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)


Blythburgh is a small village, pleasantly situated on the river Blythe, near Henham Park, at the junction of turnpikes from Beccles and Lowestoft, four and a half miles W. of Southwold, and E. by S. of Halesworth. Its parish contains 4011 acres of land, and had 837 inhabitants in 1841, of whom 215 were in the Union Workhouse,109 in the hamlet of Bulcamp; l36 in the hamlet of Hinton ; and 373 in Blythburgh. Though now a humble village, Blythburgh was formerly a flourishing little town and port, and had a considerable fishery, and a gaol for the division of Beccles, for which Quarter Sessions were held here.

It had also a weekly market, and two annual fairs, and one of the latter is still held on the 5th of April. Its decline is attributed to the river becoming so choked up, as to be navigable to the town only for small barges, and to the suppression of its Priory. In 1679, many of its houses, with their goods, and furniture, were burnt by an accidental fire, and the damage was estimated at £18,030). A dreadful thunder storm happened hereon Sunday, August4th, 1577, during divine service, when the lightning did great damage to the church, and struck down 20 people, of whom two were killed and others scorched. The spire and part of the steeple were thrown down, and other parts of the church were "rent and torn by the tempest, which took its course to Bungay, where it did much Mischief."'` Several Roman coins and urns have been discovered here: and it is said that Anna, king the East Angles, and Firminus, his son, who were slain fighting against Penda, king of Mercia, in Bulcamp forest, were buried here in 654. About forty yards east of the church, are some ivy-mantled remains of a small Priory of Black Canons. The revenues of the church of B1ythburgh being given by Henry I. to the abbot and convent of St. Osith, in Beauveys, Bishop of London, and other benefactors. It was suppressed in the 26th of Henry VIII., when it contained only five canons, and its revenues were valued at £48.8s.lOd. per annum. It was granted to Sir Arthur Hopton, then lord of the manor. Here was anciently a building called Holy Rood Chapel, of which there were some remains in 1750.Westwood, formerly a large park, contained the ancient mansion of the former lords of the manor, which is now held, with a great part of the soil in this and the neighbouring, parishes, by Sir Charles B1ois, Bart.; but Col. Bence, Col.Wigg, and several smaller owners, have estates here. The ancient hall having, as is conjectured from various relics found on its site, been destroyed by fire, the present edifice, called WESTWOOD LODGE( 2 miles S. of Blythburgh,) commanding a pleasant sea view, was erected about the middle of the 17th century, by John Brooke, Esq., from whom it descended to the family of Blois. It has long been let, with a fine farm of 3000 acres, now occupied by Mr. J. G. Cooper, a celebrated breeder of sheep and cattle, who has here annually an extensive stock sale. The river Blythe is navigable up to Halesworth for small barges, and below it forms a large " broad," extending two miles to the new quay and lime-kiln at Walberswick, whence it runs, in it a straight and deepened channel, about two miles in vessels of 100 tons burthen. Several hundred acres of fine marsh land, on the banks of the Blythe, have been embanked and drained during the last fifty years. The CHURCH (Holy Trinity) is a large ancient structure, which has been extremely beautiful, but has been much mutilated by time and injudicious repairs. The windows are numerous, and have been richly decorated with painted glass and tracery, most of which have given place to unsightly masses of brick. Internally the fine carved work has been covered with many coats of whitewash; and, the carvings on the roof, consisting of angels bearing shields, have so long been in a decayed and mouldering condition, that many of them have fallen down. The porch is still decorated with grotesque heads, and at each corner stands an angel with expanded wings. In 1442, John Greyse left 20 marks towards rebuilding the chancel. The tower, which formerly had a spire, is of inferior workmanship to the nave and chancel. There were two chapels at the east end, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, and her mother St. Anne; and in the church were several altars, and a great number of images of saints. In the 30th of Henry VI., John Hopton, founded a chantry here, dedicated to St. Margaret. At the East Angles, and in the chancel, another, for his son Firminus; but their remains are said to have been removed to the abbey church of Bury St. Edmund's. Upon an altar monument in the chancel have been raised two clumsy columns of brick, which has occasioned the remark, that the person whom it covers, whatever he might have been in his life-time, is now a firm supporter of the church. In front of two pews near this tomb, are eighteen small figures, representing the apostles and other scripture characters ; find at the west end of the middle aisle, is the figure of a man, which used to strike time on a bell, now cracked, in the same manner as those at St. Dunstan's, in London. The benefice is a perpetual curacy, not in charge, in the patronage of Sir Charles B1ois, Bart., who is also impropriator of the tithes, out of which he allows about £45 a year to the incumbent, now the Rev.Thomas Harrison. The Primitive Methodists have a small chapel here, built in 1837. HINTON hamlet extends from 1 to 3 milts S. by W. of Blythburgh, and has several scattered farm houses; and BULCAMP lies north of the village, on the opposite side of the river, and has several scattered houses and cottages, and the large Union Workhouse, and situated on an eminence nearly a mile from Blythburgh. The Church Land is in two pieces, called Thistle Meadow and Penny Pightle, let for £19 a year. In 1701, Thos. Neale left, out of an estate at Bramfield, a yearly rent-charge of £3, and directed £2 lOs. thereof to be applied for teaching five poor children of Blythburgh to read, and l0s, for buying bibles and other religious books, for young persons. The annuity is paid by Mr. Haward, the owner of the estate, and is applied towards the support of a Sunday school. The poor of Blythburgh and Bu1camp have a yearly rent-charge of 20s., left by an unknown donor, out of land belonging to the Earl of Stradbroke.


