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The Unsuccessful Struggle against Vandalism

And

The Destruction of the Temple

 

There were many attempts to save the Temple site from the relentless vandalism over the years, from the early 1960’s when the development of the Reffley estate began.

 

ITwentieth century vandals work without discrimination and even Lynn’s historic 18th century Reffley Temple has suffered at their hands. Guttering has been torn down and the rear entrance burst open as our picture shows. This entrance leads into the kitchen which was added to the originally temple in (1831?). The Sons of Reffley – who were forced to hold their annual meeting elsewhere this year because of the damage – are hoping to restore the temple and hands it over to a local authority so that it can be safely preserved - Lynn News

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 The foresight of whoever put up this sign can be seen with some of the damage done at the Reffley Temple in recent weeks can be seen on the roof. Lead has been stripped away and guttering torn down. “A way must be found to prevent more of this sort of damage.” Said the Hon George Dawnay, president of the Sons of Reffley.                                         -  Lynn News

 

Despite its best efforts, the Reffley Community Assocation was eventually unable to save the temple, as the Lynn News and Advertiser for Tuesday August 21st 1979, reported:

 

HISTORIC TEMPLE WRECKED

 

Mr Dawnay examining damage to one of the Sphinxes.                                        Photos Lynn News

 

 

ATTACKS of vandalism on Lynn’s Reffley Temple could have been prevented if nearby residents had been more caring, claims landowner the Hon. George Dawnay.  The temple situated in a field near to Reffley Estate, and previously used as a meeting place by members of the secret Reffley Society, has suffered damage estimated at thousands of pounds.  This includes a broken roof, holes in walls and a smashed commemorative stone.  But Mr Dawnay of Hillington Hall, feels the recent vandalism might have been stopped by watchful residents.

 

THOUSANDS - Although the society has held its annual meeting at Hillington Hall for the last few years, members had been hoping they could repair the temple – built (in 1789) – for this year’s annual get-together. But when Mr Dawnay contacted a local builder about restoring the temple, he realised it would be too expensive. “I was told that it was absolutely dilapidated and that it would cost thousands to put it right.” Mr Dawnay explained.

 

But despite being rarely visited, the temple was offered to residents in the Reffley Association who use the surrounding field for recreation. Although the Association decided that they didn’t need the temple, Mr Dawnay said they were asked to keep an eye on it as it was a target for vandals. “The people of Reffley are all totally disinterested in the temple and the grounds around it. I can’t help thinking something could have been done to prevent this damage.

 

SURROUNDINGS -“It really is beyond repair and you can’t tell me that the people of Reffley don’t know what is happening. Its always had a certain amount of vandalism, but now they’ve really set about it with crowbars.” He said.  But secretary of the Reffley Association, Mrs Sheila Sharp, says the vandals only attack when no one is around.  “We do try to keep a lookout, but the temple is out of the way behind all of the houses and across the fields. It is when no one is there that the vandals must go down there, so what can we do about it?” asked Mrs Sharp.  Although the surrounding field is available all the time for youngsters and accompanying adults, there is not always anyone there, she explained. However, moves are underway to consider building a fence round the temple to prevent further destruction, she said. From Lynn News and Advertiser Tuesday 21st August 1979.

 

A LINES FROM LYNN article in the Lynn News and Advertiser (1980) suggested that the:

 

OLD ‘TEMPLE’ NEED NOT GO TO RUIN…Wanton destruction of property at any time is to be deplored, but when the damage is to a rare piece of English history then it is understandable that responsible citizens feel more angry than usual.

 

No one will have any sympathy for those who in the last few months have selected the 200-year-old red brick “temple” of the Sons of Reffley, on the edge of Reffley Woods as their target.  Granted this temple is owned and exclusively used by the Sons of Reffley, certainly once, and perhaps only twice a year, when they meet to carry on with the society’s tradition.  But it is still quite an interesting part of the Lynn historical scene, and it would be a shame if it were allowed to fall into decay or be ruined.

