We run an informal family history Help Centre in Leiston's Old Council Chamber, Main Street , IP16 4ER (opposite the Long Shop museum) for free personal research sessions, but by appointment only. Experienced family historians are ready to help and advise you, whether you want to begin tracing your family roots but don't know where to start, or have simply reached a ‘brick wall’ in your research. The Group looks forward to helping you, and maybe sharing in the guilty pleasure of tracing those elusive black sheep!
Sessions can be held on the FIRST AND THIRD SATURDAY MORNINGS every month at our Help Centre in Leiston’s Old Council Chamber, but have been by appointment only since 2nd September 2023. Those wishing to consult our archives, or looking for help researching their family history, will have to make an appointment at least a week in advance.
The Help Centre contains much local information which is not available online. Our full Index of Resources includes graveyard catalogues (for Aldringham, Benhall, Eastbridge, Kelsale, Leiston, Saxmundham, Sutton and Theberton), censuses, directories, information on local war memorials, books and historic maps. Our maps include almost 300 flat Ordnance Survey maps of Suffolk at a scale of 1:2500 (25" to the mile, or 1cm:25m) — dating mostly from 1904 or 1926/27 — and you can read about those maps here. We have a large number of CD's and microfiches of local interest — in fact, we hold a wide variety of records for Suffolk and other counties. You can read about our resources Index here , and download the latest published version of that Index from here . Having identified what interests you, see «where to find things in the Help Centre» here.
There are also laptops with internet, a printer-scanner and a second scanner. We have unsecured wifi if you wish to bring your laptop or tablet at your own risk. Our desktop is kept offline, but running under Windows XP Version 5.1 (2001) so that it can still read older CD's. We also have our own fiche-reader, for access to our many microfiche records, which now include a large collection of "Essex Monumental Inscriptions".
The Help Centre is upstairs in the OLD COUNCIL OFFICES, MAIN STREET, LEISTON, IP16 4ER, in the same building as, and to the right of, the Library, opposite the Long Shop Museum. Please note that access is by a steep staircase. You can park outside free of charge for one hour, or there's an “unlimited” free car park in Valley Road — go straight down past Barclays Bank and it's 100 yards or so on the right. To gain access on a Saturday morning, just ring the doorbell, and wait for one of our volunteers on duty to 'run' down to welcome you, and let you in — we keep the door locked to deter nefarious intruders.
To make an appointment to visit our Help Centre, please complete a Help Centre Appointment Form.
If you are unable to come to the Help Centre yourself, you might wish to know that
paid-up Members can make use of our Research Request Form.
You can visit our «Membership» page to learn more about the advantages of joining.
On the SECOND Tuesday of the month, join Jane Evans for her free Family History Group sessions
at Saxmundham Library from 2:30pm to 4:30pm, if you're interested in researching your family history.
Jane's sessions are free to attend, but donations to the Library are welcome.
Just turn up for either, at Leiston or Sax — no need to book for them!