Kirton Creek, April 2010 : photo by Martin R-H

This part of Suffolk is fairly isolated as it is between the two rivers Deben and Orwell. Some people think this is an advantage as it has stopped the villages from being over-exploited, and we also seem to have a somewhat individual climate with low rainfall. The ports of Ipswich and Felixstowe have developed enormously in the last decade as has the industrial estate on the historic airfield at Martlesham, mainly due to the large complex at Adastral Park housing BT Laboratories and to many other enterprises that have availed themselves of the facilities offered by this area.

Although this is an expanding area, it is also very ancient in origin, and we are justly proud of our very early connection with the Christian faith. Romans are believed to have settled in and around Falkenham but it is the Anglo Saxon era that gives us the confirmed facts. The name Kirton comes from the Anglo-Saxon name of Kirkatuna, meaning “the place of the church”. Kirton is mentioned in the Domesday Book, not just as having a church, but also having a priest of its own. His name was Godric and to find such an entry is exceptional. We also know that there has been a place of Christian worship, probably on the site of the present church, since the 7th century. This does give us a great sense of continuity. Click here for a list of incumbents of Kirton.

Falkenham also has an ancient history based on the mining of coprolite, and the river was used for its transport. Earlier the part of the river Deben known as Kings Fleet was where Edward III fitted out his fleet for his expedition to Flanders in 1338. Parts of Falkenham church probably date from this time, though it was extensively refurbished in the late 19th century.
There are many beautiful walks in this area, mostly well marked by signpost.

Kirton and Falkenham share the Parish Council, the school, the Village Hall, and most of the organisations.

If you have any historical information about Kirton or Falkenham, please contact the village history recorder Jo Shaw (Falkenham) via the webmaster.

New Kirton History Recorder

Since Len Lanigan died last year the post of history recorder for Kirton has been vacant until my appointment this March. Len had been in post for many years and his knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm will be a hard act to follow. He is much missed and I will endeavour to follow in his tradition, not only keeping comprehensive records but also painting a picture of contemporary village life that will inform future generations. Kirton has a particularly rich record of its past history- including mention of it in Domesday book where it was called Kirketuna. I shall try very hard to maintain Len’s high standards. It may well be that my emphasis and approach may differ but I will always have Len in mind as my examplar.

I look forward to working with Jo Shaw who is Recorder for Falkenham and also I hope working closely with Kirton residents. If you have any photographs or knowledge of local events, news, changes that affect the village, l please do let me know. Local history is not just about dry facts but rather about active and living experiences.

This will be an exciting year for Kirton, we start with the Jubilee celebrations in June.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Ann Colvill

History enquiries and information email to livinghistory@kirton-suffolk.info

Living History Day

Saturday 8 May 2004

Our small village of Kirton in Suffolk, situated just outside Felixstowe, staged a Living History Day. We believe this was the first of its kind to be held on the Felixstowe Peninsula and was a very exciting (and rain-free!) day. It was held in and around Kirton Church, the churchyard and a glade beyond with lots of exciting happenings. Re-creation groups ranging from Greek Warriors to Romans,Vikings Anglo Saxons etc, to the 20th century W.W.2 and a Land Army re-creation group. Among the artisans were a flint knapper, herbalists, dyeing from natural resources, a spinner and weaver, potter, woodcarver, stone mason, bee keeper, knotter/braider, corn dolly making, and Celtic and Saxon Story tellers, etc.

There were exhibitors and displays in the Church, a demonstration of Patchwork quilt making by the ladies of the village, a lacemaker and a display of model steam engines. Interests for children include hands on pottery and calligraphy wonderful stories of Celtic and Saxon origin, watching local school children who added atmosphere by being Victorian Children playing Victorian games and also portraying urchins. We had wandering minstrels playing on period instruments, a medieval mummers play and even a Jester. The Church Hall had several exhibitors and we were pleased to be able to welcome an archaeologist from Bury, Faye Minter of the portable Antiquities scheme, who ran a finds clinic to identify any items people brought in and displayed a wide range of artefacts from across the centuries. The Conservation Team from Ipswich Museum demonstrated their skills and ran a conservation clinic giving advice on how to care for treasured items of any age and material. The Felixstowe Family Society offered advice on how to track down your ancestors. There was also a marvellous display of models of a bygone age.

Sheila Cornford & Len Lanigan

21st July 2007

Living History at Kirton
21st July 2007, 11am to 5pm


In 2004 Kirton staged a Living History Day which proved to be very popular. So on the 21st July another Living History event will take place. As before it will be in and around St. Mary’s and St. Martin’s Church, Churchyard, a green glade beyond and the Church hall. It is going to be another exciting day, with lots of happenings.

Re-creation groups from Greek Warriors, Romans, Anglo Saxons, Essex Militia and Bronze age man who will demonstrate fire lighting methods. To tie in with a WW2 exhibit in the church, Lisa Meadows will have a display of WW2 rations and recipes. There will be Artisans including a Prehistoric Flint Knapper making flintheads for tools and his wife who makes cordage from nettles. Others include a herbalist, dyeing fleeces from natural resources, a potter, wood carver, stone mason, bee keeper, knotter / braider and others. During the day Musicians with period instruments will be wandering around the ground playing, Singers performing in the Church, also a troupe of actors will perform a Mummers Play, the contents of which will be in old and new styles. The Suffolk Horse Society will have a presence with a collection of memorabilia and Ray Hubbard answering questions about the Horses and playing his accordions.

Many attractions for children, from local school children dressed as Victorians playing Victorian games. A Brick making workshop will fascinate young people. Pottery tent where children can make their own replica pots, and in the Church, hands on Calligraphy and the art of Corn Dolly making. The church will also be home to exhibitions and displays, among the latter a wonderful show of models from a bygone age, an exhibition from the Suffolk Barge Research, a demonstration by a spinner/weaver. Felixstowe museum will have an interesting display and Felixstowe Library will be showing the founding of Felixstowe from Victorian days onwards. Bawdsey Radar and Trimley Heath Radar will bring in complementary displays showing how they operated in WW2.

The Church Hall exhibits featured ‘The Finds Identification Service’ from Bury St Edmunds with Faye Minter so bring in any artefacts that you would like to know more about. The Felixstowe Family History Society will show you how to trace your ancestors, the Ipswich Museum Conservators on looking after and restoring old documents etc. and the Suffolk Local History Council who do so much to preserve history of local areas. Local ladies will be demonstrating the old art of Patchwork and Quilting.

All day refreshments, morning Coffees, Ploughman’s lunches, afternoon Cream teas and cold drinks were available in the hall and outside there was a super BBQ.

There was plentiful parking on the Village Green with transport to the site for the elderly and people with walking difficulties.

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