Reasons…For reasons best known to themselves, the Norfolk museums committee has turned down offers from the Reffley Bretheren for it to take over the temple.

 

The Society, says their president, the hon. George Dawnay, did not want money for the building, but for it to be preserved – and for security.  The society would, of course, like to use it for annual meetings.

The museums committee has referred the offer to the education authority, which will inspect it sometime this month.  The cost of the upkeep of such a place cannot be great but it would need to be maintained in the condition it was before vandals began their assault.

 

Nowadays, and for a great many years, the mood of the meetings of the “30 men of good repute from the county of Norfolk” has been one of conviviality.  Nevertheless, there is still an air among some people of a “secret society” about it, though post-war there has been sufficient publicity, I would have thought, to destroy the “secret” image.

 

Development on the Reffley estate is getting closer to the site of the temple, and the hope is that when the built-up area is much closer vandalism will cease. It is still isolated, in a pasture, at the edge of a wood, with its spring of fine water close by. 

 

Many Linnets (supporters of Lynn’s football team) over 60 may well recall their youth, and the “pilgrimages” to Reffley to get that bottle of clear spring water at holiday time in the summer and particularly, for some reason at Easter.  It made a good walk from the town, and how refreshing was that cool water at the end of the walk on a hot day! 

 

The Lynn News featured a two page spread on the Reffley Temple site in their March 18th 1980 edition, headed:

 

Secret group’s old temple may get new lease of life –

Restorers have a dream

 

Reffley Temple – as a tourist attraction?  That is the latest idea for the battered derelict building. If it comes to fruition, the Temple in Lynn could well be the most unusual landmark on an East Anglian sight-seers list – it is certainly thought to be unique in England. Fascinating and intriguing stories surround the building which was once the hideaway meeting place of a secret sect, but is now the well-known haunt of vandals.  Whether the old stories hold the power to draw enough visitors to make it worthwhile restoring the building is something West Norfolk Council is considering now. It was Mrs Betty Barton who put the suggestion forward at a tourism and leisure sub-committee meeting last week.

 

Appalled - She had visited the site and was appalled by the results of the vandalism “It’s a shame and a scandal that a part of Lynn’s history has been allowed to so deteriorate,” she said. Over the years many different people and organisations have expressed similar sentiments and tried hard to repair and protect the Temple, but without success. The Temple owners, the Reffley Bretheren….for years they battled to keep up with repairs of damage caused by vandals.  But in the end they had to give in.  Society members only only used the meeting place once a year and it was virtually impossible for them to check vandalism. They offered the building to the Norfolk Museums Committee in the hope it would be taken over and made use of.  But their offer was turned down.

 

In 1978, after the formation of the Reffley Residents Association, members approached the society offering to takeover the upkeep of the site.  They worked hard to tidy up the Temple itself, the spring with centrepiece obelisk and picnic stone.  They were successful for a time and made great progress – but they couldn’t keep 24-hour watch on the place and again the vandals took over.  The temple site is even more dilapidated now than it ever was, and in the opinion of many people the idea of turning it into a tourist attraction is pointless since it seems likely the vandals will strike again.

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COUNCIL COULD BE SITE’S SAVIOURS – Where a small group failed to preserve part of Lynn’s history, West Norfolk council could succeed.  So said Mr. Graham Shelton, who is strongly backing fellow councillor Mrs Barton’s suggestion to make the Reffley Temple a tourist attraction.  He was chairman of the Reffley Resident’s Association when they tackled tidying and improving the site in 1978, and is still keen to see it reclaimed from vandals. “Grass cutting and hedge pruning could be done easily by council workmen who maintain a neighbouring field anyway,” said Mr Shelton.  He thought the spring could be cleaned out and properly drained with a few days work. “The building would be the main problem.  I think it would be a good idea to take out the windows and doors, just leaving pillars to support the roof. That would make it fairly vandal proof.” He said.

