Revd Mandy MacVean. Mandy said afterwards: “Harvest Suppers have been part of church and village life for generations and so we wanted to have an event that acknowledged our village heritage and yet was fun for young and older people of today. The evening surpassed all our expectations and hopefully will become part of our village annual calendar.”

Along both sides of the barn were displays, leaflets and stands advertising local groups and charities too numerous to list individually. One the Effingham Housing Association [see Dragon interview] was giving away a very welcoming free glass of wine that certainly deserves a mention and another was about the Henry Smith Charity. The latter is a small charity that was set up to help those amongst us who could do with that little bit of financial help. Actually, not so little as it gave away £27 million in 2013 alone.

A minor distraction but who was Henry Smith? It is believed by some that he was a London silversmith who, about 400 years ago, gave up his business and took to the roads in Surrey. He had the nickname of “Dog Smith” as he always travelled with his dog. He went around the villages in Surrey and when he died in 1628 he left, in trust, money to all the villages that he had visited, except two where he was reportedly whipped as a vagrant.

Actually, a recent biography has shed some more light on Henry’s past and his trust. He clearly belonged to the powerful Salter’s Company.

A recently published biography of Henry Smith

However, after his death, his trust bought up an 80-acre marshy estate during the 1640s on the outskirts of London. Today that marshy estate is better known as Kensington. They went on to buy a quiet rural backwater called Brompton and in so doing secured the charity’s financial security into the 21st century.

But coming back to the Harvest Festival, and riding on its success, Revd Mandy has another event to be held on Saturday, October 21 at 7.30pm at St Lawrence Church. This event is called “Dancing in the Aisles” (not that there will be any audience dancing!). There will be a live big band concert with singers. There will also be a finger buffet and complimentary drink.

Browns Field

Work started on October 11 to make Browns Field fit for Howard of Effingham students to play rugby on it during term time. The field is opposite the King George V’s hall and playing fields which earlier this year they decided to no longer use. When complete the field will also be available for the Effingham & Leatherhead Rugby Football Club to play mini rugby at the weekends.

First of all the old disused concrete cricket base in the middle of the field had to be broken up by Commercial Grounds Care. As digger operator and contracts manager Kevin Broatch (pictured below) said: “I’ve been looking after this field for about 20 years and I’ve never seen a game of cricket played on it.”

Once ready for use it, together with use of the Cobham Curve Rugby fields, should meet most of “The Howard’s” sporting needs. I hope to catch up with Kevin, who works out of Ripley, and hear a little more about their work when I write the next Ripley Roundup article.

Contracts manager Kevin Broatch removing concrete from Browns Field.

Abinger Roughs

Many residents living on the north side of Ranmore, have been unable to access the Abinger Roughs National Trust walks because of the Whitedown Lane closure. However, for those willing to drive nine miles the long way round via Green Dene or Chalk Lane, there is good news. The southern access to the Abinger Roughs car park was open the last time I visited a couple of weeks back.

National Trust Abinger Roughs car park currently open from southern approach off A25

Book launch

Having witnessed both Brian Sherwood and Vivien White back in 2015 (see: A Bible, A ‘Pirate’ and Ritual Cannibalism) researching the St Lawrence Church burial grounds it was good to be at the resulting book launch this September. Unfortunately, the limited number of copies were quickly sold out. Hopefully, Effingham Residents Association might arrange a reprint.

Brian Sherwood was on hand to sign copies of his book on the who’s where in the St Lawrence burial ground.

 Brian is now moving on to do the same thing at All Saints church in Little Bookham.

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Responses to Effingham Eye: Village Communities Unite to Celebrate Harvest Festival

  1. J S Palmer Reply

    October 19, 2017 at 11:14 am

    Is “The Howard” really going to bus pupils to/from Cobham Curve for rugby? That has to be a 15-minute journey each way. What are their plans for other sports – football, cricket and a running track, all of which they use on the KGV fields?

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