A project to research the history of the neighbouring South Norfolk villages of Brockdish and Needham, hosted by the new Waveney Heritage Centre based at the former Primary School in Brockdish, has just received £9,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, this exciting year-long community initiative which launches in May will bring together a group of volunteers from the local area to uncover stories of the past inhabitants of these two traditional rural communities, the historic properties they built, and the local and national events which have affected them over the centuries.
Open to all local people who are interested in researching local and family history, whether or not they have any previous experience, the project will culminate in a free talk, a public exhibition and the launch of a website in the Spring of 2019 to showcase the new material which has been discovered. The ultimate aim will be to publish book on the history of Brockdish and Needham.
Stephen Poulter, a resident of Needham who has led a number of local history projects and authored several books on the subject, will act as Co-ordinator of the research. “Apart from a few short memoirs there has never before been a comprehensive published history of our two villages. When I started researching the former owners and inhabitants of my 17th century cottage last year I was astonished by the wealth of documents which were available in the Norfolk and Suffolk County Archives relating to Needham’s past. Having given two public presentations about my findings over the last 6 months it became clear that a number of my neighbours shared my passion for finding out more about our ancestors.”
Baroness Elaine Murphy, who recently wrote and published a book on her home, The Grange in Brockdish, has agreed to be patron for the new project.
The Needham and Brockdish Community Heritage Project will kick off by inviting current and former residents from both villages to bring along any photos, memorabilia, newspaper cuttings or documents relating to past residents or the history of their homes which they are willing to temporarily loan to the project. This Official Launch Event will be held at the recently established Waveney Heritage Centre, Grove Road, Brockdish on Sunday 20th May from 2pm – 4pm (refreshments provided). At 3pm Stephen Poulter will be giving a free talk on Becoming a House Detective which uses his experience of uncovering the story of his cottage to describe the various processes and historic documents involved in investigating the background of any historic property.
Geoff Doggett, Chair of the Waveney Heritage Centre, is delighted that the building will provide the project with all its meeting, research and archive facilities. “When we heard that Stephen was suggesting this project I knew that this was exactly the sort of community history initiative we were looking to promote. Having successfully bid for money from various Heritage Lottery funds for previous organisations I have been involved with, I suggested we made an application to the HLF Sharing Heritage Programme. I am extremely pleased HLF have chosen to support this idea which will make a major contribution to bringing together the older and younger generations in our small rural communities.”
Robyn Llewellyn, Head of HLF East of England, said “We are delighted to support this project, which, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, will mean that more people will be able to get involved with, protect, and learn about the exciting heritage right on their doorstep.”