The Foxearth and District Local History Society
A Short History of Glemsford


former Rector of St. Mary the Virgin, Glemsford.


We are extremely pleased to be allowed by Kenneth Glass to reprint his classic booklet on Glemsford which he wrote whilst was the rector. He is remembered with affection by many of the older residents. His book is long out of print but is one of the best introductions to the history of the area, and essential reading for any newcomer to the village. It is a wonderful mix of the stories that the old people of Glemsford in the 1950s told about their ancient history, the 'strong oral tradition', together with the more certain facts of more modern times

A photographic gallery of the postcards of Glemsford that were used to illustrate Kenneth Glass' booklet is here, along with several more

Original Foreword

by the Rt. Revd, The Lord Bishop of St. Edmundsbury and Ipswich.

Some of the most valuable and interesting documents which portray the history of our towns and villages are the result of the researches carried out by Clergymen of the Church of England, who, as Rectors or Vicars of parishes in which they have held the "Care of Souls" have written the history of their parishes and have gone to great trouble to ascertain the historical evidence upon which they base the facts which their researches reveal.

Mr Glass has shown a knowledge of the past and present relating to the parish of Glemsford which leads one to think that his friends and parishioners and those who delight in the history of East Anglia, and who are particularly interested in the history of their own parish will wish to have a copy of the History of Glemsford in their homes.

It has been clearly demonstrated by the author that the Church has played no small part in the life of Glemsford in the past, and if the result of the publication of this book stimulates interests not only in the Parish Church, but enhances the pride of its parishioners in their heritage, and leads to an increase in Christian witness, the writing of this book will have served a purpose which will, I am sure, give great satisfaction to its author.

Harold St. Edm; of Ipswich,
20th September 1962.


Here is a collection of stories and facts relating to the history of the Parish and Church of Glemsford. There has existed in the village a strong oral tradition, now remembered only by the older generation. The attention of the writer was arrested by this fact, and the apparent need to preserve these stories in a permanent record before the character of the village is changed by modern development and these stories lost. 

This little book is a serious attempt to set in order much of the history of the village, which has only existed in the accounts of the past retold by succeeding generations of inhabitants. It does not claim to include all the stories and for the sake of brevity some interesting subjects are but lightly touched upon. It is intended that the book should be easily readable and so long quotations from standard works and irritating footnotes have been omitted. However, an attempt has been made where possible to verify the facts stated, and the main works of reference are set out below.

The rather long Chapter V contains a full description of the Parish Church and it is included only because there is no published history of the Church. Many facts of interest to an historian have been omitted but the writer would be pleased to discuss any part of the History with interested enquirers as full notes in manuscript have been retained. He would be glad also to hear of any further stories of the past, which local inhabitants may know. It is his opinion that in the history of Glemsford, with one important exception, we have a microcosm of last Anglia. Who studies Glemsford's History studies the history of man in this area, from Neolithic Man in his natural shelter to Modern Man in his synthetic glory.

I am most grateful to many parishioners for their ready assistance. Their names are too numerous to mention, but for their interest and encouragement I gladly express my thanks I feel however, I must acknowledge the work of Mr. C. Bangham of Glemsford who has kindly checked through my manuscript, and made most helpful suggestions and the kindness of Mr. Richard Burn of Sudbury and other friends for providing the interesting photographs in the central portion of the Book, And last but not least to thank my wife for her encouragement, and for typing my notes and preparing the final typescript.

Kenneth W. Glass

Glemsford Rectory; 
Sudbury, Suffolk. 1962



Chapter I
Introduction, Early History ,The Greens.
Chapter II
The Romans. The Danes.
Chapter III
The Normans, Domesday Book.The Manors of Glemsford. George Cavendish, The Fraternity of the Clerks of Glemsford. The College,
Chapter IV
The Middle Ages. Medieval Gilds.The Church. Will of John Golding.
Chapter V
The Parish Church. Its exterior, interior and Tower.
Chapter VI
Decline of Wool Trade, The Charities, Poor law rates. Population Table.
Chapter VII
Nineteenth Century Industry, Silk, Horsehair, Matting.
Chapter VIII
Transport. Buildings. Chapels, Schools.

Glemsford on Hodgkinson's map of 1783


It is probably that Glemsford has been the home of man for 10,000 years. 

The village is sited on the top of a spur of the East Anglian Heights at a height of 375 feet above sea level situated to the north of the Stour River valley some six miles N.E. of Sudbury, bounded in the east by the little River Glem from which it takes its name. Geologically the formation of the hillside was in the Third Ice Age, it being composed of Boulder Clay settled in a groove cut by a glacier. The fact that the clay descends to a depth of 304 feet is almost unique in England, and the information discovered when a water bore was drilled in the parish in 1905 is used in geological textbooks. 

The fact that pools of water existed upon the top of the hill made the site suitable for habitation for Neolithic Man. Flints discovered recently in the parish suggest that Glemsford was inhabited as far back as 8000 B.C. It has been suggested that in Iron Age times these inhabitants were a small group of Iberians surrounded by more numerous Goidels and Brythons (Gaels and Britons) of Celtic origin. It is possible that the hilltop was fortified from early times, as it is known that these three races were continually involved in tribal war. The Iberians, as civilised as their neighbours, were wholly under the influence of Druidism and the locality abounds in references to the Druids and their Groves, It is a popular saying that the nickname of Glemsford, still used incidentally, of 'Little Egypt' dates from these times, 'Egypt' presumably referring to an Egyptian priest system. It is possible that the Romans may have given this name to Glemsford because of the priestly character of the settlement. 

Caesar tells us in "de Bello Gallico" that the Druids were responsible for what education there was among the Celtic people who inhabited these lands. If there were Druidic priests at Glemsford they may have become the "teachers" of the Goidels, Brythons and Belgae,

The settlement was most probably on land that until recently was the old parish common or Prophets Common, and stretched from Grove Meadow and Tye Green, at the top of the hill to Fair green towards the Church. Today the site is a new Rectory and allotments, which were made out of the Common in the "Hungry Forties" of the last century. The Common has now lost its identity completely.

Tye Green

TYE GREEN still remains where in olden time the Tythings were held, A very different public meeting was held there on a warm Saturday in August 1900 when a deputation from Ipswich and District Trades and Labour Council was present. Here the gathering of Mat Weavers was told that it was surprising the low wage paid to their craftsmen, and a wonder how they existed on it. The female workers of the silk industry were urged to combine and try and improve the conditions under which they worked. Was Trade Unionism and the Labour movement in Glemsford initiated at this open-air meeting on such an ancient site? A part of this Green now called Rectory Meadow was once known as Tenter Meadow for it was here that cloth was hung out to dry and stretched on "tenter-hooks".

Fair Green (Broadway)

FAIR GREEN, made a traffic roundabout in living memory, used to be a large green stretching up from Brook Street as far as the entrance to Schoolfield. Here from the Middle Ages a fair was held on June 24th each year and 'roundabouts' of a different kind enjoyed with all the 'fun of the fair' until about the year 1910. Unfortunately no record of a charter granting the right to hold the fair has yet been discovered or noted.

On these sites for many centuries man has found a home in Glemsford. It is interesting to speculate as to whether a Glemsford man was with Boadicea when she sacked Camulodunum (Colchester). It is thought that, in Roman times, the Hill was the home of a branch of the Iceni tribe whose famous Queen Boadicea (more properly Queen Boudicca, wife of King Prasutagus) proved such a thorn in the flesh to the Romans until she was finally defeated by the Governor Suetonius Paulinus in A.D. 61. It is in this period of history that we can forsake the pleasant paths of fancy for the surer roads of historic truth.



