Framlingham (St. Michael)

FRAMLINGHAM (St. Michael), a market-town and parish, in the union of Plomesgate, hundred of Loes, E. division of Suffolk, 18 miles (N. E. by N.) from Ipswich, and 87 (N. E.) from London; containing 2523 inhabitants. This place is of very remote antiquity, having been one of the chief towns of the Iceni, a British tribe in alliance with the Romans, to whom their king Prasutagus bequeathed a part of his dominions, in the hope of securing to his queen, Boadicea, the undisturbed possession of the remainder. On the death of Prasutagus, the Roman procurator seized the whole, and upon Boadicea's remonstrating, ordered her to be scourged like a slave, and violated the chastity of her daughters. Boadicea, in revenge for this outrage, excited the Trinobantes and other tribes to revolt, and, heading her own forces with masculine intrepidity, obtained a victory over the Romans, of whom 70,000 were slain in battle, though she was subsequently defeated and lost her life, or, as some say, took poison.

At what time the castle was originally built is uncertain, but it is a very ancient structure, and it is known that a fortress existed here in the time of Redwald, third king of the East Angles, who occasionally retired to it from his court at Rendlesham. Framlingham was also the retreat of King Edmund the Martyr, who, when pursued by the Danes, fled from Dunwich, and took refuge within the castle walls, whence endeavouring to escape when closely besieged, he was overtaken, and beheaded at Hoxne. The castle was either repaired or rebuilt by Hugh Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, and became in 1173 the temporary asylum of Prince Henry, whom Queen Eleanor, his mother, had incited to rebel against his father Henry II. In 1248, Henry III. made this his place of abode for some time; and Henry, Prince of Wales, son of Henry IV., to whom the castle was granted by his father, kept his court here in 1404 and 1405. Edward VI. held his first court at Framlingham, where, after his decease, Mary was joined by the inhabitants of Suffolk and the neighbouring counties, who, to the number of 13,000, accompanied her to London to take possession of the crown. The castle was a spacious and noble structure, the surrounding walls including an irregular quadrilateral area of nearly an acre and a half; they were 44 feet in height and 8 feet in thickness, and defended by 13 square towers of considerably greater elevation, of which one towards the east, and one towards the west, were watch-towers: the whole was inclosed by a double moat, over the inner line of which was a drawbridge. The walls are in a tolerably perfect state, and in front of the gatewaytower are the arms of Howard, Mowbray, Brotherton, &c., quartered in one shield. The site was purchased from the Howard family by Sir Robert Hitcham, who gave it to Pembroke Hall, Cambridge. Within the walls, and on the site of the ancient buildings, which were demolished about the year 1670, a workhouse for the poor was built in 1724 with the materials of the castle; the building has since been fitted up for public meetings, assemblies, and other uses, and contains a spacious room 72 feet in length.

The town is pleasantly situated on a hill, near the source of the river Ore, which rises to the north of the castle and falls into the sea at Orford; it contains many respectable and well-built houses, and is amply supplied with water, and lighted with oil. The air is salubrious; the approaches are good, and the town is generally improving. The parish, by recent survey, comprises about 4657 acres, the soil of which is fertile. An agricultural society established in 1840, now consists of more than 100 members. The trade is principally in malt: the market is on Saturday, for corn, and occasionally for cattle; the fairs are on Whit-Monday, and October 12th, for toys. The powers of the county debt-court of Framlingham, established in 1847, extend over part of the registration-districts of Hoxne and Plomesgate. Petty-sessions are held every alternate Friday. The living is a rectory, with that of Saxtead annexed, valued in the king's books at £43. 6. 8., and in the patronage of Pembroke Hall: the tithes have been commuted for £1250, and there are 70 acres of glebe. The church, said to have been built by Lord Segrave, whose armorial bearings are in the tower, is a stately structure, partly in the decorated and partly in the later English style, with a lofty embattled tower strengthened by buttresses: the chancel, which, both in style and workmanship, is superior to the rest of the edifice, is supposed to have been rebuilt in the reign of Edward VI., when the church was thoroughly repaired. The nave is lighted by clerestory windows; the oak roof, which is elaborately carved, is supported by octangular pillars, and the roof of the chancel by clustered columns of very graceful proportions. The church contains monuments of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, and his countess; Thomas Howard, third duke of Norfolk, and his duchess: the two wives of Thomas, fourth duke of Norfolk, who was beheaded in the reign of Elizabeth; and Sir Robert Hitcham and his wife. Here are places of worship for Independents, Wesleyans, and Unitarians.

Sir Robert Hitcham, in 1636, bequeathed to Pembroke Hall certain lands now producing £900 a year, in trust for the erection of a workhouse, and the foundation and endowment of an almshouse for twelve aged persons, and of a school for the apprenticing of boys with a premium of £10; also, £20 per annum of the income, to be paid to a minister to read prayers daily in the church, £5 to the sexton, £15 to a Sunday-school, and the remainder for distribution in money, clothes, and coal to the most needy of the poor. Thomas Mills, Esq., in 1703 bequeathed property now yielding £700 per annum for similar purposes. The free school founded by Sir Robert is now conducted on the national system, as is another school to which £19 are yearly allowed by the trustees of Mr. Mills. There are also 31 acres of land, producing an income of £100, for the benefit of the poor. Here was a religious house dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the site of which is occupied by a dwelling-house. In 1823, some remains of elephants' tusks were dug up at the depth of ten feet from the surface, in a field to the north of the town; and while enlarging the parsonage-house in 1839, several coins, boars' tusks, and stags' horns were discovered. Robert Hawes, a zealous investigator of antiquities, who compiled a history of the hundred of Loes, still in manuscript (with the exception of the parish of Framlingham, which has been published), was buried here in 1731. Thomas Dove, Bishop of Peterborough in the reign of Elizabeth, by whom he was styled the "Dove with silver wings," was rector of the parish.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.