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Historical Timeline

3500 BC     New Stone Age establishes the great trading links across England; The Icknield Way (the road to Lackford) passes by Cavenham. Icknield Way was used as a transportation route by the Iron Age Iceni tribe before the Romans came to Britain.

50 AD        Iceni Tribe live in the area

40-80 AD   Large Urn buried

200-400 AD     Cavenham Crowns (Roman) buried

1086          Doomsday Book; Cavenham land owned by Richard Fitz Gilbert

1200          Church built on possible Anglo Saxon site

1250          The Vicarage is valued at £10

1311           Inquisition of Templar’s rents and property. Recorded that Preceptor of Cavenham had been responsible for a reprise of 5s. 11d. to Priory of Stoke by Clare from the mills in Cavenham and Twygrynd (Tuddenham).

1347          Manorial lands passed by marriage to the Earl of Stafford

1381          A strange tale is told about Deadman’s Grave on the Icklingham Road, said to be the burial place of an executed highwayman whose crimes prevented him from being given a Christian burial and whose fury at this fact led him to haunt the hillock on his horse, his headless figure scaring passing horses and cattle.
Others claim that the burial was of a man and his horse or a John Cambridge who was the Prior of Bury St Edmunds’ Abbey during the peasant’s revolt, another claim is that the dead man was actually the Archbishop of Sudbury who was decapitated close to the spot by his enemies and now returns on dark nights to retrace the route of his death.

1461     Sir Thomas Tuddenham owner of Shardelowe Manor, beheaded. Owner of Shardelowe Manor in Cavenham was beheaded for taking part with the House of Lancaster against that of York. Convicted of treason by parliament without hearing defence and beheaded on 23rd Feb.1461

1465-85  St Walstan mural painted St Walstan is the patron saint of farms, farmers, farmhands, ranchers and husbandry men.

1483         Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham beheaded. A Royal Marriage,
During the 15th Century, Cavenham Manor was owned by Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham who married Katherine Woodville sister of Edward lV’s wife, Queen Elizabeth. Unfortunately, the newly appointed King Edward V was only 12 yrs. and greatly influenced by his aunts and uncles, the rich and ambitious Woodvilles. To counterbalance this influence Gloucester the protector of the Realm and the recently deceased King’s brother argued that Edward V was illegitimate and claimed the throne for himself, becoming the notorious Richard 111. Edward V and his brother were spirited away to the Tower of London. 
Later that autumn of 1483 the Duke of Buckingham and owner of Cavenham Manor conspired to place Henry Tudor upon the throne. The Duke raised a rebellion in the expectation of aid from France but Henry could not land, Buckingham’s forces deserted and he was seized and beheaded in the market place of Salisbury on the 2nd November 1483.

1535  Duke of Suffolk, Charles Brandon marries Mary, Queen Dowager of France The Duke of Suffolk, Charles Brandon owned Shardelowe Manor; manorial lands in Cavenham. The Duke was either extraordinarily lucky or extraordinarily adroit, born a commoner he was a Duke by the age of thirty and won the hand of Henry Vll’s daughter Mary, Queen Dowager of Louis Xll of France and sister of Henry Vlll of England.

1551  Edward de Stafford beheaded. After the Duke of Buckingham was beheaded, Cavenham Manor passed to the son and heir Edward de Stafford who was restored to his dukedom, earldom and barony by Henry Vll. Later however he was accused of seditious language respecting King Henry Vlll by Cardinal Wolsey and was beheaded on Tower Hill, 17th May 1521. When Emperor Charles V heard of the fall of the great duke he is said to have exclaimed ” A butcher’s dog has killed the finest buck in England” alluding to the mistaken belief that Cardinal Wolsey was the son of a butcher.

1550’s        The Plough Inn built                                                                   

1576          Sexton’s plan shows Cavenham as ‘Canham’    

Late 1500s Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk owned Shardelowe Manor in the late 1500s.  The Earl played a leading role in revealing the Gun Powder Plot of 1605 by leading the interrogation of the conspirators and presiding at their trial. He was relieved of his post as Lord High Treasurer in 1618 for peculation. The evidence for which included the high expenditure he incurred erecting Audley End of which James l observed: “it was too large for a king though it might do for a Lord Treasurer.. and was fined with his second wife whose avarice had been blamed for his dishonesty.”

1754         The Post Office built                                                         

1772          Enclosure of pastoral & agricultural land      

1794          Thomas Le Blanc sells the Hall to Marquis Cornwallis. Cavenham Manor was vested in Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis, Earl Cornwallis. The same Cornwallis who was forced to surrender to General George Washington in 1781 at Yorktown. The 4,000 British troops faced overwhelmingly superior numbers of French and American forces. This was effectively the end of British attempts to subdue the American colonies.

