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The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries


Market Hill c. 1700
Market Hill c. 1700
Please click here if you wish to view events leading up to 1700.
1700 By the end of the 18th century the Guildhall Feoffees had built a Dispensary in Angel Lane to provide out-patient care to the poor of Bury.
In Haverhill as the seventeenth century gave place to the eighteenth, weaving began to expand in the town, no doubt as a result of the influence of Flemish Huguenot refugees who had settled in the eastern counties in the seventeenth century, particularly in its second half.
The year began with one of the coldest winters on record. Freezing NNE winds continued to blow through April and May.
1702 Queen Ann came to the throne. By now, Suffolk was dominated by the Tory party who controlled both County parliamentary seats. Notable local Tories were Sir Robert Davers of Rushbrooke and Sir Thomas Hanmer of Mildenhall.
The house now called Angel Corner was built on the Angel Hill in Bury.
1703 Bury's MP Sir Robert Davers bought the manor of Rushbrooke.The estate included Little Welnetham. He owned sugar plantations in Barbados, planted by the first Robert Davers from 1635 onwards. Despite his wealth, he seems to have been unable to read and write, having been brought up to run the slaves on the plantation. He continued as an MP and died in 1722.
1705 About this time the first Congregationalist Chapel was dedicated in Whiting Street. Before this time, members mostly met in private houses, and it is likely that the chapel was an adapted house. A proper purpose built church had to wait another ten years.
1707 The Act of Union joined England and Scotland.
In Bury there were a series of about five separate fires in the centre of town between 1702 and 1707, around the Churchgate area. Luckily the fine Meeting House in Churchgate Street was unscathed.
In 1707, the "Fundamental and Standing Rules and Orders for the Charity Schools in St EdmundsBury in Suffolk", were published. These began "Whereas several schools have been lately set up and established by the voluntary subscriptions of charitable and well disposed persons in the several parishes of this town, for instructing poor children, whose parents are not able to afford them education, and for qualifying them to get their living; and for as much as good government conduces to those ends, the following Rules and Orders are by the said subscribers directed and appointed to be observed."
The boys wore green caps and neckcloths, the girls wore Dolphins with green worsted or taffety. Only Thursday afternoons could be for play, but this was "by no means to be grant(ed) too freqently". They would break up three times a year at the usual festivals, "and so by no means at Bury Fair, beginning on the Festival of St Matthew."
1711 The first Turnpike Trust in Suffolk took over the Ipswich to Scole road, followed by the Ipswich to Bury road. There was a toll bar at Sicklesmere and the octagonal keeper's house still remains.
The Unitarian Meeting House was built in Churchgate Street for local Bury presbyterians, and remains one of Bury's more remarkable buildings. It replaced an earlier Meeting House built for the Presbyterians. Unitarianism was not embraced until 1801.
1713 Sir John Hervey of Ickworth had been a supporter of the 1688 revolution and in 1713 also supported the Hanoverian accession. He was at Greenwich to welcome the new King George I into the Country. By the time of the coronation in 1714 he was made the Earl of Bristol.
1714 George I of Hanover was given the throne.
By this time the Bury Fair was less important as a market for merchandise, and more important as a "market for ladies".
John Eastland, a dancing master, bought the large house at the end of Angel Hill, and converted it into an Assembly House. Today this building is called the Athenaeum, but it has performed a similar public function ever since. It had been one of the largest private houses in Bury, for it had 17 hearths recorded in the Hearth Tax returns of 1674. It was on three floors at this time and Eastland had his ballroom on the second floor. The gentry would pay a subscription to use the place, and assemblies were regularly arranged. In 1715, John Hervey the first Earl of Bristol, recorded that he had paid his subscription to Mr Eastland's New Rooms in Bury. The building would stay in this form until 1789, when the ballroom was removed to the Ground Floor, as it is today.
Suffolk's first newspaper began in 1714. It was the Suffolk Mercury or St Edmundsbury Post. It would last until about 1740.
1716 The Lark navigation was constructed from Mildenhall to Bury St Edmunds under an Act of Parliament passed in 1700. By 1700 the Lark was no longer navigable any further than Mildenhall from the sea, and so Henry Ashley obtained the Act to allow navigation as far as Eastgate Street. The Corporation of Bury were afraid of him setting up a wharfage monopoly, and opposed the plan. All Ashley could do was build his canal as far as Fornham, outside the Borough boundary. The canal seems to have been profitable immediately, largely for bringing in coal. Boys in the 1950's still called the Lark behind the Fornham Road, "the Coal Rivers".
A new purpose built chuch was completed for the Congregationalists in Whiting Street.
1720 The mansion in the abbey grounds,lived in by Sir John Eyer in the late 16th century, and now known as the Abbot's Palace was demolished.
1721 A major financial crisis occurred with the bursting of the so-called South Seas Bubble in September.Many investors who had overstretched themselves now faced ruin. One such man was Arundel Coke of Honey Hill, Bury St Edmunds, of whom, more will be heard later.
In Bury there was an enquiry into a supposed Right of Way from Lower Baxter Street to the Angel Hill. Obviously by this time any such access must have been no longer self evident, but it is entirely possible that the original street pattern had included a street, or alleyway off the corner of Angel Hill, between the Borough Offices and number 8 Angel Hill, also called the Angel Corner.
1722 A highly publicised trial took place of Arundel Coke, who lived in Honey Hill, Bury St Edmunds. Coke was a barrister, but lived a flamboyant lifestyle, and was always short of money. His home was right next door to the Manor House, and is a stone clad house which today is called St Denys. He was also one of the Guildhall Feoffees, and a pillar of local society. He had been facing ruin following the financial crisis known as the South Sea Bubble. He believed that if his wife's brother were to die, his wife would inherit his fortune. The brother in law was Edward Crisp, who lived in a very fine house at number 6, Angel Hill, which is today the Tourist Information Office.
Coke hatched a plot to hire a ruffian called Woodburn, who was also a local handyman, to murder Crisp. Following a New Year Dinner party at his house, Coke took Crisp through the Great Churchyard on the pretext of visiting Mrs. Monk's Coffee House. Woodburn then attacked them with a knife. Coke ran off, leaving Crisp to his fate, but Woodburn bungled the attempt and only managed to slash open Crisp's nose.
They were tried at the Assizes, in the Court of Common Pleas, at Bury. On 13th March 1721, they were found guilty, and sentence was passed the following day. Both Coke and Woodburn were hanged after Coke confessed to the plot.
This case illustrates the problem that modern people can have with the dating systems in use in the past. Until 1751, the year began on Lady Day, the 25th March. From 1st January 1752, the year began on 1st January, a practice already in use on the continent. Therefore the date known at the time as 13th March 1721, to modern eyes would seem to be properly called 13th March 1722. Dates have been "adjusted" like this over the years by later writers, and sometimes have got adjusted more than once, so that this trial has been written up as happening in 1721 or 1722, or even 1723. Does this matter? Yes it does matter if we are looking to follow the sequence of events, or the cause and effect. To modern minds the events of January, February and March 1721 are assumed to have taken place before the events of April to December, 1721. But to the person in 1721 they naturally took them to occur after April to December.
1724 Daniel Defoe wrote his "Tour through the Eastern Counties" and described Bury at the time as a major social capital. Its old cloth industries had long gone. The weaving of darnex coverlets was declining and only spinning remained as a major manufacture. "The beauty of this town consists in the number of gentry who dwell in and near it, ..... the affluence and plenty they live in". Bury fair attracted people for "the company", not for the trade. It was also called, "The Montpelier of Suffolk, and perhaps of England".
Suffolk had been an important textile manufacturing region since the Middle Ages, but by this time very little cloth was made in the County. Sudbury and Long Melford still made says and perpetuanas, and this would carry on for the next sixty years. Calimancoes were made in Lavenham, tammies in Stowmarket, and bays and says in Nayland.
Mostly, however, weaving was replaced by wool combing and yarn spinning for the worsted makers in Colchester and Norwich, and Bury was a growing centre for these trades.
1727 George II took the throne.
The Great Court of St Edmunds' Abbey was acquired by the Davers family.
1729 Possibly one of the ceremonial maces was damaged around this time as one of them has a shaft which was cast new in 1729. The corporation paid £25 17s 6d for the repairs.
1730 The firm of Orbell Ray must have been of considerable size, even at this early date, as Ray insured his goods and stock in trade at £500. This was a sizeable sum for a provincial town, and we must remember that it was normal to be considerably under insured at the time. The stocks would have been wool and yarn.
1731 Samuel Kent bought Fornham St Genevieve as a country estate. He was a wealthy London malt distiller.
Around this time Woolpit was noted for making the best white bricks.
1732 The Earl of Oxford recorded that avenues of trees were newly planted in the Great Churchyard at Bury. There is some evidence that at first they planted Poplars, rather than the Limes of today.
1734 Bury got its first theatre, purpose built on the first floor in the Market Cross. Robert Adam would improve it 40 years later. Performances of plays and other entertainments had previously taken place in the Guldhall and even the Shire Hall. Inn yards provided the less well off in society with the same function, but Bury Society now demanded some better facilities.
The room above the Town Cross had hitherto been used as a Woolhall, or Wool Exchange, as well as for other public events, before this new work. The Woolhall was now moved down the road.
1737 John Hervey completed the building of the Manor House in Honey Hill for his wife, Lady Elizabeth Hervey, to live and entertain in town during the Bury Season. It was designed by Sir James Burrough.
From 1737 for about a century, a one day stage coach operated from Bury to London. It ran from the Angel three times a week, and was called The Old Bury, and the Angel needed to be able to stable up to 70 horses to run her. The Angel was not to be the only coaching inn, as they were called, as there were several others.
The Greyhound in the Buttermarket ran a coach to London via Braintree, taking two days. The Three Tuns in Crown Street was the inn for the Norwich Mercury.
1738 Samuel Cumberland, a wealthy yarn maker of Bury St Edmunds, had insured his property with his partner, for £1,500, showing that Bury's yarn manufacturers were doing very well.
1740 Downing published his map of Bury, which looks very curious to modern eyes, with west at the top of the plan.
Clopton's Asylum was built in the Great Churchyard in Bury. Today it is the Provosts' house. The land was acquired by Trustees in 1735, and the fine new building seems to have been ready for its first residents in 1744. Dr Poley Clopton left money for its erection and upkeep for six poor men and six poor women who had "paid Scot and Lot without having received Parochial Relief".
By the middle of the 1700's a traveller to Haverhill had noted that 'every cottage brought forth a clatter as the workers applied themselves to their looms'. The cloth produced was of the heavy linsey-wolsey variety used principally by the agricultural worker. It was towards the end of the century that the effect of the Industrial Revolution began to be felt. Master weavers began to appear, who bought up the finished cloth and marketed it, chiefly in London; woollen cloth giving way about this time to checks and fustians.
1741 Bury corporation threatened to prosecute anybody found selling Lincolnshire wool in the the two Bury wool halls without paying their market tolls. This decision was to be advertised in Stamford, Lincs, as well as in Bury on the Market Cross. This long staple wool was the basis of the high quality yarn produced around Bury at this time.
1743 On 27th June 1743 the 12th Regiment of Foot fought against the French in the Battle of Dettingen, the last battle in which an English King (George II) led troops into the fray. Their motto "Stabilis" or "Steady" was also adopted at this time from the personal arms of the Colonel of the Regiment at Dettingen.
1745 The Jacobite Rebellion occurred in Scotland under Bonnie Price Charlie.
John Battely had lived from 1646 to 1708, and was educated at Bury School, eventually becoming Archdeacon of Canterbury. During his lifetime he wrote the first history of Bury St Edmunds, but it had never been published.
In 1745 the Opera Posthuma or Posthumous Works of John Battely were finally published, with assistance from Oliver Battely and Sir James Burrough. This work was entirely in Latin and consisted of Antiquitates Rutupinae (Reculver) and, more importantly for our Chronicle, Antiquitates S. Edmundi Burgi ad Annum MCCLXXII Perductae. It outlined the history of Bury from Roman times to 1272. It included the much reproduced engraving of the Abbot's Palace drawn by Sir James Burrough in 1720, and the copy of Canute's Charter included in the Sacrist's Register, folio 20. King Edward's charter and a list of Abbots was also included.
Sir James Burrough was a well known antiquarian and amateur architect in the area. He lived from 1691 until 1764, and was the Master of Gonville and Caius College at Cambridge from 1754 until his death. He himself had amassed a collection of notes and drawings on the antiquities of Bury, which he left to the library of St James's Church. In 1736 he had advised the wife of the Earl of Bristol on the form and design of the Manor House in today's Honey Hill.
1746 The rebellion in Scotland was finally put down.
1747 Downing's map of Bury perhaps did not show all the details required, and so, by 1747, Thomas Warren had made his own survey. He placed east at the top of his plan, a tradition which went back to medieval times, when east was seen to have a religious significance. Thomas Warren's new Town Plan dated 1747 has the following market places marked upon it:
  • Horse market - located in today's St Mary's Square
  • Butter and Fish market - located in today's Buttermarket from Marks and Spencer's down to Abbeygate Street
  • Beast Market - located in today's market area between Woolworth's and Marks and Spencer's.
  • Great Market - located in today's Cornhill and Traverse area.
The present day Honey Hill is so named on Warren's map, but its medieval name had been Schoolhall Street as the monastic song school and grammar school had been located east of St Mary's Church and on the site of the Shire Hall. Thomas Warren senior was a surveyor, but described himself as a schoolmaster of Bury. However, he is also known to have been the first Clerk to the Trustees of Dr Clopton's Charity. He had a son, also called Thomas, who was the second Clerk to those same Trustees and re-issued his father's map in 1776, updated, and undertook his own town survey. Dr Clopton's Charity still exists.
In 1747 Parliament reorganised Poor Relief, by encouraging parishes to form Unions for this purpose. James Vernon left a farmhouse at Great Wratting for use as a workhouse for four parishes. The benefits of scale were being appreciated, and after this date other combined centralised workhouses were set up in Bury and Sudbury. At this time the St James's Poorhouse was in Eastgate Street, and St Mary's was near the Shire Hall. After 1747, the two Bury parishes of St James and St Mary's were incorporated for poor law purposes under a Court of Guardians of the Poor. A girl's school on the site of the College of Sweet Man Jesus was purchased and converted into the Union Workhouse for 200 people by 1748. This College Street workhouse would remain in use right through to 1884.
Until 1747 Bury's two MP's were virtually picked by the Earl of Bristol and the corporation happily agreed with him. After this date the Duke of Grafton also shared this patronage. Sudbury's two MP's seats were available more or less to the highest bidder.
1748 Bury St Edmunds was blessed with a new workhouse in College Street completed in 1748, and from the beginning the inmates were employed in yarn spinning on contract to the local yarn makers. This continued for many years.
1749 The once mighty west front of the old abbey church had been converted into living accomodation, and other secular uses. In 1749 Samsons Tower was used as stabling by the Six Bells public house, which stood on Chequers Square, and is today the Masonic Lodge. Previously, it had been stabling for the Assembly Rooms.
1750 Around this time the Shire Hall, the old monastic school building, was rebuilt. It stood more or less opposite The Hervey's Manor House, and was very important as the site of the Assizes, which brought in tourists to view trials, as well as the legal personnel.
In the 1750's the town's medical centre was in Angel Lane at the Dispensary. Smallpox had been a problem for a hundred years and there was a particularly bad outbreak in this decade. Vaccination would become more accepted in the next half century, particularly after half the population of Bury seem to have suffered symptoms during this outbreak.
Henry Bunbury, the caricuturist and cartoonist was born at Great Barton. His father was the Reverend Sir William Bunbury, the 5th baronet, who owned the estates of Great Barton and Mildenhall. Henry was sent to school at Westminster and to university at St Catherine's College, Cambridge. His work stretched from his student days until his death in 1811.
1751 Until the end of 1751 the year began in Britain on Lady Day, the 25th March. If March was therefore counted as the first month, this explains why September was the seventh, October, the eighth, November the ninth and December the tenth month, as in their names.
1752 England and Wales adopted the Gregorian Calendar and an 11 day correction was needed to bring Britain into line with Europe. The day after September 2nd became September 14th 1752. The new year now began on January 1st. This new system had been in use in the Catholic world since 1582 when Pope Gregory instituted months of unequal length, and invented the leap year to keep local time in step with the movement of the planets.
At Bury the Quakers opened their Meeting House in St Johns Street, where it remains today.
1753 In 1753 Orbell Ray the younger inherited a prosperous wool and yarn business from his father at Bury, in Guildhall Street. Although Bury has not been regarded as an industrial town, by this time there were many large yarn making concerns in the town. One of the biggest was that of the Ray family. Four years later the firm would be joined by James Oakes, and the yarn business would grow and prosper until the 1780's.
In Bury most of the textile merchants were non - conformists, but both Ray and Oakes were unusual in this business by being Anglican.
Admiral Hervey in 1775
Admiral Hervey in 1775
1759 Elections at this time were very expensive for the parliamentary candidates, as they were routinely expected to treat the electors and their families. Although only the 32 men of the council could vote, Admiral Hervey spent £400 on entertaining 360 people at the Angel Hotel on New Year's Day.
One of the most famous of the 12th Regiments' engagements was on 1st August 1759 at the Battle of Minden. Six British regiments, including the 12th Foot on the right of the leading line marched through withering cannon fire and repulsed six elite French cavalry charges. Sheer determination and steadiness won the day, and the soldiers plucked roses to decorate their hats. Today Minden Day is still commemorated by a parade and the wearing of a red rose and a yellow rose.
1760 George III came to the throne.
Despite all the new dissenting religions, the Catholics still numbered about 158 in Bury at this time. They were always thought of as recusants, rather than dissenters. Although the Mass was still illegal, Father John Gage, a jesuit, built himself a house and chapel in Westgate Street. He was brother of the owner of Hengrave Hall, and the adjacent site would receive a new Catholic church in 1837.
1761 The origin of Methodism in Haverhill seems to date from this year when a barn in that town belonging to John Adams was licensed for itinerant preachers.
Between 1761 and 1765 the town gates of Bury were demolished in order to improve the flow of traffic.
The sale of livestock took place in Bury roughly where the Corn Exchange stands today. Butchers had long had a Shambles there for the preparation of carcases, and by now the area was probably in need of improvement. A new Butchers Shambles was erected at this time, in a splendid style with colonnades, and arches. Remnants of this building was incorporated into the Corn Exchange finally built here in 1862, on its north face, and the area between the Traverse and Cornhill retains the name The Shambles today.
1762 The road from Bury to Sudbury and Clare became a turnpike, following an Act of Parliament in 1762.
The Grammar School in Northgate Street was enlarged to give accomodation to 30 boarders. An extension was tacked on to its southern end, unbalancing the symmetry of the original facade.