 

Mr Mike Winton, librarian at the Norfolk College of Arts and Technology in Lynn, has been compiling a history of the site for the Reffley Residents Association and he said it is unique.  “It has a fascinating history, as far as I know there has never been a society building like this, going back to Cromwellian times.  It serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever.  If it had been tied in with some form of worship, it would probably still be in use now.” he said.  It is the historical interest that would make the site a good tourist attraction, said Mr Shelton.  But he said it also could be used for big parties and picnics as happened in earlier centuries.  He said another attraction would be the spring of iron water and the interesting obelisk centrepiece, complete with curse for anyone defacing it.

“People could come and take the waters.  It is an iron spring – health giving.” Said Mr Shelton.  Also on the site is a picnic stone which was presented to the members of the Reffley society by a Friend in 1778.

 

Members of the Reffley Residents Association celebrated the 200th anniversary of the presentation of the stone table with a traditional meal eaten off it in 1978.(Bacchanalian Binge)

 

‘DEDICATED VANDALS’ ARE A PROBLEM – Vandals forced the Reffley Bretheren to move their meeting place from the spring site and vandals could destroy any plans of making it a tourist attraction.  So claimed the Hon. George Dawnay, current president of the Reffley Bretheren. “The idea is certainly an interesting one, but it is no use spending money on the site unless it can be made secure. There are some dedicated vandals in the area – they come out day or night.”  “We have repaired the building until it has become impossible to do so and when we offered it to the local authority some years ago, they turned it down, saying repairs would run into too much money.” Said Mr Dawnay.  “At the present moment when there are…so many other demands I don’t think it is the…right moment to take it on.” He added. 

 

Society bretheren have rescued as much as they can from the site.  Two stone sphinxes which stood each side of the entrance to the temple, have been moved to Mr Dawnay’s home at Hillington Hall.

Annual meetings of the bretheren and their guests are now held at Hillington Hall.  “We are much calmer now than tradition has it, but we still drink the same punch – it loosens the tongue but not the legs.” Said Mr Dawnay.

 

The society too has lowered its membership to between 20 and 22.  It used to be difficult fitting more people and their guests into the temple, but Mr Dawnay said they might think of building membership up again soon…….. from the Lynn News and Advertiser Tuesday March 18th 1980.

 

Members of West Norfolk District Council Leisure Services inspected the Reffley Temple site in April 1980:

 

Ratepayers would not tolerate West Norfolk District Council spending thousands of pounds on repairs to buildings like the Reffley Temple at King’s Lynn, said Mr. Doug Benefer yesterday.  He spoke as members of the leisure services committee debated calls for a rescue project at the remote site, about 1 1/2 miles off the Wootton road.

 

At the request of Mrs. Betty Barton, the committee held a site meeting at the temple…….(which) has been damaged severely by vandals in recent years, and other relics, including a stone table and 18th century obelisk, have been scarred. The site is still owned by the Bretheren, - although it (the Society) now meets at Hilllington Hall, home of the long serving president the hon. George Dawnay.

 

A tidying up operation would cost a minimum of £15,000, said committee chairman  Mr. Leslie Brown. Mrs. Barton said: “I think we should try to repair the fabric of the building, just to hold it for the time being until we have decided what can be done to it.”  It could become a tourist attraction because of its part in Lynn’s heritage. Or it could be put to good use by the residents’ association on the nearby Reffley housing estate.

 

DECAYED – She was supported by Mr. Graham Shelton, a leading figure in previous rescue plans, but other councillors did not agree. Surveying the heavily decayed temple, Mr. Walter Greenwood remarked: “If I were a tourist and I walked all the way up here, I would think I had been sold a pup.”

