Newspapers in Suffolk   Part 5

from 1876 ~ 1900


    After over 150 years of publishing, Suffolk’s local papers were starting to look much more like those we read today.  What gave them their special identity were the unique local-interest stories that continued to turn up.


MENDLESHAM - Adventures of a Dealer

Erastus Jun., an extensive and well-known dealer, residing at Brockford, experienced a somewhat unpleasant adventure on Thursday night.  Erastus had been to Stowmarket and called at the Green Man Inn at Mendlesham on his way home, to refresh the inner man.   Erastus had a load of pigs in his cart and two friends riding with him, one of whom, unfortunately, has to use legs he was not born with, sitting behind.   When Erastus was ready to start, his horse was unwilling to do so.   William, the well-known butcher and dealer, …seeing how matters stood, said, “if you drive my horse home, I will undertake to drive yours.”  This being at once agreed to, William mounted Erastus’s box and applying the whip somewhat vigorously, the horse now dashed forward, with the result that both drafts were snapped shear in pieces, and of course out went the horse from the shafts, and up went the cart, and out went men, pigs and all behind.   [The article recounts how the pigs were recovered]  Now comes the saddest part of the tale, for in the fall the poor fellow’s deal legs were broken, but thanks to the skill of “Doctor” Johnson, mine host of the Green Man Inn, both the fractures were speedily reduced, and strange as it may seem, he was able to use them again the next day, as if nothing had happened.

                        Daily Ipswich Journal:  May 3rd 1887


TAILORESS’S STRIKE - A very unexpected strike took place last week with some of the tailoresses of the town. [Clare]  Messrs. Smith & Sons’ agent from Chevington have attended here and given out “coat wor”" for some time past.   On the last occasion he brought some coats, full size, to be made at 3½d each.   The women indignantly refused to work at such a price, especially as most of them would have to pay 1d per garment for “working” the button holes.  The agent appeared much annoyed at such an unexpected result, but the conduct of the women has by many been generally approved and commended.  

                        Suffolk & Essex Free Press:  March 25th 1885


The ladies of Clare made their stand three years before the famous Matchgirls’ strike against ‘White slavery in London.’     


    The Suffolk Chronicle in January 1879 reported another rather more unusual strike.   Mr. Keeley, organ-blower at Eye church had gone on strike in protest at a cut in his wages.  There was less work for him, as a result of the vicar’s absence.  (He was on his wedding tour).   Letters were written to the paper both for and against Mr. Keeley.   Normally he expected to receive 13 shillings a quarter, but it had been cut to just 10 shillings a quarter.  One letter of support suggested that...


“In the name of pity the paltry sum withheld from the poor old couple should be at once paid, otherwise a half-penny subscription will be made in their interest throughout the town.”  

The letter ended, “NO WIND NO MUSIC!”


Witch bottles

Stephen Choppen, once the village blacksmith of Hadleigh in Essex, whose suicide was reported lately, took his life just as he had entered upon a wider notoriety.   He was one of the characters in Mr. Arthur Morrison’s last book ‘Cunning Murrell,’ which was published only a few weeks back.   A sketch of him with his dog and his cat also accompanied an rticle in ‘The Strand.’  Choppen was a link with a strange survival of superstition.

    It was he who forged the iron witch bottles with which the wizard Murrell drove out devils.  It is now 40 years ago since the wizard of Hadleigh died ...and Choppen must have been quite a youth when he started welding the witch bottles.   Mr. Morrison tells us that when he last saw Choppen, a few months ago, the memory of the making of the first bottle was still a vivid one.   The bottle, said Choppen, gave him trouble in the forging, for which he could not account.   The iron wholly refused to be welded - till Cunning Murrell arrived and blew the fire, when all went well.   The wizard used to fill these iron bottles with blood, water, fingernails, hair and pins.   The   bottles screwed up airtight, were placed in the fire by way of process against witches, and frequently burst with great success and devastation, thus signalising the destruction of the diabolical influence.  Unfortunately, no witch bottle is left behind, the last one being destroyed in a bit of hocus pocus by Buck Murrell, Cunning’s son.  

Aldeburgh, Leiston & Saxmundham Times:  November 10th 1900



A few days since, a marriage took place in this town between two individuals aged 72 and 69 respectively.   The courtship has continued for 46 years and at last, the final plunge was made.  The bride has since averred she will not wait so long again - a declaration which all our readers will affirm.

                        Suffolk Chronicle:  January 25th 1879


CLARE - A resident has lately disposed of a coffin that had been made for him some time ago.   It is said he was talking one day to some men who were sawing oak timber, when they asked him how he would like a suit made of that kind of stuff.   He replied he thought it would be too expensive and (pointing to a piece of inferior quality) said that would suit him better.  The order was thereupon taken and the coffin delivered and paid for.  We are informed that a few days ago, it was disposed of by the owner, who was of the opinion that it did not “exactly fit him.”

                        Bury & Suffolk Standard:  April 13th 1886


A Cheap John has been vending his wares on the [Framlingham] market place during the past fortnight; and on Monday evening, he offered a silver cup for the best song singer.  There were several competitors and the prize was awarded to George King, the postman.

                        Framlingham Weekly News:  March 31st 1877


There had been a long tradition of Ipswich people supporting the lifeboat service.  The suggestion here is that by 1898, interest was waning.



At the annual street collection in Ipswich, a total of £2-6-10 was collected in copper, £15-19-3 was collected in silver, but there was not a single gold coin collected, although there were an Indian half penny, one quarter anna, two French half-pennies and twenty four farthings.

                        Diss Express:  Sept. 23rd 1898



New inventions for a changing world

   Machines now were being manufactured to do all kinds of jobs. 

The clerk to Newmarket's board of health informed the board he had been supplied with particulars of street sweeping machines, much needed in the present filthy state of the streets.    

                        Newmarket Journal:  December 23rd 1882


One was acquired, on approval, for a fortnight’s trial, the machine costing £32.  


The Bungay Town Feofees agreed to purchase a manual fire engine at a cost of £200, of which £165 was already promised.   Reluctantly they rejected buying a steam fire engine on the grounds of cost. (Lowestoft Weekly Press:  March 30th 1889)


However, not all places in Suffolk were equally ready to launch themselves into the nineteenth century, as these two items from the Diss Express of 1898 demonstrate.


Electric Lighting has been an unqualified success in our town of Stowmarket.


It was discussed in what should be done to light the streets of Botesdale during the winter months.   It was finally agreed that three good oil lamps should be purchased to light the market place.


A series of international Trade fairs and exhibitions fed the hunger for invention and innovation. 


The Paris Exhibition will open on the evening of May 6th with fireworks, illuminations and a torchlight procession.

                        Lowestoft Weekly Press:  April 6th 1889


Unfortunately, there was a belief that science could supply the answer to everything, and you could discover things just by looking for them. 


The New Discovery in Photography

In the very near future, we shall be able to reproduce in photography a situation on the other side of a closed door.   Experiments in Berlin have made it clear beyond question that the rays of light might pass more easily through wood than glass …A revolver bullet in a man’s hand has been photographed …A swallowed sixpence can be localised at once by the camera, and no search need be made again with the surgeon’s knife.  

                        Eastern Daily Press:  January 23rd 1896



After two borings, not enough money remained for a third, causing the Eastern Counties Coal Boring and Development Association to abandon searching for coal in Ipswich.

                        Diss Express:  July 1898



Burglar-proof glass has been invented.   It is made by pouring molten glass over a network of steel wire - it is specially adapted for skylights and jewellers’ windows.

                        Diss Express:  June 10th 1898


Other inventions were not received so enthusiastically...



Frederick Thomas Gosling, pork butcher, Long Wyre Street; Charles White, grocer, Magdalen Street; and Philip Belchem, grocer's assistant, in the employ of the International Tea Company ...were charged before the Mayor with having sold butter of a different quality to that demanded by the purchaser …Mrs Laura Marsh was instructed by the Head Constable to purchase butter at the defendants’ shops.   She asked for one pound of shilling butter, and was served with the article, a sample of which had been sent to Mr. William Foster M.A.F.C.S., lecturer on Chemistry at the Middlesex Hospital, for analysis.  

     A certificate was received from Mr. Foster to the effect that the sample submitted to him did not contain any butter.   The magistrates fined Belchem £5 and White and Gosling were each fined £2.  All three had to pay costs.                                                 

                        Suffolk & Essex Free Press:  March 29th 1885



Stories bordering on the exotic

Travelling to distant parts of the world was still outside most people’s expectations.  So, the local paper brought the wider world and its mysteries to them. 


Under the heading, ‘ENGLISH GIRLS IN A PERSIAN HAREM’, the Woodbridge Reporter for Feb. 25th 1897 described how one particular girl had met a Persian Nobleman at the Crystal Palace, he had married her, taken her to Teheran and shut her up in his harem.   On his death, the woman (still only 26) and her son wanted to return to England.   It was reported that a settlement had been negotiated whereby she would receive £200 per year on her return, and as long as the boy remained a Mohammedan, he would inherit a large sum at the age of 21 on his return to Persia.


