Period meetings of the Elders called Hundred Moots, were held and it was at these meetings the local leaders made their laws and dispensed justice among their people.
One, Theoward was a prominent leader at the time and he gave his name to the Hundred of Thedwastre as his Moots were held under Theo's tree.
There is a Thedwastre Hill near Thurston station but Theoward could have been a Paking and the meetings of Elders of the Hundred could have been held under an oak tree on Church Hill Pakenham.
First Parish Council
There were twenty two nominations, handed in for the seven seats of the first Parish Council. The result of the voting was:-
With the withdrawal of Major Gen. Percival and A. Peck the business was concluded.
On 31st December 1894 the first Parish Council meeting was held in the schoolroom, when the seven elected Councillors, having signed their declarations, proceeded to elect as their Chairman Mr. H. Cross, who headed the poll.
Mr. Bourne was elected Clerk with a sum of £3 to be added to his salary as overseer in consideration of his additional services. Mr. Cross and F. Mathews were appointed Trustees of the Parochial Charities in place of the Churchwardens.
It was decided that future meetings should be held in the Trustees room, the Council paying rent of 1/- per annum. The minutes read: "A desultory conversation took place with respect to the Parochial Charities but no resolution was passed".
At a meeting held on Monday March 11th 1895. The Revd. C.W. Jones was invited to submit the original Charity documents, both Ecclesiastical and non-Ecclesiastical, some of which went back several hundred years.
The oldest record of Town Estate Charity was that of 1539 which was left to meet any subsidy, tax and so forth. Among its articles it set forth that no foreigner should profit from it unless his wife held property, land etc. in the Parish in her own right.
In the reign of George II the poor are mentioned for the first time. The bequest set forth that the first charge upon the Estate was to the fabric of the Church; secondly, Common or Town charges and lastly the poor. This has since been divided by the Charity Commissioners into three equal portions, a third to Church expenses, a third to the School, the remaining third to the poor.
At the Annual meeting in 1896 there appeared to be an election of Parish Councillors after only two years in office. Three overseers were appointed in F. Mathews, G.R. Burt and G. Weston. The Highway Surveyors were elected: Mr. Eastlea as surveyor of the turnpike end of the Parish and Mr., Fordham as surveyor for the Street end of the Parish, Mr. Bourne was reappointed Collector of Highway Rates at the salary of £5 per annum.
It appears from the records that an election of Parish Councillors was an annual exercise.
Items dealt with by the Council at their quarterly meetings included the appointing of overseers and surveyors of highways (who were empowered to appoint a collector of highway rates), the compounding for cottage property at a discount, repairs to the Watermill bridge and consultations with the Captain of the Bury St. Edmunds Fire Brigade regarding the hire of the fire engines in case of fire (one wonders how long it took them to get to Pakenham!). There was a question of collection and delivery of mail at Grimstone End by re-routing the mailman, who left Ixworth at 7.00 p.m. instead of collecting at 1.45 p.m.
The Deputy Clerk of the County Council requested "that a proper metal receptacle with lock or fireproof safe be provided for safe custody of the books, papers, allied documents under the control of the Parish Council". The present day tin box was purchased for £2.2.6 in 1899 as a result. Reference is also made to supporting the Mid-Anglian Light Railway, believing it would benefit the greater part of the district through which it would pass.
At the March 1902 meeting on behalf of the parishioners the Parish Council accepted the gift from Sir Walter Green of the Pump in the Street. This is to be put in good working order for use by parishioners and to be enclosed by an iron fence to prevent nuisances, costing £6.5.0. The notice above read as follows:
"This pump was presented to the Parish in
There were Coronation festivities for H.M. King Edward VII in this year also.
In 1907 we see the first change in the Chairmanship of the Parish Council. Mr. Henry Cross was elected Chairman in 1894 at the first Parish Council meeting and retired in 1907, working an unbroken period of service of thirteen years with only one absence due to illness. Upon his removal to Ixworth he could no longer serve the Parish. The Revd. E.S. Burgess became the next Chairman and served for eleven years.
In 1909 there was considerable dissatisfaction of the assessments especially in the case of the larger holdings and the shooting that was let apart from the land was not assessed. In 1912 the death of Edith, Lady Compton-Thornhill, at the Lodge was deeply mourned. "She identified herself through many years with all that made for the betterment of the Parish etc.".
