Churches of the Deben: Part 3A

By Gareth Thomas

Part 3: From MELTON and from SUTTON to the edge of THE NORTH SEA

*This might be just ten miles of estuary but it is two banks of a wide estuary and includes the ancient maritime town of Woodbridge. Consequently, for the sake of both compilers and readers, Part 3 will be presented in two sections: 3A and 3B

3A: From Sutton to The North Sea

Welcome back to those readers who have survived the first two parts of this three (now four) – part series. As I explained in part one, I had no idea that there would be so many churches in close approximation to the River Deben, either as it is now or as it was, before the building of the river walls. Conversations with others suggest that I have not been alone in my ignorance; ‘forty-odd ! – that surely cannot be’ they say, but forty-odd it will be by the time we have finished – more than one church per sinuous mile of river.  Continue reading

The importance of the River Deben for birds

By Sally Westwood

Common Buzzard


Deben Estuary and changing tides

The River Deben is thought to commence west of Ulveston Hall, near Mickfield, alternatively the Deben may stem from the south in Bedingfield1. The river flows along gradually turning into an estuary between Melton and Woodbridge, and enters the North Sea at Harwich Haven, between Bawdsey and Felixstowe Ferry. A significant feature of the Deben Estuary is the changing tides. The tide is described as “the ocean’s response to the gravitational pull of the Moon and the Sun”2 but more specifically, “it is the variation in this pull over the surface of the Earth that makes tides”3. When tide is rising and coming in, the North Sea washes heavy sediment4 into the Deben which forms intertidal flats around the area of the mouth of the estuary at Felixstowe Ferry. This produces sand and shingle beaches. Finer silt is driven along the estuary into the river to form the mudflats we see at the sides of the river near Woodbridge, and more extensively further along the river at Melton, Wilford Bridge and beyond. The tide rises and falls twice a day5. High water on the River Deben occurs at intervals of approximately twelve hours, and the tide starts ebbing to low tide about six hours following high tide. High tide occurs one hour later each day. The height of the tide is affected by both the strength and direction of wind and atmospheric pressure6.


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Dicotyledonous Plants  of the local Shingle Seashore

By Peter Jones

Background to this article

In 2022 Julia Jones took photos of some plants growing on the beach on the Bawdsey Side of the river deben and asked members of the RDA to help with identification [Plants of the Deben – a plea for help – River Deben Association]. 

Bawdsey Beach, July 2022

One of the problems of doing so was because some of the photos were not very sharp.  The usual reason for this if they were taken on a smartphone is not the quality of the camera but because smartphones are very light, have to be held away from the body in order to see the screen, are difficult to keep absolutely still,  particularly if it is windy (which it usually is at the seaside), so move very slightly during the exposure (the problem varies slightly with the lighting conditions – exposures are longer in lower light conditions, so even very slight movement can cause slight blurring). 

I therefore offered to try to obtain clearer photos using my DSLR camera which is heavier and held against the face in use.  I did not make special visits to take photos and it happened that I was never there when the few and sparsely scattered grasses were in flower, so they have not, so far, been included.   There are also some patches of lichen to be found here and there and I have neither expertise nor reference books to enable accurate identification of these (I suspect this is a group of organisms, like some larger fungi, where amateurs make quick confident identifications but experts are more guarded.).

Below are photographs of 14 species of dicotyledonous plants but there are certainly more, including a vetch (or perhaps two) photographed along with other plants but unidentifiable because they were not in flower and some other plants which were either before or after flowering at the times of my visits.  To compile a comprehensive list would require systematic searching of the area on visits at reasonably close intervals over an entire growing season or more.

Editors note: Dicotyledonous plants are one of the two main groups of all flowering plants. They typically have two embryonic leaves either side on the seed head Continue reading

Liz Kennedy 1929-2023 – A tribute

By Gareth Thomas

If ever there was a woman with the River Deben in her blood and Waldringfield in her system it was Liz Kennedy who passed away on December 22nd2023, having attained the grand age of 94 and having retained true independence until just over a year before.

On January 25th 2024 her family, her friends, her recent carers and the residents of Waldringfield turned out in huge numbers at All Saints’ Church, overflowing into a packed Church Hall to celebrate her life. She was a true lover of the River Deben and well-known to many members of the River Deben Association.  

Liz Kennedy at the helm of her clinker-built dinghy, Check  (photo by Roger Stollery)

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River Deben Swimming and the Elephant in the Room

By Ruth Leach

This is an extended version of Ruth Leach’s article ‘The Deben Bluetits Swim Group’, published on The Deben #68. It’s written in her capacity as co-founder of the Save the Deben campaign group and contains an update on water quality. This topic is scheduled for panel discussion at the River Deben Association’s forthcoming AGM, April 24th 2024.

During the recent pandemic our lives were deconstructed in so many ways, ‘free time’ – that precious commodity, was suddenly in abundance for many of us. People reconnected with their natural environment and for those fortunate enough to be near a blue space the love affair with nature soon flourished. Continue reading

Churches of the Deben – Part 2

By Gareth Thomas


It is best to read Part 1 before venturing further down river and, in particular, to refer to the time-line table.

Now I am neither a good photographer nor a professional historian, nor a geographer, cartologist or ecclesiast so there are very likely to be imperfections in my observations on the Churches of the Deben – massive imperfections, quite possibly. However, I am very happy to be corrected for that is a good way to learn. Continue reading

Volunteers Running an International Event

By Alice Thorogood

Credit: Corinne Whitehouse


The UK Cadet Class World Championships take place in Plymouth this summer. They are completely volunteer run. Alice Thorogood of Waldringfield Sailing Club explains what’s involved and how you can show your support for these young sailors:

How did we get into this? A personal introduction

My eldest, Gwen, was just eight when she first stepped onboard a Cadet with Waldringfield sailor Hattie Collingridge and disappeared across the Deben. We didn’t plan it, we had never thought about sailing as a hobby for our children; I’m not from a sailing background at all and though it turns out that my husband, Frank, has the water of the Deben in his veins, he too had very little experience of dinghy sailing. That world felt “other” to us, with its strange new language and an elitist image that felt slightly difficult to navigate. However, we were charmed by Hattie and her clear love of the sport, that teamed with the easy welcome of Waldringfield Cadet Squadron and we were as hooked as Gwen clearly seemed to be when she came bouncing up the beach all wide eyed and exuberant from her first taste of Cadet sailing. Continue reading