Chairman's welcome to Martham Digital Archive, the Norfolk Record Office Project and our 'Archive Afternoons'

Thanks to the hard work of MLHG's president, Ann Meakin, we are one of  twenty small projects being managed through the Norfolk Record Office.

This is the press release (below) which explains what is happening.  Many of our neighbouring villages are also involved. We are working with the Norfolk Library and Information Service to make sure we have a venue for the training of some MLHG members who volunteer to help, and perhaps a place to store some of the archive itself.

We have set up a small archive committee (interested members are welcome to join us!) and we are currently,

  • setting up a 'Martham Collection' in our local library to include books of local history interest
  • organising an oral history project
  • cataloguing our archives
  • preparing documentation for accessions
  • building this website
  • undertaking training for all the above

This summer we will be taking digital photographs of our key documents and hopefully visiting the Norfolk Record Office to take good copies of documents of interest to Martham's history.  We are delighted with progress so far.  Join us!

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National Lottery funding secured to help communities capture the County’s historical memory

October 2019

Norfolk County Council’s Record Office (NRO) has been awarded a grant by The National Lottery Heritage Fund of up to £217,400 to support a new three-year project entitled, Community Archives: Skills, Support and Sustainability. As the name suggests, the project will provide communities with the skills and support they need to create sustainable community archives.   

Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the grant will be used to recruit two community archivists to work across Norfolk. They will work with community groups across the county to train people in archive skills, such as cataloguing their collections, digitization and recording oral history interviews. This will mean people now and in the future can locate and consult historically important resources.

Margaret Dewsbury, Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships said;

“Local community groups are in an excellent position to identify archives relating to their local area or special interest. Without this, our community memories will fade, and parts of Norfolk’s heritage will be lost. It’s fantastic that we have gained this funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund which will enable the Norfolk Record Office to work with communities to secure and make available to everyone these important resources. As well as providing a fascinating window into Norfolk’s past, archives are a wonderful aid to community cohesion and integration.”

This exciting new project will create and deliver training to 30 partners across the county who look after over five million unique photographs, sound recordings and other records, which date from the fifteenth century onwards. As well as providing training, which will be published online for everyone to access, the project will acquire equipment for use by the partners. This will include acid free, archive quality packaging materials, digital sound recording equipment and digital photography kit.

Anne Jenkins, Director, England: Midlands & East at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said;

“Communities are heart and centre of keeping our heritage alive, and we’re delighted that we can support this project to ensure the cultural memories of Norfolk are preserved and shared throughout the county. At The National Lottery Heritage Fund, we’ve identified community engagement as a priority for the next five years, and this project is a fantastic example of how our funding is empowering people to explore their local heritage and safeguard the important history that surrounds them.”

Michael Chenery of Horsbrugh, Chair of Norfolk Records Committee said;

“This project is a great opportunity for the Norfolk Record Office to share their expertise in the collection, storage and sharing of historical archives. It will ensure a wider range of historical resources are preserved and made publicly accessible now and for future generations.”

About the Norfolk Record Office

The Norfolk Record Office collects, preserves and makes accessible historical records relating to the county. Funded by Norfolk County Council, it is a joint service of Norfolk’s local authorities.

Its 30 named partners in this project are Acle Community Archive Group; Aylsham Town Archive; Bergh Apton Local History Group; Blakeney Area Historical Society; Brundall Local History Group; Carleton Rode History Group; Fakenham Local History Society; Fakenham Community Archive; Fakenham Museum of Gas and Local History; Girlguiding Norfolk's Archive Resource Centre; Hapton History Group; Loddon and District Local History Group; Martham Local History Group; M&GN (Midland and Great Northern) Circle; Mulbarton Heritage Group; Museum 4 Watton; Neatishead, Irstead and Barton Turf Community Heritage Group; New Buckenham Society; Newton Flotman and Saxlingham Thorpe Heritage Group; Norfolk Polish Heritage Group; Norfolk Wherry Trust; The Reepham Archive; St Seraphim Icon and Railway Heritage Museum; Surlingham History Group; True's Yard Fisherfolk Museum; Voices of Hickling; Wereham Heritage Group; Wherry Yacht Charter Trust; Wisbech and Fenland Museum; and Wreningham Heritage Group.

About the National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.

Follow @HeritageFundUK on TwitterFacebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund


A warm welcome from our Chairman

Are you missing something?

You may have missed that wonderful series of programmes on BBC 4 entitled ‘Ponds, pubs and powers – the story of the English village’, by Ben Robinson.   It is still available on iPlayer so do look out for it. Lavenham is covered, so is Walthamstow - an urban village. Port Isaac in North Cornwall, famous now as the location for Doc Martin, but also as the place where one or two of us slipped down the coast to buy the best and freshest fish, direct from the Atlantic.

Strangely, Martham was not one of the villages included - so what is Martham’s story?  Why did those Saxons find it such a desirable place to settle?  Were they the first settlers?  What happened in later centuries after the Norman Conquest?

Martham has the most incredible and unusual collection of archives going back through all the centuries to Domesday Book.  Some are in the British Museum, some are in the Public Record Office and some are in the Norfolk Record Office.  All are very fragile and need to be kept in the right conditions to ensure their continuing preservation.   Scholars have studied these documents and interpreted them for us today and we have copies in our village collection of a vast number of interesting archives.

During the winter months, in addition to our main programme, members of the Martham Local History group meet in small groups to discover what our archives tell us about Martham’s story.  If you would be interested to join one of these groups, please get in touch.  For members the Archive Afternoons are free.


We are always glad to welcome new members to the Martham Local History Group.  To belong, the cost is only £10 a year - excellent value – and you can join at any of our meetings, or on line.  

Noel Mitchell
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