The Village Green
The Green, the heart of the village and for many years prior to ‘enclosure’ in 1817 a meeting place for exchange of trade, the village fair, gatherings for celebrations, coronations, wars, or as depicted in John Constables ‘Celebration of the General’ 1815, a procession held for the poor people in the village to celebrate the peace treaty, however today all that remains of the green is this tiny patch of grass which houses the village sign.
We can only but imagine the magnificence of the original expanse of the village green, extending from Beaufont Cottage, running adjacent to the railings of East Bergholt House (home of the Constables), across to the Church at the far end, past the village stocks that stood just to the right of where the War Memorial stands today, and over the full frontage of West Lodge (now Stour House).
In 1731, Henry Hankey Lord of Old Hall Manor commissioned British Surveyor William Brasier to record the most accurate record of East Bergholt that exists prior to enclosure. The mapping of the parish took almost 2 years and detailed field names and land owners for the first time, together with manorial copyholds of every field and whose is the boundary fence of each proprietor. The map measured 2.7x1.5m, and included every minute detail including what would appear to be a centre structure on the Village Green suggesting perhaps a focal point for trade amongst the villagers.
The ‘enclosure’ act of 1817 which was the legal process in England to consolidate small landholdings into larger farms by buying the ground rights which in turn increased the value of the land, or another method was by passing laws forcing enclosure, (the most controversial of agricultural and economical history in England), either way, landowners took the opportunity to claim additional land for their estates, so around this time Reverend William Deane of West Lodge (now Stour) walled off a large strip in front of his house from the green to screen his house with a white brick wall and dense hedge, reducing the village green to the patch of grass we see today.
The Village sign stands proud on what remains of the Green, designed and made by our own blacksmith Rodney Moss, the last of the village blacksmiths as for some years there were 4 blacksmiths around the village, all owned by his father and for many generations before him.
'By many names men call us'
|Domesday Book||Henry VII||Estbargeholt|
|Edward I||Barffolde||East Barghat|
|Edward II||Est Beargholte||Eastbarholte|
|Est Bergholte||Est Bargholte||Eastberghollt|
|Edward III||Estberchold||Easte Bardold|
|Est Bergholt||Est Bardghold|
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