A Brief History of Walsham

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A Brief History of Walsham from 4000BC to the 1900’s

4000 BC – 43 AD | 43 AD – 1066 | 1086 – 1348 | 1349 – 1500 | 1500’s | 1600’s | 1700’s | 1800’s | 1900’s


4000 BC – 43 AD


One of Walsham’s early occupants, a pre-historic person, knapping flints to make primitive tools.

Walsham-le-Willows is a rectangular parish with a stream running down the centre. To the west the soils are predominantly gravel – to the east mainly clay. This has influenced the pattern of settlement. The first signs of human occupation occur in the Mesolithic period (c6000BC), the hunter/fisher people.

Flint tools

Waste flakes from pre-historic flint-knapping were found all over the parish – but the largest numbers were in the West Street area.

With the arrival of agriculture in the Neolithic period (c4000–2000BC), the lighter soils were more easily managed by primitive implements. The axe-head pictured below was found at Willow Tree Farm amongst a large number of flint tools and flakes – but no actual settlement.

An axe-head found at Willow Tree Farm. It has been damaged by ploughing and from being buried in the soil for so long.
An axe-head found at Willow Tree Farm. It has been damaged by ploughing and from being buried in the soil for so long.
Reconstructed axe-head with a wooden curved handle with a deep groove worn/carved across one end with a flint axe head fitted in. The axe head is cylindrical, long and thin.
The axe-heads would have been fixed into a handle like this reconstruction.
Drawing of part of a bronze harness ornament found near Old Hall dated c.400-440BC.
A single stray bronze harness ornament found near Old Hall represents the Iron Age (c400 – 440 BC)
Map of Walsham, titled “Walsham le Willows 4000 – 42 BC”, showing where four flint axe-heads were found (of which there are about seven sites) plus the sites of large quantities of waste flints in the West Street area (again around seven sites). “Ixworth Road”, “West Street”, “Summer Road”, “Four Ashes”, “Wattisfield Road”, “Crownland”, “Cranmer Green”, “Finningham Road”, “Allwood Green”.

43 AD – 1066


The earliest identifiable settlements are those of the Romanised Britons.

There was considerable Romano-British activity (late 1st – 4th centuries) – peasant farmsteads over the entire parish possibly servicing villas in Ixworth and elsewhere. There is no indication of wealthy property in Walsham.

Photograph of three small, grey, spherical cooking pots with round rims made at Wattisfield during the 1st-4th century.
Sherds of pottery found on the fields came from cooking pots such as these.
Photograph of part of a pudding-stone quern embedded in the wall of St. Mary’s churchyard. It is of grey stone with inset pebbles ie: a conglomerate. It is well disguised because the wall itself is of flint and pebbles.
Part of a pudding-stone quern set in the west wall of the churchyard – it was used for grinding grain and other seeds.

Photograph of two small, grey, spherical cooking pots with square-shaped rims made in or near Ipswich during the 9th century.
The few sherds of Ipswich made pottery found here came from cooking pots like these.

It is likely that from the 9th century a group of extended families lived close to the present church as evidenced by a few pieces of later Saxon pottery found in just two places and a later Saxon dress-fastening.

There is a mention in Domesday of a settlement before the Norman Conquest. The place-name of Walsham is Saxon – the original form was Waeles-ham, or ham of the Welsh probably relating to surviving Romano-British inhabitants.

Black and white drawing of a Saxon silver dress fastening found on Cranmer Green. It is triangular with some engraved decoration on the front, plain on the back with a pin to hold fabric in place.
Saxon silver dress fastening found on Cranmer Green. It is triangular with some engraved decoration on the front, plain on the back with a pin to hold fabric in place.
A black and white conjectural drawing, map-like titled “Walsham le Willows 43AD – 1066”, of what Saxon Walsham may have looked like. There is one large rectangular wooden church with a thatched roof and two smaller rectangular wooden buildings used as dwellings. There is a paling fence along the stream and a simple wooden bridge over it. “Romano-British Sites” are marked with various multiple dots scattered about the map. “Ixworth Road”, “West Street”, “Summer Road”, “Four Ashes”, “Wattisfield Road”, “Crownland”, “Cranmer Green”, “Finningham Road”, “Allwood Green”.
A Walsham Saxon village may have looked like this.

