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The Dark Ages

Roman Times

Between 43 AD and 409 AD during the Roman occupation of the country they had a camp of about two acres in size at Clare and a probable settlement in Hundon north of Scotch Green Farm. In the 1930s, possibly when the airfield was being constructed brick, tile, nails, fragments of Samian ware pottery and castor ware were found which were dated as of the Roman Period. The pottery is associated with the Romans. The occupation site there was described by those investigating it as being 325 feet by 200 feet on a North West slope near springs and a stream.

More positive are the parch marks of a rectan­gular Roman villa found in a pasture field in 1996 at Chimney Street Farm. This measured about 75 feet by 45 feet and was divided into six areas, pos­sibly rooms. Some tile and Roman pottery was found on field surfaces there. Also from that peri­od are a brooch and knife blade which were found near Wash Farm House.

Roman writers of the time recorded the dra­matic episode involving Queen Boudicca and her Iceni tribe. The Queen was whipped and her two daughters were raped in an attempt to subdue her opposition to them. In revenge the Queen’s tribe united with the Trinovantes and they attacked and almost drove the Romans from the whole country. One of the battles is believed to have been near Haverhill and Hundon men could well have been involved as these tribes collectively covered this area.

There have been no finds made of the long period following the disintegration of the Roman Empire . The Romans departure from England was followed by the steady invasion of the region now known as East Anglia by Angles, Saxons and Frisians, mostly from Germany and then later invasions by the Danes.

Local information for the ‘Dark Ages’ is very sparse and the only reference I have is to the find­ing of 200 – 300 Anglo-Saxon coins of Kings Athelstan (925 – 940), Edmund (940 – 946) and Eadred (946 – 955) when the Sexton was digging a grave in the churchyard in 1687. These were found near a skull. It has been claimed that this was a Viking burial since it was their practice to inter bodies with valuables. Whether this is so is uncertain.

Of the various rulers of East Anglia late in the period before the ‘Conquest’ the more notable ones were Earl Aelfgar who ruled here from 1051 -1057. He was the son of Leofric, Earl of Mercia and his wife Godgifu who is the famous Lady Godiva. Earl Harold also held East Anglia in 1045 later becoming King of England and it was he who tried to defend the country in 1066 from the inva­sion by William the Conqueror.

Edmund, King of East Anglia
Edmund, King of East Anglia

The Normans & The Domesday Book

William the First’s survey of the country pres­ents the first written description of Hundon in The Domesday Book which was a statistical survey com­piled in 1086 to determine how much cultivated land there was, what it was worth and who held it. One of the major reasons for the survey was for tax purposes. Part of the ‘Hundred’ of Risbridge, the two entries refer to Hundon as ‘Hinendana’ and ‘Hunedana’ which has been inter­preted as ‘Hune’s Valley’. Who Hune was is not known.

These are the two entries:

HINENDANA: Withgar (held it) before 1066 as a manor; 25 carucates of land and 20 acres.

Then and later 54 villagers, now 41. Always 30 smallholders; 14 slaves.Then 9 ploughs in lordship, later 4, now 7; then 31 men’s ploughs.later and now 23.Meadow, 45 acres; woodland at 160 pigs; always 1 milLA church, ? carucate of free land. Another church, 4? acres.Always 1 plough. Meadow, 3 acres. Then 2 cobs, now 6; then 14 cat­tle, now 31;then 130 pigs, now 160; then 80 sheep, now480;now 17 beehives. Value then £30; later and now £40.4s. It has 2 leagues and 2 furlongs in length, and 1 league in width;15d in tax. Others hold there.’


1 Freeman; 1 carucate of land. Always 2 small-holders.1 plough.Hamo holds (this).Then 30 sheep, now SO.Value 20s. In the same (HUNEDANA) 10 Freemen; 1 carucate of land. Always 1 plough.Meadow, 2 acres.Value 20s.’

The Richard referred to as the land owner was one of those who took part in the Conquest and was rewarded with the gift of many estates, 95 of them in Suffolk . One of them was Clare where he built a defensive castle and another was Hundon. A later Clare Lord founded the Augustinian Friary there. Virtually every Anglo Saxon land owner was eventually deprived of his holdings.

A carucate of land was 120 acres. 98 people are shown and these were recorded as individuals, not as heads of households. There would have been wives and children who were unrecorded so the population would have been possibly about 300. Slaves were often those who had been taken in battle or captured by raiders. They were used largely for ploughing on the larger, Lords estates, and if they had any children then they too would become slaves. Within a 100 years slaves became serfs with a little land and personal rights in the sight of the law.

