A community perspective from the 1840s to 1920s contains entries for the community from the Suffolk Directories of White (1844) and Kelly (1929) and William Dutt’s gazeteer of Suffolk (1927; first prepared in the 1890s)


LEISTON is a large and well-built village, 2 miles from the sea, 4 miles N. by W. of Aldborough and E. by S. of Saxmundham, 5.5 miles S.S.E. of Yoxford, and 93 miles N.E. of London. Its parish comprises 1177 souls and 4966 acres of land, including the hamlet of SIZEWELL, which has 66 inhabitants, and about 1000 acres, on the sea coast, 4 miles N. of Aldborough, and had a chapel as late as the reign of Elizabeth, though no traces of it now remain. At Sizewell Gap, there is a fishing boat and coast-guard station, and the ciliffs rise precipitously from the beach. The parish extends three miles N. of the church, and includes part of the Minsmere Level, as noticed with Theberton. Leiston Works, established in 1778, by the grandfather of the present proprietors, Richard Garrett and Son, is one of the largest manufactories of agricultural implements in the kingdom, and they are patentees of various improved machines. An ABBEY of Premontratension canons, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. was founded in the parish about the year 1182, by Ranulf de Glanville, who endowed it with the manor of Leiston, conferred on him by Henry II, and also certain churches, which he had previously given to Butley Priory, and which that convent resigned in favour of this abbey, which stood originally in a marshy situation, near the sea and the Minsmere river, where there are still some small ruins, called Leiston Chapel, near Minsmere Haven, more than 2 miles N.N.E. of the village of Leiston. The situation of the first house being found unwholesome, Robert de Ufford, Earl of Suffolk, about the year 1363, built a new abbey, on a larger scale, upon an eminence about a mile N. of Leiston church, to which the monks removed. This edifice was destroyed by fire before 1389 ; but being rebuilt, it continued to flourish till the general dissolution, when it contained 15 monks, and its annual revenues were valued at £181. 17s. 1d. Great part of the church, several subterraneous chapels, and various offices of the monastery, are still standing, and applied to the purposes of barns, granaries, &c. The length of the abbey church was about 56 yards, and it appears to have been a handsome structure, decorated with ornaments, formed by an admixtureof black squared flints and freestone. In the walls of the church, and other buildings, are many bricks, thinner and longer than those used at present. Near the west end is a small tower entirely of brick, but having various ornaments which have been formed in moulds. The outer walls of this abbey enclosed a great extent of ground, but they have all been removed for the sake of the materials. The old abbey, near the sea, appears to have been used by some of the monks till the dissolution; and in 1331, " John Grene, relinquishing his abbaice by choice, was consecrated an anchorite at the chapel of St. Mary, in the old monastery near the sea." In the 28th of Henry VIII, the site of the abbey, and the manor of Leiston, were granted to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and afterwards passed to the Herveys. They now belong to Lord Huntingfield ; and the other principal landowners in the parish are J. P. Thellusson, Esqr.'s, Trustees; Edward Fuller, Esq., Capt. Rowley, and Mr. J. Grimsey. The abbot obtained a charter for a market and fair at Leiston, in 1312, but both have long been disused. The parish Church (St. Margaret) is a long thatched fabric, with a lofty tower. The benefice is a perpetual curacy, not in charge, but valued, in 1835, at £376, and endowed with all the tithes, which were commuted, in 1810, for £435 per annum, and were formerly in the impropriation of Christ's Hospital and the Haberdashers' Company, London, who are the alternate patrons. The Rev. John Calvert Blathwayt, M.A., is the incumbent. The Wesleyans and the Society of Friends have chapels in the village. A Parochial School was built here in 1840, and is supported by subscription, for the education of about 100 poor children. In 1721, Thomas Grimsby left a farm of 38A., at Westleton, to provide clothing for poor widows and children of Leiston, and it is now let for £52. 10s. a year. Francis Hayle and others are trustees. The same donor also left £200, to be invested by the churchwardens, for a distribution of bread among the poor, every Sunday, at the church. Of this legacy, £150 is placed out on mortgage, and the residue has been laid out in the purchase of a cottage on Cold-fair green, which lies south of Leiston, and is mostly in Knodishall parish. This cottage lets for £3 a year.

