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Community Association 01638 714749

Womens Institute - Sheila Bonnett 01638 717635

Over 50's Club - Mr R Sargeant 01842 814338

Indoor Bowls Club - Pat Barker 01638 713343

Bingo - Mrs Baron 01638 712411

Care Quest Lunch Club Mon & Wed - Barbara Freeland 01353 720506

Football Club - Graham Rose 01638 714968

Coffee Morning St. John's Church - Mrs Rolph 01638 716362

Busy Bees Nursery - Mrs J Morton 01638 718249

Bikers Association Rose & Crown Pub 01638 713407

Beck Row Village Newsletter - Shirley Flick-Smith 01638 712614

P.J.S.Golf Driving Kenny Hill

Neighbourhood Watch - Beverley Smith 01638 717683

Beck Row Tang Soo Do - Matthew Wallace 07748151732

Liberty Squares - Mrs Scott 01638 717048

Keep Fit - Mrs Ambrose 01638 713985

 In 1086 these villages were part of the large and wealthy manor of Mildenhall (Mitdenhalla) with its church, 3 ½ fisheries, 31 wild mares, 37 cattle, 60 pigs and 1000 sheep. It then belonged to King William, but Domesday Book records show that it had been given by King Edward the Confessor to the abbey of Bury St. Edmunds and that it had later been held by Archbishop Stigand. The gift to Bury Abbey took place in 1043-4 and it seems that afterwards it was leased to Archbishop Stigand. He had been bishop of East Anglia in the 1040s and had retained considerable property there but when he was deposed in 1070 much of his estate was taken into the king’s hands. The manor of Mildenhall was redeemed by Abbot Samson of Bury from King Richard 1. in 1189 for 1000marks. It remained a possession of Bury Abbey down to the dissolution of the monastery. By the late 16th century, Mildenhall comprised the main town (sometimes called High Town) and a number of daughter settlements closer to the fen edge. These fen edge hamlets were variously called ‘rows’, ‘greens’ and ‘streets’. In the Beck Row area they included Beck Row Green, Cake Street Green, Hern’s Green, Holmsey Green, Holywell Green, Stock Green, Wilde Street as well as Lambholme and Aspal Hall.

Beck Row Green is now The Street from Holmsey Green corner towards Stock Corner.

Cake Street Green is now St. John’s Street.

Hern’s Green is now the housing estate off Holmsey Green.

Holmsey Green remains the same.

Holywell Green is now Holywell Row.

Stock Green is now Stock Corner.

Wilde Street remains the same.

Lambholme is now Lamble Close.

Aspal Hall has disappeared .

(see draft map from E. Martin’s Fenland Project and Suffolk Survey circa Saxon & Medieval )

Beck Row

In 1327 there is mention in documents of John de Beche. The village was called Le Bek or Bekgrene between 1390-1401, le Beckegrene in 1538-40, Becke streete, the middle row in Beckstreete, Beckwatch, Beck(e) waye in 1574 and Beck Row from 1735-1783. It then became Beck Row Field, Green and Road in 1812 and Beck Row and Watch in 1836. The word bekkr is an old Norse word for a stream.

Mary Rolfe writes “In the early part of the 20th Century Beck Row was just a small part of the parish of Mildenhall and considered to be within the Mildenhall Fen area. In those days other small hamlets existed in their own right such as Wilde Street, Kenny Hill and Burnt Fen (part of Burnt Fen in Suffolk from Kenny Hill Council Houses to The Old Plough and Duck public house just before Shippea Hill Railway Station is in this parish as well.) each of which had their own shops, families and in some cases their own school and church.

 So it was to this area that the Air Ministry came in 1934 in search of a suitable site for an airfield and it was decided to develop the large flat plain between Mildenhall, West Row and Beck Row. This development was to become what we now know as R.A.F. Mildenhall. It was from this airfield that aircraft flew in the world famous Mildenhall to Melbourne Air Race, thereby putting Mildenhall on the map of aviation. There have been many other notable events with which R.A.F. Mildenhall has been connected . Since those early days through R.A.F. Mildenhall falling into the parish of Beck Row the village has played host to several members of the Royal Family, three Presidents of the United States and through the annual Air Fete, numerous dignitaries from all over the world plus many thousands who enjoy airshows.”

