Despite the fact that 'There is nothing peculiar in the history or description of this village"-a remark made over a hundred years ago-Henstead, like many of its kind, is quite interesting to those who find pleasure in a glimpse o: the lesser known places in our green and friendly county. Its history may lack those items of striking importance with which many a Suffolk village has been intimately connected in a past of some note, its story may be of peace rather than of war. But Henstead, as one frequently discovers possesses several of the quiet features, which although not sufficient to place it on the map in the same way that deeds of stirring adventure would have done yet provide Henstead with that intimate charm in which there is always a fascination.

Naturally enough, people of some importance have been associated with the village-so much is to be expected, but it is purely the appearance of Henstead which appeals to-day, situated as it is in a country park-like of aspect, with pleasant habitations set in a traceried framework of twigs and branches

Quite near the centre of the village is the house of worship, which for over eight hundred years has called to prayer generations of Henstead's inhabitants, and which still bears two outstanding examples of the workmanship which came into being, when the church itself was erected. A building which seems to merge gracefully into the countryside around, St. Mary's at Henstead has chancel and nave, South porch and Western tower, the latter embattled and possessing those curious little slits which always seem to add a queer sense of dignity to such affairs.

Also, as an example of the harmony prevailing between the house of worship and its rustic surroundings the exceptionally long nave is crowned with thatch, so in it is the happy appeal lacking in grey slate or even red tile, however mellowed and tinted it has become through age.

As we have seen the church at Henstead retains two striking links with the days which saw its erection, and both these are on the out-side of the actual building. First of all, taking the smaller and less interesting, we find that the North doorway possesses a very fine Norman arch, and although it has suffered slightly through its years of exposure to the vagaries of the English weather, it still bears that indelible stamp, that suggestion of dignity, which one ever associates with the workmanship of those, who conquered our Saxon ancestors, and left their mark on such a number of our Suffolk houses of worship.

It is on the South side of the building that the other Norman relic is to be found, for passing beneath the outer archway of the porch here-which archway, incidentally, exhibits a niche and is also well worthy of notice-we find a survival so remarkably outstanding that it is difficult to think of a rival possessing its various striking features in such a magnificent condition. For although quite a number of the churches in the county retain arches dating from the Norman period, it is rare indeed to come across one so perfect-so essentially complete-with its pillars and various types of carving appearing in practically the same state as they must have done centuries long ago.

Much could be written on this remarkable survival alone, but beyond reiterating the unspoiled aspect of the whole affair, we must leave the subject and visit the church itself.

And at first glance the interior of St. Mary's, at Henstead seems strangely disappointing. It is difficult to describe what one expects to find in such a building, but perhaps the effects of the Norman work so outstandingly displayed affect one's sense of proportion, so that in entering the church it is with a kind of optimism of magnificent things to come engendered by the sight of the two arches.

But actually the interior of St. Mary's is almost modern of aspect restoration having occurred here in no uncertain manner, as a glimpse at the benches and the font conveys, although the latter exhibits quite nice carving. Yet, certain items still remain linking the building with early days, and in this connection it is as well to notice the list on the South wall, against the porch, for here are the names of the rectors who have officiated here from the beginning of the fourteenth century until the present day.

Another roll tells of the Henstead men who saw service in the war, which recalls the fact that in the pleasant churchyard has been erected a stone cross to those who paid the supreme price. Unfortunately, the rather modern aspect of the church has a counterpart in the monuments here, for all of these seem to belong to dates comparatively recent.

To mention them all is unnecessary, but there are several against the North wall of the chancel referring to various members of the Bence family, who were buried here in the eighteenth century. On the opposite side is a mural tablet of exceptional interest, forging as it does a link with one of those fiercely-fought engagements which although rarely mentioned in the history-books, yet reveal something of the spirit and the dour determination of our splendid sailormen on many a strange sea long-distant from England's friendly shores.

This particular monument is dated 1804 and commemorates William Clarke, commander of the ship "Iris," who when at grips with a Dutch vessel of superior force in the Indian Ocean was "unfortunately Slain on the eve of Victory.

