The Past Year: The Church of Sts Peter and Paul, Lynsted, hosted this Open Day, where we displayed many of the contributions received over the past year. Some material naturally fell into booklet format, while other individual contributions helped create a 25-minute photo-animation that was continuously projected in the Community Room. Of particular interest to many visitors were the display-boards put up by the sub-group and the Park Farm Traditional Orchard Group (agricultural theme). The Society’s main displays highlighted our interest, firstly, in future publication of material about Royal events celebrated by Parishioners to coincide with the 2012 Jubilee. The second display gathered together items about the Parishioners’ experiences of war-time and we hope to build on this to produce a publication for 2018, the anniversary of the end of WW1.
There was a steady trickle of visitors throughout the day, with a welcome lull at lunch-time. This meant that Society Members were able to spend more time with individual visitors to explore the material they brought with them and proposed home visits at a later date to dig into many personal collections. We also want to follow up with lengthier discussions with those visitors who are willing to go into more detail about their wartime or Royal celebration experiences. The photo-animation also attracted a steady audience and lively discussion of the scenes presented.
This year: We were able to fill several gaps in our records. People were identified in photographs of events. Dates were identified for key events (e.g. burning down of the Co-op in Greenstreet; design and installation of the east windows damaged by bombing; inauguration of our local volunteer fire-station). The quality and diversity of contributions made the day’s efforts worthwhile and the sub-group will follow many leads up in the coming months.
The Heritage Day was made even more rewarding by our Members’ support on the day, welcoming our guests and plying them with tea, coffee and cakes.
Perhaps most moving was the answer to a question we posed about a man in our wartime display whose identity we hoped to confirm on behalf of a Lamberhurst researcher into their Who would have thought we would be visited by the man’s son? The visitor simply said “that’s my father, who died when I was 2 years old”. Our visitor was not aware that his father had featured in the Lamberhurst Book of Remembrance. We have loaned a copy to him.
When we were setting up the Heritage Day displays on Friday, we unexpectedly met up with Mr Luckhurst who had a book (“Hells Corner 1940” by H R P Boorman) in his hand showing a photograph of the hole in the church roof, made by the bomb in 1940. Another visitor came with a newspaper cutting showing the same photograph! All new to us.
We were also visited by a London-based researcher who is writing a book about the stained-glass designer (Francis Spears). Alan Brooks, brought with him the original watercolours from which those windows were created.
Some 40 years ago, a local man, Alec Lewis, found a battered old brass plate in a builder’s skip and salvaged it, recognising the historic importance but not sure where the plate came from. For many years he allowed his children and grandchildren to practice brass-rubbing with it but then stored it carefully to protect it from damage. We were able to confirm that the brass was documented as “probably hidden under the choir stalls” because its location was not known. We can only speculate that when the old oak boxed pews were removed or war-damaged cleared up, the plaque was loose and carelessly thrown out with the old wood! This 400 year old plaque could so easily have been lost to land-fill and now Alec is working with the Society in the hope of reinstating it (subject to the bureaucratic processes of Canterbury!).
Three visitors with Oyler family connections also gave us an opportunity to expand the more scarce material we hold on farms and houses in and around the Parish – for example, Claxfield, Loyterton and Malt House.
As happened last year, some visitors came because they have connections to the Parish but didn’t think we would be interested in their old photographs – our strong message is that every record is valuable and, when stitched together, will build a subtle and more complete picture of how our Parish has evolved and changed over many generations. Our interest goes far beyond the ‘famous, and infamous’ family names because we believe strongly that the true character of this Parish is as much about the businesses, farmer-workers, children, housewives, visitors and landscape (e.g. orchards, hops, deneholes) and how national events affected people in our Parish.
With close to 3,000 images, documents, and other extracts in our archive, we are sure we are only scratching the surface. So, keep it coming!