The Alde-Ore Valley comprises a quite small, coastal-rural part of the County of Suffolk — bounded broadly by Dunwich, Laxfield, Framlingham, Orford and Shingle Street — of maybe 300 square miles (800 km²). The names of Norfolc and Suffolc — home of the North and South Folk, the Angles (who gave their name to England) — first appeared in written records during the eleventh century. Whatever was written before would have been destroyed during Viking raids on the monasteries. Ten centuries earlier, Queen Boudica's Iceni had inhabited much of the region, the neighbouring Trinovantes occupying this part of Suffolk, and together they sacked Roman Camulodunum (Colchester), Londinium and Verulamium (St Albans) in 60/61 AD. Since those times, "Silly Suffolk" (from the old German "selig" — "holy") has had a rich and varied history which continues to the present day ...
Many professional musicians consider that Benjamin Britten's Snape Maltings has the best acoustics of any concert hall in Europe: it lies beside Snape Bridge in the lost village of Dunningworth, but confusingly is actually in Tunstall parish, not in Snape at all! The green on the first map below marks just the centre of the stunning Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which extends for all but a very few miles of Suffolk's coastline. Yet only a few miles south of us lies the Port of Felixstowe, the UK's busiest (and Europe's sixth busiest) container port, handling over 40% of the UK's containerised trade, and accommodating the very biggest ships — whilst off our shores are operational or planned amongst the largest windfarms in the world, whose power is coming ashore at Bawdsey and Sizewell, the latter already the proposed site for a third nuclear power station. Recent underground cabling work has revealed the site of Early Neolithic dwellings from c.3200-3100 BC, but also causes public disquiet.
The red line on the map is by no means a "red line" defining our "patch", but just the barely discernible watershed of the Alde Valley, within which arbitrarily lies our main area of interest — as indeed is suggested by our name. Rather more than half the information that we hold (which includes census, directory and churchyard/war memorial data) relates to Suffolk, and almost a quarter of the total to places in the Alde Valley. So we believe that much of it is a precious, unique archive resource — and it is listed in our downloadable Index.
Villages, hamlets and other (sometimes unpopulated) locations include Aldringham, Badingham, Benhall (Low Street), Benhall Green, Benhall Street, Bentwaters, Blaxhall, Boyton, Bruisyard, Butley, Campsea Ashe (sometimes spelt "Campsea Ash"), Capel St Andrew, Carlton, Chillesford, Coldfair Green, Cransford, Curlew Green, Darsham, Dennington, Dunwich, Eastbridge, Eyke, Farnham, Fordley, Friston, Gedgrave, Great Glemham, Gromford (Cundle Green), Hacheston, Havergate Island, Hazlewood (was Hasel/slewood), Heveningham, Hollesley, Iken, Kelsale, Knodishall, Laxfield, Little Glemham, Marlesford, Middleton, Middleton Moor, Minsmere, Parham, Peasenhall, Rendham, Rendlesham, Saxtead, Saxtead Green, Shingle Street, Sibton, Sibton Green, Sizewell, Slaughden, Snape, Snape Watering, Sternfield, Stratford St Andrew, Sudbourne, Sutton, Sweffling (formerly Swefling or Swiftling), Theberton, Thorpeness, Tunstall, Tunstall Common, Wantisden, Westleton and Yoxford.
"In 1722, the Parish of [St Peter's] Buxlow was consolidated with ... Knodishall".
Most of these place-names first appear in Domesday Book (1086), but (ignoring sparsely populated areas and lost villages) there are other dates for Rendlesham (730), Dunwich (731), Sudbourne (c.1050), Eyke (1185), Iken (1212), Sizewell (1240) and Orford (1332) — whilst Ceorltūn was a common place-name within C10th Danelaw. "Middeltūn" and "Sūthtūn" appear frequently in Domesday.
⎋ The place names marked as hyperlinks above either link to the "Family etc. History Groups in Suffolk" page (which includes several local-community groups within the Alde Valley) or to that community's general-purpose Facebook page.
Our area contains the whole of the ancient Plomesgate Hundred (the coastal area shown in dark green, left), replaced in 1894 by Plomesgate Rural District (shown in red on the right), and then in 1934 subsumed (together with our other villages in the southern wedge of Blything Rural District) into the new Blythe Rural District. In turn, in 1974, they with Aldeburgh Municipal Borough (marked "1" on the map), Leiston-cum-Sizewell Urban District (9) and Saxmundham UD (11) became part of Suffolk Coastal District. The one exception is Laxfield, the source of the Alde towards the north-west, which is just within Mid Suffolk District.
We have two downloadable tables detailing how all those changes affected each of our civil parishes, which we hope you will find useful —
"Alde Valley local authorities (1830 to date)" and "Alde Valley Registration Districts (1837 to date)". You can find links at the foot of the ⬇︎Downloads page.
Also, you can find all our medieval churches' names listed here — rural civil parishes in Suffolk usually match their ecclesiastical parishes.
Nowadays, our area comprises parts of postcode areas IP12 and IP13, and the whole of IP15, IP16 and IP17. In April/May 2019, Suffolk Coastal is formally merging with Waveney District (to the north) to form the still essentially coastal-rural East Suffolk District. This will be little over half the area of the former Ipswich-based East Suffolk County Council of 1888 to 1974 (the area shown in red and pink on the map above right). Laxfield will remain in Mid Suffolk.
We hope you find this information useful.
Other nearby towns or villages are Southwold, Blythburgh and Halesworth, which all lie in the Blyth Valley; and Wickham Market, Woodbridge, Bawdsey and Felixstowe, all on or near the Deben — and for most of which we also hold specific information. There are other history groups in or just outside the Alde Valley serving their respective communities — and links to them (and larger not-quite-so-local groups) can be found on our "Family etc. History Groups in Suffolk" page.