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The Manors Of Moulton, Stonehall & French Hall

The first manor of Moulton, 'Stonehall', was very extensive, it included land in the parish of Gazeley, which were known as the grazing fields of Moulton. The Manor House built in a field called Dovehouse Close, which is just to the south of the church, this field may also have been an ancient tilting ground. If there was no pre-Norman church, on the present site, it may have been the Archbishop who held the patronage or the Cockfield family who held the manor who built the first (Norman) church. It is not known when or how, the old Manor House ended its existence. A Court Roll of 1749, has this note appended,

'The Court was called and opened in a Close called Dovehouse Close, near the Parsonage and adjoined to a place in the town called Elm Tree Hall (where an elm tree had formally stood) and then adjourned and held at the Hall Farm, according to ancient custom as by tradition'.

The tenant of the Manor Farm at that date, was Daniel Deave.

After the Norman conquest the Manorial Rights were granted by the King to the powerful family of the De Clares of Clare Castle, 15 miles away. The De Clares held 95 Lordships in Suffolk. these had their own Lords of the Manor, under the overlordship of the De Clares.

The Red Book

From the Red Book of the Exchequer it can be seen that, from 1210-1212, Adam de Kokefeld held the Manor. In 1275, he married Agatha, one of four coheirs of Sir Robert Aquillon and Agatha his wife. Sir Robert died early in the reign of King Edward the First and the Manor was passed to the son and heir Robert, who died in 1297. The Manor then passed to the sister and heir, Joan, wife of William de Beauchamp, 1316. In 1313, Joan gave half a mark for a licence to agree with William de Wengrave for the Manors of Moulton. The Manor then passed to the daughter. Sir John de Chyverston received the Manor through the daughter, he was knighted by King Edward the Third, on his taking of Calais. In 1370, Sir John sold the Manor to Lady Elizabeth, wife of Sir Andrew Lutterell, who in 1373 had a grant of free warren here and in Debenham. Stonehall in three inquisitions of the Earl of Stafford, who were supposed to have held French Hall Manor. The three inquisitions are of Thomas, Earl of Stafford in 1392, William, brother and heir, Thomas 1398, and Edward 1403. Sir Hugh Lutterell died in 1428 and his inquis calls the Manor Stonehall The Lordship was purchased in the reign of Elizabeth the First by Sir Clement Heigham, of the Suffolk family of Heigham and Barrow. It passed to their families until the 18th century. Both Manors were united under the Duke of Rutland and the estate was joined to that of Cheveley Hall. Ownership then passed to Harry Leslie Blundell McCalmont. It is said that Lindsay Lane purchased the manorial right, in order to call his new house 'Moulton Manor'.

The old feudal System of an enclosed 'Demense', belonging to the Lord of the Manor, bordering on which the village was situated, while beyond it were the unenclosed arable pasture and woodland. This gave way to separate farms and small holdings, some of which were fenced.

Most of the land and most of the roads remained unfenced. Some other land was common rights controlled by the Manorial Courts assigned to the inhabitants. This system ended with the Enclosure Award, carried out under act of Parliament. There is an unusual amount of material for the history of the Manors, the surviving Court Rolls were in the possession of the late Lindsay Lane who bought a portion of the Moulton Estate in 1920.

The Manor Of Stonehall And The Cockfield Family.

The Manor of Stonehall, otherwise known as Moulton Manor, was the principle of the two manors. It was held by the Cockfield family from a very early date, from the Lords of Clare, who held of the King in chief. The ancient manor house stood near the church on the south side, where in a meadow called Dove House Close, where there are still signs of its foundations. If there was no pre-Norman church, then the Norman church out of which the present one has grown was built near the manor house, either by the archbishop who retained the patronage or possibly with the help of the Cockfields, if they were then living there. The Cockfield family was a younger branch of the De Veres, afterwards Earls of Oxford. The first Alfred De Vere who came over with the conquerer and resided at Castle Heddingham in Essex, was father to another Alfred or Aubery, who became great chamberlain of England. Another son Roger, held the lordship of Cockfield in Suffolk, of the abbots of Bury and many other manors. He took the name Cockfield, the name in connection with Moulton, which frequently appears in the 13th century charters and deeds. The earlist mention is in the red book of the exchequer, about 1210, of an Adam Kokefeld as holder of the manor. Robert held it in 1242 and Adam in 1275. Robert son of Adam was found by inquistion of a memoral jury to be in possession of the manor at Moulton in 1286. He is said to have owned 32 manors in Norfolk and Suffolk. He was the last of the line and died in 1296, leaving as an hieress his sister Joan. How far this family made Moulton a place of residence must remain doubtful.

see also the Manor Rolls

A Forest Heath District Council (Suffolk) Project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Millennium Festival 2000 Designed by ArtAtac