St Mary's Church, Huntingfield, Suffolk


Chronology of the Manor and Church of Huntingfield

'The Manor' is a term used to describe the feudal ownership of the land in the area. As times changed, it became synonymous with the manor house or ownership of the hall itself. By tradition, the Rector of Huntingfield holds the Lordship of the Manor of Huntingfield Rectory.

The arrival of the Vanneck family in the late 18th century led to the development of the neighbouring estate of Heveningham and the building of a large mansion in the fashionable style. Huntingfield Hall then became less significant as part of a larger whole.
Edric of Laxfield holds the Manor of Huntingfield
Robert Malet is made Lord of the Honour of Eye which includes Huntingfield.
Domesday Survey: Walter fitz Aubrey is tenant at the Manor which is valued at 7. The woods are capable of feeding 100 swine. St Mary's Church is endowed with 14 acres of glebe valued at 2 shillings.
Roger, son of Walter, assumes the surname de Huntingfield.
William de Huntingfield founds a Priory at Mendham, Suffolk, on his land there. This draws Cluniac monks from Castle Acre Priory in Norfolk.
William de Huntingfield is made Constable of Dover Castle by King John. He was later to be sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk.
The same William. is among the Barons who met at Bury St Edmunds to plan the Magna Carta. His name is on the plaque in the ruined nave of the Abbey Church there. Ten generations in direct succession from father to son, alternately Rogers and Williams, own the Manor and serve their king.
The last William dies without a male heir and the Manor passes through the female line to William de Ufford, Earl of Suffolk.
Michael de la Pole marries Katherine Wingfield through whom he acquires Huntingfield. He has licence from Richard II to 'crenellate' his manors in Wingfield, Sternfield and Huntingfield.
King Richard III's son, Prince Edward, dies. John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln is declared his heir, fights at the battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 and escapes, only to die at the battle of Stoke in support of Lambert Simnel in 1487.
Henry VIII, determined to extinguish rival claimants to the throne, imprisons Edmund de la Pole, brother of John, Earl of Lincoln and orders his execution.
The Manor is forfeit to the Crown and leased to a tenant, Nicholas Smith or Arrowsmith.
Henry VIII declares himself Supreme Head of the Church of England. Beginning of the Reformation which led to major changes in church interiors.
The Manor is assigned to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk and brother-in-law to King Henry VIII. Charles' wife Mary is the King's sister and the widowed Queen of France. Her gravestone is in St Mary's Church at Bury St Edmunds.
The Manor is assigned to the Lady Anne of Cleves as part of her dowry. She died in 1557.
Nicholas Arrowsmith marries Anne Moulton.
Three bells are installed in the Tower.
The Manor is conveyed to Sir Henry Carey, created Baron Hunsdon in the County of Herts, by Elizabeth I. Sir Henry was the son of Mary Boleyn and first cousin to the Queen. Tradition has it that while in his possession Huntingfield Hall was honoured by a visit from the Queen who shot a deer from an old tree in the park which is still known as 'The Queen's Oak'.
Anne Smith or Arrowsmith, widow of Nicholas marries John Paston, second son of Sir William Paston II of Paston in Norfolk.
The Parish Register begins.
Bridget, daughter of John and Anne Paston, marries Edward Coke at Cookley Church. She bears him ten children.
Bridget Coke dies and is buried in Tittleshall near Godwick in Norfolk, their country home. Sir Edward Coke, Lord Chief`justice, marries again to Elizabeth Cecil, daughter of Thomas Lord Burleigh, Earl of Exeter. The couple make their home at her property at Stoke Poges in Buckinghamshire where they entertain Elizabeth I in 1601. There is no documentary evidence for the visit of the Queen to Huntingfield, but she did honour the owner of Huntingfield Hall with a visit to his home at Stoke Poges.
The lands endowing the Chantry, yearly value 4.17s.6d, granted by James 1 to Sir Edward Coke.
Sir Edward Coke buys the Manor from the heirs of Sir Henry Carey for 4,500. It becomes part of his 'Great Estate' entailed on his eldest male heir.
Three bells are recast and a ring of five is made by Thornas Gardiner.
Barry Snelling, Yeoman, leaves 4 annually for the schooling of poor children.
The parishes of Huntingfield and Cookley are consolidated under one Rector.
Thomas Coke, Earl of Leicester, sells the Manor to Sir Joshua Vanneck, Bart.
Francois de Rochefoucauld visits neighbouring Heveningham Hall and writes in his journal an account of the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Huntingfield.

