The local history of Worlingworth, Suffolk, to c1400 AD


From c1035, when Worlingworth was given to the Abbey of St. Edmund, the documentary evidence is both abundant and varied in nature. A map of 1605-6 makes possible, inter alia, a reconstruction of the village plan c1355 or earlier. The court-rolls 1301-13 were 'coded' for use with a computer. Before the Conquest, Worlingworth owed food-rents to the Abbey. The ending of these payments by c1200 brought fundamental economic and topographical changes to the village, notably an expansion in the number of "Free" and "Mollond" tenancies. Both the population and the commercial life of the area generally were growing rapidly from the early 13th century onwards. That the Famines of 1315-17 brought significant change to the village is not convincing. But the Revolt at Bury St. Edmunds of 1327 and the belated introduction at Worlingworth of demesne sheep-farming from 1333-4 both appear to have altered the direction of the village's development. To examine the relationship between the archaeological and the documentary evidence, an excavation of a medieval tenement was organised and a documentary profile prepared of its tenants. Studies on subjects outside the broad narrative of the village's history were undertaken, including "Fauna and Flora", "Medieval Buildings and their Contents", "The Medieval Clergy" and "Medieval Women". Such chapters introduce the local evidence for such topics as money-lending, patterns of crime, household furnishings and educational opportunities. Worlingworth suffered badly during the First Pestilence in 1349 with mortality as high as 40%. The population c1400 was half that in 1348. On present evidence, the involvement of the villagers in the Insurrection of 1381 was minimal. In common with many other Suffolk manors, the end of high demesne farming came remarkably quickly, in 1390.




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Ridgard, John M., “The local history of Worlingworth, Suffolk, to c1400 AD,” Centre for English Local History Theses and Papers, accessed June 21, 2021,