Syke, Bromeswong and Old Toft are Walsham field names – they may reflect some Viking influence in the 10th century.

A map of Roman and Saxon Walsham 43AD-1066 showing nineteen Romano British sites scattered all over the parish and the Saxon area around the present church.

1086 – 1348


From 1086 onwards there is written evidence and we meet the people for the first time.

Black and white drawing of a piece of re-used stone from the previous church with a typical Norman carving of a spiral design.
Impression of a piece of re-used stone from the previous church with a typical Norman carving of a spiral design.
Painting taken from a Psalter showing three peasants cutting corn with sickles while the reeve or hayward stands over them, directing them with a rod. Two of the figures are dressed in bright blue smocks, the other two in brown and orange. The background is a stylised pattern in red and orange.
Painting taken from a Psalter – click to enlarge

After the Norman Conquest three manors emerged – Walsham, High Hall and Church House, the lords of which held regular courts in the hall of their manor to control changes of land-holding and cases of minor crimes such as over-grazing. The records of these courts survive from 1318 onwards together with some accounts and rentals.

In 1283 a tax return lists 90 people and shows that sheep were the most common animals with cattle, horses, pigs and poultry in abundance. Wheat, barley, oats, rye, beans and peas were grown. It shows for example, that Matthew Gilbert grew 4 bushels of wheat, 6 bushels of barley, 4 bushels of oats and 2 bushels of peas and kept one horse, one cow, one calf – he was worth 16s 3d and paid 6½d tax. These are the names, some of which continued in Walsham until quite recently.

A Brief History of Walsham - 1283 tax return

A list of the names (alphabetically by forename) of tenants on the 1283 Tax Return. Filter, sort and search as required.
Name
Adam Burchard
Adam le Syre
Adam Pinchun
Adam son of Godfrey
Agatha la Say
Alice Bercator
Alice dau of Gilbert
Alice de Depmere
Alice la Warde
Alice Spileman
Almer le Deneys
Andrew le Typetot
Anne wife of John
Aubry wife of W Margeri
Avice Barel
Burchard
Christine la Reve
Christine Terrewald
Eve de Waleyns
Geoffrey Payn
Gilbert le Do
H. Dodeman
H. Patel
Helis Coppelowe
Herebard de Cranmere
Hugh de la Broc
Humphrey le Man
I. le Do
I. son of Richard
Ida Payn
Lena la Chapman
Lord Roger de Walsham
Master John
Matilda Payn
Matthew son of Gilbert
Matthew Spileman
N. Champeneys
Peter Faber
Peter le Man
Peter le Rede
Peter son of Robert
Prior of Ixworth
R. Crane
R. do Aldewode
R. Hawes
R. Helle
R. Hernyng
R. le Do
R. le Neve
R. Pinful
R. Pudding
R. Robehod
R. Wither
R. Wyndilgard
Ralph Helewys
Ralph le Franceys
Ralph Pudding
Ralph Sare
Ralph Wiswyf
Reginald Sutor
Richard de Cranmere
Richard Helirof
Richard le Man
Richard Tirewald
Simon Kembald
Thomas Hunno
Thomas Osbern
W. Bercator
W. Bulloc
W. Coco
W. Goim
W. Goslyng
W. Hulc
W. Kelbel
W. le Franceys
W. le Marler
W. Qualm
W. Swift
W. Terrewald
W. Wither
Walter le Deneys
Walter le Deneys
Walter le Sire
Walter Osbern
Walter Payn
Walter Piccor
Walter Rampolye
Walter Wither
Warner son of Berard
William Payne
Painting taken from a Psalter depicting four oxen, led by one peasant, pulling a simple mainly wooden plough held by two more. The oxen are brown and the peasants are dressed in blue or brown smocks.
Painting taken from a Psalter

There was one large open field – Mill Field – and several smaller ones where tenants held small strips to grow crops. Three large woods – Netherhawe, Northawe and Lady’s Wood provided timber. Animals could be grazed on Allwood, Cranmer and Hall Green as well as roadside verges.

In return for houses and land, the tenants paid the lord, not only in money and goods such as chickens, but by working on the lord’s own land.

