All lectures are held at the Blackbourne Hall in Elmswell, between Stowmarket and Bury St Edmunds. They start at 2.00 pm and generally finish by about 3.30 pm. There is an entrance fee of £5 for non-members.
Please click here for a location map. The Blackbourne Hall is easily accessible from junction 14 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.
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 CHANGE TO PROGRAMME unfortunately Dr Robert J. Wallis FSA, FRAI, is unable to give his lecture on falconry. Instead we have:
“Formidable Women of Anglo-Saxon England” Lecture by Dr Sam Newton
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
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
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.
2nd December 2017
Dr Paul Whiting, Outreach Astronomer, Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, Treasurer of Orwell Astronomical Society
“The Orwell Park Observatory”
This lecture will be on the history of the building and its use.
*Please note the December lecture is on the first Saturday in December and not the usual second Saturday
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.
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?
10th March 2018
Dr Rosemary Hoppitt, independent scholar.
“Suffolk Parks – What tithes can tell us.”
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.
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.
14th January: CHANGE TO THE PUBLISHED PROGRAMME:
St Audry's Workhouse and Mental Hospital, Melton; Victorian attitudes examined: David Phelan
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.
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.
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.
Summer Outings 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 Outings 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
Every year an all-day conference has been held 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 and Suffolk Place-Names and Landscape. All three have been well supported and two have been sell-outs. The 2017 conference about Suffolk Textiles was held at Lavenham Village Hall on 16 September.
The next conference will take place in 2019, details to be announced