Several points of interest exist in connection with Theberton, and, in fact, this village is rather unique in various respects. For there are mane places boasting a hisfory of some consequence going back into the very cradle of our race, plates with the memory of sons who have made their mark on the clashing field of battle or in the quieter grooves of peaceful endeavour. But Theberton is different in one way, and that is because it can claim a story of some importance commencing at a remote period, and also has been the scene of an episode which interested the world in times quite recent.

For when that mighty cataclysm overtook the nations of the earth some fourteen years ago, when men, untried and untrained, were hurled -voluntarily, thank Heaven, in most cases, as far as Britain was concerned-into the vortexof blood and horror which our vaunted civilisation, sick and reeling, was unable to check, mane tiny villages, hitherto unknown, in France and Flanders and elsewhere, were fated to have their names engraved in mighty letters on the scroll of history. These villages were, of course, smashed into hopeless oblivion, rent and torn by the crashing explosions of innumerable shells, so that not a vestige remained, but Theberton in fact can tell another story. At Theberton, in fact, was brought down one of those callous raiders of the foe, the aerial marauder, whose visits struck terror into the hearts of the weakling and steeled the will of others. Brave men, without a doubt, the crews that manned the Zeppelins, and yet, withal, men with the vicious discipline of the great god. war drilled into their very souls that all thought of decency and fair play had long been forgotten.

The episode in which Theberton figured so prominently occurred in June, 1917. For long time heavy firing had occurred in the direction of the near-by ocean, so heavy in fact, that many people imagined that the German fleet had at last left its snug nest in the Kiel Canal and was making a determined bid for the supremacy of the sea, or at the very least a landing on our shores. Then, at last, the explanation came, for sailing through the Summer sky was the dreaded Zepplin, its majesty almost gone through the shelling it received, and limping like a lame duck in a desperate attempt to escape. Where the gunnery of the ground force failed, however, the bravery of one of our airmen succeeded, with the result that the breathless spectators saw a great ball of fire descend to the earth, and when they reached the wreck of what had been a proud arm of the Kaiser they discovered the cowed survivors of the crew, the torn and blazing remains of the giant airship and a mass of mangled humanity, the dead men’s eyes staring with terror, and every bone in their bodies fractured.

Their remains rest in an extension of Theberton Churchyard, and, although at, one time the inscription described them as sixteen "unknown" German airmen, to-day their names are given, with the very broadminded and tolerant lines:

"Who are thou that judgest another man's servant; to his own master he standeth or falleth "

In the interior of the church, over the South porch is a section of the Zeppelin's framework, a grim trophy of the past and a warning for the future.

A visitor to Theberton at the present time, however, would scarcely associate this pleasant place with any deeds of horror, for in this wooded part of the county, there is little but peace and pleasant surroundings. The village itself stands on a hill, and all about the Church of St. Peter are thatched cottages, whilst from the churchyard one looks down upon luxurious trees, forming what is virtually an avenue, amongst which the road seems almost lost to view.

Against the South entrance to the churchyard is the war memorial and a machine-gun, the latter presented to the village in honour of one of its bravest sons- Lieut-Col.Charles Hotham, Montagu Doughty-Wy1ie, who served in several minor wars and held many important official appointments, eventually winning undying fame leading a desperate assault on the enemy forces at Gallipoli, in which he lost his life, but was awarded the only decoration which really counts in the mind of a soldier – the Victoria Cross.

There is something attractive and novel about St. Peter’s Church, with its thatched roof, its strange and picturesque tower, most of it round, but octagonal in the upper stage, and in the original outward lean of the walls. Over the South porch is a niche, and once inside the atmosphere is one charged with that undercurrent born of peace and quietude, and this despite the fact, that, the floor is tiled and modern benches mostly exist, although there is a fine Charles the First pulpit,. Directly opposite the porch is a splendid Norman doorway, leading into a modern vestry, whilst the 15th century font, although, of course, damaged in places, is quite well preserved, and on its bowl are the emblems of the Evangelists alternating, with angels bearing shields, the pedestal being supported by grotesque figures, above which are roses.

