The village of Wingfield lies in the northern part of Suffolk, not very far from the Norfolk border. It covers some 2400 acres, but the houses (and there are many medieval houses) are widely scattered and the population is consequently small. In 1844 there were more than 700 people living in Wingfield, now it is more like 300.
It was probably during the Saxon invasion, when the English occupied the greater part of Norfolk and Suffolk, that people came to Wingfield. It is likely that the first settlement was made somewhere between the church and the bottom of the valley through which the Strad brook runs.
These early English settlements were usually small. A family - Winga perhaps - settled down and after cutting the trees to make a clearing began to farm and till the land, giving their name to the village which afterwards grew up around this first settlement.
For so small a village, it is surprising that it has a CASTLE, COLLEGE and CHURCH.
In the 14th and 15th centuries, Wingfield was the seat of one of the most powerful families in England and the imposing remains of its old Castle are reminders of the days of the DE LA POLES, EARLS AND DUKES OF SUFFOLK. William de la Pole, who had married Alice Chaucer (herself a formidable woman) was perhaps the most notorious, but he grew too powerful which brought him into disfavour with his fellow Peers and the King - Henry VI - could not save him from a particularly brutal death - murdered as he left for exile, beheaded on the gunwales of a boat in the English Channel. But as a family they sparkled for a comparatively short time - the line died out in 1525, leaving the Castle and the Church as their memorials.
The Church of St. Andrews is one of the most beautiful in this part of Suffolk. It was built in 1362 as the Collegiate Church of Sir John de Wingfield`s Foundation. Wingfield College, lying to the South and now behind a Georgian facade, was built at the same time, and was until 1534 a College of secular Priests and a centre of education for the district. In 1813 it had become a rambling farmhouse.
By Domesday 1086, Suffolk was the most densely inhabited part of England. It was the fourth richest county in the country towards the end of the Middle Ages.
There are several ancient houses in the parish. The Old Hall on the borders of Stradbroke and Wingfiel and the 14th century White House on Top Road is one of only ten examples of the rare raised aisle type in the country.
The only Public House in the village is the De La Pole Arms.. It was formerly called The King`s Head and is situated opposite the church. There is a restaurant and bar meals are also available. The School and the Post Office have both closed in recent years.
There is a curious mausoleum which was built on the Green by an Absalom Feaveryear who, after a dispute with the Vicar over the question of tithes, swore that he would never enter the church - either in life or death. He carved elaborate tombstones for himself, his son and daughter-in-law, Thirza. When the time came, he was buried beneath his tombstone in the small house he had prepared. It stands there still. His son and daughter-in-law are buried in the churchyard.
Wingfield is a good centre for touring this region being within easy reach of the Suffolk Heritage Coast, Minsmere Bird Reserve, the historic city of Norwich, Framlingham with its Castle and many other places of interest.
There is no Post Office or shop in Wingfield but these can be found along with other shops, a Library and swimming pool in nearby Stradbroke or there is a Post Office and a Shop in Fressingfield.
Wingfield does not have its own Village Hall but shares with the adjacent village of Syleham. There is a thriving Social Club at Syleham and Wingfield Village Hall with licensed bar facilities.
14th Century Wingfield College, next to the Church, has now been sold as a private house. It can be viewed by members of the public by means of pre-booked private tours - see website www.wingfieldcollege.com.
Wingfield Barns, next to the College, offers art galleries, music and drama, educational activities and can be booked for private functions. See website www.wingfieldbarns.com.
B & B Available at The Gables, Wingfield, Tel.01379 586355
Holiday house to let. Keeley's Farmhouse on Wingfield Green is available to rent for holidays. First Class accommodation available all year round. Sleeps 8. Tel.01379 668409
Last updated 30 .11 .09
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