Upcoming Events

Friday 6th December, 10.00am  – 3.45pm
Oral History Planning Day for ‘Cold War In The Brecks’

Venue: The Engine House, Brandon Country Park, Suffolk, IP27 0SU

Cost: Free; everyone welcome. Funded by our National lottery Heritage grant.

An individual’s personal experience can be one of the most powerful pieces of evidence a historian can gather.  It  makes abstract historical events feel immediate and real.  Come and join us in learning how to draw out someone’s personal experiences, and why good communication skills include careful and patient listening.

The morning session will explain the purpose and importance of gathering oral history testimonies and provide guidance and practice on the techniques used. After lunch from 1.00pm volunteers will carry out ‘real’ interviews. Interviewees will include former RAF officers,  including a V bomber pilot and an officer who worked on the early detection system, and a local CND member.

We will use the skills learnt and practised on the day in gathering further first-hand testimony for the project in the coming months.

There are still spaces available – if you wish to attend please email secretary.brecsoc@gmail.com Hot and cold refreshments provided, but please bring your own lunch.

2020 Talks and Visits

We are in the process of arranging our 2020 programme; we will add events to this page as soon as each is confirmed (even if the date and venue are not quite finalised) so that you have an idea of what’s in store. Any gaps will be filled in in due course. And of course we welcome suggestions from members!

January (Date & Time TBA)
“From Beachamwell to Bharatpur”

Venue: Beachamwell Hall

A talk by Mary Ann Prior about the work of Constance Villiers Stuart, former owner of Beachamwell Hall, as a garden designer and researcher of Indian Mughal gardens.

Friday 6 March
“Stoke Ferry – Breckland’s inland port”

Venue: Wereham Village Hall

Cost: Members £7.00, non-members £10.00, including a glass of wine.

A talk by author Richard L. Coates about the history of Stoke Ferry and its importance as Breckland’s port and gateway.

Richard spent much of his childhood in Stoke Ferry where his parents were school teachers. His mother researched and wrote about the history of Stoke Ferry and Richard has added to and updated her work. Copies of his recent book ‘A Farthing for the Ferryman – the surprising history of a Norfolk Village‘ will be available for purchase.

Friday, 15 May (evening)
Guided visit to the ancient Church of St Mary at Houghton-on-the Hill

The building has evolved through the centuries and was ultimately rescued from a state of dereliction in the last century.  Fortunately many of the original 11th century wall paintings survived and were rediscovered,along with others from later times, during the 1990’s.  The Church has a fascinating history, even including some rumours of satanic worship!

July (Date, Time and Cost all still TBA)
Grime’s Graves. A Private Evening of Archeaology and Wildlife 

This will be the first time that English Heritage has ever opened Grime’s Graves out-of-hours for a customised group visit! As this is likely to be an extremely popular event, it is probable that tickets will be Members Only. More details to follow.

Sunday 13 September – 10.30am – 12.30pm
Tour of the remains of the monastic precinct of Bury St Edmunds Abbey

In the early tenth century the mortal remains of the martyred King Edmund were brought to the site of what grew to become one of the most important and powerful Benedictine monasteries in England – Bury St Edmunds. The Abbey, which was also a major European pilgrimage site, has played an important  role in the history of the Breckland as its charter gave it very significant land holdings in the Brecks.

Our tour guide Dr. Richard Hoggett is an old friend of the society and is an expert in the Abbey’s history. He has recently completed the Heritage Assessment for the site.

Other Organisations

You may also be interested in events in or close to the Brecks organised by other groups.

Brandon Local History Society, Wednesday 4th December, 7pm onwards

Mike Willetts, a BrecSoc member, writes “I am also a member of  the Brandon & District Local History Society ( bdlhs.org ) and on the 4th Dec we have Hexachordia coming along to perform ‘A Tudor Christmas’. They have performed for the Breckland Society on a couple of occasions so I wondered if any Brec Soc members might be interested in coming along? Wednesday 4th December at Brandon Library. Admission £3, £2 for BDLHS members. Doors open at 7.00pm”

Downham Market Lecture Society

The society’s spring 2020 programme consists of a series of seven two-hour lectures by Ian McLachlan entitled “A Friendly Invasion”.

Ian is an archaeologist, historian, author and W.E.A. lecturer. He will be exploring the fascinating topic of the social and cultural impacts of the arrival of 400,000 American personnel in East Anglia during WW2. He will look at the rapid creation of airfields dwarfing nearby villages as well as the aircraft, weapons, tactics and strategy.The big picture will be interspersed with personal accounts and stories illustrating the heroism, drama and tragedy affecting families and lives both here and in America. The course starts on Wednesday 29th January 2020.

Full details on the society website

Norfolk Archaeological and Historical Research Group (NAHRG) – lecture programme