Suffolk Day is Coming

Did you know that 21st June is officially ‘Suffolk Day’?  2018 is the second year that this annual celebration has taken place.  Started by BBC Radio Suffolk’s Mark Murphy, it’s a great way to enjoy the county on the longest day of the year, with a wide range of events taking place (see  For us at the Record Office, it’s a chance to celebrate all things Suffolk heritage!



For Suffolk Day this year, we’ve decided to publish a new ‘A-Z’ of Suffolk archives.  So here is a sneak preview of the sort of thing you’ll find in this year’s ‘archival alphabet’ (which you will find at!  

D is for…Deer Parks

The first of Suffolk’s c130 medieval deer parks were probably developed by the Normans, to keep the Fallow deer they introduced from Europe from straying.  Deer parks were kept by the wealthy ecclesiastical and lay landowners, where the deer were bred and hunted to provide meat for the lord’s table.  Hunting was only possible in the larger parks, such as the Bigods’ 600 acre park extending north from Framlingham Castle.  The deer were released from the smaller ones for the nobility to hunt across the surrounding open fields.  

The park boundaries had to be substantial to keep the deer in and normally consisted of combinations of banks with high hedges, fences, or pales on top and sometimes a ditch.  Parks normally contained a mixture of coppiced woodland in which the deer could shelter and more open woodland pasture for them to graze.  Staverton Park, also owned by the Bigods, is one of a few remaining medieval deer parks in Suffolk, where the original working landscape can still be seen.  

The location of the medieval deer parks can be seen on early maps and understood from place names.  By the early 16th Century, many medieval parks had been disimparked and the land brought under cultivation. 

A is for…Arboretum

Ipswich Arboretum, now part of Christchurch Park, was designed in 1851.  It contains roughly 1,000 trees.

David Miller lived in the Arboretum Lodge for 20 years when his father Tony was Head Gardener.  He has written about all sorts of things relating to the Arboretum, including the storm of October 1987.  He was 16 years old at the time and recounts listening in the early hours to the terrible cracking noises coming from the park and how he worried for his favourite trees – the Wellingtonia, the Deodar and the Monkey Puzzles – as well as that a tree may fall on their home.  When daylight came, the full scale of the destruction could be seen – in all the Upper Arboretum lost 40 trees, including 6 out of the 7 mature Monkey Puzzle trees, with 8 losses in the more sheltered Lower Arboretum.  Damage to other trees can still be seen now.  The Arboretum and Park were closed for 6 months while a huge recovery operation was put into place.

Since then a Tree Donation Scheme, which allows organisations or individuals to commemorate an event or person, has added at least 100 trees of over 50 varieties to the Arboretum, increasing its value and interest for future generations.

Further information: Ipswich Arboretum: A History and Celebration with an Arboretum Tree Trail by David Miller. (SORI 582.16/oversized/Local Studies)

HistoryAmy Rushton