For a while, Earl Cornwallis’s daughter, Lady Mary and her husband Captain Mark Singleton from West Stow were tenants of Cavenham Manor then known as The Mansion House.  They had made a runaway marriage in 1785 and the notice in the Norwich Post of Dec. 14th 1785 reads ” A few days since was married, Capt. Singleton, of the guards, to Lady Mary Cornwallis, daughter of the Right Hon. Earl Cornwallis of Culford, near this town”. The release and settlement document of 1797 listing the Cavenham properties and lands handed over to the Singletons noted a total yearly rent of £543.4s. The Singletons had paid 10s. A release and settlement document is used by owners who want to keep land and property within the family, ensuring descendants cannot sell their inheritance.

1797          Robert Rooks rents Blacksmith’s shop                                           

1801          Enclosure of heath & wastelands                                                   

1809          Henry Spencer Waddington MP buys Cavenham Hall                   

1851          Greatest population count of 283

1861         The Plough with 62acres rented for £2.2s.                                     

1871         Village School erected                                                                     

1896          Agricultural workforce dropped by 42% in the previous 55 years  

1898          New Mansion erected in the park                                                    

1902          Adolphe Goldschmidt buys Cavenham Mansion                            

1903          Reading Rooms (Cavenham Club)  erected                                                                  

1910         Frank Goldsmith(son of Adolphe Goldschmidt) elected MP as the Conservative and Unionist MP for the area in 1910. According to the local press “When the results were announced he had won by a majority of 645. That evening he made a triumphant return to Cavenham. His car was stopped and he was forcibly seated in a carriage to which his supporters tied ropes and dragged him through the villages and up to the front door of Cavenham Hall”

1910          Estate Houses built  by Frank Goldsmith

1914  At the outset of the 1st World War violence erupted as protesters try to oust Frank Goldsmith as an anti-Germanic wave swept Britain; as a result, Frank lost his parliamentary seat.  His strong Germanic connections caused disagreement among the villagers flared by an open telegram from his cousin in Germany, who as a high ranking civil servant wrote to Frank “How can you consider fighting for anyone other than your fatherland”. It was of course seen by everyone in the local post office. There were clashes among his supporters and opponents, ending in violence. In fact, Frank was already a Major in the Suffolk Yeomanry and would be a Squadron Leader in the Battle for Gallipoli. Nevertheless, there was an outcry about his German connections. His father, very noticeably German apparently hid in Cavenham Hall, greatly shaken by the upheaval. Frank would be forced out of his seat as MP in 1918. Frank had to pay the hospital bills of his supporters.  Frank abandoned politics after the war and moved to France. 

1914-1916  WWI Cavenham Heath became home to the East Anglian (Essex) Royal Garrison Artillery 

1918         Estate failed to sell at auction                                                          

1920    The artist, Alfred Blundell moved to The Mill and lived there until his death in 1968.  From early boyhood his artistic talent was the driving force in his life. As a young man, his employment as an auctioneer’s clerk and at the railway stations in Bury St Edmunds and Woodbridge merely provided the funds to purchase the necessary materials with which to produce more pictures.

Being a true artist, he was untroubled by the mundane practicalities of daily existence and was utterly absorbed in his passion. When it came to a choice between spending his meagre wage on food or materials, it was the later which took precedence. Eventually, in 1920, an engraving of a scene at Loch Katrine in Scotland caught the eye of a London art dealer and he was commissioned to complete a series of six Scottish scenes which sold well. His big break had finally come at the age of 37.
Having been “discovered”, Blundell settled at the Mill and devoted himself largely thereafter to capturing the unique landscape of the Breckland area, using oils, pastels and watercolour as well as producing countless engravings. His wife, Eve, acted as his model for life drawings. He also produced pottery, undertook many commissions in sculpture and, at the advanced age of 73, took up glass engraving.
Over the years, Blundell also taught art at three schools in the Bury St Edmunds area, most notably at Culford School where he was art master from 1933 to 1945. The school still retains a gallery devoted to his work.

Blundell’s work became very popular with locally-based American servicemen during the war and post-war years. Accordingly, examples of work originating at Cavenham Mill, many featuring the mill house and stream, can now be found all over the world. He continued to produce a wide variety of work from his first-floor studio at the Mill until his death in 1968.   

