The Foxearth and District Local History Society
White's Description of Long Melford 1841

William White

Long Melford

MELFORD, (LONG) the largest and one of the handsomest villages in Suffolk, is picturesquely seated on the north side of the vale of the river Stour, on the banks of one of its tributary streams, 3 miles N. by W. of Sudbury, 7 miles E. of Clare, and 13 miles S, of Bury St. Edmund’s. It consists chiefly of one street, about a mile in length, with a green at the north end of it, where fairs are held on Whit-Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday; the two former days are for pleasure, pedlery, &c., and the last day is a large cattle mart. It has several good inns and retail shops, three corn mills, six malting establishments, and a foundry; and in its vicinity are several handsome seats.

Its parish contains 2597 inhabitants, 5186a. 1r. 12p. of fertile land, and a number of scattered farm-houses and neat mansions. Some of the inhabitants are silk weavers, employed by the Sudbury manufacturers. Petty Sessions are held at the Bell Inn, once a fortnight. Sir Hyde Parker, Bart., is lord of the manor, for which he holds a court baron yearly; but a great part of the parish belongs to E. S. Bence, Esq., C. Westropp, Esq., Messrs. D. Mills and E. Chenery, and several smaller owners. The copyholds are subject to fines, twice the amount of the quit rents.

 Melford Hall, in a fine deer park, on the banks of the rivulet on the east side of the village, is the seat of Sir Hyde Parker, Bart., whose baronetcy was created in 1681. It is an old spacious brick mansion, in the style of the age of Elizabeth, with four small round towers in front. It was formerly one of the pleasure houses of the abbot of Bury, but after the dissolution it was granted, in the 37th of Henry VIII., with the manor and advowson, to Sir Wm. Cordell. To this grant, Queen Mary, in the first year of her reign, added the lands of the hospital of St. Saviour, without the north gate of Bury, which Sir William settled on the hospital erected by him at Melford. Dying without issue, his estates devolved on his sister, whose daughter carried them in marriage to Sir John Savage, whose grandson was advanced to the dignity of Earl Rivers. Melford Hall belonged to the widow of the third Earl, during the civil wars in the reign of Charles I., when Fuller says it became 'the first fruits of plunder in England.’ The loss of the countess in plate, furniture, money, &c., at this and her other seat at St. Osyth, in Essex, was estimated at £ 100,000. The first Earl Rivers mortgaged his Melford estate to Sir John Cordell, and it was afterwards sold to Sir Robert Cordell, who, being created a baronet in 1660, made it his seat. On the failure of male issue in his family, the estate devolved to that of Firebrace, and in the middle of last century it was the seat of Sir Cordell Firebrace, one of the parliamentary representatives of this county. It soon afterwards passed to the Parker family.

 Kentwell Hall, another fine old mansion, in a well wooded park, a little north of the village, was long the seat of the Cloptons, who acquired the estate by the marriage of Sir Thos. Clapton, with the heiress of Win. Mylde, or Meld, who died in the 48th of Henry III. The heiress of the Cloptons married Sir Simonds D’Ewes, whose daughter carried the estate in marriage to Sir Thos. Darcy, and died in 166L The estate was afterwards the seat and property of Sir Thos. Robinson, who was created a baronet in 1681, hut his heirs sold it to John Moore, Esq., of London, from whose family it passed to E. S. Bence, Esq., who now resides at the hall.

Melford Place, the seat and property of Charles Westropp, Esq., is an ancient mansion, with pleasant grounds, at the south end of the village. It was formerly more extensive than it is now, and was long the residence of the Martyn family, one of whom was lord mayor of London in 1567* Roger Martyn, of this place, was created a baronet in 1667, but his family became extinct about the close of last century, and the estate passed to the Spaldings, and from the latter to its present owner.

The Abbot of Bury obtained a charter for a yearly fair, and a weekly market on Thursday, in the 19th of Henry III., but the latter has long been obsolete. Bridge Street, a hamlet on both sides of the rivulet, about 2 miles N. of the village, is partly in Alpheton parish.

