A planet-full of Suffolks

Published 10:13 pm Thursday, March 31, 2011

Suffolk man: Stephen Pestle, shown here in front of the sign in his hometown of Ipswich in the County of Suffolk, England, has created a website merging information from all the Suffolks in the world. He found 23 places named Suffolk.

Englishman catalogues city’s namesakes

Residents of Suffolk, Va., have probably heard of County of Suffolk, England, and even Suffolk County, N.Y.

But folks might not know there are more than 20 places around the world named Suffolk.

Stephen Pestle, who lives in the English version of Suffolk, set out to bring them all together. He has created a website that catalogues information, photos and more from all the Suffolks around the world, as well as a map and a listing of other things named “Suffolk.”

Email newsletter signup

“I already had a site called www.planetipswich.com, which details all of the Ipswiches of the world,” Pestle said in an email interview. Ipswich is located in the County of Suffolk in England.

“I started this site simply because no one had done anything similar before and, when I asked my friends, family and work colleagues, nobody seemed to know how many Ipswiches there were. Having done my hometown, I decided to do the same thing with my home county.”

Once he began his research, Pestle found far more Suffolks than he expected.

“Initially I only thought there were six — England, New York, Massachusetts, Quebec, New South Wales and, of course, Virginia,” Pestle said. “As soon as I started digging a bit deeper, however, I kept finding more and more, including such out-of-the-way places as Arctic Norway, Indonesia and the Khyber Pass in Pakistan.”

Eventually, Pestle rounded up 23 Suffolks around the world, including nine in the United States. He also found a variety of things that had been named Suffolk — including extinct breeds of livestock, varieties of apples and pears, and a type of latch often used on garden gates and wooden doors.

He posted all of the information he could find on the website. The listing for Suffolk, Va., notes that it is Virginia’s largest city in land area, relates some of the city’s history, includes information about the Great Dismal Swamp and even gives a biography of musician Charlie Byrd, who was brought up in Chuckatuck.

“I have learnt so much from this,” Pestle said. “The good thing about researching something like this is that you can get into so many diverse subjects.”

Though he’s researched all of the Suffolks, he’s never been able to visit any of them other than his home county. Pestle is reaching out to people who live in the Suffolks around the world to send him photos, information, stories and more.

“Photos can be of buildings, parks, statues, rivers, famous landmarks or simply street scenes,” he said. “The idea is to show that anywhere called Suffolk is a great place to live and visit.”

To view the website and learn how to submit information, visit www.planetsuffolk.com.