At last night’s meeting there was more criticism.  “I cannot see any point in it,” said Mr. P.C. Haynes.  If the local residents wanted to find a use for it they could come back to the council to ask for a grant, but he did not think the officers should even spend time considering how much it would cost to fence off the site.  Mr. Leslie Dutton questioned whether tourists would want to see the temple.  “They would certainly not be impressed by looking at the building now. And they would be even less impressed if it was restored,” he said.  Mr. Benefer strongly opposed the idea of council intervention to stop the decay, and he felt the townspeople were on his side.  “Quite obviously the ratepayers in this district are not going to stand by and let us throw money away on this sort of scheme,” he said.

The council had spent thousands of pounds on Clifton House, Lynn in which nobody seemed to be interested, and more money on the Lattice House.

 

ATTRACTION– “I don’t think we should talk about this at all,” said Mr. Benefer. “I think it is a waste of time. There is even talk of its being a tourist attraction. I often wonder if anyone even knows where it is.  It would be a good idea to pull the thing down and open up the ground for children to play on.”  The committee agreed to defer the matter so that the Reffley Residents Association could have a chance to consider how best it could make use of the temple site. From the Eastern Daily Press April 2nd 1980

 

The Eastern Daily Press for May 30th 1981 reported:

 

BATTERED TEMPLE RELICS RESCUE BID….An effort will be made next week to save two of the remaining relics at Reffley Temple, King’s Lynn, from vandals. The temple itself,…….is fast being destroyed.  A local councillor Mr Graham Shelton, wants to try to salvage the curious obelisk and an inscribed stone table in the grounds of the temple.  He is to ask Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council leisure and tourism committee on Tuesday to consider removing them, and putting them on display in a safe place…………..

 

The temple has been victim of vandalism for decades, but recently – despite various ideas for using it – the building has been deteriorating faster than ever.  Massive holes have been made in the brick walls and slate roof. And the floor is covered in rubble.  Two proud sphinx-like creatures which used to “guard” the temple entrance were taken away by Mr Dawnay some time ago.  The outdoor temple (table) which Mr Shelton wants removed for safe keeping, was presented to the bretheren in 1778.  The obelisk, which also dates back to the 18th century, currently stands amid a chalybeate spring – from which one of the prime ingredients of the bretheren’s punch has been obtained.  It already bears the scars of vandalism.

 

Last year, Mrs Betty Barton tried to persuade the then West Norfolk District Council to take urgent steps to restore the temple, possibly as a tourist attraction, but saw her hopes dashed.  Instead, the leisure committee decided to ask the residents association at the nearby Reffley Estate to consider ways of using the building in the future, though it never received a reply.  From Eastern Daily Press May 30th 1981.

 

TEMPLE ON MOVE….The few remains of Lynn’s 18th century Reffley Temple may be removed to a safer resting place. Continuous vandalism at its present isolated site has reduced the temple to rubble, leaving only the obelisk and stone table intact. Anxious to safeguard what is left, the leisure committee talked about the possibility of moving it to a more central spot.  The members approved the suggestion but before making any firm moves they want a detailed report on costs and on possible new sites. The owner of the temple, they heard, would welcome any move by the council to safeguard the monument. From the Lynn News and Advertiser 5th June 1981.

 

Cursed problem of Lynn obelisk-The obelisk at the Reffley temple in King’s Lynn may be moved to save it from destruction – but will anyone dare move it? Continuous vandalism has reduced the temple to rubble – leaving only the obelisk and stone table. But some believe there is a curse on anyone who moves the obelisk.

 

Last night the leisure and tourism services committee of Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council called for a detailed report on the future of the temple remains.  Central area manager Mr Glyn Sanger, said there were several sites in Lynn where the obelisk could be relocated – such as The Walks or Tower Gardens.

 

The committee has been told the owner of the temple would welcome any move to safeguard the historic monument which is situated in an isolated spot near Reffley housing development. Mr. Graham skelton said that the temple has been disposed of by vandals and the obelisk was likely to be the next target.