A door covers the remains of the rood-loft stairs, and the screen itself has been utilised in connection with the choir-stalls, and the decorative work is certainly an improvement, whilst the fact that no chancel arch exists gives a queer affect of loftiness somewhat uncommon. The chancel contains a piscina and Sedilia, whlilst a strange niche is suggested to have one time served as a locker for the Holy Vessels.

There is a brass in memory of Katherine Pays, dating from the late fifteenth century, and many monuments of much later date, including several belonging to the last century in connection with the Milner-Gibson family, of Theberton House, a fine mansion in a splendid park, the East window being inserted in 1884 in memory of the Right Honourable Thomas Milner-Gibson, a Privy Councillor and Member of Parliament, besides being President of the Board of Trade from 1859 to 1866.

Other stained windows were erected, and the South aisle considerably restored in 1848 by the Rev.Charles Montagu Doughty, whose family has done much for both church and parish. They possess their own particular chapel, which contains the various records of their deeds, and those of their connections, and in this are many inscriptions to this ancient Suffolk line - a line of squarsons chiefly, and yet boasting so distinguished a soldier as the one already mentioned, and such a renowned traveller and poet as the famous author of "Arabia Deserta."

The writer of this exceptional work Martlesham Hall, from whence he was educated at Cambridge University. A shy and quiet youth, he was far more interested in the study of fossils and kindred objects than in the sport and horseplay of his companions, and was of a somewhat eccentric disposition, so much in fact, that on his return from a journey abroad he staggered the inhabitants of his native village by taking the December air in a strange Eastern garb, sockless feet, and sandals! A splendid moumnent in the chapel commemorates the mother of this remarkable writer and extensive traveller.

The home of the family is Theberton Hall ,a mansion of white brick surrounded by park of some hundred acres. Erected towards the end of the eighteenth century by George Doughty, a high Sheriff of Suffolk, the building was enlarged about 1850, and from it can be obtained a fine view of the North Sea, some three miles away.

To return to St. Peter’s Church - or, rather, its precincts. It would be unwise to leave the churchyard without noticing the tomb near the porch, which contains the mortal remains of a former rector and a stout adherent of the House of Stewart. On the flat stone of this tomb is a quaint inscription, which states that "Honest John Fenn," whose death occurred in 1678, was "turned out of his living and sequestered for his loyalty to the late King Charles the First," with many other lines of a whimsical and interesting character.

Besides the village of Theberton proper, there are two hamlets known as Potter's Street and East Bridge, and at this latter place is a Primitive Methodist Chapel and an inn with surely one of the most curious names in all England. For this tiny house of refreshment bears the startling sign of the “Eel’s Foot,” a name which even the alleged oldest inhabitant was unable satisfactorily to explain, though vague hints of an eel dredged from the water in an old boot were put forward.

When the Domesday Survey was undertaken the Manor of Theberton was in the possession of Robert Malet, but some fifteen years later it passed to Roger Bigod, and members of this warlike and powerful family owned it until the beginning of the fifteenth century, when it came into the hands of the Jenneys, a line of some note who lived in the village for nearly three hundred years and produced, among other well-known men, Sir William Jenny, Knight, who was a Member of the King’s bench in 1483 and first saw the light at Theberton. Afterwards the manor passed to the Inghams, from one of whom Sir John,it was purchased by George Dopughty Esquire, as already remarked. The abbot of the nearby Abbey of Leiston became patron of the church in the middle of the fourteenth century.

Thus this small village, with its pleasant parks in which massive trees with spreading branches rear themselves in all the matured beauty and sturdy majesty of the English woodland, is connected, not only with incidents of the long ago, but also with episodes of the twentieth century, whilst amongst the figures which slowly move across its many pages one of the most important is that of the great traveller and somewhat eccentric poetical genius, Charles M. Doughty, member of a family which has flourished in Theberton for generations and in Suffolk for centuries.

Then there is the unfading tale of honour and achievement left behind by another connection in the Great War -and as a fitting conclusion, the remembrance of that night in June not so many years ago, when the recklessness of a world gone mad had made possible such deeds of horror as were then witnessed, when murder and sudden death, maimings and wounds unmentionable, were the sacrifice offered by humanity to the flaming god of war, and brave deeds and splendid actions, youthful gallantry and wholehearted self effacement in the cause of others, the only compensations for all its horrors and works of evil.

YEOMAN. December 21st, 1928.