Talks and Walks

Details of the talks and walks offered by Suffolk Record Office

All talks are £5.50 per person, walks are £5.00 per person.  Please note that the talks should be booked in advance through the relevant branch.  Contact Suffolk Record Office for further information.


Black Death in Suffolk

Clive Paine
Saturday 25 January 10.00am Bury

The Black Death hit Suffolk in early 1349 and killed between a third and a half of the population. This talk looks at the evidence for this high mortality using court rolls, from Walsham le Willows, Little Cornard and Rickinghall; and their church records which record the induction of clergy into their livings. The immediate impact on individual families and communities will be examined as well as the long term effect for village decline and depopulation.


Stand and Deliver: Pickpockets, footpads, highwaymen and other thieves

Dr Pat Murrell
Saturday 1 February 10.00am Bury

An opportunity to hear about some of those who were part of Georgian Suffolk's criminal fraternity. Often prepared to use violence , these individuals were far from being glamorous heroes.

What's in a Surname ?

Charlie Haylock
Saturday 8 February 10.30am Lowestoft

Charlie will give a very informative and highly entertaining talk about the sort of names we had prior to 1066 AD. How and why surnames evolved after the Norman Conquest, and the disruption it caused. He will then enlighten us on the four different types of surnames, and give us their meanings and why some surnames are peculiarly Suffolk.

Tudor Mansions in Suffolk

Clive Paine
Saturday 8 February 10.00am Bury

Drawing on evidence from Hengrave, Little Saxham, Culford, Rushbrook, Westhorpe, Long Melford, and Christchurch in Ipswich, this talk traces the development of open court and "E" shaped mansions. Clive refers to building accounts, contracts, inventories (showing the contents and furnishings of each room), wills, family monuments and inscriptions in the parish church, stained glass, heraldry, entertainments and music.

The History of Spoken English

Charlie Haylock
Saturday 15 February 10.00am Bury

This is not a lecture on split infinitives and the differences between the past principle and the past tense. Charlie will show us how spoken English started in Suffolk, as each invading force affected the English language by the different sounds they brought. He will demonstrate how and why Suffolk helped shape a whole continent's dialect, and explain why so many Suffolk people are mistaken as Australian.

The Life of a Music Hall Superstar

Annie Shead
Saturday 15 February 10.30am Ipswich

Annie Shead, whose stage name was Annie D'Shea gives a lively, informative and illustrative presentation (in a dress from her stage days) featuring the life of the music hall artist Vesta Victoria. Among her many famous hit songs were There was I waiting at the Church and Daddy wouldn't Bow-wow. Her talk includes photographs, song covers, original recordings and ephemera from the last 100 years. This talk will be accompanied by a short film from the Hudd Music Archive.

Decorating Medieval Suffolk Churches

Clive Paine
Saturday 22 February 10.00am Bury

This talk explores the decorative features of medieval churches. The interiors were fitted with decorative furniture, including altars, screens, pulpits, benches;visual aids to worship such as images, wall paintings, roods, stained glass and personal graffiti. The exteriors were decorated with carvings of grotesques and saints, while symbols, initials and inscriptions were displayed in flushwork panels.


"Diverse factions and seditious orders" in the Port of Ipswich

Deirdre Heavens
Saturday 1 March 10.30am Ipswich

Following religious dissent and a riot in Ipswich during 1636 the Attorney General brought a case of sedition in the Star Chamber against leading members of the Corporation and townspeople. The town governors were also in conflict with the Admiralty over the town's jurisdition of the River Orwell, as well as being in dispute with the county administration over ship money.

Suffolk Folk Tales

Clive Paine
Saturday 8 March  10.00am Bury

The folk tales of Suffolk, although few in number, have different parallels with other English and continental examples. A different strand of folk tales is based on actual events such as the Green Children of Woolpit, the Wildman of Orford and Black Shuck, the Hound of Hell.

Florists' Feasts, Botanic Gardens and Horticultural Societies

Dr Pat Murrell
Wednesday 12 March 10.00am Bury

Explore the delights of gardening for pleasure in late Stuart and Georgian Suffolk.

Pilgrimage, Saints and Relics in Medieval and Tudor Suffolk

Clive Paine
Saturday 15 March 10.00am Bury

This talk investigates the doctrinal and personal motives for pilgrimages; the variety of shrines, images and relics and the benefits they were believed to bring to the faithful living and deceased. The veneration of saints and relics was part of religious belief and practice before the Reformation. In East Anglia the shrines of Our Lady of Walsingham and St Edmund were the most popular. Suffolk contained other shrines including images of Mary at Woolpit, Stoke by Clare and Sudbury, Our Lady of Grace at Ipswich and St Margaret at Southwold.

