Hadleigh (St. Mary)

HADLEIGH (St. Mary), a market-town and parish, in the union and hundred of Cosford, W. division of Suffolk, 10½ miles (W. by S.) from Ipswich, and 64 (N. E.) from London; containing 3679 inhabitants. This town, which was probably founded during the heptarchy, about which period a monastery is said to have been established by one of the Saxon kings, was called by the Anglo-Saxons Headlege, whence it derived its modern name. Some of the kings of East Anglia were interred here; as also was Guthrum, or Gormo, a Danish chief, who submitted to Alfred the Great, and renounced paganism after the defeat of the Danes at the battle of Ethandune, now Eddington, in the county of Wilts: a tomb is still shown in the church as the monument of Guthrum (who died in 889); but it is obviously of much later date than the ninth century. The town is situated in a valley; the air is remarkably salubrious, and the inhabitants are plentifully supplied with water from springs. The woollen manufacture formerly flourished; at present, a factory for winding and drawing silk furnishes employment to about 500 women and children. An act was passed in 1846 for making a railway hence to the Colchester and Ipswich line at Bentley. There is a large market, principally for corn, on Monday; another, once held on Saturday, has been discontinued: fairs are held on Whit-Tuesday and the 10th of October, for toys, &c. The Corn Exchange, erected by subscription in 1813, is a handsome building. This was anciently a corporate town, governed by a mayor, aldermen, and common-councilmen, but having surrendered its charter upon a quo warranto to James II., the privileges were lost, and the place is now within the jurisdiction of the county magistrates, who hold petty-sessions. The powers of the county debt-court of Hadleigh extend over part of the registration-district of Cosford.

The parish comprises 4169a. 3r. 10p.; the soil is generally fertile, and well adapted for the production of grain. The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £45. 2. 1., and in the gift of the Archbishop of Canterbury: the tithes have been commuted for £1325. The church, a handsome and spacious structure, surmounted by a lofty spire of wood covered with lead, is chiefly in the later English style: in the chancel is a beautiful altar-piece, of wainscot, with paintings of Moses and Aaron, erected in 1744, by Dr. Wilkins, the incumbent; and the font is of great antiquity. In front of the parsonage-house is a venerable gateway with two hexagonal towers, built of brick in the year 1490, by Dr. Pykenham, archdeacon of Suffolk, and rector of the parish. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, and Wesleyans. A house and some land were given by John Alabaster in 1667, and in 1701 Mrs. Anne Beaumont bequeathed an estate; from which benefactions a salary of about £34 per annum is paid for the instruction of boys. A grammar school was kept in a house in the churchyard, but it has been long discontinued. Twelve almshouses for decayed tradespeople, with a chapel attached, were founded, and endowed with valuable estates, by Dr. Pykenham, and are now appropriated to the accommodation of 24 persons. Four others were founded in the reign of Edward VI., by John Raven, and endowed by him with the profits of two farms for the support of eight inhabitants; and there are several further bequests for the benefit of the poor. Dr. William Alabaster, a learned divine of the seventeenth century, was a native of the place; and among the rectors have been, Dr. Taylor, who suffered martyrdom in the reign of Mary; John Still, Bishop of Bath and Wells; Richard Smalbroke, Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry; and David Wilkins, the learned author of the Concilia Magnæ Britanniæ.

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