Picture by Rupert Fox from a design by Michael Alabaster

The Alabaster Society

The Family History Society
of the Alabaster Family

The Gathering 2017

We are delighted to report that the Alabaster Gathering held on Saturday, 29th April 2017, was a great success. You can read all the details in the Chronicle. 

The next Gathering is yet to be arranged, but it is just possible, based on past experiences, that it could be in April 2020. No guarantee can be given, so please do not start making plans etc until the official announcement by the Committee, which you will be able to read here, nearer the time.

What happened in the past...

The 2011 Alabaster Gathering

by Laraine Hake
Additional material by Ray Williamson

The 2011 Alabaster Gathering took place during the Easter weekend which included Saturday 23rd April, and was based in the Guildhall, Hadleigh.

In the morning there was the usual General Meeting followed by two excellent illustrated talks.

The first was by Dr. Tony Springall on Nicholas Shaxton, and the second was An Alabaster Treasure Hunt by John Stammers Alabaster.

On Saturday afternoon, after a delightful buffet lunch, there was a choice of activities: one was a tour of the Guildhall with Jan Byrne, a tour of the Church with Hilary Griffin showing the remarkable Alabaster memorial brasses, and those wearing "sensible shoes" could take a tour of the Deanery Tower with Roger Kennell and enjoy stunning views from the rooftop.

After dinner on Saturday evening the internationally-acclaimed sculptor Brian Alabaster ARBS spoke about his work.

Buffet Lunch
Assorted Sandwiches
Crudités with dip
Sausage Rolls
Scotch Eggs
Chicken Goujons with Dip
Sausages on sticks
Kebabs, Cheese and Pineapple
Cheese Puffs
Kettle Chips
Fruit Scones topped with Jam & Whipped Cream
Chocolate Sponge Cake
Coffee/Tea & Orange Juice
Dinner 7.00 for 7.30 pm
Cost £26
to be held in the Guildhall Dining Room (not in the Old Town Hall we used last year) 
Smoked Salmon Pate with Melba Toast & Salad Garnish or
Tomato & Basil Soup
Dinner Rolls & Butter
Chicken, Smoked Bacon & Asparagus Wellington with Wine & Herb Sauce or
Caramelised Red Onion & Goats` Cheese Tart
With Herby Roast Potatoes, Minted New Potatoes, Green Beans, Baby Corn
Sugar Snap Peas & Baton Carrots
Homemade Chocolate Roulade with Rich Chocolate Truffle & Whipped Cream Filling or
Homemade Raspberry Pavlova
Coffee/Tea & Mints

Additional Programme (optional)

On Good Friday evening (22nd April) many members followed the custom of dining informally in "The George" in Hadleigh, after setting out the hall ready for the following day`s meeting.

On Easter Sunday, 24th April, many of us attended the Easter Day morning service in St. Mary`s Church, Hadleigh. After lunch in "The George" there was a walking tour of Hadleigh itself, taking in many of the local Alabaster locations and other places of historical interest.

The 2008 Alabaster Gathering

Laraine Hake writes:

Hadleigh GuildhallThe Eighth Alabaster Gathering took place in Hadleigh over the weekend of 25th to 27th April 2008. On Saturday 26th April, we were in the Guildhall Complex. We had the Guild Room for the daytime meeting to "gather" and listen to talks on aspects of Alabaster history, eat well and thoroughly enjoy the day. The Guild Room has good access for disabled people and, even more importantly, would have been used by our Alabaster ancestors in the 16th and 17th centuries. It can accommodate up to 100 people. For the evening dinner we were in the Old Town Hall which adjoins the Guildhall. This is an exceptionally attractive medieval room on the first floor with a crown post roof and timbered floor, and it also would have been known by those Alabasters past.

The cost for the daytime meeting, including Buffet Lunch was £18. The cost for the full day, that is Evening Dinner as well as the daytime Buffet Lunch was £37.

On the Friday evening we met for an informal meal in a The George Public House, Hadleigh. We did this in 2005 and it made a great start to the weekend. On the Sunday we visited Ipswich which was of particular interest to Branches IIIA and IIIB. These extra activities were at additional cost, details below.

Main Programme

in the Guild Room, Guildhall Complex, Hadleigh, Suffolk
Saturday, 26th April, 2008
  • 9.45 am onwards   Arrival and coffee.
  • 10.45   General Meeting of the Alabaster Society.
  • 11.30   Ann Beaumont and the Alabaster connection - Sue Andrews, Hadleigh Archivist and member of the Alabaster Society.
  • 12.00 pm   Victorian Delights - Betty Alabaster West shares treasures from her collection of undies.
  • 1.00   Buffet Lunch
  • 2.00   An opportunity to show, and be shown, items of Alabaster memorabilia that members have brought with them today.
  • 2.30   One Family's History - Laraine Hake: how the history of the Alabaster family was traced. Hilary Griffin in Hadleigh, Suffolk, 2008
  • 3.30   William Alabaster and the period surrounding the publication of 'Apparatus' 1607 - Tony Springall.
  • 3.45   Presentation to The Mayor of Apparatus, "William's Book", to be kept in Hadleigh Archives. More about the book here .
  • 4.00-5.00
    Guided tour of the church with Hilary Griffin (pictured right) to see the wonderful Alabaster brasses, or
    Hadleigh Archives with Sue Andrews: view Alabaster documents from 17th century (maximum of 4 people at any one time), or
    Walk around Hadleigh.
  • 5.15   Tea and biscuits, drawing the raffle!

