Some of the dominant words of 2020
Last year in 2020 life in Trimley St. Martin and the rest of the world became overwhelmed by something neither living nor dead. First identified in China, by the middle of January, the first C.O.B.R.A. meeting had been called to address the emerging Covid 19 emergency. All the usual annual village events were affected by this emergency stop and as a consequence, as with our lives, this report lacks the diversity and stability of previous years.
But to begin at the beginning, when village life was routine and normal.
- The start of the year witnessed the legacy of excess rain in December 2019. Fields were still flooded and crops lay under water for the majority of the month. Later in the year there were large bald patches on the fields where the crops had failed to flourish. The impact of the rain meant that the screen of young trees next to the new railway bridge could not be planted.
The proposed new plantation of screening trees next to the Bridleway Bridge, 11th January 2020
- On Wednesday 8th January 2020, the Induction and Licensing of the new incumbent for the churches of Trimley St. Martin and Walton took place in Walton’s parish church of St. Mary’s. The Village Recorders of both the Trimleys, as well as the Chair of the Trimley St. Martin Parish Council attended the service which took place in front of a full congregation. Following the Service, refreshments were served in the Church Hall. The Rev. Paul Clarke had about six weeks of open engagement with the community before the first full Lockdown started in March.
Rev. Paul Clarke
- Following the sad death of Christine Moulton in 2019, the ‘Memory Lane Club’ was renamed and re-launched as ‘Christine’s Club’ on the 14th Like many other groups in St. Martin’s, it also closed in March due to the Pandemic.
- On 12th February I interviewed Susan Hughes who had just launched her new Cat sitting service for cats and their owners in and out of the village. This also fell victim to the Pandemic.
- Two Sisters’ Suzanne Hawkes shared a session and discussion about our favourite Jazz music and imparted the exciting programme she had planned for Summer 2020. Again, all this was subjected to the strictures as defined by the approaching pandemic.
- Two more interviews took place as Covid 19 advanced across the U.K.. Adrian Reynold’s ‘Curry Night’ was scheduled for 23rd March 2020 and a short Blog was written to advertise the fund raising event for the renovation of Trimley Station. Needless to say, it was cancelled. At the start of March Sue Biddle was interviewed for the Recorder’s Blog. It was an opportunity to elaborate on her involvement with the Gravestone Resource Project.
- The Annual Pantomime performed by Trimley Saints Players took place in February. However, the usual summer programme was later cancelled.
- One other event which took place without constraints was the Defibrillation training on the 25th February, which took place in the Memorial Hall, courtesy of the intervention of the Parish Council. About sixteen villagers took part in the training. (Trimley St. Martin’s Defibrillator is located outside the Memorial Hall.)
Defibrillation Unit to the left of the Memorial Hall.
- Although other usual events continued to take place at the Memorial Hall, their time was limited.
- Also of significance in mid-February was the rejection by the Planning Inspector, Philip Lewis, that the proposal to use the land Innocence Farm (allocated for employment land related to “Port related activity” in the Local District Council Plan) be removed from the Plan. The individual parish councils of Kirton and Trimley St. Martin as well as the ‘Kirton and Trimley Community Action Group” had formally opposed the proposal at the Inspector’s Hearing in September 2019.
March 2020 onwards
By the beginning of March, it became apparent all the usual events of village life were about to be subsumed by wider events. National lockdown was an inevitability; it was just a question of when it would start. On 23rd March, the Prime Minister announced a full lockdown would start on Tuesday 24th March. Life changed overnight and at the time of writing has yet to resume. Some older members of the population had voluntarily isolated themselves a week earlier and it was announced schools would be closed on Friday 18th March. In the Recorder’s Pandemic journal, it was noted that:
- The Police had been given powers to stop and fine those who failed to adhere to the new curbs on daily living
- People could only leave home for one form of daily exercise, essential shopping medical necessities or to travel to or from work.
- ‘Non-essential ‘shops had to close
- Social gatherings were confined to two people
- Initially, the Lockdown would be for three weeks.
At this point, the number of reported cases in Suffolk was 22. It is important to note that 24th March was the first official day of Lockdown, not 16th March 2020 as subsequently imparted in the House of Commons by Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health.
Lockdown and Covid 19 significantly impacted on the work of the Recorder. The opportunity to meet people, attend Village events and research in Suffolk Archives stopped, although the latter was closed already due to the construction of the new Archives Office.
