Village History

History Picture Darsham local History Archive:

Darsham or Deores Ham - home of the deer.  This early name is borne out by early reference to local roadways as ‘chaseways’, there still being hunting in the area as late as the 18thC.  In Norman times there were six manors in Darsham.  Two were held by the King, three by Robert Malet, son of the King’s Chamberlain, and one by Roger Bigot, Sheriff of Suffolk & Norfolk.

 The Church of All Saints is of Norman origin and stands on a site where an earlier Saxon church stood.  It has an embattled tower with four bells.  In Norman times the spiritual needs of the parish were provided by Benedictine Monks of Cluny Abbey in France and later by the Cluniac Monks of Thetford Abbey.

 Darsham Hall, rebuilt after a fire in 1576, became the home of Sir Thomas Bedingfield, Commissioner of the Great Seal of Charles 1st and a Judge at the Court of Common Pleas.  His Grandson, also Thomas, was killed in a drunken brawl in Norwich in 1684 by a Thomas Berney, Gentleman.  There being no other male heir, the house, manor lands and the patronage of Darsham Church passed to the Rous family, now the Earls of Stradbroke.

 Darsham House, was built in 1697 by George Purvis a Commissioner in the R.N. and Member of Parliament for Aldeburgh.  The estate was sold in 1885 to the Parry-Crooke family who owned it until after the second world war.  Both of these families were generous benefactors of the village.

 Conveniently situated halfway between Ipswich and Lowestoft, astride the Turnpike which opened in 1785, now known as the A12 road, Darsham is a mixed business and farming community.

 The East Suffolk Railway came to Darsham in 1859 and the line has had a chequered history.  Darsham Station boasted a busy goods siding and yard serving the surrounding villages but was closed and became an unmanned Halt in 1966.  Darsham crossing holds the distinction of being the only remaining level crossing on the A12 road between London & Gt. Yarmouth.

 In 1939, a Radar Station, part of the Home Chain System, was built in Darsham, straddling the A144 Halesworth Road.  The station was named ‘RAF High Street’ and there were four 360' high steel transmitting towers and four 240' high wooden receiving towers.  The R.A.F. Station, which was protected by four Bofors guns, was bombed only once, unsuccessfully.  R.A.F. male personnel were billeted in Nissan Huts on a site in the Hinton Road and women personnel were billeted at Bramfield House, Bramfield.  The Station closed down after the war and the towers were demolished in 1958.

                                                                ~~~~~~~~~~~~

We have a large and ongoing collection of material about Darsham Past & Present. Some of this material can be viewed by selection from the sidebar on the left.

                                                          ~~~~~~~

The Suffolk Local History Council encourages all parishes to have a Local History Recortder, whose remit is to record changes in the parish and submit and annual report. This report is then lodged in the Suffolk Records Office at Ipswich.

From 1984 to 2009 Olive Reeve was the recorder for Darsham.  She researched the history of the parish, creating an archive  of material which was used for local history exhibitions and also as material for the trilogy of Darsham Local History books mentioned elsewhere on this site.

Olive's husband Ron Reeve took over as recorder from her and he continues her tradition of using the archive to assist with Darsham ancestry who are researching their family history. He can be contacted on the internet at ronaldreeve@aol.com.

Ron always welcomes photos and items of interest to add to the parish archive. He always copies and returns all materials promptly.

If you would like help with researching your family history, or if you have a story to tell about Darsham or Darsham people he would be pleased to hear from you.