Those marked * are in Sizewell.
POST-OFFICE at Thos. Taylor's.-
Letters arrive from Saxmundham 8 mg. and are despatched at 6 evg.
Blathwayt Rev John Calvert, M.A. incumbent
Crane Wm. gamekeeper
Curwen Robert Ewing, Esq. Cupola
Debney Rd. wine and seed merchant
Furrington Maria, straw hat maker
Garrett Robt. and Son, ironfounders, wholesale ironmongers, and agricultural implement manufacturers)
Gibbs Joseph, baker & confectioner
Gildersleeves Geo. brewer & spiritmert.
Goldsmith Chas.saddler & harness mkr
Gooch Edwd. Woodcock, vict. White Horse Inn
Merrells Patience, dressmaker
Mann Robert, farrier
Riggs Miss Rachel
Sauler Elizabeth, glove maker
Sewrll John Jessup, surgeon
Taylor Jonathan, cooper
Theobald Theobald, Esq. Cupola
Tuffield Mr Robert

Adamson Wm..
Cotton Jas. (Grlg)
Cunnell Charlotte.
Smith Win.
Tavell Han.(bdg)

Baldry James (& beer house)
Johnson George
Wyatt James

Andrews Nathl.
Chandler John
Watling Wm.

Halls Edmund
Morling George

Curtis Wm. (and stationer, &c.)
Woods Wm. (and Aldbro')

Backhouse Wm.
Barker Daniel
Barley John
* Baxter Joseph, (beer house)
Canham John
Crisp Rt. Abbey
Debenham John
Dewing William Edward, Hall
Garrod Richard
Grimsey John
Hillen Benjamin
Hunt Joseph
Johnson Thomas
Last Elizabeth
* Merrells Wm.
Moor Rt. Jonth.
* Pead John
Tuffield John
Whitworth Thos.

Garrod George
Smith Wm.

Geater Charles, (and tailor)
Hartridge James
Holden Charles
Neave Gundry
Sawer Samuel

Cunnell Wm.
Riggs John (and cabinet maker)
Simmons Jonas

Garrod Henry
Westrup John

Alexander Robert
Cutts Wm.

Taylor James, to Saxmundham


LEISTON is a small town and parish, with a station on a branch of the London and North Eastern railway from Saxmundham to Aldeburgh, 96 miles from London, 4 north-north-west from Aldeburgh and 4 east- by-south from Saxmundham, in the Eye division of the county, Blything hundred, petty sessional division and union, Halesworth and Saxmundham county court district, rural deanery of Saxmundham, archdeaconry of Suffolk and diocese of St. Edmundsbnry and Ipswich. By Local Government Board Order No. 33,386, which came into operation Oct.1 1895, Leiston was constituted an Urban District by the name of Leiston-cum-Sizewell, the council consisting of 15 members. The town is lighted with gas by the Leiston Gas Co. Ltd.; electricity is also supplied by the East Suffolk Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd. The church of St. Margaret was rebuilt in 1853, and is a structure of flint with stone dressings in the Gothic style, consisting of chancel, nave, transepts, north and south porches and an embattled western tower containing 8 bells, three of which were added in 1883 by Frank Garrett esq.: there are 900 sittings. The register dates from the year 1538. The living is a rectory, net yearly value £489, in the gift of the Haberdashers' Company of London, and held since 1922 by the Rev. Frederick William Morgan-Jones M.A. of Magdalen College, Oxford, rural dean of Saxmundham, and surrogate. There is a Mission church in the centre of the town, licensed for divine service and used every week day; also a Mission church, dedicated to St.Luke, at COLDFAIR GREEN. The Roman Catholic church is in Carr avenue, and is served from Aldeburgh. The Congregational chapel, erected in 1858, seats 350 persons; there are also Wesleyan Methodist and United Methodist chapels, and the Society of Friends have a meeting house. Thomas Grimsey esq. of Westleton, left in 1721 a farm of 38 acres for the use of poor widows and children belonging to the parish of Leiston, which now lets for £40 yearly; the rector and churchwardens are ex-officio trustees of this benefaction: he bequeathed £200 to be invested by the churchwardens for the purpose of distributing bread to the poor: in 1869 the sum of £100 £3 per Cent. Consols was given by the late Lord Amelias Beauclerk, the interest to be distributed annually at Christmas. The extensive engineering-works of Messrs. Richard Garrett and Sons Limited, established in 1778, are situated in this parish. In 1862 the Works Hall was erected by Mr. Richard Garrett for public entertainments etc.: the directors of the firm have now placed the buildings in the hands of the executive of the Leiston Works Athletic Association, which embraces a comprehensive welfare scheme-in addition to the library, fully equipped brass band, gymnasium, classes etc.; the Association controls extensive sports grounds of nearly 9 acres in extent, providing accommodation for football, hockey, cricket, bowls, tennis, croquet and quoits; the extensive head quarters club has a veranda extending along the whole front, and contains an assembly room, billiard rooms, a photographic dark room, wet and dry canteens, an apprentices' room for mental and physical recreation, committee rooms, baths and dressing rooms; the whole is centrally heated, with caretaker's and steward's quarters attached: the membership is over 1,400. About a mile from the town stand the ruins of the Premonstratensian Abbey of St. Mary, founded in 1183 by E. de Glanville and colonized from Welbeck: the massive ivy-covered walls of the 14th century choir and transepts, with high windows, an octagonal tower or gloriette on the west side of the garth, and some half-closed portions of cellars are all that now remain; at the Dissolution there were 18 canons, and revenues valued at £181; a modern building, occupying a space among the ruins, and originally used as a farm house, is now used as a Retreat House by its owner. Miss Wrightson. Services are held here twice weekly by the clergy of Leiston. Leiston Old Abbey, the property and residence of F. Egbert Holland esq. J-P. is a mansion standing on an eminence, with well laid-out gardens and a park containing about 20 acres, well wooded and with some plantations. The Cupola is the residence of Robert Newbery esq. Lord Huntingfield, who is lord of the manor, F Egbert Hollond esq. J.P. and Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie esq. B.A., J.P. are the principal landowners. The area of the parish and Urban District is 4,994 acres of land and inland water and 34 of foreshore; the population in 1921 was 4,632.


