It’s all action in Ingatestone

PUBLISHED: 10:11 10 February 2009 | UPDATED: 08:57 21 February 2013

The Ingatestone Choral Society

The Ingatestone Choral Society

Forget any thoughts of a dormitory village on the outskirts of London, Ingatestone is bustling with busy residents, as Joanne Jarvis discovers

INGATESTONE is a hive of activity. Situated only 20 miles northeast of London, the parish of Ingatestone and Fryerning has almost 5,000 inhabitants and more than 40 clubs and societies ranging from arts and sports clubs to social and charitable societies, many of which have been in existence for more than 50 years.

In times gone by, these groups were the backbone of village life and the principal method of social interaction. The changing face of the world and the increased pressures of work and family life has meant that in some locations these groups have struggled to sustain their membership, but not in Ingatestone.

Dedicated residents have ensured that there is a range of activities available in the parish. Social areas such as the Community Association in the High Street which has a large hall and rooms at the parish churches are invariably bustling with activity. There is also a large recreation ground, a sports field, a bowling green and a tennis court which are in regular use. Joanne Jarvis captures a snapshot from the village.

Ingatestone and Fryerning Dramatic Club
The club was founded in 1947 to provide entertainment for the village and since then it has staged two productions a year - talent and numbers permitting. In recent years its membership was opened up to directors and actors from the surrounding areas.

Jennifer Godwin, secretary of the club, explains: 'The result has been a renewed strength in quality and performance evidenced by the increasing audience numbers. The latest production of Steel Magnolias was hugely acclaimed and played to near sell-out houses. Such is the reputation of the group, this year it has accepted a commission from a private individual to present a short play as entertainment for a party - a very exciting concept. Performing away from the traditional proscenium arch and prepared set, the club will be developing a roving production of A Midsummer Night's Dream to be played with a minimum of props and a maximum of imagination.

'In the future we also hope to visit schools. One of our venues is the Anglo European School and our aim is to create a union with them or to stage dramatised readings for the pupils as a way of bringing a text like Shakespeare to life, adds Jennifer.

Ingatestone Choral Society
After 60 years the choir is going from strength to strength. Its 60 enthusiastic members represent all ages as well as all walks of life and are drawn from Ingatestone, Stock, Chelmsford, Billericay and Brentwood.
Judy Parmenter, the society's secretary, says: 'We meet every week in term time, and prepare about three concerts a year, sometimes with other local societies. It is a friendly and sociable group, but we do take our singing seriously. Some singers have trained voices, but many do not, and we all help each other to improve. We are always welcoming new members. Singing is one of the best exercises for breathing, and
for the spirit and most people feel better after enjoying a good sing.'

Ingatestone has 5,000 inhabitants and more than 40
clubs and societies ranging from arts and sports
clubs to charitable societies

Judy is sure that the variety of groups that people can belong to
has improved the village's strong community feel.
'Ingatestone used to be a dormitory suburb for London,' she says.
'But there's a lot more community involvement nowadays because there are lots of groups that people can belong to. And more importantly the village is big enough to support the groups but not too big that they get lost. You're a real person in the community here in Ingatestone.'

Ingatestone and Fryerning Horticultural Society
Ingatestone and Fryerning Horticultural Society (IFHS) is affiliated to The Royal Horticultural Society and was formed in 1963, however, its origins are much older. The first Ingatestone Flower Show was held in 1890 and there were annual shows until World War II. After the war, The Royal British Legion resurrected it and it ran until 1963, when the Ingatestone and Fryerning Society was formed.

Since then it has grown considerably and its committee now has 14 officers and is honoured to have Lord Petre of Ingatestone Hall as its president. As well as organising a spring, summer and autumn show, it also holds an annual plant sale and organises coach trips to Kew
Gardens and Hampton Court Flower Show.

Janet Collins, chairman of the IFHS, is one of 600 members. 'The annual summer show is enjoyed by so many people, we really feel that it is worthwhile,' explains Janet.

Held on the third Saturday in July, the summer show is the biggest event in Ingatestone with marquees holding horticultural and children's competitions, a craft fair, photographic and historical society displays and the tea tent. More than 20 local organisations also hold stalls and the event attracts more than 2,000 people.

Janet adds: 'Ingatestone still has a good range of shops in the High Street and many friendships are made at the school gate, by children and parents. Once you live in Ingatestone few people move away as the village has so much to offer.'

In touch with ingatestone

Ingatestone was established in Saxon times on the Essex Great Road(A12) that runs between the two Roman towns of London and Colchester.

Ingatestone was originally called Ging and Petram which means settlement at the stone.

The ancient parishes of Ingatestone and Fryerning merged in 1889, now covering an area of almost 4,000 acres.

Ingatestone Hall, a 16th century mansion belonging to the Petre family is one of the village's main tourist attractions

The Anglo European School on Willow Green was the first state school in Britain to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma

Get involved

For more details about the Ingatestone and Fryerning Dramatic Club call Jennifer Godwin on 01277 355423 or to become a member of the Ingatestone Choral Society email Judy Parmenter at

For more information about other clubs and societies in the village, visit

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