Photograph of a few sentences from the 1327 rental of High Hall. Written in medieval Latin the names of John Paccard, John and Adam de Angerhale and Gilbert Helpe can be deciphered.
1327 rental of High Hall. Written in medieval Latin – click to enlarge

Translations from the 1327 document above…

John Packard at the Feast of St. Michael ½d. And at the Feast of All Saints ¾d. And at Christmas ½d and a quarter part of one chicken. And at Easter ½d and 5 eggs. And at Pentecost ¼d. And he shall weed. And reap for 2 days and do one boon work. And he shall do 5 works in winter.

John and Adam de Angerhale brothers pay at the Feast of St. Michael 7d and at the Feast of All Saints 1¼d and half a ¼d. And at the Feast of St. Edmund 6d. And at Christmas 1d and half a chicken and at Easter 7d. And at Pentecost ½d and they shall weed. And do 12 days at harvest and 1½ days boon works. And do 10 works in winter.

Gilbert Helpe pays at the Feast of St. Michael 6d. And at the Feast of St. Edmund 6d. And at Easter 6d. And 1 chicken at Christmas and he shall reap at harvest 8 days and 1 boon work.

Hand-drawn map titled “Walsham le Willows. Medieval c12th – c15th”. Marked on the map and in the key: “Manor Sites”, “Guildhall”, “Camping Close”, “Mills”, “Church”, “Demesne Land”, “Common Grazing” and “Woodland”. Also marked on the map: “Ixworth Road”, “West Street Field”, “West Street”, “Westmill Field”, “Walsham Manor”, “Spilmans Wood”, “Northhall Wood”, “Summer Road”, “Wattisfield Road”, “North Field”, “Hulkes Wood”, “Church House”, “Four Ashes”, “Cow Common”, “Mill Field”, “Cranmer Green”, “Crownlads”, “Well Field”, “South Field”, “High Hall”, “High Hall Wood”, “Finningham Road”, “Allwood Green”.
Medieval 12 – 15C Walsham – click to enlarge

1349 – 1500


The Black Death Plague (published by Weidenfield, June 2008) by John Hatcher gives far more details of the Plague and it makes some interesting references to Walsham le Willows. See a review of The Black Death Plague by John Hatcher. Although it is based on certain facts you will also find that there are elements of ’embellishment’ included, but never-the-less still a very worthwhile read.

By 1349 the population had risen to about 1000 – every available corner of land was ploughed for food. Then the Black Death struck halving the population. Court rolls give the names of 119 tenants who died – wives, children and servants must be added to that number.

Photograph of part of a manor court roll of 1349 showing the names of some of the tenants who died in the Black Death. It is written in medieval Latin.
Part of a manor court roll of 1349 showing deaths of tenants – click to enlarge

A Brief History of Walsham - Plague Deaths

A list of the names of tenants who died of the Black Death from the manor court roll of 1349, filter, sort and search as required.
Forename, Surname
Adam Angerhale
Adam Hardon
Agnes Patel
Agnes Rampley
Agnes Stonham
Agnes Swan
Alice Fuller
Alice Gilbert
Alice Kembald
Alice Lenne
Alice Tiptot
Avice Deneys
Avis Bonde
Bartholomew Jerico
Cecilia Pudding
Christine Crane
Edith Dormour
Edmund Patel
Emma Frances
Idonea Sare
Isobel Miller
Joan Crane
John Brook
John Chapman
John Deeth
John Goche
John Hawes
John Helpe
John Man
John Osbern
John Patel
John Pynfoul
John Rampley
John Rampley (2)
John Syre
John Taylor
John Taylor (2)
John Tiptot
John Warde
John Warde (2)
Juliana Deneys
Katherine Crane
Katherine Qualm
Katherine Taylor
Margery Wodebite
Matilda Deneys
Matthew Hereward
Nicholas Frances
Peter Gilbert
Peter Goche
Peter Jay
Peter Neve
Peter Taylor
Ralph Echeman
Richard Banloan
Richard Kebbil
Richard Man
Richard Patel
Richard Patel (2)
Richard Patel (3)
Richard Qualm
Richard Spilman
Robert Cook
Robert Cranmer
Robert Deneys
Robert Helpe
Robert Hereward
Robert Lenne
Robert Man
Robert Pertre
Robert Sare
Robert Springald
Robert Taylor
Roger Rampley
Rose Stronde
Simon Painter
Simon Painter (2)
Simon Painter (3)
Stephen Cooper
Thomas Dormour
Thomas Fuller
Walter Craske
Walter Deneys
Walter Hawes
Walter Hereward
Walter Noreys
Walter Noreys (2)
Walter Osbern
Walter Patel
Walter Payn
Walter Payn (2)
Walter Qualm
Walter Rampley
Walter Springald
Walter Syre
William Clevehog
William Cranmer (2)
William Cranmer (3)
William Cranmer snr
William Deneys
William Hawes
William Helewys
William Isabel
William Patel
William Patel (2)
William Patel (3)
William Payn
William Rampley
William Rampley (2)
William Rampley (3)
William Smith
William Syre
William Taylor
William Wauncy
William Wither

