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16th to 19th Century

Elizabethan Times – 16th Century

The Poor Law Act of 1601 required each parish to be responsible for its own poor and already in existence by the will of Thomas Rogeron in 1480 was his charity which left one sixth of his annual land income to be distributed in kind to the poor of Hundon. In 1602 an action was made concern­ing a farmhouse and lands forming part of this charity. Another parcel of this charity land, named as ‘Thousand Acres’ at the northern end of Chimney Street close to Bachelors Hall, had a rec­tangular moat on it which was shown on the 1846 Hundon Tithe Map. The moat has since been filled in. Another charity affected in 1690 was that of William Rich who provided for bread to be distrib­uted to the poor at Hallowmass and Christmas.

When Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603 the popu­lation of Hundon was 400 adults, possibly twice as many as at the time of Domesday. The area was described as wood and pasture and the people worked mainly on rearing and dairying cattle, with some pig keeping, horse breeding and keep­ing poultry. The crops grown were mainly barley with some wheat, rye, oats, peas, vetches and hops.

The 17th Century

During the disquiet which led to the Civil War William Dowsing, who was born in Laxfield in Suffolk , came to All Saints Church in 1643 and his Puritanical beliefs led him and others to destroy 30 pictures and take down three popish inscriptions there as well as ordering the steps to be levelled. He did similar damage in over 150 Suffolk churches where he smashed stained glass windows, brasses or anything that he thought had Roman Catholic overtones.

In that same century on the 13th April, 1676, the church wardens submitted a return ordered by the Archbishop. This stated that the number of adults in Hundon receiving Communion were 356, and that there were no Popish Recusants or people suspected of it in the parish. In addition it went on to say that the number of dissenters ‘who obstinately refuse or wholely dissent themselves from the Church of England’ were Thomas and John Potter and sundry other families who are very poor and orphans not regarding God or man, many wicked and loose persons’.

From this it appears that the population figures were much the same as seventy years previously. At this time, as well as those employed on the land, there were said to be 1 bricklayer, 3 carpen- ters, 3 tailors, 3 maltsters, 1 miller, 1 sawyer, 1 draper, 1 grocer, 1 shopkeeper, and 1 butcher.

In 1643 had been born a James Vernon who became Principal Secretary of State to King William III in 1697. He was the Rt. Hon James Vernon and in 1701 was appointed by the King to be an Envoy Extraordinary to the King of Denmark. He had three sons one of whom became Admiral Edward Vernon,

famous as a sailor and for introducing the issue of rum to sailors. The Admiral became known as ‘Old Grog’.

The 18th Century

Another son, the eldest, was also called James and he became another great Hundon benefactor. He acquired the manor of Hundon and some time before 1733 provided workhouses for Hundon, Wickhambrook and Stradishall. These were erect­ed ‘for the encouragement and support of the industrious poor’ living in those parishes. He also provided for the payment of the wages and salaries of the workhouses Masters and Dames

In May 1733 the same James was referred to as ‘the Honourable James Vernon of the parish of St. George, Hanover Square in the County of Middlesex’ when he made a deed for the augmentation of the maintenance of poor Clergy and with John Norfolk, Vicar of Hundon for the augmentation of his vicarage.

Additionally James Vernon granted monies in 1737 to provide a school for the poor children of Hundon and £10 for the Masters and Dames there. A building near the church was used as a school.

In 1728 James Vernon’s wife Arethusa had died at the age of 38. She was the daughter of Lord Clifford and she was buried beneath a pyramidal monument, the Vernon family monument, adja­cent to the porch in Hundon churchyard. By 1988 this monument had been demolished due to its disintegration but a portion in the shape of a wheat sheaf is kept in the church. In 1736 the Hon. James Vernon was said to be ‘of Great Thurlow’ and it is not known whether he actually resided in Hundon where he owned much of the land.

Later that century, on the 17th February 1791, a complete peal of 5040 changes was rung on the six bells at All Saints Church by James Brady, James Rodgers, Thomas Rutter, John Hinds, Henry Gilbert and Thomas Summers. The peal took three hours and ten minutes to ring. Thomas Summers, ring­ing the tenor bell, called the peal, and was said to have died in July that year, aged 44, from his exer­tions. He was buried on the south side of the churchyard and part of the inscription on his grave stone was said to state that the church bells were ‘in bad going order at the time the peal was rung’.