1921        Cavenham Estate bought by Brig-Gen. Archibald Fraser Home CMG DSO    

1925        St. Andrews Church united with Tuddenham St. Mary                   

1925         First incoming telephone call                                                           

1929         School closed     

1934         Quarry established by Allen Newport (sand and gravel)                                                                    

1940/41   WW2 In late 1940 or early on in 1941, the RAF Camouflage and Decoy Unit set up a dummy airfield at Cavenham Heath. These units were intended to fool enemy raiders into attacking harmless dummy installations rather than real targets. It was intended to protect the nearby Newmarket Heath and Mildenhall RAF airfields. Fake aircraft and trucks were fashioned out of wood and canvas, and false flare paths laid to deceive airborne observers. Its value would soon be proved within a few weeks.     
A “K” site (see note) was also set up at Cavenham to deceive any enemy planes searching for RAF Mildenhall. Expecting attacks by the German Luftwaffe on RAF airfields, the Air Ministry implemented a plan for secret decoy airfields in 1939. Film studio technicians at Shepperton created dummy aircraft, using wood and canvas over a metal frame (it needed one and a half tons of steel for a dummy Wellington bomber). The dummy planes had folded wings and all the appropriate lighting both on wings and tails these were painted by members of the local unit.
During daylight hours these replicas were towed into the woods leading the Germans – should they be taking photographs from the air – to think all the planes had taken off on a mission. At night, if the Germans were on their way, the replica planes were taken up the fully lit flare path many times in session. This led the Germans to believe a squadron of planes had taken off for action. R. Douglas Brown noted in his book “East Anglia 1941” that these replica planes were so convincing that special precautions had to be taken to deter R.A.F. pilots from landing on these sites.
Cavenham was duly attacked on 27th February.  The site was abandoned in 1942, as reduced German intrusions meant that it was no longer needed, but the area was now ideal for a new airfield as part of the allied offensive. Note:  Sites intended to attract night raids were designated “Q” sites, while decoys for day raids were known as “K” sites.     

1943        FIDO Established.  During the 2nd World War, the area of land to the north of Cavenham village became the site for a Fog Dispersal unit or FIDO attached to Tuddenham Airfield. To assist in fog dispersal, perforated petrol pipes were laid along the edges of the runway. In foggy conditions, fuel was pumped from large containers standing on the concrete strip next to the old road to Temple Bridge. This pumped fuel was ignited and the heat generated caused the fog to rise and the flames highlighted the outline of the runway. The flames reached 20-30 feet.

1943        Air Ministry: The recently quarried area was requisitioned by the war office and used as an airfield, at the time the heathland was part of the Cavenham Estate which was auctioned in 1946. The auction papers note the 1,0009 acres of the heath were rented to the Air Ministry for £142 2s.9d and the War Department for £234 4s.9d.

1946        Cavenham Estate bought by Douglas Gough                                 

1947        The Vicarage demolished                                                                

1949        Cavenham Hall demolished and replaced with Little Hall               

1950’s      Village Store closes                                                                         

1954        The Suffolk Show held at Lark Hall                                                 

1954        First Electricity in village                                                                  

1958        Lark Hall Farm with 602 acres sold                                                 

1962        Village Flower Show at Park Farm      

1962        Cuban Missile Crisis  An Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Squadron was formed on Cavenham Heath at Tuddenham Airfield under the control of Bomber Command and equipped with Douglas Thor missiles. The squadron consisted of three missiles on their own launch pads. These rockets had a range of 1,750 miles and carried a two-megaton nuclear warhead. They were mounted at a state of readiness and remained as such until they ceased to be in operation. During the Cuban Crisis, the missiles were brought up to a very high state of readiness, armed and fuelled and almost ready for ‘off’, but the only live firings were those carried out by R.A.F. crews while training in the U.S.A.                                          

1964       Cavenham Foods createdFrank Goldsmith’s son Sir James Goldsmith (founder of the Referendum Party) created a private company named after his grandfather’s estate in Suffolk, Cavenham Foods. The company produced among other things Carr’s water biscuits, Carson’s chocolate and Procea slimming foods. This became the third largest retail company in the world.       

1967          Discovery of St Walstan’s mural and closure of Public House       

1981          Lowest juvenile population count     

1982          Bury Pistol Shooting Range opens                                                 

1998          Glider pilot killed                                                                              

1998/9       Porter’s Lodge gardens open to the public                                     

1999          Post Office closed                                                                            

1999          Les Ford receives MBE                                                                   

1999          Gravel Pit halts extraction to protect breeding birds                       

1999          Python dumped on heath                                                                

1999          Ramblers National Day of Action               

2022          The Great Tree Fall