The following information has been gathered from a number of handwritten notes and research collated and preserved by Marion Sherwood. Many thanks to Marion for all her hard work.
Earliest mention 1829 – School Master Joseph Gale
In 1829 the school was supported by Arthur Maitland Wilson, Squire of Stowlangtoft Hall. At that time there were 32 pupils, not all of them from the village and 2 members of staff. It was most probably situated in the Reading Room.
May 3rd - lessons interrupted to watch a bear travelling through the village.
August 2nd - pupils get a treat with a visit to the Hall.
Half day closure after church for entertainment in the next village.
Children in the church choir are let off 1 day per week to practice.
September - no school in the afternoon because of the Rector’s wedding.
October 24th - unable to keep the school open in the afternoon because of rain coming through the roof.
December - new school opened - this is now called the ‘Old School House’ and is a private residence. It closed in 1967 and there are a couple of people still resident in the village who attended the school.
August - children were dismissed at 11:45 as some wanted to take dinner to their fathers in the Harvest field.
Christmas - the Rector and his wife gave small presents to the children.
January - epidemic of mumps, whooping cough and influenza – school closed for 1 week, subsequently extended to 3 weeks.
Miss Harriet Brown, a volunteer, taught basket work.
The school received 3 dozen exercise books of 12 sheets, blotting paper, 1 dozen lead pencils, erasers and a box of slate pencils.
School closed because of flu.
May 21st - half day holiday, Relief of Mafeking.
June 2nd - Half day holiday, Proclamation of Peace.
School closed, children helping with the Harvest.
Epidemic of ringworm.
Stowlangtoft roads and paths
The road layout of Stowlangtoft would have looked very different when the church was being built in the mid-1300s.
The A1088 was probably built in the 1600s. The original road to Norton is now a footpath opposite the church which ends at Norton church and the site of the original Norton village. Christmas Cottage, built in the 1400s, is side on to this lane, indicating that it was once and important road.
The raised pathway outside the church gates was the original village street. If you look across to the Almshouses you will see that they are on the same level as the church, the present road having been dug out, perhaps in the 1600s. In winter, when the undergrowth is low, the ‘road’ can be traced through the backs of the houses and through the woods either side of Kiln Lane. It joins the existing road at the bend just after the village name sign.
Kiln Lane is an ancient track way connecting a Roman Villa at Wyken with on the church site.
At the gates to Stowlangtoft Hall the original lane went across a field, a dip still just visible and forded the river where there is now a large lake. It carried on as the existing footpath across Primrose Meadow to the church. The road from the Hall, over the humpbacked bridge was built at the same time as the Hall in 1848.
Other medieval routes to local villages were as follows; the driveway to the Hall was once a road to Langham, taken over when the Hall was built. Opposite was a road to Pakenham, now a field track which came in to Fen road. Another route to Pakenham was the footpath through the woods opposite Stow Manor in the Kiln Lane hamlet.
The path through the woods behind the water tower was a road to Langham closed in the 1740s. It is very boggy, this perhaps being the reason for its closure.
This information is taken from maps in the Records Office and also from my own knowledge of landscape archaeology. You can be fairly sure that if it is a public footpath, it was once a main thoroughfare to adjoining villages.
Stowlangtoft – the village
The village of Stowlangtoft lies roughly 8 miles east of Bury St Edmunds. In Anglo Saxon times it was named ‘Stowe’ which means ‘meeting place’, often with a religious connection.
I like to think that the body of King Edmund rested here overnight on its way from Hoxne to the Abbey at Bedrickworth, after known as Bury St Edmunds. There is mention of ‘Stowe bricks’ being used to build the Anglo Saxon abbey. Perhaps Kiln Lane got its name from thebricks made here ?
‘Stowe’ acquired the ending ‘Langtot’ from the Langtot family from France following the battle of Hastings. In the Doomsday survey, Stowe is held by ‘Durand for the Abbot’ which means the land may have been part of the Abbey lands. The Langtot family are not mentioned until 1206.
The Norman manor house stood behind the church, the site of which can still be seen from the field; tall trees on a semi-moated area. This is owned privately and not available for public access. The original Hall stood a couple of fields south of the current Hall. In 1674 a ‘hearth’ tax mentions 20 hearths so it must have been a fairly large building. Several ancient oak trees planted then still survive in the fields around the site. At this time there appears to be no doctor nearer than Bury St Edmunds. Remembering that the roads were rough and unmade, it could be up to an hour ride on horseback, each way. In 1700, several people in the village died of smallpox.
The was a mill still mentioned as late as 1751 as ‘Mill Fields’ on the map. This field is on theleft as you cross the road Norton road towards the village.
A name which is often comes up is ‘Cocksedge’. First mentioned in 1600 and up to the 1800s. The name appears on property, too, in Bury St Edmunds and it was quite recentlythat someone of that name died in Pakenham.
In 1744 the village gave 2 shillings (10 pence) to ‘Widow Frost’s boy’ for ‘breeches and stockings’. 1 shilling was donated to the same boy for a pair of shoes.
There was a post office in 1874, closed in 1979.
At the beginning of the 1900s the village had a Shoemaker, a Grocer, a Haberdasher, a Stationer, a Blacksmith and a Limeburner.
In 1746, 2/6d (12 ½ pence) was ‘given to children for gathering stones to mend ye highways’ and for mending Bull Bridge, in 1761, 6/- (30p). in 1795, Dr Green was paid 2 guineas for taking care of the poor for a year.
In 1855, a coal charity was set up to provide money for fuel for those in need. This has just been used to buy the bench at the end of Kiln Lane.
Electricity did not come to the village until after World War II. Water was drawn from wells and pumps. There was no mains water until 1950 when the water tower was built on the hill on Kiln Lane.
At the beginning of the 1700s the village had small farms. The land was rough pasture and marshy land. The Enclosure Act of 1773 saw the end of Stowlangtoft Common, this may have been at the end of what is now Kiln Lane. Common people could graze their animals on it before the Act. After this, fields as we know them began to appear.
The old Hall which had been there since medieval times, modernized in Tudor and Georgian times, burnt down at the beginning of the 1800s. The Hall which is there now was built in 1858. The humpback bridge in Kiln Lane was built at the same time, replacing a ford slightly to the east.
In the 1980s, I spoke to people who lived at Street Farm, the home farm for the in the late 1800s, early 1900s. As children they would get up at 4am in the summer to churn the butter before it got too hot. They also used to walk the animals to market in Bury St Edmunds, again leaving around 4am. The children were allowed to come to the Hall and stand at the top of the staircase to watch guests arrive in their best clothes.
The village has not grown very much over the centuries. Houses come and go and roads change but if Robert de Ashfield (one of the Lords of the Manor) were able to see the village today, he would definitely know where he is !