Mendham & Withersdale

    Two English villages on the river Waveney on the Norfolk/Suffolk border

        One parish, two villages... bringing the community closer together






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5th Feb Pancake day


Well today is our first day back at Youth club after Christmas, it is also a special day for us as we have re launched the clubs structure to bring even more fun to the children, with our many sub clubs within the group from Crafty foxes to Mini mad professors, and many more in between.

It was wonderful to see so many children enjoying making pancakes in the kitchen at the Yummy tummy club.  Every child got to flip, mix, cook and most important eating, the club was filled with the smell of pancakes and there were lots of sweet sticky lips slurping lemon juice and sugar.

tuck Tonight we also got a brand new tuck shop, freeing it and releasing it into the very capably hands of the children, who just loved their new found positions of responsibility and there was definitely a hive of activity all night long, not only enjoying all the new sweeties and toys but the free fresh fruit and vegetables on offer that the children nibbled on while sitting in their own chill out café reading the latest magazines, which also went down really well with all.  Although it is still winter this did not put the sports crazy kids off going outside and playing lots of fun games on the MUGA.

The Crafty foxes were busy all night long creating butterfly sun catchers and wormy book marks for all those school reading books, and the Mini mad professors also had a wonderful night and again the air was filled with chocolate, fruity and mint play dough creations.


Re Launching the Youth Club The Friday Fun Club

The Youth Club at Withersdale Hall is re-launching, Our wonderful new club is called The Friday Fun club.

The new club comes with a new format with lots of sub clubs to appeal to the many children that enjoy our club. Just to give you a little taster we have a Mad professors club with science and messy play, we have our very own cooking mamma so watch out for armpit fudge, unicorn poo and sheepy cupcakes. We have a little green thumb club where the children can learn to be the next stars of the Chelsea flower show by creating miniature worlds with fruit, flowers and vegetables, we have our crafty fox club where kids can express creativity with so many makes we have planned I can't wait to share with you and of course our sports stars club for all you football mad fans. All areas come with badge earning potential and we will have a big award ceremony at the end of the year.
But that is not all we will now have a termly fancy dress disco with kid created cocktails and smoothies, movie night every term and special guests such Ali Shazam who will come on the 26th April.
But we still have more to share with you not only will the kids have their own chill out cafe, with scrummy cakes and free fresh fruit and vegetables to nibble on while reading over the latest magazines. But we have a brand new tuck shop format, kid lead and kid run! We still have our stay and play for those for parent who want to come along for fun. Plus we have loads of fun events and parties planned through the year to look forward too.
The price is £2.50 and siblings £2.00 under 5s are free as long as they are responsibly for the adult they bring with them.
We hope to see you all again on the 5th for flipping fantastic as we will be making pancakes.

New mill picture

Not really new as it was taken in c1915 and is one of the Marston's series (J913) postcards that crop up now and again, but it's new to me as I haven't seen this one before. It's of the front of the mill showing bags of corn being unloaded from a cart and the rope lifting the bags can just be seen. I dont have the original so can't scan at a higher resolution unfortunately.

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Parish council - Meeting dates

PC meeting dates 2016

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From MSDC...


The 'Old Mill' house & the Betts family

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These pictures are from Doreen Downing who lives in Harleston, via Maureen Sullivan, (parents were Blyth/Warnes) who helped with the Mendham history book. 

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The quality isn't great but one of these (right) may be the only picture we have (at least close-up) of the Old Mill house where the 'Riverside' bungalow is today and this is where Dan Betts and his family lived. Dan was Son-in-Law to 'Old [James] Norman' and appeared in the Gala Day painting by Alfred Munnings, now is the Preston Museum.

The first picture (left) was taken in the front garden. The young lady on the right is Rose Betts and the two children are Joan and Doreen Bond, the daughters of Lottie Betts Bond. Given that Doreen was born in 1927, the photograph was probably taken around 1929.

The next photograph (right) shows the front of the house. The woman bending down is Lottie Betts Bond, the young man is her son Raymond and the little girl is Pamela Warnes (Maureen Sullivan's mother). Pam was born in 1933 so this photograph would date to about 1935 by which time Dan Betts had died but we can assume that the Betts family was still living there.

