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 monthly meetings are held at:

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

The Car Park is behind the building, and is  accessed from Waterworks Street IP4 1JG

ALL MEETINGS START at 7:15 p.m., and finish at 9:30  as we have to vacate the building by 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 when the Co-op Education Centre is closed !

NOTE: We go on an Outside Visit for our June Meeting, we do Meeting 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.

 The talks cost £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, if you contact us first, 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.

We have also started to hold informal Research Help meetings - which talk place on a Friday afternoon in the middle of Ipswich. We will have to "book you in" so if you want to know more - e-mail


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 J A Wenham (Secretary)
23 La Salle Close, Ipswich, Suffolk IP2 8NA
Tel: 01473 601437
Howard King (Chairman)
01473 274300
or by Email:

Last Modified on 28/05/2020 by K Pulford


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.



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
25/02/2016Cartoonist "Giles in Ipswich
Cartoonist Carl Giles lived for many years at Witnesham, just outside Ipswich, and had a Studio in central Ipswich which overlooks the place where "Giles "Grandma" Statue now stands.
John Field
24/03/2016Maritime Woodbridge
This is a general talk on the History of Woodbridge.
Dr Bob Merrett


For further details on the programme you should contact

Mrs J A Wenham (Secretary)
23 La Salle Close, Ipswich, Suffolk IP2 8NA
Tel: 01473 601437
Howard King (Chairman)
01473 274300
or by Email:

Group Contact

Mrs J A Wenham (Secretary)
23 La Salle Close, Ipswich, Suffolk IP2 8NA
Tel: 01473 601437
Howard King (Chairman)
01473 274300
or by Email:

Group Projects


Ipswich_Group_News_Mar_2014 (.pdf) - Uploaded 24/10/2015