TIMELINE PART 4. 1800-1901

Towards Modern Times.


In the December of this year a man called Collins was committed for trial for stealing one rabbit from the warren of Mr. R. Eagle of Lakenheath.
Ipswich Journal 13.12. 1800
The western and southern porches of St. Mary’s Church were restored.


RICHARD ROLPH, a bricklayer of Lakenheath, published an account of his conversion to Christianity, entitled ‘The Life of R Rolph, the Blind Peasant of Lakenheath, composed by himself’. It contains details of his life in the village, poems and some hymns. This book, endorsed by Rev. J T BUTT, Vicar of Lakenheath, who purchased 10 copies, was so well received that several editions were printed. It’s still available on-line today.
The Rev. Butt appears in a different guise later.


During the Napoleonic Wars invasion by France was feared.
“Information has been received from France by a most respectable source..... The invasion may be expected every day and almost every hour”.
Bury and Norwich Post 29 February 1802.


Lieutenant Robert Eagle, of the LAKENHEATH AND WANGFORD VOLUNTEERS, son of ROBERT EAGLE of Lakenheath Hall, died, probably as a result of an accident.

Read about local Volunteer Companies. The Lakenheath and Wangford Volunteers.


The Battle of Trafalgar took place.


America and Great Britain were at war. The United States were sympathetic towards the French Republic.


Undley Common was enclosed, ending medieval commoners rights there.


Belts of pines were beginning to be planted in the Brecks as wind-breaks.


The Battle of Waterloo saw the end of the war with France.


The CORN LAW was enacted by Parliament.


JOHN PELLS, Deputy Grand Falconer of England was born at Lowestoft. In 1843 he was in charge of the falcons at Feltwell Hall, and in 1860 he demonstrated the skills of Falconry at Sandringham before the Prince of Wales. On his retirement he lived at Goward House in the High Street.
A History of Lakenheath. Lakenheath W I.

Goward House about 1900


The Littleport Riots caused great fear and concern in the region.

Read about the Riots and The Corn Laws.


Rev. JOHN BARNES, a local land owner, but never the vicar of Lakenheath, died aged 97 and was buried in St. Mary’s Church. He was a benefactor of the church.
Some called him the ‘millionaire vicar’.
J T Munday Lakenheath Records.


Mr. R Eagle’s daughter Charlotte was “married from the Hall” to a Mr. W Clark of Thetford.


There were now 239 houses in the village giving a population of 1,042.


Transportation of felons to Australia had been taking place since 1788 but this is the year of the first transportation from the village that I can find.


Robert and William Eagle have become trustees of Evans’ Charity.


The vicar, Rev. BUTT, brought legal actions against Mr. R EAGLE of North Lawn Cottage, later called ‘The Retreat’, for non-payment of a Tithe which had been outstanding for several years.

Read about Butt v Eagle: The Church Rate and Tithe Disputes.


Robert Eagle had applied at the Bury Assizes in 1795 to divert the ‘old highway’ in Lakenheath at his own expense. Justices of the Peace eventually certified that it had been done ‘properly’ and was fit for use and that the old highway could be ‘stopped up’.
Bury Record Office. Q/SH 65 FL 517/3/10


A newly established Turnpike Trust High extended the High Street to allow heavier transport between the village and Hockwold. Not long after, a timber suspension bridge was built over the river Ouse at Wilton.
At this time Station Road did not exist in name. It was called Lakenheath and Hockwold Road.
“A new road was made, with a suspension bridge across the river in Suffolk in 1829…..”
William White’s History of Norfolk.
“ the Ouse is crossed by a suspension bridge in Lakenheath”
Kelly’s Directory 1883
It’s said that the nickname ‘Pikey’ was given to someone who used the turnpike regularly or who was a labourer who maintained it.


Mr. R Eagle’s postillion was ‘lost’ whilst returning a horse to Mildenhall which had been hired or borrowed after having taken his employer home. Bad weather was said to have caused his death.


The decision to found the Metropolitan Police was partly influenced by the Corn Law riots in London and nearby regions.