In the minutes of the Parish Council of March 17th 1913 the following resolution is recorded:
"This Council desires to place the deep regret at the loss which it and the whole Parish has sustained by the death of Mr. H.C. Bridges of Red Castle Farm. The name of Harry Bridges was a household word and stood for all that was true, manly and straightforward. All that concerned the best interests of the village of which he was a native dear to him and he worked patiently and thoroughly through many years to promote this both in the Parish and on the District Council. The poor always found in him a kind and considerate friend."
There was no change at the elections in 1910 or 1913. During the Great War period no business took place, other than dealing with the accounts and r=the appointing of overseers at the Annual Parish meetings. Possibly work had the be left undone during these years and although no mention is made of the War, complaints about the bad state of the Fen Road and the choking up of the river by weeds and mud prevented any flow, causing stagnation and general deterioration. Councillor H.J. Oxborrow became Chairman in 1918 and Councillor K.J. Rodwell in 1919. In 1920 Councillor A.J. Cansdale became Chairman until 1922, when Col. H. Cooper CMG took over for the next six years.
The footpaths alongside the Street were the subject of much concern, being badly broken and in a bad state of repair. The water supply also came in for criticism and the Council were advised to repair the pump near The Fox Inn, when samples would be taken for analysis. Another nuisance was caused by bad sanitary arrangements at Newe House, which were injurious to health. The bad state of many cottages also brought representations.
In the Street, at the Grimstone End, on the Bury Road, the falling masonry was dangerous; the ditch opposite The Fox and behind the cottages was complained about; the state of the hedges near the Bunbury Arms, snow blocking traffic through the village and Fen Road and numerous other complaints continued to be brought before the Council. In this aspect things have not changed.
The Parish Pits
These pits had been used for the extraction of building materials and upkeep of the highways. Permission for extraction was granted to the Surveyor of Highways within Pakenham Parish by the Pakenham Enclosure Awards of August 1802. Sand, gravel and clay was extracted for the use of the inhabitants of the said Parish under the provisions of the Union and Parish Property Act, 1835. Now they were unused, it was decided under the Exhausted Parish Lands Act 1876 to sell them.
It took from 1899 to 1905 to finally dispose of
Ixworth Parish Clerk suggested that Pakenham should contribute £1 towards the reorganisation and upkeep of their Fire Brigade. Councillor Hitchcock, in proposing the subscription, suggested their scheme might be expanded and become even more efficient by the purchase of a modern steam fire engine.
It was in 1923 that Mr. Albert E. Moore was appointed assistant overseer and clerk, at the salary of £22.10.0 per annum. He was schoolmaster at the village school and his beautiful handwriting makes the reading of the minutes so much easier and more pleasant. He remained clerk for twenty six years until 31st March, 1949.
Refuse Pit 1925
Minute Book of Parish Council Proceedings
Property of Overseers
Col. Harry Cooper, CMG, JP, had been Chairman of the Parish Council for six years. In 1928, owing to prolonged illness, he had to resign and he died later that year. The same year another respected Councillor, G.W. Howes, died. Councillor W.C. Hitchcock became Chairman for five years until his death in 1933. The new Council elected in March, 1928 was:-
Arthur Bishop; Harry Bridges; Sidney John Bryant; Frank William Catton; Walter Cooper Hitchcock; George William Rayner; Harry Sulton Tipple.
In 1931, the two new Councillors elected were Benjamin James Popay and Percy Wilfred Dash.
In 1933, the Revd. B.A. Browning MA addressed a letter to the Parish Council on the need for increased housing accommodation in the Parish. This letter was also signed by Col. Parry Crooke CMG, JP, Major L.H. Bazalgette, Mrs. Cooper, Messrs. Harold Martin JP, John Carter and D.W.P. Gough.
The letter gave instances of houses in extremely
dilapidated condition and even if these were reconditioned
there would be insufficient housing for the people.
A request was made for the authorities to erect new
The water supply in the village gave cause for concern in 1934. Samples from the pump in the Street were analysed and found wholesome, however, and the water declared fit for drinking purposes. Meanwhile Councillor H. Bridges reported that he had inspected the wells of the Parish with a member of Thingoe RDC, who subsequently reported that with the exception of the well on Church Hill, where the water was very low, the water supply in the village was satisfactory.
Water supply, sewage and housing were all to play a very important part in the future, as we shall read later.
It was in this year also that electricity first came to the village. When the East Anglian Electrical Supply Company Ltd. put forward a plan for poles and overhead mains which they proposed for the distribution of electric power, the charge for three 100 watt lamps for lighting the Street was £13.11.0 per annum.
