Ipswich Group


Ipswich, which claims to be the oldest continuously inhabited town in England, is located on the estuary of the River Orwell, which has always been important in the story of the town. A small harbour, behind what is now the home of Ipswich Town Football Club, was used by the Romans for trade and the Vikings raided the docks area, around 1010.
King John gave the town its Charter in 1200. The town flourished in the Tudor & Elizabethan era, with the Wool Trade, when Christchurch Mansion and other fine buildings were erected creating much of the street pattern around The Butter Market which survives to this day, along with some 650 listed buildings.
The Victorian era brought more prosperity and the building of new wet docks, then the largest in Europe, and the first public museum in the country which opened in 1847 (rebuilt in 1881).
The industrial revolution saw the rise of farm machinery manufacturers, such as Ransomes and Garretts, which hastened the exodus of many former agricultural workers to the town. The population increased six- fold in the 19th century, rising to 66,000 and doubled in the 20th century.


Ipswich has much to offer those researching their 'family trees' and also gives the excuse of having a pleasurable day out.

Our meetings are held at:

The Pioneer Hall 
The Co-Op Education Centre,
11, Fore Street,
Ipswich, Suffolk IP4 1JW.

ALL MEETINGS START at 7:30 p.m., and finish at 9:45 as we have to vacate the building then.

Pedestrian access is through the front door at 11 Fore Street. There is a large car park at the rear of the building - Entry is from Waterworks Street (Enter IP4 1JG in your sat. nav.) Meetings will be held on the 4th Thursday in the month (apart from December 2015 -which is a week earlier on Thursday 17th December.

NOTE: We go on an Outside Visit for our June Meeting, and NO MEETING is held in August

We arrange a varied programme of interesting talks and guided visits which are open to members and visitors alike, especially newcomers, who'll receive a warm welcome.

We also offer tea or coffee and biscuits after the talk and this is included in the £2 entrance (£2.50 for non-members). Sometimes Meeting entry may rise to £3 per head for members, £3.50 for non-members - if the Speaker is coming some distance.

Those with problems with their research find it useful to chat to others at the meeting, about their "brickwalls". Informal help often results from this.

We can provide, for meetings, a laptop computer, with some of the Society's CD's and other resources, as outlined on the Publications page. This facility can be requested at a meeting, for viewing at the following meeting.

Alternatively, feel free to contact us beforehand if you'd like to request a resource or need advice so we're best placed to help you when you come to the meeting.



Ipswich Record Office - The 'must do' place to visit/contact for all your family & local history needs; holding an amazing range of information about the history of Suffolk and its people.

 Ipswich Tourist information Officewho also arrange guided walks with Blue Badge Guides [May-Sept].

Ipswich Museum - has a timeline on events in the Town, plus many treasures.  Also use the same web link to find out about Christchurch Mansion - a Fine Tudor mansion STUFFED with amazing itmes - located in a Grade 1 STAR listed Park, Christchurch Park


Mrs Jenny Rawlinson (Ipswich Branch Secretary)

10, Carlford Court,

112, Parliament Road,

 Ipswich IP4 5EL  

01473 902367

e-mail: jennyrawlinson@hotmail.com
Howard King (Chairman)
01473 274300
or by Email:  howard.king1@outlook.com

Last Modified on 16/03/2017 by K Pulford


Talk By John Sutton Hidden presences at Ipswich's

Posted by Howard L King on Mon, 12th Nov 2018

John has done extensive work researching the story of Jane Lane, and her possible link with The Ancient House, in Ipswich.

There have been stories over many years that Charles II, on the run from his armies defeat at The Battle of Worcestor, in the English Civil War - hid in the Ancient House - as well as another story that the Ancient House had a Priest Hole - to hide Catholic Priests...

John , in his extensive research put these two stories to rest - In his flight from The Battle of Worcestor Charles never came anywhere near Ipswich - and those that owned the Ancient House at the period when a Catholic Priest may have wanted to hide - were Protestants!

However, John's very detailed talk was fascinating - Yes... Jane Lane was certainly very strongly linked to Charles II, as she and Roger Wentworth accompanied Charles as he fled, in disguise ... and with some adventures helped Charles escape to France from the South Coast of England.

Then Jane Lane's story certainly links far more to Ipswich and the Ancient House - as after more adventures she and companion John Kemp walked to East Anglia, paased through Colchester, and probably stayed at The "Wagon and Horses" Pub, owned by a member of the Lane family  next door to the building we now know as The Ancient House. After staying In Ipswich for a while they ended up in Great Yarmouth.

The Lane Family in Ipswich would have known the Sparrow Family owners of the Ancient House - the Sparrow Family.  John Sutton is convinced the Sparrows owned a couple of Miniatures - one of Charles II - another of Jane Lane....

John is keen to find where the Sparrow Family moved to after it was sold in the 1960's..... to see if they still have this miniature....

Sue Adams talk on Researching House History

Posted by Howard L King on Sun, 21st Oct 2018

At our September Meeting we welcomed Sue Adams, Professional Genealogist and Researcher – to learn all about Researching a House’s History, and steps you can take.

It was fascinating to learn (amongst other things) how many of the slightly obscure terms that are used in property transactions today came about, and how the laws of Property transfer have evolved into a complex topic, with research often involving reading old documents – using yet another skill - palaeography.

Many of the terms used - especially in {Property law go back MANY centuries.

Her description of her talk is:

Property records are an under-used, but potentially very rich, source of information about our ancestors and history of houses. The processes for transfer or inheritance of property produced a range of documents. The type of ownership (tenure) such as freehold or copyhold determines how property was transferred and where records may be found. Learn strategies for finding, interpreting and incorporating property records in your research.


Sue Adams is a professional genealogist based in Norfolk, England, running her own business, Family Folk

Sue completed a Masters degree in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies from the University of Strathclyde and began working as a professional genealogist in 2012.  

She is a member of the Register of Qualified Genealogists, the Association of Genealogists and Researches in Archives, and the Association of Professional Genealogists.  She undertakes family history research for clients, provides one-to-one research advice, writes a blog, and speaks on a range of family history topics.