Workhouse Yard
Workhouse Yard

The 19th Century

March 1801 saw the first population census enquiry when there were said to be 824 inhabi­tants in Hundon. The 1831 census shows that this was a laborious task carried out on foot by David Potter, Church Warden and Francis French, a householder, who called from door to door. No names or addresses were then shown. The results gave totals of 577 males and 544 females, all aged over 20 years. No account was made of children The total of 1,121 adults comprised 215 families and they lived in 208 houses. 198 people were in agriculture, 20 being farmers and the remainder labourers. There were 11 carpenters, 9 blacksmiths, 7 brick layers, 5 boot and shoe makers or menders, 4 shop keepers, 3 publicans or retailers of beer, 3 millers, 3 butchers, 3 wheelwrights, 3 saddlers, 2 tailors, 2 glovers, 2 maltsters, 1 cooper and 18 female servants.

In 1829 there were 16 free scholars being taught by Mr. French at the endowed school. They were Mary Smith aged 10, Eliza Rogers, 10, Charlotte Rogers, 10, Eliza Burrows. 11, Ann French, 12, Cumi (?) Cooper, 12, George Forge, 8, Joseph Burrows, 8, Sergeant Knock, 9, Thomas Braybrook, 9, John Green, 9, John Cooper, 10, William Cornall, 11, Elijah Ling, 11, Joseph Stiff, 11 and Elijah Ling (William’s son), 12.

Some of these family names are still present in the parish.. The teachers at the school were allowed to instruct other fee paying pupils.

Religious nonconformity was present in Hundon occasioned by high Church practices causing a considerable number of inhabitants to secede from the Established Church well before the Chapel was built in 1846. Some attended Wickhambrook Congregational Church built in 1734 and the Presbyterian Minister from there was carrying out baptisms in Hundon. A License for Worship in the house of William Lovett of Hundon was obtained as early as 1672. In 1779 a barn in Hundon owned by John Thomas was licensed and Robert Bear of Pentlow similarly had both a house and then a barn, both occupied by James Golding, licensed in 1804.

The Chapel in Hundon was built at a cost of £450, the licence for it being obtained by Charles Hale, a farmer living at Broxted Lodge. It is not known how the money was raised but Charles Hale farmed 297 acres, paying £78.5s.0d in tithes, and he may well have provided much of it. First built with one large room of two-storey height this was altered in 1860 to provide a gallery all round and a vestry was added. The chapel was then capable of seating 340 people and member­ship was high for well over 100 years. Many weddings, baptisms and funerals took place there and it is known that since 1882 at least 13 burials took place in the grounds {six of them being children under the age of 3 years).

By 1853 the Manor of Hundon had passed by inheritance and marriage to Sir Robert Harland, Bart, who had married Arethusa, sister of John Vernon. In 1852 Lady Harland, as representative of the Vernon Charity for the school, gave the usual £10 per annum as did the Rogeron Charity. The numbers attending the school that year were 15 free boys and 15 free girls and rules were drawn up regarding their attendance and behaviour by the Vicar, R.W. Stoddart, and the Churchwardens Henry Hammond and Charles Deeks.

The rules included the age of admission as being not under 7 years nor to remain at school beyond the age of 13 years. Children were to find their own books and pay for firing in the winter half year and also pay for pens and ink if supplied. No ‘natural’ child was to be admitted free. Holidays were every Saturday, with one week at Christmas and Easter and one month in Harvest Time.

In 1859 the school was enlarged with another building behind the school and in March that year the rules were amended to allow 20 free boys and 20 free girls admission from the age of 5 years but still being required to leave at 13 years. Also there was to be an Examination of the children once a year. Natural children were still not admitted free. In this year the Vernon Charity gave the usual £10 per annum but the Rogeron Charity gave £30.

The early Education Acts commencing in 1870, leading to compulsory but free education, resulted in the present school being built in 1875 with the old school being used as a Church Sunday School. The 1881 census shows that there were 73 boys and 80 girls aged between 5 and 11 in the parish who could now receive free education – including the ‘natural’ children.