British Trade in Formosa has suffered severely by the annexation of the island to the Japanese, chiefly to the Japanese government establishing an opium monopoly.   No one is allowed to smoke opium on the island who has not registered himself as a Japanese subject and taken out a license.   First class tickets costing three dollars each   permit a victim of the habit to smoke as much as he likes, but holders of second and third class tickets may not, under heavy penalties, smoke more than the quantity indicated on their tickets.

                        Diss Express:  Jan 21st 1898


 On January 1st 1876, the Framlingham Weekly News reported on “The dangers of pig-sticking” whereby Lt. Startin of the 10th Hussars in India had been killed.  

    The East Anglian, in Sept. 1976, spoke of the problems of the ‘Thakore of Bhownugger,’ who had four wives, but wished to become a Christian.  Having been advised monogamy was expected of all good Christians, the young man now had to decide which one of them to keep.


And how about this for a strangely incongruous item for a local newspaper.


An absurd story is going about in the papers to the effect that Prince Nicholas of Montenegro went to visit the Queen dressed in a “kilt,” and some papers have gone so far as to embroider the original statement by saying that the garment was made of white muslin and stuck out like a ballet dancer’s skirt.   Prince Nicholas does not wear, and never has worn, the "fustanella" which is the distinctive dress of the Mahomedans of Albania.   What the correspondents mistook for a kilt was his long Montenegrin coat, which resembles nothing so much as an ordinary frock coat.

                        Woodbridge Reporter:  April 15th 1897



Crime at the end of the nineteenth century

    Nearer home, local petty crime continued to be widely    reported.  Poaching, in its various guises, featured stongly.


IMPERFECT VISION - George Hall of Wickham Market was charged with having on the 10th inst. killed a partridge at Petistree on land in the occupation of Mr. Thomas Manby.   Robert Osborne swore he saw the defendant in a field called “Wickham Field,” with a gun, and saw him shoot a partridge and go and pick it up; he was not more than 50 yards from him.  The defendant said it was not possible for the witness to see at so great a distance, his eye-sight being defective, and moreover, denied the charge.   The witness’s eye-sight was put to the test by Supt. Freeman holding an object up in the court about 10 yards distant from witness, partly black and partly white, and on being asked what colour was being exhibited, pronounced them both white.   This had the effect of an instant dismissal of the case by the magistrates.

                        Woodbridge Reporter:  January 26th 1881


Seven years later, the same George Hall was found guilty of ‘trespass in pursuit of game.’  So too was another, unfortunately named character...


William Poacher, Little Glemham, labourer was charged with using a lurcher dog for the purpose of searching for game.   There was a previous conviction against him and he was fined £5, or one month’s imprisonment.  

                                    Lowestoft Journal:  May 8th 1880


Many cases were reported of “egging” - the taking of pheasant or partridge eggs.  The Framlingham Weekly News for June 1877 described a number of such cases. 


A lot of crimes that came to court were downright odd...

At a conviction before the magistrates at Woodbridge in October 1881...


William Gilbert was fined for assaulting Charles Cook, and James Patrick also pleaded guilty to an assault on Robert Cook at Ufford.  These two assault cases arose out of a row occasioned by a mob assembled with marrowbones and cleavers to serenade a newly married couple.  

(Woodbridge Reporter)

At the Stradbroke petty sessions, Robert Balls, farmer and miller was fined 34s, including costs, for having a foul and dilapidated privy, the nuisance to be remedied within fourteen days.  

                        FramlinghamWeekly News:  May 4th 1878


At the Hartismere petty sessions, at Eye, John Huggins, labourer, Botesdale, was fined 5s for keeping a dog without a licence.

                        FramlinghamWeekly News:  May 4th 1878


YARMOUTH - Card Playing - On Monday, two visitors were fined 5s each for playing a game of cards upon the beach on a Sunday.

                        Diss Express:  September 23rd 1898


Under the heading, ‘THE ALLEGED PIANO ROBBERY,’ Henry Saville (31) piano tuner, of Beccles was one of a gang of three arrested on a charge of stealing 26 pianos.  

(Lowestoft Weekly Press:  February 23rd 1889)


    As the century came to an end, most places passed by-laws requiring vehicles to display lights at night.   Any number of   prosecutions followed.   Other by-laws were less universal.


LOWESTOFT - At the conclusion of the business at the Police Court on Monday, the mayor announced that he had received a great many complaints respecting the nuisance caused by lads flying their kites in the streets and other public places.

                        Eastern Daily Press:  May 3rd 1892


    In Lowestoft, now reduced from the status of spa-town to its former place as a centre of the fishing industry, crime, like life, became more basic.  Typical was a case in 1895, when Rose Barnaby was found guilty of keeping a disorderly house.


The house it appears had been watched by the police, where 7 women and two boys lived.  A policeman swore he knew Minnie Young (35) Louisa Read (20) Rose Barnaby (20) Edith Barnaby (19) Mary Jane Barnaby (16) Alice Margain (18) and Agnes Rosie (18) were all living in the house.   The house had been watched and it was stated it had been frequented by several fishermen and others.   The defendant said what she had done was for the support of her brother and sister who otherwise would have starved.

             Eastern Weekly Leader:  January 26th 1895


The bench felt it was ‘their painful duty’ to sentence Rose Barnaby to one month’s imprisonment.


Drink had a lot to do with much of the petty crime of the time...  


George Rudd of Ipswich, tailor, was charged with being drunk in a railway carriage at Saxmundham.  

                        Suffolk Chronicle:  February 1879


David Storry, Rickinghall was charged with being drunk and riotous on the highway, at Botesdale on the 18th April.  The case was proved by Inspector Barnard who saw defendant on the day in question in a beastly state of drunkenness.  Defendant pleaded guilty and said he was sorry it had occurred, as he was just upon the point of marrying.

                        FramlinghamWeekly News:  May 4th 1878


At Lowestoft petty sessions in February 1884, John Saunders, charged with being drunk, said he was guilty of being helpless, but not drunk.

    At Aldeburgh, in January of the same year, John Allerton, fisherman, was charged with being drunk & disorderly, but appeared before the bench in such an intoxicated state, the case had to be adjourned and the defendant turned out of court.    (Halesworth Times: Winter 1884)


    What to do with child criminals continued to be a problem.  Many voices were being raised in opposition to the kind of    sentence these two received.



Thomas Barrett aged 13 years and James Goult of the same age of Little Thurlow were charged with stealing two bells of the value of 2s.  

P.C. John Purr said:  On Monday the 19th January last I received information about some bells being stolen from the school at Thurlow.  I made enquiries …and found out that some bells were being rung by boys in the street, and that Barrett had given his bell away to George Sexton. ...I asked Barrett how he came by it, he said he took it out of the old school: he got hold of the rope and James Goult pulled the bell down. …then I met James Goult in the road and I asked him where the bell was that he had taken out of the school on Sunday; he denied   having been in the school, or either having a bell, and I told him it was no use denying it as I should bring two or three witnesses forward to say that he had the bell.  

He then said, "Do you think we shall get into any scrape about it?”  

The clerk called on the prisoners to plead and they both pleaded guilty.  The bench ordered that each boy should receive six strokes with a birch rod.

            Suffolk & Essex Free Press:  February 4th 1885


Herbert Riseborough of Sheringham, aged 11, was charged with... cutting off the end of a donkey’s tail.  The boy said he was attempting to cut some hair off the donkey’s tail to make a duddle, and his knife slipped.   The small piece of tail was produced by the Inspector of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.   As the bench were of the opinion he did not do it with criminal intent, they could not convict him.                 

Eastern Weekly Leader:  December 8th 1894




This was now the age of compulsory schooling.   However, labouring families used to sending their children to work from an early age were often reluctant to have their 10 & 11 year olds attend school when they could be earning a few shillings a week instead. 

    In 1885 the Suffolk and Essex Free Press reported Sudbury schools as having achieved 78% attendance, largely as a result of warnings, notices and prosecutions.   The South West Suffolk Echo indicated that Haverhill had a greater problem, achieving only 68% attendance as late as 1890.   The news-papers of the time published details of large numbers of cases of parents brought to court for refusing to send their children to school often enough.


Education at Cotton

John Gladwell, George Fox Ephraim Godfrey and William Grimsey of Cotton were all charged with not attending school.  3 shillings fines and attendance orders were placed upon them.

                        Ipswich Journal:  June 24th 1893


George Gorham of Falkenham was indicted for not sending his child to school - he had only sent him four times out of fifty-five. (FramlinghamWeekly News:  November 1877)


Ixworth Petty Sessions

George Huffey of Norton was again summoned for neglecting to obey an order of justices to send his two children, Ellen and Rose to an Elementary School.   Mrs. Huffey said the children were always sent to Norton school but the master refused to admit them.   George Henry Cornish, the attendance officer for Stow Union said he had two witnesses to prove that the children were covered with vermin …and were sent home because they were filthy.   The bench inflicted the full penalty of 5 shillings.

                        Lowestoft Journal:  April 24th 1880


These were only three of a vast number of cases to be brought to court.  Children were meant to attend school up to the age of 10 or 11, at which point, they had to satisfy the authorities as to their literacy and numeracy if they were to be allowed to leave before they reached the age of 13.  Employers too had to be wary of breaking these new laws.