Additional Programme

Saturday evening, 26th April: Members enjoyed an excellent dinner upstairs in the Old Town Hall in the Guildhall Complex, and many brought their own wine!

This was followed by Clive Paine who spoke to us about the Plague in Suffolk during the seventeenth century, with particular reference to Hadleigh.


On Friday, 25th April, many of us dined at The George. Bookings: contact The George directly on 01473 822151.


On Sunday, 27th April, members were able, if they so wished, to attend the morning family service at St. Matthew`s Ipswich, where some Alabasters were baptised, married, and buried during the 17th and 18th centuries.

This was followed by a guided walk around Ipswich (£3 per person) with lunch overlooking the Quay at Isaac`s, a former merchant`s house (around £10 per person).

And, what happened in 2005, I hear you ask............?

The 2005 Alabaster Gathering

with illustrations taken over the weekend of the Gathering 

10.00 a.m. Arrival and coffee

  • sign your name on the huge family tree of those attending this year’s Gathering
  • buy or collect your pre-ordered copy of Hadleigh and the Alabaster Family by Sue Andrews and Tony Springall
  • please sign up for the afternoon activities……..
  • enjoy the display “What your Victorian ancestors wore………” courtesy of Betty Alabaster West
  • look at the display of Alabaster memorabilia
  • study the Book of the Alabasters – 2002
  • get your raffle tickets
  • consider buying …….. an Alabaster badge, an Alabaster Chronicle binder, Quintet of Alabasters by Adrian Alabaster, back copies of Alabaster Chronicle or ordering a silver or gold Alabaster brooch.
  • and catch up with distant family and friends
From left: Shirley Alabaster, Hon Treasurer; Ron Alabaster West; Laraine Hake, Hon. Secretary,
pictured at the General Meeting held in the Old School 

11.00 a.m. General Meeting of the Alabaster Society - chaired by Ron Alabaster West - see agendaRoger Kennell is an expert on buildings and a specialist in brickwork.

12.00 noon “Holts - Another Alabaster Home” – Sue Andrews

12.15 p.m. “How the Alabasters lost their Wealth” - Tony Springall

1.00 p.m. Lunch Quiche and Salad~Fruit Salad~Fruit Juice

2.00 – 4.30 p.m. Your chosen activities:

  • stroll around and renew your acquaintance with the town of Hadleigh
  • visit Hadleigh church (and Art Exhibition) – Hilary Griffin will be there to show you around between 2.15 and 4.00 p.m
  • Alabaster archives in the Guildhall – your ancestor’s signature on the actual documents The Guildhall is opposite the church - 2.30 p.m onwards
  • a unique opportunity to explore the interior of the Deanery Tower with Roger Kennell (pictured, above right) – safe footwear is needed - 3.30 p.m. at door of the tower at east end of church
  • visit Kersey Mill (pictured below) owned by the Alabasters in 17th century: Kersey Mill is situated to the north of Hadleigh. sign up for the 2.30 p.m. or 3.30 p.m. visit
  • stay in the warm at the Old School and chat to your friends.
  • take the opportunity to meet up with other Alabasters interested in research; examine the displays further; Betty can tell you more about the wonderful Victorian Clothes!

4.30-5.15 p.m. Tea, biscuits and the drawing of the raffle at the Old School


7.00 p.m. for 7.30 p.m. Dinner at The Old School

Mushroom Soup, Hungarian Goulash with Noodles, Lemon Meringue Souffle or Poached Pears with Cream -- Licensed bar availableThe inimitable Roy Tricker is not only a brilliantly entertaining speaker but a fund of knowledge about church buildings in east and south-east England.

To be followed by a talk by Roy Tricker (pictured, left): "Some Norfolk Churches”- with some input by Laraine


Sunday 24th April 2005

11.00 a.m. Family Church Service at Snape, Suffolk.

George Alabaster (Branch IV) was the churchwarden here from 1754 until his death in 1759, aged 37. His gravestone still exists just outside the door of the church. It is the oldest gravestone in the churchyard.

1.00 p.m. Lunch at Castle Inn, Framlingham. Choice of Roast; Beef, Pork or Chicken + Dessert for less than £10!

2.30 p.m. Framlingham Castle where Dr William Alabaster was imprisoned: he was transferred here from the Tower of London in 1601.
The cost: £4.30 per person, £3.30 for concessions (OAPs!) and free if you are a member of English Heritage – but do remember your card! We get a discount if we all pay in a block so I will do something complicated, collecting the money while we eat!

The staff at Framlingham Castle hope to be able to give us a short talk about the castle in the 16th and 17th centuries before we begin. After that we will make our own way around the castle and disperse at our own pace. It is suggested that you allow something in the region of one and a half to two hours to complete the visit. There is an audio tour which takes 50 minutes.

Laraine Hake.