hifars in the community

Chichele College Garden FairMay 2024

HiFARS had a stall at the annual Garden Fair in the Chichele College Garden in Higham Ferrers on Saturday 25 May. The replica Samian ware was on display and lots of plants were sold with all the money going towards the running costs of the Society. There was a decorated wheelbarrow competition on the theme of 'Walk on the Wildside', a childrens art competition, music, and refreshments from the NAAFI van in the Duchy Barn Community Garden. 

Image: Mary and Olwen setting up the stall at the Saffron Road gate in Chichele College garden

Heritage Family Fun Day • September 2023

HiFARS attended the Heritage Family Fun Day organised by Higham Ferrers and Rushden Town Councils at Rushden Lakes on Sunday 17 September. HiFARS shared the stall with Higham Ferrers Tourism and the Bedesmen. On display was Olwen's Samian replica pottery, the Charter book, the new Blue Plaques Trail leaflets and displays on the life of Henry Chichele, the history of the Bedesmen and the Coronation Art competition winners. There were also displays on medieval alchemy & natural dyes, and the guided open top bus tours of both towns.

Image: St George chats to a Bedesman at the Higham Ferrers Tourism stall

Chichele College Garden • Summer 2023

The annual Chichele Garden Fair was held on Saturday 27 May in 2023. HiFARS had a stall and sold plants to raise funds for the society. On Wednesday 9 August HiFARS took part in a croquet evening organised by Higham Ferrers Tourism and came second, thanks everyone who came along to play and support.

Image: A display of fragments from a College Street cottage garden at the Garden Fair

Tree of Trees Planting Ceremony • November 2022

HiFARS representatives attended the Tree of Trees Planting Ceremony in Chichele College Garden on Saturday 12 November. A hazel tree, which was part of the Tree of Trees sculpture at Buckingham Palace for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, was donated to Chichele College as a 'thank you' for all the valuable and tireless work that volunteers undertake for the benefit of their communities. Vice Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, Morcea Walker MBE, and Paul Parsons, Chair of the Queen's Green Canopy for the county, planted the tree in the trellis border. Permission had been granted by Historic England, and there was an archaeological watching brief in place, as the College is a scheduled monument. Other speakers included Professor Peregrine Horden of All Souls College, Oxford and Victoria Wicks, granddaughter of H. E. Bates.

Image: Morcea and Paul planting the tree in Chichele College Garden (photo Robert Barnatt)

600 Anniversary of Chichele College • 2022

Chichele College was founded in 1422 by Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury. Chichele was born in Higham Ferrers around 1362, and was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1414 to 1443. He also founded the Bede House in St Mary's churchyard and All Souls College in Oxford. To celebrate the 600 anniversary an exhibition of Chichele's life toured events in the local area throughout 2022. At the Northamptonshire Heritage Forum awards held at Chester House on 12 July 2023, Higham Ferrers Tourism won the 'NHF Hindsight Award for Best Other Materials' for the film they made Chichele College Celebrates 600 Years, and The Friends of St Mary's won the award for 'Best Project Delivered by a Society' for Gateway to the 600 Year History of the Bede House.

Image: The Henry Chichele Exhibition in Chichele College at the Platinum Jubilee Celebration weekend

Chichele CollegeSummer 2022

In February 2021 part of the Chichele College front wall collapsed into the garden. The college building and garden had to be closed for safety reasons, but it was an opportunity for English Heritage and Historic England to carry out research into medieval walls.  A team of highly-skilled stonemasons repaired the wall, and the college reopened 14 months after the collapse. Higham Ferrers events restarted with the Chichele Garden Fair on Saturday 28 May, the Platinum Jubilee celebrations on Sunday 5 June, Secret Gardens on Sunday 26 June, and the 600 year Chichele Anniversary garden party on Saturday 30 July. HiFARS enjoyed taking part in all of these, displaying the Duchy Barn Garden finds.