Attached to this report is a picture of Sue, after the talk helping our Group Secretary Jenny - sort out some questions that Jenny raised.

Report on August Meeting and September Meeting

Posted by Howard L King on Mon, 17th Sep 2018

On Thursday 23rd August, Ipswich Group, Suffolk Family History Society, had a Special Evening when members revealed  successes they have had with their researches – telling the resulting stories . One thing that has happened is that our busy Secretary has been talking to a family in Australia – all about William Fryer, Irish born, Ipswich based General Practitioner. On the 1911 Census,  he was living at Chestnut House, 11, Fore Street, Ipswich with his wife Belinda, and 6 children – all born in Ipswich. This building is now known as The Co-Op Education Centre – where we meet! This informal meeting was also helped others members who were stuck with their researches… suggesting ways forward.

The coincidence above is the sort of result that the Speaker at our next Meeting, Sue Adams, would be interested in…… when she presents “Researching House and Property History”.  Sue, East Anglian member of Registered Genealogists, has trawled through Record Offices and Archives across the UK, and is ideally placed to speak on this topic, helping you progress your researches on where you, or your ancestors, lived.

Ipswich Group next meets on Thursday 27th September at 7:15 p.m. at The Co-Op Education Centre, 11, Fore Street, Ipswich IP4 1JW. The Car Park is behind, in Waterworks Street, IP4 1JG. Entry is £2 members, £2.50 for non-members.

For more information go to www.suffolkfhs.org.uk (under Groups) or call 01473 274300

Eric Thorndyke - Ipswich's Theatres and Cinemas

Posted by Howard L King on Thu, 9th Aug 2018

Eric started at the beginning of Theate in the area - in the 1500's with groups of travelling actors visiting this rich town - including Shakespeares Company (who visited 10 times), and King James 1st Kings Men.

He deftly weaved his way through the years - mentioning that in Puritan Days all Theatres were banned.....

This was followed by a blossoming of Theatre.

In the yard of the Griffin Inn (in the aea off Debenhams and the yard of what became The Crown and Anchor Pub now W.H. Smith's ws a very popular performance area.

There was even a Circus Arena behind The Mullberry Tree Pub. - which held 1400 people.

Others Theatres came and went over the centuries -including one which what became the Salvation Army Citadel - demolished in 1980 - so is still  a building remembered by some of the audience.

Another still fondly recalled was The 1891 built Lyceum Theatre in Carr Street.... which was especially known for Variety  and Music Hall shows on the Bostock Circuit... it became a Cinema in the 1930's and was demolished in the 1980's.

There was the Repertory Theatre in Tower Street which was The Mechanic Hall for a while - Now The Repertory Pub.

The other recent Theatre of note was The Hippodrome in Nicholas Street, near the docks. ... a lovely Theatre inside - designed by Frank Matcham - who also designed The London Palladium, and The Tower Ballroom in Blackpool Tower.

This Theatre had shows which included Phyllis Dixey, Max Miller,  a young Shirley Bassey and Sandy Powell.

He finished his section on Theatres in Ipswich by mentioning the Fall and Rise again of the The Wolsey Theatre (now The NEW Wolsey Theatre) and it's Studio Theatre in George Street.....

Now it was the turn of the Cinemas in the Town.

The first Cinema in the Town was The Picture House in Tavern Street - which ended up with 1100 seats.... ... soon followed by The Empire.... at the top of Princes Street, and The Empire in Fore Street in the 1920's. The Regent, intended as a Cinema, opened in 1929 - it is now known as the Ipswich Gaumont - Eric said that when you next go - admire the art-deco interior.

He then took us through the many Cinemas in the Town... with all their stories.....

He then talked about the conversion of the Corn Exchange Public Hall., and finished with the story of the Ipswich Film Theatre underneath The Corn Exchange.

This was a fascinating talk - well told - and we were surprised by the amount of Research that Eric has done.... he still intends loking for more information... and is particularly looking for interior views of the buildings any of the buildings.

Ipswich Group visit The Mayors Parlour - June 28th

Posted by Howard L King on Fri, 13th Jul 2018

23 members of Ipswich Group had a very pleasant evening , when we visited the Mayors Parlour in Ipswich Town Hall.

This is the Official pleace for the Town Mayor to welcome Groups, both local, national and foreign, and individuals who have done something special for the Town.

The parlour is full of gifts from some of these visitors - some very splendid, others more humble - but all displayed with their associated stories.

In the access corridor to the parlour is a display of photo's of past Mayors, going back many decades - many of the names familiar to our members.

We were given special access to view the Mayors Robes - and the Mayoral symbols of office - amongst these were a huge silver plated Sword, and a large silver plated Mace - both probably from the Victorian era. It was amusing when Andrew asked our Group Treasurer Marion, and her sister Valerie to parade the items. the Sword is probably taller then they are - and the Mace is not much shorter.

We were also lucky to see, and hold, the Ipswich Town Seal, given to the Town by King Richard 1st - in the year 1200... when Ipswich was permitted to hold its own market - probably on the Cornhill area in front of the current Town Hall. The King allowed the Ipswich to hold markets - he then took half the profits, the Town kept the rest to improve the town. It is the oldest item many of us will ever hold.

We were delighted to meet the Current Mayor, Jane Riley, and her consort Adam. It is obvious that the pleasant couple are delighted to be the Town's representative of the Queen - only outranked by the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Lady Euston....  and  are looking forward to meeting many Town Groups and Individuals over Jane's tenure.... we were one of the early ones, and we all had a fascinating evening.

We sincerely thank the Mayor's team, particularly Christine Christenson, and Andrew Beale for their help in setting up the visit.

Ipswich Group Annual Meeting + Parish Registers Ta

Posted by Howard L King on Tue, 19th Jun 2018

Report on the latest Meeting of Ipswich Group, Suffolk family History Society, on Thursday 24th June.

