On this page you will find details of the following activities organised by the Institute:



Past programmes









Past programmes


Please click here for a location map. The Blackbourne Hall is easily accessible from junction 47 on the A14, and is also only 5 minutes walk from Elmswell railway station, which is served by trains from Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, and Cambridge.


Saturday lectures winter 2020-2021


14th November 2020 – Sarah Doig, Local History Researcher, – Basil Brown of Rickinghall: beyond Sutton Hoo.

This talk explores beyond the usual portrayal of Basil Brown as an eccentric, self-taught Suffolk boy. Sarah Doig will shine a light on this native of Rickinghall, identifying those who influenced the young Basil, examining his motivations and local discoveries, whilst reflecting his boundless energy for enthusing others. Drawing on his own words along with recollections from local residents and fellow-workers, a more complete image emerges of this renowned archaeologist..

12th December 2020 - Dr Martin Bridge, Institute of Archaeology,: An introduction to the application of dendrochronology, with particular reference to Suffolk.

Dr Bridge will explore the application of dendrochronology (tree-ring dating) to buildings and artefacts, e.g. church chests, of special relevance to Suffolk. Rapid progress with the technique has been made in recent years, and as more work is done the success rate increases. The possibilities and limitations are described along with some prospects for new related dating methods..

9th January 2021 - John Day, East Anglian Traditional Art Centre: Celebrating the anniversaries of of East Anglian artists

The year 2021 makes the Bicentenary of the death of John Crome of Norwich, the artist who inspired the Norwich School of Painters, and also George Frost, the Ipswich sketcher who knew John Constable. John Day of the East Anglian Traditional Art Centre will discuss the region’s artists, how they have influenced his life and how they inspired him to establish the Centre.

13th February 2021 - Stuart Boulter and Simon Picard, Cotswold Archaeology, Suffolk, Recent excavations at Flixton Park quarry

Excavation work continues on this longstanding project, which has produced a remarkable range of archaeological periods and feature types represented in the surface archaeology. There have been significant discoveries with sites dating from the Paleolithic to the Post-Medieval, an outline of which will be discussed in today’s talk.

13th March 2021 Dr Nicholas Amor, Chair SIAH, Keeping the peace in medieval Suffolk

A study of the county’s 14th-century archives suggests that the fear of crime was greater than the reality. This talk considers the actual levels of crime, and the rise of justices of the peace who were appointed to keep law and order, and their role in determining the shape of Suffolk society. It is anticipated that the publication of his book, of the same title, will coincide with this talk.

Lecture programme 2019-2020

Sat 9th November 2019

Jeremy Haslam, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Historical Research, University of London.

'A system of early tenth-century burhs in East Anglia? - The case of Woodbridge and Beccles'

This lecture will examine the case for the hypothesis that a system of burhs was established on the taking of control of East Anglia by King Edward the Elder in 917. This would have included burhs at Woodbridge and Beccles, amongst others.


Sat 14th December

Prof Mark Bailey

" Revolting Suffolk serfs after the Black Death".

This lecture tests the traditional view that the Peasants' Revolt of 1381 in Suffolk was a revolt against serfdom, and presents a more complex interpretation of the most turbulent period in English history.


Sat 11th Jan 2020

Dr Vivienne Aldous, History Lecturer, Dept History, University of Suffolk

'Surveyors and Maps in late Sixteenth Century Suffolk'

In the late sixteenth century, surveyors were developing the new technology of map-making and helping to develop ‘map-mindedness’: a new way of not only looking at the world in spatial terms, but also a concept connected with agrarian change, an increasingly commercialised land market, litigation and estate management. This talk will look at who some of this new breed of surveyors in Suffolk were, and how their work fitted into these contexts.


Sat  8th Feb

Dr Robert J. Wallis, FSA, FRAI, Professor of Visual Culture, Associate Dean of  Communications, Arts and Social Sciences, Richmond University, The American International University of London.

‘As the Falcon her Bells’ at Sutton Hoo? Falconry in Early Anglo-Saxon England.

This lecture re-examines the earliest evidence for falconry in England and proposes that falconry may have been introduced from Scandinavia to the region of East Anglia around the late sixth to early seventh centuries, and that falconry and falconry birds may have played an important social role in this emerging kingdom.


Sat 14th March 2020

George Barlow, Independent historian

‘The Digital Beyond: Visualising Domesday East Anglia’

What new insights into the Eleventh Century East Anglian landscape can be gained from mapping the Domesday entries for Suffolk and Norfolk using GIS and modern statistical analysis and how can this snapshot inform the historical debates on the landscape and settlement development across the region during the Anglo-Saxon period?