Image: The repaired Chichele College wall

Tree PlantingMarch 2022

As part of the Queens Green Canopy Project for the Platinum Jubilee Year the Town Council organised a tree planting session in Higham Ferrers on the morning of Saturday 12 March. There were 420 saplings of silver birch, rowan, wild cherry, dogwood and hawthorn, and loads of volunteers including Higham Ferrers’ Rainbows, Brownies, Beavers, Cubs and Scouts along with families and dog-walkers to get them into the ground in the open green space behind Henry Chichele School overlooking the River Nene. HiFARS was on hand to identify any finds that got unearthed. It was a great morning and hopefully it will be repeated as its the Council’s ongoing aim to enhance the green environment around the town.

Image: Town Councillors Jennie and Harriet planting trees 

Higham Ferrers Sparkle in 2021 

The annual Christmas event resumed for 2021 on Saturday 20 November and everyone had a great time. There was a fun fair, stalls, entertainment and Father Christmas had his grotto in the Duchy Barn Garden. The excavated trenches were safely covered or backfilled. HiFARS also took part in the Christmas Wreath Exhibition at St Mary’s Church.

Image: Olwen in St Mary’s Church with the HiFARS Christmas wreath 

Heritage Family Fun Day • September 2021 

Part of the annual Nene Valley Festival this event was held at Rushden Lakes on Sunday 19 September and organised by Higham Ferrers and Rushden Town Councils. HiFARS had a table of finds at a stall shared with Higham Ferrers Tourism, the Bedesmen and the Material Girls. Thanks to everyone who came along and supported the event.

Image: Susan and Faye show visitors the Henry Chichele tapestry which is now on display in the Bede House 

Higham Ferrers Big Bank Holiday Weekend • August 2021 

This event held from Saturday 28 to Monday 30 August combined the Town-Wide Garage Sale, Higham’s Hidden Gardens, and the Covid Creations Art Exhibition. HiFARS had a display of recent finds in the Duchy Barn Community Garden and were on hand to explain the open trenches to the many visitors.

Image: Olwen and Angelika digging in the Duchy Barn Garden

Charter Project Skill-Sharing Evening • August 2021 

Held in the Duchy Barn Community Garden on the evening of Thursday 12 August, and attended by two HiFARS committee members, this event marked the closing of the successful Charter Project. It was a chance for the many volunteers to get together and share their experiences of the project.

Image: One of the Charters before restoration 

The impact of Covid in 2020 and 2021

From March 2020 all HiFARS committee meetings, talks and events were cancelled due to the Covid lockdowns. The excavation in the Duchy Barn Garden continued when allowed, Covid safety measures in place. HiFARS took part in an Open Day in Chichele College on Saturday 20 October 2020, and there was a social evening in the Duchy Barn Garden, with a display of finds, on Tuesday 10 August 2021.

Image: Olwen following all safety precautions at the Open Day 

Chichele Society ExhibitionSeptember 2019

Held in Chichele College over two weekends, 28 & 29 September and 5 & 6 October in 2019, the annual Chichele Society exhibition had a wealth of material on display – newspapers, maps, shop receipts, adverts and photographs, as well as a small HiFARS display and WWI uniforms and medals.

Image: Advertising for local businesses

Charter Celebration DayJune 2019

A day of living history held throughout the town on Saturday 29 June. There was a costume parade, exhibitions and displays, a medieval encampment with archery, leather working and chainmail making ending with a medieval skirmish in the Castle Field. HiFARS took part with a scribe workshop in Chichele College.

Image: Julie Thorneycroft, Higham and Rushden Town Council Business Manager tries her hand at quill writing in Chichele College 

Higham Ferrers blue plaques

The Higham Ferrers blue heritage plaques were officially unveiled on Monday 29 October 2018. There were fifteen plaques at this stage, each revealing interesting facts about the buildings marked. The plaques were funded in part by the East Northants County Community Facilities Fund and the Town Council, and were part of a larger project to promote the heritage of Higham Ferrers and encourage more visitors to the town. In May 2023 the Blue Plaque Trail was launched, go to for information. There are now 18 plaques and they include the Walnut Tree, the Cemetery Chapel and the Carriage House.

Chichele Society ExhibitionSeptember 2018

The Chichele Society held their annual exhibition on local history over two weekends, 29 & 30 September and 6 & 7 October, in 2018. The theme was Victorian Higham but there was also a display for WWI and archaeological finds displayed by HiFARS.