King Cunobelinus (Shakespeare's Gymbeline) ruled over a large part of S.E England from circa 5 B.C. to 43 A.D. His seat of government and the Mint from whence his gold coinage emanated were at Lexden near Colchester, A coin bearing his inscription was found in Glemsford and two more were found at Long Melford showing that the area was inhabited at this period. The coins are at the Ashmoleon Museum. This is the first piece of factual history that the writer has been able to obtain. There is further evidence of possible Roman influence in Glemsford for a first brass coin of Antoninus Pius (A.D. 138-161) was found here and again greater finds at Melford.

 In Roman times a road ran from Chelmsford to Holme near the mouth of the Wash following the general direction of the ancient Peddars Way, As it passed through Long Melford it was crossed by another branch road which, leaving the Via Devana at Wixoe passed on to Baylham Mill (Combretovium) where five roads met. In 1958 - 60 it was possible to get a general picture of the extent of Roman Long Melford, and it is clear that the Romans were settled in this area and reached the peak of their prosperity in the Second Century A.D. when a public Baths was built at Melford. Thereafter the community would appear to have dwindled to very small proportions by the Fourth Century. 

The Three Turns Inn on the lower road

The Branch from the Via Devana mentioned above passed through Clare, another Roman settlement, and skirted Glemsford to the South following roughly the route of the modern main road (Lower Road) crossing the small river Glem at a ford near the present Glemsford Bridge, and thence to Long Melford. It has been suggested that there was a small Roman establishment at this ford for the exchange of horses. It is possible that it also served as a 'police detachment' to protect the ford against the raids of the lceni if they did in fact inhabit Glemsford at this period, There is little further direct evidence until we come to the Danish invasion. The Dark Ages of the 5th and 6th Centuries were as obscure in Glemsford as they were in most other parts of the country,


During the 9th and 10th Centuries the Danes sailed their longboats into East Anglian estuaries and rivers, and sent marauding parties along the riverbanks to plunder and destroy. Because of the many references in field names and paths to their name it is assumed that the Danes reached as far inland as Glemsford. Tradition asserts that Danes Field to the last of Skates Hill is a Danish Battlefield. Quite close is the Danes Path leading from the station to Churchgate. This follows the line of an ancient earthwork or Causeway known today as the "Casey". It has been suggested that this wall and ditch was built centuries earlier by people of the Palaeolithic (Old Stone Age), This may well be so but some further research would be necessary to establish the fact. A careful excavation of the site might provide this information. However, it seems most probable that this earth wall was fortified as a protection from Danish attacks as it lies strategically across the hillside. It appears to culminate, if the line be continued, in the church tower, from whence a magnificent view of the Stour Valley stretching to the sea may be had to this day. This lends weight to the opinion that a watchtower was built at the end of the fortification, a Tower that later became incorporated into the building set aside for Christian worship. This is believed to be common in Suffolk where many Saxon towers exist in the North West of the County. It would certainly explain why the church is at the Northern extreme end of the village, and if the facts be as stated, would show the reason for the strange configuration of the village; as a long straggle of houses on a winding main road with a hotch-potch of greens and commons irregularly placed but all without exception bounded by the Causeway to the riverward, or South East, Beyond the facts of the Earthwork itself, the names mentioned above, and the juxtaposition of Church and village, the writer has been able to find no further historical evidence, but mention must be made of the strong oral tradition which exists very widely in the village to this day. Stories are told of the men of the village walking along the causeway at night to protect their wives and children at home, safe behind the fortification. The tower was used as a watchtower in war again (1939 - 45) and I have been told that on a clear day with binoculars it is possible to see the Estuary at Harwich, and several saw from vantage points in the parish the Balloon Barrage sent up to protect that port. The Danish threat continued for many years, and in the 11th Century Glemsford was paying an annual sum of 15d Danegeld.



When William of Normandy defeated Harold at Hastings in 1066 he initiated a slow but sure process of infiltration to extend the Norman influence into every part of the land. To further this aim, and to produce a basis for fair taxation some 20 years later William ordered a Survey to be made of the Country, and the information obtained was collected in the Domesday Book in 1088 A.D. At this date Suffolk was perhaps the most densely populated county in England (possibly excluding Middlesex) and was divided into 34 Hundreds or districts, Glemsford was situate in the Double Hundred of Babenberg or Babergh. The name of the Hundred reflects the natural features of this part of the county, referring to the 'fords' which had played so important a part in the history of tribal settlement in the area. The Babergh Hundred was remarkable for the number of large Manors it contained. A large manor of this period was a property with land exceeding 5 Carucates or Hides (l Hide = 120 acres). In the Hundred there were 11 such manors, the highest number in Suffolk. One of these manors, of 8 carucates or 960 acres was Glemsford, This Manor was held in 1086 by the Abbot of St. Etheldreda at Ely, after St. Edmunds Abbey, the most important ecclesiastical landholder in Suffolk, The Abbot's chief under-tenants in the county were Roger Bigot, Robert Malet and Hervey of Bourges, The following is the extract from the Domesday Survey Fol. 381b, relating to Glemsford,

' XXI Lands of St. Etheidreda, Baberga. Two Hundrets, Clamesford (Glammesforda) St. Etheidreda held 8 carucates of land. T.R.E. as now, as a manor, Then as now 16 villeins, 18 bordars and 5 serfs. Then as now S ploughs on the demesne and 7 ploughs belonging to the men. And 12 acres of meadow Woodland for 5 swine. And 1 mill, Then a now, 3 horses at the hall, 8 beasts and now S00 sheep and 32 swine, A Church with 30 acres of free land. And 1 Sokesman with 8 acres worth 12d Then it was worth 10 li. now 16 li. It is one league long and 8 furlongs broad. And pays 15d in geld"

The derivation of the name Glemsford is clearly shown as the ford of the Glem. Taken with other neighbouring parishes, Melaforda (Melford) Aketona (Acton) it suggests a Roman or at least latin origin. From this time forward the history of Glemsford is clearly and positively outlined in ancient documents, many of which exist today. Other lands now in the parish of Glemsford and mentioned in Domesday Book were the Manors of Guthelnesford and Peverells and the Hamlet of Finstead End. The Manor of Guthelnesford belonged in 1086 to Adeliza, Countess of Albemarle. She was the wife of the Conqueror's half-brother Odo, Bishop of Bayeaux, and it is this association that probably led to the story that linked Glemsford with the famous Bayeaux Tapestry. At one time quite serious arguments were put forward to establish the claim that part at least of the Tapestry was made or designed in Glemsford. Regretfully it must be recorded that no substantial evidence has been, nor indeed could be produced to prove the statement. The Manor remained in possession of this family until 1293. In 1485 when it appears again in Records, it had been split into three, the Manors of Methwolds, Cayleys (Callis) and Wimbold, In 1569 John Allen bought the Manor of Callis to add to his property which already included the lands of Methwold and Wimbold, and the Manors have remained reunited since that date. As a matter of interest the Lordships of this Manor once owned by a Royal Norman lady were offered for sale on the 24th November 1954, and are now probably for the first time since Norman days held by a lady, Leanora Ann Mason Smith, aunt to Edna, Countess of Castle Stewart. However in the Domesday Survey it was shown as Guthulnesforda.

