Making a noise
PUBLISHED: 10:28 13 March 2009 | UPDATED: 15:52 20 February 2013
If you are looking for a quiet rural idyll in Essex Great Hallingbury may not suit you as there's just so much going on, reports Ronald C Coultrup
LOCATED at one end of Stansted Airport runway, Great Hallingbury is plagued by more than its fair share of noise.
The village comprises five hamlets located around the perimeter of the former estate of Hallingbury Manor.
The hamlets are dispersed within farmland and the 300 homes are spread quite wide. The backdrop is Hatfield Forest, 1,000 acres of ancient woodland once kept for Royal hunting and now administered by the National Trust.
Great Hallingbury's story goes back at least 2,000 years and it has figured in history right through the Roman occupation, the Norman Conquest - when the Domesday Book recorded a population numbering just 23 - and through two world wars.
Beleaguered Great Hallingbury has remarkable resilience. There is considerable support for the Stop Stansted Expansion movement, as one would expect, but do not think that this is the only community interest.
St Giles' is a very ancient church, first built up to 900 years ago. It is very interesting, both architecturally and historically, with outstanding features for a rural parish church. Today there is a choir and many other conventional church activities and the 1st Great Hallingbury Brownie pack is part of the church family.
The Great Hallingbury Village Hall was originally built in 1930 by subscription and remained relatively unchanged until, in the last ten years, the village raised a remarkable £40,000 to upgrade the premises. Great Hallingbury Village Hall now has a wood-panelled main area with stage and a specially-commissioned mural of village life and history, another room suitable for small meetings and a well-equipped kitchen.
More than a dozen different activities regularly take place in the village hall including the Great Hallingbury Carpet Bowls Club, formed in 1988 and now part of the North West Essex league. There are art classes, needlework classes, dancing, friendship clubs supporting pensioners, yoga classes and a vigorous history society which was formed in 1987 and has published six books on Great Hallingbury. The Water Lane Theatre Group has members from Great Hallingbury and holds rehearsals in the village hall while the Women's Institute has flourished for nearly 70 years.
The big annual event is the Great and Little Hallingbury Flower Show which brings together the residents of both villages. It was first held in the early 1930s and has taken place almost every year since then, each village taking its turn to be host. It involves local people and organisations, including our schools, in friendly competition and provides an opportunity to present their creative talents.
Last year the 70th anniversary of the show was celebrated with TV cameras present, proving Great Hallingbury still has a strong identity.
Ronald C Coultrup
Editor of Great Hallingbury