The Recorder kept a Journal from 17th March onwards for one hundred days. (25th June 2020.) and the following are some of the things which happened during that period:
- A generic email was sent out to about twenty five village contacts asking for contributions to a weekly record of their feelings and experiences of the first Lockdown. The majority contributed to twelve articles published as Blogs on the Recorder’s Blog Site. The various reports ranged in tone from humour to fear. There was a strong sense of resolution to ‘get through’ this singular event and each generous contributor provided different perspectives to twelve separate Blogs.
- From the 26th March onwards, the Public were encouraged to show their support for the N.H.S. by delivering a round of applause every Thursday evening at 8.00 p.m. Trimley St. Martin was no exception in taking part although in some instances it was just a small band of people:
‘A round of applause in Grimston Lane, 30th April 2020’
- During this first Lockdown observations were made. Several organisations sprang up with offers of help, notably Helping Hands in Felixstowe, who extended their offer to Trimley St. Martin. The Clerk to the Parish Council, Caroline Ley, was quick to organise a leaflet drop around the Village, providing telephone numbers for any residents who need help with shopping, medicine or offering telephone support. There was some take up for this service, especially with regard to prescriptions. However, many individuals were able to rely on neighbours and family for their groceries and other services.
- The immediate impact on the rural parts of the Parish were quite significant. With nowhere to go other than back gardens, the use of public spaces intensified. There was an understandable quest for open space, and it was not uncommon to see neatly spaced processions of people heading to Trimley Shore, which had quickly become the popular destination. Nor was it unusual to witness young mothers guiding Push Chairs along pot holed, muddy routes as they sought not only fresh air but also exercise for energetic under-fives. For the most part people undertook to socially distance themselves from fellow walkers although some always assumed priority over everyone else, whilst runners, due to their sudden appearance and speed, frequently forced pedestrians into hedgerows. It was all part of learning to adjust. Such was the increased use of the paths, they rapidly assumed the appearance of hardened concrete in the mild and sunny weather. At one point during the early days, Thorpe Lane experienced what was probably the first traffic jam in its millennia long history. The cause? An inappropriately parked car in front of the entrance to the Fishing Lake when the owners headed off on a lengthy ramble.
The traffic jam in Thorpe Lane, April 2020. (Photo courtesy of Ann Owen)
- Initially, face masks were not compulsory and did not become so until 24th July, by which time shops had re-opened and travel restrictions were lifted. Prior to this regulation coming into forces, some people voluntarily made and wore home-made versions as there was a national shortage of P.P.E. (Personal protective equipment.):
Home-made mask covering all major points
Gosling’s Farm Shop Staff incognito…
…and behind the counter… April 2020
- Handmade notices were posted on all public access points throughout the village. Shops advised customers they were open and what was expected of their customers. All the retail outlets in the village proved themselves to be public spirited by facing challenges with good humour and delivering outstanding service to their customers. It may not have been easy for by staying open, all the staff faced increased exposure to the Virus. Their focus was hugely appreciated and was largely only visible on Facebook.
Trimley St. Martin Post Office (April 2020)
The Sausage Shop (December 2020)
Some retail outlets, such as Roselea Nursery on the Kirton Road, took to Facebook to advertise their services to customers well before Lockdown and continued with their excellent service throughout 2020. Justifiable compliments resounded on the Trimley pages of Facebook.
“Here at Roselea Nursery we can take telephone orders for anybody wanting to place an order and just call in and collect. And for the elderly and self-isolating we are happy to deliver to them during these very difficult and concerning times. We all need to look out for each other.”
Transcription from Facebook, March 2020
- Both the Methodist Church and St. Martin’s Parish Church were closed. Virtual Services were the only way of celebrating together and this extended beyond 2020.
Notices on the Methodist Church and Trimley St. Martin Parish Church, April 2020
- From the very early days of Lockdown, Lisa Williams (holder of the Golden Spurtle for 2019/2020) steadfastly ran the popular ‘Cooking for fun’ lessons everyday via the medium of the Trimley Facebook page. This continued non-stop throughout 2020. Worthy of mention is the information that although Lisa didn’t retain The Spurtle, she was came second in the virtual competition in October 2020.
- On Easter Day, the whole village appeared locked in silence as it bathed in glorious spring sunshine. The A14 was silenced, the peerless blue skies were untroubled by vapour trails. If one ignored the trappings of modern life, it was an opportunity to experience the quiet days of the nineteenth century and earlier. It was a time out of time.
- Church Lockdown continued throughout the year.
Christmas Services in the Walton and Trimley Benefice, December 2020 were conducted online
- The celebration of V.E. Day on 8th May 2020 was a muted affair, although it did happen across Trimley St. Martin. It ranged from the bright boldness of Pauline and her neighbour, uniting in a socially distanced manner over some Spitfire Ale and the quiet appreciation of the Royal Family as they peeped shyly from someone’s front porch and window.