 Lecture Programme 2018-2019

10th November 2018 – Dr Spike Bucklow, Reader in Material Culture, University of Cambridge.
“Alchemy and Colour, The Paston Treasure”
The Paston Treasure (c1664) is currently the subject of an exhibition at Norwich Castle Museum. This talk considers the painting in connection with Sir Robert Paston’s (unsuccessful) attempt to make The Philosophers’”Stone”.

 8th December 2018 – Arthur Rope
“The Ropes of Blaxhall: one family’s diverse creative legacy.”
This talk will seek to give an overview of the creative achievements of two generations of descendants of George and Anne Rope, focusing in particular on two sculptors, a graphic artist and two stained glass makers.

 12th January 2019  - Dr Sam Newton
“Formidable Women of Anglo-Saxon England”

 9th February 2019 – Mr Thomas Slemons FRPSL
“Suffolk Postal History 1700-1840”.
This talk will cover the importance of mail, its delivery throughout the county and the associated cost.

 9th March2019 – Jo Caruth, Senior Project Officer, Suffolk Archaeology
Tiles, Towers and trenches: excavations at Court Knoll
Community excavations in 2016 Have revealed new information about this enigmatic monument and identified Late Saxon finds usually associated with high-status monastic complexes such as Bury Abbey and York. This talk describes the results & inevitably raises a new set of questions


 Winter Lecture Programme 2017-18

11th November:
Sophie Tremlett, Senior Air Photo Interpretation Officer, Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service.
“The Brecks from Above: Aerial Archaeology in the Breckland Wilds.”
This talk will focus on recent work in Breckland using aerial photographs and Lidar (laser scanning of the ground surface) to discover and map the region’s fascinating wealth of prehistoric and historic sites.
Lecture Summary (pdf)

2nd December 2017
Dr Paul Whiting, Outreach Astronomer, Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, Treasurer of Orwell Astronomical Society
“The Orwell Park Observatory”
Lecture Summary (pdf)

13th January 2018
Dr Rik Hoggett, freelance heritage consultant, writer and lecturer.
Better known as an East Anglian specialist and authority on the early church in East Anglia, Rik has been studying and writing about Turner’s watercolour depictions of the English landscape for over 20 years.

“A Portrait of the Artist JMW Turner in East Anglia.”
This lecture examines a series of watercolours Joseph Mallord William Turner made of sites along the East Anglian coast in the 1820s, including views of Orford, Aldeburgh, Dunwich, Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth and Happisburgh. As well as being beautiful paintings in their own right, these images exemplify the changing artistic fashions of the early 19th century and allow us to experience East Anglia’s dynamic coastal landscape through the eyes of Britain’s greatest artist.
Lecture Summary (pdf)

10th February 2018
Professor Peder Gammeltoft, Associate Professor, Department of Nordic Research, University of Copenhagen
“The North Sea as a connecting feature – A comparative place-name study of Eastern England and Jutland.”
It is well-known that the eastern parts of England and Denmark have had prominent periods of contact. For one thing, the Viking Age with the establishment of the Danelaw, saw a large influx of Scandinavian, presumably mostly Danish, settlers. Similarly, it is possible to see a massive but short lived English influence on Denmark and Danish around the reign of King Canute. However, the contacts between Eastern England and Denmark are not just tied to historical events – the North Sea also bound its adjacent countries together in a contact area. This lecture investigates if there are any toponymic similarities between these two areas. Questions raised will be: What are the similarities? What is the character of the similarities? And what is the origin of these similarities?
Lecture Summary (pdf)

10th March 2018
Dr Rosemary Hoppitt
, independent scholar.
“Suffolk Parks – What tithes can tell us.”
A 19th century writer believed that the definition of a park was that it was tithe free. This lecture will explore some of the evidence that can be gleaned for Suffolk parks from tithe documents.
Lecture summary (pdf)


Winter Lecture Programme 2016-17

12th November:  The Angel Roofs of East Anglia: Michael Rimmer
Unlike stained glass and statuary, angel roofs were often simply too difficult for Reformation iconoclasts to reach. As a result, angel roof carvings comprise the largest surviving body of major English medieval wood sculpture. This talk will show the artistry and architecture of these inaccessible, little-studied medieval artworks in more detail and clarity than ever before, explaining how, why and by whom they were made.
Lecture Summary (pdf)