Life on the manor continued as normal – for each death the lord collected a heriot – the best beast as a death duty and example of whcih is extracted below:

“Heriot 1 cow – Item that John Hawes held on the day that he died a certain tenement the size of which is unknown, after whose death the lord had 1 cow as a heriot. And that William and Robert his sons are his nearest heirs who have entry by the said heriot.”

Painting of what Walsham manor may have looked like. A wall topped with thatch surrounds the site and through the open gate can be seen the manor house, barns, dovecote and a horse and cart. It is a winter scene with everything covered in snow.

The manor site may have looked like something like as depicted in this image.

One of the items in the manor account rolls is for building work done on the manor site along Summer Road. The following buildings were repaired from time to time, mostly by thatching and carpentry:

The lord’s house (although he was rarely resident) and the knight’s room (for visiting aristocracy). Also a chapel, bailiff’s room, lodge, kitchen, stable, sheepcote, cowshed, barn, dairy, granary, oat barn, wash house, pea barn, hay barn and walls topped with thatch.

The dovecote was at the back of the site (in the field known, until quite recently, as Dovehouse Close, another hated symbol of feudalism) where the lord’s pigeons fed on the peasants’ crops but they were not allowed to harm them.

The Hawes family lived where the Rookery now stands. Other deaths recorded here are Thomas Dormour, Edith his wife, Walter Osbern, Bartholomew Jerico, John Osbern, William Cranmer, William his son and Robert his son.

Part of an account of the manor in 1390/1 written in medieval Latin it shows that the costs of the mill amount to 9d and the costs of the sheepfold to 20s 4d.

Photograph of part of an account of the manor in 1390/1. Written in medieval Latin it shows that the costs of the mill amount to 9d and the costs of the sheepfold to 20s 4d.
Part of a manor account of 1390/1 – click to enlarge

“Cost of mill – In stipend of John Manser and his sons for one and a quarter days making cobbles and bedding them in the mill and for making one key for binding the heads of the axles of the mill – 9d, taken between them per day – 7d. In pegs bought for the top-plates of a house at the mill – ½d. Sum – 9½d. Approved. Cost of sheep-fold – In one barrel of tar bought for sheep salve – 4s 3d. Item in oil bought to mix with the same for sheep and lambs of this manor and wethers from Wattisfield – 5s 1d. In expenses of various men helping to grease hoggets at times this year – 10d. Item in 282 sheep and 394 lambs from this manor and wethers from Wattisfield, washing and shearing this year – 10s, from which in the price of 1 bushel of wheat sold to them. In reddening bought for marking sheep twice – 2d. Sum – 20s 4d. Approved.”

Line drawing of a primitive post mill. A very rickety looking windmill that pivots with a large wooden lever sticking out from under it to do the pivoting with.

There were two windmills, or ‘post-mills‘, – one along Mill Lane, north of Ridings farm and one north of Badwell Road. Peasants were obliged to grind their corn at these, the lord’s mills, paying for the service. Although they were not allowed to use their own mills, plenty of broken hand querns were found during field walking which is evidence that they broke the rules!

Most of St Mary’s church was built in the early 15th century and gradually evolved to its present form evidenced by the wall above the chancel arch where the line of the original gable can be seen and by the fact that in their wills, nine men left money or goods to be used for building work on the church.

Black and white drawing of Garden Cottage showing exposed timbers and a tiled roof.

The first court of William de la Pole and Alice his wife was held on 9th February 1441. After William’s untimely death in 1450, Alice continued as lady of the manor until her death in 1475.

Their son John then held his first court.