The South Gate stood at the bottom of Southgate Street and was pulled down in 1762. Just outside it used to stand St Petronilla's Hospital for female lepers.
John Wesley, the great Methodist preacher, recorded in his diary that he preached in a barn in Haverhill. He also visited Bury 17 times over several years.
1763 The East Gate was pulled down in 1763. It was close to the Abbots Bridge.
1764 In the 1764 edition of his book "The Suffolk Traveller", J. Kirby described the land north-west of Bury as "delicious champaign fields". Champaign means "open country". The area we call Breckland was then known as the fielding and retained its medieval character of open-fields, heaths, sheepwalks and rabbit warrens. After the sheep, a corn crop would be taken, but the soil remained poor.
In mid-Suffolk by contrast, farming was more intensive and productive. Turnips had been grown for winter cattle feed for a century; carrots, clover and other crops were rotated. This area was called the Woodlands or High Suffolk and dairy cattle were also important and famous nationally for their milk production. Defoe had written earlier that Suffolk made "the best butter and perhaps the worst cheese in England".
John Wesley travelled through the area to Norwich on many occasions, often staying at Lakenheath, a village with a revivalist tradition. In 1757 he filled the newly built "preaching house" there.
The old North Gate was pulled down in 1764. Today the site is either under or next to the Northgate Roundabout.
1765 The West Gate which stood at the junction of St Andrews Street and Westgate Street was pulled down in July 1765, and the materials sold for ten guineas. The Risby Gate which went across the road by the Cock, now the Grapes Inn, at the top of Risbygate Street was also pulled down.
1766 The main Colchester, Haverhill and Cambridge road was turnpiked in 1766. News travelled faster and trade and communications all became easier and cheaper. Today's Withersfield Road in Haverhill was called Red Cross Road at the time.
1767 The 3rd Duke of Grafton, Augustus Henry Fitzroy, become Prime Minister from 1767 to 1770, the only Suffolk resident to hold that office.
1768 The Great Plague of Haverhill killed 79 people in an already depleted population.
In Bury, Orbell Ray died, and left his valuable share of the Ray yarn-making business to his nephew, James Oakes, later to be known to us from the diaries he wrote from 1778 to 1827. James Oakes was born in November, 1741, the son of James Oakes senior and Susan Ray. He was educated at the King Edward VI Grammar School in Bury, and had left at 16, to be apprenticed for four years with his uncle, Orbell Ray. He had been with Ray eleven years by 1768.
Oakes's father had come to Bury from Lancashire some time before 1726, and set up as a wholesaler in Manchester cotton goods at the top of Cook Row, today called Abbeygate Street. In 1729 he married a local woman who died in 1737, leaving him some property. In 1741 he married Susan Ray, giving him entry to the leading social, commercial and political families in Bury. The Rays were substantial clothiers and yarn makers, and together with about 20 other yarn makers made up a major industry in Bury. James Oakes senior had died in 1759 as an eminent tradesman of Bury.
By the 1760's all the wool used in the Suffolk yarn industry came from long fleeced wool brought from Lincolnshire and some other counties. This wool was traded in two wool halls in Bury, having been brought in from Stourbridge Fair and from London markets. Stourbridge was the source of most of the wool sold into Norfolk and Suffolk. Defoe had called it the biggest fair in the nation.
The short fleece wool from Suffolk and Norfolk sheep was sold in these woolhalls and then had to be sent to Yorkshire to be carded and spun for woollen cloths. Our local sheep were bred more for eating, and had not produced long staple wool since the seventeenth century.
Lincolnshire wool arrived in Bury via the waggon service to Stamford, and from the Midlands by way of the Lark navigation to Kings Lynn and beyond. Ships also landed wool at Ipswich, and at Yarmouth, which could be waggoned to Bury.
The best of the Romney Marsh wool, from Kent, also went to Norwich and to Bury.
By this time Ray, Oakes and company were now scouring and washing the raw wool as part of their manufacturing process of turning raw wool into high quality yarn. This was done in town, mainly in St Andrews Street South, in large buildings with open areas for drying it afterwards. Previously the farmers may have washed the wool, or there were specialist woolstaplers who did it.
Apprenticeship registers for 1750 to 1765 also showed that there were more woolcombers in and around Bury St Edmunds than anywhere else in Suffolk. Hadleigh came next in numbers followed by Kersey, Boxford, Lavenham, Glemsford, Nayland and Sudbury. Oakes reckoned that one comber produced enough wool to keep 30 spinners in work. Again, if they worked for Oakes, it would have been behind his Guildhall Street home, in St Andrews Street, in a series of comb shops in one large narrow building. These were built between 1745 and 1758. This was a considerable concentration of labour and capital for this mainly pre-industrial time.
The combs used in the combing of wool needed to be heated, and Oakes seems to have been bringing in coal for this purpose via the Lark Navigation, by this time. This also probably led him to sell coal on to other local users, as by 1788, he was included in a list of Bury coal merchants.
The spinning side of the business was, however, anything but industrialised, and it is likely that Oakes employed at least 1,500 spinners working in their own homes, throughout the countryside. These networks of spinners extended over large areas, as Oakes had workers from Burwell to Woodbridge, a spread of 60 miles. Packmen took loads of combed wool to local shopkeepers or publicans who acted as Putters - Out to their own local teams of spinners.
1769 The Corporation of Bury St Edmunds built a market house for the fish and herb market.
A turnpike was established from Bury to Ixworth and Norwich with a tollbar operating at Great Barton, following the Act of 1769.
1770 The Bury to Newmarket turnpike was set up following an act in 1770, with tolls collected at Risby.
1773 Moreton Hall was built for Professor John Symonds by Robert Adam. Symonds Road reminds us of him today.
1774 Robert and James Adam produced designs for refurbishing The Market Cross, which was originally erected in 1608, and was now felt in need of improvement. The work probably lasted until 1780, and consisted mainly of enclosing the old building with an elegant stone faced brick facade. The ground floor was still open and used for the corn exchange. The upper floor was already used as a theatre. The Earl of Bristol subscribed £500 to works on the New Theatre as it was called.
The Guildhall Feoffees started rebuilding the Angel, a job which took two years.
In 1766 Sir Charles Davers, the fourth generation of the Barbados sugar family, had returned to Rushbrook from his army career. He had 8 children by a Mrs Treice who lived with him. He was well liked, and although he was a Whig, although a rather independent one, he was elected as an MP in 1774, and would be consistently returned to Parliament by the corporation of Bury for the next 28 years.
1775 Alexander Cumming invented the first flushing water closet. This was important because it led to the introduction of a water-borne system of sewage disposal. As it very slowly became adopted, it led to a need to deal with sewage in a new way.
When the 13 tobacco colonies in mainland America were fighting for independence, the sugar colonies of the West Indies stayed loyal to the crown.
1776 Thomas Warren junior updated and re-issued his father's map of Bury, produced first in 1747. This edition would show illustrations of notable buildings in the town, including the Robert Adam Market Cross, newly designed and started in 1774.
From 1774 to 1776, the Angel Hotel was rebuilt more or less into its present appearance. Inns of various forms had stood on its site since at least 1282, when an agreement was made by Abbot John and the convent of the abbey to let property here as a taberna.
Adam Smith wrote in his "Wealth of Nations", that the sugar crop from St Kitts was worth more than the whole tobacco output of the 13 American tobacco colonies.
Thrushes and Blackbirds were killed in great numbers by the harsh winter weather in 1776.
1777 At the age of eleven, young Robert Bloomfield went to work as a farmer's boy at Sapiston, on the farm of his uncle by marriage, Mr William Austin. His four years on the farm, despite his lack of strength, were to be the basis for much of his poetry in later life. He was born in 1766, in the small village of Honington, but the family were poor and overcrowded, and he was lucky to get the job with his uncle, living-in at his farmhouse near the watermill and church at Sapiston.
1778 James Oakes, a prominent Bury entrepreneur, started his diaries, which he kept up until 1827. James Oakes was 36 years old and had been a yarn merchant for 16 years. He was a member of the corporation, Alderman and a trustee of all the town's major charities. In 1778 he built 12 cottages next to his wool combing sheds in St Andrews Street to attract labour by offering the workers and their families homes to live in.
1779 One of James Oakes's first diary entries recorded that Maria, his eldest daughter was innoculated against the smallpox. Edward Jenner was developing the use of cowpox innoculations as a preventative against the smallpox in humans.
The Angel was remodelled to more or less its present appearance.
1780 From about 1780, Sir Thomas Cullum practised surgery and medicine from Consulting Rooms in Northgate Street. Many of his remedies would seem dangerous and frightening to us today. The Cullum family lived at Hardwick House in Hawstead.
1781 The 12th Regiment of Foot was stationed in Gibraltar for 14 years from 1769 to 1783, and was involved in the Siege of Gibraltar by the Spanish and French from 1779 to 1783. On 17th November 1781 the Siege was broken by a Grand Sortie and its main body was 12th of Foot.
For services in the siege the Regiment took the arms of Gibraltar as its crest and the Castle and Key were part of the cap badge and colours from then on. This remains as part of the Royal Anglian Regiment badge today.
In 1878 when a new Depot was built at Bury St Edmunds it was known as Gibraltar Barracks.
Robert Bloomfield moved to London from Sapiston to live with his brother George, and to follow him into the trade of shoe making. He would never again live permanently in Suffolk, although he would become famous as the poet who wrote "The Farmer's Boy."
1782 In 1782 the 12th Regiment of Foot became the East Suffolk Regiment.
The Bury and Norwich Post was founded with offices in Hatter Street and a printing works. For its first 3 years of life it was called the Bury Post. This newspaper operation was incorporated into the Bury Free Press in 1932.
From 1780 to 1782, the price of wool fell sharply. The Lincolnshire growers started to agitate to allow them to export their wool, something they had been forbidden to do since the sixteenth century. Wool manufacturers like Oakes objected to this, as they relied on cheap wool for their own business success. Things were left as they were until 1786.
1783 Hodskinson's map in his "Survey of Suffolk" showed that the area of St Edmundsbury at this time was rich in great houses and parks. The biggest estate was the Duke of Grafton's at Euston. Others were at Livermere, Culford, Ampton, Lord Bristol's at Ickworth; Rougham, Rushbrooke and Fornham St Genevieve.
Wratting Park was a large estate near Haverhill.
The quality of spun yarn produced in the cottages of Suffolk had long been a problem for the weavers of Norwich who took most of their output. Short measures were frequently handed in, and so in 1783 the Norwich manufacturers persuaded the Suffolk yarn makers to promote an Act of Parliament which would allow them to appoint inspectors to enforce quality control over the spinners. The yarn committee held its first meeting in 1784 at the Wool Pack in Bury. The Woolpack public house was adjacent to the Woolhall, at the top of Abbeygate Street. It later became known as Everard's Hotel, and is a Pizza House today. After this meeting, wayward spinners were prosecuted and fined for trying to cheat on the yarn supplied.
We know that the workhouses were also used to provide spinning labour at this time, taking in wool from men like Oakes who had to tender for the privilege. In 1783 Oakes was bidding to supply the Melton House of Industry, north of Woodbridge, but it was won by Cuberlands, also of Bury. The firm of Harmers of Bury came second and Oakes was third. This illustrates the dominance of Bury's yarn makers in Suffolk at this time.
During the 1780's the Norwich manufacturers of camlets were opening up the export market provided by the East India Company. The firm of Ray Oakes specialised in making the fine yarn needed for these camlets.
At Honington there was a severe fire in the village, and several homes were destroyed, including the rectory.
1784 The Gurteen family were operating as substantial weavers in Haverhill by this time. A trade token from this date has been found showing a loom and the motto Pro Bono Publico. Issued by John Fincham, it bore the inscription "Haverhill Manufactory". From about 1770 to 1790 such trade tokens were commonplace as small change was in short supply.
George Bloomfield moved from London to carry on the trade of shoe maker in Bury St Edmunds. He was Robert Bloomfield's elder brother, and he left Robert in London, also working as a cobbler, although Robert also had a sideline of making aeolian harps. Both brothers were born in Honington, and their mother and her other children were still there.
The winter of 1784 was Siberian in character. The winter frost was so severe that even the tough ivy and holly trees were killed. Not for nothing has the period from 1550 to 1850 been called a Little Ice Age.
1785 One Captain Poole was described in a drawing as departing "from St Edmunds Bury on the 15th October 1785. The ascent of the Balloon was remarkably Fine and Gradual and continued in view for an hour, moving Eastward." Henry Bunbury was said to have drawn in the figures of the crowd on this illustration, as he sometimes did for Jacob Kendall (1741-89). A plaque commemorates the event in Westgate Street.
The Cullum family had owned the estates of Hardwick and Hawstead since 1656. The 6th baronet was the Reverend Sir John Cullum, a keen botanist and genealogist. In 1785, he published the "History of Hawstead".
1786 James Oakes of Bury took a major part in lobbying the government to tighten up the laws prohibiting the export of raw wool. Arthur Young, a well known local farmer at Bradfield Combust, led a movement to denounce this action as a conspiracy against the landed interest. He said that this was a question of the urban manufacturers against the rural producers of the raw materials. Young also highlighted the low wages that manufacturers paid to their spinners. This dispute continued for another two years.
1787 The Duke of Grafton's candidate was successfully returned to Parliament for St Edmundsbury. Within a few days, his agent got his reward. James Oakes was the Duke of Grafton's political agent in Bury, and through the Duke's influence now became Receiver General of the Land Tax for the Western Division of Suffolk. In those days such an office meant that all money collected passed through your own personal bank account until the time came to make payment to the Crown. Any interest earned in this time belonged to the Receiver, and was seen as remuneration for the job. Treasurers to various charities and other bodies also saw such arrangements as quite normal at this time. This substantial extra cashflow helped Oakes to decide to formally set up as a banker in 1794.
The corporation of Bury St Edmunds had the right to return two MP's to Parliament, and only the 37 members of the corporation could vote. A complex web of patronage and family ties had left these seats controlled by three local families. These were the FitzRoys of Euston, the Hervey's of Ickworth and the Davers' of Rushbrooke. One seat had been held by Sir Charles Davers since 1774, and this would continue up to his retirement in 1802.
1788 The Wool Bill became law, and allowed Irish yarn to be freely imported into the country for the first time. This was seen as a victory for manufacturers and a defeat for wool growers in the countryside. It would help to depress the price the growers could get for their wool locally. Bells rang in Sudbury for two days and fireworks were let off in the streets. In Bury wool combers rode in procession, but Oakes forbade his men from joining in because of the 'melancholy and oppressed state of the trade at this time.' Very little, if any, yarn could be sold to Norwich at this time. Such problems had existed in 1785 and in 1786, and had beset the industry since the onset of the American War.
He also did not want to inflame local opinion, particularly amongst his rural landowning relations, and may have thought that it would harm his own Suffolk yarn business eventually.
By this time, James oakes was also a dealer in coal, bringing in his stocks on the Lark Navigation.
1789 The tympanum of the west arch of the Norman Tower was removed to let hay carts pass through.
The French Revolution began. On 14th July the people of Paris stormed the Bastille prison, which for centuries had represented the oppressive power of the monarchy.
The White House in Bury was rebuilt by George Anderson to become the New Assembly Rooms, standing facing the Angel Hill. The Assembly House had been converted to this use in 1714, by John Eastland, a Dancing Master. Until 1789 the Ballroom was on the second floor, and there were rooms on a third floor. In 1789 the third floor was removed, and as part of the general improvements, the Ballroom was moved to the ground floor, where it remains today. These Rooms were to become called the Athenaeum in 1854.
John Soane, later to become Sir John, met James Oakes to settle the design of the new wings to be added to Oakes' house at 81-82a Guildhall Street in Bury. In 1788 Soane had just begun to build his great design for the Bank of England, and this must have influenced his choice for this work.The northern wing was specifically designed as a banking office, but he was not yet the type of retail bank that we would recognise. This did not begin until 1794.
The Suffolk Public library started in 1789 in Bury.
A new law was passed which allowed Roman Catholics to worship openly. A license was given to the Westgate Street chapel for this purpose in 1791, but it seems that public worship had been quietly going on here for many years already.
1791 From 1791 to 1794 was the height of the national mania for investing in canal building. In 1791 a committee was set up in Bury to consider building a 31 mile canal from the Lark at Bury, to the Stour at Mistley. It would need a tunnel of 2,420 yards to go under the hill at Lavenham, and the idea died. At the same time the idea of a canal to link Stowmarket to Ipswich was to be developed successfully over the next few years. James Oakes and Sir Charles Davers tried to get the Stowmarket canal extended to Bury, but its promoters refused to consider the idea. The Bury men feared that Stowmarket would grow at Bury's expense. They were correct in that Stowmarket enjoyed prosperity and growth in the early nineteenth century because of its success. The 1847 rail link would be the death of this canal as a successful business.
Messrs Buckley and Garniss opened the Capital Brewery in St Andrews Street, based at great expense upon the most modern ideas at the time.
In 1791 a further edition of Thomas Warren's Map of Bury was published. This edition showed some of the surrounding countryside, and the Town Fields. It also shows Woolhall Street for the first time, connecting the Cornhill with St Andrews Street South. A copy of this map hangs in the Athenaeum lobby today.
1792 By 1792, only a few months after opening, the Capital Brewery went bust. It was sold at £500 less than its value to a Morris of Ampthill for his nephew John Clark. It seems from his diaries that James Oakes considered going into brewing, but he was always cautious in business, and nothing came of it.
The turnpike act allowing a toll road from Bury to Thetford and Brandon was passed by parliament. As usual, it covered a 21 year concession, so it would expire in 1813. For the last six or seven years there had been attempts to answer complaints about the state of the Bury to Thetford road. It was said that for the last 15 or 30 years tourists had avoided visiting Bury from their Norfolk tours because of this. Nevertheless there were objections to the proposed turnpike, mainly on the grounds of increased local taxes being needed to build it. In August work began to build the turnpike from the Tollgate at Bury, to another gate at Ingham and a further toll house at Elveden.
Eleven people appear to have died of Rabies when a number of mad dogs terrorised Bury.
Also in Bury, Cook Row became known as Abbeygate Street at this time.
1793 The Reign of Terror began in France and Britain declared war. The Napoleonic Wars had begun, and would last to 1815 with one short break. One local advantage was that farmers could sell their produce free of foreign competition.
To meet the foreign threat, Arthur Young, of Bradfield Combust Hall, formed the Suffolk Yeomanry to provide home defence against a possible French invasion. There were four troops of Light Dragoons, of which the Fourth Troop was based in Bury. This troop was commanded by Lord Charles Brome, later Lord Cornwallis.
