The SPAB Essex Regional Group was formed in 2000 and has been active ever since. The types of visits are fun, interesting and educational with an annual social event, normally in an historic building. Our participants vary from interested SPAB members wanting to enhance their knowledge of historic buildings to professionals using the visits as part of their continuing professional development programme.
In Essex, we have visited some great and old historic houses including Layer Marney Tower, Spains Hall, Beeleigh Abbey, Hylands House, Ingatestone Hall to name but a few. We have had continuing visits to Copped Hall in Epping, the great house visible to the north of the M25 when west of the Bell Common tunnel. Our first visit there was for an annual social in 2003, near the start of its repair works, when the building was still a shell. Being frosty outside and with limited space heaters, it was cold inside and the Trust’s chairman decided to light a fire in the large fireplace. This did little to heat the place, but succeeded in filling it with smoke!
Some of our most popular visits have been to private houses, either with some historic interest or where work is in progress. Other visits have been to churches, gardens and breweries, and at the latter enjoyed sampling the local brew!
We have also had visits in neighbouring counties including St Paul’s Cathedral, the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and Orford Ness in Suffolk. Our participants are not limited to Essex; a SPAB member living in New Zealand has managed to make one of our visits. All are welcome!