Former teacher's new book a 'love letter' to two Suffolk villages

Norman Porter Bealings book

Author Norman Porter with the book - Credit: Virginia Porter

A Suffolk-born former languages teacher and international hockey player has written a book which he describes as a “love letter” to the two villages where he has lived for almost a quarter of a century.

Walking Through History, written by Norman Porter, is a comprehensive illustrated history of Great and Little Bealings, near Woodbridge. In more than 300 pages, the book explores just about every aspect of the evolution of the two communities.

It details the history of hundreds of the properties in the villages - from the grandest, such as Seckford Hall, to the humblest workers’ cottages - and also chronicles the lives of many of the former inhabitants. As such, it provides a fascinating social history.

Long-gone shops and pubs are remembered, as well as the railway station. The history of the village school is chronicled, as are the massive changes in agriculture.

There is also the quirky side of village life. Who knew, for example that pre-war South African Test cricketer Bob Crisp became a stalwart for the Bealings village team in the 1960s?

Underpinning the book’s narrative are five walking trails through the villages, reflecting the author’s love of walking and also the popularity of walking during the pandemic.

The book is illustrated by hundreds of old and new photos, as well as posters and newspaper cuttings of memorable events and significant people.

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Mr. Porter describes the book as: “A love letter to Bealings, to Suffolk, to happy rural childhoods, to those generations of the early 20th century who went through so much, so stoically, had so little but rarely complained.”

The son of a Suffolk village policeman, Mr. Porter attended Framlingham College as a scholarship pupil. He played hockey for Scotland, and taught languages at a number of prominent schools before retiring to Bealings.

If you would like a copy of the book, you can call Norman Porter on 01473 735565 or email

Books cost £20, with free local delivery in the Bealings and Woodbridge area, or £25 including post and packaging.

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