Aspal Hall/Close

This Hall was once known as Aspallgate between 1538-40. It was the manor of Aspalis 1554, Aspolls man, Aspolls land, Aspole way and Aspoll Wongs in 1574. It became Aspalls in 1651, Aspall Farm in 1725 and Aspall Grounds, Lane, Road and Farm in 1836. It became Aspall Hall in 1855. This small manor takes its name from Sir Robert de Aspal of Stonham Aspal who owned it in the early 14th century. Robert went overseas in the service of the King in 1308-9, was a justice in Suffolk 1317 and 1331, was a co executor of the will of the Countess of Norfolk 1322-3, was summoned as a knight to the Great Council at Westminster in 1324 and was Knight of the Shire of Suffolk in 1327. The manor descended to the Hemenhale and Felbrigge families before being acquired by Bury Abbey in 1445. During the reign of Henry V111, just before the Reformation, it was taken into the Duchy of Lancaster and various parcels of land were leased out to tenant farmers. Robert and Ellen Fincham lived at Aspal Hall throughout their married life-first as tenants of the Bunbury Estate and then as owners when the Estate was sold off. All twelve of their children were born whilst they were at the Hall and on Robert’s death in 1940 the mixed farm was taken over by two of the sons, Stanley and John. John l lived alone at the Hall until he died intestate in 1961 whereupon the whole farm, including the Hall and Aspal Close were put on the market. Even as late as 1961 the Hall had neither electricity nor water-John had no desire to move with the times! Only the small part of medieval moat that surrounded the manor house still survives around the houses in Park Close, Aspal Lane. Aspal Close was a small home park belonging to the manor. It is now an English Heritage site owned by Forest Heath District Council. It was owned by builders Buckingham and Sparrow who had planned to develop it until our local County Councillor Jack Haylock stepped in and with Forest Heath District Council’s help secured it for the village. A carved seat in Jack’s memory was installed in the Close by Jack’s widow Peggy in------ It is now nationally known as a wonderful Nature Reserve.

Cake Street

This street which is now St John’s Street was called Cakestreete at Beckwatch or Cakestrete field in 1574, Cake-street greene in 1651, Cake-street green in 1725, Cake Street in 1783, and Cake Street Field and Green in 1812.This name is possibly from the Middle English kake which was a smallish flattened sort of bread and street, presumably meaning a street where this bread was made or sold.

Hern’s Green

Called this in 1812 then the name eventually disappeared being resurrected when a new housing state was built on the land by F. Bonnett ( builders ).

Holmsey Green

 Around 1189 – 1200 this street was called a variety of names including Holmersye, Holmereseye, Holmeresheye and Holmershe. A Geoffrey de Holmereseye was mentioned in 1285and it became Le Holmesheye, Holmseye Way,and Holmeshey medwe from 1390 –1401. In 1538-40 it was called Holmesey and Holmsey Green, Holmsey meade and Homsey Field in 1574. It was just called Holmsey in 1589 and Holmsey Green and Holmsey Field in 1812. The name possibly derived from the Old English hol+mersc/mere+eg which was an island by or near the marsh /mere in the hollow. Lambholm which is now Lamble Close may have been named after Maurice de Lambholm. He was married to Agnes.This name lasted from 1189 –1285. It then becames Lamhom or Lamholm felde from 1390-1401, Lambholme Lynches from 1409-10 and Lambhome, or Lambholme Furlong by 1574. It then went on to be called Lambholm in 1616, an e was added to the name in 1651 and Lambholm Close in 1725. Around 1963 when Clements Way’s housing and the adjoining estate was built the road through it was called Lamble Close. The name is from the Old English lamb+ Old Norse holmr which means an isle or meadow.

Stock Corner

This area of Beck Row was called Le Stoke, Stokefeld, Stokelode, Stokmedwe, Stokpath, Stokepatheshende from 1390-1401, Stokepathe from 1538-40, Stock furlong, Stocke greene,Stockpath, Stoke green Common, Stoking Lane by 1534. In 1590 it was called Stocke meadowe and Stacklode in 1636. This changed to Stoc Load in 1789 and then Stock Green and Stocks Corner in 1812. The word is from the Old English stoc which means place, secondary or outlying settlement.

 Wilde Street

 This street in Beck Row was once called Wyldweye from 1390-1401, then Wildstreete in 1574. It became Wild Street in 1783, Wildstreet in 1812 and Wild Street in 1836. The word means Wild’s Street possibly after a Robert le Wylde who lived in Mildenhall in 1285. Wildmere Farm and Lane is documented in 1574 as is Wildmere Drove in 1812. The word means Wild’s mere. These subsidiary hamlets were arranged in three zones called watches and were named after Beck Row, Holywell Row and West Row. The term may refer to arrangements for watching the sheep flocks.

