Wickhambrook Local History Society

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Crime reports for around Wickhambrook
Crime updates for January

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Wickhambrook Local History Society Reports


Two groups of History Society members enjoyed trips to Colchester in June to see the Roman Circus.

This is not a circus with clowns and acrobats, but a chariot racing arena which made national news headlines when it was discovered in 2001. When the MOD built new accommodation for the army in Colchester the land they had previously used for barracks etc was sold to builders but as Colchester is an important Roman site, extensive excavations took place and archaeologists were thrilled to discover this massive site underneath modern Colchester.

At 450 metres long and 80 metres wide, it is the biggest circus in north- west Europe and it has been sympathetically interpreted by the Archaeology Trust. It would be impossible to recreate the whole thing, but the gates, part of the track and the obelisk have been revealed and a model and video of how it would have looked is available in the Visitors 'Centre.

Howard Brookes, who has been involved with the project from the beginning, was our guide for the morning and with a bit of imagination, we all agreed that this had been – and still is – an amazing find.

In July, a small group of members visited Sturmer. The weather was perfect and strolling around this pretty village in the cool of the evening was perfect. We were met at the village hall by Jo Porth and other members of their history group and walked past listed brick and flint railway cottages, ancient stone barns which once belonged to Abbots Farm and a beautiful Georgian house, The Old Rectory , which is where the famous Sturmer Pippin apple was first bred.We headed in the other direction, admiring thatched cottages and hearing stories about former in habitants. We walked up the tree-lined drive to the church where we heard of its building and history before admiring Sturmer Hall, now a venue for weddings and concerts. Back at the village hall we enjoyed tea and cake and had a chance to look at old photographs.

Sturmer received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to set up a History Trail and leaflets for this are available by the garden centre near the church. I recommend this to all who are interested in village history.

Next meeting – Tuesday 20th September. 'Ghosts and Ghouls from Suffolk and beyond 'by Sheila Wright.

Special Event – Saturday 1st October, Antiques Roadshow with Barrie Stevenson. Watch out for posters

Tuesday 18th October – Death, Sex and Drugs – the story of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood with Geoffrey Kay.

Please watch out for posters around the village, or contact Gillian – 820052 or Jackie – 820108 for more information.

Dorothy Anderson

Events and News

Tuesday 20th February
Local History Society - Our next meeting is on Tuesday 20th February when Sarah Doig will talk on East Anglian almshouses. All welcome. Look out for posters or check the village website.


Baileys of Wickhambrook

This poem was given to Dorothy by one of our members and is to be included in a book later this year
Poem | Baileys of Wickhambrook

Wickhambrook Parish Records

The Wickhambrook Parish Records are currently being digitised and updated.  If you have any information you may be able to add or help fill in some of the gaps, please contact Paul Saunders.

View the Parish Records document here

Photos and Press Cuttings

We have had some fascinating photos and press cuttings sent to us which you can see by having a look at the pdf group images in the gallery

View Gallery

Dorothy Anderson is awarded a Diamond Champion - read more here

Short Straw by Jennifer Bell

At the launch party at The Cherry Tree on 20th September, Jenny Bell told us how she had found diaries and notes written by her father-in- law Frances Bell and realised that this would make a wonderful book. It has taken her several years to produce but the finished volume makes fascinating reading for the people of Wickhambrook and Stradishall. Frances was the younger brother of Adrian Bell, the well-known writer of Corduroy, Silverley and The Cherry Tree among others. His books were very popular in the thirties and forties for their depiction of farming life in East Anglia. Frances went off to Argentina when a young man and learned much about land use and farming there before returning to this area where he worked for the charismatic fruit grower Justin Brooke, a major employer in the area. He ended up running the fruit growing side of the business, marrying and bringing up a family here, before differences between him and his employer caused him to leave and try his ideas elsewhere in the region. The book is much more than just a farming memoir. Frances was a real character, very popular with the men who worked for him,and enjoyed a glass of beer and played the accordion. It was lovely to see so many former employees of the Brooke empire at Clopton Hall chatting and reminiscing with members of the Bell family. Martin Bell ,the journalist, who is a cousin of the author's husband, has written an introduction to the book and he spoke at the book launch too. The Cherry Tree pub, former home of the Bells, laid on a lovely teatime spread. The book is available in local bookshops or from Larks Press, Ordnance Farmhouse,Guist Bottom, Dereham NR20 5PF for £10 and is an excellent read.

Local History Society photos

History Society visit to

Our Committee

For information about the Society or events please contact either the Secretary or Events Secretary.

The main committee is as follows:

Chairman Dorothy Anderson
01440 820376
Secretary &
Events Secretary
Gillian Cooper
01440 820052
Treasurer Pam Miller
01440 820696

Members Information

Membership costs £8 per year payable in April  plus 50p for each meeting.

Guests are always very welcome - £2 per occasion.

Meetings held at 7.30pm in the W.I. Hall.

Library - The library is now all set up at the Primary School. Please let us know your views on this. (Little Bradley trip - we have bought Wendy Barnes' book for the library).

Adobe pdf document Discover the Paintings you Own - The Hidden Heritage of Suffolk Revealed by the Public Catalogue Foundation

and now for some interesting Historical Facts from the 1500's ...

2017 Reports

2016 Reports

2015 Reports

2014 Reports

2013 Reports

2012 Reports

2011 Reports

2010 Reports

2009 Reports

2008 Reports

2007 Reports

2006 Reports

2005 Reports

2004 Reports

Useful links and information


link Suffolk Observatory

link Suffolk Family History Society

link Suffolk Local History Council

link Suffolk Surnames - Information, help and advice for anyone researching their Suffolk Roots

link I have had a letter from the East Anglian Film Archive with details of DVDs which may be of interest to you. You can look online at archivefilmshop.co.uk and type HISTSOC into the discount box. Their Phone no. is 01603 251744. Please tell them which Hist Soc you belong to when you call (Dorothy)

link Many will know that The National Archives gives regular talks on various aspects of family history at the PRO in Kew. Less well known is that they're now available to replay online. Very easy to listen to, providing you've got broadband.

link The Family and Community Historical Research Society

link The Archive CD Books Project

link Doctors who practised in Wickhambrook up until 1900 - Suffolk Medical Biographies website - type in 'Wickhambrook' in the 'place of practice' box and then 'search'.