Image: Photographs of WWI soldiers in Higham Ferrers

Heritage Family Fun Day • September 2018

As part of the Nene Valley Festival there was a Heritage Family Fun Day at Rushden Lakes on Sunday 16 September. Lots of local groups had pop-up tents and stalls including HiFARS, Higham Ferrers Tourism, Friends of St Mary’s and the Chichele Society.

Image: Medieval musicians at Rushden Lakes

Chichele Garden Fair • May 2018

The theme of the Chichele Garden Fair on Saturday 26 May was ‘Our Heritage’ and HiFARS took part with a stall near the West Gate in Saffron Road. There was an exhibition by the Northamptonshire Gardens Trust celebrating the life and work of the landscape gardener Humphry Repton (1752-1818), as well as the usual stalls of plants, flowers, herbs, craft demonstrations and children’s activities.

Image: Mayor Jason Smithers visits the HiFARS stall. 

Brick-making in Higham FerrersMay 2017

On the evening of Friday 19 May 2017 Tony Mugridge a traditional brick-maker, along with Helen Norman and Becky Gill of Rockingham Forest Trust, escorted a group on a walking tour of Higham Ferrers. Starting from the Market Square, the tour took in the Queen’s Head, the Junior School and the site of the brick factory at the bottom of Wharf Road, the remains of the pug mill and the flooded clay pit. On Saturday 20 May Chichele College Garden was busy with visitors making traditional bricks, Victorian peg dolls and willow weaving. There were historical displays and musical accompaniment by Dr Busker. 

Image: Visitors try their hand at making traditional bricks with Tony

Northamptonshire Heritage Forum Awards 2016

The 2016 awards ceremony was held in the Bede House in Higham Ferrers on the evening of Thursday 14 July. Robert Wharton of Wellingborough Museum won one of the awards, and the Forum patron the Rt. Hon. Earl Spencer was presenting. 

Image: Olwen and Mayor Pam Whiting at the Awards Ceremony

Chichele Garden FairMay 2016

The theme of the annual Garden Fair held in Chichele College Garden on Saturday 28 May was the 300th anniversary of gardener and landscape architect, Capability Brown. HiFARS had a stall which featured historical research into Saffron growing in England. 

Image: Replica Roman pottery at the garden Fair

Higham Ferrers Mayor’s May Day Market2016

HiFARS hosted the pop-up Heritage Tent at the annual Mayor’s Market on Saturday 7 May. There was a display of local medieval pottery and information about saffron-growing in Higham Ferrers. There were also performances by the choirs of both primary schools, charity stalls, refreshments and a bouncy castle. 

Image: Young visitors at the HiFARS stall

Higham Ferrers Medieval Day • July 2014

Higham Ferrers held a Medieval Day on Saturday 12 July. Organised by the Town Council there was a medieval encampment in the Castle Fields, living history throughout the town, knights on horseback, archery, birds of prey and entertainment. HiFARS had a stall and welcomed many new members. 

Image: A medieval lady displays her kitchenware  

HiFARS Finds DayMay 2014

HiFARS held a Finds Day with Finds Liaison Officer Julie Cassidy on Saturday 31 May in the Town Hall, Higham Ferrers. Local detectorists brought along many great finds for identification. 

Image: Julie busy with identification

Higham Ferrers Heritage WeekendSeptember 2013

The weather was great for the Heritage Weekend on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 September. There was the Farmers’ Market, an organ recital in St Mary’s Church, the Patchwork & Quilting exhibition in the Bede House and the Chichele Society had their annual exhibition in the Chantry Chapel. The Gardening Volunteers, HiFARS and the Historic Gardener, Michael Brown, were in Chichele College where there was a display about the Cloister Garth. 

Image: Wool dyed using natural ingredients by the medieval gardener. 

HiFARS Archaeology Roadshow • May 2013

The Northamptonshire Liaison Officer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, Julie Cassidy, was on hand to identify and record lots of finds brought to the HiFARS Archaeology Roadshow at the Town Hall, Higham Ferrers, on Saturday 25 May 2013. There was a steady stream of visitors as it was also Market Day and the Garden Festival in Chichele College Garden. 

Image: The Bates Boxes of Roman Finds on display in the Town Hall