A HALESWORTH WORTHY REDISCOVERED.
Community News May 2012
A HALESWORTH WORTHY REDISCOVERED
A piece of painstaking historical detective work has rescued a distinguished former resident of Halesworth from centuries of undeserved obscurity.
The name Thomas Fella has slipped out of Halesworth’s history but he is suddenly due to re-emerge and become one of the town’s ‘historic notables’. Four hundred years ago he was a local draper and a writing-master. In his spare time he would read whatever books he could find locally and was fascinated by the pictures he found in them. He began to copy them and turn them into his own very personal and very local drawings. Those drawings, bound into what he called his ‘Booke of Divers Devices’, were lost to sight after his death and ended up a hundred years ago in the great Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington.
Now, two distinguished Suffolk researchers, Dr John Blatchly, former Headmaster of Ipswich School, and Martin Sanford of the Suffolk Biological Register have pieced together a fascinating story of how Fella found his pictures and turned them into little ‘slices of Suffolk life in Elizabethan times’. Their new book, which reproduces all Falla’s drawings, is to be launched at an illustrated talk in The Cut on Tuesday 26 June at 7.30. Tickets, priced at £3, will be available in May.
A spokesman for the Halesworth and District Museum, which is supporting the launch, said “Fella’s work is something very special , a revelation, even at a national level. He is someone we should be excited about claiming as our own”.
ROYAL AND LOYAL AT HALESWORTH MUSEUM
It’s all gone Royal up at the Museum. With the Jubilee just weeks away, get into the mood with a glance at Halesworth’s celebrations of royal events from days gone by. ‘Halesworth’s Royal Celebrations: 200 Years of Coronations and Jubilees’ is this year’s Museum exhibition and there are some fascinating details to be spotted. At Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1888, tables were laid in the Thoroughfare to seat 1,300 people and among the food laid on was 1,248 lbs of beef and enough beer to give every man three pints and every woman, one and a half (not to mention the pint for each of the children). For the Coronation in 1953, there was a long day of celebration, starting with a service in the Market Place at 10 o’clock, moving on to the judging for the best business, street and house decoration, followed by a carnival and fancy dress competition, with dancing and a confetti battle, and ending with a torchlight procession and fireworks.
Some curiosities have also emerged during curator, Mike Fordham’s, research. On display is the programme for the Coronation celebrations for Edward VII, scheduled for 26 June, 1902. In the event, the Coronation had to be postponed, because Edward was ill. Celebrations eventually took place on 9 August, but the programmes had already been printed and still, to this day, bear the wrong date. Even more of a ‘ghost exhibit’ is the 1937 Coronation mug for Edward VIII – a Coronation which never took place, because of his abdication on 11 December 1936. Too late; the souvenirs had already been produced. Now they are a curious and rare reminder that the best laid plans can still go awry!
The Museum is now open until the end of September, Tuesday to Saturday, 10.00-12.30.