Robert Eagle died aged 73. He had probably built the house known as Northlawn Cottage and which much later became the Retreat. See photo’s.


A WILLIAM EAGLE was now at the forefront of legal objections to Tithe payments to the Ecclesiastical Authorities. This probably was the William Eagle who was the major land owner in the village.
Cobbetts Weekly Political Register 1831.


The village had 1,209 inhabitants, an increase of 167 in ten years.

Read about Crime and Punishment and Law and Order.


The Lakenheath and Hockwold Turnpike Trust were advertising. The turnpike may have run as far as Methwold, but it should not be confused with the mail-coach turnpike which crossed SE of the village on the way from London to Norwich via Thetford.
The modern A11 is partly based on this mail-coach turnpike road which passed through Red Lodge and ‘Little’ Barton, now Barton Mills. The original route can be seen on the Hodskinson map in Part 3 of the Timeline.

Read about Travel and Transport.


The Lakenheath and Hockwold Turnpike Trust was dissolved and the gates removed.


The Methodist Chapel on Back Street was built, replacing the Anchor Lane chapel.

Read about Lakentheath Methodist Church. By Derek Banks.


A new Poor Law was passed and ‘Mildenhall Poor Law Union’ was formed. A new workhouse was built which also provided for Lakenheath. Desperately poor people were beginning to consider emigration.


Following the death of King William IV at Buckingham Palace Queen Victoria ascended the throne.


The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 came into force.


Lieutenant WILLIAM BANGS who had been promoted from the ranks in the Army was living in the village. Such a promotion was exceptionally rare.
The London Gazette, 3.8.1813, and 2.10.1814.
At this time a Fair for Cattle and Toys was held on the Thursday after Midsummer Day. The Fair took place just off Undley Road where the horse paddocks are now.
Gazetteer and Directory of Suffolk. 1844/5. William Wright.
A considerable number of ‘finds’ were made at this site by ‘ROMAN’ RON MORLEY including the Lakenheath and Wangford Volunteers uniform button.


West Suffolk County Constabulary was formed to police urban and rural areas and Justices of the Peace were delegated to appoint a Chief Constable.

1844 CHARLES CASH came into some land which was then called Mill Hill.
The original transfer parchment can be seen in the story about a tenancy bequest (below). Read about how a tenancy could change hands.


The Baptist Chapel on Mill Road was built.


The first steam railway in Suffolk, built by The Northern and Eastern and Norfolk railways, connected Cambridge to Brandon via Lakenheath and shortly after was extended to Norwich. This made Lakenheath and Brandon the first places in Suffolk to receive steam trains. Robert Stephenson was the engineer.


The repeal of the CORN LAWS allowed grain to be imported, and so the price of bread began to fall.


Two ‘ballast-men’ working on the line not far from Lakenheath were killed by a runaway waggon.


Greenwich Mean Time was adopted by Railway Companies to make possible standardised railway arrivals and departures as well as reliable timetables. Travel was now truly reliable for the first time.


Lakenheath still had village constables. They were JAMES TRUDGETT, GEORGE PAYNE, ROBERT CASH and PHILIP READER who were all local farmers. They should not be confused with the new ‘professional‘ constables of the County Constabulary but were appointed by the local JP’s and were the last remnants of the ancient village law and order system.
Bury Record Office. FL 517/1/10/1


The noise of passing trains caused the Lakenheath decoy established by Sir S Stewart to be discontinued because they frightened away wild-fowl. TOM WILLIAMS rented the decoy from Mr. W Eagle and was said to be 109 when he drowned after falling into a ditch in the fen.
It’s said that the decoy delivered 1 ton of ducks twice per week to London markets.
History the Fens. J Wentworth-Day


Pillar boxes were introduced showing that many more letters were being written. Wall pillar boxes had been in use for some time. Early on they were painted green. The efficiency of the railway system had dramatically improved communication enabling letters to be sent rapidly to many parts of the country.