It is also interesting to read that the amount of money the Parish Council would require to precept on the District Council for the year 1936 amounted to £10. In 1981 it was £850!
At the Annual Meeting of the Parish Council on 19th April 1935, Councillor Harry Bridges declined a proposal to be elected Chairman and the election went to Councillor D.W.P. Gough. It was reported that Mr. Victor Tipple had been engaged at a salary of £4.10.0 per annum to dig the hole for the refuse pit, to extend it when necessary and to keep it tidy and in order. This was a piece of land near the butcher's shop, alongside Bull Road. The Council was pleased to hear that repairs to the bridge over the river leading from the Fen Road to the allotments had been satisfactorily carried out, but this did not last long because the next year flood damage caused shifting to the bridge and loosening of several boards.
The local authority stated that the whole of Thingoe Rural District was to be rated and Messrs. Bridges and Marriage would be the Parish representatives. For the first time we hear of the proposal to conduct a Refuse Collection Service. Initially the Parish Council showed little interest as they replied "we already have our own scheme" but later showed more interest in the cost of a house to house collection, because of the scattered nature of the Parish.
We were informed that Army manoeuvres would be held in the vicinity for three months, commencing July, 1938.
Towards the end of 1938, the Parish heard with dismay that Thingoe RDC intended building houses for Pakenham people at Ixworth. The Parish called two special meetings to frame the strongest protest, secondly to forward alternative sites for building within the Parish. The protest was signed by one hundred and sixteen householders, supported by the Parochial Church Council and by letters to the Ministry of Health and our local Member of Parliament. The Parish Council considered it unfair and unreasonable for parishioners whose houses were demolished to be removed from their own Parish, where the majority were employed and had family roots, especially as there was plenty of suitable land available at cheaper rates than in Ixworth. "Houses for Pakenham people should be built in Pakenham". The provision of new Council houses was urgently pursued.
The village pump was reported to be beyond repair and an estimate for a new pump was sought. Complaints were received of damage to the pump by school children and the teachers had been consulted.
The cost of the new pump was £7.14.0. Later, boys dropped stones in the well and further damage was reported. Further repairs, too: 11/6d paid.
The 1940 meetings dealt with emergencies, the collection of scrap and waste paper, organisation of fire watchers, provision of sand to all houses, the Ministry of Agriculture Grow More Food campaign and the St. Dunstans War Fund organiser. The Parish (Invasion) Committee letter was read but the Parish decided it had no policy on the possible invasion of England!
Later a special meeting was called to consider and exchange views on this very possibility. Because of the lack of any powers to act, no meetings had been held previously. The need for being prepared was now stressed and particulars were given on food rationing and distribution. First Aid Posts were earmarked and the Home Guard Station would be Bailey Pool bridge. The School would continue as usual until the Church bells rang, emergency rations would be stored at the vicarage and at Mr. Peck's on Mill Road. Psychologically at least, the Parish was evidently preparing itself.
It was in 1943 that the District Council undertook to dispose of all the household refuse in the district, but owing to water shortage the Council's vehicles were engaged in water carting, instead of refuse removal. Meanwhile, refuse was being dumped just anywhere. There was an unsightly heap at the top of the Street and the Dell was also being used for rubbish dumping. But by 1946 the District Council began clearing the rubbish dumps and their regular collection scheme was to begin in the month of April 1946.
In 1947 it was learnt that a decision had been made to build forty houses on the allotments field, setting aside about four acres for a recreation ground!
In early 1949, notification was received that the village hall should now be adapted to suit the needs of the authorities, in order that school dinners for the children could be held.
The school was opposite the vicarage and the village hall stood where the car park is now situated alongside Mr. Game's back entrance. This was an old army hut of First World War vintage. The floor was wooden and all shapes, as indeed was the roof. How this old hut withstood so much thumping and general use for so long was surprising. Now the latest onslaught: school dinners!
On March 31st, 1949, upon the retirement of the Clerk, Mr. Ken Heeps was appointed to fill his place at a salary of £7 per annum.
The Parish Council in those days only required the sum of £10 from the District Council to run the affairs of the village.
It was about this time the District Council acquired a large field of about fifteen acres behind the Dell for house building. When the design was approved, it became apparent there would be enough to accommodate allotments and also about four acres for a playing field, all in all an ideal position leading off the new housing estate and the new school site.