Alfred Cupper of Bedfield, farmer, Chas. Mudd of Dennington, farmer, and Harriet Blomfield, also of Dennington were found guilty of employing boys under ten or over ten but without a school certificate.  All were fined 6 pence with 15 shillings and 6 pence costs.

                        FramlinghamWeekly News:  April 20th 1878


GANG LICENCE - Mrs Simpkin of Wicken was granted a gang licence but was cautioned that she should not employ children under 13 unless they had passed the required standard.  

                        Newmarket Journal:  April 7th 1883



The newspapers of the time

At the beginning of this period, the East Anglian Daily Times was already on sale six days a week.  In 1886, it was joined by the Ipswich Journal, which now published both a weekly and a daily version. 



A year earlier, costing one half-penny, the ‘Star of the East’ was born.  Later (in May 1893) to become the ‘Evening Star’, it was Suffolk’s first evening paper.


Some of the publications from this time were short-lived.   The Moonraker, (with which were included the Essex Calf and The Norfolk Dumpling) priced 1d, briefly attempted to be a local ‘Punch.’  According to the editor, its object was “to pleasantly summarize the chief events of the counties and to comment thereon in a manner calculated to interest all classes and offend none.   In these columns, when necessary, the weapon of satire will be freely used.”    Freely yes, successfully no!


An old lady was telling a friend that she could remember the time in East Bergholt when every parishioner who transgressed the ninth commandment in any degree was placed in the chancel and had to stand during the whole of the service facing the congregation.   Why, asked the old lady, has that good old custom ever been allowed to lapse?  The reason is obvious, replied her friend, if that custom prevailed now there would be no congregation - they would all be in the chancel.

                        Moonraker:  November 2nd 1886


The fact of a man being stone broke often leads him to stone-breaking

                        Moonraker:  February 8th 1887


As these proved to be the most amusing items we could find in this publication, not surprisingly, it folded after six months.   Equally temporary was the ‘Ipswich Advance’, a radical Liberal paper which may have served the party in the run-up to a general election, ceasing to be after the election of November 1885.   This was typical of the paper’s style and content.



Saturday’s Conservative Fete.  

…The fireworks were perfectly emblematic of Tory policy, being noisy, flashy, calculated to make fools gape and not altogether successful.

                        Ipswich Advance:  Summer 1885


The political allegiances of many major local papers were well known and thinly disguised under a veneer of independence.  Liberals could rely on the support of the Bury Free Press and the Suffolk Chronicle.  Conservative views were expounded by the Ipswich Journal, the Bury & Suffolk Standard and the Suffolk & Essex Free Press.  The East Suffolk Gazette was the voice of the Church of England.  By and large, the East Anglian Daily Times and the Bury Post adopted a neutral stance, wherever possible.


    By 1900, Local papers included columns for everybody - rural notes, fashion for women and even a children’s section. (‘Something for young folks, by Cousin Kate’)   The Ipswich Journal introduced weekly competitions and several East Anglian papers of the time carried a ‘Science Notes’ column.


All doubts as to the irregularity of the movements of the world may be set at rest.   A distinguished scientist declares that the earth went slow and lost seven seconds between 1850 and 1862, and then went fast, and gained 8 seconds between 1862 and 1872.   From this, all anxious passengers on our terrestrial train through space will observe that we are conforming with a fair degree of accuracy to the celestial timetable.  It is comforting to us to know that the globe is rotating satisfactorily because it might be very awkward if the running gear should ever get out of order.

                        Eastern Weekly Leader:  May 4th 1895


Two predictable spring features of papers today were already taking their seasonal place by the end of the 19th century.



People eat very queer things and call them delicacies, but probably the queerest titbit yet discovered is a packet of needles.   A dressmaker has been known to eat a packet every day for two months, at the end of which time she is described as being a walking needle-cushion. One doctor got 382 needles out of her arms, body, and legs in a few days, and he could feel ever so many more under the skin.   From another woman, 86 needles were extracted, some of them over 3 inches long.   How they got in couldn't be ascertained, for she denied having ever swallowed such things …probably she swallowed them while asleep.   Strangely nearly all came out of the left side.   Very singularly, neither needles or pins give much trouble while in the body, but just as they are coming through the skin, acute pain is felt.   They do not always get in by the mouth.   A woman, who had 20 needles removed from her back, said she remembered having worn mustard plasters which were fastened with needles, and no doubt these slipped through the skin.  Sometimes they make extraordinary excursions in the body.  A doctor in Glasgow had a patient who accidentally pushed half a needle into her right thumb and some days later it came out of the little finger of her left hand having travelled up to the shoulder, across the chest, and down the left arm.   It is often difficult to get them out, and generally doctors leave the operation to nature.   Nature is slow, however, and one woman who swallowed a lot of needles before she was out of her teens kept discharging them until she was a great grandmother.  The best way to get them out is by using a powerful magnet.  A small opening is made in the skin and a magnet is placed over it and bandaged.   At the end of twenty hours the bandage is taken off and the needle is found adhering to the magnet.   Of course they do not always come out without doing mischief.   Very frequently, they enter the heart and then the patient dies of needles.

                        Woodbridge Reporter:  April 8th 1897


April Fool!  Not surprisingly, this item was reprinted from the ‘Golden Penny’ of April 1st.


Newspapers a hundred years ago or more were still keen to mark the arrival of Spring visitors.   The Woodbridge Reporter for March 1897 described the early arrival of brimstone butterflies.  In April 1887, the Ipswich Journal reported nightingales singing at Wherstead and Spring Road Ipswich.   The same paper on May 2nd 1887 wrote of several cuckoos singing ‘in the neighbourhood of Brooks Hall.’  

    Meanwhile, concern over our declining wildlife, voiced in the Diss Express of 1898, sounds ominously familiar…

There has been a considerable decrease in our swallow visitors over the past few years. 


A recurring theme of this series of books has been the way in which editors, from earliest times, have clearly chosen stories for their entertainment value alone, regardless of where they are from or whom they are about.


The other evening, a strange scene was witnessed at Everton, when a number of youths were engaged in the grim pastime of playing football with skulls.   It appears, the premises of Dr. F. Month were entered and an articulated skeleton and a number of anatomical preparations stolen... The rumour soon circulated that someone had been killed, and upon this, a great crowd assembled, filling the streets in the immediate vicinity, and despite the efforts of the police, the excitement was sustained for a prolonged period, the crowd remaining and discussing with no small variety of detail the number of murders and the various styles in which they had been executed by the supposed culprits.    

                        Woodbridge Reporter:  April 19th 1888



The social divide between rich and poor

With a growing working class readership and increased social awareness, the two extremes were well represented in the local press.  The poorest members of society were likely to find themselves in the workhouse at some time in their lives.   It was common for those better off to make charitable donations to the poor of their community.  


NEWMARKET - Gifts to the workhouse - Mr. M’Calmont M.P. has sent 50 rabbits for the sick inmates of the workhouse and Mrs. Cooper of Warren Towers has presented a musical box for the use of the children.                

Bury Post:  January 21st 1896


The upper echelons continued to be treated, for the most part, with the greatest of respect.   In July 1891, Mr. Gladstone, the former Prime Minister, then in ill health, stayed at The Clyffe, Corton near Lowestoft, by invitation of Mr. Colman of the Norwich mustard   family.   Such an event was inevitably noted in most of the Suffolk press.  The death of Gladstone in 1898 was recorded with a reverence not given to any politician again until Churchill.  If the upper classes were to be mocked, it would be gently.


When their daughters are infants, mothers are anxious to keep   matches out of their reach; to put matches within their reach is their greatest anxiety when their daughters are older.

Aldeburgh Leiston & Saxmundham Times:  October 20th 1900


Aldeburgh remained a popular watering place for the wealthy and distinguished.  The Aldeburgh, Leiston & Saxmundham Times published lists of visitors staying at Aldeburgh and Thorpeness, which, at the height of the summer season, ran to over 300 families and individuals. However, any attempt to turn Aldeburgh into a resort for the masses was vigorously contested.  According to the Framlingham Weekly News of June 29th 1878, a general meeting of the Aldeburgh Pier Company was held at the Town Hall.   The building of a pier, close to the Moot Hall, divided the community.



Sir, - As a ‘man in the street,’ I say in my reply to ‘well-wisher’s letter’ in your last issue, if you want Aldeburgh to develop into a second Yarmouth, have a pier by all means.   Yarmouth, in my opinion and that of my wife, is a model of everything a watering place should not be.  

Yours faithfully, an annual visitor.

Aldeburgh, Leiston & Saxmundham Times:  September 1900


Eventually, the pier developers ran out of money and the unsightly rusting framework was removed in 1908.


The poorer classes became more newsworthy, both at work and at play. 


AT HARWICH, a seaman called Robert Cook, engaged in unloading a steamer, caught his fingers in the cogs of a crane leading to their amputation.  This was the 17th similar   accident with this crane, and surely the cogs could be cased.

