Church Plain, the open space between St Marys Church, Old Hall and Old Chapel House at the top of Rectory Hill, was the site of a market which sold food and provisions and having housed a maypole most likely served as a medieval market place.
The look of Church Plain has changed considerably over the years as the Bell Cage originally stood this side of the Church. When Joseph Chaplin, Lord of the Manor at Old Hall built a new manor house on the Old Hall Estate in the early 1700’s, concerned about noise he arranged for the removal of the Cage at his own expense to the opposite side of the Church, where they still stand today.
By the mid 1800’s Old Hall took advantage of the 1817 ‘Enclosure act’ and claimed an additional triangle of land from this junction into their Park along with an additional 12 acres all within this triangle bounded by Rectory Hill and Flatford Lane, enabling them to expand their farm and garden building cowsheds, stables and outbuildings which still remain today (see ‘Local Stories’ Secret Cemetery)
‘Abbey Cottage’ stood for many years on the corner with the Church yard behind, uncertain of the date this was demolished; believe it was depicted in John Constables ‘Cottage at East Bergholt’
Interestingly ‘Churchgate House’ C1500 which stands next to the church is thought to be a religious guildhall of the guild of St John The Baptist, with a chapel in the church.