This was the date of our Annual Meeting – when we reviewed the past year – which has been another good one. If any readers want to see who we have had to talk to us…. Please read my previous reports.

We were delighted to welcome Society Chairman, Douglas Howlett.

Over the year we have had some talks – when we almost ran out of seating….. and most talks were not far off that turnout. Even our Annual meeting attracted well over 40. We have built up a friendly group of members who seem to enjoy what we offer them.

Financially we are in a sound position – our Treasurer Marion has been keeping us on the straight and narrow. Our Secretary Jennie has also been busy, not just working on getting Speakers, but also answering queries from Family History Researchers from Britain and around the Globe. The stories that the queries relate to will come out in due course. The rest of our small team have been supporting the Group well over the year, and we were delighted to welcome a new Committee Member at this Meeting.

After the Official Business, we were delighted to welcome local Researcher, Author, and Speaker Vivienne Aldous, who came along with her husband as a “roadie”, to remind us on the best way to use Parish Registers to research our Family Tree… one aspect of her talk was that when looking at Parish Registers…. Don’t assume that the spelling, or even dates, are correct – always try and double check what you read using other information you may come across… also always look at the end of the Records for late additions out of sequence.

As usual – an interesting and fascinating talk from a friendly and knowledgeable Speaker.


Our new Meeting is an outside visit to The Mayors Parlour, in Ipswich Town Hall, where we will meet near the Waitrose entrance at the side of the Town Hall, at 7:30 pm on Thursday 28th June.

At the time of writing this we have only 2 places left!

To book call Howard on 01473 274300 – leaving a message if necessary.

The Mayors Parlour contains many interesting artefacts, Pictures and Photos – relating to the Role of Ipswich Mayor – in one of the oldest continuously inhabited towns in Britain. We will be given a fascinating tour of this small, usually private, area.

Report on David Allens Talk to Ipswich Group.

Posted by Howard L King on Thu, 3rd May 2018

 On Thursday 26th April 2018 Ipswich Group was please to welcome David Allen, who came from South London to speak at our completely full hall to hear all about “Black Teeth and Dirty Fingernails - The Great Unwashed of Victorian London”

This is a dark subject – but was delivered with panache and dry humour – that was well appreciated by the audience

To precis his talk…..

 When we watch films or TV serials of (say) the life of Queen Victoria, or a tale based on the life of her subjects, or read books by Dickens we do get a rather sanitised view of life for the poor – in the biggest City of the Empire – in a London that was in many respects unrecognisable to the London we know today. We are talking of life without Nelson’s Column ( erected in 1843) and Big Ben (erected 1858) –  this was also the period which saw “The Great Stink” which forced a huge improvement to water supplies and waste disposal systems.

London life was a huge struggle for most, where 1 in 5 children died before reaching 5 years, a tooth access could kill, and life

Expectancy for most was 35 – 40 years.

 The background to the story is the rapid expansion of cites (not just London) – as The Industrial Revolution – which killed the traditional “Cottage Industries” drove people into the urban Centres. – this was further increased by over 1 million people coming from Ireland in the 1850’s to escape the Potato Famine.

 Just finding somewhere to sleep was a real issue – with many thousands sleeping in London Parks, or in Doss Houses, where you could rent a bed by the hour – sleeping in a recently vacated coffin shaped bed amongst others. Some people rented 1/8th

 or 1/16 th    of a room, sleeping amongst strangers.

Health care, was almost non – existent for most. If a women was giving birth, some maternity birthing areas had a doctor or midwife going from mother to mother without any hand washing (the water was probably polluted anyway) and using the same instruments on all of them. No wonder women and children died.

 General Surgeons were rated by how quickly they could perform an amputation – some could do this in 30 seconds… probably just as well as painkillers were often just  a good slug of alcohol….

Families were large – to replace those who died young… as children were out earning a crust from a very young age… as Chimney Sweeps or Crossing Sweepers (roads were covered in a sticky concretion of dust, horse droppings (from 10,000 horses in London – and general rubbish.

 For those richer folk, some tried to restrict their families by using crude Condoms – the first being made by Pirelli.

 David then talked about the Sanitation of London – but most of what went on is beyond  a written description!

 Given all of the above – David’s talk was warmly appreciated – with the audience braking into spontaneous applause at the end.

 He was then approached by several people in the audience and asked for his details to speak elsewhere.

It is worth mentioning that the area of Ipswich where the talk was given was the slum area of Ipswich in Victorian Times –

Frank Grace’s  marvellous book “Rags and Bones” summarises the area at the time. Now out of print – it is well worth tracking down a copy or borrowing a copy from Suffolk Libraries.

Report on Joy Bounds Talk

Posted by Howard L King on Mon, 2nd Apr 2018

Report on Ipswich Group Meeting.

Thursday 22nd March 2018

Joy Bounds presented: “The Fight for Votes for Women in and around Ipswich”

On Thursday 22nd March Ipswich Group members met on the Centenary of some women getting the Vote (up to then none had), to hear Joy Bounds tell the story of the fight for the vote by women in Ipswich and the area.

She started by outlining the various stages of the campaign – led in London by Elizabeth Garrett Anderson who came from the Snape and Aldeborough area, in the campaign which started in 1866 – Elizabeth is perhaps better known in Ipswich area by being the first Women Doctor, and later Aldeborough Mayor.

Early campaigning was in the form of raising petitions, getting bigger and bigger year on year, with Ipswich women forming their own Women’s Suffrage Society.

As these petitions had little effect in Parliament, a campaign of civil disobedience started…..

Constance’s campaign of civil disobedience, refusing paying taxes, saw her jailed in Ipswich Women’s prison for short periods… Joy showed pictures of her release, surrounded by crowds of supporters. 