His wife Elizabeth was born Elizabeth Plantagenet, sister to Edward IV and Richard III – she influenced the decorative scheme of Walsham church eg. the rose en soleil which was Edward’s favourite device.

At least ten houses remain, although much altered, from the 15th century – Garden Cottage (shown above), at Four Ashes is one of them.

Once the population was reduced, there was no need to grow so much grain – the land began to be enclosed for pasture. There were fewer peasants to farm the lord’s demesne (his own land) and he started to pay for this work to be done. The tenants then began to pay cash rent, relieving them of their onerous duties – the feudal system was coming to an end.


The 1500’s


Photograph of part of a rental of Walsham manor dated 1509 beautifully written in medieval Latin.
Click to enlarge

The document to the left is part of a rental of 1509 showing rents, in money, owed by each tenant. Walsham town held St. Katherine’s and Master John’s Close.

The 16th century saw the open fields being enclosed with hedges and used as pasture.

When the land was first surveyed in 1577, over half the total acreage of the parish was used for grazing.

Sir Nicholas Bacon 1509–1579.
Sir Nicholas Bacon 1509–1579

After schooling in Bury St. Edmunds, Sir Nicolas Bacon, pictured left, trained as a lawyer and rose to become Lord Chancellor under Queen Elizabeth. He became lord of Church House manor in 1551 and of Walsham manor in 1559.

Although unpopular locally, it is due to his careful keeping of manorial documents in his muniment room at Redgrave Hall that we have access to so much of Walsham’s early history.

The crest of Sir Nicholas (pun intended).
The crest of Sir Nicholas (pun intended)

In 1577 he commissioned a survey of all the holdings – the Field Book – and it is possible to recreate a map showing who lived where.

This will of John Robwood dated 1537 is the first known addition of “Willows” to the place name of Walsham
This will of John Robwood dated 1537 is the first known addition of “Willows” to the place name of Walsham – click to enlarge

This will of John Robwood dated 1537 is the first known addition of “Willows” to the place name of Walsham. One entry in the Field Book describes the Game Place.

“a place compassed rownd with a fayer banke sett with and cast up on a good height and havinge many great trees called populers growynge about the same banke, in the myddest a fayre round place of earth wyth a stone wall about the same to the height of the earth made of purpose for the use of stage playes”.

Game Place was situated in Summer Road – an amphitheatre on a half acre site.

Small companies of visiting players entertained villagers with plays featuring “Mankind and Mischief”.

Such acting spaces influenced the circular theatres like Shakespeare’s Globe in the 1590s.

Game Place – “a place compassed rownd with a fayer banke sett with and cast up on a good height and havinge many great trees called populers growynge about the same banke, in the myddest a fayre round place of earth wyth a stone wall about the same to the height of the earth made of purpose for the use of stage playes”.
Game Place
Painting of the English Royal Arms. The shield is quartered – two quarters contain two golden lions on a red background and two quarters contain three golden fleur de lis on a blue background.

The English Royal Arms from 1405 to 1603 – in the east window of St. Mary’s church.

The 1878 restoration inserted the shield back to front!

Photograph of Church Farmhouse – a rectangular building covered in ochre coloured plaster with a tiled roof.

Church Farmhouse was built c1530 and occupied by Walter Martin. He was a blacksmith – in his will of 1555 he left his “stethys and hamers” in his shop to his sons Nicholas and John to carry on his trade.

The parlour was added c1580.

Hand-drawn map of Walsham le Willows 1577 showing the greens, woods and known houses.
Map of 1577 based on information in the Field Book

The 1600’s

Although Walsham never had a large estate or very wealthy landowners, the 17th century was a time of agricultural expansion. The yeomen enlarged their holdings and built new houses, many of which still remain. Some of the larger landowners called themselves gentlemen. This was a period of ostentation – if you had it, you showed it off. East Anglia was staunchly Protestant, many finding the Church of England not radical enough in its opposition to Roman Catholicism. At Walsham there was support for Parliament.

Painting of Ralph Margery in New Model Army uniform – red jacket and silver helmet.
Painting of Ralph Margery in New Model Army uniform.