BLYTHBURGH is an ancient town and parish, on the small river Blyth (the shallowing up of which hay caused the decay of the town), and on the main road (from London to Yarmouth, 90 miles from London and 24 from Yarmouth, 5 west from Southwold and 5 east of Halesworth; it is in the Eye division of the county, Blything hundred, petty sessional division and union, Halesworth and Saxmundham county court district of North Dunwich, archdeaconry of Suffolk and diocese of St. Edmundsbury and Ipswich.The church of the Holy Trinity is a very large building flint and stone in the Perpendicular style, with some remains of the Decorated period, consisting of chancel, clerestoried nave,aosles, south porch and an embattled western tower of Norman date, containing one bell: the present structure, except the tower, was erected between 1442 and 1473: the central roof from east to west is a splendid specimen of a painted roof and has also figures of angels finely carved: there is an Hopton family erected in the 16th century with a richly carved stone canopy: the 15th century rood screen has been partially restored: the font is mainly Norman with a 14th century platform of unusual kind, and bears a Latin inscription around the surface: the pulpit, lectern and alms box are all of ancient carved oak: the church was thoroughly restored during the years 1882-4, under the supervision of Arthur E. Street esq. M.A. from plans in accordance with a report by G. E. Street esq. R.A. : the aisles have unique quatrefoiled parapets, which have been restored and extended, and their roofs have been renewed in facsimile of the old; the nave only is seated and contains some very old oak benches, which have curiously carved ends: the finely carved choir stalls are said to date from the 14th century: there are some remains of stained glass: the south porch was restored in 1906: the church affords 200 sittings. The register dates from the year 1553. The living is a vicarage, united to that of Walberswick, joint net yearly value £320, in the gift of Sir Ralph B. M. Blois bart. and held since 1928 by the Rev. Arthur Donald Thompson A.K.C.L. who resides at Walberswick. The Primitive Methodists have a chapel here. A priory for canons of the Angustinian order was founded here by the abbey of Chich, Essex, in the time of Henry II. as a cell to the abbey of St. Osyth; at the Dissolution there were four canons; some remains of this and of another religious house still exist. Many Roman coins and urn, have been found here. Sir Ralph Barrett Macnaghten B1ois bart. D.L., J.P. who is lord of the manor, and the Earl of Stradbroke K. C.M.G., C.B., C.V.O., C.B.E., V.D., T.D. are the principal landowners. The soil is light and mixed; subsoil, gravel and marl. The chief crops are wheat, barley, oats and sugar beet. The area, inclusive of the hamlets of Hinton and Bulcamp, is 4.325 acres of land, 5 of water, 23 of tidal water and 95 of foreshore; the population in 1921 was 673 in the civil and 1,081 in the ecclesiastical parish.

