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Alde Valley Suffolk Family History Group

Alde Valley Suffolk Family History Group Programme 2018


The Group runs an informal family history Reseach Centre in Leiston. This is housed in the Old Council Room of the Leiston Council Offices in Old Post Office Square, Main Street, opposite the Long Shop Museum. There is convenient public parking (including disabled parking) immediately outside.  Postcode IP16 4ER

The Research Centre is open to the general public, and provides free access to a variety of family history advice and reference material. It is open on the first and third Saturday morning of each month, and on Wednesdays by prior appointment. If you wish to request an appointment, please contact Maggie Strutt on 01728 602298 or

This is an opportunity for those who cannot normally get to our Wednesday research mornings to discover what gems we have in our archives: these include local information such as graveyard catalogues for Benhall, Saxmundham, Leiston, Eastbridge, Aldringham and Sutton, censuses, directories, information on local war memorials, books, and historic maps. We have recently acquired a large number of CDs and microfiches of local interest. The research centre has computers with Internet, printer, and a scanner. There is also WiFi Internet access if you wish to bring your own laptop or tablet. Experienced family history researchers will be present to give assistance if required.

The Research Centre is upstairs in the old Council Offices in 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 on past Barclay’s Bank and it’s on the right.

The Research Centre will be open from 10am to 12 noon on the 1st Saturday and 3rd Wednesday of the month.


17th May VILLAGE SCHOOLS 7.30pm

The May meeting of the Alde Valley Suffolk Family History Group will welcome back Sheila Wright, who braved a drive on a dark October night in 2015 to enthral us with tales of ghosts and hauntings. 

This time she will be talking about village schools. She was “Acting Headmistress” of Drinkstone Primary School before its closure in 1986, and researched the history of the school and the teachers and pupils over the 125 years of its life. She acquired a rich store of anecdotes, hopes, dreams, and experiences good and bad, so we are looking forward to an entertaining evening.

Sheila has written several books, including two about Drinkstone village school, which was typical of the hundreds of C of E village schools in which many generations received their only formal education, in the early days leaving at age eleven or twelve to spend their days in domestic service or as farm labourers.

Sheila Wright is mother of seven children and lives with her husband Ron, a retired music teacher, in a pre- Elizabethan Tudor farmhouse near Eye. She is a Lay Reader in the Church of England. 

The talk will start at 7.30 p.m. on Monday 21 May in the United Reformed Church, Leiston, IP16 4EL. Visitors are reminded that the entrance to the church is along the lefthand side as you face the building. Parking is available in the adjacent Co-op/Solar car park, but you must register your vehicle at the tills in the supermarket or possibly face a £100 fine. Anyone with an interest in family or local history is welcome; admission is £1 for members, £3 for non-members and includes tea/coffee. We look forward to seeing you. 

For more info
contact Angela Skelcher on 01728 830949
18th June: Lifeboatmen and Fisherfolk 7.30pm

City of Winchester Launch 0003a 2In a change to our previously advertised programme, the June meeting of the Alde Valley Suffolk Family History Group will be a talk by our member John Martin entitled 'Fisherfolk and Lifeboatmen'. Many people will know about famous lifeboatmen such as Henry Blogg of Cromer and locally James Cable of Aldeburgh. They were the coxswains in charge of their lifeboats - but they couldn’t carry out rescues and save lives on their own. They needed help with the launch and a crew of strong brave men to get the boat through often tumultuous seas to the stricken vessel.

This talk will tell of the life and times of one such family of unsung heroes - the Downings of Aldeburgh, and will be at 7.30pm on Monday 18 June at Leiston United Church.  Admission is £1 for members, £3 for non-members and includes tea/coffee.
For more info contact Angela Skelcher on 01728 830949 or see our website:  
If you’d like to join the Group, download an application form from  our website or come along to a meeting. Membership fee is only £6 per annum, or £10 per household.
16th July: History: Fact of Fiction 7.30pm
17th September: Witches in and around Suffolk 7.30pm
15th October: What's in a Name? 7.30pm