The Domesday Book: The book was commissioned in December 1085 by William the Conqueror, who invaded England in 1066. The first draft was completed in August 1086 and contained records for 13,418 settlements in the English counties south of the rivers Ribble and Tees (the border with Scotland at the time). The original Domesday Book is at The National Archives in Kew, London. Redlingfield and its church were recorded in the Domesday Book as Radinghefelda. The Domesday Book records Redlingfield's population as 16 households with a total tax assessed of 3.1 geld units. the village had six acres of meadow, woodland with 50 pigs and a church. In 1066 the village also had 12 pigs, 24 sheep and 34 goats. In 1086 there was 1 cob, 12 pigs, 24 sheep and 34 goats. In 1066 the lord was Aelfric and the overlord Edric of Laxfield. In 1086 the lord was William of Arques and the tenant-in-chief Robert Malet. A 12th century seal records the name of the community as Radling and in 1428 the village was known as Redyngfeld.
The Plague: The bubonic plague of 1348-1349 was responsible for the death of almost one third of England's population and “pestilence ‘laid grievous hold on Suffolk' ... there were 15 religious houses in the county whose superiors required Episcopal institution and of those eight of the superiors died in 1349 [including Redlingfield's then Prioress Alice Wynter de Oxford]”. (1)
Bloody Mary: Mary I (February 18th 1516 -November 17th 1558), was Queen of England and Ireland from July 19th 1553 until her death. She restored England to Roman Catholicism after succeeding her short-lived half brother, Edward VI, to the throne. She had almost 300 religious dissenters burned at the stake, earning her the sobriquet of Bloody Mary. Her re-establishment of Roman Catholicism was reversed by her successor and half-sister, Elizabeth I.
“...amidst the din of war that followed upon the decease of Edward VI, which happened on the sixth of July, 1553, and the elevation of the unfortunate Lady Jane Grey to the throne in virtue of her cousin's will and ‘by treason not her own,' the demoniacal and blood-stained princess Mary took up her residence within the walls of Framlingham Castle, I (which Edward had, by letters patent, granted to her and her heirs,) for the purpose of asserting her rights at this spot, or, if necessity required, that she might avail herself, from its proximity to the coast, of the means of flight to the Continent, if in the threatened contest for the right of succession, she could not acquire the possession of the crown against the superior force of her opponents; thus rendering the fact almost incontrovertible, that at this late period, the Castle was a place of defence in which she might be secure and free from any threatened attacks. Though her stay was but short she was not inactive; in the name of Queen which (upon the authority of Fabyan) she assumed on the 20th of July, alia issued her commands from hence to the lords lieutenants and sheriffs to march with the power of their counties to her aid. The gentry resident within the county, who came forward as her adherents were Sir John Sulyard, of Wetherden hall near Stow market; Sir Thomas Cornwallis, of Brome, then high sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk; Sir William Drury, of Hawstead place, M. P., for the county; Sir Henry Bedingfield, of Redlingfield, who brought with him 140 men completely armed, and was appointed by Mary knight-marshal of her army; Sir Henry Jerningham with many others, whose vassal troops followed their standard, by means of which she was at the head of 40,000 men, to whom she declared that she would disturb nothing established in religion, but reserved to herself the right of following her own creed, which was that of the catholic church; a pledge which it is almost needless to add was no sooner gave than it was forgotten.
As nearly as can be ascertained, Mary continued at the Castle from about the 10th to the 31st of July. Upon her arrival, the first gent., who took up arms and levied men in her defence was Sir John Sulyard, who, as a reward for his fidelity, was appointed to guard her person during her residence in it. This gent., was the bearer of the following mandate from Mary to Sir Henry Bedingfield, which, looking at the tenor of it, was evidently upon secret service :-
“ Mary The Queen.
“ Henry Bedingfielde, Theys ar to require and comaunde you to give most faythfull and assured Orders to this Berer our trustie and well-beloved Svient Sur John Sulyard; and in any wyse as ye love us and tender our Favor not to fayle to accomplish and putte in execution that which he shall declare unto you from Us to be our Pleasure, so fare ye hartylye well. - From Fframsn the 23 of Jan.” (2)
Non-conformists: State papers from 1625-266, during the reign of King Charles I, mention rescusants in Redlingfield - recusancy was a term used to describe the offence of not complying with and conforming to the established church or state religion, the Church of England.
