The Anglian glaciation occurred between approximately 475,000 and 425,000 years ago. This was the last time that major ice sheets reached East Anglia. There were two subsequent periods of glaciation in the British Isles but the ice sheets did not reach as far south as East Anglia on these occasions. This glaciation deposited a thick layer of glacial till or boulder clay across central Suffolk, radically altering the landscape and the drainage pattern.
1741-1820 Young’s family had an estate at Bradfield Combust in Suffolk and it was there that he started his farming career. His great interest in farming techniques and improvements led him to become one of the most influential agricultural writers of his day. In recognition of this, the government appointed him as Secretary to the Board of Agriculture in 1793. His General View of the Agriculture of the County of Suffolk was published in 1797, with a new edition in 1813.
Fine loamy over clayey soils formed from chalky glacial till (qv) which are slowly permeable, but seasonally waterlogged if not underdrained
Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (1716-1783) - One of the most famous and influential landscape designers of the 18th century, Brown was born in Northumberland and worked on various garden projects in the 1740s before becoming an independent landscape gardener and architect around 1750. Based initially at Hammersmith on the outskirts of London and later at Wilderness House, Hampton Court, he had a thriving nationwide business.
In Suffolk, he worked at Branches Park, Cowlinge (1763-5 for Ambrose Dickens); Redgrave (1763 for Rowland Holt); Euston Park (1767-9 for the 3rd Duke of Grafton), Ickworth Park (1769-76 for the 2nd Earl of Bristol); and at Heveningham Park (1781-2 for Sir Gerald Vanneck). He was also consulted, in 1782, by Sir Charles Egleton Kent about Fornham Hall, Fornham St Genevieve, but it is uncertain whether any of his ideas were implemented. Brown is also often said to have worked at Elveden c.1766/8-9 for Admiral Keppel, but this is an error – the records indicate that Brown worked for the Admiral’s cousin, General Keppel, at Dyrham in Gloucestershire.
Redgrave Park 1818
An East Anglian building technique that used large, unfired, clay bricks set in a clay mortar. The bricks were made of local clays mixed with chopped straw, shaped using a simple wooden mould and air-dried. The sizes could vary from about 22 x 12 x 5 inches to 18 x 6 x 6 inches. The wall surfaces were originally finished with a clay plaster, which was often tarred for weatherproofing and then sanded to take a colour-wash, but by the 1920s cement rendering was the most frequent surface treatment. In some cases the clay lumps were hidden behind a brick facing. A brick or stone plinth was usual to give the blocks a dry foundation
Clay Lump cottage at Buxhall
A form of hard chalk used as a building stone. The mains sources of this material were on the north-west edges of Suffolk – at Lakenheath on the fen-edge, at Thetford in Norfolk and at Burwell (‘Burwell stone’), Orwell and Barrington (‘Barrington stone’ a grey-green variety with glauconite) in Cambridgeshire. lthough hard enough to be worked into blocks, it was still susceptible to rapid weathering if exposed. So, for external walls, its use was mainly limited to vernacular buildings in its source areas, as can be seen in Lakenheath. In many cases it was combined with flint or brick to make more durable structures But it was also more widely used in medieval church interiors, where the material’s softness could be protected from weathering and exploited for richly carved decoration, as in Wingfield church.
Occurs where fixed sea defenses prevent the natural migration of saltmarsh inland as estuaries become subject to sea level rise
A field system with one prevailing axis of orientation. Most of the field boundaries either follow this axis (axial boundaries) or run at right angles to it (transverse boundaries). This type of landscape can be most clearly seen on old maps of the South Elmhams and IIketshalls in north-east Suffolk. Unfortunately this area suffered from a high rate of hedgerow removal in the 20th century and the patterns are now much weakened.
This refers to the ‘washing’ or painting of the walls of buildings with plastered or rendered surfaces with coloured paint. Today this is done with modern masonry paints in a variety of colours, but in the past distemper or limewash were used. Distemper consists of whiting (ground chalk) mixed with size (weak glue) and water, while limewash consists of slaked lime and water. Both could be used uncoloured as ‘whitewash’ or coloured with pigments. Earth pigments such as red or yellow ochre were most common, giving a range of colour from cream through pink to red. Tales of the use of animal blood in colour washes are probably apocryphal, but sloe juice may have been used.
