The Hadleigh SocietyFeb 2009
Newsletter Index Up Feb 2009 Oct 2009


Next Meeting – An Airman's Tale

An illustrated biography of an airman, Mr McNamara, the son of a local man, who 'did it all' and was killed before he was 21.

At 8pm on Wednesday 18th March in Hadleigh Town Hall. In response to requests from those who find the stairs difficult, on this occasion we will be downstairs in the Dining Room; entrance off the Market Place. Free to members of the Society; for others there is a charge of £2.

Life in Medieval Hadleigh – 2

by Margaret Woods

The 1306 Extent of the Manor of Hadleigh

Translation of the Latin manuscripts relating to the medieval manor of Hadleigh (part of a project1 under the auspices of Hadleigh Archive) is revealing interesting information on our town in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. Court rolls were considered in the first article ‘Life in Medieval Hadleigh’ in the February 2008 newsletter, in this issue the extent of 13062 is introduced. Translations of two almost identical, handwritten copies3 & 4 of the document have informed this article.

The extent is a survey of the manor of Hadleigh in 1306. It specifies the size and value of the manor as well as giving the names of the tenants and the lands they held from, and rents and services they owed to, the lord(s) of the manor – the Prior and Convent of the Church of Christ of Canterbury. The steward John le Doe/ Doo5 conducted the proceedings, William the Clerk of Felsham was scribe and either 12 or 11 5 presumably upright men of Hadleigh swore on their oaths to the accuracy of the information.

In considering some of the significant aspects of this extent we’ll start with the demesne i.e. the land held for the lord’s use and not rented out. The total demesne acreage was around 384 acres plus the communal pasture. This acreage is not inconsequential when we read in Mark Bailey’s recent publication6 that the average medieval Suffolk demesne was 30 - 60 acres. The Hadleigh demesne comprised:

-  4 acres of messuage (i.e. a house with its outbuildings, garden & often land);

-  31 acres of woodland in 3 woods (Bonhey/Bouhey5; Edolvestone & Estleyle);

-  6 acres of aldergrove (Muchelfen);

-  327 acres of arable land;

-  8 acres of meadow (Corsford & Benton meadows);

-  approximately 8 acres of pasture (The Tyefield; The Herst; that owned by Nicholas of Lafham & that at Bradfield brook; also bracken at Muchelfen);

-  communal pasture (size unspecified but 80 sheep were grazed there).

The 4 acres of messuage were located more or less where Hadleigh Hall is today standing ‘between the river & the king’s highway’ and enclosed by walls and ditches. Included were a manor house described as ‘well and regularly built’ and ‘adequate for the revenue of the manor’, outbuildings such as barns & stables, a courtyard, a garden with ‘apples, pears and grapes of the vine’ and a dovecote.

Important were the two watermills, one for fulling cloth, the other for grinding corn; both were leased out. Tenants whose lands were adjacent to the river were permitted to fish in their part of the river while the lord was permitted to fish anywhere along the river except by the manor of Toppesfield Hall.

The additional acreage owned by the manor was divided into ‘lands’ i.e. areas leased out to tenants. The size of these holdings varied, a few were held by individuals, most were shared tenancies. Tenants’ rents naturally provided additional revenue for the prior and monks in Canterbury.

There were 3 types of tenants:-

a)     Free tenants – Over 70 tenants held lands or parts of lands freely. They paid rent and were obliged to attend court.

b)    Customary tenants – There were around 150 customary or unfree tenants. They also paid rent but in addition had to perform specified labour services in accordance with the size of their holding e.g. ploughing, harrowing, sowing seed, reaping, threshing, spreading, lifting and stacking hay and carting corn and dung. Court attendance was compulsory and they had to request, and pay for, the lord’s permission for their daughters to marry.

c)     Mondaylanders – Eight Monday lands were leased to 37 ‘Mondaylanders’, also of customary status. They were required to perform labour services only on Mondays because it was obligatory for them to be the lord’s reeves of the manor - an unpopular post because of the associated administrative and organizational responsibilities, the most dreaded probably being accountability for manor produce. They did, however, receive an annual stipend of a half acre of wheat, rye and oats.

It is worth noting that a small number of tenants actually held land in more than one type of tenancy e.g. Hugh of Wethersfield, chaplain, held Heron’s land and Bekken acre freely, he was a customary tenant for part of Hyches land and held all of Dores land and part of Bridge land as a Mondaylander. Similarly Osbert of Aldham held parts of Gloucester’s land, Togeles land, Bikes land and Rickbrook field as a free tenant and parts of Aldham land, Hill land and Gloucester’s land as a customary tenant.

The final section of the extent identifies ‘New Rents’. This lists new tenancies and existing tenants extending holdings or embarking on business opportunities. For example Vincent the Fuller appears to become a tenant for the first time taking on a messuage, a dye-house, part tenancy of 3 cottages and a plot of land in the Tyefield. The above-mentioned Hugh of Wethersfield, chaplain, adds a cottage to his holdings as does Henry Mareschal who does so in partnership with Richard the Reeve and Emma Mareschal. Richard Faber [the Smith] leases a road near to his messuage, perhaps facilitating access to his smithy, William Gyber extends his courtyard, while William Geffrey abuts a new dye-house onto an unspecified building and brothers Adam and Thomas Pyg become the tenants of 2 cottages, paying extra for ‘a new acquisition to join the 2 cottages together’.