Edith held 2 carucates as a manor T.R.E. "Then as now 1 villein and 6 bordars.
Then 2 ploughs belonging to the men: now 1: and 5 ploughs could be restored,
8 acres meadow.
Then woodland for 20 swine.
Then 1 mill.
The third part of a Church with 8 acres.
Worth 3 li. and pays 5d in geld.
Edith has the soke,
It is 8 furlongs long and 3 broad."

Monks Hall (before its restoration)

The Manor covered an area from Boxted bride (Guthulnesford) towards Pern Hill. It is believed the mill above mentioned stood on the site of the present Glemsford Silk Mill, and the Manor House was at Pern Hill Farmhouse, now usually called Duffs Hall. There is a story that the ghostly figure of a monk walks the footpath from the Mill to the Bridge. If he did he would pass the back of one of the most interesting and ancient buildings in the parish - Monks Hall.

The Manor of Peverells was a very small manor of only thirty acres and is listed in the Domesday Survey with land belonging to Ranulf Peverell. It adjoined the parish of Cavendish and was probably on the site of the present New Street Farm. In the 13th Century it was owned by a family who took Glemesford as their surname. Walter de Glemesford was Lord of the Manor in 1230. He was followed by Robert, and Thomas de Glemesford was Lord in 1356. In 1385 Richard de Glemesford was buried in St. Stephen1s Church in Colman Street, near the Guildhall in London. In his will he left a missal for the use of the Church at Glemsford, where his father lay buried. Galfridus de Glemesford in his will proved at Bury in 1399 assigned his manuscript book of harmonies to the Church at Glemsford. John de Glemesford was Lord of the Manor in 1438 and in 1437 Hugh de Glemesford sold the Manor to John Colte of Cavendish.

Thus Peverells Manor became linked with the Manor of Grays (or Colte's Manor) in that parish, the home of the Cavendish family. In 1500, a son George, was born to Thomas Cavendish, an official at the Court of King Henry VIII, and a member of one of the most illustrious families in the kingdom, of which the Duke of Devonshire is the present head. At 26 George Cavendish became Gentleman-Usher to Cardinal Wolsey later becoming his close companion and confidante. He had married Marjory Kemp, of Spain's Hall Essex, a niece of Sir Thomas More, and they made their home at Peverells Manor, Glemsford, this being part of the Cavendish Estates as shown above, George Cavendish having thus such close contact with two of the greatest men of the early Tudor period gained a great knowledge of the affairs of State and of the marital disputes of Henry VIII. When his famous master died at Leicester Cavendish was summoned to London to report to the King on the death of Wolsey, incidentally a native of Ipswich, another Suffolk man, and Henry offered George a place at Court but he preferred to retire to his home in Glemsford. There during the reign of Mary Tudor and Philip (1553 - 58) he wrote a biography of Cardinal Wolsey which is accepted as being one of the most interesting and valuable biographies in our language. It tells in detail of the life of the Cardinal and his dealings with Henry VIII, of the divorce of Catherine of Aragon and Henry's marriage to Anne Boleyn. It appears that Shakespeare had a copy of this book when he wrote the play Henry VIII. It was probably a manuscript copy since it was not printed during Elizabeth's reign for the obvious reason that it discloses too much of the life of Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth's mother. However six auch copies still exist and the famous soliloquy from the play is a verbatim quotation as follows:

"If I had served my God with half the seal I served my king,
He would not in my age have left me naked to my enemies".
(King Henry VIII Act IV So, il.)

From the story of this illustrious inhabitant of (Glemsford, George Cavendish, who died in 1561) we must now return to Norman times.

The hamlet of Finstead End situated to the north in the present parish of Glemsford was mentioned in the Domesday Survey as being 320 acres in extent. It paid 4d in Danegeld, as tax levied to provide protection from Danish raiders and after 1016 served as an army tax. The site of the Manor House is most probably the present Trucketts Hall. We have thus far surveyed the present parish as it was in the year 1085 but there is one further story of these times not yet told.

In the year 1870 about 300 old documents were found lying in the Government Archives, which upon examination proved to be the official reports sent back in answer to a Royal Inquiry made in 1389 in the reign of Richard II. This enquiry was made to obtain information about the Medieval Gilds and the documents have been translated and arranged by the Revd. H.P, Westlake. They show that one of the earliest Gilds in England was formed in Glemsford about the year 1020 A.D. It was known as the Fraternity of the Clerks of Glemsford, also as the Dusse Song School, the Assembly of Twelve or the Congregation of Glemsford. The reply to the Royal Enquiry sent by Glemsford men in 1389 was as follows.

"CNUTUS. (Canute),
"In the time of King Canute faithful Christians then existing, with the counsel and help and licence of that most pious king, began it and handed it down to our brethren and to us. And from the time of William the father and William the son, and the most wise and prudent King Henry has been kept with great diligence and reverence, and to the end of the world will, by God's gift, be observed and kept for the benefit of all the saints of God, living and dead".

This amazing testimony so surprisingly brought from the past is documentary evidence of one of the most ancient Gilds recorded in existence in the year 1389 and obviously proud of its long history of three and a half centuries at that date, and all this 600 years ago.

The Gild referred to above is the Fraternity of the Clerks of Glemsford and it appears that they were formed by King Canute to provide priests to carry out certain specified duties at his new Church at Bedoericworth (St. Edmundsbury) in honour of Edmund the Martyr King. If this be so the Gild was founded about 1020 A.D. It is certain that Abbot Baldwin in the time of Edward the Confessor (1042 - 66) granted them special privileges and an immunity from watch and ward. They were founded in honour of Our Lord, St. Mary, St. Peter and All Saints, their chief purpose was to chant at the funerals of the monks of Bury, and it is probable that their services could be obtained for similar offices on behalf of others whose friends were willing to pay for them. The Fraternity consisted entirely of priests or of those who were to become so. They were enjoined by Abbot Baldwin to keep vigil day and night for the good estate of the church of St. Edmund, and continually to invoke God's mercy for the salvation of the Abbot and all the monks of that Church. When a monk died they were to assemble at the Church and form a watch about the body, sing a psalter and bear the body to the grave, not forgetting to commend the soul to God. Their obligations to the monastery and their own Fraternity did not end with this. They had a strict Rule of Masses and services to say during the course of the year, with certain psalms and prayers prescribed for daily use. With regard to their own fraternity they buried poor brethren at their own expense and were bound to go and bring a sick brother home if desired.

Other privileges were granted to or assumed by them. No cleric in Bury might presume to teach the psalter without the leave of the Fraternity on pain of a fine of two shillings, and no layman could have his son trained in letters without the Fraternity's permission. At some period in their history they became the possessors of eight acres of land, some shops and a cottage in Bury, They are mentioned in records in the time of Abbot Ording (1156 - 1180) when these rights and privileges were again confirmed. Westlake locates the Gild at Bury but he wrote without local knowledge, and the persistence of the name Glemsford in connection with their Gild, the obligation to the Monastery AND to their Fraternity and the fact that they were to 'go and bring home a sick brother' clearly indicates that the House of the Fraternity was in the Manor of Glemsford, and as will be shown there existed until medieval times a College of priests in the Parish. There can be no doubt that the Fraternity supplied priests for the above mentioned special duties from their Community in the parish, and we may imagine them making their way along the track of the old Roman road to and from the Abbey of St. Edmundsbury. The story contained in the following paragraphs is from the writing of F.H. Richold whose manuscript copy of a History of Glemsford has been of great value in the compilation of this present work. He does not quote his sources, and so far the writer has not been able to verify the details except in a general way, though undoubtedly a search of the records of the Abbey at Ely would throw some light on the matter.

