Saturday, 19 March 2011

Felsham History Quiz

In 1951, Sir John Tilley who was Chairman of the Parish Council, wrote some Notes for a history of Felsham.  This quiz is based on his article which can be read in full at:

All extracts within quotation marks and coloured blue are from his Notes.

1.  Sir John had a record of the “beating of the bounds” made in 1810.  “The Beating of the Bounds in those and earlier days was the occa­sion of an annual procession, including some of the parish officials and a number of small boys, who at chosen points were beaten to ensure their recollection of the exact line of the parish boundary”.  But who was “bumped” at Hill Farm?

The Felsham Parish boundary can be seen to run right through the farmhouse on the this map of 1838

2.  “Felsham, from its name, was the "home" of Faele”.  What is the meaning of the Saxon word “faele”?

3.  Sir John describes the Church in considerable detail.  For example, “Rood Lofts were to be found in nearly all old Churches and were in many cases, and probably at Felsham, removed after the Reformation.”  Where can the remains of the staircase leading to the Rood Loft be seen from outside the church?

4.  In 1857,“A man was brought before the Justices … charged with disorderly conduct in Felsham Church. He had made a disturbance in the gallery, being ‘in a beastly state of intoxication’ and having to be carried down and laid in the belfry.”  How much was he fined?

5.  “The East window [of the Church] is in memory of the Rev. Thomas Anderson, so long Rector of the parish, and the West window in memory of John Anderson, his son and Mrs Anderson's husband.”  The Rev. Anderson was Sir John’s great-uncle.   Which part of the country did the Anderson family hail from?

6.  “The Bells [public house] is first mentioned by name in 1754” in the Easter Church Accounts.  At about this time who had dinner at the Bells for ten shillings?

7.  “About 1866 or 1867 my grand­mother was coming from Ayrshire to stay with her brother.  Just before she was due to start her lady's-maid fell ill, so she brought in her place a young, strong Scotch housemaid, Ellen by name, a girl of much courage….”  When a burglar tried to enter the house, “she seized him by the hair and yelled at the top of her voice till everyone in the house came to see what was the matter.  The village policeman was fetched and the man taken away...”   How did the Rector reward her?

Former rectory. Early C19 with earlier core, perhaps of C17. Timber-framed,
part clad in C19 gault mathematical tiles, part plastered. A band at 1st
floor level of entrance front; dentilled eaves cornice. Plaintiled roofs, the
front range hipped. Two early C19 chimneys, each with a group of 4 circular
shafts of gault terracotta tiles, moulded in the C17 manner. 2 storeys. 3
windows. Small-paned C19 sashes, those at ground storey with sidelights. 2-
storeyed semi-circular flat roofed bays were added in early C19 to either
gable of the entrance front, with 3 sashes to each storey. Pair of early C19
half-glazed panelled entrance doors: Roman Doric portico porch with columns
and flat entablature. The slightly lower rear service wing probably comprises
the C17 hall range, and the attached crosswing was converted to form the
entrance front in C19. The use of mathematical tiles is a rare feature in
8. “Although the Risbys were the principal family in Felsham in the 17th century, there were a fair number of payers of the "hearth tax," a very unpopular tax of two shillings per hearth, which was abolished in 1689.”  How many households in Felsham paid this hearth tax in 1674?

9.  “As to the name Mudlin End, I once tried to think that Mudlin might be a corruption of Magdalene and that there might have been a Chapel dedicated to that Saint; but experts would not have it…”   What did the “experts” think the name derived from?

10.  “There was a Fete, so far as I know the first in Felsham, held in honour of Queen Victoria's Jubilee in 1887 on the meadow whose real name is Settletons, but which is now generally known as the Jubilee Meadow.”  What did a Mrs Avis have to do to win a prize at this Fete?

