Roots of our history

History will be on your doorstep this month, as local libraries are hosting a number of events for people in Norfolk to find out more about their roots.

Do you want to know more about your house, your family - perhaps more about the background to your town or village, or a bit more about some Norfolk characters?

Grass roots history has become ever more popular in recent years. Programmes about family history such as the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are? have sparked fresh interest among the public. More and more of us are asking this kind of question, reflecting a fundamental human interest in what made us what we are today.

Modern tools such as the internet have made the search easier. There's an astonishing amount of information available in this digital age, but it helps if you know where to start from. This September, to mark Local History Month, Norfolk's libraries are lending us a hand. Branches involved include: The Archive Centre, County Hall, Norwich's Millennium Library, Attleborough, Dersingham, Earlham, King's Lynn, Gaywood, Hunstanton, Mile Cross, Norwich, North Walsham, Stalham, Swaffham, Thetford, Tuckswood, Wroxham, Aylsham, Reepham, Mundesley, Sheringham, Sprowston and St Williams Way, Norwich.

A walk around the fascinating history of King's Lynn should provide some insight into the town's heritage.

Two events - on September 8 and 19 - will take you around South Lynn and The Walks. Also at King's Lynn, local historian and author Dr Paul Richards will tell Lynn's story from 1939-72 - 'The fortunes of a historic town in war and peace' - at the library on Tuesday, September 2. This talk will be followed by a demonstration of the Remember Norfolk local history website, with a chance to find out how you can contribute to the archive.

Two events at the Millennium Library on Norwich's Forum include Norfolk's heritage on the internet - a guide to local history websites and digital collections - and a chance to meet and support local children's authors on three consecutive Saturdays (13, 20 and 27). There's also an introduction to the local history websites at King's Lynn and Stalham.

Most Read

If you want to know more about your property, house history internet tasters are being held at Attleborough, Earlham, King's Lynn, Mile Cross, North Walsham, Thetford, Sprowston and St Williams Way.

Those keen to trace their family trees will want to attend events at Earlham, Mile Cross, Tuckswood and Reepham. Some of these are combined with house history.

Notable historical characters are also featured. Local hero (or villain, according to your politics) Robert Kett will be the subject of a display of work by Hethersett Junior School children at the village library. Kett, a Wymondham landowner, was the leader of a famous rebellion in 1549, and Kett's Oak at Hethersett is said to mark the spot where his rebels gathered before marching to Norwich.

In this, the 250th anniversary of Admiral Horatio Nelson's birth, the great Norfolk hero will be the subject of a talk at the Millennium Library. Nelson was born at Burnham Thorpe, and went to school briefly in Norwich. The same venue will also host a talk on September 13 about the history of the city library, founded way back in 1608. This follows the official opening of the 400th anni-versary exhibition, which will be held at the Archive Centre on September 8.

At a slightly less illustrious level, the 'Confessions of a Norfolk boy' are revealed at Mundesley, with amusing anecdotes of county life presented by Pat Nearney.

Every town and village has a tale to tell, and old photographs play a vital part. At Hunstanton the public is invited to call in at the library to help identify photos of the town, and add their own to the digital archives. There's a similar theme at Gaywood, where you can share your photographic memories of the area. Reepham is also hosting a photographic display, as is Dersingham.

With the Beijing Olympic Games fresh in our memories, and looking forward to 2012 in London, Sheringham Library will be the scene of an event to collect, store and share memories of 1948, when the Olympics were last held in Britain. Similarly, at Loddon they're inviting visitors in to “have a cuppa and share a memory” about the 1948 'Austerity Olympics'.

Also at Sheringham there will be a 1940s costume display, featuring life-sized models in costume. The same era is reflected in a special day at Gaywood on September 19, when the 1940 and 1950s will be the focus.

Lovers of sailing will be enthralled by events at Stalham and North Walsham. Rodney Storey will give a talk on the Hunter Fleet of traditional wooden sailing boats built at the yard in Ludham since the 1930s.

There will also be a chance to look at Stalham Library's collection of books about the Broads.

At Wroxham, Roy Chamberlin will present a view of Old Hoveton, while at Aylsham Karen Nethercott, from award-winning shop Samphire, will give you tips on smallholding matters.

Many of these events need pre-booking, and some offer refreshments. Most are free, but a few make a small charge. Contact your local library for full details or go to www.library.norfolk. and check out what each branch is doing.