            Framlingham Weekly News:  June 1877


Felixstowe was beginning to attract huge numbers of visitors.   The Ipswich Journal reported that in the summer of 1893, six thousand, members of the Bricklayers Union came by train for their annual day out.   A thousand visitors came from Bedford and were entertained in Mr. Sayle’s beach restaurant, Undercliff Road.   Another thousand from Edmonton were fed by Mr. Cordy in the Victoria Hall.   On July 22nd of that year 1600 children came from Walthamstowe to Felixstowe.   This time, 700 had tea supplied by Mr. Cordy.  


The cliffs and beach provided ample means for the children’s  thorough enjoyment.   The Southgrove Mission Band played round the streets on their arrival, and during the early part of the evening, discoursed some first class music on the green opposite the convalescent home, which was not only a treat for the inmates, but many residents and visitors.

                                    Ipswich Journal:  July 22nd. 1893


The changing fortunes of seaside resorts can be seen in these next extracts.  In June 1892, the Eastern Daily Press reported that at Whitsuntide many thousands of visitors came to participate in “the numerous opportunities for recreation and amusement offered by Bright and Breezy Yarmouth.”    At Lowestoft, it reported a quiet day... “For several years there has been a gradual decrease in the number of popular attractions offered to the public at this season.”


Lowestoft was in decline as a watering place for the rich, but the railway brought the masses to nearby Great Yarmouth. 



On Thursday in last week the elder members of the Upper Rickinghall Church Choir and Sunday School had, through the kindness of the Rev C.W. James, rector, an excursion to Yarmouth, where a very pleasant day was spent.  

                        Diss Express:  August 17th 1894



Working class virtues were acknowledged, but their vices were far more fun to read about.


Baby Farming

Abi Joan Barton of Epping was charged with having neglected the eighteen children in her care …aged between three and thirteen, all were found to be in a very dirty and neglected condition …she had advertised in the ‘People’ newspaper, offering a “happy home for children” …she described how one gentleman had offered her £30 to take a child and he didn’t expect to see it again.      

            Suffolk & Essex Free Press:  February 4th 1891



Ann Corby, wife of George Corby, Groom, of this place, was taken before the magistrates, charged with doing grievous bodily harm to her daughter, Emily Wright.   Emily Wright, aged 14, is her illegitimate daughter.   She is weak in intellect, and her mother is alleged to have made her stand in water in an outhouse in December last.  A witness, it seems, was passing by the shed, heard a noise, and enquired as to who was there.   The poor girl replied, and said her mother was going to put her in water.  The mother was asked whether she was going to do so, and she replied that the water was “chilled.”   It was frosty weather at the time …Anyhow, the frost seized the child’s feet and on the 9th January she was received at the East Suffolk Hospital in a terrible state, her feet having rotted.   Since her admittance a few bones have been removed, and the feet have both rotted completely off.   She is now in a very sad state.   The prisoner has now been remanded and the case will be fully investigated before the Samford Bench.

                        Suffolk Chronicle:  February 8th 1879


The Star of the East, on October 27th 1891, carried details of an inquest on George Henry Stannard of the inappropriately named ‘Mount Pleasant.’  This was a slum in the Back Hamlet of Ipswich.  He had died from eating toadstools.  A widower, ‘addicted to drink,’ Stannard had previously been imprisoned for neglecting his five children who were discovered ‘in a most filthy condition covered with vermin and matted hair.  The only furniture in the house was a damaged table, 3 chairs, a knife & spoon and a thin straw mattress.’   The children had survived by running errands for neighbours who gave them coppers, with which they purchased bread and herrings.



There can be no doubt that ease of transport made it possible for large numbers to get about in ways that would not have been possible a generation before.  Train travel had become cheaper, though not a lot safer.  In March 1877, The Framlingham Weekly News Reported “A fearful accident to the flying Scotchman,” where five were killed and another five seriously injured.   One local accident victim was more than unusually unlucky...


A victim to misfortune - It will be remembered that William Borret who was the driver of the train in the Barnby collision, received a fractured ankle and other injuries.   Having arrived at a convalescent state, Borret, a few days ago, went to stay with his father at Yoxford. ...Yesterday morning, Borret in the company of a few of his friends went for a drive in a small trap.  In crossing a small stream, which ran over the road, the horse shied, and broke the shafts of the vehicle. Borret …was thrown out on to the road on to his injured leg.   As soon as possible, the unfortunate man was conveyed to Yoxford …and discovered he had received a compound fracture of his leg.  

                        Eastern Daily Press:  May 31st 1892


The Great Eastern Railway Company reported growing profits as more people and more goods moved by rail around the region.   However not everybody was satisfied with the service they received.   Mr. W. Brown, farmer of Braintree attempted to sue the company over a consignment of peas that failed to get to market on time.  His claim for £3-12-0 was unsuccessful as the judge held that the defendants had used every means to deliver the peas within a reasonable time.  

    However Mr. John Bird of Combs, also in January 1891, successfully sued the same railway company for failing to deliver his pigs on time and in a fit condition.  He was      awarded £11-12-0   (Suffolk & Essex Free Press)


    In January 1897, the Woodbridge Reporter (& Wickham Market Gazette) showed how the popularity of cycling was growing.   Apparently the Cyclists’ Touring Club had offered a prize of twenty guineas for the best designs for ‘a luggage van specially fitted for the safe conveyance of cycles.’  The railways had been caught by surprise at the large numbers wanting to take bikes on trains.   The newspapers of this period were full of accounts of accidents involving cyclists.  These are merely a few of them.


A lad named Turner was knocked down in Church Street [Eye], whereby the cheek was so severely cut - either with the wheel of the machine or in the fall - that he had to be taken to Mr. C. Franklin Wright’s surgery to have the wound sewn up and dressed.  No blame whatever attaches to the bicyclist, a young fellow named Thorndyke, for upon seeing a number of children in the street, he rung his bell and shouted, but the lad Turner declined to move.   

                   Ipswich Journal:  April 22nd 1887


ACCIDENT TO A CYCLIST - Mr. G. Holmes, assistant to Mr. Knevett of this town [Stradbroke] was riding his bicycle on Thursday last at considerable speed on the Wilby road, a dog ran in the way, and the bicycle passing over it, the rider was pitched with great violence to the ground and had his shoulder dislocated.  

            Framlingham Weekly News:  June 29th 1878


There were even fatalities.  The Stowmarket Courier in April 1899 told of the death of Cyril Howell (7) of Wickham Market who was ‘knocked down whilst playing with a spinning top.’ 


It is interesting to note that boy racers are not an entirely modern phenomenon. 


Mr. W. Popplewell of Woodbridge Road Ipswich was cycling under the railway bridge leading to Martlesham Hill, when outside Mr. Finch’s blacksmith’s shop, a young fellow named Fredk. Wilson of the Deben Roller Mills, Wickham Market, came down the hill at speed and rode into him, smashing both machines.   Mr. Popplewell had his collar broken.   Dr. West, assistant to Dr. Kirkpatrick of Woodbridge reduced the fracture and he was able to return home by carrier.   Mr. Wilson was more seriously injured.   He has a severe cut on the head.

                         Woodbridge Reporter:  July 1st 1897


The Bury Post of July 14th 1896 reported that in Stowmarket “Cyclists will scorch through the streets.”   Magistrates were warning, “This practice will be put down with a strong hand!”

In a letter to the Star of the East, someone signing himself ‘A timid one,’ complained…


It seems good fun for a good many young cyclists to ‘shave’ you as near as possible if you presume to walk in the street  ...and to ring their bells just as they get ‘broadside on,’ and so to startle you, that you hardly know which side the rider is on.

                        Star of the East:  September 1st 1891


The Weather

As we have shown in former volumes, stories involving severe weather regularly graced the columns of our local papers.


PETTISTREE - During the tempest on Tuesday afternoon, a young man, named Hart, who was working in a field, was putting on his guernsey.   To do this, he had removed his hat.   From what was supposed to be a flash of lightning, a burning sensation was experienced on his head, but it is hoped the effects will not prove serious.

                        Woodbridge Reporter:  June 3rd 1897


HEAVY GALE - Very severe weather was experienced at the end of last week.   At Southwold, the sea broke over the beach and flooded the marshes.   On Sunday morning an attempt was made to ferry people across the flooded country, and whilst making preparations, the body of a man who was identified as William Cady of Reydon was discovered in the water.  The railway embankment was washed away for about three hundred yards, leaving only the metals and sleepers hanging in the air.   Several pigs were drowned.

                        Diss Express:  December 28th 1894


On this occasion, it was not all bad news...


A singular accident occurred on Saturday evening at the Half Moon Inn, Grundisburgh, near Woodbridge, while a Christmas draw was being decided.   The room, which is over the cellar, was full of interested spectators when suddenly the floor gave way, precipitating the entire company into the bottom of the cellar, which, owing to the heavy rain during the previous night was flooded.   Happily, all escaped with but slight bruises and scratches.

                        Diss Express:  December 28th 1894


The winter of 1890 & 1891 was described in the Suffolk & Essex Free Press as the coldest winter on record.  In January, the paper reported people skating on the Gipping from Bramford to Stowmarket. At Borley in Essex, they held a torchlight procession on ice.   Passengers on a train from Haverhill to Long Melford found themselves stranded when the brakes froze at Clare when the train stopped to take on water.   March of that year was marked by tempests and snowstorms across the whole country.   The Suffolk & Essex Free Press reported damage across Suffolk from Hurricane Force winds, deep snow and wrecks grounded all along the East coast.   “All lifeboats stationed between Aldeburgh and Clacton were floated.”  This was not the only dreadful winter.