Names of Ipswich area women known to be involved were Harriett Grimwade, organising from the 1870’s, Hortense Lane who came from Cowslip Farm (?) at Witnesham (now The Fynn Valley Golf Course)…. And Constance Andrews, born in Stowmarket (daughter of an architect), who moved to Norwich Road (opposite what is now the YMCA Hostel) – she was  probably previously a school teacher.  She organised a “Votes For Women Day” in a Hall in Bolton Lane in

Constance’s campaign of civil disobedience, refusing paying taxes, saw her jailed in Ipswich Women’s prison for a short period… Joy showed pictures of her release, surrounded by crowds of supporters. 

 Imprisoned women often refused to eat or drink – so were brutally force fed….. often causing them long term medical problems.

 Many avoided being entered on the 3rd April 1911 Census, “No Vote – No Census”– by being way from their normal abode. Women in the area booked over a room in the Original Ipswich Museum (now Arlington’s Restaurant) – staying there overnight.

Her tale carried on – finishing with the burning of the Bath Hotel at Felixstowe, by Florence Tunks and Hilda Burkett, who had come from the Midlands, to do the deed. She showed a picture of the two ladies outside the Felixstowe Court (where the Felixstowe Town Hall is).

Joy, (and the Society) would like to learn of Suffragettes in YOUR Family…. perhaps areas to investigate are Prison Records and Archive copies of local papers - in the Suffolk Records Office. If ladies of the correct age are missing from the 1911 Census – were they deliberately avoiding being listed?

Joy has produced a lovely book entitled “A Song of their Own” – on this topic - which you may like to look out for…..  people can find out more at her website www.joybounds.co.uk, including contact details.

A report on the talk given by Kathy Chater, "Insa

Posted by Howard L King on Mon, 26th Feb 2018

A Short  Report on last Thursday’s Meeting, Ipswich Group, 22nd February


On Thursday 22nd February genealogist, author and history speaker Kathy Chater came along to Ipswich Group, Suffolk Family History Society, and talked about “Insanity” – how people in the past had dealt with this and related issues. She also suggested how family historians can find out what happened to their ancestors who suffered from mental illnesses and disabilities, like epilepsy, which was in the past classified as insanity.

In her talk Kathy looked at mental institutions (“asylums”) in Suffolk.  She mentioned laws that were enforced over time, and some of the rather bizarre treatments that were tried…… including dousing patients in avalanches of water…. and even violently spinning them……..

 Before the arrival of county asylums (like St Audrys at Melton, and St Clements in Ipswich), there were private institutions, usually taking patients at the behest of their families.

The owners of the private institutions did not need to be licensed until 1774 but it was not until 1845 that the listing of county asylums was mandatory…. So becoming somewhat easier to research.

Kathy thinks that most of these asylums, both private and public, usually tried to do their best for their charges, with limited understanding of the causes and the kind of treatments that they had at the time - but there were some abuses. Her book, My Ancestor Was a Lunatic, is published by the Society of Genealogists and gives more details about the subject.

She mentioned useful websites for people to research more:

Index of English & Welsh asylums and hospitals


County asylums


Hospital Records Database

www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ hospitalrecords/

News and reports of group actitvities

Posted by Howard L King on Thu, 15th Oct 2015

On 24th September, Ipswich Branch, Suffolk Family History Society welcomed Beverley Cooper, who travelled from Norfolk to tell us the story of how she and a friend followed "In the Footsteps of our Fathers" from their fathers D Day (June 1994) landings in Europe, fighting their way up through France and Belgium, to the conclusion of their stories in the Arnhem area of Holland.
As a child Beverley and the rest of her family went on Camping Trips to the area... sleeping 5 to a tent .... but she took little notice of her father's stories.... It wasn't till after his death that she, and an Australian friend, started seriously retracing their Father's steps.
Her talk, notable in many respects, showed, time and again, how the locals of the area their father's visited still vividly remember the times of liberation, some remembered their Fathers... how many friends the soldiers made with local families. Full of emotional stories, and some rather alcohol laced re-unions, Beverly recalled what their fathers went through, how their fighting exploits are remembered, particularly with the 1st Battalion (43rd) Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. She gave details of some of the actual actions they took part in.... and how this
affected her Father in later life.

To see our latest newsletter, please click the file link at the bottom of this page.

Note: due to the extra costs involved for the Speakers, Admission for the November and December Meetings will be £3 for members, £3.50 for non-members



On Thursday 22nd October, Ipswich Branch, The Suffolk Family History Society were delighted to welcome Fred Feather, ably supported by his Wife Heather. Fred is perhaps better known as the Editor of "The Essex Family Historian" for members of The Essex Family History Society.
 Between them they delivered a fascinating romp around Fred and Heather's Family Trees. Their Ancestors, with their antics and achievements, enabled Fred to introduce us to a couple of Circus performers. Another was named in a book"Heroes of Britain" for taking part in the grueling Expedition to find out what happened to Franklin's fateful Expedition to find The North West Passage, around northern Canada. 
A further relative was killed in "The Bulwark Disaster"... when all the ammunition on a Battleship of the same name blew itself to bits on the Kent coast on 26th November 1914...  Edward Stanley Gibbons (of Stamp Collecting fame), married 5 times... with some of his wives suffering somewhat mysterious deaths.... Edward Stanley himself died in the Savoy Hotel ...  (which is almost opposite the present Stanley Gibbons Shop on The Strand in London) his body being taken from the building  rolled in a blanket, so as not to upset other hotel patrons!
All these tales, and much more, were put into the public domain, by the painstaking research of Fred and Heather Feather... highlighting, how, with luck and perseverance, you can find fascinating tales about your forebears.

On Thursday 19th November Ian Waller presented his talk "You may wish you had never started this!" to members of Ipswich Branch, Suffolk Family History Society.

His talk went through the whole area of efficiently and effectively Researching your Family Tree ... with many Hints, tips and reminders of useful research techniques... and the useful role that local Family History Societies play in helping people with their researches. 

He stressed on the importance of keeping accurate records - including where different facts were found - so that you don't repeat your researches. 

We were advised to treat online"Ancestry Public Trees" very cautiously - as there is "much rubbish", and perhaps wishful thinking, on this site.