One of the most celebrated bare-knuckle fights took place at Lakenheath between NAT LANGHAM from Hinkley, Leicestersgire and TOM SAYERS from Camden Town, both famous pugilists, ending in the defeat of Sayers.  The fight lasted for 2 hours, or 60 rounds.  Bare knuckle fights were common at fairs but waht brought the fight to the village is a mystery.
Sources: Langham-Hinkley Past and Present.org. For Sayers, Wikipedia.

Read about the fight from newspapers at the time.


Brandon gun flints were used in the Crimean War. When flint-lock guns became obsolete hard times came to Brandon.


THOMAS PAYNE of Lakenheath was fined 5 shillings for refusing to have his child vaccinated, probably against smallpox. Vaccination became the socially responsible thing to do.

1859 ‘The Origin of the Species’ by Charles Darwin was published.


Guilty of Theft.
Charles Hills, a post messenger, from Mildenhall (post man), was sentenced to 1 year penal servitude with hard labour having been found guilty of stealing a letter to a Mr. Rolph of Lakenheath containing a helf-sovereign. The letter was sent to Mr. Roplh by his daughter who was in service in London. Due to Hills being given a good charcter by, amongst others, Mr. James Trudgett, a village constable at Lakenehath, and Edward Barry the Post Master at Mildenhall, the jury recommended a merciful sentence. A lenient sentence was passed by the judge.
The Bury and Norwich Post and Suffolk Herald March 29 1859.


A new vicarage was built on Back Street behind the church. In the 20th C it became the Village Home and when it closed, became apartments for rent. It’s now called Shakespeare House!


Lakenheath Hall was for sale. The sale catalogue advertised, “Estate and dwelling house known as the the Cottage and the ruins of the ancient Hall House”. The seller was possibly Mr. W S Eagle who had been the owner of the so called ‘Lakenheath Cross’, an anglo-saxon jewel which is in the British Museum. Now known as the Wilton Gold Cross, it was probably found at or near Hockwold.


EMMA LUCY ROLPH also known as the ‘Governess’ was born. She became Head of the Infant School and a benefactor of St. Mary’s, presenting the church with its organ in memory of her parents and her sister. There’s more about Emma in the School story later at 1877.


The Elveden Estate was purchased for DULEEP SINGH.


Some restoration was carried out on St. Mary’s Church.


Is this the first landing from the air on the Warren?
Bury and Norwich Post - Tuesday 19th January 1864

1865 According to The Post Office Directory of this year the village had a Postmaster, WILLIAM HOUSEHOLD. There was also a Money Order Office and Savings Bank as part of the Post Office. William was also a grocer, draper, ironmonger and farmer. The Directory shows WILLIAM GRAHAM EAGLE as ‘owning the greater part of the land’ in and around the village.
The village seems to have been well served by two boys schools and one ‘Dames’ school. Dames schools were schools for girls run by women. The boys schools were funded by endowments by George Goward, Messrs. Evans and Kitchener. (See Lakenheath Charities in Timeline Part 3).
Carriers to Bury were SAMUEL WILLIAMS and WILLIAM BOWERS who offered a service each Wednesday and Saturday.
Suffolk Heritage Explorer. Heritage.suffolk.gov.uk 1866 Bradshaw’s Railway Handbook gave the population of the village as 1797. 1867 The Reform Act doubled the number of people able to vote, but you had to be male and either owning property or paying rent of more than £10 p.a. 1869 DULEEP SINGH acquired the Eriswell estate. 1869 The National Provident Institution are now Lords of Lakenheath Manor
PO Directory 1869 1870 The Forster Act introduced Elementary education through the establishment of Board Schools. Education in the village had been available to those who could pay for some time by chapels or by charitable endowments. However, education still had to be paid for.


Local Government Boards were established to cover Health and Poor Law Commissions.


Lakenheath Manor and land was sold to Duleep Singh and the Warren was mined for its sand and gravel. Duleep repaired and improved the Lakenheath quays and cleared out the lode.
‘The Warrens of Breckland 2010’. The Breckland Society.
The extraction of sand and gravel was employing about 50 village men regularly. The results of their work can still be seen on the Warren.