Some sectors of society were hit very badly by the war. There was a sudden and violent reduction in the volumes of foreign trade. Spinner's wages were cut in January as trade dried up, and cut again in March. Over the next few years Bury's wool and yarn industry would die, but cheap Irish yarn was already being sent to Norwich and wartime disruption just hastened the process.
By 1793 the town jail at Moyses Hall and the County jail facing down Abbeygate Street, were both overcrowded and in disrepair. It was agreed to build a new joint jail in Sicklesmere Road, inside the Borough so that it remained under the Alderman's jurisdiction. The gallows site could also be moved from Tay Fen to the new Jail.
At Culford, Lord Cornwallis had just completed a major series of adaptations to Culford Hall.
1794 By this time the Gages of Hengrave were living at Coldham Hall, home of the Rookwoods, who they had married into. Hengrave Hall was lent to the Canonesses of St Augustine, a religious group from Bruges. The local people helped them settle in, providing funiture and water to the empty house. The nuns arrived penniless and had to work for a living and seek charitable aid. They opened a school and their superior was Mother Mary More, a descendant of Sir Thomas More. They would stay at Hengrave until 1802.
In September, 1794, James Oakes, a yarn manufacturer and coal dealer finally decided to set up a bank at his house in Guildhall Street, Bury. Within two weeks he was issuing his own notes. The Bury New Bank relied on Gurney's Bank of Norwich for technical backing. Oakes was already familiar with what we would nowadays recognise as banking practices because it was normal for bigger businesses at this time to provide credit and buy bills at discount, and even to issue promissory notes. Up to this time his major income had been in the making of yarn, but this was coming under increasing pressure from cheaper yarn from Ireland and Yorkshire. He needed to find an alternative business, and this was not easy in a an agricultural county like Suffolk. He had considered brewing, but seems to have felt more comfortable as a banker.
Oakes sold his Woodbridge operation to a Norwich comber, a sign of hard times, and the success of Norfolk and Norwich at the time.
1795 In 1795 Oakes was forced to grant his combers a wage rise, but only for the finest work. Two days later the bricklayers and their labourers 'all turned out' to demand a raise of fourpence a day. War time price rises were forcing up wage demands.
By September, James Oakes had given up on the yarn trade and resigned from the Yarn Committee.
Highway robbery was a particular problem at this time. Many people were robbed on the 14 mile stretch from Bury to Newmarket, the main route to London. Oakes joined in the call for armed guards to be put on the mail coaches, but the problem persisted for the next few years.
At Ickworth the Earl of Bristol began work on his extraordinary new house.
In 1795 the New Public Library was started in Bury as an alternative to the Suffolk Library. These were subscription libraries.
1796 In July 1796 Oakes wrote that he had declined the wool trade and was now entirely confined to banking. This was still unusual for country bankers as most ran other businesses as well as their bank. In Bury Spink and Carss were also drapers, as was Robert Walpole, while Corks were also leather cutters and tea dealers.
The Royal Mail had been using the Greyhound Service from Newmarket. Not only was it unarmed, but was a very slow post-chaise. Sir Charles Bunbury of Great Barton got the mail transferred to a stage coach direct from London.
1797 Arthur Young wrote that the improvement in Suffolk's roads over the previous 20 years was "almost inconceivable". Many roads had been diverted to run round the great estates, such as Culford and Ickworth. Arthur Young was born in 1741 at Bradfield Combust and educated at Lavenham. He wrote extensively on agricultural practices and many of his ideas were widely adopted. He got most of his information about wool manufacture from James Oakes in Bury. He died in 1820.
The state of the Lark Navigation was causing concern among the local coal merchants by this time. The Navigation was owned by the Palmer family, and had been allowed to fall into disrepair. This was hindering the deliveries of bulky goods like coal, which could not economically be brought in by road.
In March, 1797, invasion scares led many customers to withdraw their deposits in cash from their bankers. Any banker who was overstretched would be vulnerable. The government had to suspend cash payments for a time, as the Bank of England ran out of gold and silver coinage.
The bank of Grigby and Cork of Bury failed on March 13th of 1797.
The largest bank in Bury at the time was Spink and Carss, but two days later, on March 15th 1797, it too failed. It was already weakened because its late proprietor had died three years earlier, heavily in debt to the Treasury for taxes he should have collected as Receiver General for the Eastern Division of Suffolk.
Oakes's bank kept going all the better because it continued to pay out and survived its rivals' failure. The bank was even given a new name. It became the Bury and Suffolk Bank, and it was to be the sole Bury bank for the next four years. It gave up its relationship with Gurneys and indirectly Barclay's bank, and Oakes now used Ayton Brassey and co as his London banker.
At the same time Oakes's bank became the bankers to the Bury Corporation, taking over a loan of £2,350 made to it by Spink some time before 1778.
Despite the experiences of Spink's bank, being a Receiver of Taxes was still thought worthwhile and James Oakes got his son Orbell appointed to the West Division in this same year. In effect the job was handed on from father to son through the influence of the Duke of Grafton.
1798 James Oakes recorded that he bought the Churchyard for £330 "with a view to reserving it for the corporation, hoping that they will be in very few years capable of repaying me the purchase money and all expenses". A committee was set up to manage it and seven £50 bonds were issued to pay for it and cover costs. It had been owned by Spink and Carss Bank, as Mr John Spink had bought it, also intending to donate it to the town. He died before he could do this and it passed to the bank, being now sold at auction to raise cash for the liquidation. Spink had wanted to keep the Charnel Chapel as a family mausoleum, and was himself buried there. It remains Council property today.
The war with Napoleon was proving very costly and in 1798 William Pitt persuaded Parliament to bring in the first modern Income Tax as a temporary measure to meet the crisis caused by threat of invasion. Apart from a short period in the early 1800's, it has continued ever since.
John Orridge was appointed Governor of Moyses Hall jail with the promise of also being Governor of the New Jail to be built in Sicklesmere Road. He had modern views on prison reform and had a big input onto the new design. He introduced a Treadmill, prisoners could cook their own rations and other new ideas copied later at other prisons. The Tsar of Russia even asked him for advice in 1819.
1799 Having given up the yarn trade four years earlier, in 1799 James Oakes sold his comb shops to John Clark, a brewer, for £900. He had sold his Stowmarket property a year earlier. Most of the other big Bury yarn makers had also given up by now.
In 1792 John Clark had taken over the Capital Brewery in St Andrews Street which was next door neighbour to Oakes's now redundant comb shops. In order to expand his brewery he needed more space, and he probably needed more staff. Either in 1799 or some time in the next two years he would engage Benjamin Greene from Bedford as an assistant brewer. Greene would go on to found the firm which eventually became Greene King, but this seems to be the only tenuous link that the firm of Greene King can have with 1799.
1800 By 1800 the yarn industry of Suffolk, including Bury St Edmunds, had dwindled to almost nothing. Norwich, however, would still be a sizeable textile town until the mid nineteenth century. It relied upon cheaper yarn now brought in from Ireland.
Brandon developed a unique industry to supply the demand for flints to use in the flintlock muskets needed for the Napoleonic wars. This revived the flint industry which had last flourished at Weeting in the stone age.
The Baptist Church was established in Bury.
The poem "The Farmer's Boy" was published in London, written by Robert Bloomfield, who was now a very poor cobbler working in that city, although born at Honington in Suffolk. A second edition followed very rapidly, published simultaneously in London, Bury and Norwich. The poem was written in 1798, but Robert could not get a publisher. His brother George, living in Bury, finally managed to show it to Mr Capel Lofft, a Whig barrister and magistrate who lived at Troston Hall, three miles from Honington. It was Capel Lofft who got the poem published, and introduced Bloomfield's work into society. He was largely responsible for enlisting the support of Captain Bunbury at Livermere Hall, the Duke of Grafton at Euston, Dr Drake of Hadleigh, the Earl of Buchan, the Duke of York and even the Prince of Wales, all of whom were to admire and promote Bloomfield's work. By 1803, 30,000 copies had been sold. Bloomfield became rich on the proceeds, but over the years his various relatives were to relieve him of most of it.
1801 The Irish Act of Union led to rule from London.
In 1801 Bury was the second town in the county of Suffolk, having a population of 7,655. It was run by a closed corporation of 37 members who returned two MP's to Parliament. It was the venue for the county assizes and quarter sessions, as well as petty sessions and other Borough courts, such as the Coroner's court and the court of pie powder, which enforced market bye laws. There were various industries supplying local needs, but the big earners were brewing and malting. The great fortunes made in the last century from yarn making were still mostly intact, although the yarn industry itself was over. It was a prosperous and well situated town, widely known for its social life. Every October, the Bury Fair was nationally known for its social entertainments.
Land enclosure had again been going strong since 1770. In 1801 the enclosure of the green at Honington led Nathaniel Bloomfield to write his poem "The Elegy on the Enclosure of Honington Green". He echoed the feelings of the poor when he wrote that "In all seasons the green we loved the most, because on the green we were free". His brother Robert Bloomfield wrote "The Farmers Boy".
Messrs Crowe Sparrow and Browne bought Spink and Carss old banking house on the Cornhill, and opened up a new bank in Bury.
In 1801 the Presbyterian Minister, Nathaniel Phillips, persuaded some of his congregation to embrace the rationalist doctrines of Unitarianism. Many of his flock then left to join the Congregational Church, but today we still know the building in Churchgate Street, Bury, as the Unitarian Meeting House.
1802 In November 1802 the poor state of the Lark Navigation, combined with a drought, left the coal yards of Bury St Edmunds empty. There was not enough water to float the barges.
Sir Charles Davers who had held one of Bury's two parliamentary seats since 1774 stood down with no heir to follow him. James Oakes, who by now was over 60, immediately decided to offer his services as political agent to the Earl of Bristol. He held the same office already for the Duke of Grafton. For the next 25 years the FitzRoys and the Herveys shared the two seats whatever the state of politics in the country as a whole.
Bury corporation had banned the practice of bull baiting and in 1802 supported a bill to outlaw it nationally.
In 1802, Benjamin Greene joined the Congregationalist Chapel in Whiting Street. He paid a subscription to reserve a pew for himself and family, and this is the first written evidence of the would-be brewer's presence in Bury.
There is a well known gravestone in Bury churchyard for the servant girl, Sarah Lloyd, hanged in 1802 for stealing goods worth £2 from her employer, after letting two soldiers into the house, while her employer was out. Capel Lofft, a barrister and magistrate of Troston Hall led the appeal against this harsh sentence. Even the Duke of Grafton signed the appeal for mercy, but all to no avail. As the tumbril was taking her to execution at Tayfen Meadows, Capel Lofft also climbed aboard and harangued the crowd for 15 minutes. As a result, this great radical philanthropist was struck off the roll of magistrates.
Lofft had also been the reason for the success of the poet, Robert Bloomfield, who published his second work, called "Rural Tales, Ballads and Songs" in 1802.
In 1802, those refugees from the French Revolution, the Canonesses of St Augustine, voted to leave Hengrave Hall and return to Bruges.
1803 The New Assembly Rooms in Bury were improved by way of a subscription fund raised by the banker James Oakes. Twelve men contributed £500 each, and a five man committee was appointed. A separate committee ran the Billiard Room. The building was then re-named The New Subscription Rooms. Some 150 people became subscribers to use it. It would not become called the Athenaeum until after 1854.
Oakes recorded that it opened in 1803, in time for the Bury Fair in October.
Gillingwater's History
Gillingwater's History
1804 Edmund Gillingwater produced his guide book to the town entitled "History of St Edmund's Bury". Gillingwater had previously written the History of Lowestoft, his best known work, in 1795. This present book was printed by and for J Rackham's of Angel Hill. It was described as An Historical and Descriptive Account of St Edmund's Bury, in the County of Suffolk. The book is full of historical incidents, facts and figures, and has the feel of a compilation of sections, covering many disconnected periods. It includes a list of plants growing wild about the town and its surrounds. The book opens with a long discussion of whether Bury ever was the Villa Faustini, and appears to conclude that in the view of most authorities, it was not. However, this idea was still very much alive, a hundred years later when Villa Faustini featured in the 1904 pageant. On a more modern note, he says that the Assembly Rooms were nearly finished in 1804. Improvements were carried out from 1803 to 1805.
Edmund Gillingwater was a barber's apprentice in Lowestoft when he was taken in hand by a local rector, and given tuition. As he had no means to pursue a scholastic career he became a bookseller in Harleston, just inside Norfolk. He became well known for his learning and his antiquarian interests throughout the two counties, as well as for his devotion to the church. He, in turn, took classes for young men in Harleston. His brother remained in Lowestoft and provided Edmund with much of the material for his book on Lowestoft. It is likely that the Bury bookseller, J Rackham, knew of Gillingwater's book on that town, and commissioned him to write this History of St Edmundsbury.
Moyses Hall with original east wall
Moyses Hall with original east wall
In 1804 the east wall of Moyses Hall collapsed. It was subsequently rebuilt on a much plainer style, apparently with the loss of some Norman window frames and features. There is one known print of the building before the collapse. It illustrates one of our difficulties in relying on old pictures for accuracy. If the artist felt like leaving out some feature because it was, perhaps, not picturesque in his view, then he would do so. This view omits the cupola on the building. Although there has been more than one of these additions over the years, there was certainly thought to be a cupola in place at this time.
The Congregational Church in Whiting Street was re-built in 1804, although the congregation could be dated back to the 17th century.
The smallpox vaccine of Dr Jenner was now so highly regarded that Robert Bloomfield even published a poem in its honour, "Good Tidings or News from the Farm."
1805 In 1805 we can trace the real beginnings of the brewers Greene, King and Company, when Benjamin Greene set up a partnership with William Buck to brew and sell beer. Greene had been apprenticed to Whitbread's Brewery in London, in the 1790's and apparently when this was over, he moved to Bury somewhere between 1799 and 1802. He seems to have entered into a 3 year contract as Assistant Brewer at the Capital Brewery of John Clark in St Andrews Street. After this he decided to set up on his own account.
There had been a Brewery in Westgate Street, Bury St Edmunds, throughout the 18th Century, owned by three generations of the Wright family. In 1798 Matthias Wright had decided to sell the Westgate Brewery, together with its Malting House and Public Houses. It did not sell, and for several years had stood empty. Finally in the Winter of 1805, The Buck and Greene partnership took it over, and began slowly to restart the brewing process.
James Oakes presented the corporation with a Mayor's robe and chain. The chain incorporated a gold medallion chased with a profile of King James I, and the arms of the town. The gold chain, made of horse-bit links and chased rosettes, cost Oakes £140.
In 1805 the County Gaol was completed by George Byfield in Sicklesmere Road. The County no longer needed to keep prisoners in the old gaol on the Cornhill, at the bottom of Woolhall Street. The first Gaol Keeper was John Orridge who would later influence prison design both within the kingdom and abroad.
Nelson was victorious at the Battle of Trafalgar.
In 1805 Yates History of Bury was published and aroused a great interest in Bury's monastic ruins and remains all over England. The full title of Richard Yates' book was "An Illustration of the Monastic History and Antiquities of the Town and Abbey of St Edmund's Bury". The Reverend Richard Yates was provided with the illustrations for his book by his brother, the Reverend William Yates, of Jesus College, Cambridge. There were 15 illustrations of historical remains of Bury St Edmunds as they existed at the time. Much interesting material was published about the abbey. The Norman Tower was shown with a cupola on the top, a public clock on its face, and houses built on both sides of it. Access to the West Front homes was therefore through its arch at present day street level. Much of the arch was by now below ground level. This book was re-published in 1843, with some additional plates. One new illustration is of the coat of arms of the Abbey, basically three crowns, which was said to have been displayed over the South Gate. The three crowns were incorporated into the arms of the Borough of Bury St Edmunds and later St Edmundsbury Borough Council.
According to a postscript in the book, Yates intended to publish further extensive work on the town's history, but this does not seem to have happened. Yates was an educated man from a well to do family. Yates recorded that his father had lived for 37 years within the abbey precincts, and had fostered his own antiquarian interests. His book was a scholarly work, quoting extensively from medieval documents, with latin extracts. It was large and lavishly produced. In the fashion of the time you could order your own custom binding depending upon your purse. It had a large number of wealthy local gentry on its subscription list, and was aimed at a completely different market than the small popular history produced earlier by Edmund Gillingwater.
1806 By April 1806 Buck and Greene began advertising that they would be ready by the first week in June, to execute any order thay may be favoured with for table beer. They also announced that as soon as possible, the would supply such Ale, Porter and Old Beer, as will give complete satisfaction to their friends. Thus did the name of Greene become associated with the Westgate Brewery in Bury St Edmunds.
The wool trade being moribund in Bury, Mathew's Wool Hall was leased to an earthenware man.
Sir Charles Davers died in 1806 "when the scite of the Abbey and the Stewardship of the franchise, descended to the second sister's second son, Frederick, now Marquis of Bristol."
Bury's Assembly Rooms were formally conveyed into the ownership of its Subscribers.
The two subscription libraries in town were amalgamated in 1806 and survived until 1829.
Oakes opened a branch of his Bury and Suffolk Bank in Stowmarket to compete with Crowe, Sparrowe and Browne who had recently done the same. Stowmarket was enjoying rising prosperity at this time. Farmers were doing well in the war, and the Gipping Navigation had opened in 1793.
In 1806 the Norfolk and Suffolk General Bank of Thetford opened a branch in Bury. This bank was owned by Willett and Sons.
1807 On 28th January London became the first city in the world to be lit by gas light.
James Oakes had estimated that in 1807 the population of Bury was 7,500, but he thought that about 4,500 were paupers. If correct, this put 60% in poverty.
The Guild Hall was refronted and repaired during 1806 and 1807 at a cost of £1,400. It assumed broadly the appearance that it has today.
1808 A system of shutter telegraphs was set up to send messages from the admiralty in London to naval ships in port at Yarmouth. A chain of 18 stations were set up on hills in line of sight which operated 12 shutters abut 3 feet square. A message could be sent to Yarmouth in about 17 minutes by this system. The chain had a station at King's Chair at Newmarket followed by one at Telegraph Road, Icklingham about 10 miles away. The next station was on the Thetford Road at Barnham, about 5½ miles distant. The system only lasted until the Napoleonic Wars ended in 1814.
The non conformist British and Foreign school society was set up to provide schools for poor children.
1809 Despite the recent difficulties in the yarn trade, when Simon Cumberland died, he left the enormous sum of £200,000. He had been in partership with his brother in Bury and Woodbridge.