Before the end of the century the Rev. Charles Davy (1722 - 1797), formerly of Onehouse in Suffolk, writes the following curious description of the old Hall:
'The approach to the Hall was by a bridge over an arm of the River Blythe, and if 1 remember rightly through three square courts. The Gallery was continued the whole length of the building, which, opening with a balcony over the porch, gave an air of grandeur, with some variety, to the front. 'The Grand Hall was built round six massive oaks which supported the roof as they grew. Upon these the foresters and yeomen of the guard used to hang their nets, crossbows, great saddles, belts etc. The roots of them had long decayed when I visited this romantic building, and the shafts, sawn off at the bottom, were supported by irregular logs of wood driven under them, or by masonry.'

One wonders whether, with the Suffolk fondness for testing the credulity of a stranger with a good story, the clerical visitor wasn't taken in by the statement that the six massive oaks supporting the roof had actually grown there. The Rev. Charles Davy goes on to write that the ruinous Hall was taken down by Sir Joshua Vanneck after his purchase of the estate in 1752. The present Gothic fronted house was built in its place.

Sir Joshua is succeeded by his two sons; the second is created First Baron Huntingfield.
The National School is built.
The rectory is valued at 1,160 with 150 acres of glebe land. There are two yearly rent-charges in lieu of tithes, 538 from Huntingfield and 405 from Cookley. The town estate consists of seven cottages and 17 acres of land let for 40 per year. The rents are applied, one third to the church, one third to relieve the poor, and one third to support the school. The population is 357.
The captain of the tower is Frederick Lambert. He records ringing peals of 5040 changes of doubles over 38 years up to 1934. The changes rung are Plain Bob, April Day, Old and Grandsire Doubles and Morning Star.
Suffolk becomes the new Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.
The First World War. The memorial records the names of ten men from the parish who died in the Armed Services.
William Charles Arkedeckne Vanneck, Fourth Baron Huntingfield, sells Heveningham Hall to his brother, the Hon. Andrew Vanneck.
The Second World War. The memorial records the names of four men from the parish who died in the Armed Services.
Electric power comes to the village.
The old rectory is sold and the new rectory is built in the paddock.
Mains water comes to the village.
The village school closes.
Heveningham Hall is sold to the Government and opened to the public in the care of the National Trust. The title of the lordship of the Manor of Huntingfield is sold at public auction.
The village shop and Post Office closes.
On the retirement of the Rector, the parishes of Huntingfield and Cookley are united by the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, with those of Cratfield, Heveningham and Ubbeston. The incumbent occupies the vicarage at Cratfield. The new rectory is sold.
Heveningham Hall is back in private ownership. The garden and grounds are generously opened for the Heveningham Hall Country Fair. This becomes an annual event for the charitable benefit of the surrounding villages.
The Millennium Green is established by the Parish Council as a recreation ground for the village.
Cratfield vicarage is sold. The Benefice is re-named as Heveningham with Ubbeston, Huntingfield and Cookley. A modern bungalow is bought for the Priest in Charge, 'Willow Bank' next to Cookley and Walpole school.
A village sign, designed by David Gentleman, is erected on the Village Green.
The unique painted ceiling is cleaned and conserved, and the interior walls decorated, thanks to grant aid from the Heritage Lottery Fund, local charities and individual donations. The church is closed for three months, re-opening in February 2006.
The Diocese sells Williowbank, the residence provided for the Priest in Charge of the Benefice.
The provision of toilet and kitchen facilities in the north aisle of the church by architect Alan Greening and builder Bernard Crockford, with grant aid from the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust, local charities and individual donations.