On Friday 11th inst, Howe, the Head Gamekeeper at Livermere Park, had a very narrow escape from being frozen to death.   It has been his custom to go early in the morning to the island in the middle of the lake, for the purpose of shooting wild fowl, and on the morning in question he went as usual about 6 o’clock.   At about 8, cries for help were heard from the island, and a number of labourers who were working a threshing machine, the noise of which had prevented their hearing the calls earlier, were appealed to go for help by Howe's young son.   They went to the edge of the lake, and hearing the continued cries, feared that Howe had accidentally shot himself.   They therefore at once went to the boathouse, got out a punt and procured from the stable a horse, which dragged the punt around the lake to the nearest point to the island.   Here they launched the boat and propelled it by means of ‘sprits’ through the thin ice.   By the time they arrived at the island, it was eleven o'clock and they then found Howe crouching on the ground, totally unconscious, and his limbs perfectly stiff.   He was taken ashore and some Brandy given to him …He was taken home where Capt. Horton had kindly prepared mustard plasters and other necessaries. Howe’s limbs remained perfectly rigid, and it was found necessary to cut his clothes off.   His arms, legs and body were then rubbed until circulation was restored; but it was not until after the lapse of 48 hours that he was able to speak.   The explanation of the condition in which Howe was found is that after being on the island about two hours, he began to feel chilled, and he therefore got into the boat for the purpose of returning home.  As he was pushing the boat off, the pole broke and he fell headlong into the water, the boat at the same time being propelled a considerable distance away.   Howe made for the island as well as he could… dripping wet and with no means of getting away.   His cries for help were continuous until he became almost frozen to death.   We are glad to hear that Howe is now recovering.

                        Bury Free Press:  February 19th 1876


BOXFORD - On Sunday morning the mail cart from Colchester to Boxford got fixed in the ice between Horksley and Nayland.  It appears that the road near Nayland for two or three hundred yards has been flooded several days.  On Sunday morning, water two or three feet deep was frozen over, and after the driver had got about thirty yards into it, it became too deep for the horse to break the ice, and being blocked in by the broken ice at the back, the driver was unable to go either backwards or forwards.  In this dilemma, assistance was rendered by several men who with poles tried to break the ice but with dubious results; and at last a horse and tumbril were driven through several times and thus the ice got churned up and the unfortunate mailman was enabled to proceed.   Both driver and horse suffered severely from the cold.

                        Suffolk Chronicle:  January 11th 1879





These two previous stories had happy endings of a kind.  Genuine tragedy too was reported, often in a rather ghoulish kind of way.


‘DISASTROUS FIRE AT COTTON’ -  The Suffolk Chronicle of March 7th 1896 devoted most of one page to a fire at Elm Grove Farm, Cotton.   As well as reporting the fire itself, where

three people were killed, the inquest and the funeral were fully reported.   The fire took hold in the early hours of Sunday morning...  


“The house was surrounded by a moat whence a good supply of water was at hand, but the mere throwing of buckets full of water by hand on the raging flames was useless.   The police officer sent off news of the disaster to Eye, with a request that the fire brigade might attend, and this was complied with, the brigade reaching the scene about eight o’clock.”  [Five hours later]


This time saw the beginning of remarkably detailed funeral reports.   Lists of those attending were published along with the hymns sung and all the funeral messages attached to the wreaths.   One of the dead was a child, Frederick John Ripper, aged 6.   A wreath from his Sunday School chum, Ambrose, read, “In loving memory of Freddy.”  Amongst the minute detail, we are told, “The child’s coffin, being smaller than those of his grandmother and uncle, was elevated in the grave to bring the tops of the three coffins level.”


When a bizarre death occurred in the centre of Ipswich, this was the response...

There was something inexpressively sad in the merciless way in which the poor young man DAVEY was felled to the ground and killed on Monday by a falling cantilever from the cornice of the Town Hall.   Many persons afterwards gazed with peculiar curiosity at that corner under the cornice, left fresh and naked by the fallen stone.   This curiosity was quickened by the reflection that the accident might have happened to any one of them.   There was nothing in DAVEY’S case more than in any of us which marked him for a victim.  He left his home in the dark of a winter’s morning, was sallying past the Town Hall with his hands in his pockets, within a few yards of his destination.   But his movements turned out to be timed with fatal precision.  A second sooner or a second later would probably have saved his life.   Exactly as the stone fell, he passed under; and he passed under with such exactness that the stone caught his head, scattered his brains about the pavement, and there he lay a corpse. 

    Death was as sudden as a shaft of lightning. Nature had done it all, and nature succumbed to nature’s combined attack - first the use of soft stone, then the frost, then the thaw, and then the fatal coincidence of the falling of the stone and the passing of the victim.

                        Suffolk Chronicle:  February 8th 1879


BUNGAY - SAD FATALITY - A boy named Earnest Harry Hall aged 12, son of a maltster, living at Bungay, died on Wednesday from inflammation due to ‘his squeaker’ swallowed by him on 4th October.   The boy was at Bungay Board School on that day…and had in his mouth a couple of bits of tin fastened together with a piece of tape, such as is used at Punch and Judy shows.   Whilst in a stooping position, playing leap-frog, a friend named Pipe jumped over him and Hall accidentally swallowed the article leading to his death.

                        Diss Express:  October 21st 1898






The inquest was held on the infant Frederick Barnard, who fell with an umbrella steel rib, which penetrated the brain and who, after lingering ten weeks, died on Thursday night.  

                        Diss Express:  November 21st 1890


A Dreadful Tragedy was enacted… in the village of Horham, near Stradbroke.   Mr. F. Roe, miller and his wife were from home, and their son Stanley, aged 12 years was about to put his brother, aged 4 years to bed.   To frighten the child, Stanley said, “If you don’t go quietly, I will shoot you,” and in play took up a gun which was unfortunately loaded and being discharged, the top of the little boy’s head was completely blown off.   Death was instantaneous.

                        Halesworth Times:  June 13th 1899



Medical stories

The Suffolk Chronicle for January 26th 1900 advertised...


‘DOCTOR WILLIAMS’ PINK PILLS FOR PALE PEOPLE (Breadwinners, it is your duty to take care of your health).’ 

These wonderful pills apparently cured chronic indigestion, eczema, rheumatism, anaemia and incipient consumption.   Similar adverts printed three years earlier in the Woodbridge Reporter claimed these very same pills were versatile enough to cure paralysis, locomotor staxy, spinal disease, scrofula, disorders of women, St. Vitus’ dance, rickets, pale and sallow complexions and palpitations of the heart.                        


Many West End Doctors are setting their faces against fox-hunting for women, not so much because of the occasional accidents, but because of, the intense mental strain and nervous excitement which cross-country riding entails.

                        Eastern Daily Press:  March 20th 1896


Around the turn of the century, it was not unusual to find adverts disguised as newspaper articles.   Take for example this one.  



It is a scene in a lecture room of a medical college.   The Professor is lecturing before an intelligent class of medical students.   He is describing the human body, its defects and the danger by which it is surrounded.   In order to illustrate it, he has fluids from the human body, which he is subjecting to chemical tests.

“Gentlemen,” he said, “I have described to you the appearance of the human fluid in a diseased state; I will now show you how the same fluid appears in a healthy state.”   And he subjected his own to the test.   As he held it up to the light for a moment, his hand trembled, he caught his breath, he paled and exclaimed, “gentlemen, I have just made a most horrible discovery; I myself have Bright’s disease of the kidneys.”  In less than a year he was dead.

                        Woodbridge Reporter:  May 27th 1897


In actual fact, whilst it may be true, this was only an advertisement for... ‘Warner’s Safe Cure, (guaranteed to act as a truly scientific remedy, known for the cure or relief of Bright’s disease)’


From Wickham Skeith, the Diss Express reported an inquiry following the death of Florence Mary Emsden (2 years, 7 months) from acute bronchitis leading to pneumonia.  The father had requested the attendance of Mr. Cuthbert, the        surgeon from Mendlesham, who said he could not come.   He suggested contacting Mr. Friar, who also could not come.          It was declared that the child had died from natural causes but… “her life might have been saved had she received more prompt medical attention.”  (Diss Express:  August 29th 1890)




An extraordinary case comes from Vienna where a man who died recently is said to have had his heart on the right side, and almost all of whose internal organs milt, liver and intestines were found to be opposite to their usual place.   The deceased, whose name was Adolph Schlesinger, nevertheless never felt any inconvenience from this cause.   Having some years ago accidentally learned of the unusual arrangement of his internal economy, he offered to sell his body to the British Museum for immediate payment of a good sum, but the offer was declined.   The cause of his death was consumption.