Doreen identified the people in the photographs and she clearly remembers the house. She recalls Grandfather Dan [Betts] sitting in a wicker chair outside the front door and says that the river at times came almost up to the back door when the water was high.

Doreen was also told, as a small girl, about the Munnings collection and she was taken to Norwich Museum to see a painting that Dan Betts featured in but it wasn't the 'Gala Day' painting in the history book. It shows Dan holding two horses, she says, so more work needed there.

Christmas party at the Youth Club

End of term at Youth club and it seems the term has flow by, they say time flies when your having fun and they are not wrong.  Christmas is coming but for youth Club Christmas came early !! 

A wonderful night was had by all the children, with lots of lovely party food to start the evening and many happy faces eagerly chatting while they enjoyed the feast, the children were all very well behaved.  After the party food a whole host of Christmas crafting to get even the grumpiest Grinch into the seasons spirit was set about by the children and their creativity. 

Christmas cards made

Snowflakes designed all individual of course

Every child had their very own Christmas tree to decorate

and don't forget a Christmas cookie too all hand crafted by the children

With the food eaten and the crafted completed it was time to turn it up a notch and start the party games, we played put the red nose on Rudolf, Musical statues, Pass the parcel mayhem where we had 4 parcels on the go at the same time.

Our main event was the Christmas Olympics the children were split into two teams one called themselves Bananas!!! and the other Santa tactics !!  There was much face offing between the teams as they proudly proclaimed they would win but in the end Santa tactics became the true champions for this year.

so what games do you play at the Christmas Olympics well....

Firstly the children had to build a snowman using a child of their choice and lots and lots of loo roll

they made the tallest Christmas present tower they could and have it stand for 5 seconds freely

tossed Brussel sprouts into goals

they wreathed their very own Reindeers AKA Brian and Ali in antlers

finally the Santa Dash a relay race between the teams to put on as many Christmas items until we had a winner.

To finish off all this fun each team were rewarded with a Piñata where gifts and goodies rained onto the children.

The Children were all absolutely amazing, well behaved and lots and lots of them said it was the best night ever, and how much they enjoyed the festivities.

Well done kids, you are amazing

Merry Christmas and Happy New year from the Youth Club.


Parish Council minutes

The draft minutes for the last parish council meeting in November 2015 have just been released and can be found, along with other agendas and minutes,here.

The missing well pump!

mendham cottages 20151204 1761311101Another old picture of The Street comes to our attention. It shows the old thatched cottage to the left, parts of which were finally demolished in the late 1980's. Uniquely, this is the only image we have of the hand pump for the well (left middle) that is now under the driveway of 'Old Spinney' which was one of the communal water supplies. Typically the old pumps were of cast iron and either painted or, as in this case, 'dressed' with a wooden enclosure to make it appear more modern. The date of the picture is as yet unknown but we can check the gravestones in the churchyard and see how they compare with those that are there now.

Pictures from 'A History of Mendham Parish'

scn 190 - copy 20151130 1897514707There are some lovely pictures in the book and I wanted to ensure that they were freely available on the website. The book is NOT published on the web, I'm afraid you will have to buy that at a very reasonable costs of £8 with all proceeds going back into the community. Try the 'Sir Alfred Munnings' hotel in Mendham first for your copy but contact me if you can't get there and I can post one for a total costs of £10.

If you like a specific picture in the book and want to print it out and frame it, then you can access it on this page. Check with me to see if I have a higher resolution image available or if you need help printing images. Hope that helps! Thanks to all the people who have contributed pictures for the book.

Thanks also to Jan Pye and Sue Olver for organising the crowd-funding for the project. The book has been funded by members of the community and now the books are nearly sold, those contributors will be getting their money returned! Thanks also to Tony Dawson for helping with the accounts.

The picture above is of the back of the old Withersdale Hall Cottage which is now demolished leaving no trace. The lady in the picture is Mrs Ronney's mother whom we have yet to research.