Documentary evidence suggests that, up to about 1900, most house walls were either left a raw ‘plaster white’ or given a coat of whitewash. There was then a gradual increase in the use of colours – firstly creams and pinks, with brighter colours such as lavender, orange and red being mentioned by the 1930s. By the 1970s there were authoritative statements about a traditional ‘Suffolk pink’ house colour. In part this might be confusion with ‘pinking’, a technique of decorating exterior plasterwork with lightly incised marks that is mentioned as being prevalent in north Suffolk in the 1920s. The commercial marketing of ‘Suffolk Pink’ as a colour has also undoubtedly been a factor in its perception as a long-established tradition.
A preservative brown staining used on weather-boarded barns and farm buildings is mentioned in 1783 and red-painted timber barns can be seen in John Constable’s pictures, such as his 1815 view of Golding Constable’s flower garden in East Bergholt. A red barn also features in the infamous murder of Maria Marten at Polstead in 1827. It is probable that these timber stains and paints were oil-based rather than washes. By the 1830s, it was an established practice to give timber-clad barns a preservative coating of tar and by the end of the 19th century black-tarred farm buildings of timber, clay-lump or clunch were a common sight in the landscape.
Land in communal use. Most frequently this is grassland or heathland used for animal grazing (see also greens and tyes), but the term can also be applied to arable, meadows or woods. Historically, the soil of the commons belonged to the manorial lords, but its use was subject to the common rights of the tenants. The number and definition of the common-right holders varies from common to common, but is often limited to the properties bordering a particular common. The pasturing of a set number of animals (variously called a beast-going, gate, share or stint ) is the most frequent common right, but additionally the tenants could have rights to take firewood (estover), timber for ploughs, gates or house repairs (bote), to dig for peat for fuel (turbary) or for ‘stone’ for road repairs.
Since the Commons Registration Act of 1965, greens and commons have become legally distinct: commons are subject to communal grazing rights, but greens are used for exercise or recreation – but in the past the terms were interchangeable.
Sth Elmham Common
Trees cut down to ground level and then allowed to regenerate. Most native trees, with the notable exception of pines, will regenerate from stumps (stools) or will send up suckers from the root system (notably elms).The vigour of an established root system will quickly send up a number of fast-growing shoots that will produce a crop of straight poles that can be used for fencing, wattle-work and fuel. The poles are harvested at intervals and allowed to re-grow again. The process can go on indefinitely and in many woods the oldest trees are the coppice stools – some may be as much as 1000 years old.One problem with coppicing is that the young shoots are vulnerable to attack from grazing animals, so they need to be excluded from recently coppiced areas.
The original Cricket-bat Willow is generally supposed to have been found by Dr James Crowe in the parish of Eriswell, Suffolk in 1803 ('Willows' S C Warren-Wren (1972), but Smith (English Botany, 34: t.2431 (1812) mentions a ten-year old tree, planted at Heatherset, Norfolk and blown down in 1800, so it would appear that the variety was already known, at least locally, by 1790.
It soon gained a reputation for vigorous growth ... a 53-year old tree cut down at Boreham, Essex in 1899 which was 101 feet in height, 5 feet 9 inches in diameter, weighed upwards of 11 tons, and provided wood for 1179 cricket bats. It is often said that only the female tree is known, but both sexes occur, though as the female is alone considered of first-class quality for bats, as is exceptionally light and stong, the male is seldom planted.
Meikle's 'Willows and Poplars of Great Britain and Ireland' (BSBI Handbook 4, 1984)
18th-century antiquarians borrowed this Latin term, meaning a ‘racecourse’, to describe a particular type of Neolithic (qv) monument, exemplified by the Dorset Cursus, the largest and best-preserved of them. This consists of a very elongated enclosure that is 10km (6¼ miles) long but only 82m wide, marked by parallel earthen banks with external ditches. However most cursuses are now only visible as cropmarks, their banks having been flattened long ago. Through aerial photography over 150 have now been recorded, the majority occupying low-lying positions beside rivers and streams. In eastern England, Cambridgeshire has 5 or 6, Suffolk has 3, and Essex and Norfolk have one each. The Suffolk examples are beside the River Lark at Fornham All Saints (1.9km or 1.2 miles long x 25-40m wide), and two beside the River Stour, one at Stratford St Mary (290m long x 68m wide) and a smaller one at Bures St Mary (190m+ long x 24m wide).
