In the following Domesday survey the entry refers simply to Linstead, which indicates that the division of the community into 'Magna' and 'Parva' came later. The entry is interesting because it describes a substantial estate of Linstead manor that was situated in Huntingfield. It may be that the block of Huntingfield's land, surrounding Newall Hall, which now projects into the Linsteads, was originally part of Linstead's pre-Conquest demesne. The entry also points to direct administrative links between Linstead and and the headquarters of Blything Hundred at Blythburgh. A comparison of the Saxon agricultural enterprises of the two communities indicates the greater wealth of Huntingfield. Linstead was probably a late settlement of the Hundred at the head of the Little Blyth, on the route from The Waveney Valley at Harleston to the havens of the Blyth estuary.

[...] Eadric of Laxfield held [...] Huntingfield TRE and now Walter fitzAubrey holds it under Robert Malet. Then as now 6 carucates of land. Then and afterwards 18 villans, now 12. Then as now 28 bordars. Then 1 slave. Then as now 4 ploughs in demesne. Then as now 18 ploughs belonging to the men. Then woodland for 150 pigs, now for 100; 15 acres of meadow. Then as now 2 horses, 10 non-working cattle, 30 pigs and 100 sheep. 60 goats and 6 beehives. Then it was worth £8, now £7. 1 church with 14 acres, worth 2s.

In Linstead [Magna and Parva] Wulfric, a free man, held 1 manor TRE; now Walter holds it under Robert Malet with 60 acres of land, 6 bordars, 2 ploughs in demesne and 1 plough belonging to the men. Then woodland for 30 pigs, now for 20; 2 acres of meadow. 1 horse, 4 head of cattle and 20 pigs. 30 sheep and 20 goats. TRE it was worth 20s., now 30s. And there also belong to this manor in Huntingfield 200 acres of land which 21 free men held TRE. Then as now 10 ploughs. Under them 2 bordars. Woodland for 20 pigs. 2 acres of meadow. Then as now worth 40s. And this land is 1 league long and 9 furlongs broad. It renders 71d. to the king's geld. And there also belong to this manor in Huntingfield 40 acres of land which 4 free men held. Then 2 ploughs, now . They have 1 bordar. It is worth 8s. The soke and sake over all this land of the free men belongs in Blythburgh for the use of the king and earl. And over all these men Eadric, Robert Malet's predecessor, had the commendation.

churchyard_red.jpgWhen first settled, the community was probably at a 'dead end' of the Hundred in terms of east-west communications. Linstead Magna is situated high on the edge of the clay plateau between the 50 and 55 metre contours. The main drainage is through the beck which runs by Abbey Farm, Valley Farm and Bush Farm to the Cookley Blyth. The plateau was a major topgraphic feature which proved an obstacle to folk who colonised the Blyth valleys from the east.

Church and churchyard (1902)

Occupation of the lands of Linstead were probably a last major effort of the people of the Blyth because their church, dedicated to St Peter, was built away from the valleys on the windswept clay uplands, where isolation and climate have always been a challenge to human settlement. It was probably a combination of these two factors, together with an increase in early medieval commercial traffic between the markets of Harleston, Halesworth and the coastal ports that led to the gathering of people in the valley of the Chediston Blyth and the eventual creation of Linstead Parva. The uplanders clung on, and even as late as the beginning of the 19th century money was spent on substantial repairs to the church. This was the time when the population of around 120 began to decline. Eventually, the church as the focus of the population and its Christian heritage was deserted for worship at Linstead Parva and Cratfield. The end came in the 1920s when the fabric was sold for local demolition.

Now, isolated communities like Linstead Magna have taken on a new value because many feel that modern life is too close for comfort. Our diaries are overloaded; our commuter trains are packed; our heads are fit to burst with media-delivered trivia. Once taken for granted, space in all its forms, physical mental, and spiritual have become a precious commodity. There is widespread desire to escape from the over-crowded spaces produced by urbanism, and the term ‘emptiness’ has been used as a rural equivalent to the lodestone of wilderness. An ‘emptiness’ is the end point of extreme rurality, where it is possible to walk all day through arable fields as fertile as modern industrial agriculture can get, yet, as in a desert, we never make social contact with another person, and the skylark is a rarity.

The field paths, bridleways and minor roads of the vacant uplands along the old boundary of Blything Hundred are such an emptiness. The flat claylands of Linstead Magna stand for an emptiness that is vibrant with the secret life of surging monocultures, but the inward looking walker is alone with the big skies in surroundings from which all traces of its past navigators have been obliterated.

“Now far out in the yawning emptiness we stopped to watch the sun go down and saw the earth’s shadow flung out against the eastern sky. Then the moon rose, floating into view like a second sun and flooding the land with an unearthly glow. This must be the quietest place on earth… Even the wind had died and the sharp night air was cold and clean. Standing in that profound silence I cupped my hands behind my ears. But all I could hear was the beating of my heart”.

This could have been an experience in the desertified Nasera Orok, the sacred Black Rock of the Masai overlooking the Serengeti plains. Actually it was an out-of-car experience on the Hundred boundary of Blything at churchless Linstead Magna.

Community perspective
Yeoman's Notes
Cultural cleansing
Industrial redundancy: 1972
Families of Linstead Hall
Old maps
1851 census
The final decades
Parish registers
Aerial surveys
The Keable family
A tale of two Linsteads