It is said that from the nucleus of the Fraternity described above in detail, thus described because it is of general interest as to the function of these Gilds, King Edward the Confessor founded a School or College. This Collegiate School, whose site was located on the College Field in the present Clockhouse Farm (the old Manor Farm of Glemsford) to the East of New Street was controlled by a Dean for the educating and training of young men as students for the priesthood.

The College was administered by the Abbey of St, Ethelreda at Ely as all educational establishments at this period were under the control of the Church. After the Norman conquest the College became the centre for instructing the English Clergy in the Norman French language which William tried to make the national language of England. The Conqueror is said to have taken great interest in the Glemsford College granting it many privileges and it flourished exceedingly. His half-brother Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, may have become Lord of the Manor in which the College stood, and it is thought that he superintended the instruction of Norman French at the College, We do know that Odo did much to encourage learning and among those scholars whom he instructed at his own expense were Thomas, Archbishop of York, Samson, later Bishop of Worcester and Thurston later Abbot of Glastonbury. It may well be that Odo did live on his Manor of Glemsford and these illustrious and notorious men were educated under his guidance in the College of Glemsford.

It is claimed that the privileges granted to the College by William were renewed and confirmed by each succeeding Norman monarch and even down to the time of Henry II. Henry III at first confirmed them but later withdrew them being as we know a weak and vacillating King, and trying to follow his father King John's example to control and overthrow the power of the Church. To further this aim Henry founded new Schools or Colleges at Cambridge and Oxford under a Chancellor and subject solely to the authority of the Crown, thus free from all interference or control of the Church. The College at Glemsford thus bereft of Royal patronage gradually lost its influence and importance and finally ceased to exist. That the Abbot did not allow this to happen without opposition we may well assume, and for a long period there was a bitter struggle between the Church Schools and the new Colleges. Now all that remains are some ruined foundations (not excavated) and strange names that have no relation to their present position. College field has already been mentioned and the fact that the two country lanes in this area - New Street and Plum Street - may well at one time have been two of the busiest thoroughfares in the village.

Although there is no direct evidence so far discovered to prove the truth of the above story yet there is a sufficient foundation of fact to show that it may well be that some such establishment did exist in Norman times and persisted into the Middle Ages, The following facts should be considered. Although all traces of the buildings may have disappeared this would not be surprising if, as was most probable the buildings were of wooden construction as was for example Peterhouse, the oldest of the Cambridge Colleges. The Fraternity ware also linked with the Church of St. Mary, Is it just a coincidence that the parish Church of Glemsford is dedicated in honour of the Blessed Virgin? It is also a fact that the first Cambridge College founded by the Bishop of Ely was Jesus College in the year 1497, It is surely very strange that the Church being the leading Educational authority should have failed to provide a College at Cambridge until almost two centuries after the formation of the university when one recalls that Ely is so close to Cambridge and certainly within the Diocese of the Bishops of Ely.



Although Suffolk played an important part in the history of these times it does not appear that Glemsford was directly involved as were the famous family of Clare at Glare Castle or men like Archbishop Simon of Sudbury. It is assumed that Glemsford suffered at the time of the Black Death and it certainly benefited by the wool trade which came to Suffolk in the 14th and 15th Centuries. The history of the Wool Trade in Suffolk is not given here, as to deal with it fully would require more space than is available in the chapter. Any interested person may find the details in a oopy of the Victoria Histories of the Counties of England - Suffolk Vol. I available in any County Reference Library. It is sufficient to say that Glemsford took a full part in the development of the Wool Industry.

After the Plague doubtless the fields of Glemsford as elsewhere, were left uncultivated because of the greatly reduced population. It was common during the terrible year 1349 for a village to lose three-quarters of its men, and sheep were introduced to feed on the grass which now grew in fields which could not be tilled because of the lack of men. The prosperity which this change in agriculture brought about came very gradually and it was proceeded by a "religious revival" if such it may be termed. In the latter part of the 14th century the ancient Gilds were greatly multiplied, and there is evidence to show that besides the ancient Fraternity of the Clerks of Glemsford, there was also a Jesus Gild and a Gild of St. Thomas. The Chapel of the first was to the North of the Chancel, for as late as 1520 Johan (Joan) Warde, widow of Glemsfprd, Diocese of Norwich, in her will proved 20th April 1520, stated "I will that my body be buried in the Chapel of Our Lady, on the North part of the Steeple in Glemsford ", She also left 20d "that the curate may pray for my soul. 6s 8d for the maintenance of the Chapel of Our Lady". Tha organ is now placed in this ancient Chapel. John Golding in his famous will wished that his body be buried behind the Jesus Altar, This was situate in what is now called the Golding Chapel. Joan Olyffe, widow, in her will dated 30th January 1468 left 6s 8d to the Gild of St. Thomas, The site of this Gild Chapel is not known. The manuscript copies of these wills made at the time of the grant of Probate may be seen in the Suffolk Records Office by arrangement with the Rector. We have one other substantial relic of these times in the shape of a Gild Chest which was made about the year 1360. It is an ark type chest, cut from the solid poplar trunk, encompassed by iron bands with three locks, The three keys were held, one each by the Chaplain and two Officers of the Gild, and Gild funds, plate records and later vestments were kept in the Chest. The example at Glemsford is remarkable for its size. It is in a reasonable state of preservation despite its 600 years of service to the Church,

Glemsford in medieval times was isolated from the life which passed by along the pack routes from Melford to Clare or Bury. Some have suggested that the nickname "Little Egypt" is a survival of the independent and unfriendly inhabitants of this period who kept very much to themselves as a self-sufficient unit upon their hilltop, viewing all strangers with grave suspicion. A characteristic which may well linger on and certainly was common in those days.


The great event of the 16th Century in Glemsford was the erection of the present Parish Church, built in the first quarter of this century c. 1520. It is probable that a building existed on this spot for Christian worship from the early days of Christianity in East Anglia; and it is possible the hilltop was used by the Druids as the site of their Grove or place of Worship.

St. Felix landed in last Anglia in 815 A,D. and much of East Anglia was converted to Christianity. St. Edmund, martyred by the Danes after the defeat at Thetford in 869 A.D. , was the Christian King of East Anglia and is now our patron Saint. We have already noticed that Cnut founded an Abbey at Bedeoriesworth now St. Edmundsbury and these facts suggest that the inhabitants of Glemsford were nominally Christian, as were the folk of Bast Anglia in these times. It is thought that a Saxon watchtower was built on the spot where our present Church tower stands. The first building was probably a rough shelter erected over the Altar and to this was added later a larger building to shelter the worshippers. These correspond to our Sanctuary and Nave. By the twelfth century a stone building had been erected adjacent to the Saxon Tower and the pillars of the North side Nave in our present building are believed to date from this period. The Nave was later extended westward as is shown by the fact that the pillars on the South side of the Nave are quite different and date from a later period.

In the 15th Century the Golding family came to Glemsford. They were a wealthy family of wool merchants and the probate of their wills may be read in the Glemsford Records deposited in the County Archives at Bury St. Edmunds. John Golding died in 1496 and left instruction in his fill that the Church of St. Mary Glemsford should be extended. His wishes were carried out by his Widow and sons and the present building was erected. The writer has avoided long tedious quotations from works of reference but feels that the details of Golding's Will may be of interest. They are typical in wording and layout of wills of this period.

