Australian goes the extra 10,000 miles to trace his family’s East Anglian history

Frederick Stearne with his wife Helen Ombra in Canada circa 1914. Picture: DAVID STEARNE

Frederick Stearne with his wife Helen Ombra in Canada circa 1914. Picture: DAVID STEARNE - Credit: Archant

Many people are so keen to trace their family history that they are prepared to go the extra mile.

But one man is set go an extra 10,000 miles when he makes the journey from his home in South Australia to a small East Anglian village to find out more about his family's roots.

David Stearne - of Beverly, South Australia but originally from Canada - will be travelling with his wife to his great-grandfather's birthplace in Suffolk later this year.

In doing so, he hopes to reconnect with any relatives still living in the area and find out more about his ancestors, who lived and worked nearby.

Mr Stearne will be repeating a journey he made with his father Robert Stearne in 1971, at the age of 14.

However it wasn't until Mr Stearne visited cousins in Canada that his interest in his family history was piqued.

'I wasn't all that interested but I lost my brother, so went back to Canada,' he explained.

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'I caught up with cousins and had a couple of fantastic nights reminiscing over old photos.

'That's when it really got under my skin.'

Upon returning to Australia, Mr Stearne began researching his family name.

He remembered his father talking about his grandfather Fred growing up in the Suffolk village of Hoxne, near Diss, and working as a gardener in a large manor house.

With this starting point, Mr Stearne began his research.

'Long story short, I found an old census from 1911 that indicated [Fred's] address was Chickering Road, Suffolk,' he said.

'Google Maps showed a large manor house named Depperhaugh, and that has to be the place.'

'It was like something out of that movie Lion. When I found this piece of paper, it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up'.

The Depperhaugh is a Victorian country house dating back to the 1860s. It is currently used as a care home.

Mr Stearne believes his great-grandfather, Albert Stearne, was the groundsman of the house in the 1890s.

Ahead of his visit, Mr Stearne is keen to hear from anyone in the Hoxne area who might be able to provide fresh insights into the history of his family.


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