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Founded in 1849. Still here today.

Suffolk Building Society was established in 1849 as the Ipswich & Suffolk Freehold Land Society, as part of a national movement to create ‘forty-shilling freeholders’ – giving the ordinary man the chance to buy enough land to enable him to vote.

The Society’s declared aim was to “improve the social position and promote the moral elevation of the unenfranchised population of this country”. People would be able to invest their savings with the Society, with that money being used to purchase areas of freehold land.

This land would be divided into plots of sufficient size to confer its owner the right to vote. Through the Ipswich & Suffolk Permanent Benefit Building Society arm we assisted members with affordable mortgages to help with their purchase.

Now, over 170 years on, Suffolk Building Society still exists to benefit our members – now and for the future, helping them to buy a home and save their money with an organisation they can trust.


Our name through the ages.


Access our archives.

The bulk of Estate Plans and Ballot Notices are bound into 2 very large and heavy plan books. These are now too fragile to be produced for research but a list of their contents can be found at Catalogue References GF419/FLS1849/3/1/1 and GF419/FLS1849/3/1/2. Digital images of the entire contents of both books are available and thumbnails of these are linked to each entry on CALM. All street names on each plan are also indexed on CALM (not yet available on Suffolk Archives version of database).

Estate plans usually show name of estate, date, size and price of individual plots and are often marked in pencil with the name of the Member to whom each plot was balloted.

Ballot Notices give full details (including price and fortnightly repayment amounts) of property to be balloted and date, time and place of ballot. In the case of ballots for FLS houses a description of accommodation and local facilities is often included. Occasionally ballot notices include drawings of front elevation of houses.

There are also a number of loose architect’s specifications and plans and/or drawings for houses built by the I & SFLS. Details of these can be found at Reference GF419/FLS1849/3/4 & GF419/FLS1849/3/5.
The archive includes numerous bundles of title deeds for the large areas of land purchased by I & SFLS and subsequently developed as FLS Estates. Many of these contain conveyances dating back to the 18th century and some to the 17th century. Several include sale particulars and plans drawn up when outlying parts of ‘country’ estates were first sold for building accommodation. Thus researchers may find pre 19th century records for the land on which their house was eventually built.
Minute books recording the work of I & SFLS/I & SPBBS are available from 1869 onwards, but those relating to business matters after 1920 will not be made accessible to researchers due to Data Protection issues. Some early Minute books are indexed; the binding of some is in rather poor condition. Included in the earlier minute books are details of all arrangements necessary for the development of FLS Estates e.g. Instructions to selected Committee members to attend auctions to purchase land, price to be offered, tenders received for construction of roads, fences and houses when built, ballot arrangements including price of property sold and names of successful ballottees entitled to purchase each plot of land or house.
The archive contains many of the original mortgages taken out by members successful in obtaining a plot of land or house on FLS Estates. These frequently give name of member, calling (occupation), and amount of mortgage; occasionally the member’s present address is included.
The archive includes approximately 700 claim forms for mortgaged property in Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex & London that was damaged by bombing. Details include borrower’s name, address of damaged property, borrower’s address if different, and date and extent of damage. A few of the claims also have builders estimates for repair. Many relate to extensive raids on Lowestoft and Ipswich.
1. Use plans to identify name of I & SFLS estate on which house is built and date of development if not already known.
2. Check relevant Minute Books for details of Estate development and ballot.
3. Identify bundle of title deeds retained by I & SFLS for earlier history of land.
4. Check mortgages for details of early owners of plot of land and/or house.

Contents of the collection is fully catalogued on CALM and can be searched on the Suffolk Archives website:

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