The Thurlows 2010

The Thurlows 2010 highlights the rich variety of local history reaching back well before the Romans came, and provides a vivid illustration of the changes that have taken place in education, employment and society.

The Thurlows 2010 is not some dry, academic study, rather it is a living archive and an illustrated chronicle of a real place, inhabited by real people, and most importantly, it is compiled by those real people.

It is people that lie at the heart of this story, from the major landowners and the big local families, to the unique characters and people both remarkable and ordinary that formed the past and shaped the present, and to the present population that will also help shape the future.

Publication details

ISBN 978 0 953 5909 4 0 hardback

Date of publication: 25 September 2010

Extent: 336 pages

Illustrations: 100 pages of full colour and 51 halftones

Format: A4 hardback only

Price: £5 (plus p&p for orders outside the Thurlows)

Sales and distribution: Molly Hawkins

This is a volume about Great and Little Thurlow, two small rural villages in West Suffolk which share a long history reaching back to Roman times and were significant enough to be mentioned in the original Domesday book of 1086. Indeed, this is ourmodern Domesday book in a way – as full an account as we can manage of the people and the places as they have been and as they are today. We have involved the whole community of both villages – and it is in many ways still a real community – in compiling a record of life now and in the recent past, drawing on the experiences and memories of everyone living here in 2009.

The book divides into three main parts.

  1. general essays written by villagers past and present about different aspects of village life, including: the history, both human and natural (the villages are very rich in wildlife); some of the historic buildings like the Olde School, the Cock Inn, the Windmill and some notable private houses; important institutions such as the churches, the school, the estate, the village hall, the shop and the W.I.; major families who have left their mark on the village – both the famous ones like the Frinks, Ryders, Smiths (W.H.) and Vesteys and the important local dynasties of the Day, Eley, Thomas, Talbot and Rowlinson families which are all still represented here today; and stories of life and work in the Thurlows from those with memories going back a generation or more to before the Second World War. The essays are enlivened by many anecdotes and personal stories and they are illustrated with historic photos lent from family collections and local archives. Taken together the anthology provides a unique snapshot of ‘life then and now’ in a small rural community in East Anglia.

  2. interviews conducted with each household to record people’s experiences of the villages and explain something of their own life-histories. There is a separate entry on each family or household where it was possible to undertake such an interview and these are arranged in the sequence of the Parish registers, as in a continuous walk around the villages. Together they comprise an important record for future social historians (and a source for villagers curious about their neighbours!).

  3. a section of colour plates with pictures of all the dwellings in the village, in the same sequence as the interviews, including in the pictures as many as possible of the people that live in them; this therefore constitutes a complete archive of the contemporary domestic buildings, a snapshot in the villages’ still evolving history.

The volume as a whole is not a theoretical study of some grand or sophisticated kind, but rather a chronicle of how things are now in two small, closely related villages in rural Suffolk, compiled by the inhabitants and participants whose place this is. But even small villages can be a window to a wider world and one can truly say, ‘all human life is there’. The lives described here may often be ordinary in ways that make them typical of countless other rural communities in Britain today – that is part of the interest and importance of compiling a volume like this; but they are also unique in ways particular to the Thurlows, and this is what we have especially wanted to celebrate and record.

Iris Eley, Conrad Hawkins, Molly Hawkins, Mary Hilton, Jeremy Mynott, Rod Pass, Peter Thomas and Rachel Vestey.


Preface The Working-Party

Part 1 The Thurlows and their History

1. History Kate Atherton

2. Natural History Jeremy Mynott

3. Weather Will Harrison


Part 2 Some Notable Buildings

4. Great Thurlow Hall George Vestey

5. Lavender Cottage over Four Centuries Diane Speakman

6. TheCock Inn Jeremy Mynott

7. Melton House Conrad Hawkins

8. The Olde School Mary Hilton and Kate Atherton

9. The Windmill John Archer

Part 3 Family Histories

10. Dame Elisabeth and the Frinks Diane Speakman

11. Sue Ryder Kate Atherton (with obituary by Stephen Ryder)

12. The Smith and Eley Families Iris Eley

13. The Rowlinson Family Doris Rowlinson and Mary Hilton

14. The Day Family Mary Hilton

15. The Thomas and Talbot families Peter Thomas

Part 4 Memories and Chronicles

16. Childhood memoires of Great Thurlow Una Bebbington

17. Memories of Thurlow between the Wars: Iris Eley, Doris Rowlinson, Fred Last and Joan Last

18. Growing up in Thurlow in the 40’s and 50’s Pauline and Bill Crooks

19. Memoirs of a gamekeeper Derek Goodwin

20. Memoirs of a forester John Archer

21. Memories of Melton House Mary Schlich


Part 5 Village Life and Work

22. The Estate Robin Vestey

23. The Hunt Robin Vestey

24. The Great Thurlow Show, 1878 Bury and Norwich Post

25. The School: past and present Ros Bunting.

26. The Churches Iris Eley and Molly Hawkins

27. Twelve years as a Rector John Eley

28. The Parish Councils: the first 100 years Jeremy Mynott and Rod Pass

29. The Women’s Institute Iris Eley

30. The Village Shop: past and present Monty Banks31. The Village Hall John Tipper

Part 6 Living Memories

32. The Interviews

33.Index to the Interviews

34. The Photographic Archive