10th December:  Indoor and outdoor poor relief in late 18th- early 19th century Suffolk: Observations on some Malthusian claims:
Prof Richard M.Smith, Emeritus Professor of Historical Geography and Demography, University of Cambridge.
2016 is the 250th anniversary of  Malthus' birth, & this  paper uses evidence in various Parliamentary enquiries, particularly  Abstracts of the Poor and Select Committees on Poor Rates along with early  censuses (1801-1831) to construct a county-wide geography of poor relief  expenditure. It also attempts to test some of Malthus'  arguments concerning the implications of poor relief expenditure within and outside workhouses for population growth and marriage rates.
Lecture Summary (pdf)

14th January: 
St Audry's Workhouse and Mental Hospital, Melton; Victorian attitudes examined: David Phelan
Lectue Summary (pdf)

11th February:    The Battle for Blythburgh Church.  Restoration v Conservation in late-Victorian Suffolk.: Dr Alan Mackley, Hon Research Fellow, School of History, University of East Anglia
In the 19th  century Blythburgh church was ‘mouldering into ruin’, and was closed in 1881 by the bishop of Norwich as unsafe.  The launch of proposals for restoration precipitated a 25 year long rancorous conflict between local vicars and restoration committees, and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.  Extensive documentation survives covering both sides of the dispute.  This talk will present the story based on documents edited for the Suffolk Records Society  2017 volume.
Lecture Summary (pdf)

11th March: Remaking the Sutton Hoo Stone: Brian Ansell, stonemason
This talk will cover the art of stonemasonry over many periods and focus on the creation of a replica of the Sutton Hoo Stone, the sceptre discovered in the ship-burial of 1939, using the sort of tools and materials that would have been used for the original.
Lecture Summary (pdf)



Summer excursions to sites of archaeological and historical interest are offered to members only. Led by experts, they give an opportunity to see and learn about places often inaccessible to the general public.

If you wish to partake, then you can either join the Institute or come as a guest (£5 assuming there is space). Contact Jane Carr for details:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Summer Excursions in 2016 have included visits to:
Columbine Hall, Stowupland;
Saxmundham Church and Kelsale Park, visiting the medieval deer-park and associated earthworks;
Great Livermere Park and hall, including a visit to the church;
Orwell Park School & Observatory and Nacton Duck Decoy;
Barton Mills and Worlington churches

Summer Excursions in 2017:
Newmarket, St Agnes church, All Saints church and the royal palaces
Huntingfield, medieval fishponds, park and Huntingfield Hall and the painted ceiling of Huntingfield church
Landguard Fort, Felixstowe
Belstead, the liberty of Ipswich and St Mary Stoke churches Ipswich
Norfolk Churches: Houghton on the Hill and Great Dunham

Summer Excursions in 2018 have included visits to:

Suffolk’s Heritage projects in progress talks and visit to Hunston and Stowlangtoft churches
Kesgrave Church and the Rope family artists
Ickworth archaeology and history walk
Southwold tour: Lighthouse, Museum and St Edmund’s church
Euston Hall, grounds and temple tour.

Summer Excursions in 2019 have included visits to:

Suffolk Heritage Projects talks, and visit to St Mary the Virgin, Walsham le Willows
Bawdsey and Gosford
Westhorpe Hall moated site and Westhorpe Church
Bury St Edmunds Guildhall talk and tour
Clare Castle excavations site visit



Wheeler Conference

Every other year we hold an all-day conference in memory of the late Anthony Wheeler of Sudbury who left a very generous bequest to the Institute.  Members are entitled to a discounted ticket price. Each conference includes talks by local experts and also leading academics.

Previous year’s conferences have been about The Suffolk Church in the Middle Ages, Suffolk and Liberty, Suffolk Place-Names and Landscape and Suffolk Textiles.  All three have been well supported and two have been sell-outs.  The 2019 conference about was held at Southwold on a variety of topics under the banner Suffolk by the Sea.


 Grant Awards for heritage projects in Suffolk

Individuals and local societies are invited to apply for grants to support projects which will further our knowledge of the Suffolk heritage. Applications should include a brief project design, explaining the aims, the amount required and whether funding is also being sought elsewhere. Half a side of A4 is sufficient. We will ask for further information if required.

Conditions of grant may include one or all of: general publicity; matched funding from another source, a note or article for the Proceedings, a talk to the SIAH as part of the winter lecture programme; a site visit if appropriate.

Over recent years we have supported: a community archaeology project at Court Knoll, Nayland with Wissington; the purchase of geophysics equipment for Suffolk Archaeology Field Group. a GPR survey to help research at Clare Priory, and a contribution to The Hold, a new Record Office for the County at Ipswich Waterfront,  as well as several publication projects. Regrettably, we can’t consider applications concerned with church restoration matters.

It is recommended that applications are submitted by mid October, mid December or mid February, so that they may be considered at the appropriate SIAH council meetings in November, January or March

Further information may be obtained from: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.