ST. JOHNS MANOR FARM
University of East Anglia studies have shown that this area of Suffolk started to be farmed three thousand years ago, since the gentle slopes were ideal for the land naturally draining, and the sunny warm climate with only two inches of rain each month meant crops could be grown easily.
The Suffolk Archaeological Field Group found that Romans were very nearby between the first and third centuries. The Field Group have found through their studies that by then most of the field patterns we see today were laid out, and there was a surprising amount of craftspeople spread out across the landscape and working alongside the farmers – potters, bakers, brickmakers, blacksmiths, carpenters, basket weavers and tanners to name a few.
The Norman Conquest
By the 10th century there were two Saxon Manors in Battisford which then changed hands after the Norman Conquest. The Domesday Book of 1086 lists the owner of Manor Farm as Roger de Chandos, a Norman noble.
Knights of St. John
By the 12th century the Manor had become the property of the Order of the Knights of St John and became their headquarters (known as a Commandery) for Suffolk. Property was usually bequeathed to the Order when either the life of a person or one of their family was saved by the Knights Hospitallers during the journey between here and Jerusalem at the time of the Crusades.
The rich history
Records kept at St Johns Gate in London, show that this site is unique in having detailed records of the four hundred years between 1150 and 1550. The Knock family have conducted a vast amount of research to consolidate written accounts, previous occupants, photographs, diagrams and extensive exterior archaeological digs and interior investigations of the house structure.
King Henry VIII and St. John’s Manor
Henry VIII dissolved the Order during his reign and sold the Manor firstly to Sir Andrew Judde, who quickly sold it on to the Gresham Family, and in particular Richard Gresham, a merchant who worked in both Antwerp and London. He built the first Royal Exchange which opened in London in 1566. Richard is reputed to have hired 200 London carpenters to come to Battisford the year before to fell and shape vast numbers of oak trees, and they framed the building up on the village green. It was then taken apart and moved by ox cart to Ipswich and then by barge down the coast and up to the wharves of London, where it was re-assembled on Threadneedle Street next to where the Bank of England stands today.
The Maltese Cross
The Order specialised in treating the sick and looking after the needy, setting up hospitals in Rhodes, Crete and Malta. Here in England they were duty bound to offer three days lodging to travellers all year round. The Order today still exists, and is known to so many of us as the St Johns Ambulance - and the Maltese Cross is still in their emblem!
John Lynch Studd
In the early 1700’s the Studd family were in residence, and one of them, John Lynch Studd, worked for the East India Company. His personal history might explain why when digging in the garden it is quite usual to find broken pieces of oriental pottery which he could well have brought back with him.
The Raikes family
Ownership then moved to the Raikes family, who are best known for establishing the Sunday School movement across England in the early1800’s.
The Lingwood family
In the mid 1800’s the Lingwood family upgraded a lot of the farmyard buildings and added the white brick façade to the Tudor house – indeed you only appreciate the age of the property once you step inside! Brick houses were in vogue at the time, and the cheapest way to achieve one if you owned a half-timbered property was to add a brick skin around the outside!