By: Mark Lavery – Housemaster, Rendlesham.
Visitors to St Michael’s Church in Framlingham may have noticed an information board about a town (now city, following a very recent vote!) in Massachusetts USA, called Framingham – no L! This Easter, while visiting family in Salem MA, I took the opportunity to send a speculative Tweet to the Framingham History Center (@FraminghamHist) to ask to visit, in order to learn a little about the links between Framlingham Suffolk and Framingham MA. Happily, Education Coordinator Laura Stagliola responded quickly, and so I was able to arrange to spend some time with Town Historian Fred Wallace. The Centre is based in a beautiful stone school house in what used to be the main square of Framingham, and there we chatted about the town’s origins and Thomas Danforth.
Danforth was, of course, born in Framlingham and his story is a fascinating one, including travel from Suffolk to the USA in 1634 at the age of 11, the founding of “Danforth’s Farms” in 1660 and the (in)famous witch hysteria of Salem MA around 1692.
What I really wanted to know, though, was where the “L” went! Fred explained that when the town was first incorporated in 1700 it was actually recorded as Framlingham, the L being retained. However, seemingly owing to a clerical error, it was subsequently omitted and the name accidentally changed to Framingham!
While I was there I was delighted to donate a copy of “On An Eminence” – the history of Framlingham College, authored by our very own Messrs. Cooke and Robinson – to the Framingham History Centre on behalf of the College. I presented it to Fred on the steps of the Centre in a fittingly British downpour!
It was a genuinely fascinating morning and I was particularly struck by the enthusiasm and warmth shown by the small but dedicated team of volunteers, who I would like to thank very much indeed for my visit. If you should happen to find yourself in Massachusetts, you absolutely must plan a visit to the Framingham History Center (www.framinghamhistory.org). Make sure you tell them about your own Framlinghamian links!