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Welcome to the Bressingham and Fersfield Community Website




PAST NEWS July - Dec 2014


Win £30 per week! Join the “49 Club” - only 8 places left
So what is the "49 Club"? It's a “Club”, limited to 49 members, run to help raise funds for Bressingham Church. Each member has a number from 1 to 49 (or as many numbers they would like). Each number costs £1 a week and the winning number each week is the bonus number on the main National Lottery Draw. The winner gets £30.00 in prize money. Any number not allocated to a member is deemed to be for the church and if that number comes up then the church gets the winnings.
We have 8 spare numbers at the moment so if you are interested in supporting your local church and with a chance of winning as well please contact: Mrs Kay Brock, Abbotswood, High Road, Bressingham - T: 01379 688 331     E: regkaybrock@btinternet.com - We supply you with 5 envelopes, each one representing 5 weekly payments of £1 ie £5 which can be dropped off at Abbotswood or the Village Shop.

Interested in our Parish and it's buildings?
This interesting article on the Norfolk Heritage Explorer website, tells the history of our Parish together with facts about some of the older buildings - read more >

Great News!

Thanks to the Village Hall Committee, the Bressingham Playing Fields now have some wonderful new children's play equipment. A big thank you too to Alan Byrne and Keith Seager who have done so much to set it up and who have moved the see saw to this new area and to Godfrey Batley for his extensive strimming not only around the tennis court but also on the hump where the popular slide is. This is a great bonus for the community and will be enjoyed by the younger generation. A memorial plaque to Roger and Millie Aves will be erected in the near future.


Here's a bit of history re Algar House, Fersfield by the present owner. Does anyone else know anything about this beautiful house? The new owners, Gary and Bev, are keen to discover any other historical facts and would welcome further information so if you can help them, please get in touch via the website email.

Situated on the west side of Algar Road in Fersfield, Algar House's current Georgian appearance bellies its true identity as a wooden framed, thatched residence dating back over 400 years. Over time the house has been updated with the Georgians changing the front facade and tiling the roof.  In 1961 the house became Grade II listed.

Algar House has served the local community well over the years being used as a refuge for evacuees during World War II and as a school for wayward boys in the post-war years. Carvings from the boys are clearly visible on some of the trees in the garden and their names can still be seen chalked onto an outbuilding interior wall.

In 1816 it became the family residence of Harvey Walklate Mortimer who was a gunsmith to King George III and one of England’s most highly regarded maker of duelling pistols. His pistols fetch up to £40,000 a pair at auction. In 1816 Mortimer closed his family business at 89 Fleet Street, London and retired to Algar House.

Harvest Time Services and Celebration in Bressingham & Fersfield
by Richard Hewitt

The Rector, Canon Tony Billett, led a large congregation at Fersfield’s annual Harvest Festival on Sunday 5 October. St. Andrew’s Parish Church had been magnificently decorated by the church’s large team of dedicated helpers, and the flowers and produce displayed were a superb tribute to our farmers, gardeners and all who grow our food.
The Bressingham & Fersfield Harvest Supper took place in the church a short while after the service. This is a new idea, and all involved enjoyed a fine meal. After an opening drink in the marquee, over 50 people, of all ages, sat down to a delicious meal in St. Andrew’s:  huge thanks are due to all those who provided and prepared for the meal. It was especially good to see the involvement of people who have fairly recently come to live in the villages. See the photos >>

Many thanks to everyone who supported the event which raised £400.

St Andrew’s Church, Fersfield:   Installation of Team Vicar & Remembrance Sunday

Another busy weekend saw two important community events take place at Fersfield. On Saturday, 8 November, The Rev Wendy Evans was installed as the new Team Vicar by the Rector, The Rev Tony Billett. Fersfield is one of the parishes within the Diss Team Ministry.  Following this, a large group of people took the opportunity to share refreshments and welcome Wendy and her husband, Neil. The Book Club, based at the church, was also open for the morning.  (If you would like to exchange, buy or give books, this is a great opportunity.  A wide range caters for all ages and tastes. The Book Club, at St. Andrew’s, will next be open on Saturday, 13 December, between 10 am and noon.  Do come if you can.)