So what was the overall value of Hadleigh manor to Canterbury? A break down of the manor income can be seen in Table 1. Mark Bailey6  tells us large manors around 1306 were valued about or in excess of £100 and small manors between £7 and £15 so Hadleigh manor, at £40.7s 3¼d plus the poultry, plough shares and horseshoes, would seem to have been of moderate size.

Notes & references

1.    This translation project has been funded by grants from Hadleigh Archive, Hadleigh WEA, Hadleigh Charity shop, David Grutchfield’s locality budget & the East of England Museums, Libraries & Archives Council.

2.    Dating is 1306 in the new style dating system & 1305 in the old.

3.    Canterbury Cathedral Archives reference: CCA-DCc-RegisterB [ff 183v-192v]

4.    British Library reference: Harley 1006 [ff 41v-58v]

5.    Different in the 2 Latin versions

6.    Bailey, M.[2007] ‘Medieval Suffolk’. Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer Ltd.

Table 1: Income from Hadleigh manor in 1306

Aspect of the manor




Rent in kind

Demesne lands





Total rent from free tenants




2 hens

Total rent from customary tenants




Total rent from Monday lands




Total of new rents



2 capons, 3 hens, 3 plough shares & 4 horse shoes for shoeing the lord’s  palfrey




5 hens, 2 capons, 3 ploughshares & 4 horse shoes for shoeing the lord’s palfrey

Market Stalls and Almshouses

Report of a talk by Sue Andrews in October

Hadleigh’s Guildhall-Town Hall Complex is currently held in trust for the town by the Market Feoffment Charity.  On 15th October Sue Andrews gave a talk to the Society which explored the origins and history of Hadleigh’s two main charities; the Market Feoffment Charity and the Grand Feoffment Charity.

Sue began her talk with a picture of the 1432 Charter which is held in Hadleigh Archive.  This confirmed the market rights which were passed, together with a piece of land called Churchcroft, to the people of Hadleigh in 1438 by the Cloptons who were lords of the manor of Toppesfield.  This led to the establishment of the Market Feoffment Charity which was responsible for the running of the market and fairs and for the management of the market buildings.  A two-storey Market House had been constructed just before 1438 (overlooking the churchyard to the west of the existing Guildhall buildings), and the ground floor was used as almshouses.  The origins of the Grand Feoffment Charity lie in the endowment left by William Pykenham in 1497 for the upkeep of twelve almshouses in George Street.

The first feoffees were the chief inhabitants of the town, such as the wealthy clothiers and merchants, who served for life.  320 acres of land on which stands Maskells Farm was acquired, and is still owned by the Grand Feoffment Charity today.  In 1555 John Raven Jnr. established four almshouses in Benton Street which were endowed by land at Noaks Farm in Holton St Mary. 

By 1573 the feoffees had purchased the Guildhall which, together with the Market Hall, formed a civic centre for the town.  At this time 7% of the local population were supported by poor relief or ‘doles’ from the charities.  Many perpetual charities, which were all administered by the feoffees, were established over the years.  The feoffees were also responsible for the day-to-day running of the almshouses.  However, by 1798 the number of feoffees had dwindled from fifteen to one, so John Hall, the sole remaining feoffee, resigned from his post and took up residence in one of the almshouses.

In 1849 the two feoffment charities were officially separated, and by the end of the 19th century were operating at a loss.  Over the next decades the Grand Feoffment Charity sold much of its land and many properties.  The fairs had been abolished and Hadleigh Urban District Council took over the management of the marketplace and the market rights.

When the Market House and land were granted to the town by William Clopton in 1438, the rent was one red rose per annum, ‘if it is demanded’.  In 1984 the rent was ‘demanded’ by one of Clopton’s descendants and every year since then the Mayor of Hadleigh has placed a red rose on the tomb of William Clopton in Long Melford Church.  Could this be the oldest rent still paid anywhere in the country today?  

The Dean’s Diary

Last December the History Group presented the results of its latest research.  In 1841 Reverend Knox became the Dean of Hadleigh and Bocking  until his death in 1869, and maintained a diary.  The diary which has been the subject of the current research finishes in 1844, recording a total of 700 days. The Group has found this to be a treasure trove of information about Victorian Hadleigh and entertained us with a sample of the stories that they had gleaned.  The Deanery had recently been rebuilt and he occupied it in some style, having a good stipend and a private income.  He took his duties conscientiously, visiting all his parishioners, exerting a strong influence over the life of the town with a very active social life as well. His views of the people he dealt with were recorded remarkably candidly.

His activities touched on many establishments, for instance the Silk Mill which provided employment for young people from 5 years old up to 20, some coming from villages some distance away.  He  ensured the dismissal of any who fell short of his moral standards but argued for more education and less beating.  Its gas works provided light to some of the town and to the church as well.  Weddings featured in the diary but much more time was spent with the sick and dying. He also had a major responsibility for the accounts of several charities, and for collecting tithe money.  As well as managing the finances these duties also required his attendance at a lot of dinners. 

The diary is a mine of information about life in the town and the range of occupations.  Sitting alongside other local rectors, he was a magistrate. In this capacity he imposed short imprisonments and fines, although he would occasionally then loan money for the fine.  He would swear in the newly established County Constabulary, and was also a Commissioner of Taxes.  

Our History Group really brought to life how his values and judgements governed how he performed the ways that the Dean touched the lives of the town’s people at so very many points.