In 1930, the correspondent of the Suffolk Chronicle and Mercury, who went by the name of 'Yeoman', wrote the following article on Peasenhall.

"Perhaps the best way to describe Peasenhall is to call it a happy mixture of the small country town and the village, for there is something about this particular place which seems to typify the verdant beauty of the rural districts; happily combined with the more important conveniences of the urban. For instance, the houses and cottages exhibit various styles of architecture; there are pleasant villas with slate roofs, cottages crowned with tiles and with the more cosy-looking thatch; houses which might have been dropped from some prim garden suburb amidst the dwellings of a more picturesque style, and with that faint and indefinite air which ever permeates the quiet abodes of the pleasant and secluded countryside.

Yet it is the rural which seems to predominate, casting a spell over the more upstart urban influence, and although Peasenhall has been noted over a century and more for its drill-works this latter industry certainly breathes more of the country than the town, forming a link as it were with the agricultural community, which to-day forms a great part of Suffolk's population. Then, of course, the delightful surroundings of Peasenhall add to the refreshing outlook, and the fact that through the street itself trickles a tiny stream, with green grass on either side, adds a certain atmosphere of sylvan attraction.

Image0154_red.jpgTo many folk, Peasenhall is, of course, known for one thing, and one thing only, for it is unfortunate that so many places are unheard of by people at large until some stark tragedy causes the world to reverberate with their names. And so it was with Peasenhall, the scene of a terrible murder some 30 years ago, and one which there is no necessity to dwell upon now, for it is certainly not for me to indulge the morbid tastes of those who see in a sordid crime only a means of satisfying their perverted appetites, and to give them the opportunity of eagerly seizing upon the exceptional and the base in human nature in order to provide a feast of horror.

But the Peasenhall of to-day can well afford to ignore this particular unfortunate episode in its otherwise plain and quiet story, and the pretty little lanes about the place and the meadows, now pictures of delight with their profusion of buttercups and daisies-surely, in their simple way some of the most appealing of all the English wild flowers-are attractions in themselves, whilst that pleasant farm-house known as Charity Farm, mellowed and altogether refreshing in aspect, entirely harmonises with the rest of the landscape, situated as it is in what is certainly one of the most beautiful parts of Suffolk county.

Unfortunately, however, the house of worship, dedicated to St. Michael, and consisting of chancel, nave, North porch and embattled Western tower with pinnacles, and containing six bells, erected, which a brass tablet in the South wall of the nave informs us, by public subscription in 1899 as a memorial of the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria, somewhat contrasts with the village itself, and is, therefore, rather disappointing. First of all, the visitor notices that the church, despite its 300 sittings, seems peculiarly small considering the size of the parish it serves, whilst on closer inspection its modern appearance is very apparent.

Before entering the building itself, however, it is as well to inspect the fine memorial to those who died in the war, whilst as one enters by the porch the difference between this-a really splendid specimen showing three niches over the entrance arch and the figures of a dragon and a wild man with club and shield in the spandrels: whilst it also possesses a tranisitional Norman doorway-and the remainder of the building is very marked. The porch also contains a roll of honour, decorated with Flanders poppies, which is practically unique, for the names are inscribed upon a memorial executed from timber belonging to the old cadet training ship, H.M.S. Britannia, which was in commission at Dartmouth from 1869 until 1905.

Image0156red.jpgAnd what is the reason that Peasenhall Church appears so modern in appearance although not design? A question easily enough answered, for some seventy years ago the nave and chancel were demolished and rebuilt in the style of the fifteenth century, entirely at the expense of Mr J. W. Brooke, whose residence was Sibton Park. in the immediate neighbourhood. A tablet in the nave gives particulars of this, and also the fact that the East window was the gift of Mrs. Brooke, in conjunction with her brothers and sisters, to perpetuate the memory of their father and mother, James and Frances Brittain, formerly of Buenos Aires.