V.E. Day 75 year Celebrations near the Methodist Church, 8th May 2020
Shy Royal Family members visiting Mill Lane, 8th Mary 2020
- Schools gradually began to return to a socially distanced ‘normal’ although the information coming out of central government was confused and contradictory as reported by a Head Teacher in the Recorder’s Blog. (n.b. the school referred to was not a local school although the situation was replicated across the county.) Children of Keyworkers were allowed back to school. Trimley St Martin produced a video for all those families in Lockdown to see prior to a cautious re-opening.
- It was not until the end of June and the publication of the twelfth and final Pandemic Blog, restrictions began to be gradually lifted. Everything was forecast to move on: Pubs and Bars opened; Family ‘bubbles’ came into being; lockdown-weary households took the risk of cautiously intermingling with selected friends or family. Restrictions eased to the point of disappearance and people began to congregate again. On Midsummer’s Eve, Trimley Shore was particularly busy as groups gathered to pay homage to the Solstice, many coming from outside the Village taking in the pleasures of the sunset view. Although the image below suggests otherwise, Sol followers were in greater numbers than in previous years.
Midsummer’s Eve 2020
- During April 2020, Rosemary Gitsham, the former Trimley St. Martin Recorder, succumbed to Covid 19. She was in hospital for four weeks before being sent to convalesce in an Ipswich Care Home. Rosemary subsequently reported she had no recollection of being transported to the Care Home and it was sometime before she was able to take in her altered surroundings. She submitted a letter to the Evening Star advising everyone to take care and observe precautions. Her convalescence from Covid 19 took over six months.
6th October 2020 Evening Star
- The ‘R’ number during the Summer months was low enough to allow groups of people to meet and for pubs to benefit from the ‘Eat out to help out’ scheme.
- Ordinary maintenance works took place throughout the summer. Works on the A14 started on August 8th and overnight traffic was diverted through Trimley St. Martin. For those who live on the High Road, weeks of lorries trundling through the village gave rise to broken and sleepless nights. This continued well into November and the Chair of the Parish Council, Yvonne Smart described the situation as “…thirteen weeks of Hell…” in the Evening Star.
- In September, schools opened again although children worked in small ‘bubbles’ or groups. Intermingling was not permitted. Although a second Lockdown in England was announced on 31st October schools were not closed down. It started on 5th November and bars and restaurants closed again. This of course, included, ‘The Hand in Hand’, which continued to deliver a service when they legally could.
List of legal requirements for entering a pub, outside the Hand in Hand
- In October it became known that Tim Collins of Bidwells was due to retire at the end of the year. He had worked on the Trimley Estate for at least thirty years and was a familiar figure at many meetings describing proposed land use changes; not always a popular role. He is a man of sound personal integrity and his unfailing courtesy is a distinguishing feature. His help with Recorder Enquiries was both generous and supportive. I will miss him.
- In November a second national Lockdown, commencing on 5th November came into force. It had a very different feel to the first Lockdown.
- It was also in November the first visible signs appeared of the new development close to Seamark Nunn. The working name for the housing site is ‘The Lilacs’. According to the Wikipedia entry on the Trimley St. Martin page, Lilacs were supposedly planted by Thomas Cavendish. There is mention of two Oaks being planted in John Kirby’s “The Suffolk Traveller’. The 1800 edition of ‘The Suffolk Traveller’ mentions two Ilexes planted by Cavendish but these refer to Quercus Ilex, or Holm Oak. One of these continues to exist on the St. Martin’s section of the High Road. There is also a poem called, ‘The Oaks of Grimston Hall.’ There has never been any mention of Lilacs in Trimley St. Martin. The name of the new ‘Lilacs’ site, albiet simply a working title, is a misnomer.
Extract from, ‘The Suffolk Traveller’ by John Kirby, c.1800
Despite the overall dismal nature of the year, there were some positive outcomes resulting from the Lockdown Blogs.