Parish Clerk, Mrs Bessie Kettle
Sexton, Thomas Tuthill.
Post, M.O.,T.& T.E.D. Office. Letters through Halesworth; letters for Hinton are received through Darsham from Saxmundham & for Bulcamp through Blythburgh.

Bulcamp (or Bulchamp) is a hamlet 1 mile north-west.

Hinton is a hamlet 1.5 miles south-east.

Police Sation.

Dutt's Suffolk, 1927

Blythburgh, now a small village on the Blyth, was formerly a town and port of some importance, but it fell into decay owing to the choking up of the river and the destruction of neighbouring Dunwich by the sea. Its name suggests that it was once a Roman station, and there are records of the finding of Roman urns and coins when some ground here was cleared after a serious fire. A few centuries ago the "town" possessed several streets of houses, and its gaol, which was in existence until the middle of the eighteenth century, served for the whole of the Beccles division of the county. Hardly a house now standing in the village can certainly be said to date from before the fire, which occurred here in 1676.

The church, which for many years was sadly neglected, is a splendid one-one of the finest in the county. Suckling says of it: "Few ecclesiastical structures in this kingdom possess a juster claim to unqualified admiration whether we contemplate the unity of its design, the extent of its dimensions, or the exact symmetry of its component parts, judgment and taste will alike be satisfied." It is almost entirely Perp., and consists of tower, chancel, clerestoried nave, and aisles.

The elaborate character of its decorative work and the great number of armorial carvings which formerly adorned its roof, denote that it had many wealthy benefactors; but neglect and defacement robbed it of much of its beauty, and it is only within the last twenty years that it has received the restoration it needed and the care it deserves. Externally, in spite of the smallness of its tower compared with the rest of the building, it presents a striking appearance on account of its many fine windows, the open-work parapet of the S. aisle, and the carved figures which surmount its buttresses. Between the clerestory windows are thirty-six plinths, believed to have formerly had pinnacles; on the angles of the porch are an angel and an eagle. Across the E. end, under the window, is a remarkable flint inscription. No satisfactory reading of it was forthcoming until a year or two ago, when Sir W. R. Gowers wrote a paper dealing with it in the "Trans, of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology." He thinks the whole inscription may be interpreted as indicating : Ad Nomina Jesu Beati Sanctae Trinitatis (Beatae) Mariae et in Honorem Sanctorum Annae et Katherinae (hic cancellus) Reconstructus." There is an immense stoup in the S. porch. Note (1) the carving of two fine desks and some curious poppy-heads; (2) a double lectern; (3) an old poor's-box of unusual type ; (4) a handsome font ; and (5) two tombs of considerable antiquity : one of these is probably that of a member of the Hopton family; the other (which for many years was described as that of Anna, king of the East Angles, who was slain in a battle with Penda of Mercia, fought, tradition says, in 654 in Bulcamp Forest, which formerly existed N. of Blythburgh is believed to be that of the last of the Swillington family. There is also here an old clock "Jack," somewhat similar to the better one at Southwold, but of later date. This used to strike the hours on a bell, and under the dial was formerly the inscription:

"As the hours pass away,
So doth the life of man decay. 1682."

Near the church are some scanty remains of the conventual church of an Augustinian priory founded in the reign of Henry II. as a cell to St Osyth's Abbey. Rather more than a century ago a considerable quantity of the stones of which the church and monastery were built were used to construct a bridge over the Blyth. A Holy Rood Chapel formerly stood on the N. side of the main street leading to the bridge.

William Dutt