He paid particular attention to "backing up" your information and family tree... remembering that  modern digital storage (eg DVD's, USB Sticks etc, Hard Drives) have only got a finite life - so back up regularly. Also consider how you will pass this information on when you pass on! Some people actually pass the results of their researches to Organisations such as The Society of Genealogists.

 The ultimate, and most long lasting record keeping medium is (perhaps unsurprisingly) using Pencil and Paper - provided you store the Paper in the right way!  

He gave us lots to consider !


On December 17th 2015, Ipswich Branch, Suffolk Family History Society, welcomed Eve Regelous to present her entertaining talk on the History of Harrods., and what it is like to work for this iconic Knightsbridge Store. Eve worked for about 10 years as an Events organiser for the firm. She gave the History of the store, from its founder Charles Henry Harrod who was thought to have been born at Lexdon in 1799... to his first store in 1841 in Stepney... to today's store in Knightsbridge, with 6 floors, 40 lifts, 5000 members of staff, and own water supply from an artesian well. The store averages 20,00 customers a day - in peak periods, with the choice 35 restaurants and a Pub.

She revealed some of its well known customers... for instance Alfred Hitchcock... who loved their Cream so much that he had a pot of English Cream sent to America every month.... and A.A. Milne who  bought a stuffed bear and called him "Winny the Poo". 

Eve mentioned some Events she was involved with... for instance the windows of one celebrating British fashion Week... when 44 ballet Dresses were put on display. Christmas is a major time - with 12 father Christmas.There was a Special Exhibition about Diana Princess of Wales.... which was a huge hit with Japanese tourists.... There is insufficient space to go thorough the marvellous talk that Eve gave, which was really enjoyed by our members and visitors.


On Thursday January 28th, Ipswich Branch, had a large turnout of Suffolk Family History Society members and visitors heard  Robin Durrell ask: "Can I see your Papers?".

Robin has spent many years researching Military History, using a mass of different military related documents to help trace military histories. A lot of these documents and the archives outlined are also useful to family historians.

Robin led us a canter through military archives..... many of which are held at (for instance) The National Archives at Kew,  in such as Registers of Effect of Soldiers who died in World War 1,  and War Diary collections, as well as specialised collections held elsewhere such as Red Cross Prisoners of War letters and Identity papers. The wide range of documents that survive is surprising.... far too many to mention here...... Remember that despite adverts on TV and online... only about 10% of useful records are available "on-line" so need dedicated personal research, often paying off. 

His detailed talk ranged from the Battle of Trafalgar to the 1939-45 War. Robin nicely interspersed stories of what he had found. One tale was of a baby born on board a British warship at the Battle of Trafalgar, who later claimed the Trafalgar Medal - this is in the records. Following the talk Robin was overwhelmed with requests of help and advice from members of the audience.



On Thursday 24th March members and their friends of Ipswich Branch, Suffolk Family History Society met to hear all about "Maritime Woodbridge" presented by Bob Merrett, Custodian of Woodbridge Museum.

Some of those present may have thought they knew the story of this aspect of this lovely Suffolk Town. We were soon put right and learnt the story from the earliest records of the Port and the Town....From first records in the 1200's.... through the medieval times when the port and town started to grow commercially, and becoming particularly vibrant in the early to mid 1500's... The first Customs House was built in 1589 to apply taxes on Imported goods. Trade did suffer from piracy in the North Sea(!) in the 1650's to 1670's, but continued reasonably well until the arrival of the Railway in 1849, and was particularly hit by the repeal of The Corn Laws in the 1851-1861 period which flooded this country with cheap corn. 

Bob explained how the river front we know and love today evolved. He is looking forward to the redevelopment of the Whisstocks Boat Yard area.. which will tidy up the whole area. This will incorporate a new Woodbridge Museum.. to better explain the Town to visitors. His talk provoked a nice stream of questions and comments, and was very well received. 



On Thursday  28th April, Maurice Clarke, founder of "The Heir Hunters Association" attracted a Full House to The monthly Meeting of Ipswich Branch, Suffolk Family History Society.

He outlined the role of the Association - being to help Heir Hunters in their quest to trace beneficiaries of deceased peoples unclaimed estates - particularly in intestate Estates - where no will has been made. At any one time in excess of 13,000 estates are unclaimed.

In his fascinating and informative talk - Maurice explained many of the issues that need to be addressed to help find unknowing Heirs benefit  from these estates - uniting money to those entitled  to receive (in many cases) small windfalls..... or even larger ones!


At  our recent Meeting, on Thursday 26th May - we had our Branch A.G.M. - which passed quickly and without incident.......

Then we had a fascinating talk given by Micheal Holland, entitled "Weavers, Higglers and Moze Makers"..... all about obscure occupations - most of which have now passed into history - which Family History Researchers may come across as they research the lives and work of their forebears. Other occupations mentioned included brewers of Beer, who brewed in the back of their Cottage and sold it at the Front... and makers of Suffolk Cheese... and Newspaper Retailers - who also, in a couple of cases, were local Agents selling Fire Insurance policies!


On Thursday 16th June, over 35 members of the Ipswich Branch, Suffolk Family History Society, met at The Suffolk Police Headquarters, for a private tour and view of the Suffolk Police Museum.

This large fascinating collection of photo’s  and artefacts, funded by visitor donations, and not normally open to the public, kept us enthralled until about 9:30…  all followed by refreshments. The knowledgeable and friendly guides – all volunteeers, - completed a lovely evening – even more for our members – all amateur family historians…. who really appreciated the informative, wide ranging, entertaining display.


Our last meeting, was on Thursday 28th July, when we welcomed Sheila M Wright, who talked to us about using “Tact and Diplomacy in Family Research” – she used her fascinating books, telling stories of Suffolk villages and families, as a hook to advise us on how best to approach people to tell their local and family stories.


Mervyn Russen came to the Thursday 22nd September Meeting of Ipswich Branch, Suffolk Family History to present his talk “The Railway to Ipswich and beyond”.

Obviously his talk hit a chord, as we had the biggest turnout we have had for a long while… nearly full capacity.

