Suffolk Village of the Year 2023

Lordship of the Manor – The Manorial System

Following on from last month’s article on Lordships of Manors, this month looks at it from the local angle.

The manorial system dates back to early Saxon times and we know that the Manor of Cockfield, together with several others in the county, was left to Aethelfled, daughter of King Aelfgar, in the mid 10th Century.   She duly willed it to the Abbey Church of St. Edmunds (then a small wooden building) in 1002 as instructed by her father.

From then on the Abbey held the Manor, together with the advowson of the church, until the dissolution of the monasteries when it was briefly held by the Drury family before being granted to Sir John Spring in 1545.  It remained with the Spring family until 1683 when it passed to Sir Thomas Robinson of Kentwell Hall.  He died almost immediately and his son very soon after so, by 1713, the advowson of the church had been sold to St. John’s College, Cambridge, and the Manor of Cockfield Hall was sold to John Moore, whose family held it until 1834.

Since then it has changed hands many times: John Wright of Covent Garden conveyed the manor to James Cuddon in 1839 andhis sons conveyed it to the Misses Manning in 1853 – whilst remaining as stewards. The next owner was Samuel Buck of Hawstead , who gave the land for the building of
the school.   The Lordship then passed to Thomas Jennings (whose son was living in Cockfield Hall at the time) and he held it from 1865 until it was bought by George Frederick Beaumont in 1899.  His family held numerous Lordships all of which were sold in 1954 when Miss Constance Dixon bought Cockfield and subsequently held a Court Leet at the (now Old) Rectory in 1956.  It then passed to Mr. R C Shawyer who left it to his niece Gail Bate who sold it to Mr. Arnold Wolowitz in 1997 when, very
sadly, the title, all the documentation, and the ownership of the greens were each sold as separate lots, thus fragmenting over one thousand years of the history of our village.

The documents were sold privately on the understanding that they will eventually be lodged with the County Records Office.

Great Green had been sold to the parish council in 1950 having been dug up and farmed during the war, and since 1997, Buttons, Old Hall, Smithwood and Windsor Greens have been in private hands, whilst Cross Green was given to the parish and Parsonage Green purchased for the parish by public subscription.

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