“The recusants should be disarmed. Incloses, 44. I. Information of a meeting held by night at the house of Mr. Benefield, a recusant, at Redlingfield, in Suffolk. 1625, Sept. 8.” (3)
Redlingfield Workhouse: “In 1779, the Suffolk Hundreds of Hartismere, Hoxne and Thredling were incorporated under a local Act of Parliament for the better Relief and Employment of the Poor, within the several Hundreds of Hartismere, Hoxne, and Thredling, in the County of Suffolk (19 Geo.3 c.13). However, the Incorporation never raised the £16,000 required for the erection of a House of Industry [workhouse]. Several member parishes did, however, operate workhouses of their own including Eye, Mendlesham, Occold, Palgrave, Redlingfield, Westhorpe, Wetheringsett and Wortham.
“The Hartismere Poor Law Union formally came into being on 1st September 1835. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 37 in number, representing its 32 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):
County of Suffolk: Aspall, Bacton, Bottesdale [Botesdale], Braiseworth, Broome [Brome], Burgate, Cotton, Eye (3), Finningham, Gislingham, Mellis, Mendlesham (2), Oakley, Occold, Palgrave, Redgrave, Redlingfield, Rickenhall [Rickinghall] Superior, Rishangles, Stoke Ash, Sturston [Stuston], Thorndon All Saints, Thornham Magna, Thornham Parva, Thrandeston, Thwaite, Westhorpe, Wetheringsett cum Brockford (2), Wickham Skeith, Wortham (2), Wyverstone, Yaxley.
The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 17,871 - with parishes ranging in size from from Aspall (population 126) to Eye (2,313). The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1833-35 had been £19,212 or £1.1s.6d. per head of the population.” (4)
The Bedingfields: “Bedingfield is about a mile to the north-west of Southholt, and was remarkable for a family of that name, who were lords of this manor, but resided at Redlingfield. The manor and advowson belonged to the priory of Snape, and were granted in the 17th of Henry VIII. to Cardinal Wolsey towards the endowment of his college; but after the dissolution they came to Thomas, Duke of Norfolk, and ultimately returned to the Bedingfields. A mile farther to the west, on the Debenham road, is Rishangles. The manor and advowson of this place belonged to the nunnery at Redlingfield; but soon after the dissolution became the property of the family of Grimston, and are now vested in Lady Harland by the will of her brother, the late John Vernon, esq.” [advowson is the right in English law of presenting or appointing a nominee to a vacant ecclesiastical benefice.] (5)
“Redlingfield lies about three miles to the southeast of Eye; an inconsiderable village/ chiefly remarkable for a monastery of Benedictine nuns, founded by Manasses de Gratia, Earl of Guisnes, and Emma his wife, A. D. 1120, and endowed by them with the manor of this parish. This house, valued at the dissolution at 67l. 1½d. was granted 28th Henry VIII. to Edmund Bedingfield, whose family enjoyed it many years. Here are considerable remains of this building: part of it, now called the Hall, is a farm-house, and a building standing near the church appears to have been the chapel.” (5)
1) A History of Bubonic Plague in the British Isles - By J. F. D. Shrewsbury - Cambridge University Press, 2005 - ISBN 0521022479, 9780521022477
2) The history, topography, and antiquities of Framlingham and Saxsted, in the county of Suffolk from the earliest period to the present time : with a full account of the castle and churches, including also, a series of memoirs of the ancient illustrious possessors of the domain : with biographical sketches of other eminent persons who have resided upon or been connected with the spot by R. Green. Published in 1834, Whittaker, Treacher (London)
3) Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, of the Reign of Charles I ...:1625-1626 - Public Record Office, John Bruce, William Douglas Hamilton, Sophia Crawford Lomas - Published 1858 - Item notes: v. 1
5) Excursions in the county of Suffolk by Thomas Kitson Cromwell Published 1819