Upcoming Events

Sunday March 24th
Adders and other wildlife at Cavenham Heath NNR

Adders hibernate at the edge of the reserve, close to the River Lark.  On sunny days, they emerge from their hibernaculum and sun themselves in the shelter of roots on grassy banks, and look for mates. This site provides good opportunities to view the animals without disturbing them.  Even so we will need to restrict the group size to a maximum of 10-12.

Adder spotting is completely weather dependent and so this excursion will take place from noon on either Saturday 23 or Sunday 24th March , whichever has the best forecast. We will email those who have booked a few days in advance.

Cavenham Heath has other attractions: it is a classic Breckland heath, well known for stone curlew,  woodlark, stonechat and perhaps whinchat and wheatear in spring. Kingfishers and grey wagtails can be seen along the River Lark. Adjacent gravel pits are home to waterfowl and red deer are often seen.

If  you wish to join us, please email secretary@brecsoc.org.uk to reserve a place – if you are only available on one of the days, please state this on your email.  This event is free (not £5/£8 as previously stated) but places will be limited to give those attending the best chance of seeing the adders without disturbing them.

Joining instructions will be sent out about a week before the event.

Saturday March 30th
RAF Marham Aviation Heritage Centre, 12.00pm – 2.00pm

These two meetings are to kick off the Breckland Society’s latest project “The Cold War in the Brecks”

The Gorse Industrial Estate was during the early Cold War era where all of the nuclear bombs for East Anglia’s V-bombers were stored and maintained. And RAF Marham is well known as the former home of the RAF’s Tornados and the new base for the F-35 Lightnings.

We encourage everone – members and non-members alike – to join us for one of these two events. Whether you might be able to volunteer for the project, or are just interested, you will be most welcome.

The meetings will be lead by Ken Delve, our project manager. Ken is a retired ‘cold warrior’ having served as a navigator in both Camberras and in Tornados. After retirment from the RAF, Ken had a successful career as an aviation consultant, author, and aviation magazine editor.

Ken will be talking about the broad set of activites and research topics that we have committed to as part of our successful National Heritage Lottery Fund bid. But equally importantly, he will be looking for your ideas on how we can make this project as exciting and worthwhile as possible.

IMPORTANT: Please email Ken at coldwarbrecks@gmail.com in advance to tell him who wants to attend, and which meeeting. Space at the Barnham meeting is limited to about 22 people in total.

Friday April 26th Time: 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Private Visit to Brandon Heritage Centre

Members £7.00, non-members £10.00. Includes a glass of wine.

Our April event will be a private visit to the recently re-opened Heritage Centre in Brandon, which tells the story of the development of Brandon from the Stone Age to the present day. Fur and flint were hugely important industries in Brandon, and its position on the river Little Ouse meant it was significant for trade from at least the 13th century. There is also a temporary exhibition ‘Fire’ which is based on one man’s amazing collection of fire brigade memorabilia.

The evening will begin with an introduction by Jenny Brocklehurst, Centre Manager, after which we will be free to explore the displays of fascinating artefacts and the photographic archive at our own pace.

The Heritage Centre is in the Old Fire Station, 35 George Street, Brandon IP27 OBX. There is free parking in the George Street car park.

Wednesday May 15th Time: Time TBA
Visit to Shadwell Stud
(Members Only)

A private evening visit to the Shadwell Stud near Thetford.

We will be given a guided tour of the equine facilities, including meeting some of the top stallions, and will also have the opportunity to see some of the historic buildings and heritage features on the wider estate.

Numbers are strictly limited and so this is a members-only event, with priority given to those who were not able to join the previous visit in May 2016. See the visit report on the July 2016 newsletter.

Places are strictly limited to 16 and must be booked and paid for in advance by by 30 April at the latest. Contact secretary@brecsoc.org.uk

Sunday June 9th, 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
A.G.M. & “The Flintknapper’s Ghost” Poetry Walk
Santon Downham

The 2019 Annual General Meeting will take place between 2.00 and 2.45pm on Sunday 9 June in the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Santon Downham.