 The Church (Holy Trinity) is a beautiful specimen of the architecture of the fifteenth century, about 180 feet long, exclusive of the school at the end, and the small square tower, which is of more modern erection than the body of the structure. It contains many neat monuments of the Martyn, Clopton, Cordell, and other families, formerly seated here. At the upper end of the north aisle, is an altar tomb, bearing the recumbent effigy of m. Clopton, Esq., who died in 1446. On the right of the altar, is the splendid monument of Sir Wm. Cordell, speaker of the House of Commons, a member of Queen Mary’s Privy Council, and founder of Melford Hospital. On the outside of the pew formerly belonging to the Martyns, are many grotesque heads, carved in oak; and some ancient stones in the floor, at the east end of the chancel, cover the remains of various members of that family. The font has a cover, curiously carved, with a pinnacle and a cross on the top; and on the spot whence it was removed to its present situation, is a raised stone, in the form of a lozenge, with a black cross upon it. The north window still contains some painted glass, with figures and Latin inscriptions, now in a mutilated condition. The rectory, valued in K.B. at £28. 2s. 6d, has a good residence, and 150a. 3r. 22p. of glebe, but its value in 1835 was not returned to the Church Commissioners. John Cobbold, Esq., is patron, and the Rev. E. Cobbold incumbent. Here is an Independent Chapel, erected about 1724, and also a Wesleyan meetinghouse. The parish has a richly endowed Hospital, a National School, two school endowments, and several other charities.

Several Roman urns were dug up in a gravel pit in the parish, about thirty years ago; and in a farm yard on Cranmer Green, is a petrifying spring.

The Church and Poor’s Estate comprises a cottage, barn, and about 18a. of land, let for £33 a year, which is applied in equal moieties with the church and poor rates, the property being given for these uses by William Skeyne, in 1518. Four cottages, occupied as almshouses by poor persons, are repaired at the parish expense, and were given by Sir Roger Martyn. In 1495, John Hill gave his quit-rents and woods in the manor of Bower Hall, in Pentlow, Essex, to the poor of Melford, and they now yield £12. 4s. per annum. Since 1694, the income of this charity, and a yearly payment of £2. 8s. Id. out of the Exchequer, under a grant from Edward VI., have been applied towards the support of the Parish School, adjoining the church, at which 12 poor boys, nominated by the churchwardens, are instructed as free scholars, along with others on the national system. In 1713, John Moore left £300, the interest thereof to be paid to a schoolmistress, for teaching 10 poor boys and 10 girls of Melford, under the direction of the Governors of Trinity Hospital, and the minister and churchwardens. This charity now consists of £321 old South Sea Annuities, yielding £9 per annum. Doles, amounting to £15 a year, are distributed among the poor parishioners at Easter, and arise as follows:—£2. 10s. from Carder's Charity (see Glemsford;)— 30s. out of land at Mendlesham, left by Rd. Smith,-in 1560;—£2 out of an estate at Reydon, left by John Mayor, D.D. ;—£3 out of the poor rates, for a cottage and garden, given by one Chaplin ; and £6 out of the poor rates, as the rent of a building long used as the workhouse, but purchased with £100, given by John Moor, in 1713. In 1836, Mrs. Harriet Oliver left the dividends of £4000 three per cent, consols, to be distributed in coal among the poor parishioners.

TRINITY HOSPITAL, for a warden, 12 poor men and two poor women, was founded by Sir Wm. Cordell, Kt., in 1580, under letters patent of Queen Elizabeth, which places the institution under the visitatorial power of the Bishop of Norwich for the time being; consequently, the Charity Commissioners did not inquire into it. The hospital consists of a quadrangle, three sides of which are occupied by the 12 brethren, and the fourth by the warden and two sisters. The whole is kept in excellent repair, and the yearly income, amounting in 1836 to £1066.12s. 10d., is applied, after the payment of incidental expenses, in maintaining and clothing the inmates, who must be old and decayed housekeepers of Melford ; or, when such cannot be found, persons of a similar description are to be taken from Shimpling. As already noticed, the endowment consists of lands, dec., formerly belonging to St. Saviour’s Hospital, at Bury.


ACADEMIES. (*take Boarders.)

 Bakers, &c.

 Beer Houses.


 Boots & Shoe Mkrs.

 Bricklayers and Plasterers.



Corn Millers and Merchants.

Grocers & Drprs.


Maltsters & Corn Merchants.


 Painters, Plumbers, & Glaziers.


Shopkeepers.(See Grocers.)