THE WILL OF JOHN GOLDING In the name of God. Amen. "JOHN G0LDING of GLEMSF0RDE, the elder, clothmaker, in the diocese of Norwich, to be buried in the Churchyard a Jesus Altar on the South side in the saide town of Glemsforde.
I bequeath the High Altar 13/4 and to the priests, clerks, and poor folk on my burying 6/8.
I will that a chapell be made over me where 1 shall ly in the saide churchyard and thereto bequeath £40
To all the four orders of Freress i.e. Sudbury, Clare, Babwell and Cambridge, to each of them 10/- to sing St. Gregory's Trentall for me and my friends soules.
Item; to Johanna, my wife the house I dwell in for 1ife and £100.
To Dan, my son of Bury £40,
To William, my son, house and land which I have in Poslingforth at Bulley Grenes and £40 and a meadow called TURPITTES and three acres called SEGELAND in Glemsford
To John my son land in Glemsford except CHAMBERSCROFT in NETHERSTREET.
To John my son,the younger, house in Poslingford.
To Margery Trumbill my daughter £80.
To Kath Wood my daughter £30 and land called CROSSES
To Joan Hill my daughter, Chamberscroft and three acres in Pentlowe, and twenty marks.
To all my Spinners l2d. each.
To Joan Golding daughter of William my son ten marks
To each of my children's children 20/-
To my servants 3/4d each.
To the poor of Melford 6/8,

Executors: William my son and John Golding the elder
Supervisor Joan my wife.
Proved 80th May 1497 by the Executors named in the will

Glemsford Church

William and John Golding arranged for the Architect who designed the masterpiece of Holy Trinity, Long Melford to draw up plans for the Church of St. Mary Virgin at Glemsford, Their wool merchants mark may seen carved in stone upon a shield set into on the exterior of the last wall of the North Aisle. The Arms of their father is displayed on a stone shield in the small museum in the North Aisle (The pattern on the front cover of this book is the merchant's mark of Golding, senior, of Angel House, Egremont Street, Glemsford) Cut into the stone on the outer wall of the South Aisle Chapel known as the Golding Chapel are the words - JOHN GOLDING JOAHN HYS WIFE TEE FOUNDER OP THIS CHAPEL AND IYLAS. There is a similar inscription upon, the North wall of the North Aisle referring to their sons and daughters but this has become almost illegible through the weathering of the stone. The building is an example of the Perpendicular Style of Architecture and is remarkable for its excellent proportions and brightness from the light which, streams in through the many windows.

A detailed account of the present building is given in the following chapter.



Glemsford Church around 1880, showing the 'moat'

As the Church is approached from the South Gate the fine stone and flint panelled wails of the South Porch and South Aisle topped by stone pinnacles catch the eye. Above the South Porch door are three canopied niches having image stools. As one passed eastward the stone shields set in the flushwork may be noticed. It is probable that they originally bore the initials MR (Maria Regina) as at St. Mary's Woodbridge but these have disappeared. It is above the small priest's door leading into the Golding Chapel that the inscription- to John Golding mentioned above commences. The East window of this chapel is a good original example of Perpendicular Style filling almost the entire wall area. We now approach the last End. This was rebuilt by the Rev, George Coldham (Rector 1833 - 1887) and is evidence of the sound building and restrained restoration of sensible Victorians! The graves of the Coldham family lie below the East window.

Continuing we find the last window of the North Chapel with the wall partially restored in the restoration of 1863, Set high in this wall are the marks of the Golding Wool merchants. The North Aisle wall is unremarkable except for the fine restoration of the windows and we are glad that they are filled with a good clouded glass, thus avoiding the installation of Victorian stained glass. The North Porch is much smaller than the South and is of interest for one reason only. Here the visitor should turn his back upon the Porch and enjoy the magnificent view of the Glem valley and the wooded slopes of Stanstead. This is one of the finest vistas of the Suffolk countryside in the Parish. The Churches of Stanstead before you, and Boxted and Somerton away to the left, may be seen.


We next come to the Tower. This was rebuilt in the Restoration of 1865 and is 60 feet in height. An earlier tower was at least 50 feet higher and must have been an imposing sight. It is said it was once topped by a steeple. In the 1850s it became badly cracked and dangerous and was pulled down and rebuilt, insufficient funds apparently being the reason for its shortened height. The Churchyard is large, the portion to the Northwest being opened in 1912. When this extension was filled burials took place in plots to the North of the Church. This was found to be unsatisfactory and when the New Burial Ground was opened in 1956 burials in the Churchyard, except in family graves, was discontinued. Unfortunately no application was made at this time for the closure of the Churchyard and recent efforts to have it declared a closed Churchyard by the appropriate Government Ministry have failed. The Cemetery was purchased by the Parish Council and is administered by a Burial Board appointed by them,


On entering the South Porch, which is lighted by two windows and has a carved beam roof, one is faced by the main door. This South Door has good tracery with folded leaf borders similar to the roof and is of the early 16th Century. Inside the door on either side are Memorials to the fallen of two World Wars. The first, a fine example of the restrained use of carving and colour was presented by Canon Hall and the second was placed there by public: subscription. These are flanked by the colours of the local Branches of the British Legion. Passing down the South aisle we come to a tablet to the memory of George John Goldham which refers to the adjoining window which was placed there in memory of his eldest son who died before he was two years old. This window, the only stained glass in the building, contains pictures of boys of the Bible. In the centre Our Lord and His Mother, above left John the Baptist with his mother above right Timothy with his mother or grandmother; lower left young David, lower centre Samuel and lower right as reference to the sorrow of King David who lost Bathsheba's son as a child. By this last reference we may imagine how the Victorian parents consoled themselves in the loss of their firstborn son.

We now enter the Golding chapel where John Golding the Elder lies buried. The furnishings of this chapel were given in memory of the Revd. R. Garrett-Johnson, Rector 1929, - 37 as was the Processional Cross in the Chancel and the Altar Rail in memory of William and Sarah Playle. The reredos of late Georgian design formerly the High Altar was re-erected In 1981. It contains the Lord's Prayer, the ten Commandments and the Apostles' Creed. The Mothers Union Banner was designed, made and presented by Mrs, Latter a friend of the Playle family. This chapel was formerly used by Sunday School children and now is used by the Mothers Union, The Chancel contains fine choir stalls in oak and spacious and lofty in character, The stone work of the pillars on the North Side show evidence of a screen and the door leading to the vestry is made up of a portion of this screens the remainder of which has long ago disappeared.