Next to this tablet revealing the part played by one of the Henstead men in a long-forgotten sea-fight is the momument of Sir Robert H. Inglis Palgrave, Knight, F.R.S., of Henstead Hall, whose death occurred in 1919, whilst as a matter of interest in this connection the carved altar-rails were erected in memory of his wife, who predeceased him some twenty-one years.

Sir Robert was a lord of the manor here, but before touching briefly upon this subject one or two further items in the church claim our attention. Amongst these is a memorial to a husband and wife, whose deaths occurred within such a short period of each other that the monument possesses a poignancy beyond the ordinary.

It refers to George and Sarah Mitchell who died in 1803 in the prime of life, one outliving the other a matter of weeks only!

No arch or step divides chancel from nave in Henstead church, but a rather interesting item in the chancel is a massive beam, although this is obviously new. Certain very ancient survivals, however, are fortunately in existence for here can be seen the doorway and the steps originally leading to the rood-loft, with the outlet above, although the steps themselves are so crumbled and damaged generally that they are quite unusable.

On either side of the chancel, below the beam mentioned, are rough niches-for so they may be described-which apparently show where the original screen was fastened to the walls. whilst as a further matter of interest a good piscina remains in the usual position.

Now however, we must leave this rather interesting house of worship-interesting chiefly through the splendid survivals of Norman times which contrast as it were with so much later workmanship-for it is time we discovered something about the past story of Henstead, even, although, as we have seen, there is nothing of striking incident connected with this. As a beginning, however, it is advisable to notice that in the days that the Saxons were in power Henstead was but a hamlet of nearby Wrentham, and even when the great Survey was made by the instructions of the Conqueror it was still so described.

Now,however, Henstead has its own hamlet' -the district known as Hulver Street, in which, incidentally is a Methodist place of worship. Yet even at the time of the Domesday Book Henstead possessed two manors, known generally throughout their story as Henstead and Blundeston, although there is more than one designation for both.

Henstead Manor being the more important, we will deal with this first, and at Domesday the tenant-in-chief was a certain Geoffrey de Pierrepoint, who belonged to a line long established in Picardy, from a town in which province the family took its name. A descendant of this first Norman holder of Henstead Manor, Sir Simon de Pierrepoint, was a close friend and brave supporter of the third King Henry, a gallant figure whose deeds of chivalry so far as, the welfare of his liege was concerned seem to have been well in keeping with the spirit one associates with knightly conduct.

Henstead Manor appears to have been held by this ancient line for a good number of years, but eventually passed from them to Sir Thomas Dacre, through his marriage to Elizabeth de Pierrepoint. The daughter of the two became the wife of Sir Richard Fienes, and when she died in 1486 the manor went to her grandson and heir, Thomas Fienes, Lord Dacre.

Various changes occurred after this, but amongst the owners should be mentioned the Sydnors, of Blundeston, who were here when Elizabeth was on the throne.

Towards the middle of the seventeenth century it was purchased by Sir Robert Brooke, of Yoxford, but several people were in possession until 1834, when Robert Sheriffe acquired the estate incidentally, a stained glass window to one of his family exists in the nave of Henstead Church and this Robert Sheriffe sold it to Sir Robert Inglis Palgrave, of Belton, whose tablet on the chancel we have noticed, the present owner was being Mrs. Farmiloe.

Blundeston Manor in Henstead seems to have been held during the reign of the third Henry by Roger de St. Denis, whose family were considerable landowners at Willingham in the early part of the fourteenth century. Of the subsequent story there is no space to write, but amongst the owners was Sir William Clopton, of Long Melford, whose death occurred in 1530, and eventually it seems to have passed in the same way as Henstead Manor.

The residence known as Henstead Hall was originally erected in the beginning of the eighteenth century, but considerably enlarged and improved about a hundred years later. Somewhat strangely, this does not occupy the site of either of the original manor houses, but in any case it is certainly reared in attractive surroundings, with those beautifully planned gardens which seem so typical of the English man's effort at adding something to the natural glories of the countryside - a countryside which, despite the vandalism of the unthinking few, he is justifiably proud.