“The Dig”: Sutton Hoo A Local Connection and Recent Images.

Netflix is not usually on the Weaverham History Society’s sources for local history matters. However, the recent film “The Dig”, from an original book of the same name by John Preston, tells a semi-fictional story of the Sutton Hoo Excavation.

Newlyweds Frank and Edith Pretty purchased a property, Tranmer House, in southeast England in 1926. After her husband’s death in 1934, she started to investigate the property, which included strange mounds scattered across it. In 1937, Edith decided to have the site excavated, contacting a nearby museum. Archaeologist Basil Brown began excavation the following year and in 1939 made the history-book-altering discovery. The plot of the film develops from there and rest assured no spoilers will be further revealed.

What is of interest is the fact that Edith Pretty has strong connections to the Mid Cheshire area.

From 1907 to 1925, Edith’s family took a lease on Vale Royal Abbey; indeed, her father, Robert Dempster paid for the Abbey’s restoration. Edith grew up here, engaging in public and charitable works and an example still exists today; the Dempster Cup was donated in 1926 to the local council in Winsford to present to a local allotment holder annually. A recent correspondence suggests the cup is still being awarded and is the oldest community award in the area.

As a further connection, in medieval times Weaverham was in the ownership of Vale Royal up until the Reformation. In 1926 Edith married Frank Pretty. The picture below may have become another family heirloom or a footnote in local history but for the fact that on her marriage Edith relinquished the lease of Vale Royal Abbey and purchased the Sutton Hoo estate in Suffolk.

Edith Pretty Wedding Party

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Sutton-Hoo-Helmet-2.png

The rest is Fact or maybe Fiction?

Sutton Hoo as it is now.

Tranmer House
Site plan
Mound 1 Ship Burial
Mound 2 Great Ship Burial or King’s Mound
Warrior Grave and Horse Grave
Great Ship Sculpture
Helmet Sculpture (not to Scale!)

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