Stanningfield, Suffolk

Stanningfield, Suffolk


Stanningfield lies just off of the A134 road, about 5 miles (8 km) south-east of Bury St Edmunds, 5 miles/8 km north-west of Lavenham, and 10 miles/16 km north of Sudbury. In 1961 the parish had a population of 211.

On April 1, 1988, the parish was merged with Bradfield Combust to form "Bradfield Combust with Stanningfield”.

Stanningfield takes its name from the early English name "Stanfella" or "Stansfelda" meaning "stony field".

It is known that the area was occupied early in recorded British history as traces of Roman occupation has been found on one local farm.

Occasional documentary references mention the village in Anglo-Saxon and Norman times, including The Domesday Book. The oldest building, St Nicholas' Church, dates back at least to the Norman period

The 1838 Tithe Map shows the same internal road patterns as today, with roads leading out to the neighbouring villages of Hawstead, Lawshall, Great Whelnetham, Sicklesmere, Bradfield Combust and Cockfield.

The nearest railway station was located in the last map until it closed to passengers in 1961.

The River Lark is a dominant feature, as are several village greens. Hoggard's Green, the largest, has long played an important part in community life. The pond on that green has long gone, but in 1996 a successful reclamation of an ancient pond at Old Lane was undertaken.



A small, scattered village, Stanningfield centres on the green, the Red House inn and the nearby community shop. The inn was built in 1865; Henry Cornish was recorded as landlord in 1871. In 1877, it was bought by the brewers Greene King, along with its outbuildings and adjacent cottages.

There is a picturesque area around St Nicholas's Church, which includes the village hall (formerly the church hall), the old rectory and several old farmhouses. On the Lawshall side of the village stands Coldham Hall, dating from Tudor times. One remarkable feature is the continuity of Roman Catholicism from the Middle Ages to the present day, in a predominantly Protestant area. Ambrose Rookwood, of Coldham Hall, was executed for his involvement in the Gunpowder Plot.

The novelist, playwright and actress Elizabeth Inchbald (née Simpson) was born into a Catholic farming family in the village on October 15, 1773.

There has been a church in Stanningfield since before 1086, when the Domesday Book curtly recorded that Stanfella had a church with 16 acres (6.5 ha) of free land. Situated in a secluded spot about half a mile from the present centre of the village, Stanningfield Church is dedicated to St Nicholas of Myra in Asia Minor, from whom the Santa Claus customs derive.

Each period has added a contribution to the fabric of the church. The most remarkable exterior feature is a Decorated chancel, a bequest from the Rookwood family in the 14th century, noted for the design and craftsmanship of the window tracery.

Much restoration was undertaken in the last third of the 19th century and early years of the 20th. Above the chancel arch is a 15th-century "Doom", painted on plaster in black line with some red background. This was expertly restored in 1995.

The bell-chamber stage of the 15th-century tower was reduced in height in the late 19th century and a slated pyramid roof added.

Tradition has it that the repair resulted from a Colchester earthquake felt over a 150-mile radius, but subsidence of the medieval foundations is more likely.

The tower had three bells, of which one has been hung again to a wooden frame just below the cap. The other two, with inscriptions from the 16th and 17th centuries, stood on the nave floor until as recently as 1967, when they were melted down for scrap.

The church is currently one of seven parishes forming the Benefice of St Edmund Way.