Joe Kerrison of Mendham

Congratulations to Joe Kerrison, formally of Mendham school but now aged 14 of Hillside, Withersdale, Mendham on his boxing achievements in 2015. There is more on his achievements in the Diss Express www.DissExpress.co.uk (search for Kerrison). Well done Joe, we are all proud of you.

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Withersdale Christmas fair

A wonderful day at the Withersdale Christmas fair, we have been raising money for our children and with the very kind donations from the parents for a chocolate tombola and generosity of local businesses for a raffle we have managed to raise £66. My two little helpers did a wonderful job and worked hard selling tickets and we would love to thank everyone that has helped us. 

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Festival of Wreaths and Angels

The Wreaths and Angels Festival was a spectacular success! The organizers would like to thank everyone involved in the Wreaths and Angels Festival at All Saints Church, Mendham for all their hard work and support. 29 local organisations submitted wreaths for the competition which was judged by public vote. The winner was All Saints’ Choir, Mendham whose wreath was made from paper scroll music; 2nd place was awarded to Metfield Allotments for its wreath made from vegetables, and 3rd place to All Saints’ Bell Ringers, who made a wreath in the shape of a bicycle wheel complete with ringing bells. 108 individually made wreaths were also on display.

The display of angels included an 8ft Angel Gabriel, hanging from the rafters and another where people could put their heads through the shape and have a picture taken with it. Christmas cards designs and angels made by the Mendham and Withersdale Youth group were also on display, as were wreaths made by the pupils of Mendham primary School. The knitted figures of angels and a local personality also proved popular with visitors.

The event was visited by over 300 people and raised in excess of £4,000 before costs for the All Saints extension project. Well done all! Here is a selection of (hopefully) all 108 of the exhibits (thanks to Ryan Herbert and Peter Christian for the pictures) together with the 'key' for the numbers where they are visible, hereFuture fundraising events include; a Fashion Show, Four Voices Concert, Summer luncheon with a Flower Festival and a Hymnathon.


Autumn night

Autumn night at the Mendham and Withersdale youth club and our popular club is growing but can you be surprised when you see what we are up to and all the wonderful volunteers ready to play and have fun.

Tonight we focused on Autumn and as the winds blew out side and the rain fell this did not stop the sports stars of the club who were raring to get outside and kick a ball about.  Inside there was lots of fun to be had as we made some of the cutest owls I have ever seen, plus some very lovely hedgehogs using some of natures beautiful leaves.  We also had a number of chefs step up and make cheesy garlic bread not that the parents would believe us as most of it was scoffed up before they arrived.  We also played at racing hedgehogs with balloon but this didn't go as planned as the necks of the balloon were a bit sticky inside and didn't give us that blast of air we needed, oh well the kids still had fun racing slow hedgehogs and playing with the balloons. 


Fizz Pop Bang

6th November 2015 - A new term and new fun to be had at the Mendham and Withersdale youth club, tonight’s theme is all about fireworks and we had loads of fun with two activities.

Blo art the kids made loads super glittery paint explosion art pieces using a straw to blow paint across black card,  Julie the volunteer was busy all night long with children not doing 1 art master piece but 4 and 5 per child, the parents were sure surprised on collection when greeted with so much colour and sparkle. 

Our other very popular activity was making edible sparklers with each child able to make quite a few which we hoped to show the mums and dads but they were all gobbled  up, all that popping candy and chocolate was just too much to resist.

Want to make your own edible sparkler ?

We used Mikado sticks dipped these in chocolate and got busy adding colour with sprinkles and edible glitter and the bang and pop of the firework came from the edible popping candy, we let the chocolate set which held all the glitter and sprinkles onto the Mikado sticks before giving these to the children to eat. 

We would like to say a special thank you to Lakeland who supplied all of the chocolate, edible stars, sprinkles and edible silks.

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Conkers and Crumbles night

Friday 9th October 2015 - Autumn is upon us and the Mendham and Withersdale Youth club continues on with a new face of Helen Sims who has now taken over from Tracey Tompkins, the club thanks Tracey for her years of dedicated commitment to the club but don’t think she has just left yet as she will still be a face that you will recognise in the hall as the transition goes forward.  Like Tracey, Helen is also a mum of two girls who are also active at the youth club and will bring lots of crafting, cooking ideas to entertain the children.  