We now turn our attention to the Sanctuary which was extended In 1863. The reredos has a most unfortunate shape which spoils the line and beauty of the Bast window. However, it Is an excellent piece of carving depicting the scene at the Annunciation. The chief figures being the Virgin Mary and the angel Gabriel with the Holy Dove hovering above. The reredos and panelling were erected in memory of the Revd. George Coldham, distinguished Rector of Glemsford 1833 - 1887. The Holy table is of the Stuart period its beauty hidden by the modern coloured trappings. The two carved chairs match the Oak Communion Rails and the kneeler is a recent memorial gift. On the North Wall is a memorial to the Kerrington family. It commemorates Captain Nicholas Kerrington who died in 1687 and was a great benefactor to the Parish, also of his brother-in-law the Revd. William Knight M.A. and a nephew William Knight,

The Vestry and Organ occupy the site of the Lady Chapel whose original 16th century roof bears traces of the colouring which enriched it in those days. On the North wall is a tablet recording the burial of the Revd John Bigg A.M. Rector of Harwicke, Cambridge and one time fellow of Clare College, The Epitaph is a fulsome piece of praise of the departed typical of the period 1795 in which he died. His wife Ann is also commemorated. The organ is a fine two manual instrument built by Forster and Andrews of Hull in 1877. This leads us through to the North Aisle. Here one may see the beauty of the Roof restored in 1958 - 60. It is an arch-braced, cambered, tie beam roof with wallposts which have small canopied niches with figures. The beams are carved with folded leaf and a pomegranate marks it as early 16th century. The Lady Chapel has been furnished by the Young Wives Group and the Holy Table and Altar Rail came from a Mission Church at Finstead End which flourished in Victorian times. This building dismantled in 1921 is thus remembered in the Chapel. On the North Aisle wall are two more memorials to the Watson family bearing extravagantly, (by our tastes) worded Epitaphs. They are to Elizabeth Morgan who died in 1776 aged 22 years; and to Hannah Eldred her sister, James Watson her father and Elizabeth Watson her mother. The large banner upon the Wall commemorated the Friendly Societies of Glemsford, the Buffaloes, Foresters and Oddfellows, who have played an important and useful part in the life of the Parish. It is of silk made in 1864 and was carried in procession by four men in Church Parades and Processions. It was last used in 1935 on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of King George V. The most interesting of the articles in Church is also found here. This is the huge 14th century iron banded poplar ark type chest, 60" long, 34" high and 26" wide. The lid is solid, hewn from a tree trunk and there are three locks, details of its uses are given on page 17.

We now enter the Nave and comments upon the pillars have already been made. It was reseated in 1873 when the work of restoration was completed at a cost of £3,400. Box pews were removed and the present pitchpine pews installed providing seating for about 600 persons. The only objects in the Nave dating back to earlier times are the fine Jacobean pulpit with book rail and brackets and the font The latter is a 15th century octagonal font which has a traceried shaft with angel supporters. The bowl has carved panels showing the Virgin enthroned, a mitred bishop's head, two of the Evangelists emblems and the remaining panels are destroyed. The lectern is a good example of modern design harmonizing with ancient surroundings, it was a memorial gift presented in 1960. Near the lectern in the thickness of the South Nave wall there appears to be the remains of a staircase which led to the Rood Screen. No remains are left of this but it is said that the Screen was removed to an ancient house in Long Mslford. Needless to say this cannot be proved!

There now remains but a visit to the Tower, four stories high. The lowest is at present the Choir Vestry and contains boards similar to the Golding Chapel reredos giving details of the charities extent in 1832. The Ringing Chamber above is entered by a winding stone stair which also gives access to the south roofs. The thick walls are pierced by two lancet windows and the walls are adorned by tablets detailing the prowess of earlier generations of ringers. The third room is an unlit store and ladders give access to the Bell Chamber. There is a fine peal of six bells which however badly need tuning and re-hanging. The embattled Tower top is surmounted by a SO foot flagmast.

(This rather long detailed description of the Church has been included in this work as no history of the Church has been published. A list of the Rectors of Glemsford from the year 1302 appear at the end of the book). The following is a brief account of the six bells

Bell. Weight. Founder and Inscription.
Treble 6 ½ cwt Thomas Mears II, Whitechapel 1830, "T. MEARS OF LONDON. FECIT 1830,"
Second 7 ¼ cwts Miles Graye III, Colchester 1659 "MILES + GRAYS + MADE + ME + 1659."
Third 8 ½ cwts. Miles Graye III, Colchester 1659 "MILES + GRAY! + MADE + ME + 1659.
Fourth 9 ¼ cwts Thomas Gardiner, Sudbury 1754 "THOMAS + GARDINER + SUDBURY + FECIT +++ 1754,"
Tenor 14 cwts Charles Newman, Norwich 1686. "WILLIAM + STANBY + JOHN + TOMSON + C + WARDENS CHARLES + NEWMAN + MADE + MEE + 1686.


The prosperity of the cloth-making population of the 16th century may be regarded as the primary reason for the prosperity of the agricultural population to whom they looked for their food supply. At the end of Elizabeth's reign (1603) Western Suffolk with its poorer soil was almost entirely given up to sheep fanning and the comments of Daniel Defoe in his "Tour of the Eastern Counties" in 1732 are also illuminating. With the decline of the Wool Trade, the agricultural workers were the first to suffer and there is evidence of continuing poverty among the inhabitants of Glemsford. The succeeding centuries tell of a constant battle to preserve the prosperity of the parish. The first records to show the increase in the number of poor people in Glemsford are found in the Survey of the Manor of Glemsford made in 1658. These show that from 1591 there was a spate of wills which left charity for the poor of the parish. Thomas Gardiner 10,8,1591 John Allen, Clothier 15,4,1598 and Agnes Gardiner 12.5.1600 all left money for the "deserving poor". Agnes Gardiner's will has a clause by which money was left to be distributed "to widows and maids". This has continued to the present day, Others followed, William Barrell of Chequers Lane 13.3.1609, George Hicke 26,1.1624, Richard Scott, and Edward Scott Senior 26.18.1642, John Pooley 1651 and John 2O.10,1657. George Hicke among other bequests left "6d for the minister to preach a sermon on Good Friday and 3d to the poor". In 1658 William Dodd, Clerk, gave money for the erection of Stocks and left some land, now Bible Meadow, for buying Bibles for poor children. On July 22nd 1695 the feoffees or trustees were Henry Kedington of Egremont Street, Henry Kedington Junior of Brook Street and Ambrose and John Bigg, These charities and others of later date are now known as the Glemsford United Charities. They are administered by Trustees nominated by the Parish Council with the Rector of the Parish, These details from the Manor Rolls show that there was a realisation of the needs of the poor and incidentally show that the practice of leaving money for the saying of Masses for the Dead had now ceased.

A list of the leading clothiers of Glemsford in this period (1558 - 1640) were John Howe, John Gueret, John Frost, Thomas Fyrman, John Allen, William Abbitts, John Biggs, George Howe, Ambrose Brage and Abraham Kenington. They were makers of Suffolk Broadcloth and there was a cloth known as "Gleynforth" which took its name from Glemsford.

The second piece of evidence to show the decline of Glemsford was the fact that the last Coroner for the Parish of Glemsford, George Collingwood, was appointed in Elizabeth's reign and the parish officers had to submit to the authority of the county officer when Roger Kedington became Chief Constable of the Hundred on 12th March 1645,

Further evidence from the area around shows how the wool merchants made strenuous efforts to preserve their livelihood. A Glemsford clothier attended a meeting in Bury St. Edmunds in 1610 when the clothiers, woollen weavers and tailors were incorporated into a Company framed after the model of a London Livery Company. Among other things, the Bury Corporation controlled the engagement of workers, journeymen and apprentices, and the payment of wages, Glemsford joined in this effort to regulate the Wool Trade in lest Suffolk but the Corporation did not last long as the formation of these companies had an adverse effect upon the free trade in Wool. Within 20 years many wool merchants in Suffolk were made bankrupt, some had migrated to Holland and the wool industry was transferred to Yorkshire and the West Country. This migration from Glemsford took place between the years 1772 to 1796, Its chief cause was the invention of the steam powered loom for the wool industry and the development of the Industrial Revolution around the coalfields of the North.