Leiston Abbey.The picturesque ruins of this Premonstratensian monastery are on the crest of a hill N. of the town of Leiston and about half a mile from the station. They form part of some farm buildings, and a modern farmhouse occupies the site of the nave of the church.

This Abbey was founded in 1182 by Ranulph de - Glanvile, who was the founder of Butley Abbey and a hospital near Sudbury. He is said to have been born at Stratford St Andrew, near Saxmundham. He was Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1163 ; of Lancashire in 1173; and he led the men of Lancashire and Richmond against the Scots at Alnwick. After going as ambassador to Flanders, he was made Chief-Justiciar of England in succession to Richard de Lucy. He accompanied Richard I., to the Holy Land, and died at Acre in 1190.

The original site of the Abbey was about 1 m. E. of the present ruins which are those of a larger monastery, erected shortly after 1389, when a monastery built by Robert de Ufford in 1362 was destroyed by fire. From the remains it appears that the church was on the N. of the cloister, the chapter-house and offices, with a dormitory above, on the E., the refectory on the S., and a range of buildings, including the guest-house, cellarer's offices,, etc., on the W. The most interesting remains are those of the chancel, transepts, and part of the N. chancel aisle of the church; the arch of the E. window of the chancel has fallen in, but that of the aisle can be seen built up in the wall of a barn. On the S. side of the church the walls are higher, but overgrown with ivy. Originally the church was about 168 ft. in length, and consisted of nave, chancel, N. and S. chancel aisles, N. and S. transepts, and a central tower. There is a portion of a small tower in one corner of the sacristy; but the fragments of the chapter-house beyond it are of little interest. Farther S. are the remains of buildings which probably included the abbot's, hall. Of the refectory a fine W. window is standing, and on the S. side an orchard still occupies the space devoted to the purpose when the monastery was in its prime. Between the abbot's hall and the refectory were two small rooms. On the W., outside the cloister wall, are the remains of an octangular brick tower of later date than the rest. It was probably one of two which flanked a Late Perp. porch to the entrance of the cloister. There are some traces of out-buildings which belonged to the abbey, but they are very scanty.

The church at Leiston was almost entirely rebuilt in 1853, and contains little of interest apart from an E.E. font.

The coast hamlet of Sizewell forms part of the parish. It is a lifeboat and coastguard station, with a few houses commanding a good sea view.