Origins and History

The Society's origins lay in the seventies.
In 1972 Pauline Heywood compiled a short history of the town.
In 1975 Debenham was chosen to represent East Anglia in a ‘Festival of Villages'
exhibition as part of European Architectural Heritage Year.
Between 1977 and 1979 a number of surveys of ancient Debenham buildings was
made by Timothy Easton and Mike Finch. Mike Finch drew these up in isometric form,
and in 1979 an exhibition of the work called ‘Behind the Façade' was held on the first
floor of the Market Cross.
In the early 1980s the Debenham History Society was formally constituted when
under the aegis of the Cambridge Extra Mural Board. David Diamond and Peter
Northeast gave evening classes. Apart from general talks, Peter Northeast provided an
archive of historical documentation relating to the village that was closely studied
particularly with reference to extant buildings.
In 1986 a set of historical notes ‘Towards a History of Debenham' by Samuel Dove,
grocer and draper was published. Lennie Knowland edited this with a preface by John
In 1988 Mark Barnard and Sylvia Coleman of Suffolk County Council compiled a list of
Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest in the area, including the parish
of Debenham. In this extensive listing many references are given to Timothy Easton
who remains an authority on the buildings. He is a founder member of the society, and
is now its president.

The Debenham Archive

In 2019, the Society created a digital archive "The Debenham Archive". The Archive
continues to be maintained and expanded by the Society, containing an
indexed, searchable catalogue of records, documents, photos, audio and video clips,
and artefacts relating to the life and times of Debenham and its people. It also contains
an interactive version of the 1837 Tithe Map, showing landowners, occupiers and field

If you are researching your family history, the Debenham Parish Records for baptisms,
marriages and burials from 1559 to 1900 have been transcribed and form part of the
searchable catalogue, linked where possible to the burial records for St Mary’s
churchyard. Plot records from Coopers Field graveyard are also available.

Should you have any items you would like considered for inclusion in to the Archive,
please do not hesitate to contact us at