Gages at Elmswell

Hengrave Hall

Yesterday afternoon I addressed the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History‘s final meeting of the year on the subject of ‘The Gages of Hengrave 1640-1767’, at Blackbourne Hall in Elmswell. My lecture was accompanied with a slide show and I was pleased that the event was attended by over a hundred members. I have uploaded the text of the lecture onto my page here.

I was glad to have the opportunity to meet a number of members of the Institute whom I had heard of or corresponded with but never actually met, such as Joanna Martin and Rosemary Hoppitt. It was also good to speak to Robert Halliday, whose History of Suffolk Gravestones has recently been published. Robert also shares my interest in the historical investigation of supernatural folklore, and is the author of Suffolk Strange but True. I also purchased a copy of J. Brian Milner’s recent monograph on the mediaeval hospitals of Bury St Edmunds; I was particularly interested to read about St Peter’s Hospital, as I grew up in a house located a few hundred yards south of the site of the hospital, where the garden rockery contains a mediaeval lintel and part of a decorated door or window frame that I have always assumed came from the hospital, which was the town’s lazar house.

On an unrelated note, my cousin Robert Young, whom I met a couple of weeks ago at my grandmother’s 100th birthday in Bedford, has very kindly added me as a historical consultant to an organisation he runs, The Office of Parapsychological Studies. I am not sure how much help I can be, but since Robert thoroughly investigates existing ghost stories and traditions surrounding a building before he attempts a scientific investigation, I hope that I may be able to help him distinguish genuine narratives of people’s experiences from Victorian and later elaborations and inventions.