The village of Chelsworth, formerly known as Ceorleswyrthe and later Chellesworth is first recorded in history in 962 AD, when King Edgar gave the village and its land to his step-mother Aethelflad of Domerham. The charter, written in Latin and witnessed by such notables as Archbishop Dunstan is held by the British Museum. The village boundaries are carefully described in Anglo-Saxon in charter.
It is considered very likely that the site dates back to Roman times. The village is thought to have developed next to a Roman Road (close to Peddars Way, catalogued as Route 33a) which connected the Roman road system to the highest navigable point on the River Brett. Archaeological evidence for Roman occupation has been found nearby.
Aethelflad passed the ownership of the Manor of Chelsworth to 'Saint Edmund' or the Abbey at Bury St Edmunds. Since then the manor has passed through many hands including the de Blakeham, de St. Philibert, de Plays, Howard, Percy, Naunton, Wingfield, Marryot, Knight, Jenney and Pocklington families. See the detailed list of Lords of the Manor here.
Chelsworth has its entry in the Domesday Book
Saint Edmund held Chelsworth in the time of King Edward (the Confessor) as a manor – always 3 carucates and a half of land. 8 villeins, 10 bordars, 4 slaves. The 2 ploughs on the demesne land and 4 belonging to the men, and now the same. 12 acres of meadow, then and now always 1 mill. Always 2 horses. Then 10 beasts, now 9. Then 16 pigs, now 20. Then 30 sheep, now 60. This manor was then worth 4 pounds, now 5. It is 7 quarantenes in length, and 6 in breadth. A church with 30 acres of land and 1 acre of meadow. And (it pays) 3 3/4d (in gelt).