All three schemes got under way and building started. Meanwhile, the District Council negotiated purchase of the four acres of playing fields in the name of Pakenham Playing Field Association, whose trustees were:-
In consideration of the sum of £175, the Council as beneficial owner conveyed to the purchasors all that piece of land containing 3.9 acres, being part of the land known as Old Field Allotments. The purchase money was raised by subscription and from the balance of the Wings for Victory Fund, which stood at £61. The preparation of the field was done by volunteers and the field was rolled, levelled and sown in April, 1950. The first Annual General Meeting adopted the individual Trusteeship and the first event later that year was a grand fete to pay off all expenses.
The names of some of the fields lying along the western side of Pakenham Fen are of Celtic origin. On part of the Pakenham Manor Estate there are five fields with the suffix Owell. This word is derived from Oville of the 1085 Domesday Book, or Ovan Well, which means the well, spring, or expanse of water. In Anglo-Saxon times the general level of water was five feet above that of the present day. It follows therefore that Pakenham Fen was a lake covering the adjoining fields and where springs still rise freely around the low meadows. This explanation fits Pakenham very well.
One of the original sources of water supply for the Street was a very good spring behind the present Riverside bungalows, where a large tank was sunk and spring water was collected by pail from this tank. This spring is still running and there are a number of other good springs behind the gardens in the Street.
When the District Council came to naming their housing estate on the Old Field Allotments, the two Parish representatives on the Council, the late Mr. William Rayner and Mr. Roy Whitwell, had no hesitation in proposing The Owell Estate, thus commemorating the land in perpetuity.
It was in 1950 that the Parish Council was asked to allocate eight new houses nearing completion on the Owell Estate. Three existing houses had to be demolished to make way for the building contractors so these had priority and five urgent cases were submitted. Certain allotment holders were disturbed but were compensated and given a plot of land alongside the playing field next to the council house gardens. This land was marked out into twenty eight ten rod plots and let at a rental of 5/- per annum.
Mrs. Cooper kindly presented the Parish Council with the deeds and conveyance of the Dell and almost immediately there came reports of damage being done to the trees and the surrounding wall. Signs were erected, but were torn down. It should be noted that further repairs to the pump were needed, but were passed to the District Council as the Water Authority.
A further eight houses had been built in the Owell estate and allocated. We had also secured street lighting and the rebuilding of the river bridge in the Street. By 1952 the Parish public footpaths had also been remapped.
At the July meeting Mr. N.R. Whitwell, who had attended numerous meetings by special invitation in his capacity as a District Councillor, now attended as a Parish Councillor.
Further houses and bungalows were allocated and Capt. RLB Cunliffe was invited to fill the vacancy on the Council caused by the move of Mr. Lakelin from the village.
On the 15th February, 1954, the Parish Council supported the removal of the village pump as the source of public water supply.
The behaviour of the children caused lengthy discussion; there were fires being lit, many complaints of damage to the perimeter wall, damage to the trees and shrubs; the children were also accused of running riot over peoples' gardens in the vicinity and using foul language when reprimanded by householders. A letter was addressed to the Chief Constable and another to the headmaster of Beyton School, complaining that children were purposely missing the School bus and then running wild in the village all day. Their behaviour was very bad. The Dell had been left to the Parish and had been used by the children, who had no playground. Originally, when the Dell was in private ownership of Mrs. Cooper, it was enfenced by trees and bushes and along the roadside, a flint wall. But as the wall crumbled, cars and lorries began to park in the bushes and trees, the boundary disappeared and the Dell became a race track and hill climb - in dry weather anything on wheels and in frosty weather toboggans, sledges and anything that would slide was used to cut up the pathways.
It was reported at one Parish meeting that the children had picked the flowers, bunched them and sold them for Mothering Sunday bouquets in the neighbouring villages. The village Constable was spending a great deal of time looking after the children and a letter had been sent to the Chief Constable. "I demand this letter be read out" came a voice, supported by others. It had the makings of a stormy evening. Common sense prevailed, however. It was suggested that youths from neighbouring villages were largely responsible and this thought made everyone happier. A resolution was passed, allowing children complete freedom to play in the dell until one hour after sunset. After that, they would be arrested!
In 1955, the late Mr. W.R. Rayner was elected Chairman of the Parish Council for the next three years and in 1958 the late Owen Peck followed for another three. We have the first request for a bus shelter to be sited at the village pump, but no interest was shown by the Brewers of the Bus Company. The matter appears to have been dropped.