About the same time that the above-mentioned rebuilding took place-when, incidentally and also fortunately, the majority of the ancient chancel roof was utilised in undertaking the new work-the tower was repaired, a happening which has been necessary on several occasions, although the buttresses and the two first stages seem to be original.

To write of the interior of St. Michael's Church is practically impossible, as, naturally enough, with so many modern alterations little of any interest remains to attract the attention, for the interior is quite plain in appearance and certainly new. One relic of its former state remains, however, this being the font, which is of rather an original design and dates from the thirteenth century.

Apart from this sole surviving treasure, there is nothing of any importance, for, although the building is furnished in excellent style, naturally enough it can never hope to vie with places of worship whose very atmosphere breathes of days of long ago, and whose memorials of the past are everywhere, bringing to the mind of the interested visitor a glimpse of an England which will never return, and telling of persons and personalities, their lives and distractions, their deeds of good and evil, which, in themselves, add to the glamour of history's fascination.

A new organ was presented to the building in 1894 by Mr.R.A.M.Smyth, and the stained window at the West end commemorates the name of Mr Thomas White, a former churchwarden.

Thus, it has been seen that St. Michael's Church possesses none of those interesting relics one would naturally expect to find in a place of worship which does duty for a comparatively large village, and, although of course the amount of rebuilding which has been necessary is primarily responsible, such is from this sole surviving treasure, a very common cause. For in some of the churches belonging to large places there is practically nothing to invite the attention, and yet those of the tiny villages often produce treasures of more than ordinary moment. The reason for this is not always obvious, but it is usually through the fact that some old-time lord of the manor or other person of affluence has taken a keen interest in his native house of worship, spending his money well and wisely on adding to its attractions, and throwing his whole heart and soul into the work of beautifying the edifice and making it worthy of the purpose for which it came into being.

With the manors of Peasenhall are associated several well-known names in connection with the story of our native county, whilst, as one would naturally expect, owing to its proximity, Sibton Abbey also had a close interest.

First of all, we find that Peasenhall Manor itself was held in the time of Edward the Confessor by one Norman, but, according to the Domesday Book, Roger Bigod was tenant-in-chief, and at the death of his descendant in 1306, it was granted to Nicholas de Segrave, who attained high honour by becoming Marshal of England. Afterwards, the manor passed into the hands of Edmund de Bohun, through his marriage with Maud, daughter of the above-mentioned Nicholas de Segrave, and later still passed to the Mowbrays, the Barkers, and eventually to the Scriveners.

Another manor in Peasenhall was known as Jurdis, which took its name from Robert Jurdis, who was in possession during the reign of the second Henry. And it is this manor which provides a link with Sibton Abbey, for it afterwards became the property of that religious establishment. Following the Dissolution, however, it was presented to Thomas Hagard, and from him it went to the member of a famous Suffolk family, whose descendants are still with us, Anthony Rous. The remaining manor, called after Sir Nicholas de Falesham, to whom it belonged in 1286, also had associations with Sibton Abbey, for it was owned by the latter for many years.

Image0155red.jpgAs is usually the case with the larger villages, Peasenhall possesses several houses of worship for the benefit of the Nonconformists, whilst there are also a number of charities, including the almshouses for old people, erected in 1896, through the generosity of Mr.E.L.Scrivener. Assisting to provide some of the amenities of life are the Assembly Rooms, used for entertainments and other objects, whilst there is also a Mechanics' Institute.

It will be seen, therefore, that Peasenhall possesses a number of features, which, although of little importance relatively, yet place it in a comparatively happy position and although its church lacks many of those fine points which so many others retain, it still exerts a certain appeal. But, as I have said before, it is that awful crime of blood which has told the world that Peasenhall exists, and although time will eventually erase its memory from the minds of men, it is a pity that such an affair should have sullied the fair name of a village, which set in purely agricultural surroundings, yet is prosperous in other respects, and through this combination of the rural industry and the urban, finds itself in a position almost unique.

Yeoman: Reprinted from the Suffolk Chronicle and Mercury, June 13th. 1930.