Castle Camps Village
Castle Camps Village

The Hundred Parishes Society

The primary aim of the Hundred Parishes Society is to ‘educate’ - to increase knowledge and appreciation of our area. We do not pretend to know it all or to be the only organisation spreading the word.
We are very happy to publicise what others are doing, usually through the What’s On page of our website, www.hundredparishes.org.uk. If your event doesn’t already appear, please tell us about it.

Some parishes have local history societies, women’s institutes, U3As or similar bodies, and they usually welcome visitors who may come for a specific talk. There are other, perhaps less formal, groups who meet to enjoy the mix of an interesting speaker and a chance to enjoy refreshment and a chat. We were pleased to learn of the success of one such group that started up during this past winter in Standon village hall. Speakers on varied local subjects attracted as many as 60 listeners, although no doubt they were also tempted by the social aspects of the gathering, not least the cakes!

We are conscious that many places do not have such enterprising organisers, so the Society aims to fill part of the gap with its own programme of talks. They will be open to all and will appear on our What’s On. We will also be offering members a few guided walks, following the popularity of our first such venture last year. But please don’t wait to be organized - our lovely countryside and fascinating towns and villages are looking forward to your visit! Do try one that you have not explored recently, ideally with a copy of the parish introduction and perhaps a walk route, both of which are available free from our website.

Ken McDonald,
Secretary
This year the vibrant autumnal colours lingered well into November along with masses of red berries on hawthorns and holly bushes. It has also been a good year for acorns and beech nuts. As the days shorten through December this feast of fruits and seeds will provide ample food for our native wildlife as well as the winter migrants such as fieldfares and redwings. Large flocks of wood pigeons are especially noticeable at this time of year.

What makes the wider countryside of the Hundred Parishes so attractive is its tapestry of hedges, arable fields, copses and small woods which are a testament to successive generations of landowners whose activities have shaped this landscape. The more recent additions of pylons, major roads and railways together with expanding urbanisation demonstrate that this landscape is evolving to meet the varied needs of people, while still retaining some considerable space for wildlife.

As the festive season approaches, the desire to festoon our dwellings with garlands of fresh green branches gathered from hedgerows is still strong. To bring the outdoors inside provides us with a timely reminder that we rely on this vital greenness to revive our sprits when the days are short.

Today’s customs associated with Christmas are largely due to the campaigning of one local man - William Winstanley. He lived in Quendon and was an influential writer in the 17th century. He championed the revival of ‘traditional’ celebrational trappings of Christmas that we now take for granted, but which were banned during the Puritan austerity of Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth.

The website
www.hundredparishes.org.uk has more information about Winstanley under the People section. The website also suggests interesting walks where you can appreciate the beautiful countryside at any time of the year.

Tricia Moxey, Trustee