The Poor Laws were closely bound up with the history of the Cloth Industry in Suffolk. By the reign of Charles II (1660 - 85) Suffolk stood twelfth among the counties of England in the average amount of its poor rate, and in this century the old broadcloth industry of Suffolk went into decline. That Glemsford suffered we cannot doubt. At about this period the manufacture of finer woollen cloths, worsteds and even stockings was introduced to the area, chiefly at Sudbury. There is no direct evidence that these new draperies were made in Glemsford but it is safe to assume that they were. However, a century later the village was still impoverished as the Poor Relief Records show. The Rate for the poor in 1772 amounted to £678 when the population was as high as 2,400 inhabitants. By 1792 the rate had risen to £1,102 with a sharp rise to £2,129 in 1796. It appears they had their worries ovsr rate increases in other days beside our own!


The population figure for 1801 is the first accurate census made and a table of the population of the parish is as follows:

Date Population

The population has since declined and the last official census in 1951 showed a population of 1,353, The figure for 1961 has not yet been published but the population today is estimated at 1,500



A number of new manufacturers were introduced to Glemsford in this century and again it is necessary briefly to touch upon the history of the area to explain the happenings in the village. It was following the Spitalfields Act of 1773 that the London silk manufacturers began to set up branches in the country wheresoever a suitable supply of labour was to be obtained. The Eastern Counties in view of their nearness to London and of the decaying state of the woollen industry within them offered especially favourable conditions. The employers although paying only two thirds of the London rates were able to offer the Suffolk weaver better wages than could be made in the woollen industry. Sudbury, Haverhill and Glemsford were the places in Suffolk most affected by this migration. At first it was merely transferring the handloom weavers from one material to another, wool to silk, but following the removal of the duty on raw silk in 1824 the manufacturers began to set up throwing mills in connexion with the weaving centres.

In that year, 1824, the silk throwing mill at Glemsford was established on an ancient site. It found employment for over 200 hands in 1874 but this number was much reduced by 1900. Briefly the function of a throwing mill is to process the raw silk by steeping, winding, doubling and twisting to prepare the silk in hanks for the dyers. In 1958, this process of dyeing was added to the activities of the Mill. The raw silk is imported in bales from China and Japan, In the Glemsford Mill the machinery was first driven by a water wheel but later power was augmented by steam. In 1961 a modern factory was built on an adjacent site using electricity for power.

In 1844 the horsehair industry was introduced to Glemsford when Messrs. H, Kolle & Sons built a factory in Bells Lane for the processing, curling and weaving of horsehair. The Victorians used a great deal of horsehair - the horsehair sofa comes immediately to mind - and for a number of years this factory employed a large staff. In 1907 the firm of Arnold and Gould continued the processing of horsehair, and to-day it is one of the important firms of horsehair manufacturers in Europe. It imports horsehair from all over the world and this is then washed, sorted, hackled, double drawn and prepared for the brush industry, textiles and sundry other uses, of which violin bow making is perhaps the most interesting. Up to a third of the firm's products are exported each year., and this old active craft industry remains as one of the few craft trades left in this country.

A further industry introduced to the village in this century was the making of coconut matting, and the specialized machinery for processing coconut fibres. In the 1870ss it was realised that there was a use for the husk or outer covering of the coconuts and the fibres in these husks known as coir were imported into this country in large quantities for the manufacture of matting and as filling for mattresses. The mat-weaving from coir became centred in Suffolk and at one time there were 10 factories employed in this way in Glemsford, In December 1906 the newspapers headlined a mat carpet made to cover the great arena at Olympia in London, It was S3 ,000 square feet in areas and was claimed to be the largest ever made in the world. It was sent to London by rail, and it is reported that it filled 37 of Harrod's pantechnicons and the procession of vans through the London streets was more than a mile in length. It was manufactured in Glemsford and the London "Express" called it a triumph of British manufacture, There are many stories told of Glemsford in its Victorian heyday, one is mentioned on page 2. However, the work of mat-weaving was simple. It could be carried out by blind workers, it was introduced into government prisons, and in course of time it could be learnt by natives in the tropics. These factors led to a decline in the fortunes of the Suffolk industry and many factories in Glemsford were closed. There was however, one important exception and this work continues to this day.

Through the centuries Glemsford had had the traditional craftsmen - carpenters, builders, wheelwrights etc, and in 1850 the village blacksmith was Ernest Downs, He began to extend his business by repairing agricultural implements and about 1887 his firm of E.W. Downs & Son amalgamated with the matting firm of C. Smith & Go. Downs began to improve the machinery of the latter firm and designed new equipment for the industry which he made in his own workshops. He supplied many Suffolk firms with the necessary machinery for processing coir, and at the time of the decline of mat-weaving in Suffolk in the 1920!s the firm were able to export their machinery to tropical lands chiefly India and Ceylon. Further advances in design were made through the years and to-day the firm exports this specialised type of machinery .all over the world's tropics from India to Tahiti, It is known locally as "The Foundry".

Another weaving trade introduced on a small scale was the processing and weaving of flax which continued until the last war. A modern factory built in 1938 for this purpose has now been adopted for the production of a wide variety of plastic articles and many are employed in the village and areas around in the manufacture and packaging of this thriving newest industry - plastics - whose uses are increasing year by year. There was at one time a small biscuit factory in Flax Lane but this is now area depot for Messrs. Meredith & Drew.

Space does not permit a detailed account of all these firms and their activities but sufficient has been said to show that industries introduced in the nineteenth century have shown great ingenuity in adapting themselves to the needs and changes of the times and there can be few Suffolk villages who have such worldwide connections in such a variety of trades.



Whilst the rivers and streams were used by early mans for transport in primitive dugout canoes, and for example the Danes used the Stour as a way into the interior for their raiding parties there is no evidence that the upper reaches of the river beyond Sudbury through Melford and Glemsford were ever used by boats for transport. Before the coming of the Railway all goods were brought in and carried out of the village by packhorses.

Reference has already been made to the Roman roads in the area to the ford of the Glem and through the centuries traffic has passed by the foot of Glemsford's hill without disturbing the peace of the village. This means we have no famous coaching inns as at Long Melford and Clare, nor in earlier days did the pack route pass through the parish. There were always however, the carriers from the village to the neighbouring towns, Kelly's Directory for Suffolk in 1888 tells us that the horse and cart of Joseph Beeton and Jacob Adams went to Bury St. Edmunds each Wednesday whilst Mark Crask went to Sudbury daily except on Wednesdays. But with the increase of industry in Glemsford in the nineteenth century, requiring the transport of large quantities of imported raw materials from the Docks, good facilities for such transport were required. This service was given by the Railways.