1810 John Webb's poem, "Haverhill", was published. He later became famous as the 'Haverhill poet'. He wrote that he realised 100 guineas from its publication. William Wordsworth was said to have admired this poem and commented that he had never made so much money from his work. John Webb's patron was the Reverend Marryweather, who procured a number of "respectable subscribers" to finance publication of the poem. Webb recorded in his diary that shortly after its publication, "Sir George Beaumont called upon me and told me it did me credit and that Wordsworth, the poet, read "Haverhill" through at his house and approved of it".
Plans to move the Bury Assizes to Ipswich and an attemp by county magistrates to extend their jurisdiction into the Borough were both defeated by James Oakes and the Bury corporation.
1811 An Act of Parliament was obtained to establish Paving and Improvement Commissioners for the town of Bury St Edmunds. They could levy a rate to improve the paving, lighting and drainage of the town and provide piped water supplies. They operated alongside the Corporation and would eventually make substantial progress in sewering the town. Both James and Orbell Oakes were appointed as Commissioners and James was made Treasurer. The Commissioners operated until 1873, when the corporation were given their responsibilities.
1811 saw the start of a rapid period of growth in Bury, particularly up to 1821.
The Guildhall Feoffees built the almshouses in Long Row, Southgate Street, in Bury. The builders were W Steggles of Bury and this is one of their earliest buildings but the firm went on to develop or re-develop large areas of the town. The business ran from the site of Model Junction in Whiting Street.
A Wesleyan Chapel was built in St Mary's Square on a site of a smaller one in which John Wesley had often preached. Between 1755 and 1790, he had preached in St Mary's Square on 17 occasions. Today it is number 4A, a private house.
Henry Bunbury 1750-1811
Henry Bunbury 1750-1811
Henry Bunbury of the Great Barton estate died in 1811. He had become well known as a satirical caricaturist, and had spent much of his life in London, moving in fashionable and court circles. However, he often returned to Bury, where he was highly popular and equally well known as "a bit of a lad". Joseph Farington described him as "living most of his time a sotting life at Bury in Suffolk." Bunbury had also been a captain of the West Suffolk Militia, and many of his pictures depict militia life, as well as local scenes and local tradespeople.
The Anglican National Society was started to provide school places for working class Church of England children.
The Prince Regent was installed during the madness of King George III.
1812 In the Breckland area to the north-west of Bury, the views were much different than they are today. From about 1812 the distinctive belts of Scots Pine began to be planted to serve as windbreaks, to protect crops from sandstorms. The landscape was huge open plains, but small areas were sown with rye until the soils were exhausted, and then allowed to revert to heath. There were huge areas of dunes created by wind blown sand, and enormous flocks of sheep on the sparse grasslands. After 1812 the pine belts started to change the landscape and ecology. The Great Bustard would become extinct by the 1830's.
1813 Farm prices began to collapse, and for the next decade farmers would be in financial difficulties.
In November a petition applying for an Act of Parliament for enclosure of the town fields was considered in the House. Landowners needed to maximise their efficiency in the face of falling prices, and it would be the common users who would have to give way.
1814 In May the Napoleonic War was ended by a peace treaty. The stations of the Yarmouth naval telegraph line set up in 1808 were rapidly sold off. The by-now eight troops of Suffolk Yeomanry originally formed in 1793 were formed into the First Regiment Loyal Suffolk Yeomanry Calvary. Bury was to remain the depot of the 4th Troop.
1815 Napoleon returned from exile but was finally defeated again at the Battle of Waterloo.
No Mans Meadows came into the possession of the Guildhall Feoffees under the Bury St Edmunds Enclosure Award of 1815. They are still owned by the Feoffment Trust today, but were opened to public access under a management agreement with St Edmundsbury Borough Council in the 1990's.
During the 20 odd years of the Napoleonic wars, farmers had increased production as agricultural prices had risen. Food had doubled in price. Suffolk pastures were ploughed up to grow wheat. After 1814 prices for wheat began to fall back, profits fell and unemployment rose. Farm wages were cut by 30% and discontent occasionally boiled over into violence, particularly against any form of mechanisation. Mobs in Ipswich and Gosbeck smashed machines and burned agricultural buildings. The words "Bread or Blood" were frequently daubed on Ipswich walls. How far the enclosures contributed to discontent is not easy to tell, but it is clear that this was yet another attack on the rights and incomes of the poor.
During 1815 the Boby family of Bury built a new family home in St Andrews Street South in a mock medieval style with battlements and called it St Andrews Castle. It has since been a convent school, and today houses a business centre.
1816 By 1816 Suffolk was in a very depressed state. By 1816 the Guldhall Feoffees were completing the enclosure of land in Bury, and this may have helped to stir up further discontent. In April there was trouble in the countryside around Bury, and on the 29th April the Bury Magistrates issued a proclamation that they intended to enforce the law against disorderly assemblages, and "outrages". By May, violence reached Bury, when on the 8th large crowds gathered on the market, and on the 14th Robert Gooday's barns in Southgate Street were burned to the ground by a mob.
On May 15th James Oakes recorded that around 8 o'clock in the evening a great number of people assembled in the Butter Market to demand that a local hosier, Mr Wales of Abbeygate Street, should give up his Spinning Machines. Things "were proceeding to be very tumultuous", so the magistrates, principal inhabitants and officers of the militia turned out and suppressed any further disturbance before 12 o'clock. Things quietened down in Bury, but agrarian riots continued elsewhere in Suffolk.
High shop prices were also attacked. In Brandon, 1500 armed men wrecked a butcher's shop and demanded "bread or blood".
1817 The post war slump in agricultural prices left about a third of Suffolk's working population unemployed. The previously well-off farmers could not pay tradesmen's bills and they in turn were ruined. By 1834 about half of Suffolk would be on some form of parish relief.
In Bury in 1817 about 4,000 of the 10,000 population were on some form of poor relief. In order to qualify for relief the conditions were now more demanding than in earlier years, and the poor were now probably worse off than for the last 20 years. The parish would top up the wages of a family of seven to 14 shillings a week, but this was 9 shillings the man, 1 shilling the wife and the five children were expected to earn 4 shillings. Employers exploited this by cutting wages. The Poor Rate had been a large and growing burden on the property owning class up to 1800, but since then costs had been cut and benefits reduced.
1818 James Oakes recorded an account of the Parliamentary election for the Borough of Bury St Edmunds. The candidates entertained 150 gentlemen and the corporation at the Guildhall. Later there was a ball in the Ball Room until 1.30 am. Although the two candidates were returned unopposed, the election expenses were £878.
1819 The poverty and ignorance amongst the working people led to movements such as the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge. In Suffolk the Suffolk Society for the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church was in action to provide elementary and bible schooling. They set up Central Schools, such as the National School in Field Road. This road is today called Kings Road, and the location was opposite the offices of the Bury Free Press. In Bury a new Theatre was erected in Westgate Street by William Wilkins, the manager of the Norwich Company of Comedians, who had performed regularly at the Market Cross. It was called the New Theatre and was most used during the Bury Fair. It had 780 seats, all benches. It did not become called the Theatre Royal until after Wilkins died.
The old theatre which was in the Robert Adam building now called the Market Cross, now became used as a concert hall and ballroom.
In the same year the County Gaol was enlarged.
In Haverhill Gurteen's records first noted the sale of ready-made smocks, a major leap forward in the business from just supplying drabbet, fustian and cotton cloths to other businesses. The smocks would be booked out to local women to embroider the neck and sleeves with designs that denoted the occupation of the wearer. They would be collected back again and sent out to clothier's shops.
A branch of Bury and Suffolk bank was opened in Clare, following the failure of Ray's Bank in that town. The agricultural slump also affected the banks, and the closure of the Clare Bank left people who held their banknotes in dire straits as well.
1820 King George IV took the throne.
Street lighting was installed in Pall Mall.
James Oakes was influential in prompting a new Act of Parliament giving the Paving Commissioners the right to borrow up to £10,000. However, in the way of government bureaucracy, they could never borrow more than £8,000 at one time. Oakes knew that this would not be enough "to complete the paving and repair which wants and to light next winter."
Nevertheless, the Act authorised the lighting of the town by gas, but this would take another 14 years to happen.
The Botanical Gardens were laid out in Bury.
1821 John Webb wrote his second long poem about Haverhill, and called it "The Market Town". this poem does not seem to have been published until 1859, some years after his death.
Following ten years of growth, Bury St Edmunds now had a population of nearly 10,000, overall an increase of 25 per cent since 1800. The last few wool combers and spinners had finally given up in Bury by now. The town's only industry would be brewing and malting until Robert Boby's works opened in mid century.
The Improvement Commissioners of Bury finally appointed a Professional Surveyor, called James McAdam, to ensure that road paving and sewering was efficiently undertaken. Previously they were being criticised for the poor state of the roads. McAdam also got the commissioners to appoint a resident sub-surveyor who would supervise the contracts and report to McAdam.
The Improvement Commissioners also gave permission for the path and highway to the east of the Assembly Rooms to be encroached upon by about four inches. A new brick wall was required to clad the side of the building.
The demand for political reform was growing, and there was an increasing amount of protest at the political control exercised at Bury. The Bury and Norwich Post gave a voice to reformers, and in 1821 the Tory Bury Gazette was set up. As well as opposing parliamentary and other reforms, it opposed the emancipation of Catholics.
In December, William Cobbett toured Norfolk and Suffolk, later to be recorded in his "Rural Rides", published in 1853. "The land all along to Bury St Edmund's (from Sudbury) is very fine; but no trees worth looking at. Bury, formerly the seat of an abbot, the last of whom was, I think hanged, or somehow put to death, by that matchless tyrant Henry VIII, is a very pretty place; extremely clean and neat; no ragged or dirty people to be seen, and women (young ones I mean) very pretty and very neatly dressed." This is the total of Cobbett's comments on Bury for 1821, but illustrates the type of black and white views he held, and his somewhat cavalier attitude to historical accuracy.
The gaol in Sicklesmere Road was enlarged to incorporate extra features proposed by John Orridge, its Governor.
The Bury Guide Book for 1821 recorded that there were three charity schools in Bury.
1822 Willetts Bank, called the Norfolk and Suffolk General Bank, closed down at Thetford, Brandon and Mildenhall, affected by the agricultural slump. Their branch in Bury which had opened in 1806 also closed. In response the Bury and Suffolk Bank of the Oakes family opened a branch at Mildenhall, and possibly for a very short time in Brandon.
Things were so bad in Bury that the first ball of the Bury Fair Season had to be cancelled as only 10 tickets were sold, compared to 409 a year earlier.
1823 A new town map of Bury was published by J G Lenny. It shows just about the first new street to be built since medieval times, called St Edmunds Place. This short row was off the Field Lane, which is today called Kings Road, and the new street is now called Prospect Row. Another new road marked was Waterloo Road, joining Field Lane to Risby Gate Street. Perhaps this was a speculative development that faltered as within a few years it was known as Chalk Lane, and Chalk Road today. But this was just the start of new building and within a decade Lenny's map was seriously out of date. It would be replaced in 1834 by Payne's map.
By 1823 there was a Baptist chapel, called the Ebenezer Chapel, in Lower Baxter Street. In 1823 its new pastor was Cornelius Elven, a convert from Congregationalism.
Robert Nunn, the organist at St Mary's, added a Concert Room to his house on Honey Hill. It was called St Margaret's House and his concert room could hold 300 people, and the stage was big enough for a full orchestra. Gradually this venue would become the centre of Bury's 'serious' musical life for the next fifty years.
The second Marquis of Cornwallis died and the Culford Estate and its five villages were sold to Richard Benyon de Beauvoir of Reading.
The well known and highly regarded poet, Robert Bloomfield died in Shefford in Bedfordshire, in greatly reduced circumstances. He had been a great pastoral poet, drawing upon youthful life in and around Honington, Sapiston and Euston, although most of his adult life was spent in London and out of Suffolk.
1824 The Bury St Edmunds Gas Works were opened in Tayfen Road. They cost about £12,000 and were said to be built on the site where at one time criminals were executed. This privilege was also attributed to Thingoe Hill up to 1766.
The Mechanics Institute was established in Bury.
1825 The West Suffolk Hospital was founded in 1825 in the then rural surroundings of Hospital Road. At the time it was called The Suffolk General Hospital. It was opened in 1826, and was established in a converted military depot, now redundant after the end of the Napoleonic War following Waterloo. The depot was said to hold a 10,000 stand of arms. The new hospital was funded by public donations, the first of which was £2,000 from Lord Bristol. Donors could nominate the patients to be treated, and at first there were 50 in-patients.
A new era in transport began when the world's first public steam-powered railway opened in September in the north of England between Stockton and Darlington. The first train to make the twenty-seven mile journey was pulled by George Stephenson's steam engine Locomotive No 1 and consisted of a tender, six goods wagons, the director's coach, six passenger coaches and fourteen wagons carrying workmen.
December 1825 produced a financial crisis when a series of banks crashed nationwide. Luckily there was only one bank failure in Suffolk, and this was at Brandon. Most could get to London to get cash to meet demands, and none had London bankers that failed. Sparrows of Braintree were not so fortunate.
1826 Catholic emancipation was one of the major issues in the 1826 General Election. The corporation of Bury opposed emancipation, despite the fact that both the Earl of Euston and Lord Hervey supported the cause. This led to some uncomfortable moments for both sides as the corporation more or less had to return both men as MP's because of their control of patronage in the town. There was pressure from reformers from all sides, and the corporation was no longer leading opinion as it once had. It was extraordinary that 37 mainly Tory men could still elect a Whig in this way.
1827 James Oakes became unable to continue with his diaries in October 1827 as he was nearly 86, arthritic and deaf.
The Suffolk Yeomanry were suspended from duty for a brief period from 1827 to 1831.
1828 To avoid severe congestion on market days the Cattle Market was removed from Bury town centre near the Corn Exchange to St Andrews Street (South) which today is just behind Woolworths. This resulted in a riot on 30th April when a brick was thrown at the Town Clerk. The octagonal toll collectors booth still survives from this site, but was not built until 1864. Bonds were issued by the corporation in their usual way to raise the finance to buy the land for the new market.
Also in 1828, the old Woolhall, which had ceased its real use in about 1800-1806, was pulled down, to make way for a road to connect the Market Place with St Andrews Street. This created Woolhall Street, the first major opening in the line of the old town wall.
The Independent or Primitive Methodist Chapel was opened in Northgate Street, at the Angel Hill end. It was largely rebuilt in 1866. The building still exists today on the corner of Looms Lane and has had a variety of secular uses as well as the religious.
John Webb of Haverhill reported attending a sermon in London preached "to improve the Polstead murder". The preacher "cautioned young men in the congregation against idleness, Corder was idle, and held Maria Martin as a warning against immoderate dress". This murder, soon to become known as The Murder in the Red Barn,
was widely reported in its day. William Corder was tried and executed in Bury St Edmunds for the murder of Maria Martin in August 1828. A very full account of the trial and the events surrounding it can be found by clicking where shown.
From 1828 to 1839 there was also a great expansion in non-conformist activity in Haverhill. In 1828 the Baptists opened a new meeting house, to be followed by the Quakers house in 1834, the Methodists in 1836, the old Independents and the Market Hill Chapel in 1839.
1829 James Oakes, the prominent banker of Bury St Edmunds, died but he left a diary covering the years from 1778 to 1827. He had been five times Alderman of the town, Deputy Lieutenant of Suffolk, Justice of the Peace, Turnpike Trustee for Thetford and Sudbury roads, a Guildhall Feoffee and governor of King Edward VI Grammar School.
His son, Orbell Oakes, now retired to Nowton to be a gentleman farmer and antiquarian, and amalgamated the Bury and Suffolk Bank with Browne, Bevan and company to produce Oakes Bevan and co.. The family would retain an interest in the bank until 1899 when it was bought by the Capital and Counties Bank. Orbell continued his involvement in local affairs, perhaps more so than in his business affairs.
1830 William IV became King.
A major cholera outbreak began in Britain and continued into 1831. It took ten years for the link to insanitary drinking water to be accepted.
The Duke of Wellington brought in the Beerhouse Act. The idea was to halt the spread of gin consumption by allowing householders to set up beerhouses at home for the sale of beer or cider. The duty on beer was abolished as an encouragement.
William Cobbett returned to the east in 1830, for another of his rural rides, described in his book of the same name to be published in 1853. "At Bury St Edmund's I gave a lecture on the 9th, and another on the tenth of March in the playhouse, to very crowded audiences." He was controversial in his views, and when he arrived at Thetford to give two more lectures on the 22nd, the Mayor refused permission for the talks as the Assizes were in session and the judge might be offended.
Cobbett also wrote "To conclude an account of Suffolk and not to sing the praises of Bury St Edmund's would offend every creature of Suffolk birth; even at Ipswich when I was praising that place, the very people of that town asked me if I did not think Bury St Edmund's the nicest town in the world. ..... and indeed, as a town in itself, it is the neatest place that ever was seen. .... it is so clean and neat that nothing can equal it in that respect."
"At Ipswich, to my great surprise, we found a most beautiful town, with a population of about 12,000 persons, and ..... most abundant prosperity; for the new houses are, indeed, very numerous. ...... see the numerous little vessels upon the arm of the sea which comes up from Harwich." Cobbett was, however somewhat scornful of this prosperity which he ascribed to the 20,000 troops which he said had been garrisoned here for twenty years and paid for from taxation which had "plunged into ruin and decay other counties not benefitting from the ruthless squanderings of the war." Nevertheless, he wrote, "I know of no town that can be compared with Ipswich, except it be Nottingham".
Cobbett's view on local agriculture was favourable. "I have always found Suffolk farmers great boasters of their superiority over others; and I must say that it is not without reason."
Needham Market and Stowmarket he called "two very pretty market towns." "I did not see in the whole county one single instance of paper or rags supplying the place of glass in any window, and did not see one miserable hovel in which a labourer resided."
He disliked the habit of trees being pollarded in the county, and commented that labourers' gardens were used to grow food, and there was no ornamental gardening as occurred in Hampshire, Sussex and Kent.
A Primitive Methodist Chapel was built in Garland Street, Bury.
Despite all this apparent progress farm labourers were protesting against the further mechanisation of their employments. All over the country intimidating notes were left on farm gates signed by one Captain Swing. By December it was felt that the Swing Riots, as they were called, were about to break out in Bury. The magistrates swore in many special constables and at the close of December 1830 about 30 people had been arrested for riot or machine breaking. Joseph Saville was taken for leaving threatening letters at Stradishall. He demanded higher pay for our labour or else "we will put you in bodily fear. SWING."
1831 January 1831 opened with seven men transported by Bury Quarter Sessions for breaking a threshing machine at Withersfield. This agitation merged with the movement to reform the electoral system, and change, reform and an air of menace was in the air for the established farmers, parsons and general well to do of the country.