We were treated to a fascinating talk, on the trials and tribulations of getting the Railway, firstly just up to Ipswich, to the first Station located at Croft Street, near Station Street, to the south side of Stoke Hill, and then to the Station current site, and on across Suffolk.

He explained the huge amount of effort involved on tunneling through Stoke Hill, using mainly just muscle and sweat. The first stage of the work was to drop three shafts vertically through the hill and then tunnel the slightly curving tunnel sideways at the bottom, joining the bottom of the shafts. One problem they encountered, and still have to deal with, is flooding with spring water. Using photos Mervyn showed comparatively recent work to check out what remains of the vertical shafts. Later he met someone in the audience whose house was adjacent to one of these! Often during the talk the name Peter Schyler Bruff came up…. It was Bruff's dream for the London to Colchester line to carry on as far as Ipswich but the railway company did not have sufficient funds, This was down to John Chevallier Cobbold, who formed EUR, the Eastern Union Railway, using Bruff’s surveying work, enabling work to start, including the 361yd (330 m) tunnel through Stoke Hill by Ipswich Station. His work was more recently acknowledged in an engraved perspex panel in the Foyer of Ipswich Station – however It is understood that this had been taken down about 5 years ago, and returned to the artist. Perhaps now is the time to return this for re-display.  Bruff also went on to other things – using his skills and energy to develop Clacton as a seaside resort.

We were all very appreciative of Mervyn’s detailed research on this topic….. and the very entertaining talk he gave……. This is borne out by the other bookings he has since taken to give this talk to other local groups……


 Regarding the Ipswich Branch Meeting of Thursday 28th September....

We are having a Talk by The Ipswich War Memorial Project.... Who have done a huge amount of work researching the Lives (and deaths) of  those on the War Memorial in Christchurch Park.

At this talk they will explain the Project - but will also try and help members of the audience who are intersetd in a particular person on the War Memorial.

So - if you have someone listed on the memorial - please tell Howard king, and howard.king1@outlook.com. as soon as possible, with as much information as you have..
This will be forwarded to the Ipswich War Memorial Project - but PLEASE let me have this information as soon as you can!


