Despite the weather conditions on a snowy Sunday the Centre of East Anglian Studies ran a small project to investigate the history of shops and shopping in Halesworth in north Suffolk. The day was a resounding success!
An overwhelming turnout of over 100 people including residents and shop-owners from Halesworth and the surrounding area came to share their memories and research the history of their shops. Many people brought old photographs and their own archival material to show to volunteer undergraduate students and staff from UEA. Staff from the Suffolk Record Office, Halesworth Museum and Halesworth Library were also present to help and had brought many materials of their own, including old maps, photographs and newspapers.
Together we were able to piece together the hidden mysteries of the high street. For example, the present greengrocers called ‘Melons’ (50 Thoroughfare) used to be a chemist and evidence of this can be still seen in the rooms upstairs. The chemist was called ‘Paranol’ and an almanac from 1940 showed that the shop was owned by Wilfred Miles George, whose son, Wilfred Shardelow George, sold the shop in 1976.
In the New Year, we plan to return to Halesworth to carry out a series of archaeological test-pit digs followed up by an evening lecture and an exhibition in the town plus publication of the team’s findings on the Halesworth town website. Lots of the people who attended this drop-in session are keen to continue with this research, so we hope to see many of them again!Text by Rachel Broomfield and Charlotte Hurst, undergraduate students taking English History with Landscape Archaeology at UEA.