This small Grade 1 listed church, also known as The Church in the Forest, is historically important with notable dedicated foundation stones at the base of the tower and a marvellous stained glass window depicting Brecklands wildlife. Please note there is no toilet in the church – public conveniences are in the nearby public carpark, by the Forestry Commission offices. Full details of parking options will be included in one of our periodic emails closer to the date.

Immediately after the Annual General meeting, poet, entomologist and naturalist Tim Gardiner will lead us on The Flint Knapper’s Poetry Walk, from St Helen’s Well Picnic Site, Santon Downham, from 3.00-5.00pm. Tim will talk about the area and its wildlife and read Santon poems from his book, The Flint Knapper’s Ghost, an anthology of prose and haiku (which will be on sale). Other poets are invited to read their work too.

Venue: St. Mary The Virgin Church, Santon Downham, United Kingdom

Tuesday June 11th, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Invitation to Visit Marham House

Sir Jeremy and Lady Sarah Bagge have kindly  invited members of  the Breckland Society to tour Marham House on Tuesday 11 June at 6.30pm. There are around seven acres of grounds, a 20th century house and some remains of the earlier 1815 house: a Winter Gardens and The Old Dairy. Wine, soft drinks and light refreshments  will be provided. Please note this will be a member only event for a maximum for 30 attendees, with only outside photography permitted. The cost will  be £12.50 in aid of Marham church. Full details of the event, including arrangements for parking, will be sent out on an event notification email nearer the time.

Date and Time TBA
The Flowers of Weeting Heath
Guided walk led by James Symmonds, Norfolk Wildlife Trust.

Following on from our excellent walk round this reserve in mid-July 2018, James, a highly knowledgeable naturalist, will guide us round sections of this NWT reserve not normally open to the public.

Weeting Heath is famous for breeding stone curlews, and is one of the very finest remaining Breckland heaths and home to the rare Spiked Speedwell, Spanish Catchfly and Maiden Pink.

Common Blue and Holly Blue butterflies may be on the wing, and we may catch a glimpse of the stone curlews.

Please book in advance. Members £5, non-members £8.
Refreshments can be bought at the NWT visitor centre before and after the walk.

Venue: NWT Reserve, Weeting Heath IP26 4NQ

Note: Rescheduled from May due to James’ availability

August – Date, time and cost TBA
The Angel Roofs of East Anglian Churches
An illustrated talk by Sarah Cassell

East Anglia is home to some of the most extraordinary church roofs in the country, richly decorated with ‘life sized’ and often painted angels. These churches and their angelic hordes are beautifully documented in Michael Rimmer’s 2015 book “Angel Roofs of East Anglia”.

Quite a number of these are in Breckland, or easily accessible from the area; one of the best Breckland angel roofs is that of  St. Mary’s Church, Mildenhall.

Sarah Cassell is currently doing a PhD on the subject; by the kind permission of the vicar, Sarah will talk about these amazing roofs in the very appropriate setting of St Mary’s! So not only will you learn about the fascinating history of this extraordinary form of church decoration, including Cromwell’s attempts to destroy them (and how the locals saved many of them) you will do so under the gaze of dozens of angels.

The event will be a joint one with the Church, and will be publicised locally in Mildenhall – but given the venue, we don’t expect to run out of seating!

Friday September 13, 7:30 pm
M.R. James’s East Anglian Connections and Influences
Talk by Rik Hoggett

Rik is a former Suffolk County Council archaeologist, and is also a Journal of Breckland Studies editorial panel member.

M.R. James was a Cambridge university academic, probably best known for his Christmas ghost stories, told to friends and students in his college rooms in the early 1900s, and now often dramatized on radio around Christmas. However, he was also a distinguished archaeologist and medievalist, who conducted a lot of research in our region.

Rik Hoggett, who many of you will know, is a professional archaeologist and is currently researching this topic. The talk will cover James’ work at Livermere, Bury St Edmunds Abbey and the excavations of the abbots’ tombs, as well as the wider influences of East Anglia’s landscape and history on James’ academic work and ghost stories.

Venue: The Engine House, Brandon Country Park, Brandon, Suffolk IP27 0SU