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All Saints, Bradfield Combust, Suffolk

(52°10′53″N, 0°45′57″E)
Bradfield Combust
TL 892 573
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Suffolk
now Suffolk
  • Ron Baxter

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Bradfield Combust straddles the A134, Bury St Edmunds to Sudbury road, some 5 miles S of Bury. This was a Roman road, but is now an important thoroughfare that divides the church, Church Farm and the Manger public house, on the W side, from the hall and its park on the E. The village takes its name from the burning of the hall, one of the Abbot of St Edmundsbury’s residences, by disaffected tenants in 1327. The present hall is a 19thc. building, surrounded by a park planted by the Rev. Arthur Young (d.1759), father of the celebrated agriculturalist and political economist of the same name. The surrounding country is the typical rolling farmland of this part of W Suffolk.

All Saints’ church is a small building, 19thc. in appearance and uncharitably described by Pevsner as 'not very interesting.' It consists of a nave with a W bell-cote, a large S aisle and a chancel. The nave is 12thc., with a blocked round-headed N doorway, round-headed on the interior but with a lower 14thc. exterior opening. A timber porch covers the 14thc. S doorway. The aisle has a three-bay arcade of the 14thc., and while the aisle windows are geometrical (i.e stylistically earlier) they all appear to be 19thc. The W front, including the bell-cote, belongs to a 19thc. remodelling. There is no chancel arch; the chancel is as wide as the nave and the division is marked by a step. It is stylistically 14thc. but apparently mostly of the 19thc. There is a N vestry. The church is largely of flint, but the N nave wall, which has only one window, towards the E, shows a mixture of flint and brick banding and ashlar blocks, with a band of red brick at the top where the roof has been heightened. A restoration of the aisle is recorded by a 1721 datestone near the S porch, and there was a restoration by F. C. Penrose of London in 1868-71, involving repairs to roof and walls and reseating. Romanesque sculpture is found on the remodelled font.


St Edmundsbury abbey held Bradfield as a manor in 1086 with three carucates of ploughland and seven acres of meadow, and there were three free men here with 24 acres of land. The Domesday Survey also recorded one carucate of land held by free men, along with two acres of meadow. The church had 10½ acres of land. Also under the abbey’s holdings were 2½ carucates held by ten free men. Apart from the abbey’s holdings, one free man commended to Bishop Aethelmaer held 20 acres before the Conquest, held in 1086 by Robert, Count of Mortain. This manor remained in the possession of the abbey, but in 1327 their hall was burned to the ground by villagers protesting against the abbot’s autocratic interpretation of his duties as a landlord, and the village took the name of Combust in memory of the spectacular fire. This was apparently not the only manor here, as Bartholomew de Badlesmere is recorded as lord here in the early 14thc. After his execution for treason, it passed through the Salisburys to Lord Roos of Hamlake, and it later passed into the hands of Sir Thomas Jermyn, and thence, in 1620, to Arthur Young.

St Edmund Way benefice, i.e. Bradfield Combust, Great Whelnetham, Hawstead, Lawshall, Nowton and Stanningfield.


Exterior Features





See under the description of the font above.

H. M. Cautley, Suffolk Churches and their Treasures. London 1937, 230.
D. P. Mortlock, The Popular Guide to Suffolk Churches: 1 W Suffolk. Cambridge 1988, 18-19.
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Suffolk. Harmondsworth 1961, rev. E. Radcliffe 1975, 107.