The Suffolk Yeomanry, mothballed in 1827, was re-formed. The original troop at Bury had been light dragoons, but were reformed as The First Troop of Heavy Dragoons. This lasted until 1875.
Orbell Oakes continued to run the politics of Bury as his father had done, and at the May, 1831 General Election managed to get the Whig reforming candidate of the Fitzroys elected to one of Bury's two parliamentary seats. Only the 37 members of the Council could vote, and they had two votes available as there were two parliamentary seats. Earl Jermyn (anti-reform), got 23 votes and Colonel Charles Fitzroy (Reform) got 15, so they were both elected. Bennet (anti-reform) got 14 votes and Robert Rolfe, the much less well-connected of the two reform candidates, only got 2 votes.
However the anti-reform candidate, Earl Jermyn, was elected with the most votes, and Philip Bennet of Rougham, also against reform, came a close third to Fitzroy.
Such a closely contested election under the patronage system of the day was called a "most remarkable event" by the Bury and Norwich Post. If it were not for Orbell Oakes, the Tory corporation would never have elected a Whig who supported Catholic emancipation and other reforming ideas, most notably the widening of the right to vote.
Orbell Oakes lost a considerable source of influence and income when the posts of Receiver General for Taxes were abolished. Since 1822 he had held the post for East Suffolk as well as the West.
In the middle of 1831, Francis King Eagle came to live in Bury. He was already known for his liberal politics and attachment to reform. In that year the House of Lords rejected the Reform Bill, and meetings were held throughout the country to argue the case for the Bill. In October, Eagle addressed a meeting on this topic in Bury, and in November, a meeting at Stowmarket. Eagle also pursued other causes in Bury. He accused the coal merchants of selling coal at excessive profits, and accused the Guildhall Feoffees of renting out their lands too cheaply , and broken the terms of some endowments. None of this was proved or even generally believed, but it gave him a reforming profile in the town.
The Marquis of Bristol offered Nathaniel Hodson a larger site for his botanic garden on the site of the Great Court of the Abbey. The central feature was a one acre circle of concentric beds based on the Royal Botanic Gardens in Brussels. Scarcity of funds caused the scientific side of the project to give way to the ornamental when the original 2 guineas a year subscription fee failed to raise enough money.
In order to widen the road at Honey Hill in Bury, the south porch of St Mary's church was removed. It seems to have ended up at Nowton Court, used as a garden folly, and can still be seen today near the larger pond.
In Abbeygate Street in Bury the Chemist's shop of Nunn, Hinnell, Clark and Burdon was founded. Its sign was a large pestle and morter which can still be seen outside the premises today, now called Leeson's Photographic shop.
Bury's population was now 11,436 compared to 9,999 a decade earlier.
1832 In June the popular support for reform of the voting system led to rallies and bonfire gatherings in Bury. The effigy of the Duke of Wellington, once a national hero, but now seen as the leading opponent of reform, was burnt by a crowd of 3,000. A Reform Festival and Dinner also went off peacefully, and the passing of the new laws seemed to promise a new era for many.
The Great Reform Act of 1832 aimed to revolutionise British democracy. Freemen and Freeholders were now given the vote in the boroughs. The franchise in Suffolk was widened from 6,200 voters in 1830 to 10,394 under the 1832 Act. The new constituencies were Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk Western, Sudbury and Eye. Suffolk's MP's were reduced from 16 to 11, but Bury retained 2 MP's while Suffolk West had 2 and Suffolk East had 2. Other boroughs like Ipswich and Sudbury had 2, while Eye had 1.
While the corporation now remained Tory as before, the majority of the 600 or so new voters in Bury were expected to support reform. The Fitzroy interest was Whig , and the Hervey interest remained Tory. They were challenged by a newcomer to town, Francis King Eagle, who stood as a Radical Reform Whig candidate in the 1832 General Election.
Account published 1833
Account published 1833
New Parliamentary elections were held across the country in December of 1832. At Bury the locals were sure that the anti-reform Earl Jermyn would never get elected again, and the reformer, Francis King Eagle, was widely expected to sweep the board. Barristers came to town to make up the Register of those eligible to vote, and when the list was published, observers tried to judge the likely outcome. The Borough Recorder, Mr Rolfe immediately withdrew judging that he had too few votes. Even Eagle's supporters became deeply worried and tried to set up a coalition with Lord Charles Fitzroy, but Fitzroy was indifferent as there was judged to be no advantage to him personally.
Election Day was Tuesday 12th December, and a hustings and poll-booths were set up on the south side of the Concert Room, on the Market Hill. Today, this location is outside the art gallery entrance, on the site of Laura Ashley's shop. The candidates were proposed and on a show of hands it was declared that Lord Charles Fitzroy and Mr Eagle were elected. Earl Jermyn demanded a full poll, and under the provisions in the Act, this was adjourned to Thursday 14th December. The polling continued into Friday 15th December, but it was quickly clear that this arrangement was showing that Earl Jermyn was actually going to do better than Mr Eagle. The system was that each vote was recorded in a poll book, which was open to view. The poll was then published after the election. Many people deliberately held back their votes to see how the poll was going. They might then only vote for one candidate if he seemed to need as much help as possible.
In Bury there were 521 men who voted, and 42 others on the register did not vote. They could cast up to two votes as there were two seats available. Lord Charles Fitzroy gained 344 votes, Earl Jermyn gained 272 and Francis Eagle got 238. Eagle had narrowly lost to the usual Fitzroy and Jermyn combination when the poll was closed.
For all the fuss made, and all the hopes raised for change, the outcome of this reformed Bury election remained exactly as it had been under the old system. The result caused an uproar. Eagle accused Jermyn of electoral bribery by treating voters to gain goodwill. Disappointed crowds of Eagle supporters took to the streets in protest. Windows were broken and in Whiting Street, Mr Case fired his fowling piece from an upstairs window to disperse the crowds, but in the subsequent confrontations and fracas, he opened fire again and this time a few people were hit by shot. Philip James Case was a local attorney who was the Registrar of the Archdeaconry of Sudbury, and all the wills and records were kept in his house. As a member of the town corporation he was well known, and this may have attracted crowds to his house, as many others of the establishment had hidden themselves away to avoid trouble. Case, however felt he should defend the safety of his official records, and this may have led to the trouble. Eventually, Case and his family had to run out of the back way and give themselves up to arrest to prevent further violence, but even so, all their windows were broken, and the front door battered.
The official results were not declared until Saturday the 15th December, when the usual system was to chair the successful MP's around the town. However this idea was dropped for fear of provoking a further outburst from the disappointed backers of Francis Eagle.
The following Monday, Mr Case was up before the Magistrates, defended by Mr Wayman, the solicitor. The hearing lasted all week but resulted in Case being committed to the Assizes on £2,000 bail.
1833 The controversy about the results of the 1832 election continued into 1833 at Bury. An account of the election together with copies of the electoral addresses and the speeches made, was printed and published by Walter Frost of Churchgate Street, in 1833. There was also a full account of the court case against Mr Case, which describes the disturbances after the election. The summary ended with the hope "that when the system gets into general operation, it may work more quietly".
Slavery was abolished in the British Empire.
In 1833 Richard Payne made a survey of Bury. A new map was needed as Lenny's map of 1823 was already out of date. Payne's survey recorded a growing town, just about to expand dramatically beyond its ancient boundaries. His map would be published and printed in 1834.
William Steggles, the builder, was a major landlord at the time, owning more property than either the Guildhall Feoffment or the Corporation. Stables and haylofts for horses and carriages were as much in demand as housing. Steggles had just built 23 houses at Cannon Place.
Chalk Lane had a limekiln recorded by Payne, but Lenny had labelled it Waterloo Street in 1823. It seems that this name did not stick, despite the fact that Waterloo Terrace was built there in 1815, and the old name of Chalk Lane re-established itself.
Payne's survey also showed that a subscription library stood on part of the site where the Corn Exchange was built. William Ray, a well known local clock maker, had premises in Brentgovel Street. Looms Lane only had six houses, most of the land being used as back entrances to the grand houses on Angel Hill. The Greyhound inn on the Cornhill was rebuilt as the Suffolk Hotel. This would be altered again in 1873, but would remain as a well known hotel until 1996. Thomas Ridley had a drapers shop at 34 Abbeygate Street and a grocers' shop at number 35. The Suffolk General Hospital occupied one acre in Hospital Road, less than many of the gentry's homes occupied. There was a limekiln in Westgate Street, and two windmills stood on high ground near Mill Road.
The Paving Commissioners agreed that the firm of John Malam and Thomas Peckston should be allowed to bring Gas Lighting to the town. They were allowed to lay down gaspipes to supply houses, and to put up Gas Lights in Abbeygate Street. Peckston bought some land in the Tayfen to build the Gas Works on. This location was supposed to have once been used for public executions, being just outside the town wall. The firm soon ran into financial difficulties.
In 1833 Commisioners investigating the Municipal Corporations of England and Wales started to compile their report on Bury St Edmunds. It would be published in 1835 as part of the evidence leading to the Municipal Corporations Act of that year. It stated the Bury was a Borough by prescription, with privileges derived from various early charters, and confirmed by James I in 1606.
The Oxford movement in the Church of England began with a conference in Hadleigh.
1834 The Poor Law Amendment Act was passed.
Before 1834 there was no general pattern of local government. Towns like Bury, Ipswich, Sudbury and Thetford had been given the power to elect a corporation by Royal Charter at various times.
In 1811 the corporation had needed to obtain an Act of Parliament to establish Paving and Improvement Commissioners for the town.
Outside Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk was split into East and West with Quarter Sessions of Magistrates who dealt not just with the administration of justice, but also the police force, the coroner, bridges, the Lieutenancy and the Militia. The Quarter Sessions levied a rate on their constituent parishes. Each Parish had a vestry which dealt with the Poor Law, repair of roads (except turnpikes), vermin control and upkeep of the Church.
After the Napoleonic Wars, the massive unemployment caused by demobilisation led to the need for action. Under the 1834 Act Parishes were grouped into unions in order to cope with their Poor Law duties. The new unions were given the power to build workhouses to provide "indoor relief" to the poor. The position in Suffolk was particularly bad with up to half the population on some form of parish relief. Suffolk was divided into 18 Poor Law Unions. In the countryside a "Captain Swing" had supposedly incited men to riot and attack machines, barns and workhouses. These were called the Swing Riots. Men were imprisoned or transported but criminal damage was widespread. The Poor Law Reform Act served to cut the cost of relief, but at the expense of the poorest members of society. The Thingoe Union Workhouse was a local result of this reform, set up near the hospital in Hospital Road in 1836. The Borough itself still had its own Union Workhouse until the 1870's,when it closed it down. The national situation was overseen by the Poor Law Commissioners set up by the 1834 Act. Their secretary was Edwin Chadwick, a reforming young barrister.
In 1833 Richard Payne surveyed Bury St Edmunds and published a town map in 1834. Payne's map of Bury St Edmunds shows the original layout of concentric beds in the Abbey Gardens. Unlike the two Warren's maps of 1747, and 1776, Payne places north at the top of the map. Prospect Row was a new street at this time on the site of what Lenny had called St Edmunds Place in his 1823 map. Over the previous dozen years or so, the population rose by about 15% and this growth had been mainly accommodated by infilling gardens and spaces by courts, yard or squares.
In 1834 the new Baptist Church was opened in Garland Street, replacing the 1800 one in Looms Lane and Lower Baxter Street, although the old churchyard can still be seen today at the foot of the Borough Offices car park. It was built by the firm of Steggles and can seat nearly 1,000 people. The Pastor, Cornelius Elvin was responsible for the large increase in the congregation since he took over in 1823.
During 1834, Malam and Peckston's firm from Hull built the town of Bury a Gasworks on the edge of Tay Fen. The pressure was very low, but the improvement made by the gas lighting of the streets was dramatic. This company became bankrupt and in 1835 the works were bought by the newly formed Bury Gaslight Company using finance lent by the Improvement Commissioners.
In Haverhill the old Quaker Meeting House had been in bad disrepair and by 1834, a new meeting house was finished in Quakers Lane, on the same land they had held since 1674.
1835 The Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 introduced the first elements of democracy into local government.
In Bury the old council was dissolved and the town was divided into 3 wards and new elections were held. The new Council would be made up of a Mayor Recorder, 6 Aldermen and 18 Councillors. The Councillors were to be elected by the ratepayers in their wards, and the Council could elect the Aldermen and the Mayor. The Magistrates were now separated from the Corporation, which was, however, still responsible for policing matters.
The old corporation was substantially in debt and the last Alderman, Abraham Gall, (1835-36) actually refused to hand over the insignia and plate to the new Council. Gall wanted to sell the assets to pay off the old corporation's debts. Eventually a judgement was obtained to enforce this transfer.
1836 The new Council took office under the first Mayor since the brief Mayoral period of 1684 to 1688. The first Mayor after the 1835 Act was Francis King Eagle who had been the local radical candidate following the Great Reform Act of 1832. The Mayor would now replace the Alderman as the town's first citizen from 1836 onwards. The town had only previously had a Mayor for the brief period from 1684 to 1688, when the King had taken over control of the membership of the corporation.
The new council found that the old corporation had, as usual, farmed the markets and fairs, and they were bound by the terms of the existing lease, which did not expire until 1849. The chain of office made in 1805 had its medallion replaced with a bust of William IV.
On police matters the new council's Watch Committee had clear views. In February a Police Force was formed for the Borough to replace the constables previously appointed by the Court Leet. One of the rooms in Moyses Hall was refurbished to provide Bury with its first official Police Station, or Station House. The Borough Police replaced the old ward constables, and was started with a Superintendent, Richard Coney, and five constables for the daytime and six for the nights.
By now the ground floor used as a corn market in the Market Cross building at Bury was too small for the numbers attending, and a new building was necessary. So a new corn exchange was built just south of the old one, now the site of the Laura Ashley store, to replace it. The concert hall upstairs in that Robert Adam building was left alone. The old exchange floor downstairs was enclosed for council offices by 1840. It would soon became called the Town Hall. The new building was used as a Corn Exchange until replaced by today's Corn Exchange on the adjacent site in 1862.
The Thingoe Union House was built nearby the hospital on an 8 acre site, to house 300 paupers, at a cost of £6,000. It was a result of the Poor Law Reform Act of 1834.
The first one-inch ordnance survey maps were published.
From 1836 to 1858 the Bury Borough Council gradually acquired more land on St Andrews Street South for the cattle market and fairs.
The first railway was planned for Suffolk by the formation of the Grand Eastern Counties Railway. No track would actually be built in Suffolk until 1844.
It was into this environment that Charles Dickens placed his fictional character Mr Pickwick, in his book "The Pickwick Papers". In the book Pickwick stays at the Angel, has an adventure at a girls school, said to be where the Nuffield Hospital remains today, and witnesses an election at Eatanswill, reputed to refer to Sudbury, a notorious Rotten Borough of the day.
1837 Queen Victoria was to be the last of the House of Hanover, but she ruled for 64 years over an era of unprecedented expansion. Meanwhile, epidemics of influenza and typhoid ravaged London. The consequences of illness pushed up the cost of Poor Relief. The Poor Law Commission set Edwin Chadwick to write a report on the matter.
Following a dispute with their pastor, Cornelius Elven, about 30 members of the Baptist Church left and set up their own Rehoboth Chapel in Westgate Street. Elvin was brought up a Congregationalist but had joined the Ebenezer Baptist congregation following his own bible studies. He became their Pastor in 1823, and was responsible for gaining a great number of new worshippers, to the extent of needing to move to a new chapel in Garland Street. He was a liberal Baptist, and the breakaway group desired a stricter form of worship. Around this time, in the 1830's, several of the dissenting groups reformed new congregations. A few years earlier some Congregationalists left to set up the Chapel at the bottom of Northgate Street.
When Queen Victoria came to the throne Haverhill was largely poverty stricken. The majority of the population were illiterate, working either on the land or on hand looms in their own homes. Housing was insanitary for the labouring classes, lacking running water or proper drainage. Local affairs were run by the Parish Vestry whose main business was administration of the Poor Laws. Streets were unpaved and unlit.
1838 The Roman Catholic Church of St Edmund was built in Westgate Street in Bury, but a Catholic church or chapel had been recorded here in Payne's 1834 map. It was founded by the Jesuit priest, John Gage, in the 1760's, initially as a private chapel.
The Theatre Royal had been badly lit since it opened, but this year it was given the benefit of gas lights. Heating was still by open fires, and it was notoriously cold and draughty.
The old Eastgate Bridge was pulled down in 1838. According to Horace Barker there was a ducking chair nearby. The East Gate itself had long gone, pulled down in 1763.
1839 During the 1830's the Great Bustard became extinct in the Breckland, partly as a result of agricultural improvements since 1812. The Pine belts had become established by now, and much of the hitherto great open landscape now appeared more enclosed.
During the 1830's Wheatstone and Cook developed the Electric Telegraph, using wires which they intended to run alongside railway tracks. In 1839 the first telegraph was installed on the Great Western railway from Paddington to West Drayton and Slough. Up until this time the railway train was the fastest method of communication, but telegraphy produced instantaneous message transmission by wires. The first telegraph used a code of 20 characters based upon a pattern of left and right movements.
In 1836 the congregation of Haverhill's Independent Congregational Church had a disagreement over finances and a group split away to found the Market Hill Chapel where Chapmans is today. The Market chapel was finished in 1839 by the new group. The original group became known as the Old Independents and also built a new meeting house at this time.
1840 The Penny Post was begun.
A Parliamentary Select Committee reported upon the bad effects that poor sanitation could have on the health of the labouring classes.
Some improvements were undertaken to Eastgate Street in Bury and the Marquess of Bristol subscribed to the works.
A second Strict Baptist meeting place was opened at the Rehoboth Chapel in Westgate Road.
Work was finished on the plan to enclose the ground floor of the Market Cross building. It became known as the Town Hall when it was used for offices by the Bury St Edmunds Borough Council. The space had become available in 1836 when the Corn Exchange was removed from the Market Cross into the new building to the south.
1841 By 1841 a large brewery and maltings existed in Haverhill along both sides of Camps Road. It was owned by James Boreham to serve his pubs and to sell to others. Before such breweries, all beer was brewed by individual publicans on their own premises.
1842 The Poor Law Commission produced a report on the "Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population of Great Britain". Their secretary was Edwin Chadwick a barrister and follower of Jeremy Bentham and he had spent three years on the report, convinced that the old vestry system must be replaced by central government intervention to improve health in towns.
