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What Is It?

1,000 full colour books, with a chapter on each of the 22 villages in Forest Heath area. Each village is invited to produce their chapter, guided by an experienced archivist, under the following headings:

Timeline (major events in the history of the village), Village Folk (past and present), A Year in the Life (recording the village through the seasons) and Architectural Heritage. Additionally to this, the book will be published as a multimedia CD-Rom and a web site on the Internet.

What’s The Timescale?

April/May - preparation, June to August – produce pilot village chapter, September 1999 to August 2000 The main work of gathering information and creating the book, September to October 2000 Once gathered and verified the text and images will be professional designed by us and published in all formats.

What Should We Do Next?

Consider becoming the pilot village

Have you got enthusiastic villagers already working on this information, with time available now?

Identify the person willing to be your coordinator/village reporter

(S)he will be the main link between the village and the rest of the project.

Identify the person willing to be your electronic post office

(S)he will already be a computer user with internet connection, support and up to date software will be provided. This could be a younger member of the community. (This aspect of the project will be optional)

Begin building your team to do research and gather information

Identify what has already been done, perhaps a booklet already exists that could form

Give us feedback

All Comments/Suggestions/Requests To:

Joe Thompson, Coordinator 22Villages

District Offices, College Heath Road, Mildenhall, SUFFOLK IP28 7EY

Tel: 01379 646046 * Fax: 01379 646045 * email: *




Phone/Fax No
Email address















0 We would like to be considered for the pilot village project in April.

Please complete and return to Joe Thompson –thank you (nb Reporter and email contact can be the same person)

‘The 22 Villages’ Heritage Project

There are 22 village communities within the district and council area of Forest Heath in Suffolk. These villages vary enormously in population, character and history. This project encapsulates their individuality together in an easily accessible form to provide a comprehensive and exciting picture of village life at the start of the new millennium.

What it will be

A series of 22 traditional and electronic books, one per village celebrating the history, culture and glimpsing into the future of these diverse and vibrant communities.

What the reader will see

Each book will follow the same format, although with enough flexibility to allow each village to tell its own story in its own way. Sections will include:


A graphical representation of  historical events that together represent part of the heritage of the community. This would be a mixture of local events eg “the Dalham Bakehouse Fire of 1867” and West Row during the war years. Because of the area’s strong links to woodland the timeline could be represented by a graphic of the rings through a tree where the centre represents its earliest history and the bark present day. Clicking on any text will take you to that section.


Village Folk

Celebrating the human heritage, both past and present, through stories, pictures and audio.

A Year in the life

Four sections, covering the seasons. Pictures and sounds all recorded from the same viewpoint throughout the year will see the village change before your eyes. This could lead on to country walks and flora and fauna through the seasons. As well as celebrating the village’s natural diversity it could highlight animal/flowers/insects lost through extinction and on a positive note what steps are being taken in nature conservation.

Architectural Heritage

A look at the architectural heritage, both past and present, through stories, pictures and audio.


How it will work

A team, including local experts and experienced amateurs (drawn from the local communities), will work together in preparing a ‘best practice’ template. This team, has many hours academic and practical experience in collating and editing heritage material. The template will include suggested ‘Chapter’ headings and relevant resources, contact names numbers and initial step by step ‘how to’ and flow chart diagrams.


For example:

Manorial Records


What are they?  The Manor was main unit of local government in a parish until the late 16th century and record petty crimes, changes in land holding. Early records could be in latin
 Find someone on your team who can read latin


Where are they?  Bury Records Office, (01284) 352350 – Ed Button. The Search Room, 1st floor wooden cabinets arranged in alphabetical order by parish and manor


This draft template will then be put into practice with the first village under the supervision of the above team. Adjustments, revisions and enhancements will be made and this then will be offered as a guideline to the rest of the villages.

As information is gathered it will be edited and verified initially by the village recorder (who will have received editorial  training as necessary) and then passed to a panel of experts/experienced enthusiasts together representing all the disciplines within the project (nature, architecture, heritage etc). This then will be passed to a professional archivist who will act as the overall editor, ensuring quality, consistency and continuity across the whole project.

This will then be passed to the Design and IT team who will use graphic design and DTP skills to prepare an attractive and professional book, web site and interactive CD versions that will show the content of this project to best effect.

Big Ideas

Key features of the project will include:

Hidden Treasure

It is intended to help each village discover a piece of lost/forgotten history, that currently is not available to the community at large. This will be made possible in part by the amount of effort being put into into the support structure of this project, sharing ideas etc. Another benefit is that by getting communities talking within themselves and other villages, this network will continue to flourish long after the heritage project is finished.

Sky High

Using our unique links with Mildenhall USAF Air base we will when appropriate make available satellite and airborne photography that could provide clues to long lost foundations and other buried heritage

Its Good To Talk

As well as nurturing face to face links between the team members we will use the internet to complement this. Each village will nominate a volunteer with internet access (if none is available facilities will be made available).

Each village will have say 20 volunteers reporting directly to a Village Recorder (many villages already have such a person) this person would work closely (or be) the villager with internet access. Each village will be given an email address (Suffolk County Council may be willing to help us here) eg: Email can then be sent inter village or to all 20 in the group for less 20% of the cost of a stamp.

There would also be the equivalent of a virtual notice board “can someone lend us a metal detector next week?” “Has anyone come across a family called Shamlot?”

The basic text could also start to be posted onto the site allowing everyone (including our experts) to see how things are going.

Chat rooms – weekly each of our experts could be available online to answer questions/problems from the villages. This would be very similar to a multi way telephone call. Typical cost to all involved for a 30 minute session – 50p. Compare this with attending meetings (although these will still form an important part of the support network). Perhaps some villages/towns are twinned and could add another dimension to the project.

Future Heritage Value

The Records Office were particularly excited about the idea of a template of ideas and best practice being produced that could then be made available to any other community that approaches them and says “how do you do a village history?” We intend to make this available (nationally) Free of charge.

Continue to grow

There is a commitment by our Design consultancy to update it in 2/5 years with new info and publish this. If we only then did it in electronic format the additional cost would be negligible. So often these Histories become frozen in time whereas the communities continue to grow.

Accessible to All

Working with the Library service to ensure that the mobile Library service that visits these communities always has copies available on the van. Each school in the area will have a copy.

Group Photos

A group photo will be taken for each village, featuring all the people involved in the project – this will be published in the book .

Other Council  Departments / Organisations

A project such as this that motivates villages and shows information and ideas flowing freely between communities and creates a new and exciting layer of infrastructure. This mechanism will be further developed to and for the benefit of the local communities.

How it will be made accessible

*   1,000 CDs with explanatory booklet (identical to a music CD) will be produced. These will be given free of charge to local schools, libraries and be on sale at bookshops for a nominal cost (£2.50).

*   1,000 books will be produced to complement the electronic version, ensuring the results are accessible to all.

*   The CD would be made accessible via the internet and in that way could continue to grow and evolve even after the initial discs are pressed.

*   Touchscreen PCs could be available for hire to local groups and also form part of a travelling exhibition (including displayboards) that would travel the district to libraries, schools etc