Fornham All Saints Cursus
Roads or tracks used by farmers to move their animals between pastures or fields. Sometimes these can take the form of metalled roads with wide grass verges, while others have minimal or no hard surfacing. They are usually defined by ditches and/or hedges on either side
A decorative use of flint on the walls of buildings. In this the flints are knapped to expose the inner colour of the flint (usually black, but sometimes grey or brown) and set in the walls with the flat smooth surface outermost. In some cases the flints are shaped into squares to fit together to make large smooth panels. In others the flints are fitted into recesses in limestone blocks to make patterns and lettering, the black knapped flints contrasting with the white of the limestone (the flints are fitted to be flush with the surface of the limestone, hence the term flushwork). In a minority of cases the flints are combined with bricks.Flushwork appears suddenly in the early 14th century, with the gatehouse of Butley Priory being both one of the earliest and most magnificent examples. It was used extensively in the 15th and early 16th centuries on churches throughout East Anglia.
Butley Priory Gatehouse
The area to the south of the Gipping valley has an undulating landscape which had (and still has) a high potential for arable farming in pre-modern times, while to the north the landscape is much flatter and less well-drained, making it more suited to pasture and dairy farming.
Also called Lowestoft Till or chalky boulder clay, this is a chalky bluish-grey to brown clay that is variably silty, sandy and stony. Chalk fragments and flints are ubiquitous, with occasional sandstone erratics and fossils such as belmnites . The material was deposited by the retreating glaciers of the Anglian Glaciation (qv) and covers a broad diagonal band across central Suffolk, extending from Haverhill to Lowestoft. The deposit is thickest in the Chedburgh/Rede area where thicknesses in excess of 50m have been proved by boreholes
Traditionally, this was a term used to describe an area of grassland used for communal grazing by a defined group of common-right holders (see commons). Greens were (and sometimes still are) fringed by the houses and farmsteads of the common-right holders. Archaeological evidence suggests that some greens started to be established in the 11th century, but with greater numbers following in the 12th and 13th centuries. The largest greens, up to about 530 acres in extent, were on the wide and poorly-drained clay interfluves (qv) of north Suffolk. Many greens were enclosed in the 18th and early 19th centuries, but often their outlines survive as ‘ghosts’ in the landscape. The surviving greens frequently have great biodiversity value as areas of undisturbed ancient grassland.Since the Commons Registration Act of 1965, greens and commons have become legally distinct: commons are subject to communal grazing rights, but greens are used for exercise or recreation – but in the past the terms were interchangeable. In south Suffolk, the term tye (qv) is a synonym for a green
In the Suffolk landscape there is a recurrent pairing of medieval churches and manorial halls, usually in prime valley side locations close to a water supply. The halls were often surrounded by water-filled moats in the 13th or 14th centuries as an indication of their status, but the actual ‘hall-and-church’ clusters are probably older. Evidence from Suffolk and elsewhere in England suggests that these clusters originate in the Late Saxon period (c.AD 850-1066), when the possession of a church was one of the indicators of thegnly rank. These complexes often consist of a roughly square area that contains a church in one quarter, as at Wattisham. These could well be the hitherto elusive Late Saxon thegnly fortifications called burhs. If so, the defences were fairly minimal, perhaps just a ditch and fence, but with perhaps an accent on the entrance – the burhgeat (‘fort gate’) referred to in the 11th-century list of the qualifications for thegnly status. In some cases the clusters have grown into hamlets or villages, but others have remained as small units.
Brockley hall and church
"In the neighbourhood of that place [Stowmarket] there are about 200 acres of them" More...
Aurthur Young's 1784 Tour of Suffolk
This was a warm period, c.425,000 to 390,000 years ago, between the Anglian and Wolstonian glaciations. It is termed the Hoxnian Interglacial after important deposits of this date at Hoxne in north Suffolk.
