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- A Misplaced Suffolk Village (continued...)

Simply click to enlarge... then close new window to returnIn the Domesday Survey there is an entry for Great Livermere in Thedwastre Hundred which gives a list of the various holders of land (under Bury Abbey) and ends with a statement of its area and its geld (f. 363b). Another entry gives similar Information for Little Livermere in Blackburne Hundred (also under Bury Abbey) and this also ends with a statement of its area and 1 .s geldf. 366b. In addition there are three entries for a third Livermere, in Lackford Hundred, and these give similar information including, again, a statement of area and geldff. 358b, 382 and 407b. Although these entries clearly refer to a third Livermere, modern local historians, without quoting any evidence, have applied them to the other two, even though Great and Little Livermere are three miles 'distant from the nearest point of Lackford Hundred. They have had to imagine a detached portion of Lackford Hundred embedded in Thedwastre and Blackburne. This has been in spite of plentiful evidence that there was, all through the Middle Ages and down to modern times, an area called Livermere lying between Brandon (belonging, to Ely) and Wangford (belonging to Bury), right in the middle of Lackford Hundred. Certainly there is, as yet,' no archaeological evidence for a village there, and perhaps there never was a nucleated one.

Although 'there 'are three entries for Liverrnere In Lackford Hundred In Domesday,' two of them are very small.

Bury Abbey's entry is for 2 freemen, 1 bordar,' 20 acres of land and a half-plough (f. 358b), the same small numbers being repeated in the contemporary Feudal Book' of Abbot. BaldwinD. C. Douglas: Feudal Documents
Ely Abbey's entry is only for 3 freemen, 29 acres and another half-ploughf. 382. It is' significant that whereas Domesday heads this entry "In Livermere", Inquisitio Eliensis adds "and in Wangford". 
The third entry, Hugh de Montfort's, is much more considerable: under Hugh de Beverda were 4 villeins, 3 bordars and 1 serf on a manor of two carucates; there were also 3 freemen with 80 acres. Between all these there were 6 ploughs, and the area Is given as six furlongs by four, and the geld as 4df. 407b. It is significant that this 4d, together with the 6d geld paid by neighbouring Wangford, make up 10d which is half the 20d paid by so many larger communities. 

In Domesday it is recorded that Hugh de Montfort's estate had formerly been held by Guthmund, who had obtained it from his brother, Wulfrlc, abbot of Ely. Guthmund wished to marry Earl Aelfgar's daughter, but had to acquire land before he could do soC.R. Hart: Early Charters of Eastern England, p.71. So the estate was lost to the abbey. It is clear from early charters that at Ely, Livermere was regarded as some sort of appendage to their important manor of Brandon, for eight small land transactions dated before the Conquest are recorded in Liber Eliensis as "in Brandon and Llvermere"Hart, op. cit., p. 227.

It Is not known when the bishopric of Ely recovered the two carucates in Livermere which had been lost to Hugh de Montfort. However, in the survey of the bishop's manors made in 1222British Museum, Cott. Tib. Bii, f. 121ff amongst the freemen holding of the manor of Brandon appears Gervase de Wangford who held one carucate in Llvermere for 3s. 2d. and boon-tasks. What else could this be but one of Hugh de Montfort's two carucates? So, in the first quarter of the thirteenth century Livermere was still, in some sense, a recognized entity. However,, in the survey of 1251Cambridge University Library, EDR.G3/27,ff. l89vff this same carucate "which was Gervase de Wangford's", now held by Simon and Adam Bolt, was no longer specifically stated to be in Livermere. In both surveys the entry for this carucate, coming almost at the end of the freemen's holdings, is separated from them by an entry for 3 messuages held of Brandon manor' In Thetford. Again, in both surveys, following the Livermere carucate, comes an entry for another whole carucate, held for the same rent and services as the former. It seems likely that this second carucate was the second of Hugh de Montfort. ' In the 1222 survey there is also a second entry for land stated to be in Livermere; in the short financial summary for Brandon manor at the end of the survey, is an item for 4s. for pasture, at the bishop's disposal, in Livermere.

The later history of half Gervase de Wangford's carucate, 60 acres, which came into the hands of Langley Abbey, can be traced down to modern times, and the area in which it lay is certain, In the Brandon manor court roll for March 1330Univ. Chicago Library Bacon Coll. Ct. Rs. 292 the abbot of Langley is' ordered to be distrained for fealty and other services for a holding which had been Simon Bolt's. In the Brandon manor compotus roll for 1388-89ibid., Com. Rs. 652 appears "In lapsed rent for 60 acres of free-land which the abbot of Langley formerly held and is now in the lord's hands because not tilled owing to devastation by coneys, is. 7d. for the year". So Langley Abbey held half Gervase de Wangford's curucate in Livermere for half the rent of the whole. Moving on to more modern times, during a lawsuit in 1612Public Record Office, El 34/10 Ja.. I an eighty-year-old witness, John Basely, said that he had heard that there were lands called Langley Roods, all in Livermere Field, and that he thought that they lay amongst the other roods in that field. The subject of the lawsuit was the ownership of the coneys which escaped from Brandon warren into Livermere Field, so the lands which had belonged to Langley Abbey were still invaded by rabbits. A generation later, in 1644, amongst lands in Brandon conveyed by William Plesaunce to Robert Wright were 60 acres of land called "Langley lands or Langley Roods lying or supposed to lie in Livermere Field"Norwich Record Office 4E2/3928. Both in the lawsuit and in the conveyance it is taken for granted that (at that time) Livermere Field was in Brandon Parish, though it was not one of the age-old nine fields of Brandon Field. On the 1809 enclosure map, Livermere Field is shown as about 360 acres lying on the Brandon side of the Brandon-Wangford boundary, and stretching from the eastern side of Shakers Road, westwards to within three-quarters of a mile from the present A 1065. During the 1612 lawsuit another witness said he had seen "an original lease" made by an abbot of Langley in the possession of John Capp, deceased, which mentioned all the lands of the abbey in Brandon and in Wangford as well, the latter including a close and a "Langley Acre" in Wangford Field.

Richard I was said to have confirmed the grant of Livermere Grange to Warden AbbeyCalendar of Charter Rolls, ii. 335. There seems to be no surviving evidence as to who made the original grant, or whether it was more than a message with an attached sheep-right with pasture upon the heathland. Later it became of considerable value as is indicated by the statement in the Red 'Book of the Exchequer that in the time of Henry III the abbot of Warden held one fee in Llvermere and Wangford (xiii). At the great Inquisition held at the beginning of Edward I's reign, the rolls say that the abbot of Warden had withdrawn his suit to Lackford Hundred which he owed for his holding in Livermere and Wangford, "and has done so for the past eight years"; still in 1393 the then abbot was paying 2s. fine for suit to the hundred which he owed for his Livermere GrantIveagh Suff. mss. 162.f.340, and in 1386 John Manys, "the abbot of Warden's man" o was amerced for bringing sheep to feed on Brandon common pastureChicago U. L., Bacon Coll. Ct. Rs. 292.

by J.T. Munday Mildenhall Museum

 

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