White’s 1844 Directory
ELMSWELL, a large neat village, pleasantly situated, nearly 4 miles N.W. of Stowmarket, and 8 miles E. of Bury St. Edmund’s, has in its parish 671 souls, and 2,021 acres of land. The manor was given by King Edward to Bury Abbey, and was one of the country seats of the abbot. It was granted in the 8th of James I., to Robert Gardiner, and afterwards passed to the Chapmans and Giffords. The late Miss Gifford is now lady of the manor, but a great part of the soil belongs to Lord George Seymour, Miss Smith, Rev. J. T. Lawton, and the Sparke, Long, Pilbrow, Sturgeon, Pattle, Bennett, Catchpole, and a few other families. The Church (St John) stands on a commanding eminence, and has a very handsome tower. It contains an elegant mural monument in memory of Sir Robt. Gardiner, Kt., who was chief justice of Ireland eighteen years and died in 1619, aged 80. The figure of Sir Robert, nearly large as life, and well executed, is in a recumbent posture, and his son is represented as kneeling at his feet. The rectory, valued in K.B. at £11. 7s. 1d, has now a yearly modus of about £500, awarded in lieu of tithes, in 1843. The Rev. Joseph Thos. Lawton is patron and incumbent, and supports a school for the instruction of the poor. Here is a Wesleyan Chapel, built in 1818.
Sir Robert Gardiner, Kt., by deed, in the 12th of James I., reciting that he had erected an almshouse, at Elmswell, containing five rooms, with a yard and garden containing half an acre; and that he had placed in each of four of the rooms one poor widow, and in the fifth, being larger than the rest, two poor widows; he thereby appointed that the almshouse should be used for (he habitation of six poor aged widows, three from Elmswell, and three from Woolpit; and that the successive owners of the manor of Elmswell should keep the buildings in good repair; and he hereby appointed six persons as governors, who should, with the ministers of Elmswell and Woolpit, with the consent of the owner of the mansion-house of Elmswell, have the nomination and power of displacing the almswomen, each of whom he endowed, by the same deed, with an annuity of £3. 10s., and a gown of blue cloth or stuff, yearly; and to provide for these allowances, he gave a yearly rent-charge of £16, out of his lands in Thelnetham, and another of £10 out of the manors of Elmswell and Woolpit; the former of which he also charged with the delivery of one load of firewood, yearly, for each almswoman. By his will, he afterwards gave £100 to purchase lands for the almspeople, and £30 to purchase lands for the poor of the parish. With these legacies, about 14A. of land was purchased at Coombs, now let for £15 a year; three fourths of which are divided among the almswomen, and the remainder among poor parishioners. The fire-wood is supplied out of the East wood, now belonging to Lord Thurlow. A weekly stipend of 2s.6d. is now paid to each almswoman. The Church Land, about 26A., and the Poor’s Land, about 21A., lying in Elmswell and Woolpit, was invested in trust with 12 feoffees, in 1706, and are now let for upwards of £84 per annum The rent of the latter is distributed among the poor, in sums varying from 6s. to 20s.