Holywell Row

This village developed from Holywell Field and was called Haliuelle/Haliwe/

Halywelle around1189-1200. Documents mention an Osbert de Haliwell and Henry de Haliwell in 1285. From 1390-1401 it was called Haywelle and Halywell feld. It then went to Hallywell from 1538-40 before changing to Hal(l)/Halywell streete and waye in 1574. It was called Holywell-Row in 1735, Holiwell Row in 1759, Holywell Field, Green, Lane and Holywell Row Road in 1812, and Holywell Row from 1836. The name comes from the Old English halig+wella which is a holy spring or well. Bill Haylock writes: “ It was suggested that here was a Holy Well, a place for baptism.In 1934 I remember my grandfather showing me this well or pool situated adjacent to the Eriswell Road, some 200 yards north of Holywell Farm House, He also claimed that this was a starting place when rowing to Ely Cathedral. Hence Holywell Row . This tends to tie in with the winding nature of the Street. For this characteristic is due to almost certainly the high water mark in winter. Also almost certainly looking due west from this point for six months of the year one would have been confronted by flood water. The suggestion of this high water mark is strengthened by the fact that not until modern local drainage post WW11 only 9 cottages were located on the North of the Street, with 31 on the south. Also I have ice skated from the front gate of No.4 to Lakenheath some 6 miles, during the severe winter of 1941-2. Land to the north of the village street was made up of either water meadows or heath land resulting in adequate feeding of the dairy herd kept at Holywell Farm i.e. good grazing in winter on heath land and lush grass and hay on water meadows in summer. Conventional crops of wheat, barley and mangolds could only be grown on the grade one land ( about a quarter of the total) to the south. Hurst Fen to the east provided a ready supply of reed for thatching , sedge for litter and an inexhaustible stock of firewood. Evidence of early settlement in the village was confirmed when a Neolithic ( New Stone) age farmstead covering 1 ½ hectared was excavated near Hurst Fen, arrowheads, querns and fragments of pots with rounded bases were found.

  No public house since the middle of the 19th century . At the time the little cottage now known as Walnut Tree Grove on the Mildenhall Road served as the local hostelry but there was a village store and post office until 1948( now a private residence). This store was owned and operated by my grandmother Kate Haylock who annually for some 5 months of the winter was able to increase her sales by some 30% because of the influx of Romany families to a paddock adjoining the store, owned by Isaiah Brinkley who had settled in the village around 1900. These Romany families would spend the Spring and Summer months working in labour intensive crops ( sugar beet and potatoes ) in the very fertile Burnt Fen area. As the whole family worked (children had no schooling), by the time they arrived in Holywell Row (up to 30 caravans) they had considerable savings and to my grandmother’s delight were big spenders. I remember well visiting the shop after school to find 10-15 Romany children buying sweets and toys galore and walking back home past the Romany site salivating heavily due to the delicious smells coming from their outdoor cooking pots. I wonder was it someone’s rooster or was it hedgehog? Whatever it was it smelled jolly good. Happy days but tough.

An unusual feature of Holywell Row is that the Quakers had a meeting house here from as early as 1678. The earliest headstone in the graveyard is dated 1698. The original building had a thatched roof of sedge and was built like a barn except that it was boarded up all round inside and had a painted ceiling. The woodwork was unpainted and my grandfather was the first to put any paint on it in 1885. Like most country meeting houses Holywell Row served a large scattered area, Friends ( Society of Friends-Quakers) coming to the meeting on horseback in carts and carriages and on foot from all the district around. In 1759 a brick wall six feet high was built round the graveyard to keep the cattle out , the village Common commenced nearby, the date was inserted in the brickwork in red bricks, the figures being four feet high. Nearby were the village stocks, the keys kept by my Great Great Grandfather, he was the village constable and the last person to have charge of the keys from 1816-1824. My Great Grandfather was then a small boy and was sent to school in the cottage adjoining the meeting house. The school was kept by a lady named Dinah Payne and it was open five days a week, the weekly fee being one old penny. My Grandfather also went to the same cottage school in 1875 before the school in Beck Row was built. People from as far away as Brandon used the graveyard. One ancient inscription is worthy of notice- “ Guy Bullen of Brandon died ye twenty fifth day of ye third month commonly known as MARCH.” The Quakers called the days and months by their numbers discarding the names because of their pagan origin. In 1815 permission was obtained from the Society of Friends to place Holywell Row on the Methodist Plan. This followed a mission in Beck Row Wesleyan Chapel at this time by Isaac Marsden, a great Methodist preacher , and in 1890 the centenary of Robert Raikes founder of the Sunday School movement was celebrated in the grounds of the Manor House, Mildenhall, home of the Bunbury family who owned the village of Holywell Row. Scholars came to the celebration from surrounding Sunday Schools in ornately decorated farm wagons and this annual custom was kept up until the advent of the motor bus leading to Sunday School outings to the seaside. These annual decorated farm wagon tours of surrounding villages with the horses in shining plumes and wearing gleaming brasses took 6 to 8 hours for the round trip of some 12 to 14 miles caused great excitement for both children and adults.

Holywell Row had no large farms and compared to its neighbours , Beck Row and West Row was a poor labourer inhabited hamlet. Then one of these labourers was thrust into the limelight in 1946 when it was learnt that Gordon Butcher a ploughman of Holywell Row was the man who found one of the British Museum’s most prized exhibits, a magnificent hoard of Roman silver known as the Mildenhall Treasure, whilst ploughing in January 1942 in the village of West Row.

Small it may be but Holywell Row could once boast its own Silver Band. This was active from its foundation around 1875 until it petered out in 1935. Originated by Matthew Haylock it was carried on by his son William and was always in great demand at local flower shows and village fairs.” You may read about the Anglo Saxon cemetery that was excavated in 1929 in a book published by T.C.Lethbridge in Recent Excavations in Anglo Saxon Cemeteries in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, a copy of which is in the Suffolk Record Office in Bury St. Edmunds.