Year 6 pupils, aged 10 and 11, at Wickham Market Community Primary School have been researching World War II and now share their findings, work and thoughts with listeners.
They used a variety of sources for their research, including inviting local people in and asking them questions about what life was like in war-time. Based on their research they each developed an area of the topic that they were particularly interested in, and wrote reports, letters, poems and diaries. This has helped bring the history of World War II to life for them. Sharing this in a radio report has given them pride in the work they have carried out.
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Rosemary Hoppitt speaks to Nick Amor about his book 'Late Medieval Ipswich - Trade and Industry'
When thinking of the medieval wool towns of Suffolk, Ipswich is perhaps not one that first comes to mind – well ahead come the beautiful half-timbered townscapes and tourist honeypots of the south-west: Lavenham, Long Melford and Hadleigh. However, Nick Amor’s research into the Ipswich of the fifteenth century clearly demonstrates that in Ipswich, for all that its later development has removed much of its medieval townscape, there is much to be excited about.
What is revealed here is the story of a town which flourished on the basis of geography - its site and its situation: at the head of the Orwell estuary , surrounded by a hinterland peopled by industrious innovators with, across the North Sea, active trading partners ensuring a flow of goods and money. It flourished at a time when the pre-conditions for economic take-off were in place. It was based on a growing secondary industrial sector (predominantly textiles) plus the rising real incomes, standards of living and purchasing power of ordinary folk , growing independence of labour and increasing levels of capital, backed up by increasing financial sophistication. In all, as Amor points out, creating a mass market for manufactured goods and ‘the first consumer revolution’.
Nick Amor’s detailed research is based on a wealth of primary sources: both borough archives and documents of central government. Together they enable the reader to discover a cornucopia of fine detail of the life and work of merchants, manufacturers and labourers in the town and the countryside around: the change from drinking ale to beer and its impact on the hostelries in the town; the rise and collapse of the wine trade - whose market included the civic community, as well as the nobility and extended into the surrounding county; the multitude of ships, masters and crews which plied their trade in and out of the port and the cosmopolitan character of the population which resulted; the changes in diet and tableware as the ‘craze for pewter’ developed at the end of the century.
This book is a treasure trove of material for historians of all types, and the Appendices are full of more detail about the individuals who make their appearance in the main text – a treat that will appeal to genealogists as well as local historians.
Ipswich has been neglected as a medieval town, lying as it does in the shadow of others, this book will do much to draw attention back to a town full worthy of it.
Rosemary talks to Bridget Wells-Furby about The Bohun of Fressingfield Cartulary.
This is number nineteen in the series of Suffolk Cartularies published by the Suffolk Records Society. To the general reader these publications must seem arcane, but for the local historian and students of medieval history they provide a valuable resource not just in their content, but also by virtue of the fact some-one else has done the donkey work of reading, transcribing and translating (in this case) almost 300 deeds and charters relating to land mainly in Fressingfield, North Suffolk, thus enabling immediate access to huge corpus of original material.
However, this cartulary is particularly special, for unlike most others, this collection of deeds and charters relates not to a monastic or great lay landowner, but to one whose parentage lay in ‘peasant ‘ or yeoman stock, gradually building a portfolio of land by the purchase and consolidation of tiny plots and strips – an acre or so at a time. In this way it evidences the active peasant land market of the free landholders of medieval Suffolk – a process hinted at elsewhere but here seen clearly. Thus John Bohun of Fressingfield laid the foundation for subsequent generations of his family to move upwards into the gentry and ultimately marry into some of the foremost families of the county. His second son, Edmund, having been enabled to pursue a successful career in the King’s Exchequer, and thereby accumulate a considerable amount of capital, then continued to amass a landholding to the point where he felt it warranted the production of a cartulary. His rise and position was further confirmed by being awarded a coat of arms.
As with any cartulary, the detail is immense as each tiny piece of land is described and located relative to other similar pieces which would have formed part of the patchwork of landholdings; each transaction witnessed by local people. So for the local historian it is full of references which can contribute to building up not only the geography and history of Fressingfield in the late medieval period, but also the interpersonal relationships of people within the parish, both family and friendship groups.
Bridget Wells-Furby provides the reader with a full and detailed introduction which teases out these relationships and enables some characters to be fleshed out – particularly John and his upwardly-mobile son Edward, who probably owed some of his rise to the influence of no-less a person than John de la Pole duke of Suffolk (and brother-in-law of Edward IV) of Wingfield castle in the adjoining parish. Some attempt is made at reconstructing the geography, with a number holdings indentified, if not located. Reconstruction is most successful with the village itself, and the layout of messuages around the market place and in particular the reference to the new guildhall in which much drinking was planned to take place – now (perhaps appropriately) the Fox and Goose pub.
This is a book for both the local historian in that it opens a window on a little bit of Suffolk in the medieval period, but also for the academic in that it provides a tranche of evidence to enable the illumination of the history of ordinary folk. We have to thank Bridget Wells-Furby for her diligence in both the translation and transcription, but also for putting together such a useful and informative introduction .
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Trustees Nigel Barratt and Bob Spillett talk to Dee about the history of the Mill and what restoration is being carried out. You can help the future survival of the Mill by becoming a Friend of Woodbridge Tide Mill.