Norman Sinclair's Notes, pages 13-15

The Church (contd.)

William Dowsing, Parliamentary Visitor during the Commonwealth, dealt severely with the church, carved figures were sawn off pews in the North Aisle, and on the 5th February 1643, he wrote, "We have broke down 20 superstitious pictures and gave order to brake down 40 and above and to take down 40 cherubims. We took up 4 superstitious inscriptions with ora pronobis."

The Gardner Memorial stands in a former Chantry Chapel. It is of alabaster and commemorates Sir Robert Gardner, Lord Chief Justice for Ireland and for two years Viceroy. He bought the manor in 1590 and founded the almshouses in 1619. Notice the black slab on the floor with the figure of a monk carved on it.

You can probably obtain a booklet (10p.) about the church. Enquire of Mr Dow (Rose Acre) Mr Howlett (The Lilacs) or Mr Jacob (39 Thedwastre Close).

On the Dissolution of the Monasteries and Abbeys (see Henry viii, who did other things besides disposing of five wives), the Abbey of St. Edmundsbury was surrendered to the Crown, and Elmswell was leased to Sir Thomas D'Arcy, who passed it on to his son, John Lord D'Arcy, in 1554.

The last (that is, the last known) Lord of the manor was the Revd. W.A.C.Macfarlane, who was also rector of the parish.


On the passing of the manor into lay hands, the story of Elmswell becomes humdrum and rather ordinary. No great scientists, artists, writers, poets or politicians have been born here, nor have any fine mansions been built to attract the attention of tourists.

We lost the last few acres of our village green under mysterious circumstances, at the turn of the century and most of the old houses have been laid low. So the rest of this outline will be a brief summary of events.

History research now stresses field work. Digging up ground, especially other peoples', presents problems. But you can keep your eyes on ploughing tractors, excavations on road works and building sites. You may find coins, tiles, pottery, which are valuable clues.

These residents may help you with facts about the village past:-

Mr.P.Northeast Hightown Green, Rattlesden
Mr.W.Armstrong Bevilley, Cooks Road
Mr.E.Bennett 37, Thedwastre Close
Mr.F.Borley Late Police Cottage, Ashfield Road
Mr.D.Dyball Willow Farm, Ashfield Road
Mr.D.Jacob 39, Thedwastre Close
Mrs. Hitchcock Norwood, Church Road

Parish Records of Births, Marriages, Deaths 1659-1820

Suffolk Record Office, County Hall, Ipswich.

Parish Maps, etc

Shire Hall, Bury St. Edmunds.

Population Table

1086 140 35 dwellings (estimate)
1660 210 (estimate)
1811 451 72 dwellings (estimate)
1821 628 83 dwellings (estimate)
1844 671 - (Eastern Union Railway - Ipswich to Bury opened, 1846)
1855 779
1874 754 - (period of agricultural depression
1891 781 (estimate)
1911 853
1931 864
1961 1177 519 dwellings - period of new housing estates
1975 1680
1981 2124