Literally ‘between rivers’, this term refers to the areas between river valleys or major water courses. These are higher than the valley floors and can be either ridges or more extensive plateaux. The wider interfluves may have significant water problems, either a lack of it, as on the sandy soils of the Breckland or the Sandlings, or too much, as in some parts of the clayland plateaux where the gradient is slight or where there are actually concave depressions, resulting in poor drainage.
The basic land units used in this landscape character study. The area within each unit or polygon has a relatively homogenous character, defined by four principal attributes: physiography, ground type, landcover and cultural pattern. These are derived from six mapable datasets: relief, geology, soils, tree cover, farm type and settlement.
A fine-grained, silty, pale yellow or buff, windblown (aeolian) sediment derived from either glacial or glacial outwash deposits, where glacial activity has ground the parent materials into a very fine ‘rock flour’. Loess deposits often give rise to very rich soils. In Suffolk, loess deposits are particularly notable in the Felixstowe and Shotley peninsulars.
A string of towers (of which ten survive) built 1808-12 from Aldeburgh southward to Shotley to defend the coast against Napoleon. Held to be named after a prototype at Mortella Point in Corsica, however Italian coastal watch towers were also known as 'Torre di Martello' or 'Hammer Towers' in which a hammer was used to strike a bell to warn of the approach of pirates. The most northerly of Suffolk’s Martello Towers is at Slaughden, at the south end of Aldeburgh. This was built 1810-12 and has a unique quatrefoil plan.
The Tower at Slaughden
A moat is a broad water-filled ditch that surrounds a central platform or 'island' where a house usually placed. Although inspired by castles, the defensive banks and walls of true castles are characteristically absent on moated sites. The possession of a defended residence was closely linked in the medieval mind with concepts of lordship and social status: great lords had their castles, lesser members of the free classes (knights, esquires, clergy and freehold farmers) had, where conditions were suitable, moated houses.
A social hierarchy is apparent in the size of moats: those that are an acre or more in extent tend to be manorial (e.g. Brockley Hall) or monastic (e.g. Flixton Priory). Moats of about half an acre in size are much more likely to be associated with parsonages (e.g. The Old Rectory, Whatfield) or farms that are ancient free tenements (e.g. Oak Tree Farm, Hitcham).
The majority of moats function like ponds, relying on an impervious base or lining, though some are connected to water-courses. Suffolk has over 850 moats and vies with Essex for the distinction of having the largest number in England. They occur in a broad diagonal band across Suffolk in a distribution pattern that is closely related to the natural occurrence of water-retentive clay soils (see glacial till).
The earliest moated sites date from between about 1150 and 1200. They continued to be built until about 1550, but the majority seem to belong to the period 1200-1325.
Barns and other agricultural buildings are rarely sited on the same moated platform as the house, they are usually situated just outside, flanking the approach to the entrance. Sometimes they are contained within their own moated or ditched enclosure. Moats can also surround banqueting houses or 'gloriets' (Letheringham Lodge), deer park lodges (Rishangles Lodge, Thorndon), gardens (Shelley Hall), fishponds (Balsdon Hall, Acton) and dovecotes (Otley Hall).
Literally ‘the new stone age’; in Britain this is the period from about 4500 to 2200 BC. During this time there was an important change from a hunter-gather lifestyle to one of settled farming. Although limited to stone or wooden tools, the new economy enabled people to settle more permanently, to build more substantial houses and even to build large ceremonial or ritual monuments, such as the causewayed enclosures at Fornham All Saints and Freston.
The enclosure of common arable land, manorial ‘waste’ and grassland commons by Acts of Parliament. Initiated in 1607, the use of private Acts of Parliament to enforce enclosure became a common practice after 1750, with 1500 being passed between 1760 and 1797. Through this process, the landowners and common-right holders were awarded individual plots of land (allotments) in recompense for their former rights. These allotments were calculated by surveyors and usually have very straight boundaries and geometric shapes. These new boundaries were normally marked by newly-planted hawthorn hedges.
Under the General Enclosure Act of 1801 the process was streamlined and after the Enclosure Commission was established in 1845 the procedure for enclosure changed. Although local landowners still began the promotion of enclosure, they no longer needed an individual act of parliament. On an annual basis, all enclosure applications made to the Commission were assessed, and if successful, they were actioned together. After 1867, after many protests, there was a curtailment of enclosure unless it could be shown to be of benefit of the community.