A member of an old Walsham family, Ralph Margery of Summer Road became a cavalry captain in Cromwell’s New Model Army. He served in many campaigns and died at Walsham aged 61 in 1653. Like most villagers of that time he lies in an unmarked grave in the churchyard. No portrait exists, but Cromwell commended “Mr. Margery” when speaking of the “plain russet-coated captains” who formed the backbone of his army. This figure wears such a coat, with an officer’s tawny sash and a cavalryman’s armed left gauntlet.

John Salkeld, who lived at Woodlands in Finningham Road was a Presbyterian cleric who had been expelled from his living at Worlington. He continued to preach and was imprisoned for his outspoken opinions of the Restoration church. He died in 1699 and his inventory included sixteen leather chairs, window curtains and books worth £30.

From a court roll of 1694:

“The view of the homage – And that the Elme Tree in question between Mr. Salkeld and Mr. Hagtree [who lived at the Rookery] is found by the Jury aforesaid to belong to Mr. Hagtree (it is a wild elme). And that Mr. Hagtree ought to repair the fences upon the ditch where the said tree now grows att his owne charge”.

The Herbage Book of 1625 lists ninety tithe paying tenants. Fifty-four people kept a total of nearly 500 cows and even more calves. Some made payments for arable land, meadow, orchards, hops and hemp.

Small fields of hemp were grown to supply the weavers of course linen, sacks, etc. Flax is mentioned in one inventory – used to make finer material. There were several linen weavers and whitesters (bleachers) in Walsham.

Inventories, mainly of the 17th century, list and value the goods of the recently dead. They state the rooms in which the goods were found, so give information about the size of houses as well as of furniture and animals kept, etc. They often state occupations.

In the hall – One table, one livery cupboard, one other cupboard, one clock, a jack, a spit, six joined stools, six chairs, cobirons, fire pan and tongs and other lumber£40s0d
In the parlour – In bonds, bills, mortgages and ready money£1120s0d
One feather bed and bedstead as it stands£50s0d
One trundle bed as it stands£10s0d
A press and table, a coffer, a form, three stools, a chair with other things£21s0d
A silver cup, two silver spoons£210s0d
His apparel£30s0d
In the buttery – Two brass pots, two kettles, four skillets£110s0d
Thirty pieces of pewter£20s0d
Four beer vessels, a keepe and other lumber£10s0d
In the other buttery – A table, a boulting hutch and other things£10s0d
In the parlour chamber – A feather bed as it stands£410s0d
A livery cupboard, a little table, a chest and a box£10s0d
Two chairs, a trunk, a stool 14s0d
Twelve pairs of sheets, napkins and other things£100s0d
In the hall chamber – A bed as it stands, two stools, a chair£35s0d
In the roof – Ten waye [a waye was 256 lbs] of cheese£40s0d
Ten firkins [a firkin was 9 gallons] of butter£100s0d
In the back house – A copper, two kettles and other things£10s0d
In the dairy – Two churns, three tubs, four keelers, twelve bowls£215s0d
Scales, weights, cheese vats£110s0d
Bacon in the salt£10s0d
A saddle and other things£10s0d
Hay in the barn£30s0d
Wood in the yard£10s0d
Six cows£180s0d
Sum Total£1994s0d
John Rainbird, Thomas Taylor, Christopher Smeare senior.
Black and White line drawing of chattels for inventory
Chattels for inventory
Photograph of kitchen in the hall in the centre of which is a long kitchen work table and behind that a large fireplace with a spit
In the Hall – one table, one livery cupboard, a spit and tongs, etc
Black and white drawing of Ridings Farmhouse showing white plaster facing, porch and tiled roof.
Black and white drawing of Ridings Farmhouse showing white plaster facing, porch and tiled roof.

Ridings Farmhouse at the end of Crownland Road, built in the early 17th century improving an earlier house, is a typical yeoman’s

tenement.

Each year, on 15th November, a garland is placed on the crance of Mary Boyce in St. Mary’s church – the anniversary of her death in 1685, aged 20. She is said to have died of a broken heart.

Line drawing of 2 sides of an oval ‘disc’ with a ‘hanging tab’ at the top. One side shows a skull and two bones at the top with the words “MARY BOYCE” in the centre, underneath which is a heart with an arrow pointing towards it. On the other side is written 15, and in the centre, “NOVEMBER” with “1685” at the bottom.
Mary Boyce Disc

The 1700’s


All the information on this 18th century page comes from the Town Wardens’ Accounts that can be found in the Record Office in Bury St. Edmunds. The Town Wardens were, in a sense, forerunners of the Parish Council.