On Remembrance Sunday, 9 November, a large congregation gathered at the church for Fersfield’s traditional annual Remembrance Service, always held at 3 pm. There was even greater poignancy this year owing to the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. After the first part of the service in the church, everyone moved to the churchyard and gathered round the War Memorial. One of the wreaths was laid by Guest-of-Honour Flight Sergeant MacDonald, serving with the RAF Regiment;  other wreaths were laid by Arthur Wildish and his father (on behalf of Fersfield PCC) and Karl Traynier (Bressingham and Fersfield Parish Council). The service concluded in the church, and was followed by refreshments and the opportunity to meet Flight Sergeant ‘Mac’ MacDonald and his wife, Sue. St. Andrew’s new electric heating system was much appreciated by everyone!

It’s  good to tell you that in response to my e-mail thanking Mac, he wrote: ‘Many thanks, you have a wonderfully friendly community and both Sue and I enjoyed the afternoon.’
by Richard Hewitt


It is exactly 60 years since American airman Lieut Joe P Kennedy was killed in the skies over East Anglia while he was testing a new US Air Force secret weapon. Yet the tragic death of the 26-year-old who was destined to become President of the United States is still unmarked and un-commemorated in the village of Fersfield where he was stationed.

Historians have expressed surprise and disappointment that the older brother of President Jack Kennedy, who did take on the mantle as leader of the world’s most powerful nation, and his colleagues are not given even the smallest footnote in the village. There is nothing by way of tribute at the site of the former airfield although many of the buildings and taxiways are still standing – some used as grain and farm machinery stores.

Now an East Anglian press agency is keen to discover why it would seem Lieut Kennedy has been written out of history and forgotten. “Apart from a few exhibits at the Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum at Flixton, there is no tangible evidence that the man who would have been the first Irish-American Roman Catholic president of the United States of America had connections with East Anglia – and died in the skies over Suffolk,” said news editor Richard Goss.

“We are in touch with the Joe P Kennedy Foundation in America but we would very much like to hear from anyone who remembers that period of the war when some 2,000 servicemen were stationed at Fersfield. A lot of people have expressed their disappointment at the lack of any kind of tribute to the courage of Lieut Kennedy and the other Allied servicemen and women who were stationed at Fersfield. The American 8th Air Force used it as the base for Operation Anvil, an extraordinary experiment to fly unmanned bombers packed with explosive into the heart of occupied Europe. Their primary targets were the V2 rocket factories and bases in Northern France but unfortunately Lieut Kennedy and his co-pilot were killed when their Liberators blew up before they had a chance to exit the aircraft.”

If you can help with the research or story, please contact: news@angliapressagency.co.uk or telephone 01284 702421.

For more details about Fersfield Airfield go to Evelyn Simak’s description and photos via this link: http://www.geograph.org.uk/article/RAF-Fersfield---USAAF-Station-554

I am very pleased to report that the roof on the church porch has now been repaired. Oak has been spliced into the roof timbers from the inside and this material has also been used to hang the new gutters from. The down pipes have been replaced and the rain water now gets away.  At last this roof is waterproof and no more damage can be done to it by the rain. Zinc was used which we hope will not be as vulnerable as the lead it replaced.  Unfortunately the work has taken all of the money we had raised in memory of Rodger and Millie, but to all those kind people who gave so generously, you can now look up and see what you have helped us to achieve. A proportion of the cost went on the inevitable fees from the architect, which we had to have, and South Norfolk Council. We are hopeful that we will be able to eventually reclaim some, if not all, of the VAT (about £2,500).  In the short term this money will be found from somewhere else.  
  before after
We have other plans. As the church is on the English Heritage at risk register, we can apply for funding from the lottery.  We plan to do just this and at the moment a team of people are working towards this aim. If we are successful we hope that the rest of the work needed on the porch may then be able to be done.  We will no doubt have to raise a significant amount of money ourselves if we are to protect this lovely grade 1 building for future generations.

News >> History >>
Community Interviews >>
Bressingham and District Ladies Group NEWS
  • The 2014/2015 programme is now available click here
  • The Group has a new Chairman
Chris Peachey has been chairman six times and her last chairmanship was a double lot!  Chris was a newcomer to Fersfield when she married Maurice in 1963 (Maurice was brought up in Roydon). Chris came from Lanarkshire where she was teaching so she has settled a long way from home. She met Maurice while holidaying in Italy. They have lived in their home in Fersfield all these years. Chris Peachey - photo copyright Liz Handy
As well as bringing up two children, Chris looked after their cows, chickens and turkeys and helped Maurice with his building business doing his bookwork. David their son runs his own mechanical and engineering services and their daughter Janet has her online shop selling her home-made preserves. Both live and work locally.
Jean Harvey, who has taken over as Chairman, has also been in the role four times before. Jean was brought up in Banham and met Geoff her husband when she was at Diss Grammar School. They were married in 1962 and have lived in their home in Bressingham since then except for a year in Australia. Jean Harvey - photo copyright Liz Handy

Jean was a primary school teacher and after teaching in London taught in Norwich and Old Buckenham before ending up as Deputy Head of Bressingham School. Their first son works in Kings Lynn and their younger son is currently working in Qatar.

