The Sudbury Ephemera Archive (SEA) celebrates its sixth anniversary this year (2019). During those years, it has gone from strength to strength. Not only has the archive itself been growing, but its ‘fame’ has spread primarily through its community involvement. This ranges from talks given to local groups and organisations such as Pebmarsh Ladies’ Group, Sudbury’s Quay Theatre Local History Sundays (January), Henny Ladies’ Group (twice), Monks Eleigh Bygones Collectors’ Club, Bulmer Skylarks and St Gregory’s Fellowship and the Town Meeting March 2018.
SEA has exhibited at several open air summer events including Monks Eleigh Bygones Weekend on Sudbury Airfield, A Bit of a Do at Pebmarsh, Suffolk Day in Sudbury, Heritage Day in Sudbury (September), Sudbury Carnival (August), Remembrance Weekend (November) and the Christmas Tree Festival (December) in Sudbury. The biggest ‘outing’ was to the Suffolk Show (May) in Ipswich when SEA was invited to participate in the World War I centenary commemorations at the show. This proved to be very successful and generated a lot of interest particularly with the children’s game cat’s cradle which was hugely popular with all ages!
At several of these events SEA members have participated in costume, e.g. Red Cross nurses, widows wearing black ‘weeds’, Edwardian ladies, agricultural labourer, Land Army girl for the World War I theme at Suffolk Show. This is fun for the participants but also draws attention, creates comments and is more memorable than ‘ordinary’ clothes. It also ties in with SEA’s historical aspects.
Just for fun but also as publicity, SEA has taken part in all the recent five carnivals and has been awarded first place three times and second place once for the best ‘foot float’. See for example SEA wins first prize at Sudbury Carnival 2018.
SEA has also been working with other groups planning events such as the Silk Film group, the Silk Festival 2019 and the Museum Trust.
SEA itself has benefited from a donation of the Turner Thornton Estate Agent papers. It has taken months to sort and catalogue these but that is now complete and the papers divided into street collections and the town is zoned into areas. Papers for other areas and in Suffolk and the country have been sent to appropriate collections: Essex Record Office or local recorders or Suffolk Record Office.
Another large donation has been from the Christ Church United Reform Church when it closed in January 2018. SEA ensured that the building and its registers were photographed and other official papers have been stored in the Suffolk Record Office but kept photographs and newsletters etc. in SEA collection.
Other donations continue to arrive and SEA is grateful to the staff at the Town Hall who receive these donations on behalf of SEA.
Another function of SEA is helping members of the public who drop in with questions about Sudbury’s past. If SEA cannot answer the question then the enquirer is directed to someone or some other organisation which can.
One particularly interesting donation was a book of business records from a 19th century blacksmith in Little Waldingfield which was deposited by a member of his family. SEA was able to provide a copy for another member of that family while conserving the original.
Cataloguing sessions (three hours) take place twice a month in the Town Hall with a regular core of volunteers as well as more casual attendees. These sessions provide an opportunity for the public and potential donors to drop in and see what SEA does.
The Town Recorder’s Report provided a digital record for the Suffolk Local History Council Recorder scheme which is an overview of the year in Sudbury and filed at the Suffolk Record Office.