A photogrph of a bill for labour and materials including lime and hair and white Woolpit bricks
A photograph of a bill for labour and materials including lime and hair and white Woolpit bricks which cost nearly twice as much as ordinary red bricks.
Photograph of part of a bill to the Town Wardens dated 1722 written in English.
Photograph of part of a bill to the Town Wardens dated 1714 written in English – transcribed below.

A Bill for the Townwardens

for looking after the clock 8s 0d
for keeping the register 4s 0d
for washing the surplice 2s 0d
for sweeping the leads 6d
for oil 8d
in all 15s 2d

Richard Willit

photograph of a bill from 1722
Photograph of a part of a bill from 1722 – part transcribed below

For writing the commandments and painting the font 8s 0d
For 3 days work of myself in whiting the Church 6s 0d

photograph of a part of a bill from1722
Photograph of a part of a bill from 1723
An old postcard depicting the crossroads as 'Stocks Corner'
An old postcard depicting the crossroads as ‘Stocks Corner’
Further evidence - A receipt for mending the irons to the stocks 1s 0d
Here is further evidence – A receipt for mending the irons to the stocks 1s 0d
A receipt for payment of one shilling for a prayer for the king’s recovery refers to the “madness” of King George III.
A receipt for payment of one shilling for a prayer for the king’s recovery refers to the “madness” of King George III.
Goodman Smith’s Bill of Walsham. For cutting off a cancer upon his lip and looking after the same for six weeks including all medicine £2 2s.
Goodman Smith’s Bill of Walsham. For cutting off a cancer upon his lip and looking after the same for six weeks including all medicine £2 2s.
Bill for 14 gallons of ale
Bill for 14 gallons of ale
Photograph of part of a bill of for 'sparring up the maypole'
Part of bill which includes an amount of 3s 6d for “sparring up the maypole”
Black & White drawing of a Maypole
The Maypole

A bill to the Town Wardens for bread for the poor £1 2s 3d. Received the contents – John Finch.

A bill to the Town Wardens for bread for the poor £1 2s 3d. Received the contents – John Finch.
A bill to the Town Wardens for bread

April 30 1788 Delivered 4 loads and a half of wood at the workhouse at 10s per load £2 5s 0d. This Bill received – Ezekiel Simpson.

April 30 1788 Delivered 4 loads and a half of wood at the workhouse at 10s per load £2 5s 0d
A bill for delivering four loads and a half of wood at the workhouse

The 1800’s


Sepia tinted photograph of Cawstons the butchers - a square brick building with a tiled roof surrounded by a paling fence. Whole carcasses of animals are hanging outside the door and in the window.
Cawstons the Butchers

The 19th century saw a huge increase in population rising to a peak of 1297 in 1851. Today we are just about back to that number. Most of the houses were timber-framed and thatched and many were divided into two or three dwellings to house several families. This was obviously a fire hazard and a local fire brigade was formed to deal with that problem. New dwellings, filling in gaps between the old, were built of red brick and slate (now transported cheaply by rail).

In 1819 the remaining common grazing land at Cranmer Green and Allwood Green was enclosed and numerous footpaths, used as short cuts, were stopped up. The Enclosure Map of 1819, a slightly earlier Parish Map of 1817 and the Tithe Map of 1842 show hundreds of small fields used for a mixture of arable crops and pasture surrounded by miles of hedges. The maps also give a first accurate indication of who lived where and what land they owned and/or occupied.

Sepia tinted photograph of The Bakehouse and Bakery complete with multi-paned bow-fronted shop window. The Kenny family are standing outside the shop with their horse and cart used for deliveries.
The Bakehouse and Bakery

In the first directory of Suffolk, Walsham is shown to have a milliner, thatcher, baker, plumber, cooper, gun-maker, brewer, maltster, smith, shoemaker, saddler and rope-maker. The village was a hive of activity with shops and workplaces meeting most of the residents’ needs.

Sepia tinted photograph of the village store in The Street on the corner of Coach Road. It also has a bow window and an advertisement for Liptons Tea.
Village store in The Street on the corner of Coach Road

Printed sources, in the form of census and county directories, begin to give accurate information. This is from Harrod’s Directory of Suffolk for 1864.