Glemsford Railway Station

The first railway in Suffolk was built by the famous railway contractor Samuel Moreton Peto between Norwich and Yarmouth in 1844. By 1846 the Eastern Union Railway had opened a line from Colchester to Ipswich, and this Company built a branch line from Marks Tey to Sudbury in 1849, In 1862 the Great Eastern Company was formed and it undertook the completion of the lines connecting Long Melford, Glemsford and Haverhill with Cambridge and Sudbury. Stout waggons were used to draw the materials to. the factories and return with the finished goods and Glemsford was a thriving and busy station for many years. From 1870 when the population table shows the commencement of a steady rise in population the village thrived, it became governed by an Urban District Councils in 1905 it provided its own waterworks and water tower (which remains a landmark to this day) and the Railway shared in the prosperity of the village. To-day we have regular Bus Services to Bury, Sudbury and Colchester, and a daily coach service to London, and so with the advent of motor transport and better roads and the motor bus, Glemsford Station, in common with so many others on country branch lines seems in danger of being closed, having apparently outlived its usefulness,


Glemsford has never known the domination of the Squire at the Hall or the Prior at the Priory, and there are therefore no ruins of oastle or Priory nor stately "ancient home".. It however, does contain some fine examples of Medieval and Tudor Houses. There follows a brief description of a few of these,


The Greyhound inn

This house in Egremont Street is an excellent example of a "Yeoman's House", it was built about the year 1420. It was restored earlier this century and has a wealth of old woodwork. It has an original window of the type made before glass was used which is complete with slots and shutters. For many years it was the Greyhound Inn and the old brew house at the rear still has an old wooden mechanism for the control of ventilation during the brewing process. It lost its licence in 1907 and a fine story is told of the final night at the Greyhound. Apparently a coffin complete had been obtained, and after closing time a procession carried it, and presumably the spirit of the old Inn, to the churchyard. The quantity of free beer consumed on this occasion is still the subject of comment in the village,


Chequers Lane, before restoration

These magnificent half-timbered cottages appear to be of 16th century origin. They have been adapted several times and have lost their original form and identity. It is thought that they were once the home of a wool merchant. An alternative is that this is a Tudor House and was the home of George Cavendish, secretary to Cardinal Wolsey whose story is told on page 1 Regrettably no evidence of their past has come to light. It bears a resemblance to Monks Hall.


Egremont Street showing the Angel

Although this is now a public-house it is clear that at one time it was a fine residence. It is said that it was the home of the Golding Family who built the Church. It is remarkable for a carved cornerpost, reputedly of the fifteenth century, which depicts Michael the Archangel bearing a sword with an angel carved beneath, There are several houses in this area of Egremont Street, which contain much ancient wordwork, and it is thought that the oldest houses in the village are to be found here.


It is probable that the present fascinating building was erected in the 16th Century upon an ancient site. There are many stories of this house most suggesting that it was at one time a monastery, and it is said that a secret tunnel linking it with the Church still exists. Several ghost stories are told of this area and from them it appears that a ghostly figure of a monk walks the paths near his ancient haunts. In a mellow light with its ancient roofs and chimneys the old house has an air of enchantment and mystery. A picture shows the delightful thatched cottages on Tye Green and near here is COLDHAMS a Victorian Rectory built upon an ancient site with interesting cellars. ST. ANTHONYS is an old house at the top of Skates Hill with remarkably ancient title deeds. The splendid Elizabethan TRUCKETTSS HALL has already been mentioned and there are a great number of houses and cottages with ancient timbers and fine roofs vying with the late Victorian rows of workers houses which serve to remind the visitor of Glemsford's past.


Tye Green's Primitive Methodist Chapel

Glemsford in the nineteenth century had a strong non-conformist interest and four denominations developed churches and built their places of worship. In 1828 Bbenezer Baptist Chapel was built in Egremont Street and opened in 1829, and through the years they maintained a strong Christian witness. They also were able to support their own ministers, Mr, A. J. Ward was Pastor in the late 1800's and the last, Pastor Laver, resigned in 1945, The sad dispute which troubled the Baptist denomination in the 1850's had its repercussions in Glemsford and In 1859 Providence Chapel in Hunts Hill was opened. Both Churches flourished whilst Glemsford was prosperous with a large population but grew less strong as the village declined and Providence Chapel is now closed and disused. A branch of the Long Melford Congregational Church was formed in Glemsford about this period and they built a small chapel off Egremont Street, It is interesting to record that the Congregationalists used the Chapel for a fortnightly midweek service on a Thursday, and rented the Chapel to a company of Methodists for use on Sundays. The Chapel was known as "Renters Chapel" for this reason. During the first World far the Congregationalist cause was revived and flourished again for a number of years, but the Chapel is now closed and used as a store. The company of Methodists mentioned above were a church of Primitive Methodists in the Sudbury Circuit and in 1914 they decided to build the present Chapel at a cost of £495, and it was opened on Whit Monday 1915; it has seating for 300 and useful Sunday School hall and vestries After the Union of Methodist Churches in 1934 it continued in the Sudbury circuit and remains today the most flourishing nonconformist church. Members of the Plymouth Brethren have a meeting place in Egremont Street and although small in number their influence in Christian witness has been felt in the village. Although Nonconformity came late to Glemsford it had a great impact and it is to be regretted that modern folk no longer take the interest in Chapel and Church that was shown during the nineteenth century, when these causes were formed and the last major restoration of the Parish Church took place.


The Board School

About 1840 the Church authorities in Glemsford built a small hall and house in Hunts Hill for the education of children. By 1871 these premises had become inadequate and in this year a Board of 5 members was formed who organised the erection of the present excellent building, which is of brick with white stone facings, of pleasant Victorian design, at a cost of £3,000, By 1888 the average attendance was 160 boys, 135 girls and 130 infants. Kelly's Directory tells us that the staff were Master, W.H. Payton; Mistress, Miss Ellen Hammond and infant's mistress Miss Roberts. (Prom the same source we learn that Sergeant Robert Ward and one constable were the local police force). The Old School remains the subject now of a Trust Scheme being the property of the Church and used as a Church Hall, The Board School has been modernised, and under the influence of the 1944 Education Act became a County Primary School when the new Secondary Modern School at Clare was opened in 1955,


The following names are taken from the records of the Diocese of Norwioh for the years 1300 - 1632. They are verified and completed from the records of the Archdeacon of Sudbury for years 1537 - 1959.

Date of Institution
Clergy presented by the Patron, The Rt. Revd. Lord Bishop of Ely.
1st April 1302 Hugo de Poynton
8th October 1532 William de Hemyngton
14th August 1341 Walter de Burle
2nd June 1342 Henry de Bradelee
18th September 1361 Radulf de Notyngham
19th September 1373 John Rauf
31st October 1381 John de Stanstede
19th February 1405 John Sywardeby
19th September 1408 John Fendour
2Srd October 1420 Richard Golle de Beston
25th March 1443 John Dalden
22nd January 1471 Walter Buk M.A.
27th March 1488 William Lecheman
17th July 1490 William Lynsey
31st August 1508 John Penrother
4th June 1513 Thomas Archer M.A.
4th November 1516 Henry Mynne
27th August 1550 Richard Wilkes
18th January 1553 Edward Hanford
13th April 1574 William Byggs
13th February 1602 Robert Tilney
15th March 1607 William Gibbins
8th March 1619 Robert Felton
"1661 Master Cook the last incumbent died."
24th February 1661 Edmund Boldero
23rd July 1679 William Falkner M.A.
26th April 1682 Richard Webster.M.A.
23rd January 1690 Nathaniel Burrell
2nd April 1712 John Davies L.L.D.
28th May 1719 Charles Morgan D.D.
14th May 1736 James Vertue
17th November 1746 Robert Butts
19th March 1778 William Butts B.A.
7th September 1833 George Coldham M.A.
1887 Herbert Hall M.A.. R.D.
Clergy presented by the Patron, The Rt. Revd. Lord Bishop of St. Edmundsbury and Ipswich.
1921 William Bankes-Williams B.A.
1929 Richard Garrett Johnson M.A.
1937 Alexander Harpur L.TH.
1950 Alwyn Cobb M.A.
1952 Raymond Walls A.K.C.
24th August 1959 Kenneth Glass