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Alde Valley Suffolk Family History Group

Alde Valley Suffolk Family History Group Programme 2018

The Family History Research Centre 

The Group runs an informal family history Research Centre in Leiston.  It is in the Leiston Council offices, open to all — members and non-members — free of charge. 

Opening times are 10 a.m. to 12 noon on the first and third Saturday mornings of each month.  It can also be open on Wednesdays, by prior appointment — but if you wish to request such an appointment, please contact our Secretary, Angela Skelcher, on 01728 830949 or 

The Research Centre contains much local information which is not available online, including graveyard catalogues for Benhall, Saxmundham, Leiston, Eastbridge, Aldringham and Sutton, censuses, directories, information on local war memorials, books and historic maps.  We have a large number of CDs and microfiches of local interest — in fact, we hold a wide variety of records for Suffolk and other counties.  An index is available.  

There are also computers with internet, a printer and a scanner. 

Experienced family history researchers are present to give assistance if required.  The Group looks forward to helping you with your research, including the guilty pleasure of tracing those elusive black sheep!

The Research Centre is upstairs in the old Council Offices, Main Street, Leiston, IP16 4ER, in the same building as, and to the right of, the Library, opposite the Long Shop Museum.  Please note that access is by a steep staircase.  You can park outside free of charge for one hour, or there's an “unlimited” free car park in Valley Road — go straight down past Barclays Bank and it's 100 yards or so on the right.

To gain access to the Research Centre on a Saturday morning, you will need to ring the doorbell, and wait for one of the volunteers on duty to 'run' down the stairs to welcome you and let you in — we keep the door locked to deter nefarious intruders.

Visitors are always most welcome.


15th October: What's in a Name? 7.30pm
Those who were fortunate enough to hear Peter and Liz Davidson talking about Barnados Children in Suffolk a year ago to the Alde Valley Suffolk Family History Group will be pleased to hear that Liz will be back with a different talk in October.

Liz spent her working life as a primary school teacher, dividing her time in the last 20 years of her career between special needs support for children with problems such as dyslexia, and tutoring visiting school groups at Thornham Field Centre.  She has been researching her family history for about 20 years, starting with an attempt to prove a family story and expanding into a one-name study.  "What's in a Name: Cod, Ships and Capable Women" shows how an apparently simple question has become a look at various aspects of social history and uncovered a range of characters, some of whom travelled a long way.
WEDNESDAY 21st November 2.30pm "Summerhill - That Dreadful School - memories of Leiston and Summerhill School” 
- a talk by  Zoё Readhead.
The November meeting of the Alde Valley Suffolk Family History Group will be a talk by  Zoё Readhead,  the current Principal of Summerhill school.  Summerhill was founded by A.S Neill in Germany in 1921 and  arrived in Leiston in 1927, taking up residence in “Newhaven", the house that Richard Garrett built for his family. Although controversial, Leiston and Summerhill have a long relationship and through Summerhill the name of Leiston has become known world-wide.  
This talk, by A.S. Neill’s daughter,  Zoё Readhead, will be at Knodishall Village Hall, School Road, IP17 1UD, and will start at 2.30 p.m. Everyone is welcome; admission costs £1 for members and £3 for non-members, including coffee/tea and biscuits. 
This is the first time the Family History Group has met at Knodishall Village Hall. We look forward to welcoming you to what promises to be a most interesting afternoon in the hands of another entertaining speaker.