  1. The Rector
  2. Good or faithful
  3. Through the loophole in the buttress on the north wall
  4. Five shillings with four shillings costs
  5. From the extreme north of Scotland
  6. The Rector, Churchwardens, Sidesmen, Overseers, and perhaps a few others
  7. She was presented with a silk dress
  8. 99
  9. That it was merely the end of a mud lane leading from Felsham to Cockfield
  10.  Mrs. Avis won the prize for grinning through a horse collar.
Section of north wall of Felsham Church

Note: "Beating the bounds".  A very useful overview of this practice can be found at

Boundary farm: as the name suggests the Parish boundary passed right through the middle of the farmhouse - straight through the front door!

The Felsham Circular Walk touches the Parish boundary at some points.  See: A circular walk around Felsham

Sunday, 6 March 2011


By Sir John Tilley, 1951

Sir John Tilley, National Portrait Gallery

The history of Felsham, like the history of most English villages: has not been in anyway momentous. Felsham, however, has this great merit. It is a typical English village of the best quality; a vil­lage properly grouped round the Church and the Village Green, two greens in fact, with the Village Hall, formerly the School, and the Village Inn near the centre.

To start with geography, or geology: Felsham has no marked feat­ures. It lies on or near the banks of the Orwell; the Orwell in its early childhood. Although we are often told that the proper name of the river until it reaches Ipswich is the Gipping, I call it the Orwell because two of my own fields bear the old names of Orwell Field and Orwell Paddock, which suggests that Orwell was at any rate an al­ternative name for the young river. Some say that Orwell is its proper name up to Stowmarket. I once proudly told Lady Beatrice Pretyman, who was then living at Orwell Park, between Ipswich and Felixstowe, that I too lived an the banks of the Orwell. She rather flattened me by asking what boating facilities we had at Felsham. However, I escaped, having a vision of small children about the arch on the Bury road, by saying that we had only small boats.

Felsham is bounded on the North by the Great Wood (Felsham Hall Wood and Monk's Park Wood) which must be considered a feature of the parish, though not part of it. It is of interest to note that on our side of the wood, not far from Felsham Hall, there was formerly an alder carr, from which no doubt the village drew some of its water supply. I was told by a former Curator of the Bury Museum that he knew of forty alder carr in Suffolk. The late Mr. Redstone, a great authority on Suffolk, once told me that Ipswich itself drew water from a carr; hence the name Carr(e) Street, borne by one of the Ipswich streets. A carr is a damp piece of ground planted with alders. I suppose the small piece of ground near the arch, which was planted with alders some sixty or seventy years ago is prac­tically a carr.

One peculiar feature of Felsham geology is the gull between the Bury Road and the Rattlesden Road, where the Orwell, for reasons which I have not fathomed, has made a ravine, in some places nearly fifty feet deep. The river has at some time apparently worn away a great slice of the hills which slope down to it on either side. We are sometimes told that some hundreds of years ago the Orwell was a much bigger river, navigable by boats or even barges as far as Rattlesden. My own guess is that it may have been so navigable in winter, when drainage was poor and floods were frequent.  There is a second gull further down the stream, near the Rattlesden road.
Felsham, in one sense, must have been well off for water. There are fields near the Cockfield road, behind Maidenhall, which bear the names of Upper and Lower Queach and, according to the dictionary, Queach means moist or boggy. Moreover, most of the old farm houses were surrounded by moats, and although moats are said to have been intended as a protection against wolves, they must have supplied water for stock and other purposes.  Some of the moats are separated from the houses and I wonder whether this means that the house has at some time been rebuilt, or whether the cattle and sheep were driven at night on to a sort of­ island, the moat being for their protection rather than that of the humans.

There seems to have been a considerable pond to the east of the Church House (or Town Houses) from which occupiers of the building and lessees of the Church Croft (now the allotments) were allowed to draw water. The land at one time in the l7th century belonged to John Cocksedge. I may add here that as, long ago as the 14th cen­tury Cocksedges in Felsham were paying the subsidy (something like income tax). The Church registers too in the 18th century are full of entries of births, deaths and marriages of Cocksedges. Henry and Peter Cocksedge, for instance, were exceedingly prolific. Towards the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century Pilbrows, Horrexes, Gladwells and Grimwoods abound.  In a diction­ary of surnames, that of Cocksedge is included among those derived from plants. As a plant, sedge is familiar, but I have not my­self heard of Cock as a variety of sedge.