                        Diss Express:  December 7th 1894



On Saturday evening, Miss Alice Girling, employed by the firm of Messrs. Turner & Co. was taken very ill soon after business hours, and not withstanding all that medical aid and kind attention could do, she died on Sunday afternoon …On Saturday she complained of having caught cold …she appeared to be suffering from acute indigestion or cramp in the side.   Dr. Groome sent her a draught with some chlorodyne in it and ordered mustard flannels to be applied.   He saw her again on Sunday afternoon when he found she was dying, evidently from acute peritonitis …Dr. Groome stated that death was due to the perforation of the stomach, which partially allowed its contents to escape into the system.   In the stomach were found two apricot stones which had caused the perforation and …might have been in the stomach six months, but he could not say how long.    The inquest jury returned a verdict of accidental death caused by swallowing two apricot stones.                   Halesworth Times:  April 15th 1884



American stories

America, from the accounts and items published in Suffolk’s late Victorian papers, was a wild and lawless place that revelled in lynchings, public hangings and even the odd spot of cannibalism.


At a Texas baby show, it was a long time before anyone could be found to act as a judge.   Finally, five brave men were found to act, on condition that the awards should not be announced until the judges had ten minutes start.   The mothers sat in a circle, babies in laps.  The judges made their rounds, compared notes, handed the result to the spokesman and ran for their lives.

            Framlingham Weekly News:  January 20th 1877



A few days ago a Negro of some little standing in his community returned to Washington (Georgia) after a prolonged absence, and his friends determined to celebrate the event.  They commissioned a deputation to wait upon Lizzie Hughes, a woman who kept an eating-house.  After some debate it was arranged that a sumptuous banquet should be served to the party on Monday night.   By way of politeness, one of the guests complimented the woman Hughes on the success of the entertainment, asking at the same time, what was the nature of the meat.   A child belonging to the woman said, “my sister.”   The child then told a horrible story of how her mother had killed her little sister that afternoon, and served her up to the Negroes.

    The latter became exasperated and seized the woman, and a deputation of three was despatched to the nearest doctor with the bones for the purpose of having them examined.  The doctor pronounced the bones as certainly belonging to a human being, but the circumstances of the case having been explained to him, he notified the police so that at the same time that the infuriated deputation reached the eating house, a posse of police arrived in time to prevent the summary murder of the woman Hughes.  She was immediately placed under arrest although she stoutly denies her guilt.   It is known, however, that one of her little girls is missing, and she cannot account for her absence.

                        Suffolk & Essex Free Press:  June 3rd 1891


Scene at an Execution

An Execution of a ghastly character took place at Washington in Pennsylvania on Friday morning.   The condemned convict was a coloured man named West, who murdered a white woman last autumn.   Had he not been strongly guarded West would have been lynched long ago, so incensed has been the entire community against him.   Monday night West attempted to commit suicide in his prison cell by stabbing himself with a knife, which he had managed to get smuggled in to him.   The gaol surgeons stitched and plastered his wounds, which were   serious, and declared that there was no reason why the murderer should not expiate his crime. ...This morning the wretched convict, although nearly dead, was carried to the gallows amid the jeers of a large number of spectators, and as it was evident that he could not stand, he was strapped to a plank, on which he was jerked into the air.   The extra weight and spring caused the rope to break, and West came crashing to the ground.   Several bystanders rushed forward, seized the victim, and held him upright until another rope was fixed and then the hanging was accomplished without further mishap. 

                        Suffolk & Essex Free Press:  March 4th 1891


American humour seems to have been much appreciated, several local papers publishing regular snippets.


A Chicago man has fitted up a fiddle to run by steam.   The horrified neighbours are looking about for some contrivance that will enable them to run by steam.

                        Bury Free Press:  January 29th 1876


Men can kill just as positively by keeping money in their pockets, as they can by taking revolvers out of them.  

                        South West Suffolk Echo:  August 30th 1890


In a store in Fulton Street, New York is the placard “God helps those who help themselves, but God help those caught helping themselves in this store!”

                        Bury Free Press:  January 29th 1876


Animal Tales

Observing wildlife - and shooting it - had become a popular pastime with people of all classes, the wealthy often being    prepared to purchase specimens for stuffing to add to their    collections.  


HALESWORTH - While Mr. Charles White was on the marshes on Monday, a bird, afterwards found to be a Bittern flew at him and with assistance was secured.   Mr. White afterwards sold it to a gentleman in the neighbourhood who intends having it preserved.  

                        Lowestoft Weekly Press:  January 19th 1889


The Suffolk & Essex Free Press in February 1891 reported the shooting of a number of rare birds at Lamarsh, including a red-breasted Merganser.  Other such reports mentioned a number of wild fowl shot on the Stour, including a Smew, a Goosander, a number of Geese, Widgeon and ‘Royston Crows.’ 


The Perils of Bird Nesting - A little boy named Arthur Turner was admitted into the Suffolk General Hospital on Monday afternoon, suffering from a fracture of the right thigh which he sustained by falling off a tree at Felsham, up which he had climbed in search of birds’ nests.

                        Lowestoft Journal:  August 7th 1880


Anecdotes about the local wildlife and domesticated animals must have been popular, judging by the number published.


LEISTON - SQUIRREL HUNT - On Sunday evening last, just as the congregation were proceeding to church, ‘young Leiston’ discovered a squirrel on the church road, and a rare scene occurred.   Some score or more lads and even young men commenced pelting the poor little animal with the stones, running, shouting, and yelling from one tree to another and the swift little creature evaded the missiles.   Fortunately none of the passers by were hurt, although stones were flying in all directions.   Inspector Taylor shortly arrived and put a stop to this disgraceful sport, and the squirrel managed to escape, it is to be hoped unhurt, from such wonton cruelty.

                        Framlingham Weekly News:  May 4th 1878


STOWMARKET - A Rook’s nest - In the busy part of Bury Street are two trees overhanging the path.   Upon one, a rook’s nest has been built, a most unusual thing where there is so much traffic.   It is to be hoped the young ones will not be disturbed, so that in due course they may enjoy life where they list.

                        Suffolk & Essex Free Press:  March 25th 1885


STOWMARKET - AN OBSTINATE HORSE - On Monday evening, as a drayman in the employ of Messrs. Dawson & Co, Brewers, was returning with a load of empty casks, he led the horse down to the water near the Pickerell Bridge, in order to give it a drink.   On entering the stream, the animal laid itself down in the water and indulged in a cooling bath, much to the surprise of the driver.   Some of the casks rolled off the dray, and as no amount of entreaty, supplemented by a frequent application of the whip, would induce the horse to rise, one or two men waded into the water and removed the harness.   After several plunges in the stream, the animal suffered itself to be led out.   The dray and casks were afterwards pulled out.

                        Framlingham Weekly News:  June 29th 1878


AN ARMY OF MICE - A very remarkable slaughter of the little rodent occurred a few days since at Moon Hall, Stoke [-by-Clare].   [They may have meant Moor Hall]  Some stacks were being threshed when as usual a number of boys assembled for a little sport.   It is   stated that the proprietor offered the lads ½d per score for all the mice they could kill.  They went cheerfully to work, and in the end it was found they had earned 16s. 6d.    The number appears almost incredible, amounting to nearly eight thousand.  Taking into consideration the number that must have escaped, such a colony of ‘meece’ has seldom been heard of.  This illustrates one of the risks of keeping stacks of corn, as mice frequently cause serious loss.

                        Suffolk & Essex Free Press:  March 25th 1885


Lenard Pattle, butcher of Stowmarket was fined 5s and 19/6d costs for throwing a bucket of very hot water over a dog that had been   picking scraps out of the gutter outside his shop.   The dog, a black retriever, was reported to have howled piteously at such treatment.   The charge had been brought by the dog’s owners, Fred and Mary Barnard, fishmongers of Stowupland Street.

                        Suffolk & Essex Free Press:  August 1891


Entertainment - sport

At the 24th Eye Annual Athletic Sports, prizes for the events included a butter cooler, an egg steamer, an ink stand, a biscuit box, a mustard pot, a champagne cup and a sugar shell...  


Mr. W.H. Hammond won a claret jug for winning the bicycle plank contest, whereby he had to ride a bicycle along a nine inch plank for a distance of 50 yards.

                        Lowestoft Journal:  May 22nd 1880


The long talked-of Swimming Baths for St. Clements [Ipswich] have at last been commenced at a cost of £3,468.   Messrs. Parkington and Son of St. Margaret’s Works have demolished the premises once owned by Grimwade, Ridley & Co …The pool is to be 70ft. long with six slipper baths on either side.  When finished, it will be a very welcome addition to the neighbourhood.     

                        Ipswich Journal:  February 25th 1895


TEMPERANCE CRICKET MATCH - A match of single wicket was played by six tradesmen of Woodbridge in a meadow belonging to Mr. Chas. Stephenson, at Hasketon, on the 18th inst.  It is a fact, which has perhaps has not before been recorded in the annals of Cricketing, that the players partook of no refreshment, either eating or drinking, during or intermediate between the first and second innings of a well contested and fatiguing game, which ended in the SCORE of both parties being equal.   But this abstinence may in a great measure be attributed to the presence of Father Matthew, who was their umpire, and to the absence of Mr. Stephenson, who, unfortunately was from home, and had taken away the keys of his cellar.  

                        Woodbridge Reporter:  October 26th 1881


Entertainment of other kinds

For the delight of all, these were the kinds of entertainment on offer at the end of the nineteenth century.


