27th September 1545. An ill Wind.

The Abbey of St Edmundsbury, Suffolk was surrendered to the Crown in 1539, though much of  its wealth had been confiscated the previous year.(1)

Six years later Today in 1545 the Manor of Packenham, Suffolk, once part of the Abbey estates was purchased for £1432 from the Crown by Robert, 2nd son of Thomas Spring III, ‘The wealthy clothier’, the best known of the dynasty of wealthy wool merchants, the Springs of Lavenham.

However it was John, the elder son and heir of Thomas, who inherited the Spring family cloth trading and estates after his father’s death in 1543, and like Robert, benefited from the Abbey’s confiscation.

Pacca’s Ham until the Conquest was a village within the Liberty or Lordship of the Abbot of St. Edmundsbury, with one freeman having the right of ‘sache and soche’, with a right to rent out land, but not to pass on to any heir.

The Manor of Packenham had been given by Edward The Confessor to the Abbey of St. Edmunds in 1060, and in 1199 Abbot Sampson assigned a third of the demesne of the manor and tithes to St. Saviour’s Hospital, which also owed to the Abbot, ‘Watch and Ward’ in the Town. A Quid Pro Quo.

In 1256 Abbott Edmund de Walpole applied the revenues of the Church of Packenham for the maintenance of hospitality at Edmundsbury, with the Vicar keeping the Manse and land, altar dues, tithes of grist, hay, lambs, calves, poultry and milk, a considerable income.

Not surprisingly the Springs, now well established from their fortune from wool, were eventually to own sixteen manors in East Anglia, with all the attendant wealth.

Then keen to be seen as ‘gift-giver’ to the almighty, they added to the opulence of local churches, rebuilding where necessary, best seen in Lavenham and elsewhere, in the ‘wool churches’ of the area.

Inside monuments and brasses to the Springs were built, chantry priests, in daily prayer, would ensure the safe repose of the souls of the family. Annual sermons in their name would remind people of God’s grace on their benefactions. 

These benefactions, would have included alms houses, bridges and highways upkeep; churches would be richly endowed, and for the poor, bread doles, relief of prisoners and local justice.

St Edmundsbury today.

St Edmundsbury today.

(1) On 4th November 1539.


wikipedia.org/bury_abbey/Pic of abbey ruins

wikipedia.org/Pic of Lavenham Church.

hunphrysfamilytree.com/google images/flickr/ Pic of brass.


stedmundsburychronicle.co.uk/1539/Pic of Abbots last house.


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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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