Bread- the Staff of Life

Dr Pat Murrell
Wednesday 26 March 10.00am Bury

Whether bread was a cheap or an expensive foodstuff the role that it played in daily life during late Stuart and Georgian times often went beyond that of dietary significance. Food historian Pat Murrell considers the evidence for this basic staple in Suffolk by looking at grain production, harvesting, mills, milling, bakers, baking, adulteration, rioting and charitable bread doles for the poor. Recipes for bread and other related items including the ubiquitous pudding- will also feature.


Flames and Treason: the Great Fire of Newmarket and the Rye House Plot

John Sutton
Saturday 5 April 10.00 am Bury

On 22 March 1683 a fire broke out in a stable yard on the Suffolk side of Newmarket High Street. A high wind spread the flames round the market place and from there they ignited the houses down the main thoroughfare. Ironically, this devasting conglagration proved a "Miraculous Providence" since it enabled Charles II to escape a serious attempt on his life as he returned to London earlier than planned.

With Great Pleasure Once Again

Dr Pat Murrell
Wednesday 9 April 10.00am Bury

Pat's second miscellany of entertaining anecdotes and snippets collected during several decades of research.

Remembering the Ancestors

Clive Paine
Saturday 12 April 10.00am Bury

This talk traces the changing design, meaning and symbolism of monuments from the 13th to the 20th centuries. Ranging from medieval knights, ladies and cadavers under canopies; brasses; reclining figures; family groups and portrait busts in the classical and baroque style of the 17th and 18th centuries to the Gothic revivals of the Edwardians and the Victorians.

Victorian Seaside

Clive Paine
Saturday 26 April 10.00am Bury

The development of the railway networks in the mid-victorian period, resulted in the growth of seaside holidays. Medical opinion recommended the combination of bracing air, sunlight  and sea bathing as a means of improving health. Suffolk coastal  towns such as Lowestoft and Southwold, and villages such as Felixstowe, developed to cater for the demand for seaside holidays.

Caring for Suffolk's Poor Part 2:Incorporations and Unions

Ray Whitehand
Saturday 26 April 10.30am Ipswich

Ray gives an insight into the large incorporation wokhouses which first appeared in the Suffolk countryside between 1750-1780, exclusively in East Suffolk. Then, after the New Poor Law Amendment Act, the Union workhouses, which covered the whole county, variously up to 1930. As well as the facts and figues such as location, parishes covered, periods of operation and capacity, he identifies the type of information found in surviving material.


Introduction to Suffolk Record Office

Louise Kennedy
Friday 2 May 10.00am Ipswich

Through this talk you will be introduced to the work of Suffolk Record Office and the origins of the Ipswich collections. Knowledgeable staff will walk you through the searchroom and give you a guided tour of the strongroom. You will have the opportunity to look through specially selected archives.

Maps and Mapmakers in Suffolk from Tudor to Victorian Times

Clive Paine
Saturday 10 May 10.00am Bury

In the period under review, maps were the equivalent of the modern aerial photograph of a house and garden, or an estate and reflected the status of the landowner. They were an essential part of estate management, showing land use and tenancy arrangements. Maps were also artistic creations with decorative cartouche, compass points, scale drawings of houses, livestock and landscape features. Some of the major mapmakers worked in Suffolk including Speed, Saxton, Norden and Brazier.

Life and Times of the High Street

Ivan Bunn
Sunday 11 May 11.00am Lowestoft

A guided walk exploring Lowestoft's ancient High Street, the buildings and its occupants. For joining instructions please book at Lowestoft Record Office.

Colonel Thomas Blague, Suffolk's most famous Cavalier

John Sutton
Saturday 17 May 10.00am Bury

Colonel Blague of Horringer was the archetypal Cavalier. During the Civil War, whilst serving as the royalist governor of Wallingford, he acquired a fearful reputation as a ferocious and ruthless swordsman. His "courage and devotion" to the loyal cause proved so strong that he did not lay down his arms until July 1646. He refused to accept defeat and immersed himself in a succession of plots to restore first Charles I and then Charles II to power.

A Day at the races

Dr Pat Murrell
Saturday 31 May 10.00am Bury

Races, racing and race goers in Georgian times with refererence to Newmarket, Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and other local courses.


The Growth of Modern Kirkley

Ivan Bunn
Sunday 20 July 11.00am Lowestoft

Explore the growth of modern Kirkley from the early nineteenth century by enjoying this circular summertime walk. For joining instructions book at Lowestoft Record Office.



Bookings should be sent to the relevant branch of the Suffolk Record Office.