The major church referred to is All Saints Church which is the oldest listed building in Hundon and has been dated as 14th Century. This would have replaced the earlier church which orig­inally would have been built of timber. All Saints was a ministering church or Minster with its priests serving the second, smaller church at Chilbourne, now Barnardiston church. There would probably also have been a link with Chipley Abbey with its few Augustinian friars who travelled about minis­tering to the sick and serving in local churches.

In 1090 an oak tree from a park in Hundon was granted to the priory in Clare to warm the monks and in the late 13 C two parks are mentioned. By 1509 there were three deer parks on the undulat­ing slopes in the north of the parish. The parks were Broxted Park to the west. Great Park in the centre and Easty Park in the east. Great Park extended for about 600 acres down to Cock Lane and with the two smaller parks on either side measured about 1000 acres in all.

All three parks, which are unique in Suffolk for being in the one parish, had lodges and in 1315 a keeper is listed as being at Great Park . No doubt there were other keepers for a lodge in Broxted Park has gone and stood on what is now the old airfield; the lodge for Great Park remains as Hundon Great Lodge Farm and that for Easty Park was probably at Appleacre Farm which was shown as Easty Lodge Farm in 1904 on the National Grid.

Whilst the various Lords at Clare enjoyed their leisure pursuits in a pleasant landscape they also ensured that the parks provided an income from the sale of coppicing and timber, from allowing grazing for cattle and pannage for pigs. Large trees went to Clare for repairs to the castle and one of the parks even had a horse stud. There were also fish ponds and Easty Park had a warren in it. Having existed for about 700 years they were no longer treated as deer parks by 1611 when the land was used for other purposes.

Late Medieval Times

In the 14th and 15th CAN Saints Church had many repairs made to it including the main structure and tower. Added to the church were a porch with a chamber above it. In 1887 workmen were carrying out restoration there and in the process a complete water jug was uncovered in the soil below the north aisle. This was examined and said to be a jug for domestic rather than religious use. It was dated as 14th C and could well have been mislaid by the builders who were working on the church then and found some 500 years later by builders doing similar work.

The rnid-14th C saw the arrival of the bubonic plague known as ‘The Black Death’ and no doubt there are people lying in All Saints churchyard who suffered this terrible disease. Records of them and their numbers have yet to be discovered. The plague was at its worst in 1349, although it recurred in later years, and it is usually accepted that where it struck an average of a third of the population would have died. Sudbury suffered severely but Clare not so much so.

About 1435 the house now known as Thatcher’s Hall in North Street was built. Known as a ‘Wealdon’ type house it had a fireplace later with three arched niches above the lintel and a wall painting with the representation of the ‘Agnus Dei’ with a lamb, halo, crucifix and pennant. The suggestion is that that house may have been that of a priest who was possibly connected with Chipley Abbey.

The De Clare family initially retained the Honour of Clare, the Hundon Manor being part of it, but through marriage and inheritance owner­ship eventually passed through the Earl of March to the Duke of York and thence in 1461 to Edward IV and so became the property of the Crown. In 1540 Henry VIII granted the manor to Ann a of Cleves, his fourth wife, for their wedding (which only lasted 6 months) and then it was with his fifth wife, Katherine in 1546.

In 1548 Pinhoe Hall was vested in John Coggeshall. This manor was formerly called Purowe, Gorreles or Penowe Hall. It is likely that a building with one of these names stood inside the moat which remains to this day at Pinhoe Hall. In the time of Henry VIM an action was taken in the Court of Star Chamber for ‘forcible ouster’ (deprivation of a freehold) in Hundon by one John Cokysall against Thomas Carr and others. This is probably the same man as John Coggeshall. There are references to a Hagden Hall and land in Hundon in an action in Chancery Proceedings in the time of Queen Elizabeth I by a Roger Coggeshall against William Higham.

The British Museum holds records that show extracts from the courts of Queen Elizabeth I which were held at Hundon on the 20th February 1573 and the 21st January 1574. The Queen would not have been present since they were held in her name by the Lord of the Manor or his repre­sentative to deal with criminal and other matters. Similarly there were views of frankpledge in 1574, 1580, 1581 and 1582. The Manor was then held by the Duchy of Lancaster.

Thatcher’s Hall
Thatcher’s Hall
Thatcher’s Hall Wall Painting
Thatcher’s Hall Wall Painting
Ann a of Cleeves
Ann a of Cleeves