An Illustrated Social History




to celebrate the beauty and charm of our lovely village

to examine the ways in which the appearance of the place, and the structure of our society, have changed in comparison with a previous era.

to explore a particular thirty-year period in our national and local story - from 1707 to 1737, which covers the later years of Queen Anne, and the early Georges which is perhaps too little known.

So this is by no means a comprehensive account, nor yet is it fit to be called a scientific analysis of our physical environment. However, it may be welcomed as an interesting record of what we have seen and thought about as we walked the lanes and paths of Chelsworth in the early years of the 21st century.

I have selected one book from our Manor Court Rolls and studied it in detail for the picture it gives of a period that particularly interests me. In fact, the period under consideration began exactly three centuries before the final document was completed. As I will comment, it is not the most exciting time in our long history as a nation. But it is a time when Chelsworth changed, and that to a considerable extent because of the arrival of one man, London lawyer Robert Pocklington. It was he who picked up the pieces after several of the landowning families had encountered financial disaster - or rather, to be cruel, had embraced it with open arms.

The story of Chelsworth from this time onwards is also the story of the Pocklingtons here: but I will not dwell on the family beyond the first year of the new Lord of the Manor in 1737. A good deal of that history has already been told in Geoffrey Pocklington's book “Chelsworth - The story of a Little Suffolk Village”, a second edition of which I brought out a few years ago. Other interesting aspects are described in Charles Chevenix Trench's book “My Mother Told Me”  and Colonel Frederic Pocklington's unpublished diaries which are

This account of the landscape and social history of Chelsworth has three purposes:-

kept in the Suffolk Record Office, and one of which I have transcribed - that dealing with his service in the Crimean War. The story told here takes the form of twelve walks around the green lanes and old footpaths around the village, ending with a stroll up the Street where most of the old houses lie. My wife Heather and I made these excursions in July 2001 and recorded our observations both in words and in photographs.

The maps accompanying the walks have been taken from an old map in the Suffolk Record Office, and I have superimposed on them the names of the fields identified in the Court Book, which describes them often in specific and occasionally tedious detail. Some of the names are indeed ancient — not just the familiar terms of Caford (“Jackdaw's Ford”), the river crossing at the east end of the village, and Culfen, the marshy expanse at the south-east corner, both of which are named in the Charter of 962 AD: but also with the names of landowners listed in the Subsidy Roll of 1327, including Simon Bybat (“Pibotts”), Galfridus le Sawyere (“Sawyers”), Thomas Bunnyg ('Bunnings”), and Ricardus Schep ('Skipps Croft”). And there is also my own favourite, 'wealc hyrste' (“Wild Irish Wood”), up on the heights at the north-west apex of Chelsworth, cheek-by-jowl with the old Roman Road there.