the time of the death of Henry lll in 1272, Halesworth had developed
from a Saxon settlement into a small but active market town. It had
crafts and industries flourishing within it, based on the river,
and on the agricultural work of the manor. The surrounding
countryside was still laid out like a patchwork of manors,
administered by the lord of the manor, or by sub-tenants to whom they
were leased. They were also still partly worked by peasant labour,
although at times, free men were employed as the number of villagers
tied to manorial service grew less.
often make a joke about 'Silly
Suffolk' but they don't realise it is
the medieval phrase 'Selie Suffolk'
which really meant 'Holy
Suffolk'. It was twice holy, for not only were many religious
dotted all over the county, but also because of the importance of the
Abbey of St. Edmund at Bury, which contained the shrine of the
martyred Saxon King.
now, in the late 13th century, large areas of land were being farmed
by monks or lay brothers of religious houses, as more and more land
came under their control. These monasteries were built in large
numbers all over East Anglia. Suffolk had at least 76, while Norfolk
is believed to have had over 120 abbeys, priories, friaries and
nunneries established within its boundaries.
to home at
Halesworth, although we had no religious house within our village
lands, inside a ten mile circle of the town about
22 abbeys and priories had been set up by the monks, canons or nuns
of the various 'Orders' which
had been developed on the continent and
later moved to Suffolk.