At Easton School Room, the ‘Sunflower Amateur Christy Minstrels’ entertained the Duke of Hamilton and others

            Ipswich Journal:  February 11th 1893


SAXMUNDHAM: ENTERTAINMENT - On Saturday evening, the ‘Blondinettes’ gave an entertainment at the Market Hall.   There was a fair attendance.   The entertainment was well worth listening to and the various songs &c. elicited frequent applause.  

                   Framlingham Weekly News:  November 18th 1876



Although this place of amusement has now been open several weeks, it has lost none of its popularity, owing to the fact that the performances are of a high order. ...During the week, the principal features were the graceful riding by Madame Melillo, the daring bare-back performances by Mons. Tourniaire, and the high trapeze gyrations of Kennette, who electrifies the audience by his daring achievements, the more so as he performs in mid-air without the precaution of having a net spread beneath him. ...The star of the week has been Wallett, the Queen’s Jester, who is an actor of no mean order, and whose jokes and quotations have been loudly applauded every evening.

                        Suffolk Chronicle:  May 3rd 1879


The Framlingham Weekly News of March 25th 1876 relates how Mr. R. Lambert had been busy giving magic lantern      lectures at Stratford St. Mary and Parham, showing Cruikshank’s “The bottle” and “The drunkard’s children,” whereby the “downward career of a father and children” were traced and “the blessings and advantages of total abstinence from the evil drink” were also set forth.   Readers were told that teetotalism gave “immunity from sickness, longer life, material prosperity and home happiness.”


The following events are just a few of those advertised or reported in the Suffolk & Essex Free Press, mostly between February and August 1891.


Billiard handicap, staged at Sudbury Liberal Club

Cinderella Dance held at Halstead

Sudbury Bell-Ringers Festival

Stowmarket Amateur Athletic Sports, held at Hill House, Stowmarket

Stoke by Nayland Ladies’ Cricket Club inauguration

Stradbroke Bicycle Gymkhana  (August 1898)

Congregational Chapel Soiree at Halesworth (1889)


The following groups and societies were in evidence at this time.


The Court Room Quadrille Party (Haverhill)

Ditchingham habitation of the Primrose League

Ipswich Ornithological Cage Bird Society

Needham Amateur Minstrels

Stoke Rectory Rangers Quoit Club

Stowmarket and District Teachers Assn. 

(President - Mr. John Inkpen)

Ipswich Plate Glass Protection Society

Young People’s Society for Christian Endeavour

Haughley Working Men’s Conservative Association

Lowestoft Beekeepers’ Association


Smoking Concerts were widely advertised, and often staged as fund-raising events...

A Smoking concert was held at the Caxton Arms at Beccles to which 140 attended and spent a pleasant evening with a capital programme.

                        Eastern Daily Press:  March 10th 1896


However, the dangers of smoking were becoming apparent, even then.


Those desirous of following illustrious example may now stop smoking, as the Emperor of Austria has discarded the weed by advice of his physicians.

                        Woodbridge Reporter:  January 1881


   One of the great role models of his time was Robert Baden-Powell, later to found the Scouting Movement.  He believed in a healthy life-style, and set about advising the young not to smoke.


The boys of the St. Andrew’s club at Westminster who have expressed their admiration of General Baden Powell by swearing off tobacco, want to give B.P. a Christmas present.  They think of sending him their signatures to show that his advice has been acted upon in a wider circle than perhaps he had expected.   This idea might be extended.   It would be something like a suitable Christmas gift if a few hundred thousand names were added of boys between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, who would take a similar resolve to give up smoking for one year as from the date of signing, as an experiment on themselves and a tribute of respect to the hero of Mafeking.   The editor will be pleased to receive signatures from boys in the neighbourhood and he will be happy to forward them.

Aldeburgh, Leiston & Saxmundham Times:  November 10th 1900



There were plenty of opportunities to celebrate all kinds of events at this time.  Some of them got a bit out of hand.


A most disgraceful scene occurred at the watch-night service at All Saints Church, Sudbury.   At a quarter to 12 o’clock, a party of men entered the church in a very disorderly manner.   After seating themselves, they commenced drinking whisky from a large bottle, handing it from pew to pew.   One of the men got up and began to sing, declaring it was the right time.   Another addressed his remarks to the congregation and as the vicar proceeded with his sermon they constantly bawled out “hear hear”, “amen”, “that’s right” &c.   Several members of the congregation including the sexton, requested them to behave themselves, but to no purpose, the ringleader being very turbulent.   They also brought in with them a large brick, with which they made a noise by shuffling it about the floor. …the matter has been reported to the police and other proceedings will be instituted against the culprits.   The bottle of whisky and brick are in the custody of the vicar and a strong feeling is evinced in the town that the offenders ought to be severely punished.  The general opinion is that they were drunk.

            Woodbridge Reporter:  January 5th 1888


  The period covered by this book enjoyed two great royal  celebrations, the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887 and the Diamond Jubilee, which celebrated 60 years of her reign in 1897.   Whilst enthusiasm for the first event was a little muted at first, owing to Victoria’s extended period of mourning, in the end, Suffolk’s love of a good party took over.  The tone adopted by the local papers changed as June 21st 1887 approached.   Earlier in the year, articles were published such as one from Victoria’s coach driver who complained he had not seen her in eight months.   Finally, however, people set to with a will.   The Daily Ipswich Journal described how Lincoln and Ely Cathedrals arranged with Messrs. Crompton to illuminate the tops of their towers with a 6000 candle-power electric arc light.   Suffolk in general settled for signal rockets and beacon fires.  

    The papers of the time devoted pages to describing how the towns and villages of Suffolk made merry.   Here is a selection of them taken from the pages of the Weekly Ipswich Journal.  


At Stoke by Nayland, “where they weren’t quite ready, a loud volley sounded between 3 & 4 a.m. to arouse the inhabitants so they could complete their decorating work.”


At Wangford and Henham, “420 persons enjoyed a meal costing 6d. a person, at the expense of the Countess of Stradbroke.”  

At Oulton, “each male received a gift of an ounce of tobacco and each female was given an ounce of tea.”

At Baylham, “some 800 parishioners sat down to eat in the rectory meadow.  The place of honour was given to the Patriarch of the village, a dear of lady of 98 years who well remembers the last Jubilee held here on a spot still called Plumb Pudding Hill, in 1809, when she would have been a buxom lass of 20.   The Hon. Mrs. Saumarez, who had liberally contributed to the feast and sports, drove up from Shrubland, and visited her new neighbours, winning golden opinions by her gentleness and affability.”

At Bramfield, “it being impossible on account of the size of the parish to provide a public dinner for all out of the subscriptions and donations collected, all heads of families agreed to pay, in addition, one shilling per family”.  

At Stratford St. Mary, “not one single case of intemperance or excess of any sort occurred to mar the complete success of the day.”                      


The Diamond Jubilee was an even grander affair, especially in the towns.  By way of comparison we can take the village of Melton and the adjacent town of Woodbridge.

At Melton it had been resolved...


(1) to have a free dinner and tea

(2) Sports in the afternoon

(3) Music and dancing in the evening and...

(4) ...with the balance to buy Jubilee blankets for the deserving poor. 


The catering committee were given a special word of praise for its elasticity in the providing of the food.  They had estimated the number to dine as 500; “but no fewer than 660 sat down, and no inconvenience was caused.”


The Woodbridge Reporter of June 24th 1897 printed many columns describing in great detail their town’s “unbounded enthusiasm in the matter of public rejoicing & festivity celebration of the 60th year of the glorious and unparalleled reign of Her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria.”  The whole town was described as being en fête.   The festivities included: breakfast for the company of volunteers, church parades, a loyal procession, rustic sports, children’s tea, masquerade, torchlight procession and bonfire, illuminations and the distribution of gifts.

    Two proposals were submitted for a permanent memorial: one, that new swimming baths should be constructed to be called The Victoria Swimming Baths, and the other, that a branch of the Victoria Jubilee Nursing Assn. should be      established in the town.  The Committee was keener on the baths than the nurses:  70 out of 80 voted for the baths, only 34 voted for the nurses.  Added to this, a special letter of congratulation was sent to Her Gracious Majesty.

[God Bless ’er!]



The Framlingham Weekly News for this year gives a good idea of how fireworks night was celebrated in different towns and villages in Suffolk.


At Aspall, the parish was greatly enlivened by a large display of fireworks and the burning of an effigy of Guy Fawkes (at the expense of Mr. Peek) in a meadow kindly lent for the occasion by Rev. C. H. Chevallier.  

Saxmundham - There was a good deal of noise in this town caused by lots of juveniles and a few squibs, crackers and bonfires.

At Halesworth, the remembrance of the attempt to blow up King James and his parliament has not yet died away here, for the youngsters were busily at work letting off squibs, rockets and other fireworks interspersed with frequent discharges of cannon.

Framlingham - Nothing very elaborate was attempted in the firework department, and there was not even a good bonfire.

At Debenham, accidents occurred to some lads preparing fireworks.

