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Bradfield Combust

The Domesday Book records the population of Bradefelda/fella (old English: broad, open field) manor, including Bradfield St Clare and Bradfield St George. Bradefelda/fella existed before the Conquest when it was probably owned by Ulfketel, Saxon King of the East Angles, who gave this part of his manor to the monks of St. Edmund, while reserving the lordship.

All Saints church in Bradfield Combust:, courtesy Keith Evans

The name Bradfield Combust is traditionally said to have derived from an incident in the autumn of 1327, when an angry mob burned down Bradfield Hall at Bradfield, at the time the property of the Crown (a young Edward III) and managed by the Abbot of Bury St Edmunds.

However, it is reliably asserted that a Bradfield Hall (the King's own hall) inside the Abbey at Bury St Edmunds was burnt down during that insurrection. Thus there were two Bradfield Halls, and there arose a debate as to the naming of the village, and the circumstances surrounding it. The settlement is certainly known to have been called 'Bradefeld Combusta' in 1302/03. Thus the naming of the village cannot originally have been associated with the 1327 insurrection. It is reasonable however, to deduce that the name of Bradfield Combust (appearing certainly in the early 1300s, and in the 15C synonymous with Brent Bradfield or Burnt Bradfield) does derive from some conflagration - but of what, when prior to 1302, and exactly where, is presently unknown.

Bradfield Hall, courtesy David Crawford

Bradfield Hall at Bradfield Combust is perhaps best known from the 17C as the seat of the Young family, spanning several generations (from 1620 to the early 20C) and famous heads of the household. The most eminent member was Arthur Young (1741-1820), an agriculturalist and great socio-political writer and campaigner for the rights of agricultural workers. This Arthur Young entertained or corresponded with such notable people as William Wilberforce, George Washington, Edmund Burke, and Joseph Priestley. The present flint and brick Hall was built in 1857 on the exact site of its predecessor, by his son Arthur John Young. It lies adjacent to a square moated area, possibly modified to make it more impressive when the 1857 Hall was built beside it, but of antiquity.

The current village sits astride the A134, originally a Roman road just here, and the same highway that Will Kempe (one of the co-founders of the Globe Theatre) took in Shakespearian times on his famous dance from London to Norwich.

The church, All Saints, is officially dated 1066-1539 AD, with a late 12C Norman font and doorway to the north of the nave. Two wall paintings appear in the nave, one representing St. George and the Dragon (circa 1400), and the other St. Christopher. The tomb of Arthur Young, in the form of a sarcophagus, lies in the churchyard. It is inscribed "Let every real patriot shed a tear, For genius, talent, worth, lie buried here."

Presently the village is the site of several commercial fruit orchards and strawberry fields. Suffolk Scouts operate the Bradfield Park Campsite for the benefit of Scouting, Guiding, Educational and Youth Organisations.

The Manger public house is a grade II listed 15C building with 16C and 17C alterations. It was referred to as "Bradfield Manger" in will of Thos. Roberson, 16 July 1660. It is a popular pub/restaurant and a handy meeting place for clubs and special-interest groups