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Friendly Brothers annual dinners weren’t held at Christmas, as they are now. The Society was originally a form of mutual sickness benefit scheme and working men’s club with a registered address of The Chequers Inn. As it still exists today it is probably unique.
In a 1993 PM article the late Cecil Chaplin recalled that a big wooden box with three locks containing china plates and cutlery used to be held in The Chequers, but it was destroyed in the 1950's. Also that an inventory of St Peter's church dated 1552 referred to a dozen pewter platters, a dozen pewter dishes, and saucers of pewter. In an article in the East Anglian Society Transactions of 1873 it said "It is evident that there was a gild in this Parish to which the pewter belonged".
Cecil also recalled that in the past the Chequers kitchen couldn’t cope with all the cooking and chickens were cooked in the bakery ovens at 2 Fish street, carried over for dinner and placed on tables whole for members to help themselves.
In October 1842 the Essex Standard reported that the United Parishes Labourers Friendly Society (Tolleshunt D'Arcy. Tollesbury, Goldhanger, Tolleshunt Major, Great and Little Totham) held its third annual meeting at Goldhanger. A ploughing match took place at Falcon's Farm and was “numerously attended”. Forty ploughs competed for the prizes. At four o'clock fifty gentlemen dined together at the Chequers. The Revd. Honeywood was in the chair.
Dr Salter of Tolleshunt D’arcy who was the new Goldhanger GP in 1864 wrote in his diary... “Drove to Goldhanger to attend the Club Fest. The fellows were very jovial and drank the health of their new doctor most enthusiastically”.
In 1927 the PM reported that a “Club Feast” was held at the Chequers on June 11th. Eighty members sat down to an excellent dinner prepared by Mr & Mrs Spitty. The secretary made the annual statement regarding funds, which in spite of heavy outgoings showed the Club in a strong financial position. After a toast to the King, the Rector proposed the health of the Club, and congratulated the members on there being so many young members which augured well for the future.
In 1931 the PM reported that the annual supper of the Friendly Brothers was held at the Chequers during May, when “70 sat down to a repast, most excellently served by Mr. and Mrs. Spitty”. Owing to the absence of the Rector, who was greatly missed, the chair was taken by the Revd. Randell, who proposed the toast of "The King". The balance sheet showed a Reserve Fund of over £37. A most enjoyable evening followed, with Mr. Parker presiding at the piano.
In 1937 The Essex Chronicle reported that the annual dinner of the Friendly Society took place at the Chequers on May 28th. Mr. Jack Owers presided and the Revd. Gordon Roe was the guest who proposed "The King". An enjoyable evening closed with songs.
Search for: Goldhanger Friendly Brothers for more details
David Newman (www.Churchside1.plus.com/Goldhanger-past)
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