The night kicks off with a Conkers and crumbles theme and Brian will be holding champion conker smashing which went down a favourite activity the kids have done before.  In the main hall the children also got to practise their cooking skills and make fresh apple crumbles and the kitchen was infused with the smell of cinnamon and baked apples, lots of parents came to collect the children at the end of the night happy to see that pudding had already be cooked for tea.


Mendham history book

History Book Poster v2History Book v6 21082015 Final Print 03092015 CoverA history book about Mendham Parish has been written by a local author. Details are on the poster (left) and the front cover of the book is on the right. It was printed just before the Open Day at Mendham Mill on 19th September 2015 and was on sale there. Sales started at 10am until 12:30 when it had sold out! A re-print was made for 13th October 2015. The printing was crowd-funded by members of the community.

The book contains many old pictures from within and outside the parish, together with some local history and quotations from Alfred Munnings' autobiography, 'An Artists Life'. The presentation is of a walk around Mendham Parish (Mendham and Withersdale villages) accompanied by Alfred where his quotations inform us about the buildings we see and the people that we meet. We will also see some of his paintings and research some of the characters he used as models.

Copies can be obtained from the Sir Alfred Munnings hotel or contact Colin Herbert on 01379 588202 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Please try to support this local community initiative and we will see if we can produce a Volume 2!


Lets get a tablet for the school!


Whatever you use, now is the time to change to Flora and help the school get a tablet PC. They tried last year and got 42 so narrowly missed out. Let's see if we can do it for them this time! Eat Flora with everything... we promise that we'll tell you when to stop!








'There is one rule that always holds good...

... write what you know.'

"I have just heard that one of my new poems was  long-listed for a prize in a national competition run by the premier poetry journal Rialto in combination with the RSPB. In a field of several thousands, that's not too bad. In fact, I'm quite chuffed!"

The making of Thrushfall

The challenge for this big new competition was to write a poem about Nature. Right up my street you might think; but where to start? There is one rule that always holds good. Write what you know.

So I tracked back all the way to my early teenage years, when there were three passions in my life. The sea, birds, and fishing. On the Suffolk coast, where we lived, all of these three came together in autumn and early winter. Sea fishing at its best, and long days on the beach or on the piers also gave opportunities for watching birds, especially migrating birds coming in from Europe.

The poem describes one such weekend. Listening for the weather forecast. Hearing migrating birds arriving from Scandinavia, calling as they flew above a thick fog. My father joining me later, finding me with our special whistle, the cry of a curlew.

In certain weather conditions, many hundreds, perhaps thousands of migrating birds arrive on land together. That is known as a “Fall” of birds. Thrushfall was born.


At midnight we had Humber, Thames,
North-easterly two to three, becoming light,
Variable by dawn.   I’d go then.
On the beach, only a grey light in the murk,
Leaving white hoar along the marram blades.
So heavy the fog, so thick, my lines
Had gone before they reached the sea.
Ice splintered from the top ring as I reeled in,
With only the distant foghorn to keep me company.

And now, over the noise of pebbly swash,
Soft calls of land birds overhead.
Redwings were coming in, hour after hour.
They flew, unseen, somewhere above the fog.
Fishing was slow. I estimated birds,
Knowing the little groups in which they travelled.
They numbered thousands.

A curlew cried, muffled, still haunting, wild.
No bird, just our secret call.
I whistled,  ‘Courlui,  Courlui’
A rippling secondary phrase replied, and soon,
Scrunching across the pebble bank,
My father, old mac, old cap, old rods akimbo.

‘Anything?’   ‘A few dabs’
‘Clearer a field or two inland.  Hundreds of birds’
‘Redwings!’    ‘And some fieldfares’
On we fished.  At lowest ebb of tide
And day, I walked the shoreline.
Found no amber, only a few feathery
Soaking bundles in the retreating waves.
The wintering, wandering Viking birds had come,
Leaving their own small sacrifice to the sea.



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