Jean like Chris was one of the founder members of the Group which broke away from the WI in 1979. They broke away because they wanted to set their own membership fees and rules. They now, after all these years, still have about 35 members and a very interesting programme of events. Please be in touch with the Committee should you want to join the Group. (Committee details >).

Bressingham Ladies Group at the beinning of the century Here is a photo of another  Bressingham Ladies Group back at the beginning of the century.
Ladies Group taken in 1995 by Liz Handy Here's a photo Liz Handy took in the same place in the Rectory and now called Bressingham Lodge garden in1995 - you will see Chris and Jean in the front row along with other founder members.

report from Brenda Webb
The Macmillan Coffee Morning was very well attended with lots of new villagers supporting us as well as the good old regulars. The sum raised was £650.00 including the gift aid. Many many thanks to everyone who came and to my little band of helpers including husband who done lots of baking.

by Karl & Anna Traynier

On 6th September, Anna and I with friends from Fersfield, took a trip over to Boyland Common for their 'Friends of Boyland Common' Day.  The weather was a bit overcast but there were some really nice things on show - one lady was making corn dolls, another was spinning wool and there was live music and games.

The main event was a Falconry Display by Tim and Tina Elmar from Out On a Wing Falconry. Photos here and on the gallery page were taken by our friend Edward Cullen who recently moved here from Ipswich. It was fantastic to see such amazing birds flying so close to everyone - I'm already looking forward to next year's event!
For those of you who missed the day, keep an eye out for things happening in neighbouring villages and remember to keep checking this website for other local events. Hope you enjoy the pictures.

Do go and see the decorations before they are taken down ... Remember St John's Church is open during daylight hours.
A convivial afternoon decorating the church for Christmas was enjoyed by some of our village groups and individuals.Some of those taking part were; The Ladies Group, The Drama Group, the Allotment Association, the Young family who live in the Old Rectory and Swank Interiors at Three Gates Farm. The results are charming and have really given our church a seasonal feel. A walk to see the decorations was Liz Handy's first outing after getting back to Bressingham and her recent operation. These are some of the photos she took. She was also able to see the beautiful restored porchway in memory of Roger and Millie Aves. Thanks too to Linda Holly for photos taken on the day.
St John's Church
The church is open during daylight hours
Swank Interiors The Drama Group - Linda Holly's picture
Bressingham and District Ladies Group The Allotment Association
The Young Family
The annual Carol Service was held on the morning of Sunday 21 December.  The impressively-sized congregation enjoyed solo items, Christmas readings and poems and the singing of carols old and new and an address by Irene Sayer.  Refreshments were served after the Blessing.
The annual carol service at Fersfield’s parish church of St. Andrew is a special occasion in the village’s annual calendar. This year’s event, on Monday 22 December, was enjoyed by a congregation of over 180 people, including a large number of children and young people. The Revd Canon Tony Billett, Rector of Diss, welcomed all those present, from the village and beyond, including a very special visit by over 50 members of Discord, with Music Director Michael Dann. Discord presented three items of their own, in addition to swelling the singing of well-loved carols. A magical item was the Discord leading of the much-loved ‘When A Child is Born’. Members of the community read the lessons and poems: one of which was ‘The Christmas Truce’ by our Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, to mark this 100th anniversary year of the outbreak of the First World War. Charities benefitting from the collection will include ‘Shelter’ and the East Anglian Air Ambulance, a Discord-adopted charity for this year. After the service, refreshments, which included mulled wine, sausage rolls and mince pies, were served.  Huge thanks are due to all those who made the event possible and so enjoyable.

The Christmas Family Service at St. Andrew’s, for some years now a feature of this special morning, was attended by a congregation that filled the nave of the church.  Favourite carols were accompanied by the reading of the Christmas Story, given by Olivia Sumpter, back  for Christmas in her home village from teaching abroad,  with partner Arran.  Children played a major part in the service, and it was good to welcome many visitors, too.

We wish everyone a Very Happy New Year and look forward to a busy 2015.   St. Andrew’s now embarks on a period of restoration, when some very necessary work will be carried out on the south wall of the chancel.  Temporarily, all services and meetings will continue using only the nave and south aisle. 
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