In Suffolk, the earliest private Act was at Ixworth in 1736, with many more from 1772 onwards. A detailed list of Suffolk enclosure acts can be found in W.E. Tate and M.E. Turner, A Domesday of English enclosure acts and awards, Reading 1978, 242-46.
Map of Suffolk Enclosure
Peg-tiles, also called plain, flat or pin tiles, are flat rectangular tiles of a red or orange colour. The tiles have small holes at one end into which oak pegs (hence the name) were inserted, these pegs were then hooked over riven oak lathes attached to the roofs. Later on the tiles were sometimes nailed in place using these holes. This type of tile was in use by the 13th century and continued in use into post-medieval times.
A tree whose top branches have been cut back to the trunk so that it may produce a dense growth of new shoots. The trees are cut between 6 and 15ft above ground level, leaving a permanent trunk called a bolling, which then sprouts at the top – like a coppice stool but out of reach of livestock.
Pollards at Wortham
The Sandlings is the name of an area of light sandy soils in south-east and east Suffolk, stretching from Southwold in the north to Felixstowe in the south, but wider in the south than in the north. Arthur Young (qv) seems to have coined the name in the late 18th century as a variant of the older and more explicit name of Sandlands, which was current in the 17th century.
Set-aside is land taken out of production to reduce the risk of food surpluses, while increasing the opportunity for environmental benefits. Set-aside was introduced following a review of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy in 1992. Under this farmers are paid a support grant based on their crop-producing land, but in return they have to set-aside a proportion of their arable land for non-production. The European Commission has proposed that set-aside be abolished in 2009.
Sheepwalks are open, often heathy, ground used as sheep pastures. The term is particularly common in the Sandlings of south-east and east Suffolk, often abbreviated to ‘walks’, as in Toby’s Walks in Blythburgh. Many of the sheepwalks were, historically, divided into ‘several’ or private sheepwalks and those that were communally held as ‘common’ sheepwalks.
Tye is derived from Old English teag, meaning a small enclosure, but in south Suffolk, Essex and Kent it developed, from at least the 13th century, the meaning of a common pasture, becoming a synonym for a green or common (qv). In post-medieval times the understanding of the term waned, leading to a tautological Tye Green at Alpheton and the replacement of ‘tye’ with ‘green’ in some instances.
South Suffolk Tyes
The mobile nature of shingle means that most of the world’s shingle features are largely bare of vegetation so it is significant that Britain holds approximately one third of all the vegetated shingle in Europe. Shingle beaches represent a rare ecosystem and should be regarded as important in their own right as geomorphological features as well as supporting a highly specialised and important flora and fauna.
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Originally this was a term for a game-park (from Old French garenne) and was used for areas where a right of ‘free warren’ (the liberty to hunt small game) had been granted. By extension this came to mean an area set aside for the keeping and breeding of rabbits for their meat and fur. Rabbits were an early Norman introduction (though there is some debateable evidence for an earlier and possibly short-lived Roman introduction) from the Mediterranean and rabbit warrens are documented from the 12th century onwards. Medieval documents distinguish between cuniculi, adult rabbits (hence the term coneys) and rabetti, the young rabbits.
The warrens were normally defined by earthen banks to keep the rabbits in and to keep predators, human and otherwise, out. In some cases mounds were provided to encourage the rabbits to form burrows and lodges were built for the warreners who guarded and managed the rabbits. Many warrens were still under active management in the 19th century, but became disused in the 20th century.
In Suffolk there were large warrens in the sandy soil areas of the Breckland and the Sandlings (qv). One of the largest, Lakenheath Warren in Breckland, covered over 2,300 acres in 1835 and was to have stock of 7,200 rabbits. In Breckland, many of the early large warrens where established by ecclesiastical landlords: the prior and convent of Ely received the right of free-warren over their land at Lakenheath in 1251 and a specific grant of a cunicularum was awarded in 1300; the bishops of Ely had a warren at Brandon by 1252; and Bury abbey had a warren at Mildenhall by 1328.