Howard King 01473 274300


22/10/2015Up my Family Tree
Up my Family Tree
Fred Feather
19/11/2015You may wish you had never started this
Keeping Effective research Records on a Computer is a sticking point for many people researching their Family Trees. This talk examines how to keep good records, looking at ways to overcome research challenges, turning negatives into positives.
Ian Waller
17/12/2015A History of Harrods - The Palace in Knightsbridge
NOTE: DATE is a week earlier than normal..... due to the Christmas Holiday!
Professional Events Organiser Eve worked closely with Harrods for almost a decade, and now gives a unique insight into this World famous Company.
Eve Regeleous
28/01/2016Can I see your Papers?'
All about using Military Documents to help trace your Family story. Bring along any documents or printouts you may have been given or have come across.
Robin Durrell
25/02/2016Giles (The Cartoonist)and his adopted Town - Ipswich
A description of cartoonist Carl Giles, his life, the degree which Ipswich and Suffolk locations form many cartoon settings. Local charities and groups he supported with free cartoons and drawings. How Ipswich celebrates this national figure.
John Field
24/03/2016The History of Maritime Woodbridge
This talk - given by the Custodian of Woodbridge Museum - cover the fascinaiting story of Maritime Woodbridge" - a lovely waterfront to explore - but do you know all it's story?
Dr Bob Merrett
28/04/2016The World of the Heir Hunter - A Lifetime Challenge.
Thursday 28th April: Maurice is coming from Rugby. He looks at what a heir hunter and intestacy is. Maurice outlines how heirs are traced, estates claimed and administered. Entry fee £3 members, £3.50 non members
Maurice Clarke - who founded the Heir Hunters Association (HHA) in 2009 and is a Director of the Federation of Probate and Asset Researchers
26/05/2016“Weavers Higglers and Moze Makers.”
Short Branch AGM New Branch Secretary reqd. THEN - Talk about workers in 18/19 C English towns. Based on a Halstead Parish Overseer 1831 Census, detailing names, addresses, occupations, of labourers & artisans. Entry fee £3 members, £3.50 non members
Michael Holland
16/06/2016Visit to Suffolk Constabulary Museum at Martlesham Heath Suffolk Police HQ - NOW FULL
NOTE CHANGE OF DATE £2 per head when booking. The Museum needs numbers/names in advance. The Police H.Q. is a Secure Site. Your money donated to Police Charity. Bus, Drive – or Car Share – sorted at previous Meetings. 01473 274300 for booking etc
Special Visit to this Museum - rarely seen by the Public at 7:30 p.m.
28/07/2016"Tact and Diplomacy in Family Research"
Researching your Family History can occasionally cause ripples (or worse) in the Family..... Sheila presents an entertaining talk on what could perhaps happen - and how to avoid problems.
Sheila M Wright
22/09/2016"The Railway to Ipswich and Beyond"
A fascinating talk about how the Railway arrived in Ipswich and spread across East Anglia... and the impact it had......
Mervyn Russen
24/09/2016EARLY NOTICE Family History Fair and Society AGM
10:00 to 4:00p.m. FREE ENTRY and hopefully FREE CAR PARKING University Campus Suffolk, Waterfront Building, Neptune Quay, Ipswich Waterfront IP4 1QJ. The Theme: T.B.A... Return to the main Society website to find out more as the Event evolves.
Annual Family History Fair - Bigger and Better than EVER
27/10/2016The History of Advertising
Advertising goes back further than you think! Coming closer to today - you come across adverts in Directories, old Newspapers, and the flood of adverts we are bombarded with today. Your forbears may have placed such adverts or even appear in them!
Stuart Bowell
24/11/2016Cakes, Ales, Partying, Feasting, and Fundraising in Medieval Suffolk.
The title says it all... but does not give full justice to a fascinating and entertaining talk.
Kate Jewell
09/12/2016Special pre-Christmas Talk The Victorian Ghost Hunter - PLEASE NOTE EARLY FRIDAY DATE
Special Talk - DIFFERENT DATE. FRIDAY NIGHT 16th December 2016 @ 7:30 p.m. Normal Venue. Meet a Victorian Ghost Hunter. Look at the tools of his trade. Hear of the Society for Psychical Research founded 1882, Cambridge and Edmund Gurneys strange tale.
Andrew Selwyn
26/01/2017Members Evening - telling us: Family Tales, Family Heirlooms and Black Sheep
If it helps, call Howard 01473 274300 and discuss. Each talk abt 10 min. For a Laptop, we have a Digital projector + a Visualiser , (Overhead projector with a camera); projecting the image. Afterwards discuss Research problems,suggesting solutions.
Mainly Ourselves
23/02/2017Victoria and her Children - The Ultimate Family Tree - by Breda Stringer
Queen Victoria.... whose children married into Royal Famlies across Europe.... Her descendants STILL influence Europe in one way or another! A fascinating Family Story.
Breda Stringer
23/03/2017The De-la-Pole Family - Dukes of Suffolk... the Family Story.
A grim tale telling how Frances researched what really happened to a relative, who survived the Burma Railway... but talked little of his experiences. How she used little known records and archives etc. A part of history we should never forget!
Steven Govier
27/04/2017"Fig Leaves, Farthingales and Fiches" - what your ancestors wore - with a few surprises!
A light-hearted evening of frolics and fun....
Frances Saltmarsh
25/05/2017Sex and War - American G.Is in Suffolk in WW2
Lucy has Researched the effect American G.Is (particularly coloured ones) had in East Anglia, meeting local ladies, fathering children in wartime. The consequences for the parents and the children. Telling fascinating stories, with some happy endings.
Prof. Lucy Bland (Anglia Ruskin University)
22/06/2017Day Trip to The National Archives at Kew - for records not held anywhere else!
Special Coach Day out , - leaving Martlesham Heath Shoppers Car Park 06:30, Tesco Copdock Bus Stop, Capel St Mary A12 slip Road Bus stop. Price £25/person. Book NOW. Call Howard 01473 274300, e-mail howard.king1@outlook.com
Organiser Howard King 01473 274300
27/07/2017A Short History of Shopping - (particularly relating to the Ipswich area).
Looking at the Shopping in the Ipswich area.... Do you remember Ridleys, Martin and Newbys, Footmans, John Colliers...... The list goes on and on. Wallow in nostalgia, in an era before the Internet. Did your family work in or own a shop in the area.
Linda Sexton
NO MEETING IN AUGUST PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL MEETINGS FROM NOW ON WILL START SLIGHTLY EARLIER - at 7:15. We aim to finish and Clear the building by 9:30. This is due to changes in the Security procedures at The Co-Op Education Centre!
28/09/2017The Ipswich War Memorial Project
Team members will explain this extensive Project - researching Ipswich War Memorial Great War deaths. They will also highlight some life stories. If you want to know more about anyone listed - contact 01473 274300 before the Meeting.
Members of The Ipswich War Memorial Team
30/09/2017Suffolk family History Society - Family History Fair
FREE ENTRY 10-00 - 4:00. University of Suffolk, Waterfront,. Ipswich.. Topline Speakers. Free Research area with on-line and personal help breakdown Research Brick Walls. Stands,stalls, displays. More info elsewhere on this website, or call 01473 274300.
Suffolk Family History Society - Annual Family History Fair
26/10/2017An Armchair Walk on "Remarkable Ipswich Women";
Looking in detail at Special Ipswich Women - many on Blue Plaques around the town. You probably know the Plaques - now find out the stories. Be prepared for some surprises.
Ann Day
23/11/2017Duleep Singh - The Story of an Indian Prince in Rural splendour at Elvedon in Suffolk
The fascinating story of an Indian Sikh Prince living in Splendour in a Large Suffolk House. A Story of Pomp and Ceremony... and a tinge of sadness..... How did he fit in with the British aristocracy, and what became of him?
Stephen Govier
14/12/2017Entertaining General History and Family History Quiz - plus your favourite Family Photo.
NOTE Thurs 14th December - An entertaining, light hearted evening of bonhomie, amusement and a mince-pie, with a few prizes.. Be amazed at what you know, learn something you didnt. Bring Favourite labelled Family Photo, which may win a prize.
Mainly Ourselves
25/01/2018A Look at "Ipswich Treasures" - things to notice as you perambulate our fine Town.
There are many hidden jems around Ipswich. John, who is an expert on Ipswich and Suffolk Buildings... will entertain us by telling us more about his favourites. You may never look at Ipswich in the same way again.,
John Field (who recently presented his talk "Cartoonist Carl Giles' Ipswich" to a packed audience.)
22/02/2018Insanity - How Previous generations (particularly the Victorians) dealt with this issue..
Kathy Chater.... Nationally Known Genealogical Researcher and Author, comes from London. She will explain how earlier generations recorded this issue for us to find. She has promised to look at the records for St. Audreys, and St. Clements for examples.
Kathy Chater, Nationally Known Genealogical Researcher and Author, is coming from London.
22/03/2018A Song of their Own - The Fight for Votes for Ipswich Women.
Joy is a well known local Researcher and Author..... who has produced a Book on this Topic..... Perhaps a lady i your Family Tree participated in this Campaign - and chained herself to railings outside County Hall or elsewhere.
Joy Bounds
25/04/2018Charles II, Jane Lane, and the Mystery of The Ancient House
London was a magnet for people from Victorian Suffolk , often thinking they were going to live in a better place. But often lived in cramped, overcrowded, vermin ridden slums, with hunger, crime and filthy water “normal”.
John Sutton
26/04/2018Black Teeth and Dirty Fingernails, the Great Unwashed of Victorian London.
An Entertaining Talk, with the Speaker coming from South London.All about the poorer side of Victorian london - this could be the life experienced by your ancestors who left Suffolk to fine their fortune in London - only to be dissapointed!
David Allen
24/05/2018AGM - Followed by "Looking at and using Parish Registers".
Viviene, Ipswich based Professional Genealogist, (often at The Suffolk Records Offices), tells us more about what Parish Records can reveal - with tips on using them in your researches.
Viviene Aldis
28/06/2018Outside Visit to see The Ipswich Town Hall Mayors Parlour, Ipswich Town Hall
Visit - Mayors Parlour, Ipswich Town Hall. The story of Civic Ipswich over many centuries. See the Civic Regalia, see fascinating pictures and photos, hear the stories. Guided by The Town Sergeant. Numbers restricted. Booking at the March Meeting .
An Outside Visit to The Mayors Parlour - Ipswich Town Hall
26/07/2018Ipswich Cinemas and Theatres
There were far more Theatres and Cinemas in Ipswich than you may think. Come and find out where they were - when they were open - and who was linked to them........ There are some people that will surprisingly recognise or recall.
Eric Thorndyke
23/08/2018A Members Research Evening - with helpful resources and Advice.
A Members Research Evening - with helpful resources and Advice. Why not come along and tell us a short story from your researches. Flagging up your basic problems beforehand may be a good idea!
Mainly yourselves.....
27/09/2018Researching House and Property History at 7:15
Sue, East Anglian based member of the Association of Registered Genealogists, has trawled through records at Records Offices and Archives across the UK. She is ideally placed to pass on tips and hints on the topic. Go further with your researches.
Sue Adams
25/10/2018"Hidden Presences at Ipswich's Ancient House: The King and the Maid", Ipswich at 7:15
A little known story, researched by John Sutton... on Charles II, a lady called Jane Lane, and the iconic Ipswich Building, The Ancient House... Many will think they know all about this iconic Ipswich landmark - but do you really?
John Sutton
22/11/2018The Fun and Fascination of Churches (at 7:15 p.m.)
A fascinatinating, entertaining Evening, with Ipswich's very own Roy Tricker - awarded the MBE in the 2018 New Years Honours Lists ( for his work helping to preserve Suffolk's glorious Churches) - who will give us a whistle-stop tour of his favorites....
Roy Tricker
27/12/2018No Meeting this Month
No meeting this Month - see you at the January meeting.....
No Meeting this Month
24/01/2019"The History of the Suffolk Fire Service"
More details nearer the date. For more information on this talk call 01473 274300 Preferably from October 2018 onwards.
Chris Turland
28/02/2019The Medical contribution to mortality decline in Ipswich from 1851 to 1911
Ever puzzled why the death rate started to fall from 1851 in Ipswich? - Come and find out more... Is it a coincidence that Anne has zeroed in on the Census years 1851 to 1911... perhaps she has dug deep into records we dont look in.
Dr Anne Folan
28/03/2019The Suffolk Bevin Boys (conscripted Coal Miners) in WW2
more details nearer the date.
Barbara McElory
25/04/2019Talk t.b.c. soon
23/05/2019The Local Co-op - from Ipswich to the East of England - a Growth Story......
This talk will follow our (very brief) AGM
Percy Lomax
27/06/2019A Group day out
Details tbc
Details TBC