Up to 1842, the Corporation in Bury had owned the advowsons of both existing Anglican churches. This meant they could appoint friends and relations to the livings of St Mary's and St James's, but in 1842 the corporation sold its nomination rights.
In Bury, St John's Church was consecrated. With its distinctive spire it was built to serve the expanding Victorian town towards the north. In the spirit of the industrial age, its interior columns were made of cast iron. Much of the old Long Brackland was re-named St John's Street. It was the third Anglican church in the town, but St John's parish was not established until 1846.
During 1841 and 1842, the Shire Hall was rebuilt in the style of a Greek Temple with its magnificent columns and portico facing into the Churchyard at Bury. The new court rooms were opened at the Shire Hall, and would be in use until another rebuilding in 1907.
The composer Liszt performed at the Concert Rooms in Bury, in the room which is currently an art gallery, in the Market Cross.
Ransomes of Ipswich were producing a full range of agricultural equipment, along with about 20 other foundaries in Suffolk. In 1842 Ransomes developed their first successful steam traction engine.
1843 The book called Yates History of Bury, first published in 1805, was re-issued with some additions.
The Guildhall Feoffment Trust came under a scheme of control of the Charity Commissioners. Under this arrangement, part of the Trust's income was assigned to the Borough of Bury St Edmunds, to reduce the burden of the rates, and another fixed sum was paid to the West Suffolk Hospital. This was felt to be the best interpretation of Jankyn Smyth's bequest in modern conditions. However, the bulk of the Trust's income went to provide and run three new schools opened in 1843. These were the Guildhall Feoffment Commercial School for 150 boys in College Street, the Guildhall Feoffment Poor Boy's Elementary School for 300 in Bridewell Lane, and the Guildhall Feoffment Poor Girl's School for 150 in Well Street.
This major improvement in Bury schooling arose from the influence of Francis King Eagle. In 1839 he had examined the Feoffee's finances and declared that a quarter of their income should be devoted to education. At first it was slow to catch on but within 40 years these growing schools and their upkeep and improvement would prove too much for scarce resources of the Feoffees.
The Corporation acquired land off Chalk Road for a cricket ground. The Playfields lasted over 130 years in use for cricket or football, but today the land is used for car parking.
In August Richard Cobden MP visited Bury to campaign for cheaper bread via the repeal of the Corn Laws. He was treated with contempt by the Bury and Suffolk Herald.
Many people living "on the parish" gave up hope in this country and emigrated. Poor Law Unions arranged passages and there was a government assisted scheme to Australia.
After 1838 the Chartist movement led many to believe that a new Charter could improve their lot. By 1843 the Chartists knew that their demands had failed, and a new wave of disillusioned violence broke out in Suffolk.
In October an outbreak of fires on rural farms began, mainly west of Bury, which lasted well into 1844. The price of wheat had collapsed and in response labourers' wages were cut. The notorious Red Barn at Polstead, scene of the murder of Maria Marten, was one of the farm buildings burnt down in these disturbances.
The railway line had at last reached Colchester from London.
1844 About 160 fires had occurred in Suffolk by the time the outbreak ended and most were believed to have been started deliberately. Mildenhall and its surroundings saw many of these fires and the topic was widely reported and debated in the national press. Many people attributed these to the distress caused by the New Poor Law introduced in 1834. Sir Henry Bunbury commented on the "cold harshness" of the New Poor Law and claimed "incendiary crimes are the symptoms of a smouldering and dangerous discontent".
In Bury the Chapel of the Charnel's entrance to the old crypt was discovered. The floor was two feet deep in bones. It was remodelled into a family mausoleum by Alderman Spink, and he surrounded it by iron railings.
St Mary's church in Bury was completely restored at a cost of £5,000. An Order in Council finally removed the right to control the clergy of St James and St Mary's from the town corporation. These two churches and their parishes were finally made part of the Thingoe Deanery and the Arch Deaconry of Sudbury, under the Diocesan control. The corporation had inherited the Abbot's old freedom from episcopal control when they got their third charter in 1614, and finally this freedom was removed.
In October, the West Suffolk County Constabulary was established to get more organised policing in the rural areas.
Sudbury had its right to two MP's abolished because of gross electoral corruption. The Borough was lampooned as Eatanswill in "Pickwick Papers" by Charles Dickens.
In the USA, Samuel Morse set up his first experimental telegraph line using his own code invented in 1832, of long and short clicks, or dots and dashes. It covered every letter and the commonest letters had the least code. Despite modern advances into satellite communications, Morse code still has a place in the emergency shipping frequencies today.
1845 There was a potato famine in Ireland.
The Norman Tower was restored and the cupola shown on it in Yates Antiquities of 1805 was removed.
Development of a railway link from Norwich and Yarmouth to Cambridge meant that Brandon and Thetford on this route were the first places in Suffolk to enjoy a rail link to London, and indeed, the first to have any sort of rail link at all.
1846 In 1846 the long hoped for railway line arrived at Bury St Edmunds from Colchester. A railway line now linked London, Colchester, Ipswich, Stowmarket and Bury St Edmunds. The link from Colchester was built by the Eastern Union Railway founded in 1844 by J C Cobbold of Ipswich. The spread of railways caused the end of the boom in stagecoach travel. This was no wonder when it was seen that you could get from Bury to London in the astoundingly short time of four hours on the train. It could take all day by the fastest stage coach.
Third class fare by rail was about the same as the Stage Coach price, but you could go fourth class even cheaper. In December, 1846, when the first 90 tons of coal arrived in Bury by train, its price fell by ten percent. It arrived to temporary platforms and the station had hardly been started. Nevertheless there were street celebrations and fireworks to welcome this great event. The railways gave the town an easy export route, as well as bringing goods in cheaper. The old established brewing and malting industry could now be joined by other newer undertakings.
St John's Street now became a major route as it was the normal way into town from the railway station. Development now increased in this part of town.
The Norman Tower was restored in 1846 and 1847. The houses built against each side, and even partly in front of it, were taken down. Some five or six feet of earth which had accumulated over centuries was excavated from around its base, to leave its base exposed in the intriguing way in which it remains today. As part of the reinstatement process the Penny Bank opened new premises next to the Norman Tower, and they still stand today.
The St James's National Schools were built in Risbygate Street. The single, large and ornate building had separate entrances for girls and boys. In 1937 it was removed and became a carpark, and the road up to the Cattle Market, which was also created is still called School Yard.
The corn laws were repealed following a long and successful public campaign. There was now the prospect of cheaper bread from foreign corn.
1847 By the 1840's, the new Council had established itself and in common with the rest of Victorian England there was an explosion in local civic pride. There was a growth in the idea of self-improvement and a thirst for knowledge about history, botany, and antiquarianism in its widest sense. There was talk of opening a museum, and of setting up a Suffolk Institute of Archaeology.
In 1847 the Council erected two stone tablets among the remains of the old abbey church commemorating the Barons' meeting here in 1214, and the idea now grew up that the town should capitalise on these ancient connections.
In 1847 men 'raising gravel for ballast' for the barges on the then navigable River Lark, found skeletons and numerous cremation urns at West Stow.
The West Suffolk General Hospital was somewhat enlarged, but its modern credentials were established when Dr John Kilner carried out one of the first uses of anaesthetics in an operation.
1848 Local Boards of Health were set up by the Public Health Act of 1848. The Act was adoptive, not prescriptive and its sewerage provisions were not adopted by the Commissioners in Bury for 11 years.
The General Board of Health was established with Edwin Chadwick at its head. It was the first stirrings of what would become today's DETR.
In the same year Samsons Tower changed from stables to a dye works, having been auctioned off for £520. By now, however, its history was becoming more widely appreciated, and it was suggested that it should be adapted as an official home for the Mayor.
A railway link was established from Newmarket to Cambridge.
In this year the Ipswich and Suffolk Railway company agreed to pay the Reverend Sir Thomas Cullum £500 a year to let the Lark Navigation decay for ten years. The agreement started on 1st January 1849, and despite the protests of the Bury Corporation, the deal was done. The corporation's legal advice was that this was contrary to the original Navigation Act.
When an old oak was felled at Hoxne, some rusty iron was found in its heart. This was acclaimed as an arrowhead from the martyrdom of St Edmund, and for years was displayed by Bury museum. Following much later examination by x-rays, it was decided that it was a piece of rusty fence wire or a nail.
1849 The lease on the Bury market expired and the Corporation agreed to take over its management and fix the tolls.
By this time the parish of St James had opened a new school in Risbygate Street, while the St Mary's school was enlarged to cover several buildings in and around Sparhawk Street. A school place was now available in the town for every under 13 who wanted one.
There was an Act of Parliament which incorporated the company to produce town gas in Bury. The gas works had been in Tayfen Road since 1824.
The ground floor of the Concert Rooms in the Market Cross now became used as Council Offices. The building gradually became called the Town Hall, and was used as such until 1937.
In 1849 excavations were carried out in the Bury Abbey grounds by permission of Mr Muskett and the results were recorded in the issues of the "Bury Post" during the autumn of that year.
Between 1849 and 1852 a number of local 'antiquarians', as they were then called, made collections of Anglo-Saxon objects from West Stow cemetery. Parts of these collections, made by John Gwilt of Icklingham, the Reverend Banks of Dillingham, Cambs and the Reverend Benyon of Culford, have survived and are to be found in the British Museum, the Ashmolean (Oxford), the Museum of Archaeology (Cambridge), Thetford Museum and at the West Stow Anglo-Saxon Centre.
A rail link was built from Haughley Junction to Norwich.
1850 The Bury Corporation tried to enforce its rights to collect market tolls from shopkeepers using stalls outside their shops on market days. Counsels advice backed them up.
The current Borough motto seems to have been used from about this date - Sacrarium Regis, Cunabula Legis, or Shrine of a King, Cradle of the Law. The shield of crowns and arrows and the crest of a wolf holding a human head had been granted shortly after the 1606 charter.
At some point visitors were allowed into the Abbey Gardens for a shilling, and children for sixpence. The price was relatively high to control the clientele and exclude "undesirables".
The Public Libraries Act of 1850 paved the way for a national network of 4,000 libraries.
The Theatre Royal in Westgate Street in Bury was by now in use all the year round, rather than having a season around Bury Fair. In 1850, the programme was made more popular and prices reduced to attract a new, perhaps less genteel, audience.
After 1850 it is generally accepted that the Little Ice Age which had prevailed since 1550, was over. However, the climate did not much improve until about the 1890's.
1851 Farm prospects began to improve in the 1850's.
Suffolk had a population of 335,000 by 1851, about 50% greater than in 1800. Bury's population was now 13,900, a 45% increase since 1801. Some landowners tried to help the plight of poor workers by providing model homes or cottages. The Bunbury estate at Great Barton had cottages which were "well built, airy and commodious", whereas in Bury there were many "miserable hovels," and "extreme misery".
The primitive Methodists completed a new chapel in Garland Street. Their old one would be sold to the Plymouth Brethren in 1853.
Lavenham had 300 straw plaiters in 1851. The Napoleonic war had finished off the old cloth industry in Suffolk. To use the skilled labour attempts were made to find other industry. Silk came to Haverhill, Bungay, Sudbury and Glemsford. Straw plaiting was invented. From 1830 - 1860 the weaving of horsehair and coconut fibre was introduced, particularly in Babergh. It lasted to the 1930's. Drabbet was a mixture of linen and cotton which became a speciality of Gurteens of Haverhill.
1852 In 1842 the Reserve Battalion of the East Suffolk was formed and in 1851 it was sent to South Africa for the Kaffir Wars. In 1852 a draft of one sergeant and 79 private soldiers of the First Battalion were sent to join them on board HMS Birkenhead. They were shipwrecked off the Cape on 24th February 1852 and stood steady on parade on deck as the ship went down, to allow the women and children into the lifeboats. The famous expression "women and children first" arose following the widespread admiration of this event, when 55 soldiers were drowned. There is a memorial to these men in St Mary's Church, Bury St Edmunds, unveiled by the Marquess of Bristol in 1907.
From 1846 to 1852 the USA was covered in telegraph lines. London was traversed by wires by 1850. It was the 19th century equivalent to the internet. News could cross a continent in minutes, but it slowed dramatically to ship speeds at the coasts.
1853 The Reverend Lord Arthur Hervey became the first President of a new literary society formed by leading citizens of the area. It was made up of members of the Archaeological Institute and the Young Men's Institute. They called themselves the Athenaeum Literary Institute, and for a time they were based in Guildhall Street.
One of the last enclosures of old open fields was at Barrow in 1853. Most land enclosure was finished off between 1770 and 1840, and it was to be all over by 1880.
In 1853, William Cobbett published his book "Rural Rides in Surrey, Kent and other counties", better known to us simply as "Rural Rides". These rides were undertaken from 1821 to 1832, and include his own "economical and political observations". He was in Norfolk and Suffolk in December 1821 and again in 1830. His observations are reported in this chronicle in those years.
1854 Britain joined the Crimean War in 1854. It would continue until 1856.
By now the social life of Bury had changed. The grand balls and assemblies had faded away, and the Assembly Rooms Subscribers wanted to sell their fading asset. An appeal was launched by Lord Arthur Hervey and 500 new subscribers were conveniently found in his Athenaeum Institute to put up enough to buy the building. Thus the Athenaeum Literary Institute acquired the Assembly Rooms building on the Angel Hill, Bury and changed its name to the Athenaeum. Pig Lane, formerly Punch Lane, now became known as Athenaeum Lane. The building would soon gain a Reading Room, a lending library and a Billiards Room. One upstairs room housed a museum from 1854, which was basically the collection of the Archaeology Institute. This room was used as a museum until the opening of Moyses Hall in 1899. The Ballroom became called the Lecture Hall. Eventually in 1861, an observatory was put in the roof following a successful lecture on Astronomy.
The railway link from Cambridge to Newmarket was extended to Bury St Edmunds. Rail traffic could now flow from Ipswich to Cambridge and on to the Midlands. Bury had two routes to London now. The Jockey Club had insisted upon a tunnel being dug under Newmarket Heath so as not to scare the horses, but this was an unnecessary cost, and a cause of delays as it was a single track only.
The Assizes for the county were held at Bury on March 27, 1854, and "the Lord Chief Justice having walked in to the Abbey Grounds on Sunday, a shilling was demanded of him for admission. After charging the jury, on the Monday, His Lordship had the Curator, Mr Hodson, before him, and told him it was penal to demand payment for admission to such places on the Lord's Day."
The last open fields at Withersfield were enclosed.
The Lancashire cotton boom, around the middle of the nineteenth century, hit the hand weavers of Haverhill (although hand weaving carried on in back-garden sheds did not finally die out until the late 1920s), and the great grandson of the founder of the Gurteen Company, writing in 1854, noted that: "Often 500 men stood idle on the Market Hill, waiting for work and food". So great was the distress that the Vestry met twice a fortnight for the purpose of sending families to Australia and elsewhere.
Also in 1854 the Haverhill Gas Works was opened in Withersfield Road by the Stour Brook.
1855 By 1855 the churchyards in Bury were full and the cemetery in Kings Road was opened. The first plot of land was about 11 acres. The road up to it naturally became called Cemetery Road, but it would be renamed in 1911. At that time the land was on the edge of town. The Churchyard between St Mary's and St James' was now closed to further burials. It had been used for burials at least since 1148 when it was enclosed by the abbey precinct walls. The earliest surviving gravestone is dated 1637.
The Bury Free Press was established in 1855 to appear on Fridays. The other Bury paper was the Bury and Norwich Post.
The old house once occupied by the last Abbot, John Reeve, from 1539 until his death in 1540, was finally demolished. It stood at the top of Crown Street, and the site is now within the Greene King brewery.
1856 Ransomes of Ipswich collaborated with Fowlers' of Leeds to produce their steam ploughing engines. Although such mechanisation was used in larger farms, agricultural work continued to be largely manual. Horses would be used right through to the Second World War.
In Bury, Robert Boby, who was an ironmonger on the ButterMarket, had decided to set up a factory to build his patented agricultural machinery. Boby had been recorded as an Ironmonger, Brazier and Turner as early as 1843, and was of an inventive turn of mind. In 1855 he built a Corn Dressing and Winnowing machine to separate corn from chaff, and won a gold medal with it at the Chelmsford Show. He decided to go into manufacturing for himself. This heavy machinery could now be shipped relatively easily to anywhere, home or abroad, via the railway system which covered all major ports by now. This was to be very important for the development of industry in the town. At this time there were probably still about 300 families in Bury involved in agriculture, while the largest single source of employment was probably in domestic service. The Gas Works was the only other industrial type of work available.
The site chosen by Boby was safely on the edge of the old town on the west side of St Andrews Street, South. It was the site of the Capital Brewery which had closed down by this time. This factory would grow over the years, extending westwards, and heavy engineering would continue here for a hundred years.
Steps were also being taken by Gurteens of Haverhill to compete with the mechanisation in the north. A new steam factory called Chauntry Mill was built and two beam engines were introduced to power the looms. Up to this time most of their workforce worked in their own homes, either at hand looms or making up ready made clothing. The new factory had 32 power looms. The new material was now steam drabbet, a course but hard wearing linen-like material used for smocks, the working clothes of most rural workers. It was the denim of its day and Haverhill became a famous centre for the making of drabbet smocks.
The Crimean War ended and it was generally acknowledged to have been badly conducted, and that reform of the army was needed. The national defences seemed inadequate.
1857 The Indian Mutiny began and lasted until 1858.
In Bury the requirements of the Militia Act of 1853 were being carried out in Cemetery Road, known today as Kings Road. Each county had to provide NCO accomodation and a secure store for arms. The site was 2.5 acres and its cost together with the buildings was £10,000. There was an armoury for 1,000 stand of arms, guard and orderly rooms, surgery, stores, powder magazine, prisoners' cells, as well as a yard and sheds. These new barracks would eventually be the muster point for 1000 men of the West Suffolk Militia Regiment. They assembled annually for training. They would have 29 officers, 37 staff sargeants, and 40 other NCO's. The housing development called Yeomanry Yard is all that remains of the depot, but numbers 28 to 33 and 37 to 39 Kings Road are thought to be part of the NCO accommodation. The barracks in Risbygate Street was not to be built for another twenty years.
A new ward was added to the hospital in memory of The Reverend Hasted funded by public subscription.
The West Suffolk Police moved out of the Shire Hall to join the Borough Police at Moyses Hall.
The last open fields at Haverhill were enclosed and a Corn Exchange was built in Haverhill's High Street by St Mary's Church.
1858 St Peter's Church was dedicated in Hospital Road, Bury. It was to serve the growing population in Westgate Ward, and was set up as a chapel-of-ease for St Mary's. It was started in 1856, largely supported by three generous ladies and the site donated by the Marquess of Bristol.
