Press Releases

May 2012


Community News May 2012


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.

Halesworth Windmill from Fella's book.
Halesworth Windmill from Fella’s book.

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”.


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.

Chediston Street all decked out for the 1937 Coronation of George VI.
Chediston Street all decked out for the 1937 Coronation of George VI.

April 2012


Community News April 2012


Halesworth and district have been enormously supportive in helping the Museum bring together photos, documents, trophies and memorabilia for the exhibition on Halesworth’s Sporting Past and Present, due to open in late July. There will be plenty of pictures and objects to tell the fascinating history of sport in the area – football, bowls, Continue reading “April 2012”

March 2012


Community News March 2012


There’s been a really encouraging response to our idea of an exhibition on Halesworth’s Sporting Past to mark the Olympics this summer. We’ve had so many generous offers of material to display and so many suggestions about Halesworth’s Sporting Heroes, past and present. It’s certainly not too late to get in touch about either. We’d still be grateful for items, recollections or suggestions to make this a really good show. Call Vic Gray.

We’re also encouraged by a grant from Suffolk County Council’s ‘Suffolk Celebrates’ fund to help us do this properly.

Meanwhile, 2012 isn’t just the year of the Olympics. Our Curator, Mike Fordham is at work putting together a display on Halesworth’s past celebrations of Coronations and Jubilees, showing how the town and the villages have pulled out all the stops in the past to celebrate in style. This will be ready for the Museum’s summer opening at the beginning of May.

A forgotten Halesworth hero of a different sort has re-emerged from the mist in the shape of Thomas Fella, an Elizabethan resident of the town who spent his spare hours copying characters and details from images in books of the time and turning them into a fantastic commonplace book full of local flavour and colour, a real glimpse into Suffolk life four hundred years ago. The book was sold to an American library in the 19th century but has now been rediscovered by Dr John Blatchly and Martin Sanford of Ipswich. When it is published this summer it will attract a great deal of attention as a new historical find of some importance and fascination. The Museum has been lucky to arrange a talk by the editors to mark the launch of this volume in The Cut on June 26th. It should be a truly fascinating evening.

Meanwhile the Museum has reopened after its winter closure and is now open Tuesday and Thursday, 10.00-12.30.

February 2012


Community News February 2012


We’re looking for Halesworth’s Sporting Heroes up at the Museum – people from Halesworth and the villages around who, sometime in the past, made their mark at a county, national or international level, no matter what the sport.

It’s all part of the planning for the Museum’s exhibition on Halesworth’s Sporting Past, scheduled for the summer to coincide with the Olympics. Already local people are proving generous with their help and memories and it’s been rewarding to find how many people care about this aspect of Halesworth life. But there’s plenty of scope for more. If you can nominate someone local who has made their mark in the sporting world, we’ll try to include them on a ‘wall of fame’ as part of the exhibition.

And if you have photos, trophies, objects or just memories about sporting life in the town and around, to help us put this exhibition together, please get in touch with Vic Gray at 01986 872437 (e-mail You can play a really useful part here.

All in all, it’s turning into a busy year for the Museum. The beginning of June will see the Queen’s Jubilee and we shall mark that occasion with a display in the Museum recalling past Royal celebrations in the area. On top of that, we have plans for bringing back the Museum’s popular lectures during the year and, following on from the sell-out success of Mike Fordham’s booklet ‘Halesworth Quay and the Blyth Navigation’, we shall be looking at producing another popular title later in the year.

Finally – if you were one of the many people who asked at the Museum, the Library or Halesworth Bookshop for a copy of the Navigation booklet but were too late to get one – good news! By the time this appears, you’ll find them back in stock. The presses have been rolling again.

January 2012


Community News January 2012


No prizes for guessing what will be dominating our lives come the summer. Yes, it’s the O-word!

The posters on stations may be telling us that the Olympics is just a short sprint away from Suffolk by rail, but Halesworth wants its own bit of Olympic spirit nearer to home. At least that’s what we think up at the Halesworth and District Museum where plans are being put together for our very own exhibition of ‘Halesworth’s Sporting History’.

Did you know, for example, that there was a Bowling Green attached to the Angel Hotel as far back as 1784? And have you ever heard of Bugler Ward, who won the Suffolk County Rifle Shooting Championship three times in the 1890s and on his third win was met at the station by the Town Band and paraded through the town as a civic hero. It’s fascinating facts like these that we’re hoping to pull together for the event. You may be able to help us.

We’d like this to be a real ‘community exhibition’, with all the sporting clubs in the area (don’t forget we cover Halesworth and the surrounding villages) helping us unearth aspects of their sporting past and present. It doesn’t need to be a gold medal or a championship cup. Vintage sporting equipment, old team photographs, posters of events, anything like this could help us piece together the story and provide an interesting display. And people’s recollections can, in themselves, be a great source for sporting history.

We hope to launch this display well in time for the Olympics themselves. We shall be getting in touch with the sports clubs early in the new year but, in the meantime, if anyone is interested in helping with this project or has got anything they can offer us by way of items for an exhibition or memories of Halesworth and district’s sporting past, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Vic Gray .

The Olympic spirit, Halesworth style? The vintage bicycle race at the Halesworth Carnival, 1933.