 

But will anyone defy the legendary curse that anyone (who) move(s) the obelisk “shall be the last of his line.” Did committee chairman Mr. Leslie Dutton, appreciate the irony of his words to members: “It is easy to suggest moving it – but there can be a lot of practical problems so we should give detailed consideration to this matter.” The 18th century obelisk bears an inscription which can be translated: “Whosoever shall remove or have removed this monument let him die the last of his line.” From Eastern Daily Press June 3rd 1981.

 

 

From the: Council of Kings Lynn and W Norfolk Leisure and Tourism Services Committee minutes for 2nd June 1981:

 

p62 Advisory Matter

King’s Lynn : The Reffley Temple

In April, 1980, the Committee had given consideration to the possible future use of the privately- owned monument and resolved that the matter be referred to the Reffley Association.  Since that time vandalism has reduced the Temple to rubble, leaving only the obelisk and stone table.

At the request of councillor Shelton, consideration was given to the possible removal of the obelisk and stone table to a place of safety and their re-erection in a public place, such as Tower Gardens or in the vicinity of the Red Mount Chapel in the Walks.  The Committee was reminded that there was no financial provision for such work.

RECOMMENDED  That the Chairman, Vice-chairman and Central Area Manager investigate the suggestion now put forward and report to the next meeting of the Committee.

 

 

15th September 1981

p287

15. King’s Lynn Sports complex: Wood Street Clearance

The Committee was informed that demolition works had been satisfactorily completed and top soil introduced to cover debris remaining.  A plan was displayed showing proposed landscaping to the part of the former Depot site falling outside the development planned by Chimeglade Limited.  As part of the landscaping, it was suggested that the obelisk, stone table and griffins which had formed part of the Reffley Temple could be included in the scheme.  Members, whilst accepting the principle of landscaping, questioned the suitability of this area for the Reffley Temple relics.

RESOLVED:- That the landscaping proposals be approved but without the Reffley Temple relics, the location of which is to be given further consideration by Officers.

 

p402

 

17th September 1981

 

c.a.m. 6   King’s Lynn:   The Reffley Obelisk

                 (Previous Minute  No.  15 – Page 287 – 15th September 1981.

At its previous Meeting  the Committee had declined a suggestion to incorporate relics from the Reffley Temple in a landscaping scheme for the Wood Street Sports complex.  The Officers had been asked to give further consideration to the location of the relics.

The central area Manager reported that several sites in the Walks might be suitable, but before any decisions were taken the Committee was invited to consider the cost involved.

RECOMMENDED: That no action be taken.

 

 

REFFLEY’S OBELISK MUST STAY PUT:

 

The eighteenth century obelisk at Reffley Temple, King’s Lynn, must remain where it is – at least for the time being.

 

Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council leisure committee has decided against spending any money to remove it to a safe place.  Now the fate of the stone obelisk – which stands in secluded woods off the Wootton Road – is in the hands of the Reffley Bretheren, whose fore- fathers met in the now ruined and vandalised temple nearby.

 

The leisure committee recommended the borough council to take no action, after hearing that the cost of re-siting the obelisk, together with the Bretheren’s engraved stone table, in Lynn Walks could be about £4,000. That figure would include providing a footpath and seating, and a supply of water beneath the obelisk……….

 

HISTORY- One councillor, Mrs. Betty Barton. Had other reasons than cost for wanting the obelisk to stay in Reffley Woods.  “I believe the history of the obelisk is in situ – exactly where it is – and I cannot feel that you should remove history in this way.  I believe it ought to be left where it is.” She said.

Mr Graham Shelton, who has campaigned for action to be taken to save the remaining relics from the vandals, argued that the re-siting work could be carried out for less than £4,000.

Meanwhile, yesterday the long serving president of the Reffley Bretheren, the Hon. George Dawnay, of Hillington Hall, said he was disappointed by the committee’s recommendation.

 

RESCUED – They were the one body who could have put the obelisk in a place where not only would it be safe, but people would be able to see it.” he said.  “I would like to see it somewhere safe, and if all else fails I shall have to bring it here.”