The Bury Paving Commissioners sank a well, off what is now Kings Road, to get water to wash the streets. Eventually this well was developed for washing and drinking supplies.
Quant's shoe shop was established in Abbeygate Street. The family were Baptists and had helped establish the Baptist Church in 1800.
1859 Charles Darwin published his book on the Evolution of Species.
The War Office sanctioned the formation of Volunteer Rifle Corps, and twenty one corps were soon raised in Suffolk. Two companies of the 13th Suffolk Volunteer Rifles were based in Bury. The 18th Corps was at Wickhambrook, and together with others around West Suffolk were under the 1st Administrative Battalion.
Following the agreement made 10 years earlier with the railways, the Lark Navigation was now in a badly decayed state. It was sold for half its original build cost to James Lee, a local timber merchant. He planned to bring in coal cheaper than the railway, but first it needed a massive investment in the canal. Lee died before anything came of his plan.
The Bury Paving Commissioners adopted significant provisions of the Public Health Act of 1848 and the local Government Act of 1858 relating to sewers, drains and privies. New houses in Bury now had to be built with drains and a water closet. The Commission had established a sewage works at the Tay Fen, but in the 1850's it was causing concern because of smells and the usual problems of sewage disposal. However, most people still had nightsoil collected by cart, or stored it in the yard for sale to farmers. Something was needed a bit further out of town and a site was found by 1863 at Bell Meadow.
The Astronomer Royal, Sir James Airy, gave a lecture in the Athenaeum. This apparently inspired the Literary Institute to authorise the building of an Observatory on the roof, which was opened in 1861.
Charles Dickens stayed at the Angel Hotel in 1859 and 1861 for the purpose of giving readings from his work at the Athenaeum.
Lowestoft got a railway line to Ipswich and hence to London and Bury. In the next 30 years its fishing industry would grow explosively. By 1880 it was home to 300 trawlers, and 400 drifters.
1861 The American Civil War began and lasted until 1865 when slavery was abolished in America.
Bury's population was now 13,318, about four percent less than a decade earlier. Perhaps the railways allowed people to leave more easily, without any great attraction to lure newcomers in.
Work began to fill the site of the old cattle market in the town centre in Bury with a fine new Corn Exchange. It would open in 1862.
Work began on rebuilding the Hospital.
The new observatory was opened on the roof of the Athenaeum.
1862 The Highways Act abolished parish powers over roads and established Highway Boards.
The Great Eastern Railway Company was formed by an amalgamation of most of the East Anglian Railway companies.
The present corn exchange was completed at the top of Abbeygate Street. The north side of the building replaced the Shambles, a row of open colonnades, where butchers would hang carcasses for evisceration and preparation. The name Shambles is still used for the short stretch joining the Traverse to Cornhill. Part of the old shambles building was incorporated into the Corn Exchange, as it was a fine Georgian construction.
The new Corn Exchange would be used for corn sales on Wednesdays up to 1997. On other days it would be used for public functions. It cost the sum of £7,000. It was the third purpose built Exchange used in Bury, the first being in the Market Cross. The corn exchange now being replaced, which was the second, was in the building between the Market Cross and the new Corn Exchange. This building was now freed up and it was planned to use it as a covered provision market. This use was resisted by stallholders, and the greengrocers were allowed to remain out-doors. In 1897 the market would return to the street to be replaced in the building by the School of Art and the Fire Station.
Extensive alterations were carried out to the church of St James in Bury, now called the cathedral. In particular the high pitched roof of oak was erected, and the whole works cost £10,000.
The West Suffolk Hospital was much enlarged at its site in Hospital Road, Bury, and nearly rebuilt at a cost of £11,000. It would be used as a hospital until 1974, and demolished in 1979.
1863 Samsons Tower was converted into the Probate Registry together with a residence for the Registrar. The distinctive window and door arches of the Tower were installed at this time. The ruins of the old West Front of the Abbey had probably first had houses built into them in the 17th century. They were renovated in the 18th century and then extensively altered in the 19th century as shown here at Samsons Tower.
In 1863 a sewage works was opened at what is now called Bell Meadow in Bury. It was the first attempt in the town to deal with the collective disposal of foul water. It soon led to complaints.
In Abbeygate Street in Bury, William Spanton opened his Repository of the Arts. It was really a photographer's shop, and in 1901 the stock of negatives and the premises were taken over by Jarman's. Many of Bury's photographs from this era are attributable to the work done by O G Jarman from these premises. Today it is the TSB Bank.
The Colne Valley and Halstead railway arrived in Haverhill. Their station would become known as Haverhill South when competition arrived, but at first it was just called the railway station.
The ex-Maharajah Duleep Singh purchased the estate of Elveden, together with Elveden Hall, as his British home. Duleep Singh was born in India in 1838, one of four sons of the Maharajah Ranjit Singh of the Punjab, ruler of the Sikh nation. At the age of six he was confirmed as his father's successor, but the Anglo-Sikh War broke out, and in 1849 the Punjab was annexed by the British East India Company. Much of the family's vast wealth was seized by the British, including the diamond known as the Koh-i-Noor, which is currently one of the Crown Jewels, being part of the royal crown worn by the late Queen Mother. The deposed ten year old boy now stood as a problem for the company, who feared he would become the focus of Sikh unrest under British rule. He was converted to Christianity, and in 1854 arrangements were made to send him to England, out of harms way. Here he was given the title of Prince and became friends with Queen Victoria and was welcomed by the British aristocracy and held in high esteem. After he bought the prime shooting estate of Elveden in 1863, for £105,000, he gave grand hunting parties, and became well established on the social scene. In his later years he moved to France, and died there in 1893, but his son Frederick brought his body back to Elveden where he was buried in the churchyard.
1864 From 1864 to 1895 the Turnpike Trusts were gradually wound up.
At Bury Cattle Market the attractive octagonal settling house was erected. The toll collector also sold ginger beer and buns on market days.
At the Corporation's Yard behind the new Cattle Market, off today's Kings Road and Prospect Row, the council built tanks in order to develop the well there from a source of water for street cleansing, into a piped drinking water supply. At first a windmill was used to raise water from the underground aquifer.
The Woolpack Inn on the corner of Woolhall Street and Cornhill, was taken over by one Michael Everard. Eventually it became known as Everards Hotel, a name which lasted until 1987, when the hotel became a Pizza House.
1865 In Bury St Edmunds work began on providing St James' Church with a new Chancel. It was completed by 1869.
The 1865 Election
The 1865 Election
Elections were held in 1865. They were carried out by the system of the recorded vote. Although this method was open and transparent, it contained obvious opportunities for malpractice. There would be only one further open voting election before the secret ballot was introduced in 1872.
The Great Eastern added a rail link from Bury to Sudbury, via Lavenham, which would link to its Colchester line. Although it ran into the existing Northgate Station, they added a station of their own in Eastgate Street, which was used until 1909. Eventually, the A14 trunk road would run along this part of its abandoned route. The Sudbury line was closed in 1965.
The Great Eastern Railways also arrived in Haverhill from Cambridge, and set up their Haverhill North Station. Within a couple of months Haverhill was also linked up to Sudbury. At the same time as the Sudbury link went in, the Sturmer Arches were completed to link the Colne Valley railway to the Great Eastern Line.
Railway building was still being planned despite the wide network now in place. In 1865, Robert Boby and Edward Greene set up the Bury and Thetford Railway Company to link Bury to Thetford and hence to Kings Lynn. It would open in 1876.
Gurteens built a second factory of three storeys in Haverhill, next to its drabbet mill. This housed sewing machines powered by steam driven beam engines. Vanners built a silk factory in Colne Valley Road, which in recent times became the Addis Brush factory.
1866 The Congregational Church in Whiting Street was re-fronted, and internally improved. Today it is called the United Reformed Church.
The Bury St Edmunds Building Society was founded. In those days, a Building Society meant what it said. A group of people set up a mutual society to help each other build their own homes. This society bought an orchard off St Johns Street to be sold in 57 plots to its members. Each plot had to have a house built on it of a value not less than £110. Orchard Street remains a fine residential road today.
A trans-Atlantic telegraph cable was successfully installed by the magnificent iron ship, the Great Eastern, launched in 1858. No other ship could have carried the 6000 tons of cable. The line was quickly profitable, and the two greatest economies in the world at the time, Britain and the United States, had a free flow of information uniting them.
The present Haverhill cemetery was opened.
1867 The second electoral Reform Act expanded the right to vote from 4 1/2 % of Suffolk's population to 7 1/2 %, but only men could vote.
From July 15th to the 19th, the Royal Show was held in Bury in Eastgate Street, not far from the Eastgate Railway Station. Such events could take place here because of the new rail networks.
Bury St Edmunds. When Rose was born the family lived at 15 Hatter Street until about 1885 when they would move to 16 Crown Street. Rose Mead would grow up to be a well loved and appreciated local artist.
1868 Fred King was aged 40 in 1868, when he built the brand new St Edmunds Brewery in Sparhawk Street, towering over Greene's Brewery only a few yards away in Bury St Edmunds. The site was on one of the Maltings owned by his wife's family, the Maulkins. The Maulkins also owned 6 pubs in town, a ready made outlet for King's beer. King was a shrewd man with 11 children to support, and began to buy up more pubs. He became stiff competition for Greene's business.
The National Provincial Bank was built in Italianate style in Abbeygate Street, Bury. Today it is the Alliance and Leicester.
1869 The East Suffolk Police and West Suffolk Police were amalgamated by the Home Office to form the Suffolk Constabulary. This force lasted until 1899 when it split up again.
1870 This was the year of the great new Education Act, when every authority had to ensure that school places were available to provide elementary education on a universal basis. It was also called the Forster Act. The passing of the Forster Act in 1870 thus brought about the establishment of Board Schools in places where there was a lack of existing provision. Bury already had enough places and no new Board School was needed, but this was not the case elsewhere in West Suffolk. The Act helped to raise the standards of literacy in Suffolk from 50% in 1845 to 97% by 1900.
In the Traverse a fine drinking fountain of Portland Stone was installed as a gift from the Marquis of Bristol. Presented in 1869, it was unveiled in 1871. Although a welcome feature, it always made it difficult to get a Four in Hand coach into the Traverse to reach the Cupola House, and in 1939, it was moved into the Abbey Gardens.
1871 In 1871 the General Board of Health was merged with the Poor Law Commission to form the Local Government Board.
Bury Fair was abolished by an Act of Parliament. It had run since 1135, under a grant of Henry I and had achieved great prominence in its time. It was held on Angel Hill and the opening used to include a sausage feast for the Mayor and Corporation. It declined as a trading fair in the 1830's and the coming of the railways hastened its decline. By 1871 it had lost its respectability, and was now considered a public> The notorious Magpie Inn by St Margaret's Gate in Bury Churchyard was demolished. Today it is under the new Shire Hall and part of the site is the Magistrates car park.
In December 1871, a labourer discovered a stone coffin in Hunt's Field at Icklingham. Henry Prigg, a local atiquarian, was called in and pronounced it part of a Roman period cemetery. He soon excavated four graves, and finding well worn coins of Probus c282, and Crispus, assigned the burials to the early 4th century.
By now the world was united by the electric telegraph, and thousands of new jobs were created. Cables were laid to India and Australia by 1871.
1872 The prison service was taken over from local government by central government.
The secret ballot was introduced for elections.
Sydney Milner-Gibson
Sydney Milner-Gibson
In 1872 Sydney Milner-Gibson was 21, and she was presented with her portrait by her half brother, Thomas Bowles. Bowles knew the French painter, James Tissot, who had fled Paris in the face of the Franco-Prussian War. Bowles had given him a roof over his head in London and commissioned the portrait from him. This portrait was the most distinguished of the works of art to make up the Cullum Bequest, left to the Borough of Bury St Edmunds in the 1920's. For many years it was on display over the stairs in the Library when it occupied the site of today's Laura Ashley store.
1873 Urban Sanitary Authorities came into being and the Haverhill Sanitary District was set up, and its Local Board lasted until 1894. The Haverhill School Board was formed under the Chairmanship of William Wakelin Boreham.
The Bury St Edmunds Paving and Improvement Commissioners were abolished, and the Town Council was created as the Urban Sanitary Authority and assumed the duties of the Commissioners. The new Sanitary Districts in our area were Bury, Risbridge, Haverhill, Thingoe and Thetford, and lasted until 1894.
In the 1870's the Bury Union Workhouse was closed down and its inhabitants moved into the Thingoe Union Workhouse in Hospital Road.
In 1873 the British Army was reorganised by Edward Cardwell, the Secretary of War. The 12th Regiment became part of the 32nd Military District with Headquarters and Depot in Bury St Edmunds. The Cambridgeshire and West Suffolk Militia were also formally incorporated.
The Trinity Church was finished in Brentgovel Street to replace the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in St Mary's Square.
The smallest pub in Britain is the Nutshell, in the Traverse, at Bury St Edmunds. It was opened in 1873.
1874 The East Anglian Daily Times was founded in order to provide Suffolk and Essex with its first daily paper.
Mr Disraeli became Prime Minister.
This was the year which destroyed agricultural unionism in Suffolk. In 1872 the Exning farm labourers had joined Joseph Arch's new National Agricultural Labourers Union. For two years they tried to get better pay until in 1874 the employers locked out all union members. This lock out spread through the Eastern Countries, and the men were forced back after several months.
1875 The flow of public health legislation following the 1848 Act resulted in the consolidating Public Health Act of 1875. Sanitary authorities had the duty to secure wholesome and sufficient water for the needs of their areas. Where there was no other water undertaking the duty fell upon the authority. They also received powers to undertake refuse collection and disposal.
The local troops of Suffolk Yeomanry Dragoons were formed into the Royal Suffolk Hussars, including the First Troop based at bury.
1876 In Haverhill the large Board School, later known as the Cangle School, was built at the junction of Withersfield Road and Wratting Road and the buildings survive there today. Such Board Schools were built under the provision of the Education Act of 1870 which made education compulsory.
The railway line from Bury to Thetford was opened, but it was not very successful, and it was sold to the Great Eastern within two years for half what it cost to build.
Moyses Hall was improved by the addition of a Belfry and Public Clock.
1877 Robert Boby's factory at St Andrew's Works suffered a disastrous fire and many of its buildings were lost. The new buildings would survive on the site until the 1970's. The building now preserved in the Stowmarket Suffolk Rural Life Museum was one of those built in 1877.
The Mayor and Council of Bury St Edmunds got a new suite of chairs when the Council Chamber moved downstairs in the Guildhall from the old upstairs room at the back. They were made by Bullens whose shop was by Moyses Hall where Macdonalds is today.
Early in 1877, Henry Prigg announced that he had discovered a Roman Villa in the field called "Horselands" in Icklingham All Saints. In April he began an excavation, and exposed four rooms of the villa. In July, a workman ploughed up a hoarde of silver Roman coins in a nearby field in Icklingham. Prigg dated these to late 4th century, and in his "Icklingham Papers" he suggested that the hoarde was deposited around 408 AD, when Saxon incursions may have made this necessary.
1878 From 1878 to the 1890s, Henry Prigg of Icklingham was excavating Roman pottery kilns on West Stow heath and found 'Anglo-Saxon urns etc' on the site of the then unsuspected village. He published his paper "West Stow Pottery Kilns" in the proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology.
Henry Prigg also published "Warren Hill Tumuli" in that journal in the same year. He worked at the National Provincial Bank in Bury, but was a keen amateur excavator until his death in 1892. His book "The Icklingham Papers", was published posthumously in 1901 by his daughter.
In White's Directory of Suffolk for 1879, it was reported that "Bury is the place fixed upon as the Military Centre for the counties of Suffolk and Cambridge, and steps are being taken for the purchase of a suitable site for the erection of the necessary buildings." In 1878 the Keep at Gibraltar Barracks, Bury St Edmunds was built as a Brigade Depot, to be composed of about 200 men of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 12th Regiment of Foot. They were not called the Suffolk Regiment until 1881. Although used by the local militia, the Regiment later only had about 70 HQ staff on site. The battalions were mainly abroad until 1912. The Keep still remains, but the rest of the Barracks now contains open space, the Bury Leisure Centre and the West Suffolk College.
White's Directory also recorded the other military features of Bury. The West Suffolk Militia Regiment had 1,000 men, 29 officers, 37 staff sargeants, and 40 NCO's. The men assembled annually for training as they were all part time volunteers. Their staff HQ was the barracks in Cemetery Road, wher Yeomanry Yard now stands, in what is now known as Kings Road.
There was also the West Suffolk Yeomanry Cavalry, composed of four troops, of 190 privates, and 45 Officers and NCO's.They also muster annually for 8 days of exercises.
The 1st Battalion of the 13th Suffolk Rifle Volunteer Corps had 130 men, having been enrolled at Bury in 1860.
Not far away in Risbygate Street, Cornish and Lloyds Engineering Works was set up. Today it is the site of B and Q's.
The Wesleyan Chapel was built in Brentgovel Street, to replace the earlier chapel in St Mary's Square.
There used to be a stone near the end of Norfolk Road which read "Norfolk Road, half a mile long, made and planted 1878". Today's Norfolk Road is only about 150 yards long and much of the original road is now called Northgate Avenue. It is still lined predominately with Lime trees. According to Ordnance Survey maps, the names of these roads has changed over time. Norfolk was the name of a builder who was developing the area. The OS map for 1886 does not have any reference to a Northgate Avenue, and the modern Avenue is labelled Norfolk Road.
According to the map there may have been an intention to extend what we now call Norfolk Road right across the Shirehouse Heath, as the avenue of trees was planted ready. Shirehouse Heath is the area east of Northgate Avenue which included the Thingoe Hill tumulus, Northgate Farm and Highland House.
By the time of the 1904 OS map, the avenue across Shirehouse Heath was labelled Northgate Avenue, and what we now call by that name was labelled Norfolk Road. Similarly Avenue Approach was shown as extending across to the Klondyke, in front of Northgate Farm.
By the time of the 1926 map, the modern road pattern with today's names for Norfolk Road, Northgate Avenue and Avenue Approach was established.
1879 This was a year of disastrous harvests. In addition cheap American grain began to flood the market. The brief period of high farming which began after 1850 had now collapsed. Corn growing areas like Suffolk would be in a slump well into the next century.
1880 The prison, or The Fort as was now called, was closed in 1880. Most of the buildings were demolished except the facade and the Governor's house which still remain today.
The cemetery was extended by several acres on the edge of Bury.
The Renaissance Building now occupied by HSBC Bank in Abbeygate Street, Bury, was built for Barclays Bank.
