Search

Unique look at Lowestoft released

PUBLISHED: 10:38 01 August 2008 | UPDATED: 09:30 11 May 2010

David Butcher with his book Lowestoft 1550-1750: Development and Change in a Suffolk Coastal Town

David Butcher with his book Lowestoft 1550-1750: Development and Change in a Suffolk Coastal Town

A POPULAR retired teacher from Kirkley High School has made another foray into the publishing industry with a unique look at the history of Lowestoft.

David Butcher, of Corton, retired as an English teacher six years ago and since then he has focused a lot of his efforts on turning around two decades of research into a book.

A POPULAR retired teacher from Kirkley High School has made another foray into the publishing industry with a unique look at the history of Lowestoft.

David Butcher, of Corton, retired as an English teacher six years ago and since then he has focused a lot of his efforts on turning around two decades of research into a book.

The result is Lowestoft 1550-1750: Development and Change in a Suffolk Coastal Town, a book that investigates a host of topics including topographical development, demographic features, occupational structure, social geography, house-building, interior décor, wealth, inheritance, maritime pursuits, agriculture, local government, education, literacy, religious affiliation and urban identity in the town. It even beings with an overview of Lowestoft's medieval history as Mr Butcher outlines how the town has grown from a small urban community to become Suffolk's second largest town.

The book has been a labour of love for Mr Butcher as he first started his research over two decades ago.

“Back in the mid '80's I spent 18 months with the family reconstitution registers,” he said.

“I think it's the first time that an historical work based on full family reconstitution of parish registers has been written - and it may well be the last as other regions don't have such thorough documentation.”

Mr Butcher noted over 20,000 individual marriages, baptisms and burials from St Margaret's registers dating from 1561 to 1750, before compiling around 4,000 family master sheet records that he used to cross reference and calculate a wide variety of statistics.

“I had to look at various sources and then jigsaw it all together to integrate a picture of Lowestoft. The documentation was very rich and nearly all I needed was in the Lowestoft Record Office, in Clapham Road,” he said.

“One of the most interesting things I discovered was that early settlement of Lowestoft was nucleated around the Normanston cemetery, Rotterdam Road and St Peter's Road area. They then moved cliffside at around 1300 because the maritime industry was becoming more important.”

Mr Butcher was born and educated in Bungay, but since working in Lowestoft from 1965 his interest in the town's history has grown. He initially started his research just out of interest, but as it developed, interest in the project grew.

“I have tried to write the book for two audiences; specialist academic historians and local people who are interested in the history of the town; and I hope they get it and enjoy it,” he said.

The book, which was published through Boydell & Brewer Ltd last month, includes 50 tables and 30 illustrations, from Isaac Gillingwater's collection of Richard Powles' work from the 1780s, across 354 pages.

It was officially launched at the Lowestoft Record Office yesterday and Mr Butcher has donated a copy to the office as a gift.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Lowestoft Journal. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Lowestoft Journal