Joyce McCarthy was the founder of the Willingale Archive. She collated and researched a large amount of the current archive. She stored it in a metal cabinet in the village hall storeroom.
In 2009 she handed the keys over to Vivienne Woodman as she was moving home and Viv was very interested in history. She opened the cupboard and was amused to find a sewing machine. Intrigued she asked her friend Dawn to come along and talking together they came up with idea of making the archive more accessible. A heritage Lottery Grant was secured and the Village Hall committee agreed to host the Willingale Community Archive in a dressing room in the hall. (The sewing machine belonged to Jack Tween who was the village leather worker).
However, while gathering archive materials we have become aware of several predecessors who had been eminent archivists. Notably George Neal a resident who passed away in 2013 aged 98 years. He had collected some wonderful items including old village magazines and newspaper cuttings from the turn of the 20th century. He also had a wonderful scrap book from another village archivist the Reverend Colvin who collected interesting items in a scrap book from 1927-1939, this included posters of the first village fayres, and more newspaper cuttings. Another Willingale archivist was Reverend Payne who presented to the Essex Archaeological Society meeting in 1898 who in his talk spoke about ‘the pleasure of unearthing in 1891-1892’ a stone altar and some broken painted glass.
The current aims of Willingale Community archive
- Conserve existing material-To store the archives in an appropriate manner to prevent deterioration.
- Research and Donations -To increase the information available in the archive.
- Heritage Information Opportunities-Access is available by appointment.
- Ongoing displays -St Andrews church is an historical site in the village looked after by the Churches Conservation Trust. The displays are accessible to all Church visitors
- Oral history – Volunteers record oral histories from different generations in the village.