Read about the Stone Sifters of Lakenheath


After years of extremely dubious electoral practices the secret ballot was introduced.


Urban and Rural Sanitary Authorities were formed under the Public Health Act and took over the operations of the Poor Law Unions.


The West Suffolk Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was formed.

1875 There was a major flood on Lakenheath Fen and the Lakenheath inundation relief fund was set up. Mr T. WADDELOW of Undley Lodge and the vicar Rev F. G. SCRIVENER appealed for help to the inhabitants of Bournemouth!
" ...... to the distressed parish of Lakenheath".
"Through the bursting of a bank which protected the Fen, some 3000 acres in this parish alone are under water ......".
The Poole and South Western Herald, Thursday December 16th 1875
1875This disaster destroyed the season's crops and made farming very difficult. Wheat ricks, straw, hay and all root vegetables were washed away. It will certainly have led to considerable hardship for the small farmers and their families.


Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.


The Elveden Estate became one of the best ‘sporting’ estates in the country and provided casual work for Lakenheath villagers as ‘brushers’ or beaters. It was often visited by Edward, Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII, and his mistress, Lily Langtree, a well-known actress.


A new school eas built to take 300 children. It opened on January 7th 1878 with 131 children aged 5-10 years attending on the first day. By 1918 the school leaving age had gradually risen to 14 years. Free education became the law in 1891.

Read about Lakenheath School.

‘Lakenheath School. A Centenary Poem.’  Wally Hebden, Headteacher, written in 1970.


A Parliamentary Order in Council ordered the discontinuance of burials in St. Mary’s Churchyard.


DR. Alfred Joseph PICKWORTH came to the village. Not only did he provide medical care but he was also a Methodist minister. Later he owned the first car in the village. He died in 1943, a loved and highly esteemed man.


Northlawn Cottage, later to be called The Retreat, was acquired by WILLIAM DUNN MP who was created a Baronet in 1895. He became the first and only Baronet of Lakenheath.
A N Prentice FRIBA was commissioned to modernise and extend Northlawn Cottage and the work began about 1900.

The Retreat before and after the extensions. Not far from Hall Drive a similar window shape can be seen. Where is it?


The first motor cars were made by Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler and a patent was taken out for the first motorbike by Daimler. Also in this decade the first ‘safety bicycle’ with two wheels of the same size became available and the ‘penny farthing’ became a thing of the past. For the first time ‘getting about’ also made possible travel for leisure for the newly emerging middle classes.


The population was now declared as being 1704 in the parish of Lakenheath and 1825 in the larger civil area of the village.


THE MONCKTON COPEMAN REPORT into environmental sanitation in Lakenheath was published.

Read about Medicine and Health in the village.


A bankrupted Duleep Singh died in Paris.


The estate and lands of Eriswell were sold to Lord Iveagh.
Urban and Rural District Councils were introduced.


The Report of the Medical Officer of Health for the Mildenhall Union Rural Sanitary Authority in his 6th Annual Report showed that in general, health in Lakenheath had improved and that old age was the leading cause of death.
Arthur W Aldrich, Medical Officer of Health, Mildenhall Union Sanitary Authority, Report 1865. Wellcome Library.
A new workhouse was built in Mildenhall. Lakenheath villagers were accommodated there.


On Saturday August 3rd the Weslyan School Festival took place.

The Bury Free Press, Saturday August 3rd 1895


The Parish Councils Act of 1894 led to the formation of the Lakenheath Parish Council. This Act removed from church parish councils all responsibilities apart from those directly realting to church matters. Our Parish Clerk, NickyGlading, found the original Standng Orders which governed all meetings and which were adopted in February 1895.

Lakenheath Parish Council Standing Orders 1895. 


The Daily Mail made its first appearance.
At the end of the 19th C approximately 25% of the national population was classified as being very poor and could not afford the basics of life.
Everyday Life in 19th. Century Britain. Tim Lambert in localhistory.org


Queen Victoria died. There were now 1,637 people living in the village.