The Bell Hotel
The Bell Hotel
The Bell Hotel had stood on one of the most prominent sites on the Cornhill since at least 1650, and along with the Angel and the Suffolk Hotel had been one of the town's three major coaching inns. There had been stabling for fifty horses, but by this time the stables were greatly decayed. The entrance to the inn for coaches was the origin of the access way through to St Andrews Street from the Cornhill at this location. The Inland Revenue Office was located here, and from 1795 had been the Bury base for the Royal Mail. In 1880 however, the Bell was sold off, and part of it was taken over by the Post Office for their new building which still stands next to Market Thoroughfare today. The rest of The Bell was auctioned off, and the inn replaced by shops. The route through to St Andrews Street was retained when the redevelopment of the Post Office finally took place in 1895, and became known as the Bell Arcade, running between the new Post Office and the new shops.
The Volunteer Rifle Corps were reorganised, and the 1st Administrative Battalion became the 6th (West Suffolk) Rifle Volunteer Battalion. In 1886 they would be attached officially to the Suffolk Regiment.
The Haverhill Rope Works was set up in 1880, according to the firm's own advertising sign, now on show at the Stowmarket Rural Life Museum.
1881 On 1st July, 1881 the 12th Regiment of Foot became called the Suffolk Regiment at last, and by 1900 90% of the men came from Suffolk. The West Suffolk Militia became the 3rd Battalion of the new Regiment, and the Cambridgeshire Militia became the 4th Battalion.
Barclay's Bank opened its three storey premises at the top of Abbeygate Street in Bury. For a few years it incorporated the Post and Sorting Office until 1895.
Bury's population was now around 16,500, a figure which would more or less stay the same until after the Second World War.
At the corporation water works off Prospect Row, a new pumping station was built to raise water from the underground wells. Wind power had been used at first.
The 1882 Fire
The 1882 Fire
1882 On June 16th there was a fire in Abbeygate Street in Bury which was begun as an insurance swindle. The owner of the tobacconist's shop got 5 years for attempted fraud. The rebuilding attempted to widen the pavement. You can still see the results of the wider paving from Hatter Street east to Barwell's the Butchers.
The East Anglian School for Methodist boys was opened in Bury, to cater for secondary education.
In 1882 the magistrates at Ipswich who ran East Suffolk proposed that the quarter sessions held at Bury should be closed and all the administration moved to Ipswich for all of Suffolk. The western court objected and appealed to the high steward of the Liberty of Bury St Edmunds, the Marquis of Bristol. The argument continued until the local government bill included proposals for a single county council for Suffolk.
1883 A magnificent new Town Hall was built as a gift to the town of Haverhill by Daniel Gurteen Senior to celebrate his Golden Wedding Anniversary. It was quite close to Haverhill South railway station.
At Bury, the KIng Edward Free Grammar School moved to new premises. It had been located in Northgate Street for 200 years, but now moved to a 12 acre site on the old Abbey Vinefields, where it would remain until 1971. The site in Northgate street was used as a Girl's High School, and by 1907 it was called the St Michael's Church of England College for Girls.
The private mapmakers of earlier times were rendered unnecessary when the Ordnance Survey surveyed Bury on the scale of 1:2500, or about 25 inches to a mile. This base map was revised and reissued over the years, notably in 1903.
1884 A new Electoral Reform Act gave the vote to most working men in rural areas. The national electorate doubled to 5 million. Under the Redistribution Act, Bury was reduced from 2 MP's to 1 MP from 1885.
The Thingoe Union Workhouse in Hospital Road, Bury, now began to serve the town as well as the rural district. The workhouse in College Street, set up in 1748, was now closed, put up for sale, and parts of it were demolished.
Boby's Factory
Boby's Factory
The Bury and Norwich Post reported that Robert Boby's engineering works was employing nearly 200 men in the manufacture of screening and dressing machines, hay makers and horse rakes, and most of the utensils comprising a brewers' or maltsters' plant. The St Andrews Works would also cover general engineering and foundry work of all types.
The Old Independent Congregational Church was started in Haverhill for non-conformist worship and could seat nearly 800 people. At this date it was in Essex, as the County boundary ran down the Colne Valley Road.
1885 General Gordon was killed at the siege of Khartoum. In Haverhill, the Old Independent Church was completed to a design by Charles Bell of London in Gothic style.
The Wesleyan Middle-Class Boys School had been in Northgate Street, Bury, until 1885. Highland House, built on Thomas Norfolk's Northgate Estate was bought and extended for use as a new school. Later it became known as the East Anglian School, and eventually in the second half of the 20th century it moved out to join Culford School. After some years as offices the building has been refitted in 1999, and during 2000 the surrounding land re-developed, for private housing.
There was a riot in Long Melford at the first election after the 1884 Act gave the vote to farm workers. Chelmsford men had to walk 3 miles to Melford to vote, and windows were broken and pubs wrecked.
1886 Some 112 acres at West Stow were purchased by the Borough Council for a new sewage farm to be constructed to serve the town of Bury St Edmunds. This would replace the works built in 1863 at Bell Meadow in Bury. Like most sewerage schemes, it relied on gravity to provide the flow, and so the pipes were laid, as far as possible, along the river valleys. A pumping station was built by the River Lark at West Stow, at the end of the line, to pump effluent up into the site from a tank at the end of the pipeline. This is the only building now remaining from this work. The expression sewage 'farm' came about because 20 acres of the site were to be used to grow crops such as tomatoes and black currents to be irrigated from the outfall.
Thomas the Ironmongers built a fine new building on the Cornhill, with a walkway from the Cornhill through to the cattle market on St Andrews Street. This was called the Bell Arcade at first, but today is known as Market Thoroughfare. The Market Thoroughfare still survives, but in a very much less elegant state since the replacement of this building by the 1960's redevelopment of Stead and Simpson's.
The newspaper, the Bury Free Press, was bought by Henry Bankes Ashton, a local solicitor. He ran it from his offices at the top of Abbeygate Street, between the Alliance and Leicester Building Society, and Guildhall Street. The BFP did not move to its present site in Kings Road until the next century.
The 6th West Suffolk Volunteer Rifles became the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment.
A new Ordnance Survey base map was prepared on a 1:2500 scale or about 25 inches to the mile. It shows interesting changes and throws up some queries. The OS map for 1886 does not have any reference to a Northgate Avenue, and the modern Avenue is labelled Norfolk Road.
According to the map there may have been an intention to extend what we now call Norfolk Road westwards across the Shirehouse Heath, as the avenue of trees was planted ready. Shirehouse Heath is the area west of Northgate Avenue which included the Thingoe Hill tumulus, Northgate Farm and Highland House.
1887 The Local Government bill proposed to introduce elected County Councils to replace the administrative duties of the quarter sessions. It proposed to replace the Bury administration of West Suffolk, and the Ipswich administration of the East by one County Council. It was only the Marquis of Bristol's arguments in the House of Lords which got the bill amended to have two counties made in Suffolk.
Upper Brown Road in Bury was re-named Queens Road to mark Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. Houses were being built here at this time. Lower Brown Road would become York Road, and The Crescent became Albert Crescent.
By 1887, Fred King had bought up 52 tied public houses. In response, over the years since King began brewing in 1868, Edward Greene of the Westgate Brewery had felt forced to buy 91 in total and to lease others. This fierce competition had pushed up pub prices and hurt both businesses. So Mr Greene and Mr King amalgamated their breweries, and Greene King was borne. Ownership was two-thirds to Greene and one-third to King. At first the merger was not advertised, the pub signs showing no owner's name.
Despite the rise of the big brewer, beer was also still brewed at the Saracen's Head and the Golden Lion, both in Guildhall Street. The Saracen's Head building is occupied today by the British Legion Club.
In Risbygate Street, Clarke's Brewery was also operating.
St Saviour's Hospital ruins stood in Fornham Road, Bury, and it was excavated to find a large hall of 66 feet by 23 feet. Beyond it was found the remnants of another apartment some 33 feet long. Five skeletons were found.
County of West Suffolk
County of West Suffolk
1888 The Local Government Act of 1888 set up the County Councils and West Suffolk and East Suffolk County Councils came into being. County Councils took on Highways powers. Prior to 1888, apart from the borough corporations, Suffolk had been administered by magistrates meeting in quarter sessions, one in the east at Ipswich and one in the west at Bury. County administration now passed from appointed magistrates to elected councillors. The existing area of the Liberty of St Edmund was perpetuated by the setting up of two county councils along this line.
Rose Mead, later to become one of the best known local artists in Bury, attended art school in Lincoln from 1888 to 1892, followed by a brief spell at Westminster School of Art. The School of Art in Bury did not open until 1899.
1889 The great estate at Culford was sold by Richard Benyon Berens to the Fifth Earl of Cadogan. The Cadogans would own the estate until 1934.
The Salvation Army Barracks was opened in St John's Street in Bury.
In Haverhill the silk industry revived somewhat and Kipling and Co now rented part of the old silk factory from Attertons.
A new Corn Exchange was built on Withersfield Road in Haverhill designed by Frank Whitmore. The site behind it was used as a livestock market.
1890 Lord Bristol wanted to revive the Lark Navigation and set up the Eastern Counties Transport and Navigation Company to revive James Lee's ideas of 30 years earlier. Much money was borrowed, the river dredged and straightened and an attempt was made to extend the Lark navigation into Bury St Edmunds itself. The new wharves were to be behind St Saviour's Hospital ruins, where today's Tesco car park stands. Mermaid Pits were used to store water for the locks, and 60 barges and 3 steam tugs were bought. In 1890 thousands of tons were brought in before the work was anywhere near finished.

The Masonic Order bought the Six Bells Inn in Chequer Square and it became the home of the local Masonic Lodges. There were two lodges in the town, the Royal St Edmund, and the Abbey. The inn had closed in 1885.
1891 The winter of 1890/91 endured a prolonged frost of 59 days, which caused a high death rate amongst Song thrushes and Mistle Thrushes. Redwings and Fieldfares, which normally wintered here from Scandinavia, had to leave this country and travel further south for better fare.
In 1891 the elaborate red brick Dutch style building, now occupied by Cafe Rouge, was built at the top of Abbeygate Street in Bury. It was built for the Alliance Assurance Company.
1892 The new wharf on the River Lark at St Saviours was finally opened, but disputes with the builders continued. Although good trade was done, the company was never profitable. It went bankrupt inside two years.
A new police station was built in St Johns Street in Bury to replace the cramped quarters in Moyses Hall. The new station was in use until 1964 when it moved to Raingate Street. The small street called Sergeants Walk remains as a reminder of former times. For a time Moyses Hall became a railway parcels office, but clearly its uses were becoming more and more limited as part of the holdings of the Guildhall Feoffment Charity.
The Penny Bank by the Norman Tower closed its doors as a bank.
The East Anglian Methodists Boys School moved to Northgate Avenue to gain space.
One of the Theatre Royal's claims to fame is that the premiere of the play 'Charley's Aunt' was performed here in 1892.
Rose Mead returned to Bury from Westminster School of Art to nurse her sick father. In 1895 he died and she went to Paris to pursue tuition in her chosen field of painting. In 1896 she went to London, and returned to Bury in 1897 to nurse her mother.
1893 Both the Guildhall and Moyses Hall were handed over to Bury Borough Council by the Feoffment Trust, who could no longer justify their upkeep. The intention was to shed them completely, but the Scheme made by the Charity Commissioners vested the premises in the Official Custodian for Charities.
The Fire Brigade made some use of Moyses Hall around this time, but its vaulting could not accommodate their appliances. Something needed to be done.
The Salvation Army opened their Citadel in St John's Street, in Bury.
The Suffolk Yeomanry, now called the Royal Suffolk Hussars, held a great centenary parade on the Angel Hill, where they were reviewed by the Duke of York, who would later become King George V. The Duke now granted them the title of Duke of York's Own Loyal Suffolk Hussars. The successors to this regiment are today part of the Territorial Army.
Although the rural sanitary authorities were shortly to be abolished, the Thingoe RSA made history by being the first rural authority in the country to build municipal housing. This was at Stow Road in Ixworth where 8 houses were built for a tender price of £1,300. Neither Bury nor Haverhill Corporations were to build council housing until the twentieth century.
1894 Urban and Rural District Councils were set up by the Local Government Act of 1894. This resulted in the establishment of Clare RDC, Thingoe RDC and Haverhill UDC. Parish Councils were instituted to replace the Vestries. The Urban sanitary authorities were abolished, so in Bury, its functions were transferred to the Corporation which now took on the powers of an Urban District Council, but retained the status of a Borough. Similarly, the rural sanitary authorities were abolished, and so the Thingoe Rural Sanitary Authority was also a casualty. The Brandon RDC was also set up in West Suffolk, but in 1934 would become part of Thingoe.
The Thingoe RDC surrounded the town of Bury, and retained the ancient name of Thingoe. In pre-abbey days, the Thingoe Hundred had included the administration of Bedericsworth, but when King Cnut had founded the abbey, he had given the town an independent existence, ruled over by the abbey convent. The name Thingoe means the Hill of the Council, and Thingoe hill stood outside the North Gate of old Bury, where Northgate Avenue is today. Like its predecessor authority, Thingoe was to remain one of the most energetic and development minded RDC's in the country.
At Culford, Earl Cadogan was in the process of enlarging the Culford Hall.
1895 The Bury Borough Council agreed to apply the money it received from the Feoffment Trust back to the maintenance of the Feoffment Schools, in order to secure their future, as the Trust's finances were not enough to run them unaided.
The Post Office on the Cornhill was built in 1895, with Queen Victoria's coat of arms on its gable. It is still part of the street scene today. Until then the Post Office had been in the premises of Barclay's Bank. The new post office opened for business in 1896.
In 1895 a room in the Station Master's house was used as a mission to railwaymen who often had to work during normal church hours. By 1900 the number grew so that the Railway Mission was built on Fornham Road, just past the railway bridge.
It was in 1895 that a group of local people formed the Flempton Golf Club. At the time the only other golf club in West Suffolk was the Royal Worlington and Newmarket Golf Club. The original subscribers included nine clergymen and twelve ladies. There is a story that the course itself had first been played by officers from the Gibraltar Barracks in Bury, but the club itself definitely rented the Golf Ground from the farmer, J M Rutterford in December 1895. The farm was part of the Hengrave Estate.
By the 1890's the climate started to become a bit warmer. This warmer period would last until the 1940's.
1896 The first modern Olympic Games were inaugurated in Athens, 1,500 years after the ancient games were staged on the nearby plains of Olympia.
In Bury, the Lathbury Institute was built near St Johns Church, and was used as a Mission Room for that parish.
In Bury two national chain stores had arrived by 1896. They were Stead and Simpson and Liptons, both on the Cornhill next to Market Thoroughfare, although it was then called Bell Arcade.
Moves were afoot to improve the Moyses Hall so that the Fire Brigade could get their engines fully under cover. This would have meant removing the distinctive medieval arches from the undercroft. This caused an outcry, and the plans for Moyses had to be rethought. It was decided that the fire brigade would have to go somewhere else, and that the existing collections of antiquities currently held in the Athenaeum should be displayed properly in a museum. Moyses Hall seemed an ideal location from the point of view of historical interest. By modern standards the dampish conditions were less than healthy for the long term good of the collections. New ideas were needed.
As part of their ongoing work at the time, the Boundary Commission moved the whole of Haverhill into West Suffolk, under the control of Haverhill UDC. Prior to this date the Hamlet Road area south-east of Duddery Hill lay in Essex.
1897 The building between the Market Cross and the Corn Exchange had been used as a covered provision market since 1863, but in 1897, it was closed for adaptations. The market stalls returned to the streets to rejoin the fruit and vegetable stalls who had stayed there all along. The building was to be adapted to become home to the School of Art and to the Fire Brigade. This would allow the Brigade to leave Moyses Hall, and have the space to house all their equipment and fire engines.
Wind pumps were added to the West Stow sewage farm to help distribute liquid to higher ground. The system was not working very well.
Clopton's Asylum, in the Churchyard was sold by order of the Charity Commissioners. It was bought to provide a vicarage for the Church of St James. The purchase sum was invested and the interest was to provide ten shillings a week to "deserving residents in needy circumstances".
This was the year of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, and in Bury an eight day clock with three dials was erected in the tower of St Mary's church by public subscription, to commemorate the event.
The promising art student Rose Mead returned to Bury from London to nurse her 70 year old mother. By now she had exhibited a portrait in the Paris Salon and at the Royal Academy. She moved into 18 Crown Street, and would live in Bury for the rest of her life. Her portraits were accepted at the Royal Academy, and this was her field of work until the Bury St Edmunds Pageant of 1907.
1898 Sybil Andrews was born on April 19th, the third child of Charles Andrews and Beatrice Trigg. She was born at 88-90 Guildhall Street above Andrews and Plumptons ironmongers shop, a business founded by Sybil's grandfather, Frederick Andrews. Sybil's father was a partner in the firm. Her mother's father was Henry Trigg, (1838-92) who had altered his name from Prigg, and had been a well known local antiquarian. He was the author of "The Icklingham Papers", an archaeological investigation of the remains of the Roman villa at Icklingham, although the book was not published until 1901, and was confusingly published in the name of Henry Prigg. Local interests and local history played a big part in Sybil's early life, and her 1936 linocut 'Tumulus', was a memory of Rampart Fields at Icklingham.
Sybil would gain an international reputation as an artist despite living in Suffolk only until 1922.
1899 The old local families bank of Oakes, Bevan and company was sold to the Capital and Counties Bank.
Moyses Hall was turned into a museum by the Borough Council, having been handed the building to run by the Guildhall Feoffees. At first it had been intended to use it for the Fire Brigade, but local objections were made to the building work needed to allow fire engines to be parked inside Moyses Hall.
The first curator was Horace Barker, who was an active local historian.
Following a renovation of the old provision market building, closed two years earlier, the new Fire Station was opened there to house the Volunteer Fire Brigade. In the same building a new School of Art was also opening its doors on to the Cornhill. After several years of debate, the problems of the Fire Brigade had been solved, the town had a proper museum and there was a new amenity in a brand new School of Art.
The second Boer War started on 10th October 1899, and in the first few months the British suffered many reverses. Mafeking was besieged. The eventual relief of Mafeking brought national celebrations.
Despite the disapproval of the Home Office, the West Suffolk Police committee, called the West Suffolk Standing Joint Committee, set up the new West Suffolk Constabulary. In effect this broke away from the Joint Suffolk Constabulary. Suffolk had had a unified police force since 1869, but having a local police force run from Ipswich had never been satisfactory for the western area.
1900 Please click here if you wish to follow our Chronicle into the Twentieth Century. For a closer look at Haverhill, see below.
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