It is in a countryside pleasant and pastoral that Listead Magna is to be discovered, a countryside of green meadows, where solemn eyed cow's browse soberly on the rich grass, with only a casual glance for the stranger on their sweet and verdant, preserves. For in Linstead Magna it is not so much the tilling of the soil which commands attention, as provision for the patient creatures which supply our daily milk, and thus the whole district possesses that fresh and friendly aspect ever suggested by rolling pastures, an aspect quiet and serene, and infinitely soothing to the tired eyes of the jaded city-dweller, whose lot is cast in places much less restful than this.

These green meadows, and the cultivated fields which tell of Linstead Magna's other farming interest- can be said to comprise the whole of the parish, for here is nothing centralised, nothing true to type, in the manner of so many villages where the church and the inn rub shoulders, and the Post Office-cum-general shop is but a stone's throw away. Linstead Magna is a place of stray farmsteads and cottages, many of them set far from the roads amidst the pastures and the tilled soil which explain their existence, whilst narrow cart-tracks and drifts overhung with vagabond hedges provide a flowering pace for a Nature practically undisturbed by the hand of man. And because of this, the hedgerows are gay with cowslips and primroses, whose pale gold beauty contrasts with the haunting blue of the modest violet, the whole presenting a graceful little picture of England in the smiling and tearful month of April - a month essentially feminine and sweetly gracious, despite her varying moods.

Even the church of St. Peter at Linstead Magna is to be found some distance from the highway-or, perhaps, it is advisable to say, the remains of the house of worship in which the good folk of the parish found spiritual consolation over well-nigh countless years. For actually, as a church, St.Peter's has ceased to exist. True enough, a tower stands mournfully and forlornly in a banal-ground where feckless rabbits play amidst the Spring flowers which decorate the long green grass, whilst odd heaps of bricks and rubble show something of the building's original plan. But the majority of St. Peters Church was demolished nearly fourteen years ago, so that today the churchyard seems literally a place of the dead, with the wind blowing across the countryside through the branches of the surrounding tall trees like a requiem - a requiem for the soul of a struture which has been destroyed with its mangled body.

Fortunately, however, a description of this broken relic is available, and from the wellknown works of Mr.T.H.Bryant and Mr.H.R.Barker on Suffolk churches we find that it consisted of chancel, nave, South porch and Western tower. Apparently, the body of the building came into being during the end of the thirteenth century, but the South side of the nave was rebuilt in brick after its sudden collapse about 1825. And that this rebuilding was certainly bad is suggested by the fact that eventually the nave became in such a ruinous condition that services were held in the chancel, which latter was separated from the nave by a screen, although the date of this screen is not given.

There was an attractive font of the Perpendicular period crowned by a seventeenth century cover. Its octagonal bowl bore the well-known depictions of angels holding shields and lions alternately, whilst four lions supported the shaft. And in this connection, it is gratifying to find that the font has not suffered the fate of the building which once sheltered it, but has been removed to the modern Ipswich church of St. Augustine.

A small trefoil-headed piscina and a recess once used for the Holy Sepulchre are also mentioned, whilst the good three-light East window dated from the fifteenth century. As we have seen, however, practically all that now remains of Great Linstead Church is the red brick tower which came into being over four hundred years ago, and which even today retains much of its original beauty, especially in the West window, although the glass, of course, has disappeared. Moreover, the sturdy diagonal buttresses and the projecting stair turret emphasise the stalwart aspect, so that even now, standing as it does like a bulwark of the past whose glory has departed the tower of St. Peter's Church at Linstead Magna still seems imposing, almost as if it defies the efforts of those who tumbled to the dust the building to which it belonged.

And what has happened to the material from which St.Peter's Church was constructed? The story is a sad one, but let those who visit the vicinity watch the roadways there, and in these they will find the answer!

Amongst the several farmhouses in Linstead Magna one of the most interesting is certainly the residence known as Lower Hall, which stands but a short distance across the meadows from the derelict house of worship. Here is one of those expansive buildings which are to be found in almost every village of Suffolk -buildings weatherworn and attractive in consequence, which seem in some subtle manner to symbolise the very essence of the fragrant soil to whose heritage they belong and on which they exert such a gracious influence. In close proximity to Lower Hall Farm is a pleasant stretch of water, and, judging from this and from other signs, a moat at one time existed, and quite possibly surrounded a house even older than the spacious and dignified structure one sees to-day.

So far as can be ascertained Lower Hall was never a manor house, for actually only one manor seems to have existed in Linstead Magna, and the residence connected with this is far from the church. At some time during its story, however, the manor of Linstead magna was known as Pond Hall, and as no house of this name is in evidence at the present day it is possible that it was the old name of one of the several farms in the parish - perhaps even that of Lower Hall itself.

In any case, when seeking information about the manor one discovers that link with Linstead Magna manor was in possession of William de Huntingfield, who, of course, was so-called after the near-by village of that name, and it remained in the hands of the same line for several generations. During the time that the great Elizabeth wore the crown of England, however, it was held by John Everard, member of an ancient family, indeed, for John Everard could trace his descent from the Everards who settled near Wisbech in Cambridgeshire at about the same time that William de Huntingfield became associated with Linstead Magna.

The Everards remained in possession of the estate for a great number of years, as it was not until 1676 that it passed into other hands. Incidentally, this occurred after the death of Agnes Everard, who had chosen for husband the second son of Sir Edward Paston, member of the line long seated at the Norfolk village after which they were called, and here again, of course, we find a link with another great and well-known family, for the name of Paston is ever remembered in connection with the famous "Letters" which still provide a fascinating study for those interested in the social life of our country during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Following certain changes the manor of Linstead Magna passed into the possession of Sir Joshua Vanneck, and thus this little village of Suffolk has associations of a foreign nature, for Sir Joshua was the second son of Cornelius Vanneck, paymaster of the land forces of the United Provinces. Sir Joshua Vanneck, who became a baronet in 1751, had prospered exceedingly as a merchant in the City of London, and purchased several estates in the Linstead district. At his death. Sir Joshua was succeeded by his eldest son Gerrard but as the latter died unmarried, the title and property passed to his brother Joshua, and it was this Sir Joshua who, in 1796, was created an Irish peer with the title of Baron Huntingfield of Heveningham Hall, which, of course, is still the family home, the present owner being the fifth bearer of the title.

To tell the full story of this particular family and its various members is unnecessary here, for, more properly, it belongs to the village at which they have been seated for so many years. Enough has been said, however, to show that Linstead Magna, despite its somewhat out-of-the-way position and its lack of the more usual amenities to be discovered in the majority of our Suffolk villages, possesses an interest of sorts, an interest emphasised in some strange fashion by that pitiable wreck of a house of worship whose tower still gazes forlornly and brokenly across a countryside over which the sweet music of its bell once called the faithful to prayer and praise.

SUFFOLK PARISHES: LINSTEAD MAGNA by Yeoman (Suffolk Chronicle & Mercury, April, 29, 1938)