For further details on the programme you should contact

Mrs Jenny Rawlinson (Ipswich Branch Secretary)

10, Carlford Court,

112, Parliament Road,

 Ipswich IP4 5EL  

01473 902367

e-mail: jennyrawlinson@hotmail.com
Howard King (Chairman)
01473 274300
or by Email:  howard.king1@outlook.com

Group Contact

Mrs Jenny Rawlinson (Ipswich Branch Secretary)

10, Carlford Court,

112, Parliament Road,

 Ipswich IP4 5EL  

01473 902367

e-mail: jennyrawlinson@hotmail.com
Howard King (Chairman)
01473 274300
or by Email:  howard.king1@outlook.com

Group Projects

The War Memorials of Ipswich Villages

There is a memorial book, compiled in 2003 by Jennifer Jones, in the Parish Church, containing photographs of the graves or memorials of most of the men of the North Samford Benefice (Belstead, Bentley, Burstall, Copdock & Washbrook, Sproughton and Tattingstone) who died in the First World War.

The information in this document was researched by Martin Edwards 2003, with additional information researched by Jean Austin 2006.


The War Memorial stands on a road junction and is in the form of a memorial cross; it was first unveiled on 28th November 1921. The Cross was designed by H Munro Cautley, architect, writer and the greatest connoisseur of East Anglian churches. EE Saunders of Ipswich erected the Cross. 

To see a list of men on the memorials click here.


Celtic Cross War Memorial in the centre of the village;  Roll of Honour in the Church.

To see a list of men on the memorials click here.


Memorial window in the Church;  Roll of Honour in the Village Hall.

To see a list of men on the memorials click here.

Copdock and Washbrook

1914-1918:  War Memorial in Copdock Church;  Roll of Honour, formerly in Washbrook Chapel (current whereabouts not known). 1939-1945: Memorial stone in Copdock Churchyard.

To see a list of men on the memorials click here.


War memorial in the Church;  Roll of Honour in the Vestry.

To see a list of men on the memorials click here.


Memorial plaques in the Church for both First World War and Second World War.

To see a list of men on the memorials click here.


The brass plaque in church.

To see a list of men on the memorials click here.

Ransomes and Rapier War Memorial

Prior to being located in Bourne Park, the memorials were on the wall outside the canteen area (overlooking the bowling green) of the Waterside Works.  The memorial to employees killed in the First World War was unveiled on 8 January 1921 and was initially in the ‘billiard room’.  The company – which had extensive premises off the Wherstead Road, including in ‘Rapier Street’ – was closed down in 1987 (and the site is now largely redeveloped).  The three sided memorial was erected in Bourne Park in 1988 – one side commemorates the employees who died in the First World War, one side those who (including civilian employees) were killed or missing in the Second World War and the third side commemorates Richard Stokes, who was long associated with the company as Chairman and Managing Director.

To see a list of men on the memorials click here.