A page from a county directory with advertisements for Robert Kerry coach-builder, William Jaggard and Son builders, Mrs Young’s establishment for young ladies and H. Clarke and son builders, valuers and land surveyors.
A page from a county directory

1870 – The Stevens family who were smiths, coopers and wheelwrights living and working at the house now called Dages.

Sepia tinted photograph dated 1870 showing five members of the Stevens family with their white horse and a cart outside a wooden and tiled barn or stable.
The Stephen’s Family

The infant school was founded in 1872 although the younger children were taught in the village before that date. The Martineau family financed the site and building, which is now a private house. Parents paid a penny a week per child. The main school was founded in 1848. The site, the building, the furniture and the books were provided by trustees at a total cost of £395 18s 2d. It became the National School in 1870 when education became compulsory.

Black and white photograph of thirty-five young children and three adults seated in rows outside the National School.
Children outside infants school

In 1877 Harry Nunn established a large building firm. By 1896 he employed fifty local men and built the attractive and substantial mock-Jacobean cottages with the carved texts for the employees of John Martineau. The lych gate at the entrance to the churchyard extension is an example of his workmanship. By 1908, Kelly’s Directory lists his concerns as builder, agent for agricultural implements, ironmongery, timber, sawing and grist mills, acetylene gas and electric house bell installation, posting establishment, undertakers and garden produce.

Colour photograph of the lych gate showing carved roof and gate.
Lych Gate
Map of Walsham 1842 taken from information on the Tithe Map and showing the increase in the numbers of houses.
Walsham Tithe Map 1842

The 1900’s


Most of the 20th century is within living memory. Ordinary life was disrupted by two world wars – thirty-six young men were killed in the first and three more in the second. The century has seen big changes in labour patterns, from most people working on the land or in the village to working in nearby towns, although Clarkes the builders merchants still employ over 100 people.

Black and white photograph of young men standing outside the Six Bells public house.
Young men gather outside the Six Bells public house before enlisting
Colour photograph of the war memorial in the churchyard
War memorial in the churchyard

The names of the men are inscribed on the war memorial.

The Martineau family have been major landholders in the parish for 200 years. It was John Martineau (1834–1910) who was responsible for the elaborate estate cottages. He lived in Hampshire where he first built similar dwellings in Eversley, Hants to improve the living conditions of working people.

The memorial pictured below to John Martineau in Eversley, Hampshire states that he rests near the grave of Charles Kingsley, his teacher and friend.

The memorial pictured below to John Martineau in Eversley, Hampshire states that he rests near the grave of Charles Kingsley, his teacher and friend.

Photograph of the memorial to John Martineau in Eversley, Hampshire stating that he rests near the grave of Charles Kingsley, his teacher and friend.
Photograph of the memorial to John Martineau in Eversley
Colour photograph of mock-Jacobean cottages in Eversley, similar to those in Walsham.
Mock-Jacobean cottages in Eversley, similar to those in Walsham
Colour photograph of Martineau cottages in Walsham.
Martineau cottages in Walsham
Detail of top point of roof - wooden beams with a wooden carving of a bearded man
Roof beams with a wood carving of a bearded man
Detailed photograph of the image of John Martineau and his initials carved on one of the cottages in Walsham
Image of John Martineau and his initials carved on one of the cottages in Walsham
Sepia tinted photograph of the post-mill in Wattisfield Road complete with sails. The buck of another mill stands close by
Post-mill, Wattisfield Road complete with sails

The post-mill along Wattisfield Road is shown on the 1817 parish map. It was demolished in 1917 after which the stones were driven by an oil engine. It was converted to electricity at a later date and continued milling flour until fairly recently. The roundhouse still survives.

Black and white photograph of The Street looking east from the churchyard c.1900
The Street looking east from the churchyard c.1900
Colour photograph of The Street looking east from the churchyard c.2000
The Street looking east from the churchyard c.2000

Although many hedges were destroyed to make way for large farm machinery, there is now a renewed interest in conservation. New hedges and trees are being planted for the benefit of wildlife.

Colour photograph of hedges planted by Richard Martineau
Hedges planted by Richard Martineau
Map of Walsham dated 2000
Map of Walsham dated 2000