- Chandra Grover sent the Recorder a music file sung by the Felixstowe Harmonies Choir entitled, ‘Across the Borders’. This was composed by Chandra in the early days of the first Lockdown, using words and phrases relating to Lockdown life, contributed by Choir members. The Recorder sent it to Patti Burkland, an online friend who sings with a world class Sweet Adeline Group called, ‘Prime Time’. Patti found it captivating and asked to be connected with Chandra. The result: an international collaboration involving Prime Time, Song of Seattle, Stella Acappella and Felixstowe Harmonies. There were international Zoom calls between June and December 2020, until the final recording was cut and posted on YouTube at midnight on December 31st 2020
Still shot from ‘Across the Borders’
- The second outcome came from Alison and David Vickers. Alison supplied lively contributions to the Lockdown Blogs. At the start of Lockdown, both had seized the opportunity to take to the open footpaths and by the end of May, Alison had come up with the idea of producing footpath walks for Trimley St. Martin. The last set of walks dated back to the late 1990s and although good were out of date. Earlier in the year, the Parish Council had recognised the need for a revised map of walks in the village following the construction of the Bridleway Bridge in 2019. Both parties were producing information and they came together in a discussion in JUNE?? The upshot was a written series of walks described by Alison with configured maps from David. These were made available from the Parish Council website and may be printed out or viewed on a smart phone. The notes are annotated to include way markers and are supported by two accompanying documents; a Gazetteer of place names and buildings produced by the Village Recorder; Nature notes by Robin Biddle, a long-time resident and an expert in wildlife, particularly birds. The majority of the maps were available by the end of 2020, with just two more to come at the time of writing.
As the first Lockdown began to ease, the validity of the weekly Blog reports ceased to be so important. The Recorder turned her attention to conducting such research as was possible from home as Suffolk Archives remained closed. Needless to say, these took far longer to construct.
- Part 1 of The Colneis Hundred Association was investigated and may be found on the Village Recorder’s Blog under the title ‘Criminals: Felons, Incendiaries, Horse stealers. The apprehension of such offenders in the Colneis Hundred. The remaining two parts are dependent on access to materials within Suffolk Archives.
- A fascination with Postcards from Trimley continues to beguile and resulted in a blog of the same name. Although ‘Trimley, tourist destination’ sounds jokey, the more postcards viewed, the more it seems this is the truth. Photographs of the two churches were regarded as desirable in the early twentieth century when picture postcard collecting was achievable, almost regardless of income.
- A second piece of research, also resulting from a postcard, proved highly productive. Its expensive acquisition is a story of its own making. The postcard showed a hitherto unseen view of three mills in Mill Lane, including a Steam Mill and resulted in a Blog entitled, ‘Millers’ Tales’. This particular piece of research involved the collaborative efforts of Len Lanigan (Kirton Village Recorder) and Charles Posford of Falkenham for which I am grateful.
Postcard of the three mills in Mill Lane, c.1900. These are no longer extant.
- The Imperial War Museum host a War Memorials page on their website. When viewing this in the summer of 2020, the absence of a photo of the Memorial Hall in Trimley St. Martin was noted. This was rectified and a contemporary photograph was sent to I.W.M. This may be viewed at:
Regardless of Lockdown, enquiries continued to roll in, mainly via Email. Some of these have contributed to an improved understanding of aspects of the Village.
- Robin Biddle enquired about two parts of Trimley St. Martin: the land surrounding Walk Barn; the extent of Crows Well Way. The first Walk Barn sits on the land known as Innocence. Some investigation suggest that until about 1840, the land was a stop on a Drover’s route to Smithfield Market:
21st December 1833. Ipswich Journal
Further investigation into this land will take place in 2021, when Corona Virus constraints are eased and will be subsequently written up.
- There have been more expressions of interest in Grimston Hall via email. Mona and her family from California, had been occupants in the 1950s. Her remembrances included the following:
“The upper part of the barn use to hold grain up there for the cows. My brother and I would climb up those stairs and play in the grain! When I went to visit Grimston Hall I walked up those stairs again after 60 years, and as I got to the top of the stairs I could smell the exact smell that I remembered as a child!”
- A second correspondent made contact regarding her connection with the Stennett family of Grimston Hall, which will involve further investigation.
- Morston Hall also generated an enquiry from the Great, Great, Grandson of John and Rebecca Williams who lived at Morston Hall between c 1807 – 1863. As a result, photographs of contemporary portraits of John and Rebecca were sent for the attention of the current occupiers of Morston Hall. A fascinating insight into a Trimley St. Martin landowner during the 19th
- The Great Nephew of Doris Kemp, formerly of Grimston Lane contacted the Recorder about establishing contact with current owners of his Great Aunt’s house as a result of reading about it in the Recorder’s Blog. Contact was facilitated.
- An enquiry was received relating to John Fenton of Nacton, Collector of Quit Rents for George Nassau, Lord of the Manor for Grimston Hall with Morston. This contact arose through the correspondent reading the Blog, “Criminals: Felons, Incendiaries, Horse Stealers”.
 ‘R’ number is the rate of reproduction of the virus. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-r-number-in-the-uk
 The Suffolk Traveller; or, a Journey through Suffolk, etc. John Kirby 1800
As ever, if you have anything to add to the Trimley St. Martin Story, please contact me :