Mr Dawnay, who rescued two sphinx-like stone creatures from the temple site, plans to call a meeting of the Bretheren to decide if they can take any action to save the obelisk.  At present, the stone table, a gift to the Bretheren in 1778, has been removed for safe-keeping to a council depot. From EDP 20thNovember 1981

 

Sadly, despite the dedicated and determined efforts of many people who were aware of the historic value of  Lynn’s unique building, there would be no happy ending for the Temple, it was just too vulnerable. It could not be protected 24 hours a day from the onslaught of determined vandals. In the end it was decided that the structure was too dangerous and had to be pulled down. So, not for the first time, nor the last, had Lynn lost a unique part of its’ historic heritage.

THE END OF THE TEMPLE

Photos Kings Lynn Library

It is probably small consolation that the Temple lasted almost two hundres years. Even if relentless vandalism had not been the prime element in its eventual destruction, then Building Regulations, Health and Safety and the passage of time leading to the perishing of the mortar between the bricks would likely have resulted in its demolition anyway.

Postscript

                                              Lynn News photo

Reffley spring and its Temple were not entirely forgotten. In its Picture Archive for 15th Oct 1992 the Mercury newspaper published a picture of the Temple and Spring from 1964.

I

Their October 15th 1992 edition featured their readers response to the picture:

 

Our picture, which was taken in 1964, was of the Reffley Temple Gaywood. One of the most unusual places in West Norfolk. Generations of Lynn people enjoyed visiting “the Riffley” – as many still call it – and its wooded temple site as a picnic spot.  The once isolated spot dated from the 18th century and it was suggested in 1980 it could be turned into a tourist attraction. But unfortunately vandals had the last word and the present day wrecked site represents a sad case of missed opportunity. The name of the site lives on in the nearby Templemead development.

 

Site now ‘heart-breaking’

Your picture shows the once beautiful Reffley spring with the “temple” where the Reffley Bretheren once held their annual meeting. Alas the temple is a pile of bricks – the lions at the entrance removed to a place of safety as was also, just in time, the obelisk over the spring itself.

The vwhole site was vandalised with the land nearby being developed – even the spring has been stopped from flowing. As a child I had many happy picnics there, drinking the iron water of the spring. E.Brown (Mrs) Gaywood.

 

The picture puzzle in the Mercury on Thursday October 15th is Reffley Spring temple built in Cromwellian times (actually 1789), I believe, and destroyed by vandals in the 1980’s. there is now nothing left of this wonderful place of history. I lived at Reffley Farm and knew it well. J. M. Taylor Swaffham.(see Joan Taylor’s contribution in the Reffley farm section.)

 

Century old link with temple

I sat on the stone “lions” and drank water from the spring more than 70 years ago. It was a shambles the last time I saw it. I am not sure if the spring was still there. It was a meeting place for the Reffley Bretheren and my mother-in-law used to wash up the tankards and clean their punchbowl and ladles after their meetings. That must have been more than a century ago. Jess Howard (Mrs) Gaywood.

 

Reffley Bretheren still meet

Your Picture Archive on October 15 is that of the Reffley Brothers Temple, the site of which was on the (now) Reffley Estate at Kings Lynn. Formed in the 18th century, the Society was, as many societies were, in the process of formation, as gentlemen’s drinking and dining clubs. The Reffley Brothers were a “secret” society. The temple was erected by them on land owned by Hillington Hall and the ffolkes family were long associated with it and were and were probably responsible for forming it.(the ffolkes family’s involvement with the society began in the 1770’s.)   

The first date which is definite is 1756 when the obelisk was set up over the spring there. The water was used in the making of a potent punch which the members ritually drank while a further “ritual” was the smoking of churchwarden-type pipes. The obelisk bears a curse on anyone damaging or defacing it. The curse was ineffectual because vsandals eventually destroyed the temple. Two sphinxes flanked the entrance to the temple. They disappeared but are still to be found within a couple of miles of the site. Unknown to most, the Reffley Brothers still meet on occasions and still drink punch and smoke churchwarden pipes. Gordon Anckorn. Dersingham.   