In 1960, the Planning Officer wrote to the Parish Council for their observations on the clearance of Pakenham Wood. Tree felling had already begun so the Parish Council expressed regret that this should have even started without reference to local opinion, as the whole of the 124 acres lay in Pakenham Parish. This wood is a piece of original Anglo-Saxon woodland, referred to in Domesday Book and shown on the map of the Enclosure Act, 1806. As one of the few remaining original English woodlands, there is a strong case for its preservation on historical grounds alone. The wood contains standards trees and coppice growth which is far from derelict. There are many fine young oak and ash trees which should be preserved. The glades in the wood have also been kept well cut and cleared. The wood is bisected by a wide public footpath and a track for vehicles, the use of which has given much recreation and pleasure to the villagers for centuries. There was a strong feeling in the village against the eventual disappearance of the entire wood, as such action would rob the village of a communal facility and much of its natural beauty. The removal of the wood would also destroy the beautiful scenic setting of the Parish Church, leaving it standing bleakly exposed to the East Anglian climate. For these reasons, together with the fact that public funds would be used to effect the clearance of the wood, the Parish Council resolved to make a strong protest to the County Planning Committee and ask for a Tree Preservation Order covering the remaining 90 acres. The Forestry Commission were also informed.
But after several meetings on site with all interested parties, a compromise was accepted, whereby the trees and that part of the wood up to the second glade only would be preserved.
There were plans for the Charity Cottages to be modernised, after which they would be renamed Church Green, with a doctor's surgery incorporated in the design.
At the 1961 election, N.R. Whitwell became Chairman of the Parish Council. An enquiry into the proposal to build a new Primary School for the village took place, after which a suitable site was acquired by compulsory purchase, but building was delayed until the economic situation allowed. Also a scheme was drawn up to replace the Village Hall with a new pre-fabricated hall, including a car park on the same site and with the assistance of grants.
By 1967, part of the allotment field was sold for a new automatic telephone exchange, for which the sum of £200 was received.
The next few years were taken to procure additional burial land. Land was acquired to the east of the church and fees, conditions and rules were agreed by the Home Office, but it was not until 1974 that marker posts were erected and a consecration service was held that May.
Reorganisation of Local Government was foreseen for 1973/4 and the District Councillors were very successful in persuading Thingoe RDC to include into their program Pakenham Fen Sewage Scheme and other works needed by their successors. The Scheme was included in the cost estimates of Thingoe RDC and the scheme was therefore accepted in 1974. The program began in 1975. The village was fortunate to have this scheme included, as much difficulty was encountered by the varying levels along the route. The sewage had to be collected at points along the Fen Road and pumped back to the Street where the land was very deep and soft, then uphill to the works on the Thurston Road. All this made the cost per dwelling very high and it was surprising that the Ministry of Housing and Local Government sanctioned a scheme to recoup such a small amount of rate from the low valued properties that it serviced along the Fen route.
In 1973, four new bungalows were constructed and named River Close. These were for the rehousing of people whose homes had been demolished - the last being where The Fox car park now stands. Mrs. Dash was the last to go.
In 1975, the river was properly cleaned out from the Street to the Watermill and in this whole length only three eels were seen. More details of the river are given later because a Riverside Walk was planned for the Silver Jubilee celebrations, though this was thwarted by refusal of access.
Before leaving 1973, though, we should recall events of sadness, because since the first Act setting up Rural District Councils in 1894 there had been a Thingoe RDC - our parents, as it were, to whom we could call for services and advice and which was an efficient unit of local government. The Parish elected two Councillors every three years to hear the voice of the people. The local representatives had quite a lot to do and say concerning services to the village, especially in the selection of tenants for empty houses and exchanges. The people also had someone to whom they could go with their problems. There was much closer contact and representation was seen to exist. With the forthcoming changes into much larger units, apart from getting our own schemes included in the plans of the new authority, there was little enthusiasm for what lay ahead; and so in 1973 Thingoe Rural District Council lost its identity, being absorbed into the enlarged Borough of Bury St. Edmunds, with Councillor N.R. Whitwell continuing to represent the Pakenham Ward on the new authority. On 16th May, 1985, he was elected Mayor of the Borough.
On the following Sunday, his Civic Service was held at St. Mary;s Church. From the village hall the procession commenced - the sword bearer, macebearers, mayor and mayoress, with the Chief Executive and Officers of the Council - and were met in the church porch by the Vicar and Mayor's Chaplain, the Revd. Richard Addington. During worship the civic insignia, the sword and maces, lay ceremonially by the Mayor in the nave. With the whole procession and choir fully robed and the church beautifully decorated by the ladies of the village, it made for a truly memorable occasion.