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"WOODBRIDGE, a parish, market town, and port in the hundred of Loes, county Suffolk, 8 miles N.E. of Ipswich, and 26 from Colchester. It has a railway station, and can be approached by vessels of 120 tons, which come up to the quays from Woodbridge haven. The town is mentioned in Domesday survey, and in the 12th century had an Austin friary founded by the Rouse family, who still possess the manor. It was anciently a subport to Yarmouth, and was ravaged by the plague in 1666. The town is on the banks of the Deben, about 12 miles from its confluence with the sea, and at the point where the roads to Ipswich, Saxmundham, and Debenham intersect, the principal street being nearly a mile in length. It is regularly built, and lighted with gas. It contains some good houses, especially in the neighbourhood of the market-place, which is spacious. There are bonding warehouses, wharves, and quays, and a ship-building yard. A coasting trade is carried on, in which 30 vessels belonging to the port are engaged, the exports being corn and malt, and the imports coal, timber, seeds, colonial produce, groceries, wine, and spirits. The principal public buildings are the custom-house, public lecture hall, erected in 1851, with mechanics' institution and reading-room attached; the old sessions-house for St. Etheldred's liberty, built in 1587, and lately restored; a bridewell, three commercial banks, and a savings-bank; there are also corn-mills, a brewery, maltings, iron-foundry, whiting factory, and a rope walk. Quarter sessions are held regularly, as also a county-court monthly, and petty sessions every Thursday.

The town has a small local trade, being advantageously situated in a corn and grazing district. Its population in 1851 was 5,161, but in 1861 it had decreased to 4,513. The living is a perpetual curacy endowed with the rectorial tithes, in the diocese of Norwich, value £390. The church, dedicated to St. Mary the Virgin, is a structure of the time of Edward III., and was repaired in 1839 at the expense of G. Thomas, Esq. Prior to the Reformation it had an image of the Virgin and four altars, and contains several brasses, now defaced, monuments to Jeffery Pittman, a benefactor to the town, and to the Carthews of Woodbridge Priory. There is besides a church built in 1845, and dedicated to St. John. The Independents, Wesleyans, and Society of Friends have chapels. There is a free grammar school, founded by Dorothy Seckford in 1662, and remodelled and incorporated in the Seckford charity, 1865, which charity has more than £3,000 per annum, the greater part being the endowment of Seckford's hospital or almshouses, founded in 1587 by Thomas Seckford, Esq., Master of Requests, for 62 widowers or bachelors. The present structure, which stands near the site of the old pile, has a chapel and a terrace walk in front. The new cemetery, situated a little to the S.W. of the town, was tastefully laid out in 1856, and has two mortuary chapels in the Norman style of architecture. Woodbridge gives name to a Poor-law Union, comprising 46 parishes, but the union poorhouse is situated in the parish of Nacton. It is also the head of a New County Court district and superintendent registry. In the immediate vicinity of the town are many seats, and at Mr. Whincopp's is a collection of British, Roman, and Saxon antiquities discovered in the neighbourhood. At Kingston, commonly called Kyson, in the blue clay, Mr. Colchester first discovered the two rare fossils hyræotherium and megacus, or monkey. C. Saxton, a native of this town, published the first county maps in the reign of Elizabeth. Bernard Barton, the Quaker poet, died here in 1849, and lies buried in the graveyard of the Friends' meetinghouse; Crabbe was also a surgeon's apprentice here. Thursday is market day, when business is chiefly done in corn. Fairs are held on Lady-day, chiefly for horses, the first Tuesday in April, and on Michaelmas-day, and the day following, in lieu of the 23rd of October."

"KINGSTON, a manor in the parish of Woodbridge, hundred of Loes, county Suffolk, 8 miles N.E. of Ipswich. It is situated near the river Deben, about 9 miles from the coast."

Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)


Church History

Descriptions and photographs of churches in the parish may be found in Simon Knott's Suffolk Churches.


Description and Travel

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  • A description of Woodbridge transcribed from Stephen Whatley's "Gazetteer of England" (1750) by Mel Lockie © 2011.
" WOODBRIDGE, (Suffolk) near 11 m. from the ocean and Orford, 4 from Wickham-Market, 15 from Aldborough, 7 from Ipswich, in the road to Yarmouth, 62 cm. 75 mm. from London. 'Tis about half a m. in length and breadth. It drives a good trade by its navigable r. Deben, to London, Newcastle, Holland, &c. with butter, cheese, salt, plank, &c. and their pinks and hoys go to and from London every week. It had formerly a mon. on the S. side of the Ch. and a trade in sack-cloth, as it has now in refining salt. It has a fine Ch. and steeple, several good inns, and a handsome shire-hall in the Mt.-place, where the quarter-sessions are held for the liberty of St. Ethelred and Audry, and under it is the corn-cross. The Mt. which is on W. is well furnished with most necessaries, particularly hemp and cordage, and its Fairs are March 25, May 3, and Sept. 21. It has 4 or 5 docks for building ships, with commodious keys and warehouses; and here is a good grammar school and an almsh. erected in 1587, by Thomas Seckford, master of the requests, and well endowed, for 13 men and 3 women. The manor is said to be in the family of Ld. Willoughby of Eresby; but the site of the mon. a good old seat, the estate of Thomas Carthew of Benacre. "

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Historical Geography

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