 

The picture was also correctly identified by Ray Wakefield of West Winch, Mr and Mrs Norman Benson of Grimston, Geoffrey Bolt of Lynn and Mrs K Lennon of south Wootton. And we also had a letter from young David Prior (then living near to the site of the temple) who found what remains of the spring while out with his friend Steven Goldsmith.

A footnote to the Reffley Society’s activities at Reffley Spring - was written by Tony Scase,

in a Lynn News article, recently discovered, from 1985:

SOCIETY HAS FADED BUT THE BREWER IS STILLL APPRECIATECD

He starts by briefly summarising the early and notable events of the Society’s history and then continues:

Since the destruction of the Temple, the Reffley Bretheren have met mostly at the house of the President, the Honorable George Dawnay, at Hillington Hall, although this summer’s meeting was at North Wootton Rugby Club.

The Reffley Bretheren, clay pipes in hands, when they used to meet at the temple in happier days.

LUNCH

Mr Dawnay, now 72, joined the Society in the early thirties when Sir Francis Ffolkes was the President. His family had bee in it almost from the start.  The Bretheren met at three, and had a late lunch, usually saddle of mutton and cold salt beef.  Tea or water were usually served with the meal, with punch being served before and after.

In the afternoon bowls were played on the green, and at night cold left-overs were served for supper before the speechifying got underway. Springwater was central to the celebrations. The punch consisted of this water, lemon, sugar and brandy. Mr Dawnay recalled: “The spring had certain properties which appeared to take some of the alcoholic effect out of the brandy. I think we got through half a bottle of brandy each, but over a long period. It’s a particularly pleasant stuff, particularly after quite a bit!  It doesn’t loosen the legs, it loosens the tongue. People talk very fluently and constantly, but they are perfectly capable of carrying on normal behaviour.  The glasses were very small, so you didn’t put away a great deal on any one occasion. You drink half a bottle of brandy over three or four hours and it’s extraordinary how well you feel. No-one ever needed assistance to get home. I have never in any way felt embarrassed after an evening. And you have no hangover the next day.”

PORT

In the thirties the speechmaking was taken much more seriously .  Toasts were always to the port and trade of Lynn, the armed forces and the like. But anyone who was particularly talkative was soon stopped. “It was a good fellowship,” said Mr. Dawnay.  “It was fun. The whole object of the supper and the meeting was to meet one’s comrades and enjoy yourself.”  At night the temple was lit by candles. Some members puffed churchwarden pipes.  Outside stood two sphinxes,  adding  to the mysterious atmosphere. It was regarded as a secret society but, Mr. Dawnay said, there was nothing secret about it.

For nearly two centuries the Temple remained intact.  But since the war, vandalism has become a growth industry.  Today the Reffley Bretheren meet at six, partake of a cold supper and then get down to the speechmaking, which has become lighter each year. “We invent the speeches” confided Mr. Dawnay,  “And if six guests have to answer the toast. We generally have them all together!  There’s no shyness then.”    It has remained a male dominated society.  “Women aren’t invited,” said Mr. Dawnay.  He laughed: “They make some parties and they wreck others. Nothing is ever the same.” (n.b. throughout the Society’s history, when the Spring was a popular resort, both male and female guests were invited to some events, and even post-WWII children were present at the spring, when the Bretheren met there. So Mr Dawnay is perhaps referring to their activities within the Temple. ADC.)   

The vandalised Reffley Temple.

FUTILE

He described the vandalism of the Temple as “futile.”  He wants to see the obelisk, the fountain  and an ancient stone table re-erected in a suitable place in Lynn. Once there were Good Friday outings to the glade.( An old print, by  Oldmeadow-below) shows couple dancing , men smoking clay pipes and children and dogs running through the woods. 

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