Of Diaries and the Perennial Diarist of Waldringfield

By Gareth Thomas

[This article is about A Perennial Diary kept by the Reverend Thomas Henry Waller, Rector of Waldringfield for 43 years from 1862 to 1905.   Please note that where entries are quoted verbatim the text is italicised.]

Readers who belong to The Arts Society will have had the opportunity recently to hear Irving Finkel, a curator at the British Museum, pronouncing on the immense value of diaries and describing a collection of 11,000 such pieces which he oversees at the Bishopsgate Institute, opposite Liverpool Street Station. 

Finkel, a real enthusiast in the preservation of diaries, describes the simplest, most humble diaries as ‘magical’, because they are concerned with the life of real people who have written ‘the truth as they see it, without manipulation.’ He makes a particular point that none of the 11,000 diaries in question were kept by politicians. Continue reading

Who’s that boat? Or, Venice comes to town

by Nan McElroy

If you’re a devotee of Woodbridge boatyard and the River Deben, you may have spotted Eric and Maxine Reynolds manoeuvring a particularly unfamiliar, curious-looking traditional craft towards the end of 2020. It’s wood, of course, but awfully skinny, and perhaps ten metres long with minimal draft. It’s outfitted with long, flat wooden oars, but no rigging. What is it, exactly? Where’d it come from? When will we see it again? And how, exactly, does it work?

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The Deben in Pastels

by Leigh Belcham 

It all started with a barbecue on the beach at Ramsholt.

The year was 1996 and Waldringfield Sailing Club was celebrating its 75th anniversary. My wife Jill and I were living in Coventry at the time, but friends had invited us to join them for the weekend of fun and nostalgia. After racing on the Saturday afternoon, we had a gentle sail downriver on their yacht, and watched the sun set over Hemley church while enjoying our sausages and a glass of wine.

The following year I came across a photo I’d taken that evening. Memories came flooding back, not just of our barbecue but of the years I’d spent on the river as a teenager, mainly at Waldringfield. Grabbing some of my son’s pastels, I set to work trying to recreate the scene. I hadn’t drawn or painted anything since my schooldays, so was pleasantly surprised at the result. A year later, when we were back in the area, a walk along the river wall at Felixstowe Ferry inspired me to have another go. Continue reading

Happy Memories Sailing a Cornish Shrimper

by Robin Whittle

Gillie and I retired from 505 dinghy sailing in 1995 and bought our Shrimper 19, ‘Bumble Chugger’ (124) in 1996.  The Shrimper is one of the most popular of small yachts built by Cornish Crabbers Ltd.  ‘Bumble Chugger’ has provided us with some wonderful adventures exploring the local estuaries and distant shores.  She has also enabled us to continue racing which has been of more interest to me, but Gillie has taken part with great skill, even if not with my enthusiasm!

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Saltmarsh Research on the River Deben

by Richard Steward and Robin Whittle

Introduction

Estuary saltmarshes are an ecologically unique tidal area of marshland which is regularly flooded with salt or brackish water and then drained by the lowering tide. The River Deben has the highest amount of saltmarsh of any Suffolk River.  It extends 18km from Felixstowe Ferry up to Melton. The width of saltmarsh between the river channel and bank varies from nothing to over 600m between Hemley and Waldringfield.  Salt-tolerant plants stabilise incoming sediment creating a marsh environment that supports the aquatic food chain, provides essential coastal flood protection and improves carbon storage.

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The Longshore

By Peter Willis

A bit more about Sam Doman’s pretty dinghy Longshore, which featured in an article by Robert Simper in the Autumn 2020 issue of The Deben. With her eye-catching blue clinker-style hull and cream single battened lug sail she’s become a distinctive sight off Woodbridge. She’s also been shortlisted in the ‘Spirit of Tradition’ section of the annual Classic Boat awards. (If you read this article before voting closes – 8th March, we hope you’ll be inspired to vote for her – voting link at the end of this article).

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An historical walk around Easton and Letheringham In the Deben Valley

By Sue Ryder Richardson

Beyond its tidal reaches, the Deben meanders through ancient villages, beside grazed water meadows, and land that has been farmed for centuries. This water has brought wealth, has succoured communities, has driven the wheels of watermills, and in its workaday practicality enabled the establishment of several ecclesiastical centres along its banks.

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Dancing Queen: Little Egrets on the River Deben

by Sally Westwood

I heard the Little Egret’s1 alarm call before I saw it. It flew along the River Deben, against the ebbing tide. It landed at the end of a wide gully, with drenched, smooth mudflats steeped up at the sides. An Avocet2 had been walking away from the gully, along the receding shoreline, sweeping its upturned, black bill from side to side in shallow water searching for food, such as crustaceans and worms. It turned when it heard the Little Egret’s alarm, watched it land and strode rapidly towards it, determinedly. The Little Egret tucked its beak down in its chest, oblivious, neck arched round, and down, cleaning feathers on its chest. Short damp feathers on its crown were upright and spiky.

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