Community history project helps uncover the past in Martham, Hoxne, Paston, Great Yarmouth and Thompson

Young people recording the memories of older Martham residents

Young people recording the memories of older Martham residents - Credit: Archant

A year-long project to unearth new aspects of the fascinating histories of communities across Norfolk and Suffolk has revealed an array of surprising finds.

Martham children parading

Martham children parading - Credit: Archant

Under the initiative, small community groups and history societies formed to dig into their past and shed new light on the events that helped shape their surroundings.

Co-ordinated by the University of East Anglia and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) All Our Stories scheme, the project was launched in 2012 and saw 16 groups across the region inspired to involve their communities – and schools in particular - in projects.

On Saturday, some of the groups attended a conference at Ickworth House near Bury St Edmunds to reveal their findings and demonstrate how they used the lottery cash.

HLF grants of between £3,000 and £10,000 were awarded to drive the activities under the UEA's Ideas Bank initiative.

Martin Sercombe worked with villages and pupils at Flegg High School to create 'Martham Stories' which reflected on the villages past, while Margaret Sillis explained how the Hoxne History Group was formed to work with archaeologists to excavate historical sites in the village by digging 31 test pits.

'The participation and enthusiasm of the villagers was brilliant, we had about 120 of the 800 villagers taking part in one way or another,' she said.

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The Paston Heritage Society developed a project to increase the knowledge and history of the Paston Letter with re-enactments and exhibitions. It also used the ground-penetrating radar to trace the historic hidden outline of Paston Hall.

The Vauxhall Links Project brought to life transport in Great Yarmouth with an animated film about the Vauxhall Bridge, a Tram Trail heritage map outlining the former tram routes and a 60-metre long mural near the railway station.

In Thompson near Watton, the Connecting Threads project traced the routes of ancient footpaths in the village, establishing interpretation boards to help villagers and visitors gain a better understanding of the network of routes spreading out form the centre of the village.

And a Norfolk Rural Community Council project focussed on the history of the Norfolk's Poor Land and how it was, and still is, being used to raise funds to support poorer families.

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