Peasenhall - The anniversary of this popish plot, thanks to the good sense of our men and our energetic P.C., passed over as far as concerned our neighbourhood, very quietly.  

            Framlingham Weekly News:  November 1877


Times of celebration were not universally enjoyed by all.  It wasn’t any more fun to be a turkey at Christmas time then than it is now.   According to the Lowestoft Weekly Press, after the Christmas of 1888, five Bungay farmers were charged with cruelty.  They had been force-feeding turkeys with balls of meal just before they were killed so they weighed up to 1½lb heavier. The R.S.P.C.A. prosecuted them and they were fined.


Newspaper comment, on occasion, seems unnecessarily cruel.


THE BELLS - The Juvenile ringers of Kersey rang the old year out and the new one in.   It may be said here that if they persevered they would become very proficient in their work; but for some unknown reason they seldom practise together, and consequently their progress is scarcely perceptible.   Our correspondent has heard that Kersey was noted for its ringers some years ago, and he says it is a pity that such an excellent peal of bells should be silent from want of a little effort, interest, and unanimity amongst the young ringers.

                        Suffolk Chronicle:  January 11th 1879


...especially when you consider the danger they might have been putting themselves in...


RAMSHOLT - Collapse of a church bell

Whilst Daniel Lennard, William Dunn and Robert Fryett were adjusting a new rope to the church bell …it suddenly collapsed, the bell and beam coming down with a terrific crash, breaking completely through the ceiling and falling on the floor of the church.   Fryett, at the time, was trying the bell from the ground floor; Lennard and Dunn were at the top of the tower.   Fryett made a sudden dash for the door and just managed to escape.  The rope remained suspended, Lennard and Dunn clinging to it; they ultimately descended.

                        Woodbridge Reporter:  June 10th 1897



The end of the century - a time of nostalgia

    As the century drew to a close, many of the county’s        newspapers delighted in looking back nostalgically, printing reminiscences of older members of the population, and even reports from much earlier issues.   In May 1887, the Ipswich Journal reprinted this remarkable story from its own archive, dating back to May 1764.


On Monday last was married at Hickling in Norfolk, Simon Greenacre of that parish aged 74, and Hannah Corbet of the same parish, his fifth wife, aged 61.  That he might not be encumbered with the demands of her for her former husband’s creditors, he took her, quite naked, at one of the principal crossways of the parish, after which they went to church, where the ceremony was performed.  The road leading from his house to the church, which is upwards of half a mile, was strewn with flowers.


The Bury & Suffolk Standard for 1886 contains amazing reminiscences of Bury Fair, some sixty years earlier, which include this detail of one performer known as the Fire King.


I... paid a visit to the booth of the ‘Fire King,’ a gentleman who during the present fair has made some considerable stir by his so- called marvellous feats.   He is an undoubted son of Erin and of the lowest class.   He made his appearance from behind a screen in a partially nude condition, and began his performance by eating phosphorus, taking it from an iron tray and apparently enjoying it.   His next refreshment was some arsenic, which was fused over charcoal in the presence of the spectators to convince them that it was arsenic, but the quantity taken was evidently remarkably small.   He then swallowed what the proprietor of the show declared to be oxalic acid!  And finally Prussic acid!   Having thus ‘made a hearty meal,’ as the proprietor expressed it, a red-hot iron, which had been heated at the stove, was applied to the performer’s skin, when tongues of flame ran all over the exposed parts of his body in a truly alarming manner, and he was very literally ‘on fire.’  The screams of the women among the spectators were presently silenced by the disappearance of the flames, and by the calmness of the performer, who was evidently unhurt in the least by the fiery ordeal through which he had passed.   He concluded his exploits by plunging his hands and arms into the fire, and drawing them forth again no whit the worse.


A great historian of his age, John Glyde published a series of articles he had edited, entitled: ‘The autobiography of a Suffolk farm labourer.’  These appeared in the Suffolk Mercury between 1894 & 1895 and emphasised the simplicity as well as the poverty of earlier times.


Bizarre stories from our local papers

At a divorce case, Quaglieni versus Quaglieni, a petition was     presented by the husband, a gymnast and equestrian who had been born in Italy, but was now naturalised British.   Having been parted by virtue of his work for periods of time, on his return Mrs. Quaglieni had confessed to her husband that she had “misconducted herself.”   The son of their landlady Mrs. Wood, confessed he had “had improper relations” with her.    [in Cardiff where they lodged]


Mr. Justice Butt:  The misconduct is alleged to have taken place in 1883.   At that time, it appears to me the co-respondent was only 13 years of age.   Are we really to go on with this? 

Mr. Middleton (Petitioner’s Counsel) I have evidence of Wood going in and out Mrs Quaglieni’s bedroom.  

Mr. Justice Butt:  I should never find adultery with a boy of thirteen years of age.   The suit must be dismissed.

                        Lowestoft Weekly Press:  April 13th 1889


Bradfield St. George - Curious Accident - Mrs Louisa Townsend, acts as an auxiliary letter carrier in the parish.   It appears that having a little time to wait for the rural postman, who delivers the letters to her, the morning being warm, she seated herself at the foot of a large oak tree ...when a large bough of dead wood from the tree suddenly, without any warning, fell down upon her, knocking her down and injuring her so that she lost consciousness.   She was conveyed home in a precarious condition, having sustained some injuries to her back and being much bruised.   She was also suffering from slight concussion of the brain.   Subsequently, the unfortunate woman was removed to the Suffolk General Hospital, where, under skilful medical treatment and nursing, she is progressing satisfactorily.   The accident is the more remarkable that at the time, little or no wind was blowing, but it is thought that the rain during the night may have been the cause of the dead wood falling.                         

Bury Post:  August 25th 1896


And from the Beccles area, we learn...


BECCLES NARROW ESCAPE - Some pigeon shooting took place on the common last Thursday, and afterwards a visitor from Yarmouth took a double-barrelled gun into the railway booking office, and asked permission to leave it there until his departure by train.   He said nothing about its being loaded, and the gun was …placed in a corner opposite the ticket window.   Shortly before 6 o’clock,  …the gun fell on to the floor and one barrel went off.   Mr. Stone was at the window issuing tickets and …two of the shoots pierced the heel of his boot.   The gas was put out by the force of the explosion, and great alarm was naturally caused in the station.   A cartridge was afterwards taken out from the second barrel and was retained by Mr. Wilkinson the Station Master.   It is not unlikely that legal proceedings may be taken against the owner of the gun.

                        Halesworth Times:  February 19th 1884


BRAMPTON - An occurrence of a somewhat strange and unpleasant nature happened in the parish of Brampton on Wednesday.   A male gipsy, early last week, died at the hospital at Beccles, where he had been admitted, suffering from blood-poisoning.  The friends of the dead man who had been encamped at Brampton engaged Mr. Leech, landlord of the Dog Inn in that parish to fetch his corpse from Beccles.   On arrival at Brampton, in turning the corner near his house, Leech managed by some means to turn the cart over, and the coffin lid, not being properly fastened down, came off and the corpse rolled out into the road.   Assistance had to be procured to replace it.

                        Halesworth Times:  March 7th 1899


The one thing you don’t expect in East Anglia is an earthquake.  But you never know...




Probably the most severe earthquake which has been felt in this country for a century took place on Tuesday morning last, being more or less felt throughout the entire length of the island.  But especially in East Anglia, and in its fullest force and destruction at Colchester, where it destroyed property to the value of more than £10,000.  

    Four shocks followed one another.   The stone spire of Lion Walk Congregational Church …was broken off and fell with terrific force …smashing the roof of the north aisle.   A large number of civic buildings were damaged.  At the Essex hall asylum for idiots, the patients were most of them frightened, but through the assiduous endeavours of the attendants, quiet was quickly restored.  At North Station, the engine of the up-express from Ipswich which was waiting to leave, visibly oscillated, and the carriages were likewise shaken.  At Langen-hoe, the fine old church of St. Andrews was completely destroyed, many other villages in the neighbourhood also reporting sad tales of injury and loss.  The shock was felt to a lesser degree throughout Suffolk, but most were unaware of its cause until the East Anglian Daily Times, with praiseworthy enterprise, issued an extra special, which was eagerly purchased by thousands.

                        Halesworth Times:  April 29th 1884


By way of conclusion, we have selected two wonderful   anecdotes from the same newspaper...


At Rubinstein’s last recital he was accosted by an old lady in the entrance hall and thus addressed: 

“Oh, Mr. Rubinstein, I am glad to see you:  I have tried in vain to    purchase a ticket.  Have you a seat you could let me have?”

“Madame,” said the great pianist, “there is but one seat at my            disposal, and that you are welcome to, if you see fit to take it.”  

“Oh yes, and a thousand thanks: where is it?” was the excited reply.  

“At the piano,” smilingly replied Rubinstein.


A man’s horse, baulking and refusing to budge, he adopted the ingenious device employed once by a canal captain.   He built a small fire under the animal.   As soon as the horse felt the heat, he moved at once.   He advanced sufficiently to bring the carriage over the flames, and there he paused, to the edification of the crowd of observing citizens, and to the great satisfaction of himself.  The flames were quenched without the aid of the fire department.  

                        East Anglian Daily Times:  July 3rd 1876

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